Monday, February 28, 2011


My sleeve may be tiny, but it is getting much more tolerant of a variety of foods. Yay! What it will not tolerate, however, is stupidity. I took the kids through the McDonald's drive-through for drinks. I wanted something sugar free for myself, so opted for a diet coke, instead of the non-carbonated lemonade, after I saw it was not Minute Maid light, as I had expected. I needed to take my pills.

Erf. Well, I took the pills with a few drinks of pop. It burned. It was miserable. And then the puking. "Foamies," they're called on the weight loss surgery forums. Not puking. Something indescribable. I sound like I'm yakking up a hairball. Yucky, bizarre foam.

No more pop. BLECH!! Oh, that was awful.

Oh! On a positive note, I walked on the treadmill for an hour. Three miles exactly. I did not want to go. My sweet daughter called me at work this afternoon and volunteered to have dinner ready when I got home if I would take her to the gym. Who could resist such an offer?? She made the boys chicken nuggets and frozen veggies with cheese sauce. She made a beautiful salad for the two of us: lettuce, cashews, apple, gorgonzola cheese and a huckleberry vinagrette dressing. I added sliced chicken to mine. YUM!

Last night I made salad for dinner - I copied Panera's Thai Chicken Salad (from website: chicken, romaine, wonton strips, a blend of fire-roasted edamame, red bell pepper and carrot tossed in a Thai Chili Vinaigrette. Topped with strips of seasoned grilled chicken, Thai cashews, fresh cilantro and a peanut sauce drizzle). Delish.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Zero-Loss Week, and I Earned It

Well, I think the scale is being a *little* harsh - it could have given me a little sumpin sumpin. But I'll take my lumps. Last weekend's munching on party food did me no favors. And even though I didn't go overboard again, I continued to munch on the occasional handful of fortune cookies, or a few Cheetos, throughout the week. Until Thursday, when I realized the only reason I was eating this crap was...(drumroll please)...

Because it was in the house.

So I threw it all away. Party is over, and party food needs to leave the building. I need to be vigilant about this sort of thing. I can resist sweets. No problem, really. I don't go out of my way to buy them, I don't think too often about them. It's snacky carbs that call me in the evening. Crackers, croutons, popcorn, even fortune cookies (which I love) and Cheetos (which I really do not like much at all).

Still, mean old scale  - I didn't eat enough to kill my weight loss. Jeez, I hardly eat much at all! A couple slices of turkey for breakfast, a meatball for lunch - even with a few fortune cookies, I should get some recognition on the scale.

Hrumph. I am chalking it up to a combination of events. Party food and what I will deem a six-week slowdown, that ends promptly at the strike of...NOW.

I'll do my part. I expect you to reciprocate, Mr. Scale.

Edited to give myself a little love:

Measurements from morning of surgery / today (6 wks 4 days post-op)

Waist: 49.5/44.5
Left arm: 17.25/15.5
Right arm: 16.5/16
Hips: 49/43
Left thigh: 27.25/25
Right thigh: 28/26
Left calf: 17.5/16.5
Right calf: 18/16.5
Neck: ---/15.75 (did not measure day of surgery!)
Chest (under boobs) -----/40.5 (did not measure day of surgery)
Chest (around boobs) -----/50 (did not measure)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lunch: Pre-Op / Post-Op (pics)

Here is lunch on December 1, 2010. It cost me $11.25 (with a bottle of pop, a lifelong vice I can vaguely remember now):

And lunch on 2/23/11, six weeks post-op. It cost me $1.20:



I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves, haha.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Size 18s! Hooray! (w/ pics)

A long time ago my mom gave me a box of size 18 jeans that were too big for her. They were ridiculously impossible for me to wear.

NOT ANYMORE! Tonight, it snowed at our place, and I had to go out to the car. My jeans had gotten so loose the cuffs were soaking wet. I remembered the box of jeans on the top shelf of the closet. Could it be? Maybe? Worth a shot!


Good bye, size 24/26 jeans! Hello size 18s! And there's a bunch of them (all the same size, unfortunately). The good news is I'm set for jeans for awhile! Good thing, too, because I'm doing the police volunteer thing on Saturday and I have to wear jeans (actually, I have to wear a belt for the police radio, not jeans, I guess). I will feel better in these than my baggie ones!

ABCs of Me...

Thank you, Kim, for the fun idea for a post! I have been intending to crib an idea from Eggface's blog (grr, I tried to find a sample post, but cannot - she did a great series and this is just a really wonderful blog, anyway), but that is more serious and also time-consuming. I like this one, too, and it fits my schedule. :) Everyone, please do it, too, and if you do, post me the link in the comments below. I'd love to read them!

(A) Age: 41
(B) Bed Size: My daughter sleeps on my beautiful King-sized bed. In the post-divorce world, I sleep on a futon in the living room of our little condo. Sigh. I will have a bedroom again one day!
(C) Chore You Hate: Putting the clean laundry away! I don't mind doing it, or folding it, hate putting it away.
(D) Dogs? In the divorce, our dog went to my ex's dad, our cat went to my parents. (I moved the kids on the fly to a rental house that would not allow pets, and honestly, I was barely able to care for me and the kids for a long time.) Both pets have since died - we had our cat for 17 years and our dog for 14.
(E) Essential Start Your Day Item:  I am so not a morning person. Just waking is an accomplishment.
(F) Favorite Color: Red. Or maybe purple. Or gray-blue. Hmm.
(G) Gold or Silver? Platinum/titanium.
(H) Height: 5 ft 2 in
(I) Instruments You Play: Clarinet through 8th grade, piano for a couple years, nothing now.
(J) Job Title: Public works contract administrator. It's not as bad as it sounds. ;)
(K) Kids: Alli (12), Blake (almost 10), Reid (5.5)
(L) Live:  Greater Seattle
(M) Mom's Name: Betty Louise. I am Julie Louise, my daughter is Allison Louise. Gawd, I hated that name growing up. Can't remember why I stuck my kid with it. She hates it too. :)
(N) Nicknames: Jules, Jul. I prefer Jules over Julie. Someone called me "Ju" at work the other day - I do not encourage this.
(O) Overnight Hospital Stays? Hmm. When my daughter was born. Blake was born at 9:30 am at a midwife's house and we were home by noon, after stopping somewhere for lunch. We adopted Reid but were there when he was born - he was my easiest pregnancy and delivery! I also had overnight stays for a broken ankle (2 surgeries) and a major back surgery (spinal fusion). Then, recently, two nights for the gastric sleeve.
(P) Pet Peeve: I am rather, uh, sensitive to the doings of other drivers on the freeway.
(Q) Quote from a Movie:  Today, it's "Son, you got a panty on your head." from Raising Arizona. Here's why:
(R) Right or Left Handed? Left
(S) Siblings: 1 Sister (34)
(T) Time You Wake Up? 5:30 am.
(U) Underwear: Granny panties that I can hardly wait to replace! I will be sporting some sexy undies this summer, for sure!
(V) Vegetable You Dislike: I tolerate mushrooms.
(W) What Makes You Run Late: Kids, kids, kids. 
(X) X-Rays You've Had Done: Every part of my body, at least five times, I'd say. I will also say that they will never again get a conscious Julie into an MRI machine. I swear I still suffer from PTSD over that one.
(Y) Yummy Food You Make: I like to cook. Whether or not I do depends on my energy and creativity levels.
(Z) Zoo, Favorite Animal: Penguins!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Six-week Post-Op Appointment

Firstly, I adore my surgeon. He is really great - before and after surgery. He will spend crazy amounts of time taking all my questions and listening to my musings and concerns. What a guy! I have read about terrible surgeons - one post in particular even really shook me up this week. I am really grateful for my surgeon.

Tomorrow, I am six weeks post-op. He is very pleased with my weight loss. Officially, in his office, I have lost 26.5 pounds - our numbers vary a bit because of my naked state on my own scale, his registering of a lower "high" weight than I do (because he does not know the true extent of how much weight I gained when I quit smoking in October), etc. But we agree, categorically, that I have lost a lot of weight. By his scale, I have lost 22.5 pounds since the morning of the surgery. We'll use his scale, just for this post, just to be nice. :)

His number is only relevant here because it has been a month since I've seen him, and per his scale, I have lost 14 pounds in that month. This, he says, is spot on. He expects 5-15 pounds per month the first six to nine months. This made me feel good. Well, it also made me feel bad. He said, based on past history with the sleeve, I will lose about 85 pounds, or a third of my body weight (gulp) from the surgery. The rest, he says, is completely on me. Want to lose more? Work more.

He is impressed with my near-daily half hour walk at lunchtime. He is less impressed with my seeming inability to get the kids to the YMCA in the evening. He also remarked that I really have no business knowing that ice cream gives me diarrhea. Errr. Well, he said it nicely and with warm concern, anyway.

Now, others reading this explanation from my surgeon may say, "Well, duh, Julie." But every time my doctor has explained it to me, it turns a light bulb on in my head, so I will share it here. The reason you lose more weight immediately following surgery is because you are able to create a massive calorie deficit. As an obese person, your body burns more energy just to exist. You just had surgery and cannot eat a damn thing, thus, no calories coming in. As you lose weight, your body gets smaller and needs less energy to survive. Conversely, you are able to take in more calories than you did immediately following surgery. The once massive calorie deficit shrinks and shrinks as time goes by, thus slowing down weight loss.

Cheating the system:
1. Continue taking in fewer calories, even as time progresses.
2. Burn more calories as your body shrinks.

See? Duh. But I still like to hear it. For some reason, it just makes me feel more empowered with this whole process.

He also said that as you lose weight, the levels of female hormones (e.g. progesterone) increase. Women lose weight and skin softens, facial hair goes away, etc. This is interesting - I don't have facial hair, but yes, I have seen many morbidly obese women with facial hair. He said in my case, it could also make my cycle go bonkers, even if I don't normally have periods since I have a Mirena IUD. But he wants me to check with my GYN, because he doesn't like three periods in six weeks (ME NEITHER!) nor the bloaty feeling I have now. He thinks it will settle down. It betta. He also thinks Cheetos will cause water retention. Hrm.

No more soft foods, he said. Sigh. Soft foods make my tummy happy. He said I am to get off the soups, the chilis, etc. Basically, anything that my tummy likes, I should cut out of my diet immediately. The key to maximizing weight loss, he said, is making my stomach work for it. Dense protein forces small, slow bites, and fills my tummy up. This keeps you from eating too much. Chili, while sleeve-friendly, is not my friend. He likes my breakfast of one turkey sausage link. He likes my dinner of one meatball. Sigh.

He is also impressed that I can eat veggies, including lettuce. I can't eat much, but what I have eaten has not seemed to bother me. Rice, too. He said things that do bother me: eggs, cheese, cottage cheese; and things that don't "bother" me terribly but are still uncomfortable, such as nuts, will get better with time.

Dense protein, some veggies, three meals a day and an occasional snack, if it's protein or veggie or occasional fruit. Yipes. Grains and such are good, too, but my main goal is to be making my stomach work on digesting food.

Oh, and he released me to drinking before meals. I have been adhering to the "no liquid half-hour before or after eating." He said I can drink before a meal, but not for a half an hour after eating.

That was pretty much the transcript of the appointment. Body has healed nicely. I am still allowed to be tired. Come back in three months. In the next week or two, the hematologist will re-check my iron and Vitamin D levels. On 3/21, I go back to the sleep doctor for a CPAP check. Along those lines, I am going to start using the damn CPAP tonight. I haven't used it since a couple nights after surgery. Hateful thing. But this will give him a month of data to look at, hopefully to prove I don't need it anymore.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Terrible, Awful, No Good Eating Day

Oh dear. My daughter had a slumber party last night. The house was full of crap food. Before the party even started, I had a large spoonful of Dreyer's Samoas ice cream. Foolish, stupid move. I had diarrhea within an hour.

And still, I picked. I ate a large handful of Cheetos puffs. A half dozen Hershey's kisses over the course of the night. A couple potato chips. The crunchy crust off a couple slices of pizza. Handfuls of Cinnamon Chex cereal.

In comparison to pre-op life, this would be nothing. But yesterday was bad because I ate uncontrollably, and without regard to my sleeved tummy. Was the lactose-induced stomachache not enough of a harbinger of bad things to come??

I chewed off my fingernails. I haven't bitten my fingernails in months and months.

Okay. What happened? This was the first time I've been around junk food in any quantity. And while I love my daughter and think she has great friends: I don't like slumber parties. Especially in our teeny tiny condo. I was relegated to my daughter's room while they took over the downstairs, and it was noisy and stressful. And pretty damn boring, too. I was already overtired from cleaning all day in preparation for the party.

I'm concerned. On the one hand, I know I need to shake off yesterday's failures and move on. On the other, I fear screwing up my weight loss, negating all the hard work of the surgery and time since. Oh well. Proof positive to me how vigilant I have to be: I am a food addict. Even in the face of all my hard work, put some junk food in front of me and I am right back where I started.

I'm on my period, too. I hope this isn't a new tradition following surgery. One of the benefits of the Mirena IUD is no periods. (Oh hell, in my sexless state, who am I kidding?? It's the ONLY benefit!) So I am feeling bloated, yucky, gross.

Slider foods. Oh - this applies to me, too? Who knew? I have to say, it is whole freaking lot easier to eat a handful of Cheetos than it is to eat a turkey sausage. Damn. Most everything good for me "hurts" my stomach to one degree or another. I had a turkey link for breakfast, and I can feel my stomach working it over now. It's a laborious process. Cheetos? Yum - no pain, just fried cheesy goodness. Dairy may hurt my stomach like a m'fer, but chocolate did not. These were things I did not need to find out.

Too bad I blew it yesterday. In the afternoon, before all this, I had such a wonderful revelation. I am forcing myself into a healthy eating lifestyle. I was out running a ton of errands, and I was hungry. I was grousing to myself that there is no healthy fast food. Nowhere I could run to quickly to get a bite to eat, nothing good for me.

Nothing good for anyone, I realized. Wow. I have never been one to plan our meals, figure out what we'll eat on the road, have healthy snacks on hand for me or the kids. We go through drive-throughs endlessly. No time between activities, no time to shop, no time to plan menus for the week. People who eat healthy must already have the blinders on to the fast food places that I am finally developing. Sure, I've always known it's crap - but post-op, not being ABLE to eat any of that - it is finally making me see. What I have always known was bad, I still considered an option - not *one* option, really - the only realistic option. What a bunch of crap, I realized.

Ah, it seems like every time I take a brilliant step forward in my life, I have to knock myself back a step. It was a terrible eating day, but today won't be. I know what I did wrong, and I just have to get myself back in the game.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Nuts!! (and Minus 35!)

Yeah, baby. That's 35 pounds down the drain. I'm so happy! AND...a paltry one hundred pounds to lose! (Hey - that didn't feel as good to type as I thought it would...hmm) Anyway, when you hear about weight loss surgery, there always seems to be this tagline of "Do you have more than 100 pounds to lose?" or "Are you more than 100 pounds overweight?"

NO. I AM NOT. Thankyouverymuch.

There, that felt better. I knew there was a positive spin somewhere. :) Plus - the hundred pounds is based off my goal weight of 128 pounds. I set it because a) I wanted to be within the "normal" BMI range (this would be 138.5 pounds or less), b) I wanted to be in the 120s, and c) I needed a number, so I chose a BMI of 23 in honor of my friend Kim ( I just looked at the Weight Watchers weight range  and it says I should be between 113 and 141 pounds. We'll see. Goal weight feels very far off, so I am not going to lock in too hard on a number until I get into the ball park.

Anyway! This post is not just about setting and meeting goals - it's about nuts, too! As in, I hate nuts in my oatmeal. But I do like nuts. And I like oatmeal. When you buy oatmeal from SBUX, you get a little packet of nuts, which I always tossed in my desk drawer. Now, I have a drawer full of nut packs (does that sound dirty?) and a teeny tiny stomach.

Solution found! I was sitting at my desk, not wanting to waste money on buying food I can barely eat. But I was getting h-u-n-g-r-y. I stumbled on a nut pack. Fifteen grams of nutty breakfast goodness, the SBUX "Nut Medley." Ten grams of fat and only two grams of protein - hmm, that doesn't sound right. Nuts should have more protein.

Would you believe that fifteen grams of nuts leaves me FULL? Madness. I told a friend last night when I was all filled up on a potsticker (What did you have for dinner last night? Oh, I had a potsticker. Deeelissh. And SO filling!), that I think my surgeon decided to help me out by giving me a teeny tiny sleevy. Not complaining. :) The fact that last Friday I celebrated my 30 pound lost, and this Friday, my 35 pound loss, well, I am feeling pretty darn good about my teeny tiny tummy.

Plus, I'm a very cheap date. I ventured into alcohol last night, having approximately one ounce of a mango punch (yum!) and one potsticker. My buddy got the other five potstickers and the rest of my drink. My surgery is working out well for her, too!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lookie What I'm Doing at My Desk

without even realizing it! Yup, baby, that's what you call a non-scale victory (NSV)! Hello, crossed legs (girl-style, not grab a pant leg and hoist it up then sit like a man), where ya been? Been a few years since I've seen this sight!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fun Graph - Weight Loss to Date

I sure enjoy looking at this weight loss graph! The dot represents my surgery date (1/11/11 @ 255 pounds). It has been a good run so far!

I am working on eating slower and waiting between bites. I'm already a pretty slow eater, so I would be surprised if this is much of a problem. I'm not complaining, but I am a bit concerned about the amount of "real food" I can eat at a sitting. Like two or three bites, only. I can eat more liquids, like soup - as much as six ounces at a sitting. But I'm trying to work on my "real food," as I'm supposed to be off the protein shakes. Uhh, which I am - completely off them. So what protein I'm getting is coming from these two or three bites throughout the day.

Like I said - not complaining. A little curious. I feel great, so I'm not terribly concerned. At five weeks out, I look at the diet from my surgeon I'm supposed to follow, and it is laughable! No way I could eat that much. I know it's what you are supposed to ramp up to, though, so I'll just keep on keepin' on. My next appointment with him is Monday (2/21), so I'll talk to him about it then.

In the meantime, I'll just keep on loving that weight loss graph!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

No more 260s, 250s, 240s and now...230s!

I feel like I am fabricating milestones out of the air, but I can't resist saying goodbye to each burdensome ten pounds. (What word am I looking for here?? Ack! I want to say 'decade,' but that's not right. Oh well, goodbye, 230s!!)

This morning, I was feeling food-venturous and decided to have sauteed spinach for breakfast. Try to guess how tired I am of protein shakes, haha. So, I threw some soy sauce, rice wine, garlic and water chestnuts into the hot pan, and then tossed in the spinach to wilt down quickly. I ate what my little plastic container claims is 125 ml worth - which means, ummmm, 1/2 cup. Yum! I lurves me some spinach. This was my second real foray into the vegetable world since my surgery, since last week I oven roasted some brussel sprouts. Also tasty! They didn't go over as well as the spinach, but I think the main problem there was overindulgence. Eek.

Last night, in an attempt to prove myself foolish and unwilling to learn, I ate fortune cookies. We have a five or more pound bag at home in anticipation of my daughter's slumber party this weekend. See, if you go directly to the fortune cookie factory, you can buy giant bags of what I call "misfortune cookies" (they, much less ominously, call them "unfortunate cookies."). Anyway, flat, crumpled, reject fortune cookies. Actually much better tasting than regular fortune cookies.

Things Julie should not eat, ever again: croutons by the handful; fortune cookies; angel food cake...these are food items in which I exercise no self control. There are others, but strangely, these are the only ones I can think of right now. Credit that to the detached interest in food, I guess. I am wracking my brain to think of the many danger, peppermint ice cream. Anyway, croutons (which I made the other night and tossed, you may recall) and fortune cookies have to top the list. I like small and crunchy! I "dump?" Did I tell you about puking on the drive home the other night?? The results are inconclusive on the dumping issue. On Sunday, I had two small bites of frosted cupcake, to no apparent problem. Later, on the way home, I drank diet Snapple, of which I have consumed muchly lately. Did I drink too fast? Did the cupcake catch up to me? It was long enough later that I really think it was drink too much/too fast. Anyway, I terrorized my children by repeatedly retching and ultimately spewing foamies out the car window as we approached home. (I wouldn't sit here and tell you this in the course of normal conversation, haha, but this *is* after all a blog about my experiences with VSG surgery, and you'll get what you came for!)

I do think that was due to drinking too fast. The cupcake bites were small, and some time had passed before the drive home. Not enough time to conclusively rule it out, but still.

Okay - back to the fortune cookies. Now, pre-surgery, I could lay back some misfortune cookies. Thankfully, I only bought them once or twice a year. But, like Captain Crunch cereal, I could eat them until the roof of my mouth was cut to ribbons. (Captain Crunch is not a food item I generally consumed, however.) Post-op, I had probably three cookies.

So, do I "dump?" Hmm, no retching, no diarrea. Horrible, aching pains, though. Note to self: truly, you must not cede to your sweet tooth's desires. Sugar seems like a very unwelcome treat. Not a treat at all, really. A torture.

As I had to do regarding a  man I once knew, I wallowed in my pain and urged myself to remember this feeling the next time I thought I wanted to eat sweets. Remember - I told myself, as I had with this particular man, "The anticipation and the experience is not worth the aftermath." NOT. WORTH. IT.

Even if it seems like it will be yummy and fun and totally different this time...err, I've forgotten if I'm talking about the man or the cookies! Either way: bad, bad, bad.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Changing Relationship with Food

Go willingly, or go kicking and screaming, dun't matter!

I told my friend today that I am thinking of only eating astronaut food. Sucking on a little vacuum packed foil packet all day. Oh wait, that's the Costco protein shakes, isn't it?

I have lost all interest in food. Not for lack of loving it, or wanting it, but for lack of being able to eat it with any pleasure, and without pain or tummy grumblings. For nearly complete lack of hunger, as well. Today I hadn't eaten by 11:00 a.m. and I could feel it: NEED FOOD. But it was a clinical observation, not an emotional one. I can see how some people stay on the protein shakes after surgery (completely, completely against the medical advice of my surgeon)!

Food is overrated. Bah. I need a good half-dozen food items that I can eat without suffering. AND I AM SO OVER SOUP AND OTHER MUSHY FOOD! I don't even like soup! As another friend says, "Soup isn't a meal." :)

Right now I am drinking a ridiculously overpriced $7 smoothie from Emerald City Smoothie. It's good. I paid extra to up the protein to 32 grams, and I think since I said I wanted that smoothie since it didn't have dairy: they upcharged me and gave me soy protein. I don't think I'm having trouble with the whey protein. Ah, well. This 16-oz smoothie is quite extremely chalky from all the protein, but still tasty. My friend mused whether or not I'd be able to drink all sixteen ounces by the end of the day. I doubt it.

Yesterday, I had a food sample at Trader Joe's: pork carnitas. My stomach said "yes" to the shredded pork. See, there is food out there that my tummy likes! My tummy also said yes to the very fatty salami slices. I think tummy is not thinking clearly on this one, because I'm guessing all that fat can't be good for my weight loss or my sensitive sleeve. I got the pork carnitas sample on the way out the door, so I didn't buy any, but will stop in and get some.

I think the answer there is the "shredded" nature of it. It was very moist. I had a gross soup from Specialty's today: Cream of Chicken and Barley. 'Cept the website where I ordered from didn't say "Cream of" it just said "Chicken and Barley." Still trying to avoid the cream. I tried some of the cubed chicken in the soup, it was tough, tough, tough! Sat okay with the sleeve, but still some grumbling and discomfort. I returned the gross soup for a three-bean vegan soup. My sleeve seems equally unimpressed with beans. I have found this to be true with refried beans, as well.

But, she says happily, that is why I am only two pounds (less than, actually) off my 35-pound weight loss and getting under the "needs to lose a 100 pounds or more" benchmark. These are good things. And it won't always be this way. And I need to capitalize on it now, while the weight is falling off - that won't always be this way, either. Food sensitivities will fade, and weight loss will slow. Each phase is part of the journey.

It's a little frustrating, though. To think of both eating and drinking as a chore. Knowing it must be done, but knowing there is no available option that will make it pleasant.

For the first time in my life: food is fuel. Period.

Friday, February 11, 2011

One Month Post-Op Recap

Happy 30!! Yep, I was delighted to have dropped down to 232-ish this morning, on the one month anniversary of my sleeve gastrectomy surgery. Here is a picture from last summer, alongside one from this afternoon. OMG what happened to my hair color? It must have naturally darkened as autumn approached...

So, some thoughts on the surgery and recovery and everything in between in this first month:
- I got exactly what I expected. I credit this to a wonderful surgeon who took all the time I needed to talk to me and provide any and every explanation I asked for, and many I had not, as well. I also think it was a very smart move to start attending the Weight Loss Support group through my hospital as soon as I started contemplating the surgery. Through them, I was able to hear goods/bads/ups/downs of many, many people who had undergone WLS. I saw people before and after their surgeries, so I was able to have a reasonable expectation of what recovery would look like and feel like. I have also met some really great people.
- I have a tremendous support system. Oh my, I couldn't beat my parents out of my hospital room with a club, even though I begged them to leave me alone. (I am someone who wants to be sick or injured in a cave, alone, trying to recover. Visitors at hospitals feel like foolishness to me, unless you're going to say your final goodbyes!) All my friends have stood by me, providing support and love and cheers and lots of wonderful good stuff. It is easy to recover and succeed when you have lots of people holding you up.
- It gets better every single day. Each day, even when I thought I was feeling pretty good, I would feel better the next. And the next and the next and the next.
- You can read all about the stall at 2-3 weeks and think it won't happen to you, but it does. And then it ends. Yay!
- I think I have lost all my weight thus far in my face and my boobs. ;)
- Just because they say you can eat certain foods during the mushy phase (e.g. scrambled eggs, string cheese) does not mean that you will actually be able to. :) Be flexible.
- The changes happen quickly! Even during my nearly two week stall, my measurements were dropping rapidly and the way clothes fit also changed quickly.
- WLS blogs are fun to read. And extremely helpful.
- Plan, plan, plan! My days are much better when I have an idea of what I'm going to eat throughout the day.
- Drink your fluids. I would say my tummy is not very problematic, but it is a big challenge to get my fluids (56+ ounces a day) in. Yesterday, I hit 40 ounces, and that was a struggle.

I may come back and add to these thoughts later, but this kind of the bulk of them. It is strange, adjusting to my new tummy, but I like it, and I am super-delighted with my progress thus far. There have been a few times when I felt like I was locked in a claustrophobic box, wanting to eat but being unable to think of what I could eat. However, most times, I feel fantastic, and not at all distressed about the capacity of my stomach. I am sooooooooooooo excited to see how things unfold for the rest of the year!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Something's Fishy!

(sashimi: n. A Japanese dish consisting of very thin bite-size slices of fresh raw fish, traditionally served with soy sauce and wasabi.)

Dinner the other night was a great success! We went to a sushi place and split an order of the sashimi salmon. Lots of wasabi and soy and even the ginger, and my tummy said: (drumroll please)


No aches, no pains, no burbling. Just YUM.

I had gotten the idea for sashimi from a Living Well, Eating Well After VSG. I love this blog, and wish she'd update it more often! In this post, she wrote about eating sashimi for breakfast - freezing it, taking off one or two slices before her shower and it was thawed by the time she was ready to eat. I filed this away in the back of my mind, because I already liked to eat it.

The fact that it was so EASY to eat, and pain free, etc. has me really thinking about what I am eating. The next morning, I had my little two ounce cottage cheese container for breakfast. After only a few bites, my stomach is aching and protesting. Until the Sashimi Incident, I had chalked this up to "recovering stomach."

Now, I am thinking, "severe lactose intolerance."

Other dairy things bother my stomach that way. Greek yogurt, for instance. I wasn't sure *why* it would seem so hard for my tummy, but yet, it just is not fun to eat.

I've decided to cut out the dairy. Not worth it right now.


Try to eat a low-carb, dairy- and gluten-free diet. Just try it. I feel like I should just carry a raw fish around in my mouth. I am researching, but basically...well, it's a whole foods type diet. (Oh! Yes! Speaking of Whole Paycheck Foods, Kim, I am very much a fan! More later!)

Well, I'll certainly lose a lot of weight with that. And that is a positive thing. But also, it has me in a bit of a food tantrum right now. And to top it off, my very heavy (and twelve years old today!) daughter insists on being a vegetarian. Trying to feed my family a low-carb, dairy- and gluten-free vegetarian diet?? Well, that just boggles the mind.

Opportunities. Not challenges. ;)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm Lookin' for a New Love, Baby, a New Love...

Yipes, how much does that song date me?

Ahh, the changing relationship with food. Tonight, I am going out with a wonderful friend for a fun evening. We started talking about where to go to dinner. I am thinking dim sum, haha. I'll have a little soup and a little gnosh of something.

Or sushi. Gimme a piece of sashimi.

We decided on the old standby restaurant where I know we can split the tofu, and I'll eat half a slice. :) Maybe a little soup.

Today, I was thinking strategically about lunch. Well, if I eat my yogurt at 9:00, I can go for a walk and get a cup of soup and eat at my desk at 1:00. Maybe earlier, so I will have some interest in eating after work with my friend. Oh, but I need to get my liquids in, too. Hmm. Better eat the yogurt now. Lunch earlier, so I'm not still full at dinner.

Dilemma? Ugh, I am only looking at food in terms of what has the most protein, so I can stop thinking about what I'll eat.

Last night for dinner, I had two IKEA meatballs (frozen). For breakfast, these yoplait lemon torte parfaits are so flippin good they should be illegal. Oh crap!! I was just going to post that they are sugar-free (and other nutritional information) but THEY ARE NOT! Now, how did I do that? I've been buying the S/F pudding and S/F jello and S/F blah blah blah. I honestly thought these were sugar free. Strange. Sigh. Well, I guess I won't be buying those again, not for awhile anyway. Too bad. Lurrve them.

So, I'm both not at all interested in food, and simultaneously mourning the loss of food. What in the hell will me and my buddy do for the 3.5 hours between work and the event we're going to at 7:30?? Not eating, not having drinks?? I am at a bit of a loss. :) The plan is to grab a bite (literally) then drive to the event, hang out walking around in the neighborhood until the show starts. Should be do-able.

When you try to re-build a social life without food as the center, it is an almost mind-boggling problem. My daughter's birthday is this week: I am trying to think of how to celebrate without a big dinner and cake. So far, I've decided on yummy specialty cupcakes. But at some point, I will have to take her to a vegetarian restaurant, as I've promised for months.

25 x 10 = Rubber Legs

Last night, I took the kids up to the Y. I confess, I only intended to sit in the hot tub. But after sitting there for 10-15 minutes, I thought, damn, I'm going to feel badly if I don't at least do some laps. The lap lanes weren't crowded, I was right there, etc.

So I did 10 laps in the 25 yard pool. I hadn't brought goggles, so I just held a kickboard and kicked my way back and forth. I love, love, love the water. It felt really great, and by the time I was done, I felt a good sense of satisfaction.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Yeah, Baby - 90% of Me! (Second Mini-Goal Met)

Happy Monday! Okay, those goals were set pretty close together (losing 25 pounds, then losing 10% of my body weight). Oh well! I get to celebrate them both. :)

This morning, I was 236.6 pounds, which put me a teensy bit under the 236.7 I needed to qualify as 10% lost. Yay! Yesterday, I had my daughter take the dreaded bathing suit photos. I haven't compared them yet, but I will say that back on my surgery date when I put the suit on, it was like putting on a wet suit. Yesterday, it went on easily. Big changes are happening! Whether or not they'll be reflected in the photos, I'm not sure. Just from peeking at them on the camera, it appears things are looking better.

Still need better organization in my life and around my eating. This morning, I was going to bring a yogurt parfait and uh, a sugar free pudding. I am tired of cottage cheese. Didn't matter, because I forgot them both. So I redeemed my coupon for a free oatmeal from SBUX, as well as a soy chai tea latte. $7.50 worth of free goods from SBUX! (I am a registered card user, so it seems that I am always being bombarded with coupons for free stuff, yay!) Unfortunately, both coupons were wasted on me. I always have had to be careful about drinking chai tea on an empty stomach: it can give me a pretty immediate stomachache. This morning, my stomach said, "Seriously?" when I took that first drink. Uh, okay. You're not ready for chai. I was just trying to give you some protein from the soy milk, sheesh.

Similarly, when I got to my desk and took a bite of oatmeal. First bite: yum. Second bite: yum. Third bite: okay, that's enough. Yuck. Where's the cottage cheese?

Tomorrow I am four weeks post-op, and officially free to regular foods. I am supposed to swear off the protein drinks (not hard) and eat lots of dense protein. I can tell you, my stomach does not agree with this timeline. I'm close, but not there yet. Although...

I did have two meals of turkey sausage links this weekend. As in, a turkey sausage link for dinner, and a turkey sausage link for breakfast the next day. ROFL! Oh my, how my meals have changed. These sausages constituted *BIG* meals!

Last night, I picked at a can of tuna, straight out of the can, with the water in it. My children mocked me. I had a little bit, probably nowhere near an ounce. But my stomach tolerated it (and the sausage links) well. Things are definitely healing up.

I have one observation from all this reduced eating and extremely minimal caloric intake. I don't have a lot of energy. I feel good, I look good. But I am pretty tired, and tire easily. My workouts are floundering: my friend and I are taking a nice walk at lunch time, but I didn't go to the Y this weekend while the kids were away.

My house is in worse shape than ever. I've never had much energy to clean house, and since it is the most horrible task in the world, I pretty much suck at it, anyway. But my energy has actually been down, where it is a mess and I don't care.

I'm calling the hematologist today. I can't remember if I was supposed to come in a month after my last appointment (1/17) or six weeks. At my last appointment, my iron and vitamin D levels were normal, and they wanted to see how the levels sustained themselves after a period of time (I'm almost positive it was a month). Anyway, I'm wondering if that has something to do with my tanked energy levels.

Also, I bought liquid vitamins and liquid calcium citrate from Costco the other day but I keep forgetting to take it. I think getting those in would be very helpful - and certainly couldn't hurt!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Intolerance - of the Lactose Variety

After weight loss surgery, they say, it is quite possible to become lactose intolerant. Well, I already was before the surgery, so I didn't let this particular side effect bother me too much. Difference being: I was *mildly* lactose intolerant. Have deep fried cheese sticks at Red Robin? Have cheese fondue? Be prepared to suffer, and suffer badly. Anything else? Ah, no problem in moderation.

Well. The other day, I was out and about, and I somehow convinced myself I could have a small McDonald's ice cream cone. It was about not wanting another protein shake, not wanting any soup, not wanting any "real" food that would give me a tummy ache. I've only had a handful of calories today (Today? HA!! For over a month, you mean.) So, yes, a small vanilla ice cream cone. I specifically asked them to make it small.

I couldn't eat all the way down to the cone, anyway, so I wasn't worried about overindulging. What I did not expect, however, was the HELL my little treat sentenced me to. Awful diarrea, stomach cramps, and, for the first (and hopefully last) time: horrible, horrible empty retching and unproductive vomiting.

Oh my. TMI, you say? Probably. But it's only fair to present all sides of the post-op experience. That was awful. It hurt. I was writhing in cramps and dry-heaving nasty foamies.

Lesson learned. Yeesh.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Minus Twenty-Five, Baby!

Now, there's a number I can get behind! How exciting! The scale is really reflecting all the changes in my life, and I am so grateful! I am officially lighter than I've been in recent years, or recent memory. I remember the scale hitting 237-ish when I was working out all the time after the divorce. Now I'm back at 237-ish again! (Yes, sadly, the weight did bounce up that much after all the working out, plus quitting smoking. This was a big factor in my decision to have weight loss surgery, actually. All my "wins" were always offset by such huge losses - and I couldn't tolerate my weight going any higher.)

But today is not a day of regrets or recriminations, it's a celebration, baby!! Gone are the 260s, the 250s, and the 240s. SEE YOU AROUND, SUCKERS! Don't let the door hit you in the (fat) ass on the way out!

I am happy, happy, happy this morning, and feeling pleased with the direction I'm taking my bod. This morning, a good friend is coming over to help me go "Clean House" on this little condo. I'm armed with a winning attitude, a 10% off coupon from the Container Store, and an OCD neat-freak buddy who is going to help me go freaky on my disorganized castle.

Have a great day, everyone!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Unexpected Challenges

I am a total blog-hound these days. I can't get enough reading about WLS, especially the VSG. So, if you're one of the blogs I follow (or haven't found yet!) I implore you to blog often for my benefit. :)

Myself, I am doing quite well, thank you! My weight has creeped down a half pound or so each of the last couple days, so I'm in uncharted territory once again. I am hopeful that I'm on the downhill slide of this weight loss journey!

At the risk of TMI, because this blog is chronicling my experience with VSG, I'll speculate a bit on 2-3 pounds I gained after surgery, shortly after experiencing a near-immediate drop of fourteen pounds. As I had read many times on, I started my period within a week and a half or so of surgery. And it drug on and on and on. I have a Mirena IUD, so I rarely have periods any more, but, as predicted, I started up and it lasted awhile. I think between the surgery, the weight loss and the cycle, my poor body was in some sort of shock. But the period has stopped, the weight loss has started, and everything seems to be moving forward swimmingly.

The couple challenges I'm experiencing right now: nothing big, just a bit of a surprise, and something I have to manage a bit.

1. I bought all this protein powder before the surgery, and absolutely cannot stomach drinking it. The only protein I can tolerate right now is the Premier protein chocolate drink from Costco. Anything else sounds vile to me. I had read about people's tastes changing following surgery, but I wasn't expecting this abrupt hatred. The Unjury chicken soup protein that I loved during my pre-op liquid diet sounds horrificly unpalatable. Bah. I have a cabinet full of protein powder that  I will not touch!

2. When I am hungry, a funny thing happens. My stomach is so physically limited, but once the "eat" light is turned on in my brain, it is hard to keep myself in sync. Today, I enjoyed a delicious turkey chili from Specialtys - actually maybe the best thing I've eaten post-op. So my tummy is ready to receive, but as I am eating and my tummy starts putting on the brakes, my head is still saying, "oooohhh, but this is sooooo goooood...." This will clearly be a challenge I'll have to manage, because overstuffing my stomach is about the most miserable thing I've ever experienced.

3. Staying hydrated. When the "eat" light is not on in my head - well, I'm not interested in eating or drinking. Just nothing. I had one day earlier this week when I realized that I had not eaten or drank for most of the morning/early afternoon. I am still concerned about dehydrating. I've managed this very carefully, making sure I always have a drink available. If it's around, I'll drink it.

3a. I have opted out of my surgeon's recommendation to avoid using drinking straws. I am trying to talk myself into following this request, but I find it annoying. If I buy it in a bottle or am drinking at home, no straw. But my SBUX iced tea at my desk? Straw.

3b. Not drinking while eating is very important, I can see, but WOW, that is a challenge!! Oh my, I didn't realize what a difficult habit this will be to break.

 4. Vitamins. Here's another "change in taste" issue. I bought vitamins online right after my surgery. I would rather eat paste than take these vitamin and calcium chewables. Yak! Do not like, do not like. I have heard that Costco has a liquid calcium citrate. I am going to buy that this evening, I think. Cannot tolerate these calcium chewables (and they must be calcium citrate, which is actually surprisingly limiting of your choices out there). Hate the vitamins, too.

These are my little gripes. Nothing too serious, for sure. All in all, I am doing extremely well 3+ weeks post-op! I feel great, I look great (healthy and happy), and I'm starting to see little changes in my body. Today I caught a glimpse of my collarbones. Hey - I'm not an invertebrate, after all!