Sunday, February 26, 2017

tummy tuck "before" pictures

Well, here they are, in all their glory. UGH. Can't believe I'm posting these, but I said I would.  This is what 30 years of yo-yo dieting and constant weight loss and gain does to a body. Ain't no amount of exercise going to help this!  There are several views here. I think the most dramatic is head-on, bent over (last picture).

See the bulge extending down from the bra line to my waist? That's from separated abdominal muscles. That's what happens when you're obese for a very long time.  

Tomorrow that frowning belly button won't be frowning anymore. :)

There it is. Let it all hang out! And no those aren't my boobs. 
That's my sagging skin below my boobs.

I took my measurements this morning:  waist, 40"; hips, 48".  The large hip measurement is largely due to my excess skin.  My weight is 209, which means I've lost nearly all of my weight regain (lowest weight was 203). I probably lost it all, but added muscle since I've been working out five times a weeks for almost a year and nearly all of that was strength training. My goal is to get under 200 pounds. Although I'd still be considered "overweight" by medical standards, it's more about how I feel.

I think I'm ready for tomorrow morning. Yes, I'm nervous. But I'm excited, too. I'm looking forward to eventually having a wider range of motion, not having to tuck my skin into my pants before I button them, and not having to arrange my belly when I sleep on my side. I'm also looking forward to no more rashes under the belly and getting rid of that One Spot that itches all the time (so annoying!).  I have to admit, too, that I'm pretty curious as to how many pounds of skin are taken off. Any bets?? I'm thinking six to eight pounds. It might not look like a ton of loose skin, but it sure feels like it when I'm going about my daily activities.

I have to be there at 8:40 am and surgery will be around 9:30 am. I got all my house cleaning and laundry done and my travel bag is packed. I'm bringing my compression garment, pajama pants, underwear, socks, my sports bra, and a pair of my workout pants (not sure if they'll be too tight around my waist). I'm hoping not to wear pajama pants home, but we'll see how the workout pants fit. I might have to. Since I'm coming home the same day, there's really nothing else I need.

Well, off to bed. Let's see how I sleep tonight. I may need to take a Valium; the surgeon prescribed some just in case I need it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

tummy tuck countdown: five days to go

The countdown is on!  Only five more days until I get the abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) done.  It seemed so far away only months ago; however, I now wonder where all that time went.

My plan is to document, as best I can, the process. Yes, I will post my "before" and "after" photos. Some of these will not be pretty, but if it helps someone else who is thinking about doing this, then that's great. 

Today I started washing the area to be operated on with Hibiclens, a pink antimicrobial soap that smells like a hospital. I read the bottle and it has some scary warnings on there, such as to make sure not to get it in the ear if you have a perforated eardrum because you can do deaf. Also, don't use it on the genitals. I hadn't planned to do either one of these, so no problem there. Oh, and it also said it could cause chemical burns, which gave me pause for a minute. But I have to use it. And I'm sure the doctor wouldn't tell me to use something if it wasn't important. The purpose is to kill anything that could be lurking on my skin, such as MRSA, so as to prevent infections. I have to use it for five days.

Because of the whole chemical burn thing, I couldn't decide whether I should use my hands, a washcloth or a puff. Since the puff was upstairs, I nixed that idea. I then wondered if it would stain the washcloth, so I nixed that, too, and settled on using my hands. Since I was supposed to use a very small amount, I figured I'd take my chances for a chemical burn on my hands. I was fine. No burning or stinging or anything. It didn't lather, which seemed really weird, but I assume it's still doing it's job. It also smells very antiseptic-like.

The next post will likely be Sunday and will be my "before" pictures, which I'm sure will be lovely. UGH.  No laughing!

Monday, February 20, 2017

another new resident at the rainbow bridge

Unfortunately this past week we had to say an unexpected goodbye to Felix.

Felix was 16 years old and we've had him since 2002.  I came home from work one day and saw a cat in the bushes next to the house. I called him out thinking it was my cat, Sam, as Felix looked exactly like him. When he got up on the porch, however, I realized it wasn't Sam.  No matter. I started petting him, as he was incredibly friendly and really enjoyed the petting. Me being me, I decided to feed him and the rest is history.

Wednesday night he came into the family room and went under the coffee table where he collapsed and started panting hard. Since we didn't see him collapse, only heard it, we thought he'd been playing and overdid it. We watched him for a few minutes and decided to wait a bit before deciding if he needed to go to the emergency vet. When he got up, however, it was clear it was his time. He was trying to walk, but his lower body was completely paralyzed and he was dragging himself across the floor. He then started looking around and dragging himself over to the TV stand, which told us he knew something was very wrong and he was in pain. We quickly decided that whatever the issue was, it wasn't good and that it was time to put him down. Had this been a younger cat, we may have decided to have him checked out to figure out the problem and do treatment, but Felix was 16 years old and we knew any treatments for something like this would likely be unsuccessful or would, at the least, provide no long-term benefit. So, I called the emergency vet and told them to expect us within a half hour.

Felix meowed and panted most of the way to the vet.  When we got there they asked if we wanted him to be examined or if we'd made "the decision." I told them we'd made the decision to put him down. They took Felix in back and brought us into an examining room. As we were walking back I noticed that they lit a candle and dimmed the lights. The plaque next to the candle said that if the candle was lit, someone was saying their final goodbye to their loved one; I thought that was nice.

While we waited for him to be brought in--they had to shave his paw and insert the catheter--they walked us through our choices:  cremation with ashed returned, general cremation with no return of ashes, or home burial. Normally we would choose home burial, but with a foot of snow on the ground, we decided to have him cremated and bring the ashes home. We'll bury his ashes near the garden once the ground thaws.

And then it was time. We explained what had happened to the doctor and she immediately knew what the issue was:  a blot clot had broken apart and lodged in his abdominal artery, which caused the lower body paralysis. She assured us that it was very painful for Felix, that it's not fixable, he would have had underlying heart disease, and that we're doing the right thing. I was so grateful she said that. Up until that point we were still doubting ourselves as to whether we were making the right decision; it's so hard to know since cats hide pain very well. She asked if we'd like time alone with him. We wanted the extra time, but Felix was becoming really stressed so we told her to go ahead and administer the drugs. And that was it. We spent a few minutes with him afterwards and said our goodbyes. I couldn't stop touching his paws. They felt so soft and I just wanted to keep touching them.

Felix was such a friendly cat and truly loved affection (unlike my other bums). He purred very loudly.  I'll miss him hanging out in the spare bedroom or at the bottom of the stairs each morning, waiting for someone to get up and feed him. Him and his one remaining tooth (he had to have most teeth out a few years ago).  Hopefully he's met up with all my other kitties that have crossed the bridge and they're having the time of their lives. Goodbye, Felix. We love you and will miss you! (And I hope you have a full set of choppers once again. 😸)

Felix in 2002, shortly after we took him in.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

weekly cookbook project: grilled asparagus with southwest spice mix

I decided to buy some asparagus this week. Since I've been back to eating the way I should, I've been wanting more fruits and vegetables. I actually made a special trip to a local store that I don't usually shop at just so I could look at the produce section. I came home with asparagus, Fuji apples, potatoes, and...something else I can't remember now.

Since I hadn't yet made a recipe from one of my cookbooks this week, I decided I would make it simple and find one for asparagus. Hmm, not so simple. Most of the recipes were in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook, and they all required performing the steps for blanching the asparagus first. So basically that meant making two recipes just to get a finished product. My last resort was Martha Stewart's Cooking School cookbook. (Even though I don't care for her and hate how all her home goods tend to take over the whole store, this is a really useful book and is well-written.) Lo and behold, I found an easy one there:  grilled asparagus with southwest spice mix.  All I had to do was wash the asparagus and snap the woody ends off, throw together the spices (salt, cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, and paprika), toss the asparagus with the spice mix and a bit of olive oil, and grill the spears. It was so easy and tasted great. Just a little kick of spice, but nothing overwhelming. I find I like to grab a few spears from the fridge and eat them as a snack.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

the scale is moving and it's almost go-time!

Just a little post to say that the scale is on a downward trend!  Exercise is on point, and so is my diet. Finally!  I'm logging my food everyday, weighing and measuring my food, and I'm cooking a lot more. I think when I hit the three-weeks-from-surgery date, something just clicked. My weight is down to 210.8 as of this morning. My goal is still 199; however, I don't think that will happen by 02/27. Although, I suppose I could make it if I did one of those weird juice cleanses or something equally fad-like. But no. No, thanks. I'll lose the rest the usual way. Actually, I'll lose some when the extra skin is removed, but I don't know how much that will be. I'm hoping for 10 pounds, but thinking it will be less than that.

Surgery is now less than two weeks away and I'm getting nervous. Honestly, I'm mostly nervous about the pain more than anything. Yes, I'll have some great narcotics, but there will still be pain. But it's only temporary and I'll get over it. I bought my post-surgical compression garment, which I'll be wearing for several months. Very pretty. NOT! But it's necessary and will be under my clothes.  Over the next week and a half (!) I have a lot to do at home:  clothes shopping (need button-down shirts, as I can't pull anything over my head for a week or so); food shopping and prep; picking up any odds and ends I might need to assist with recovery; and cleaning the house.

Friday, February 10, 2017

weekly cookbook project: baking powder biscuits

So, apparently this is what you get when you don't check the expiration date on the baking powder:  very flat biscuits.

Today is my 21st wedding anniversary and I wanted something quick and easy to make, and something I've never made before, so I decided to make biscuits from my Betty Crocker Best of Baking cookbook. I had all the ingredients and I'd fulfill my goal of cooking one recipe per week from my cookbook collection. The plan was to use these to make a nice anniversary breakfast for Bob and I. Maybe some scrambled eggs over biscuits with sausage and gravy.

I started making them and had all the ingredients in the bowl before I decided to check the date on the baking powder. When I did, I realized that can had been in the cabinet for...awhile. Now, baking powder doesn't really go bad, but it loses it's power to make baked goods rise. As you can see from the photo, it definitely lost it.

The biscuits were very easy and quick; however, they took longer than the recommended 10-12 minutes to brown; it was more like 15 minutes. They tasted great, just like biscuits should, and were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, but they were really flat.

I had visions of sausage, egg and cheese biscuit sandwiches, as well as the biscuits and sausage gravy, but it wasn't meant to be. I ended up serving them along side a chili cheese omelet and sausage for Bob. I had one while I was making my breakfast--one fried whole egg white, and one turkey sausage link. The biscuit clocked in at 63 calories and was very filling. Add the butter and it was about 110 calories. That's a lot when you're eating only 1,200 calories. So, I plan to try very hard to not touch them.

Lesson learned:  check the expiration date on your baking ingredients--it matters!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

quinoa with cumin and tumeric

I have a ton of spices in my cabinets that I don't use. I also have a bunch of grains I need to use up. Plus an Instant Pot and a day off from work.

Unused spices + lots of bulk grains + Instant Pot + snow day = quinoa with cumin and turmeric.

I don't even remember what I bought the turmeric for at this point.

I didn't want to make plain quinoa, since that can be boring. And I don't have a ton of ingredients in the house to make a quinoa salad or one-pot meal. After Googling for a bit I settled on this recipe, which you can find here.  The only change I made is I didn't add any fresh herbs. I just have them. Although I do have rosemary, but it's buried under a foot of snow at the moment and I wasn't going out there to get it.

This was really easy to make.  Just saute the smashed garlic gloves in olive oil, add the cumin, turmeric, salt, quinoa and water, and then set the Instant Pot for 1 minute at high pressure.

As far as taste, I felt this needed more salt and could have benefited from some onions. I also think it needs less water, as the finished result was a bit mushy and not fluffy like it should have been. I might make it again with the modifications I mentioned, and I might add some chicken to it, too.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

today's breakfast

I'm happy to say I'm 100% on track with eating AND exercise this week. I'm sticking with 1,200 calories per day, and that's not a lot of food. Even for someone that's had weight loss surgery. In order to feel like I have more food, I've cut out my delicious beloved homemade iced mocha latte I was drinking each morning. For now I' going to allow myself to have it once or twice per week. But once I'm done with surgery and it's time to maintain my weight, I plan to go back to them. At that point I'll be allowed about 2,000 calories and can afford it calorie-wise.

So, anyway, here's today's breakfast which is 195 calories (the same as my latte!).  It's half of a Fiber One 12 Grain Sandwich Thin--toasted--with an ounce of herbed goat cheese and a hard-boiled egg. Very yummy and something different; I'm usually eating a Greek yogurt with dry roasted peanuts mixed in, or a couple hard-boiled eggs.

Note:  This picture was taken and then uploaded with my phone, so it's dark and also upside down. :)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

weekly cookbook project: apple maple oatmeal; pot roast

I've kept up with my goal to make recipe per week from my cookbooks; however, I forgot to take pictures of two recipes I made recently.

Last week I made apple maple oatmeal from my Great Big Pressure Cooker Book. It was simply steel-cut oats, water, maple syrup, cinnamon and dried apples. Maple syrup took care of the sweetness, so no sugar was added. Dried apples were necessary, rather than fresh, so they stand up to being pressure cooked. It was good, but if I make it again I'd either add less water or more oatmeal; it was too soupy for us.

A couple weeks ago I made a pot roast from the same book (can you tell I like my Instant Pot??). It was a beef roast, beef stock, rosemary, bay leaf, onions, potatoes and carrots. All I had to do after pressure cooking was thicken the gravy and it was ready. I really liked this pot roast. In fact, I may not use my old standby recipe anymore:  pot roast in the slow cooker made with Lipton Onion Soup mix. What was nice about using the pressure cooking function vs. slow cooking was that the meat stayed intact. In the slow cooker it totally falls apart and becomes more like a beef stew. Pressure cooking makes the meat very tender, but it basically stays in one piece so you can slice it. It's good either way.  It depends on what your preference is.

I haven't decided what I'll make this week yet. Although, our anniversary is at the end of the week so maybe I'll find a special recipe for our anniversary dinner.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

prepping for surgery!

Surgery is only 25 days away! I can't believe it's almost here.

In preparation for surgery I've done a few things recently:  I had a physical (all is A-OK!), got my blood work done (didn't hear back yet) and I got my RMR tested.

So, RMR testing. If you don't know what that is, it stands for Resting Metabolic Rate. Basically, it's the amount of calories you burn by simply just existing in the world. You then factor in your activity level and that gives you the number of calories you should eat per day in order to maintain your weight. If you want to lose weight, you then subtract how ever many calories you need to in order to lose weight each week (3,500 calories=1 pound). Sometimes weight loss surgery messes with the metabolism making it slower than normal. Since I still want to lose a few pounds before surgery, I decided to have it tested. Then I can figure out how many calories I should be eating in order to get to my goal.

The test involves breathing through the mouth, while your nose is closed, into a small device that measures your oxygen consumption. The dietitian then inputs the resulting RMR into a program in order to generate a report for me. The test was easy, but strange. I'm not a mouth-breather, so I didn't like having a clamp on my nose and being forced to breathe through my mouth. I really had to concentrate on my breathing in order to not panic. I also couldn't swallow all the saliva that was collecting in my mouth, so that was fun. When the dietitian took the mouthpiece out I basically drooled all over myself.

It turns out my metabolism hasn't been affected, at least not that I know of, and I'm really happy about that. Actually, it's faster than I thought it would be and that's likely because I've built muscle through strength training; muscle burns more calories than fat. My RMR is 2,100 calories. So, I burn 2,100 calories just by living. If I factor in my activity level, I need about 2,300 calories to maintain my current weight. However, activity level was difficult to determine, because I'm doing strength training and not cardio, which is what all the websites use. I fall in between light and moderate activity, so we're going with about 2,100 calories to maintain. Since I want to lose two pounds a week (preferably more!), I need to cut 1,000 calories a day to total 7,000 calories a week (that equals two pounds per week lost).

So, the final result?  My diet is staying right where it is for the next few weeks:  1,200 calories a day.  All I have to do is stick to my calorie budget and I'll lost the weight.

Now I need to buy my post-surgical garment AKA sausage casing...