Friday, January 31, 2014

i got the job...

I am officially employed again!  I got the job I interviewed for last week.  I start on Tuesday.  I was hoping for another week off, but I'd much rather be making more money than unemployment is paying me.

This weekend I will need to get all my work clothes together and figure out what fits and what doesn't, what is old and worn out, etc.  I'm hoping I don't have to buy any clothes since they won't fit me soon anyway.  I'll also need to figure out how to structure my days so I can get all my water, vitamins, etc.  Then figure out breakfasts and lunches.  Oh boy.  This is getting overwhelming already.

today's lunch...

Today was 2.25 oz of egg salad with a couple crackers.  It wasn't very low in fat, though.  I made it with regular mayo because I was out of the light version.  And my crackers were also regular (buttery Town House crackers, which I LOVE!), not reduced fat.  When I go shopping I plan to get light mayo and reduced fat crackers.

Since I only average about 600 calories a day right now it's probably not a big deal to have the full fat versions of my foods, but I don't want to get into the mindset that it's always OK just because my calories are low.  There's more saturated fat and cholesterol in regular mayo than there is in light mayo.  If arteriosclerosis runs in your family as it does in mine, that's something to think about.

Nutritional breakdown:

  • 197 calories
  • 18.6 g fat
  • .5 g carbs
  • 6.3 g protein
I made this with three hard boiled eggs, 4 TB regular mayo and some salt and pepper.  Yields 3-2.25 oz servings.

deleted comments...

I have to apologize.  I accidentally deleted all the comments that were left on my blog.  They weren't deleted because I don't want them there, but because I got a little happy with the Delete button this morning.  Please continue commenting and I will make sure not to delete again.

thoughts on "My 600 lb Life"...

Has anyone see TLC's series My 600 lb Life?  It follows one year in the life of a weight loss surgery patient and they feature a new patient each week.  It chronicles their decision to have the surgery, the surgery itself, life afterwards, and their struggles and successes.  Many of these patients are so obese, they are bedridden. They usually have to lose weight before the surgery, sometimes complications, need physical therapy because they haven't walked in so long. and often have other surgeries afterwards, such as removal of lymphedema masses.  I like the show overall, but I don't think it really presents an accurate picture of what it's really like.  I guess it does from a 600 lb point of view, but it doesn't talk at all about the pre-op testing (sleep study, upper endoscopy, stress test, blood work, etc.), psychiatric evaluation and counseling, nutritional counseling, after-surgery support groups, and what the lifestyle is like afterwards.  It seems as though the patient makes the decision and then just goes and has the surgery.  I'm sure they go through more than that, but you wouldn't know it from watching the show and that's where I find fault with it.

The episode that aired last week followed Penny's journey.  This episode made me very frustrated.  Penny was bedridden, her husband unemployed, they had a small son, and they were living off her Disability money. She was fairly young, too.  In her 30s, I believe.  Prior to surgery she weighed 530 lbs. The doctor required her to lose some weight before surgery. She lost 40 lbs.  So, she had a gastric bypass and lost...nothing. Nothing in the entire year TLC followed her progress.  In fact, she gained weight.

So why did Penny not succeed?  Because she was a total "victim".  Nothing was her fault, the scales were wrong/broken (the HOSPITAL scales!), she wouldn't walk, and she refused to set goals because she said that guaranteed she would fail.  Her husband was a complete enabler. He would go out any buy any food she wanted.  The shopping list was all junk food and he admitted he knew he shouldn't buy the junk, but also knew he'd face Penny's wrath if he didn't.  A nutritionist came in to teach the family how to eat.  Also, a physical therapist came in to help get Penny walking again.  Neither worked.  I think the worst of it all, and the biggest reason she failed, is she seemed to believe that the surgery would magically fix everything and guarantee she would lose weight.   Penny didn't seem to realize or acknowledge that she would have to actually do some work by following the diet, exercising, and following up with the doctor.  It's dangerous to have that attitude.  That's not how it works.  Yes, it makes your stomach tiny so you can only eat so much at a time, but you can still eat in excess of the calories you need by grazing all day long.  And it was clear she was eating way more than she was supposed to, and eating the wrong foods.

I was really surprised that Penny was approved for weight loss surgery.  And I'm surprised a doctor would do this surgery given her mentality.  Her story is why I wonder what kind of pre-op work is done when patients appear on this show.  I had to have a psychiatric evaluation and meet with a counselor several times before I could be approved for surgery.  They want to make sure that you will follow through with the diet and do everything you're supposed to do in order to have success.  And, of course, want to address any mental health issues.  Maybe they did a psych eval and she totally snowed them.  I don't know.

Here's a link to the story:  Penny's story
Here's a link to an article about the backlash in response to her story:  Backlash

Thursday, January 30, 2014

baked lentils...

Tonight I made baked lentils topped with cheese.  It's a recipe that was recently given to me by my sister-in-law, which was adapted from the More-with-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre.  I made my own adjustments to it.  I omitted the celery and peppers.  Not because I don't like them, but because I didn't have celery in the house and the frozen chopped peppers looked like a science experiment so I threw them out.  (I don't bother buying fresh peppers unless I'm making stuffed peppers.)  I followed the recipe as written, but when it was time to add the cheese on top, the casserole just seemed very plain. All I could smell was the onions and canned tomatoes.  It was a little too loose for me.  I guess I expected a thick casserole. I then added a jar of pasta sauce and about a 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.    That did the trick.  It came out great.  I would make it again, although I would probably halve the recipe.  There's no way we would eat all this before it's time to toss it.

I calculated out all the calories, fat, carbs, and protein and divided that by an approximate number of servings.  Assuming I can eat a full serving, I'll get about 11g of protein.  Here are the pictures:

Before going into the oven.

Finished product.

My approximate serving size.  This is about 3 ounces, 
which is a little much for me in one sitting.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

insults disguised as compliments...

I was on a bariatric surgery forum this morning and someone posted that she had always had people tell her, "You have such a pretty face."  It reminded me of all the times well-meaning people have said this to me, thinking it's a compliment when it's actually an subtle insult.  It's basically saying that the rest of me is fat and ugly, and the only thing remotely attractive or redeeming about me is my face.   One of my first boyfriends said this to me.  "You have a pretty face, but you need to work on things from your neck down."  I was hurt, but being the people pleaser I was (I was 14), I didn't give it another thought and stayed with him.  I figured, at least he's honest.  He eventually dumped me, although very indirectly.  Now I know he was just an asshole.  If someone said that to me today I'd probably tell him where to go and how to get there, as well as what he can do to himself once he gets there.

So, the bottom line is this:  if you say this to people, please stop.  You're not complimenting the person. You're making them feel bad about themselves, like they're not enough.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

tonight's dinner...

I went to Whole Foods today, which was tough because there are so many foods I love there.  I was looking for a specific ingredient I needed for a recipe I want to try.  I was OK until I got to the last isle.  I got to the cheese section and that was fine; I'm allowed cheese.  Actually, it's a good source of protein for me. They had some samples out so I grabbed a couple pieces.  Yummy!  Some sort of aged cheddar.  I moved on to the hot bar and after walking around the islands several times I grabbed a small roasted boneless chicken thigh, some garlic green beans, and two roasted Brussels sprouts (I wanted to try something totally new). Oh, and some hummus.  After that I started towards the registers.  Walking by the bakery and the pizza counter was tough.  Not emotional, just tough.  I felt some faint cravings for the pigs in blankets and the fresh bread.  I then started to wander around the bakery area and gaze at all the goods.  I looked for the house made granola bars and found them.  Not sure why I bothered since it's a little too early for those.  And it's a total binge food for me.  Realizing that I was starting to lust after the bagels, I grabbed some donuts for Bob and left.

So here's tonight's dinner.  1.5 oz chicken, half a Brussels sprout and three garlic green beans.  Verdict?  My stomach wasn't too thrilled with the chicken.  It felt kinda heavy in there and it just didn't agree.  It could be that chicken isn't going to by my friend anymore, or could be all the oil.  Given the level of sheen on these food items, I'm willing to bet they were cooked with a crap load of oil.  I'm not sure how I feel about the Brussels sprout.  It was OK.  I didn't detect anything other than oil. No seasonings or anything.  I think I might try making my own before I make a final decision.

And obviously Max enjoyed playing in the bag.

Monday, January 27, 2014

today's lunch...

Today for lunch I had some refried beans sprinkled with a little shredded cheddar cheese.  This is one of my staples since it tastes good, it's filling, and it's easy to eat.  The protein is pretty good, too.  It's a mouth-friendly meal while I'm waiting to get my root canal finished.

1/4 cup of refried beans and 1/8 cup shredded cheddar:

  • 129 calories
  • 5.6g fat
  • 12.5g carbs
  • 7.7g protein

down 47.4 lbs today...

It seems as though my weight loss is going very slow and that it's been much longer than a month since surgery.  But when I think about the fact that I lost 21 lbs on the pre-op diet and 26.4 lbs since surgery a month ago, I realize that's pretty damn good!

I've had some non-scale victories ("NSV") as well:  I can close my coat AND it OVERLAPS; my knees don't bother me anymore; my shirts hang better; and I don't feel and look like the Michelin Man anymore.

Time to start the daily cycle of water, protein, and vitamins.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

today's breakfast and lunch...

I did a little something different today for breakfast.  I wanted an egg as usual, but didn't feel like dirtying another frying pan.  So I had a cottage cheese double (strawberry) and low fat string cheese.  14g of protein total!  At first I ate only the cottage cheese, but it's a "slider" food and it didn't really fill me.  A slider food is one that is very soft and tends to slide through your pouch pretty fast.  Think yogurt, very soft scrambled eggs, soup, etc.

For lunch I tried a Gorton's Grilled Haddock fillet.  No pans needed!  Just one fork, foil and a paper plate. Tasted good, but definitely required more chewing.  It was a nice change, though.

Soon I will start posting more exciting foods.  Even though I've been unemployed for a couple months now, I haven't experimented with any GB-friendly recipes yet.  Mainly because of this damn root canal.  I don't feel like having to chew too much and don't want to risk upsetting my temporary filling.  I'll be happy when the permanent cap is on.  I'm dying to break into the cashews that have been waiting for me in the cupboard!

subscribing by email...

Anyone who wants to subscribe to my posts by email can now do so.  I didn't realize when I added the Follow by Email box that there was an additional step i had to do.  It's working correctly now (I tested it).

Since I couldn't test everything before I decided on a blogging site to use, there's been some trial and error. Please bear with me. And let me know if you find something that isn't working.

unemployed, with a full-time job...

I'm unemployed right now, but I'm kind of glad because getting into this new lifestyle takes time and effort. I've discovered that being a gastric bypass ("GB") patient is a full-time job, at least right now it is.  It's a never-ending cycle of drinking water, taking vitamins, eating a meal, drinking water, checking to make I have enough protein, etc.  Maybe it's not as bad as it sounds, but it's tough to do all those things and meet my daily goals when my new stomach ("pouch") is the size of my thumb.  I'm guessing it will be easier to keep all the balls in the air when I'm further out and my pouch capacity grows a little.  At the moment I'm struggling to get a solid routine going.

My daily protein goal is 70-75g.  Since starting my regular diet on January 20, I think there has only been one day where I've actually met the goal. I find I am very close to meeting it most days.   Since my stomach is so small, I can't get all my protein from my food.  Plus I get only three meals a day, preferably no snacks. That means drinking protein drinks or eating protein bars.  Although, I usually don't eat a protein bar unless I'm going out and won't be near food.  I use it as a meal, otherwise it puts me behind in getting my fluids in. More on that later.  I usually start the morning with a protein hot chocolate, which gives me 15g.  Breakfast is either a scrambled egg with some cheese (10g) or a Greek yogurt (12g).  Lunch is whatever is around. Sometimes it's leftover lentil soup from the Turkish place down the road or a couple cheese sticks.  Maybe some refried beans with a little cheese and sour cream.  I try to make sure lunch gives me at least 10g of protein.  Same for dinner.  Sometimes I'll sneak a snack in, like a cheese stick or a turkey sausage stick (kind of like a Slim Jim).  If all goes according to plan, the hot chocolate plus my food should give me about 50g for the day.  I then try to make up the difference with a protein drink, which has 23g.

And that leads me to fluids.  I'm supposed to get 1.5 to 2 liters of fluids a day.  Fluids are water, Crystal Light, skim milk, low calorie sports drinks, 100% vegetable juice; pretty much anything that's low calorie and non-fat.  This is a tough one.  I can no longer gulp down half a glass of water at a clip; I have to sip.  Not tiny sips, but not gulps either.  Also, I have to stop drinking 30 minutes before eating and can't drink again until 30 minutes after eating.  So with my eating time usually around 20 minutes, I'm losing an hour and 20 minutes of drinking time each time I eat.  That's why there's really no room for snacking.  Not yet, at least.  In order to help me get all my water in I've bought a 1.5 liter bottle of Poland Spring, which I refill each day.  But I often find myself with almost half a bottle left at 9 PM.  One trick I've tried to get all the water in is to use the vitamin crystals, which uses up two glasses of water and I get most of my vitamins in.  But then I get tired of the orange flavor so it's back to plain water and my chewable vitamins.  I think next I'll mix up some Crystal Light.

And then there's the vitamins.  I need two chewable multivitamins, 1500mg of calcium and a Vitamin D everyday.  The reason for two chewables is that as a GB patient, I don't absorb certain things as well so I need a double dose.  I started out using the vitamin crystals, because I was on a liquid diet and then later I could knock out two glasses of water that way, plus get the vitamins.  But as time went on, I wanted something to chew on and I got tired of the orange flavor.   I'm finding it hard to remember to take all my vitamins.  Often it gets to be 10 PM and I still have two calciums, a multi, and the Vitamin D.  I'm thinking I'll have to set an alarm for myself at intervals throughout the day.  At least until I get back to work and get into a routine.

Well, I just finished my hot chocolate so I guess I'll start my vitamins now.  Then I can eat.  Then I'll start ,y water.  Then I'll...

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I've noticed that my nightmares have changed since my weight loss surgery.  No longer do I dream about ghosts, endless falling, being naked in class, being unable to open my school locker, not having my class schedule, or trying to lock the doors of the grocery store while customers keep streaming in (I worked in a grocery store for 5 years and usually made the closing announcement).  Nowadays I dream that I'm eating something, usually steak, very fast and not chewing well enough.  In my frenzy to finish the food I accidentally swallow a bite that's too big.  In my dream I start to feel as though I'm having a heart attack and start panicking.  I can't decide if I should ride it out or try to make myself vomit.  Then I wake up.

I guess it's not strange that this is my new nightmare.  It's a well-known fact of weight loss surgery that patients have to thoroughly chew their food so that the food can make it through the bottom opening of the stomach into the intestines.  We no longer have stomach acid to aid in digestion.  It's not until the food travels further down the line that the digestive juices mix with the food.  So if we swallow too big a bite, or eat something really dry, it basically sits in our stomach until we either vomit it back up or it breaks down enough on its own to make it through the opening.  Lucky for me that hasn't happened yet.  I'm very careful to chew thoroughly, because I'm paranoid about getting food stuck.  I just had part two of a root canal done so I've been sticking to really soft foods that don't require tons of chewing.  I don't want to take the chance that something gets stuck.

Friday, January 24, 2014

just because he's so damn cute...

Max, A.K.A. Maxi Poo, Maxi Pad (blame Bob for this one).

how to comment...

Just in case anyone is having issues with commenting...

After you enter your comment you have to select a profile.  Select Name/URL and enter your name or whatever name you want to use (URL not required), or you can select Anonymous.  I've disabled comment approval, spam filtering and all that so it should be easy.

my breakfast today...

Here's today's breakfast:  one whole egg and one egg white scrambled with about a teaspoon of 2% milk. When I look at this plate, it amazes me that this fills me the same as if I'd eaten a cheeseburger platter.  I'd love to put some cheese on it, but my stomach will only hold so much.  If I add the cheese, I will feel as though I just had Thanksgiving dinner and will have to go recline in the chair with my pants unbuttoned. I used to fill my stomach almost beyond capacity all the time, but nowadays I can't stand that feeling anymore.  

I'm surprised that I like eggs more now that I did before surgery.  I guess I just didn't want to waste my taste buds on just eggs when I could be having a bagel with cream cheese or a bagel breakfast sandwich.  I think I appreciate them more now because I spent a month on a fat free or liquid diet.  My first solid food was a soft scrambled egg and it was heaven!  So soft and creamy, salty and a little peppery.  Small, silky egg curds that melted in my mouth.  It took me 20 minutes to eat that egg and it was ice cold by the time I took my last bite, but I didn't care.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

job interview today...

I just got back from a job interview.  Only my second real interview, ever.  Hopefully I get this job; it sounds really exciting.  The bank I worked at for 17 years shut down in September.  I spent a couple months helping the FDIC wrap things up, but I'm now unemployed for the first time ever.  I've been working non-stop since I was 16.  So, 23 years.  Although I'm sad the bank closed and we couldn't continue our mission, I'm glad to have the time to focus on my weight loss.

After weight loss surgery, it's a full time job to get myself on an eating schedule, make sure I get all my water in (1 1/2 to 2 liters a day), get all my protein (70g+), and get all my vitamins.   My new stomach is the size of my thumb, so it's pretty tough to get all that water in, especially when I can't drink a half an hour before meals or a half an hour afterwards.  The purpose of that is to keep the food in my stomach for as long as possible, which will keep me feeling full.  I no longer have the little valve at the bottom of the stomach that opens and closes to all food to pass through or to keep it in the stomach.  Since the bottom of the stomach is now open to the intestines, drinking water too close to a meal, or during it, will allow the stomach to empty out faster.

Surgery was a month ago and I'm just now getting myself into a routine.  Now that a possible new job is on the horizon, I'm starting to wonder how I will keep up the routine at work.  Meals are easy and I can assemble those at home ahead of time, but I'm thinking I will need to set up Outlook reminders so I don't forget the vitamins and will have to bring a big water bottle to work so I can drink at least one liter before I leave work for the day.  Then I will have to drink only half a liter once I get home, eat my dinner, and finish my last vitamin and calcium chew.  Life after weight loss surgery is all about planning ahead so it's never too early to start.

today's breakfast...

I had a root canal a couple weeks ago and yesterday was part two.  My affected tooth has been bothering me so I'm sticking to very soft "slider" foods until the pain goes away.

Today's breakfast isn't very exciting.  I started the morning with a Bariwise cinnamon flavored hot chocolate (15g protein!).  Now I'm having my Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt.  Key Lime flavor.  It's low in sugar and high in protein (12g!), which is great for a bariatric patient.  We require at least 70-75g protein everyday, so any foods or drinks that are high in protein are on our radar.

I never thought I would get into the whole Greek yogurt thing, but I really like this brand.  When I went shopping for yogurt shortly after surgery, I was horrified to see the whole yogurt display taken over by Greek yogurt.  I had tried it when it first hit the shelves and hated it.  Tasted sour to me.  But now that I've had gastric bypass, the higher-sugar, lower-protein regular yogurts just aren't worth it for me to eat.  I spent a lot of time in the isle and discovered Dannon Light & Fit Greek.  This will be my go-to yogurt from now on.  Especially because they have chocolate cherry and chocolate raspberry flavors.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

things I'm looking forward to...

These are some of the things I'm looking forward to as I begin losing more weight.

  1. Ziplining
  2. Learning to kayak 
  3. Rollerskating (I practically lived on my skates when I was a kid)
  4. Hiking
  5. Being able to shop for clothes ANYWHERE
  6. Being able to buy quality brands (many don't sell women's sizes, and if they do they run small)
  7. Not having to worry about the seat belt on the plane fitting me properly
  8. Crossing my legs without having to hold my top leg in place
  9. Wearing skinny jeans with knee-high boots
  10. Not being self-conscious anymore
  11. Getting rid of the CPAP machine
  12. More energy
  13. Being able to tuck in a shirt.  Well, let's be realistic.  That will probably never happen.  I hate tucked in shirts.  But being able to do it if I want to will be nice. :)
  14. Feeling beautiful on the outside, not just inside
  15. Not having a feeling of doom when elevators or escalators aren't working
  16. Eating to live, not living to eat
  17. Bras and underwear that fit properly
  18. No more back pain
  19. Being able to wear the rings and bracelets Bob bought for me through the years

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

today's lunch...

Here's today's lunch.  2.5 ounces of chicken salad with dried cranberries and walnuts.  And this fills me like a cheeseburger platter.  Crazy, right?!  For the moment I'm using the canned chicken breast meat.  It's more moist than a regular chicken breast.  I'm going to wait a bit longer before I start adding regular cooked chicken to my diet. I don't want to chance it getting stuck in my stomach or that it doesn't agree with me.  My new tummy is still a baby.

I'm better at taking cat pictures.  Don't judge.

the pre-op process...

I'm about a month out from surgery now, so I figured for my first post I would tell you about my experiences during the pre-op preparation process.

I started the pre-op process in May, 2013.  I started by attending an informational session at the local hospital.  It was about an hour and a half.  The bariatric doctor talked about the three different types of bariatric surgery and what's involved, the risks, the pros and cons, and the post-op lifestyle.  He then answered questions.  We filled out information packets and handed them in.  This was so the doctor's office could get our insurance information and then provide with an estimate of the costs.  I found it to be a very informative seminar.

So once I got my estimate I made my first appointment for May 30.  With my insurance company, I had to either provide proof of compliance with a supervised weight loss program (duration of at least 6 months, within the last two years), or participate in a 3-month pre-op multidisciplinary preparation program.  I chose the 3-month program since it had been longer than two years since my last weight loss program (more about that another day).

So at my first appointment I talked with the nutritionist and she gave me a binder that had all sorts of information about the diet stages, lifestyle, do's and don'ts. etc.  Very useful.  She weighed me.  We talked about the kinds of foods I would be eating afterwards and she told me I should start preparing as soon as I could.  Meaning, start cutting down on my diet soda (4+ cans a day!), eating a little healthier, drinking more water, and starting on my vitamins.  I had two more appointments with her before surgery.

During the 3-month program I had a home sleep study to see if I had sleep apnea; I did, and it was severe. Kind of scares me to know I could have died in my sleep at any time, at the age of 38.  I kind of figured I did since my snoring was very loud and deep, according to my husband, Bob, and a few other people.  He would very often have to go sleep on the couch because it was so bad.  But that stopped when they prescribed to me a CPAP machine.  Getting that machine felt like the ultimate illustration of what I had done to myself with food.  It was emotional and I hated it, but I used it for his sake.  

I also had an upper endoscopy to look for ulcers and hiatal hernias.  Guess what?  I had a hiatal hernia.  The endoscopy was not a good experience for me because I am a terrible gagger.  It wasn't painful or a long process, but I felt the scope at the back of my throat so it was the longest 5 minutes of my life.  I got through it, though.  If I have to have it again, I am going to make damn sure they put me out for it.  By the time I was done my makeup was running down my face from my tearing eyes.  There's a little more, but it lives in the realm of TMI.

So, what else?  Oh, an EKG, treadmill stress test, and blood work.  That came after my insurance approval.  The insurance approval took over 2 months.  Paperwork was submitted August 30 and I got my approval November 5.  I cried; I was so happy.  Originally I was denied, because my primary doctor made a mistake on the Letter of Medical Necessity she had to submit.  So it had to be corrected and resubmitted.  A word of advice:  double-check with your bariatric doctor's office prior to insurance submission to make sure all the ducks are in a row.  In my experience, and in talking to others, insurance companies routinely deny this type of surgery the first time around and you want to make sure there are no paperwork errors.