Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Let's Talk About Food Baby

Ok I didn't get fat hating food.  I may have hated what food made me look like but I LOVE food.  I couldn't tell you how many hours in a day I spent thinking about food.  I could think about a Dunkin Donuts Boston Cream donut for hours.  How it would taste, the feel of the cream in my mouth, it was almost sexual in nature.

The sleeve has done an amazing thing.  When I woke up those thoughts were magically gone.  Truly it is like someone came in and removed that "broken" part of my brain.  It's been amazing.  I know that is not the case for everyone, but I count my lucky stars that it has been the case for me so far.  I've even lost my taste for sweets.  They just hold little to no appeal for me now.  Sometimes that makes me sad because lets face it sweets did a lot for me.  They comforted me when I was down and they celebrated with me when I was up.  Now I'm left with just me.

Having said all that it does NOT mean I still don't want my food to taste good.  The one thing I have not lost my taste for is Mexican food and cheese.  I heart cheese.  Matter of fact there are a fair few things I love to eat so I'd thought I'd share a couple of them.

1. A mini tostada.  Stats: 149 calories, 11g carbs, 5g fat, 12g protein.

It's half of a corn tortilla (that's a 1/4 of a serving), 1 Tbsp fat free refried beans, 1/4 cup 2% Mexican shredded cheese, all heated up on a skillet, with yummy salsa and Fage 0% for dipping.  Just perfect!

2. Buffalo "wings".  Stats: 99 calories, 2g carbs, 2g fat, 16g protein.

I made it with the precooked grilled chicken breast, 1 Tbsp of Buffalo wing sauce, and a 1/4 cup of Fage with 1/2 tsp of ranch dressing mixed in.  I realize that ranch with Buffalo sauce is sort of sacrilege and I may try out different ways of getting a low cal blue cheese that doesn't taste of crap, but so far I haven't had any luck.  I will warn you that this is a lot of food as the chicken is so dense.  You may not be able to finish it or need to lower the amount of chicken (that's 2oz right there).  In the future I hope to add a couple of raw carrots to round it out but right now my tummy isn't big on the raw veggies.

So there are two very quick recipes I've come up with.  They taste great (or I wouldn't share them) and fill the high protein low carb requirement.  Hope you enjoy.  There will be more to come I promise.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Setting Goals

First, the good stuff.  It's Monday so I owe you a weigh in.  I weighed in this morning at 210.6.  That's a 1.2 lb loss for the week.  While not the 4 lbs I've been used to I knew there was no way my body could keep that up and I really do think the 211.8 last week was artificially low due to illness.  So I'll take 10.6 lbs.  Only 10.7 to be out of the 200's FOREVER!

On to the title of the post.  Setting goals while losing a lot of weight is really important.  Of course everyone has that magic number they want to get to (mine is 130) but I really think there are more important goals than the number on the scale.  For some people it's getting rid of diabetes, for others the ability to walk without pain and still others want to rock a bikini!  I am lucky in the fact that I had the VSG done before I had any major long term health issues and I'm still relatively young.  Most WLS candidates are over the age of 50 and have multiple comorbidities (health issues caused by being obese).

One of my goals is to run in races.  I had already signed up for the Warrior Dash in September.  It's not a super serious race but it's 3.5 miles of grueling mud, and obstacles.  On the plus side you get a cool hat and beer at the end.  I won't partake in the beer but I'm sure my husband will pick up the slack for me.  I also plan to do the much more serious (but equally exciting) Army Ten Miler.  Now some of you know I was active duty in my last life and I struggled with my weight even then.  This is sort of my "see how far I've come" race.  It's a point of pride for me and I'd really like to finish it in under 2 hours.

Because I didn't want my first "real" race to be the Army Ten Miler I've decided to sign up for some smaller 5k races this spring.  So far I'm going to do the Preakness 5k on May 14th.  This is a more low key event with some fun twists like your runner's bib looks like a jockey's jersey and you are given a horse name too.  I don't expect to set any sort of records as you run about 1.5 miles on the actual track.  That's sand if you didn't know, and not exactly easy to run on.  I'm running with a friend and if I manage to run the whole thing with no walking I'll be happy with myself.

So back to goals,  I really think those of use with a ton of weight to lose get really caught up in the number.  It went down a lot, it didn't go down enough, blah blah blah.  But really what this is about is getting proper nutrition and starting new healthy habits.  The weight loss will come, it has to.  There's no way I won't lose weight on 600 calories a day.  It's impossible.  The problem with being so focused on that scale is what happens when you reach that magic number.  What do you do then?  Now your scrambling for a new focus.  Well, I'm going to take a new approach,  I'm going to live my life how I want to live it, with fun exercise, and pushing myself physically and mentally and the scale will get there, I know it will.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gadgets! (Finally)

So, sorry I was MIA last week.  I managed to come down with bronchitis and once recovered spent the rest of the week just trying to get back to zero.  It's amazing how bad a house can look when you are down for the count for 5 days.  Anyway I weighed in on Monday at 211.8.  I will say that was probably artificially low as I was so sick I wasn't drinking properly.  I won't expect to see a great weight loss tomorrow if any at all.

But now the exciting part of the post.  I will tell you all of the gadgets and stuff I use daily to make this journey easier.  Or in the case of my vitamins healthier.  I am currently, consistently, getting 600-700 calories, under 40g of carbs and over 70g of protein.  This involves supplementation, measuring and cooking in new ways.

Lets start with supplementation.  Here is my part of the kitchen counter:

Included here you will see 4 different types of protein.  My favorite is the Muscle Milk 100% Whey.  There are 140 calories, 3g of carbs and 27g of protein.  I like it because it isn't super sweet.  I totally lost my sweet tooth after surgery (this is a great thing).  I mix the protein with many things, some of my staples are, 1tbs of PB2 (powered peanut butter), 1tbs of Ghirardelli unsweetened baking cocoa, Torani sugar free syrups (also great with greek yogurt) or a cup of coffee with 3/4 a cup of ice.  I mix it in my Magic Bullet, which I couldn't live without.  LOVE that thing, and I get no money for saying so.  The only down side to the Magic Bullet is it puts a fair bit of air in the mixture.  This isn't so much a problem now but it was a real issue week 1 and 2.  I had my shaker cups for those two weeks and that solved that issue.

Next let's move onto the world of supplementation.  As I said before I only get 600-700 calories a day.  I have large fat stores (duh!) so this isn't a problem of fuel but it is a problem of vitamins and minerals.  It's almost impossible to get all you need on so few calories.  So here's what I take a day:

From right to left:  Calcium Citrate, it's important that it is citrate as that's the one my new stomach can digest properly.  It comes in chewable form which is great for my new tiny tummy.  Vitamin B-12, sublingual.  Subligual means under my tongue. You can also get shots once a month but I think taking this once a day is easier (and slightly less painful).  Vitamin D3.  It's important that it be D3 and not D2.  This isn't a necessity for everyone but I am deficient in this vitamin and must take it all the time.  Uridisol (Actigall) this isn't a vitamin.  It's a prescription for a drug that reduces the chance of getting gall stones down to 2-3%.  Anytime you lose large amounts of weight getting gallstones is a possibility and I'd like to not have any more surgery (until it's plastic surgery time!).  And last my daily vitamin.  I'm not thrilled with the taste and the 3g of carbs isn't fantastic either but it's chewable and gets the vitamins in.  I'll switch to a normal swallowing one once this tub is gone.
Gadgets and Stuff:

 My lean mean grilling machine is so great for the small amounts of meat and fish that I cook.  I often cook different items for myself and the family and this just makes my life easier.  It is not a necessity but I certainly love having it around.

Ahhh all my measurers.  I got great advice from someone on Obesity Help.com to go to the local $1 store and stock up.  I use my scale and all the measuring devices at least 3x a day.  It is so helpful, these are must haves, you CANNOT keep accurate track of your foods without this.

My ace in the hole:

Smaller plate.  I just put my new (pretty don't you think) plate on top of my regular size.  I went to Ikea bought myself some pretty plates  and tiny spoons (to help with proper bite size).  I love purple so these make me happy!

Well that's it.  That's what I use daily to help me in this journey.  Hope it gave some sort of insight!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Forgetting to Eat

I know, I know I keep saying I'm going to write about my kitchen gadgets and other things I use but this came up yesterday and I thought I'd share before I forgot.  Considering I only eat 400 calories a day my brain is not quite up to par at the moment.

Before I get into the title I will tell you I weighed in yesterday at 216 lbs.  That is 18.4 lbs in 3 weeks and 1 day. Not too shabby especially since in the world of Weight Loss Surgery I am a lightweight.  I'd really like to be at 210 at 4 weeks but 6 lbs this week may be asking a bit much.

Back to what I started writing about.  Yesterday, I took the kids to the commissary and then to the PX to buy some batteries for that stupid scale.  When we arrived home it was about 12pm.  I noticed I was feeling light headed and just off.  It suddenly dawned on me that I hadn't eaten at all.  I'd drank around 32oz of water (yeah me) but not one ounce of food or protein shake had crossed my lips.

Of course even previous to surgery I've skipped breakfast and not eaten till lunch, but I certainly knew I hadn't eaten it didn't come as a surprise.  Now, I literally have to set a timer to eat and drink.  Otherwise I forget.  It's quite nice to now watch a food commercial without a craving kicking in.  I even watch Food Network (a lot) and I know rationally the food would taste good but it doesn't send my mind into overdrive looking for a quick food fix.  It is heaven, I tell you.

The downside to this is that it normally doesn't last.  I don't have hunger or cravings because 80% of your bodies Ghrelin hormone, the one that tells you that you are hungry, is in the fundus of the stomach and I just had mine removed.  The other 20% are created in other organs of the body and it usually takes about 6-8 months for those other parts to ramp up production.  Ghrelin will never reach pre-surgery levels, more like 60% of original, but I will eventually get hunger and cravings back.  So it is VERY important for me to set good patterns now, while it is relatively easy.

I do want to point out that not everyone who has this surgery wakes up without hunger or cravings, there is a percentage that unfortunately don't lose that at all.  I am one of the lucky ones and I'll take it.  I don't think there has ever been a time in my life where food meant so little to me, and I'm loving it!

Monday, April 9, 2012

I have an Owie!

Ok so after about 12 days post surgery I started to feel much better.  Not perfect but at least human and in little pain.  Last Monday (14 days post-op), I walked my neighbors' dogs.  One of which is roughly 80 lbs.  On that walk he decided a squirrel was much more interesting than the grass and took off.  Well, I'm not sure you realize how much you have to use your stomach muscles to stop a dog until you don't really have any.  Somehow in that altercation I pulled something around one of my incisions.  This is an incision that honestly I didn't even know it was there as it has never bothered me up until then.

Now a week later it still burns and pulls when I move wrong and the pain got so bad last week I had to take morphine again.  I know my surgeon is in surgery all day today, but if I'm not starting to feel markedly better by tomorrow I'm going to call.  There is no swelling or redness but this pain is making functioning very difficult.  I'm not sleeping well because I have to wake up any time I want to turn over.  I haven't been able to do any walking as that aggravates it.  We've had gorgeous weather and I've pretty much been stuck inside.  All in all it sucks.

I know others feel this way, and I know it's completely irrational, but I wish I'd just be skinny already.  I feel like I've had enough of the pain and I'm ready to be "normal" again.  I know that is nonsense but yet I still feel that way.  I think in another 2 weeks when this is long past I will feel different about it, but right now I'm really ready for the tired all the time and pain to be gone.  I know I don't have it bad compared to some, who have leaks or horrible nausea but still I'm pretty close to done.

Sorry, for all the bitching but I had to get it out there!  As for a weigh in which I owe you all. Umm the batteries died on our scale and I haven't replaced them yet, so tomorrow it will be.  I feel like the results won't be that great as I've been housebound but I know that I've struggled to get 450 calories a day so at least I'm not overeating!

Tomorrow I promise both a weigh in AND I will tell you about all the gadgets I use to help in this journey.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What I Eat

I'm still in the "mushy" stage.  For those not in the know, that means I can eat things of a mashed potato consistency.  But I absolutely should NOT eat mashed potatoes, they have way to many carbs. I currently strive to stay under 50g of carbs a day.  I would like to keep it below 40 but right now beans have to make up a large part of my mushy diet and they come with some carbs.  I also want to hit at least 60g of protein.  That has been a struggle because all the protein drinks now taste like crap to me.  I wish they didn't, I liked them just fine before surgery but now they are so  sweet I can barely stomach them.  I treat them like medicine now, something I must have, there are no options.

So here's a typical day for me:

Breakfast: Protein Shake - Premier chocolate - 160 cal - 5g Carbs - 30g Protein

Snack1 (about 3 hours later) - Egg Beaters Egg white with 1 wedge of Laughing Cow Light - 60 cal -1g carb- 8 Protein

Lunch - Ground Sirloin Chili (homemade) with 1tbs Fage 2% pulverized in a blender - 132 calories, 17g carbs, 13g Protein

Snack 2 - 1tbs Hummus with 1tbs Fage 2% - 69  calories - 4g carbs - 4g protein

Dinner - No fat Refried Beans, 1tbs Fage 2%, 1/2 serving mexican cheese, 1tbsp salsa - 128 calories - 14g Carbs - 12g Protein

Total= Calories 549 - Carbs 41 - Protein 67

All in all a good day.  And don't forget water.  I struggle to get my 64oz in a day, right now I hover around 50oz, but I know as I'm able to work out more this will need to really increase.  The part I'm finding difficult is you aren't supposed to drink 30 min. before a meal or an hour after.  That really cuts into when I can drink as I eat every 3 hours or so and it takes me aprox. 30 min. to eat the little bit I have.

I will say I struggle with exhaustion.  After taking care of the house, homeschooling my son, any shopping and cooking I've been in bed by 8pm for the last 3 nights.  Hopefully as I move onto full food in a week and a half I will function on a little higher level.

Tomorrow I'll discuss all the gadgets that make a post-op life easier.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Surgery and the Hospital Stay

So I had the surgery on 19 April.  It was a struggle finally getting the date and I'll tell that story another day.  I was the first surgery of the day so we had to report to Bethesda at 0530.  I set my alarm clock for 0415 in order to get there in time.  A friend took the kids at night in order for Artie to bring me to the hospital by himself.

I checked in while Artie parked the car.  About the only time you don't have a problem finding parking at Bethesda is 0530!  Vitals, pregnancy test, blah blah blah.  At 0615 we went to the pre-anesthesia room.  This is a large bay with many many beds.  I met my anesthesiologist (he was a Marquette grad) and he was nice enough to numb my hand with some lidocaine before putting in the IV.  I've never had that before, it was a nice bonus.  My surgery team came around, just the residents though not my surgeon.  They marked up my belly and asked if I had any questions.  I told them that I couldn't take Percocet because it made me vomit and I requested to be put on Actigall post surgery.  Both things were noted.  My surgeon stopped by, said a few things then left.

My anesthesiologist came back with his boss (I'm pretty sure he was a resident) and they gave me something. The world went a bit fuzzy around the edges then but I could still talk and stuff.  I said goodbye to my husband and they wheeled me away.  I switched myself to the OR table, they gave me another shot of something.  I remember talking to them but don't know what I said.  A mask went over my face and lights were out.

I woke up being wheeled down a hallway and rather vocal about feeling nauseous and being in a lot of pain.  I vaguely remember the anesthesiologist saying something along the lines of "that's because you shouldn't be awake yet".  I metabolize drugs very quickly.  I always tell the doctors this and they always dismiss me.  I wish they'd listen. They gave me something and the next thing I remember I was in a post-op bay again with my husband sitting next to me.  I moaned about nausea again and the nurse stuck an alcohol rub under my nose.  All that did was piss me off!  I went back to sleep.

At some point my husband said the surgery took 4.5 hours because they found extra stuff to do while they were in there.  Apparently, in one of my many horse back riding accidents of my life I damaged my spleen enough to fuse it to my stomach.  I also had a big hole in my diaphragm and now my stomach would be small enough to fit through the hole.  So they patched all that stuff up.

I know that my surgeon stopped by at some point or it could have been a dream.  My husband had left around 2pm to beat rush hour in DC but I don't really remember much of anything until 8pm when I took my first walk around the ward.  Because I have sleep apnea I had to sleep on the post-op ward with more monitoring.  Unfortunately, there were some rather vocal patients there as well so I didn't get much sleep.

Bright and early the next morning I was moved to a regular ward.  At around 11 I had my swallow test which makes sure my staple line in my stomach was holding and there are no leaks.  Everything was fine and when I got back to my room my catheter was removed (yeah)!  Now walking was much, much easier.  My family came but between the drugs and the surgery I wasn't much company.  They stayed a few hours and I continued to walk.

I also was started on taking fluids by mouth.  Just 2 tablespoons an hour for 2 hours then I could have 4 tbsp then it was upped to as I could tolerate.  That night though, I must have not taken much of my pain meds (I had a pump) and I woke up in a LOT of pain.  They had to call the doctor to give me some extra, they called it a bolus.  All was well then and I managed to sleep 2 straight hours.

On the third day (Wednesday) I was able to start protein drinks.   What I thought tasted good before surgery was now sickening sweet.  It took me an entire day to finish one 8oz protein drink but it was nice to be able to do things on my own.  Finally, at 9pm my doctors released me and I got to go home.

The first night was really rough, I slept in a reclining chair, but it was so nice to be home I didn't care.  I'll write more about the first two weeks as they are a real struggle.  You feel run-down and you can't drink enough, water or protein so it just makes it worse.  I'll leave that for tomorrow though.

Monday, April 2, 2012


I figured that was a good title considering the week this is.  Well, I've owned this blog since 2008 and I stopped it when I found out I was pregnant with Amelia.  I weighed 210lbs the day I stopped that blog and I was at 219 when I started it.  Today I weighed in at 219 so it seems fitting that I start this blog again.

This journey into weight loss and getting healthy is a little different.  I started looking at surgery when I was at a whopping 270 lbs. With high cholesterol and heading quickly towards type 2 diabetes. I looked at all 3 of the major weight loss surgeries (there are 4 but one wasn't relevant to me) and decided on the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy.  This is where the doctor removes 85% of your stomach but that is all.  There is no rerouting of intestines, no malabsorption and no foreign body.  It may seem a bit drastic but the success rate of a person losing more than 100lbs and keeping it off for 5 years is just 3%.  I was getting nowhere fast on my own.  It makes it easier (or else why would anyone do it) but it doesn't make it easy.

Tomorrow, I'll write about how the actual surgery and first two weeks of recovery went.  I'm writing this as much for me as anyone hoping that tracking my journey towards a normal BMI and a healthier me will help ensure I never get back to 270 lbs.  I do hope that somewhere, somehow I may help someone else struggling, either with the decision to have surgery, which surgery, or who is just in despair at the amount of weight they have to lose.

I'll weigh in every Monday:
Start Weight: 270
Surgery Weight: 234
Current Weight: 219
Total Weight Lost: 51 lbs