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Maintenance Month Two: Hold the Line

Jen581791

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I weighed in at 134 on my 14 month surgiversary, which puts me right in the “holding steady” window. I lost a couple of pounds and was down at 132 for a couple of weeks or so, but started piling on the calories to stop that. It worked. Or, something I did worked, but I have no idea if it’s that or something else. This is all just experimentation so far.

I am now eating (hang onto your hats, people) between 1800 and 2000 calories per day and maintaining. That seems totally incredible to me, in several ways. First of all, I’ve always gained weight eating that much - when I’ve been thin before, I’ve gained while eating 1200 calories per day and feeling like I was starving. So, apparently, something in me has been fixed. I can eat how much I should for my body size, sex, age, and activity level. Shocking. Second, I can’t believe I can stuff than many calories into my body after a year of eating 800 per day. It’s taken some work, and it takes some strategizing, but I’m managing. Third, I’ve had WLS and was expecting to top out at, what, maybe 1200-1400 calories per day afterwards? We’ll see how this goes long-term, but so far, I just keep losing if my intake is in that neighborhood. 

I’m eating about 6-8 small meals per day, which means eating a meal, waiting an hour, drinking a bunch of water, and then eating the next meal. It’s a lot of eating. I’m also focusing on calorie dense stuff, so lots of cheese, olive oil, coconut milk, peanut butter, and other stuff like that. I’m getting like 100+ grams of protein per day, easy, not even trying, just because I’m eating a lot of high protein stuff still. My carbs are between 50 and 100 per day (I can feel it if they go higher - I tend to get that gnawing hungry feeling). The rest is fat, so lots of that (about half of my day’s calories). It’s very very very strange to feel like I HAVE to eat so much. Nice problem to have, though, I suppose, all things considered. I’m not eating unhealthy stuff at all still (no refined carbs even, just fruit and veg carbs, plus a teensy bit of whole grain, like wheat berries in a salad, plus a square of 90% chocolate most nights) so I’m not going crazy or anything. 

My size is shrinking a little bit still from going to the gym a lot. I’ve been lifting weights and getting stronger, so that’s nice, plus now I look like a gym person, so I don’t feel out of place there. Although my weight has stayed the same, I lost an inch off my waist this month, so my clothes are still getting a bit looser over time, although not at the rapid pace that was happening for a while there. 

A nice NSV today: I went bathing suit shopping. I’ve been swimming in rash guard type thing (top with sleeves, bottom with legs) since last fall (after not swimming at all for a long time, which is really sad because I love swimming, but hated putting on a bathing suit). However, next weekend, we’re going to a nice hotel with a pool and since it will be full of Western people, the rash guard will probably look like overkill. It’s practical for swimming at beaches with a lot of locals, as I’m not offending anyone with my uncovered flesh (I live in a Muslim country), but at a hotel will be different. I went to the store, grabbed three suits, and all of them fit just fine and looked fine. I didn’t want to jump off a bridge or run screaming and crying from the store (this is genuinely a first for me). My legs are pretty jello-y and have some loose skin, but hey, it’s nothing like I was before. I went home with the most glamorous of the three, a black tankini style one with ruching and structure and straps that make it look like an old-fashioned 1950s type of suit, but without looking matronly. I think I will look somewhat elegant. Let’s hear it for tankinis, so much more comfortable that normal one-piece suits. I generally find two piece suits to be more comfortable, but bikinis are a no-go at the pool at work, so that’s out the window. Most of my colleagues are Muslim, so bikinis are a step too far for the staff club pool. Scandalous!

Another funny NSV happened when going to visit a bunch of Bronze Age tombs a couple of weekends ago (Oman is full of these things). We came upon a bunch of them, and these were pretty well preserved with little tunnels in the sides - one of the people we were with crawled inside and convinced me to, as well (hello, Indiana Jones). We went inside a few others, but then happened upon one with a smaller entry to the tunnel. Here are the surprising words I heard at this point: “Get Jen. She’s small. She’ll fit in this one.” And I did, although it was a bit of a squeeze for my shoulders and booty. And I was the only one who did, so I had to take pictures inside to show the others, all while I was quietly dying of laughter and smirking with glee. 

Long-term NSV - I’ve been going hiking about twice a week recently - this is fantastic. I’m really enjoying it now that it’s so much easier, and I don’t even usually get winded at all. I still have to be very careful of my knees (and now hip, hello old people problems) but otherwise am just fine. This is an extremely treacherous place to hike, so careful is fine. It’s mostly loose jagged rocks on unmarked trails - not for the faint of heart. Anyway, I’m busy planning tons of hiking trips in my future, which is a great feeling, since I had all but given that up for lost as I gained a lot of weight. 

My current project is trying to figure out my style and dress more in a coordinated, purposeful way. Fortunately, the blogosphere is full of people wanting to help me do that, so I’m busy reading blogs and looking at stuff on Pinterest. It’s nice not to have to dress in whatever fits and covers me up well and doesn’t draw attention to my fat, but it’s a bit daunting to be able to wear basically whatever I want. The available choices drive me a bit crazy - I can buy anything anywhere. It was easier when it was, “Hey, this long dark somber number covers me up just perfectly! I hardly even look fat if I squint hard enough and stand at this weird angle and dim the lights. I’ll take one of each in black, charcoal, and navy, please.” 

One blogger I like pretty well is https://anuschkarees.com/ - she has a lot of advice on how to pare down your wardrobe to useful stuff only, not buy too too much, and still have a good style (including tips on how to figure out what your style actually is), without any preaching about what different body types should wear. Female Fashion Advice on Reddit has been fairly helpful, as well - just to get an idea of what other people do, and to see how other people put outfits together in a way that seems way more purposeful than how I do it (make sure everything is black or white, then if you decide to wear a color or print it will look fine!). Anyway, I’m searching for direction on “how not to just buy everything you try on just because you’re so thrilled that it looks good on you, even though it totally does not go with anything else you own and you may never actually wear it because it’s so far outside of your fashion comfort zone, daily practicality requirements, or is age- and/or situation-inappropriate in your life.” 

Still suffering from weird body dysmorphia. Photos of me usually look to me like I’m thin. In the mirror, I usually look OK to myself (although less thin than in photos). But when I actually look at myself directly, like not in a mirror, but looking down at my body, I look pretty big to myself still. I’m looking down at my lap as I type this on my laptop. My thighs look big. My stomach looks like it sticks out too far. My knees look fat. Now I’m standing up, looking in the mirror. Nope, I look fine. Pretty thin. Sit back down. No, I was clearly mistaken. My thighs obviously need to lose a bit more weight. (no they don’t) It’s a constant battle. The voices in my head are a bit crazy-making at times. 

Some annoying things this month: 

  • I bought multivitamins at GNC. They seemed good. Good numbers. Then, I had a weird bout of insomnia for a couple of weeks. Randomly reading the back of my vitamins (as one does), I see they have added caffeine!!!! What?!?! I’m very sensitive to caffeine (that’s why I don’t drink coffee, well besides the fact that it tastes like poison). So, back to GNC to buy the ones with the same formula but without the word “Energy” in the name. Energy. Hmm. 
  • When I went back to get the non-caffeinated multis, I bought calcium, but of course, as I do, I bought a whole big jar of calcium carbonate. This, despite the fact that I know I do this and try to be careful about it. I think I just looked at one and grabbed the one next to it. Sometimes it’s like I’m illiterate when I’m at the store. 
  • Next misadventure at GNC: buying papaya enzymes. Looking for 45mg. Hey! This one has 45mg. I buy it, only to look more closely and figure out that it has 45mg of papaya fruit. 6mg of papayain (the actual enzyme). What is it with me and labels.
  • Ryvita crackers can go to h3ll. Here where I live, finding crackers at all is hard (other than Ritz for some reason). Finding whole grain crackers is like finding the holy grail. I finally found a store that has Ryvitas! Super healthy! And they get stuck like cement in my pouch. I had them for several days in a row, and also had to vomit up whatever I ate next afterwards each day - including A. Glass. Of. Water. on the final day before I swore off Ryvitas. Yeah, it took me several days to figure out what was wrong - it was the crackers. Even if I give them more than an hour to digest, whatever I take in afterwards gets backed up and has to come back up, even if I take little bitty sips of water first to loosen things up or whatever. Now I have to eat cheese with no crackers again. Man, I’m looking forward to American crackers when I go home this summer. Which reminds me I need to throw those Ryvitas away before I get desperate for crackers someday, like maybe this evening… 

And photos from hiking the last couple of weekends. First, the tomb pictures.

This weekend we went up into the mountains to see the roses blooming (we were at about 2000m - 6500 ft - so it's cool up there). They make rosewater from the roses, so they're the nice smelling kind!

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Jen,

As always, I love your blog entries. Thank you for your honesty. Your thoughts make me think about how I need to alter my eating habits. Your mindfulness is something that I need to focus on. 

I think we have all made the supplement mistake. I have a stack of unwanted supplements that I have purchased by mistake because I didn’t read the ingredients. I keep meaning to post them on my local Everything Is Free group, but you know, *time*.

Your bathing suit sounds divine. Can we see a picture? xo

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31 minutes ago, NerdyToothpick said:

Your bathing suit sounds divine. Can we see a picture? xo

Is this when I find out you're an internet creeper who's been grooming me for like a year? :lol::lol::lol:

We'll see. Maybe if I scotch tape my bat wings and other bits in place...

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21 minutes ago, Jen581791 said:

Is this when I find out you're an internet creeper who's been grooming me for like a year? :lol::lol::lol:

We'll see. Maybe if I scotch tape my bat wings and other bits in place...

I wish Scotch tape helped! Nice blog. I'm wondering about the style thing too...

Edited by Carina

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4 hours ago, Jen581791 said:

Is this when I find out you're an internet creeper who's been grooming me for like a year? :lol::lol::lol:

We'll see. Maybe if I scotch tape my bat wings and other bits in place...

I’m totally an internet creeper named Frank. I’m glad I can be honest now. Run away with me! LOL

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PS: I should have been clearer about my request. Would love to see the suit. You don’t have to be in it unless you want to be the TTF swimsuit spokesperson. ;)

 

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3 hours ago, NerdyToothpick said:

I’m totally an internet creeper named Frank. I’m glad I can be honest now. Run away with me! LOL

I have met @NerdyToothpick and I can assure you that she is not a guy named Frank.....:D

More seriously, thank you Jen for such wonderful blog posts!  I am so glad to hear that you are doing well with maintenance and with exploring the wonders of Oman.

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THUNDERCLAP!!  That was my jaw hitting the floor. @Jen581791 is eating 1800 - 2000 calories a day?! I guess I shouldn't be surprised - one reads that moderately active people with a normal BMI need about 15 calories per pound to maintain their normal weight, and that is about what you are eating. You really deserve big congratulations not only on your weight loss, but also this maintenance. 

 

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4 hours ago, BurgundyBoy said:

THUNDERCLAP!!  That was my jaw hitting the floor. @Jen581791 is eating 1800 - 2000 calories a day?! I guess I shouldn't be surprised - one reads that moderately active people with a normal BMI need about 15 calories per pound to maintain their normal weight, and that is about what you are eating. You really deserve big congratulations not only on your weight loss, but also this maintenance. 

 

I know, right? It's shocking. This is my very own proof that WLS is indeed metabolic surgery. I'm eating more now than I was when I was much heavier!

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2 hours ago, cinwa said:

I love reading your blog Jen - you have such a wonderful writing style and I love the pictures you post.

Thank you, @cinwa! That's so sweet :wub:

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16 hours ago, Gretta said:

Great post! Thanks for sharing in detail. It's so helpful. Beautiful pictures. 

It's the road ahead for you! You're getting there!!! 

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Loved your update, Jen!  You are SO skinny and I bet it felt awesome to climb in the tiny opening to get in that to tomb!!!  How many times have you said before "let so and so do it since they are small"....I've said it before, but have NEVER had the chance to be the SMALL one of whom they speak!!!  Yay, you!!!

BTW, that first pic, you have flip flops on....can you maneuver those rocks in them?  Be careful...no more injuries! ;)

I love that you fill us in so much on your eating/calories etc.  I can't believe you can eat so much fat/calories (I mean I DO believe you, but I wouldn't have believed it if I just read it on line somewhere) but that is the recipe for a 1# weight gain per day for the former us!!!!  AMAZING, right?

It's cool that you're a gym rat that "fits" now too....again, different than the former us!

I am going to check out those blogs....I need some style advice as I feel so new at this.  I laughed right out loud (which isn't good bc I am in class!) at your descriptions of your previous dressing...sooo the same as me!  We've all been there for sure and I will be glad to be able to wear anything without getting an oversized black something!

Congrats on the bathing suit find too!  I still have a while for that one!

All in all so proud of you!

Edited by CheeringCJ

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Awesome update - thanks so much for sharing! My favorite part was what you said about being someone who used to gain on 1200 calories a day (ME TOO!!!), but post weight loss you need 1800-2000 to maintain. Not that I'm desperate to eat 1800 + calories, but I worry that when it becomes time for me to maintain, I'll have to starve in order to do it. Everyone's body is different, I know, but still, your comments give me hope!

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Love your updates as ever - its so interesting to see what "life on the other side" is! Love your hiking pics, its such a different terrain and scenery than what I see here and its so beautiful!

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9 hours ago, CheeringCJ said:

Loved your update, Jen!  You are SO skinny and I bet it felt awesome to climb in the tiny opening to get in that to tomb!!!  How many times have you said before "let so and so do it since they are small"....I've said it before, but have NEVER had the chance to be the SMALL one of whom they speak!!!  Yay, you!!!

BTW, that first pic, you have flip flops on....can you maneuver those rocks in them?  Be careful...no more injuries! ;)

I love that you fill us in so much on your eating/calories etc.  I can't believe you can eat so much fat/calories (I mean I DO believe you, but I wouldn't have believed it if I just read it on line somewhere) but that is the recipe for a 1# weight gain per day for the former us!!!!  AMAZING, right?

It's cool that you're a gym rat that "fits" now too....again, different than the former us!

I am going to check out those blogs....I need some style advice as I feel so new at this.  I laughed right out loud (which isn't good bc I am in class!) at your descriptions of your previous dressing...sooo the same as me!  We've all been there for sure and I will be glad to be able to wear anything without getting an oversized black something!

Congrats on the bathing suit find too!  I still have a while for that one!

All in all so proud of you!

Thanks, CJ. Yes, it's strange to be the small one. 

On the calories, it's definitely a "your mileage may vary" sort of situation - it sounds like *most* people don't end up at this point, but I certainly have. Tracking to make sure I eat enough is very very weird.

Best of luck on finding your style - like I said there are a million blogs out there, so surely you'll find some that you find useful. It's a whole new world :) 

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8 hours ago, Boho Rosy said:

Awesome update - thanks so much for sharing! My favorite part was what you said about being someone who used to gain on 1200 calories a day (ME TOO!!!), but post weight loss you need 1800-2000 to maintain. Not that I'm desperate to eat 1800 + calories, but I worry that when it becomes time for me to maintain, I'll have to starve in order to do it. Everyone's body is different, I know, but still, your comments give me hope!

Yes, I have seen online where some surgeons and NUTs recommend never eating more than 1200-1400 again, so certainly that's common. I'm very much on top of checking my intake and weighing myself every day, so I'll definitely catch it if this level of intake starts to increase my weight - but in the meantime, I'm eating like it's my job. 

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1 hour ago, delilas said:

Love your updates as ever - its so interesting to see what "life on the other side" is! Love your hiking pics, its such a different terrain and scenery than what I see here and its so beautiful!

Thanks, delilas. Yes, it's very different terrain. Space agencies do Mars training stuff here, and I can see why in many places - in the flat areas, it's just rocks as far as you can see.

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I am another that loves to read you blog and see the pictures that you post! Interesting what you mentioned about metabolism. I wonder if this could be specific to bypass? Maybe being able to eat twice what you used to in order to maintain has something to do with malabsorption? Since you aren't absorbing all of your calories, you are able to eat more and still maintain? Something to ponder.

Thanks for sharing your experience and your pictures with the rest of us!

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7 hours ago, Readytobeme said:

I am another that loves to read you blog and see the pictures that you post! Interesting what you mentioned about metabolism. I wonder if this could be specific to bypass? Maybe being able to eat twice what you used to in order to maintain has something to do with malabsorption? Since you aren't absorbing all of your calories, you are able to eat more and still maintain? Something to ponder.

Thanks for sharing your experience and your pictures with the rest of us!

There are studies looking at malabsorption after bypass, and as I recall the degree/amount of malabsorption at 2 years after surgery was there but relatively small calories (different for vitamins) than you might think.

The paper below suggests that malabsorption on average was about -175 calories a day - not the bigger difference Jen is noting (1900 minus 1300 or about 600 calories a day more than she expected). So it contributes but isn't the sole difference. I think Jen is right that bariatric surgery helps reset our metabolic setting. 

- see: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/92/4/704/4597483

"Results: Coefficients of fat absorption were 92 ± 1.3% before bypass, 72 ± 5.5% 5 mo after bypass, and 68 ± 8.7% 14 mo after bypass. There were no statistically significant effects of RYGB on protein or carbohydrate absorption coefficients, although protein coefficients decreased substantially in some patients. Five months after bypass, malabsorption reduced absorption of combustible energy by 124 ± 57 kcal/d, whereas restriction of food intake reduced energy absorption by 2062 ± 271 kcal/d. Fourteen months after bypass, malabsorption reduced energy absorption by 172 ± 60 kcal/d compared with 1418 ± 171 kcal/d caused by restricted food intake.

Conclusion: On average, malabsorption accounted for ≈6% and 11% of the total reduction in combustible energy absorption at 5 and 14 mo, respectively, after this gastric bypass procedure."

 

and here is an older thread here (@cinwa contributed to it): 

 

Edited by BurgundyBoy

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Thanks for doing the legwork, @BurgundyBoy! I appreciate it :) That seems to square with the reading I've done - I think I've seen studies showing no significant difference after two years, and others showing a small difference, but nothing showing a big difference. I'll take those malabsorbed numbers, though, even if they're small, since any little bit helps. Gotta keep on top of the vitamins, though. 

We'll see how this goes moving forward, but at the moment, yeah, I'm eating a lot more than I expected (or than I want to now, normally). 

Definitely as a heads up for anyone reading this and counting your chickens pre-op or during the active losing stage, it certainly seems like my numbers may not be typical (although there are some others here who eat about the same amount as I do, calorically speaking). I think plan for 1200 for the rest of your life and be surprised if you can eat more than that is a pretty good plan. I'm 5'8" and quite active, so that influences the outcome, as well. 

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12 hours ago, Jen581791 said:

Thanks, CJ. Yes, it's strange to be the small one. 

On the calories, it's definitely a "your mileage may vary" sort of situation - it sounds like *most* people don't end up at this point, but I certainly have. Tracking to make sure I eat enough is very very weird.

Best of luck on finding your style - like I said there are a million blogs out there, so surely you'll find some that you find useful. It's a whole new world :) 

Oddly enough I wore a whole new outfit to work today. It was a grey tunic/dress with black leggings and a great black/grey/white Vera Bradley scarf.....I bought black boots....12.55" calf....AND THEY FIT!!!! But I went to wear it and tho it looked great, I felt a little odd being dressed so we'll, so I took off my boots and put on a pair of tan flats which don't look half as pulled together. I am still trying to figure why I sabotaged myself, I am convincing myself that when I start my new job on Monday, I will wear the new me clothes. I'm thinking it's awkward for those who knew the old me see the new me....for no other reason than that I don't want the attention people saying that I look nice bc it makes me feel like I looked terrible before. It is just hard to wrap my head around. 

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Edited by CheeringCJ

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@CheeringCJ you are hereby authorized to dress nicely and to draw attention to yourself! I understand about feeling shy about doing that, but you look great! And those boots would totally pull that outfit together. Flats might work as well, though. 

Congrats on the boots! Nice find.

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2 hours ago, Jen581791 said:

Thanks for doing the legwork, @BurgundyBoy! I appreciate it :) That seems to square with the reading I've done - I think I've seen studies showing no significant difference after two years, and others showing a small difference, but nothing showing a big difference. I'll take those malabsorbed numbers, though, even if they're small, since any little bit helps. Gotta keep on top of the vitamins, though. 

We'll see how this goes moving forward, but at the moment, yeah, I'm eating a lot more than I expected (or than I want to now, normally). 

Definitely as a heads up for anyone reading this and counting your chickens pre-op or during the active losing stage, it certainly seems like my numbers may not be typical (although there are some others here who eat about the same amount as I do, calorically speaking). I think plan for 1200 for the rest of your life and be surprised if you can eat more than that is a pretty good plan. I'm 5'8" and quite active, so that influences the outcome, as well. 

Yes, there are some other studies showing the architecture of one's intestine adapts to absorb more nutrients, reducing the malabsorption, over time after bypass. In contrast to "macronutrient" things like protein / carbs / fats, vitamins and some minerals ("micronutrients") are only absorbed in specific parts of the intestine, thus the risks of vitamin deficiency.

 Too bad about the Ryvita! Maybe there is some way I could dry this bread for you and send it as crackers...

Bread April 15 2018.jpg

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4 minutes ago, BurgundyBoy said:

Yes, there are some other studies showing the architecture of one's intestine adapts to absorb more nutrients, reducing the malabsorption, over time after bypass. In contrast to "macronutrient" things like protein / carbs / fats, vitamins and some minerals ("micronutrients") are only absorbed in specific parts of the intestine, thus the risks of vitamin deficiency.

 Too bad about the Ryvita! Maybe there is some way I could dry this bread for you and send it as crackers...

Bread April 15 2018.jpg

If you could make that scrumptious looking boule into crackers and get them to me, I would be extremely happy :) 

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