Monday, September 18, 2017

Gratitude

Greetings! I hope you had a decent Monday. This week was quite interesting and a lot happened. So, strap in because I hope you won't mind a longer post since I have quite a bit to report.

First off, I had my second post-surgery check in with my Physician's Assistant today. It was a good check up. I got my "report card," which is just a summary of weight loss since I started the program in January. I'm down 61.5 pounds since January 2017. I've lost almost 37% of my excess body weight.

One thing I wasn't expecting was a high blood pressure reading - 132/93. I'm pretty bummed about that, but I hope it's an anomaly because I haven't had a reading that high in a long time. Plus, I hate that the office uses a machine. I also just ran up two flights of stairs so maybe that was the problem. I will see my PCP on Friday, and I'll speak about it with him. I'm more concerned about his reading and evaluation. They don't use a machine at my PCP's office, and he will make the decision to remove me from any medications so we're going to have to wait and see on that one. I hope to have good news next week.

During my visit, I spoke to my PA about an "episode" I had this past Wednesday. If you are easily grossed out, I suggest you skip the next paragraph. I promised to give you the good, bad and ugly, and this was pretty ugly.

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Matilda was not feeling good after
eating and laying down.
This past Wednesday I was pretty sleepy and I had just eaten a few Gerber Arrowroot Cookies. So, I decided to go to bed.  About an hour later, I woke up suddenly with stomach acid in my throat so I rushed to the bathroom because I though I had to vomit.  Well, for the next 5 minutes or so, I spit up tons of saliva and dry heaved a few times. There wasn't anything in my stomach, and my throat was burning, and the taste in my mouth was atrocious. It was not pretty! My husband was worried and wanted to take me to the emergency room because I haven't had anything like this happen. Well, all I could do was spit up tons of slimy saliva. Eventually, the burning and awful taste disappeared, and I was able to settle down. I had an awful time sleeping, and I developed a cough - which may be due to the damage to my esosophagous.  I just experienced what people in our community call the "Slimies."
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In speaking with my PA, she confirmed my suspicions. I had a bad reflux episode from eating too
I won't do that anymore!
close to laying down. I should not lay down 2-3 after eating. She also mentioned that its possible to develop GERD after surgery, so I'll need to keep an eye out on that. It can be managed with medication, but I really don't want to be placed on another pill since I'm trying to get rid off all them - except my vitamins. So, lesson learned. No eating after 7 pm for me!

I recently attended a presentation on the beauty of Gratitude and how being grateful and expressing gratitude can be so powerful and healing. Although I had an unpleasant experience this week, I'm still so grateful that it happened. Why? I learned something new and will incorporate the learnings so I can avoid it in the future. I was also ill, and I didn't keel over. I handled it like a champ. I was quite proud of myself because I was sure I was going to have a melt down. I just took it easy the next day, and went to the gym on Friday. I'm grateful that I made this decision to better my health and improve my life.

I'm also grateful that I broke my stall this week. Yeah, I lost everything I gained and then some. It was so bizarre. It was instant. The change came so fast, and all of a sudden I'm fitting in my size 18 jeans again. Six sizes in two months - that's some very rapid change! I started my weight lifting program this morning. Three days a week - arms, legs and chest/back. I created a work out journal to record my workouts and my progress/struggles. I will try this for four weeks, and then revisit with my trainer to switch things up.

I have pictures up on a new page called "Sleeve Progression" if you want to take a peek at my progress.  Entering week nine - officially two months post op. Hold on tight, who knows what I'll be reporting next week!

HW: 360 pounds 
SW: 278
CW: 250
GW: Gratitude!

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Return of Beast Mode

I promise I don't wear a skirt when
I lift.  Matilda does tho...


 Hello everyone! I had a very decent week. I'm officially eight weeks from VSG surgery and I'm feeling pretty normal - other than Matilda Gertrude taking to me all hours of the day or night. She's quite the chatty gal.

Today also begins the last stage of my dietary progression. At this point, I can should be able to tolerate most foods - keeping note of those that may give me trouble. Right now, I am still avoiding fruits with skins, raw vegetables, breads, pasta, rice, corn and steak. I haven't had much trouble with any food I've tried so far. I even introduce nuts this past week, and it was great. I'm so happy I can still eat nuts because I do enjoy them as part of my diet.

Regarding my weight stall.... I've been keeping the faith that I didn't break Matilda. She still has hella restriction, and although I may attempt to put more food on my plate because she said she's hungry, the restriction is REAL. Around 15 - 20 minutes in, she puts on the breaks and I give up. I definitely don't force anything no matter how good it is. I'm letting it go. The scale isn't going to break my spirit. Besides, I had huge gains this week - and this has nothing to do with food.

It's no secret that I really missed working out when I was heavy. I've always dreamed of being athletic. I come from a family where my mom, dad, brother and sister all played sports and were quite active. I never was. I've always been heavy, and I secretly envied all of them. It's my wish to one day be athletic.

Come on! Who wants to go to the
gym at 4:30 am?
Well, Beast Mode has returned! I worked out five days this past week. I mixed it up, too. I did resistance bands, Zumba, walking/interval running, elliptical, kettlebells and free weights. I even changed my gym membership from the YMCA to Planet Fitness because I like to work out hella early... like before the chickens start to crow because I'm a morning person. Yes, I'm one of those annoying ones.

I woke up at 4:30 am. I already had my workout clothes sitting out from the night before. I got dressed, grabbed some water and drove myself across town to Planet Fitness. Yes, its farther away from the Y, but for some reason, I like it much better. It definitely doesn't have all the amenities of the Y, but for the price, it's perfect. Plus, I have all the access to machines, free weights and cables that I could never get to at the Y. I figure I'll go 3x a week, and make sure I still work in my own kettlebell routines at home. Eventually, I hope to have my own home gym.

I'm feeling like my old self again. My appetite has also returned, which is why I'm glad I can eat nuts again. A serving of nuts is perfect for Matilda to handle, and it'll give me some good protein to help satisfy my workout hunger.

Beast Mode may have also helped break my stall, but I won't know for sure until next week. I lost 1.8 pounds from last week, but **shrugs** I will say that I feel my strength coming back, and my arms are getting stronger and more defined. These are the real victories. Until next week...

Weight Update
HW: 360 circa 2006
SW: 278
CW: 257
GW: BEAST MODE! (or size 12)

Monday, September 4, 2017

Choices


Hello my lovely readers, and Happy Labor Day for those of you who reside in the United States. I hope you take advantage of the time off to do something you enjoy. For those of us who live in northwest Pennsylvania/northeast Ohio, it's a lovely day.

I started my day with some activity.  I did some weight training - I bought 2 ten pound dumbbells and some resistance bands and put those to good use. I also swung my 20 pound kettlebell - single arm swings, snatches, squats and full American swings. I'll admit I was curious/concerned how my incision sites would react. I have one incision that goes quite deep and there were some internal stitches that may take 8-10 weeks to fully heal, but I was given the green light to start weights at 6 weeks.  It's been 7 weeks now, and no pain anywhere. I'm quite pleased with that so I'll make sure to incorporate more weights 3x a week for about 30 minutes along with my other cardio.

So, how is Matilda doing? She's great. Matilda Gertrude (as my mom calls her) wakes me up sometimes in the morning talking because she's empty. I won't say hungry, or maybe this is a new signal for hungry because it doesn't feel like the hunger pains I felt in the past. It's more of an empty feeling and lots of noise because she won't shut up. Right now, I don't feel hungry. I feel empty. So, I try to eat every three to four hours.

Last week was a tough one. This week was much better. I really focused on my protein and calorie goals, and I was able to hit them by incorporating a 4th meal.  I'm keeping my carbohydrates below 50 net grams and try to get my protein in the 90-100 gram range. I also make sure to start my day off with 16 ounces of fluid, and drink that amount between each meal. If I do that, I will also meet my fluid goals of at least 64 ounces a day.

Argh! And I hate spaghetti too!
I also spoke with my Physician Assistant about my blood work. She did confirm that my protein levels are low and my kidney function was showing signs of dehydration. She did say my iron was fine (great news), but my Vitamin A was low. She told me to back off my extra B-12 and now I take an extra Vitamin A along with my Vitamin D. I'm fine with the extra vitamins. My goal is to get off of my last two medications - Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol.

As for my weight loss progression... What weight loss? I gained again this week - 3 pounds. Now, if I was a newbie to this whole weight loss thang, I'd been like ready to go buck wild and throw some stuff. How is it remotely possible to gain weight when I'm eating 800-900 calories a day. Son of a %$#@!
Damn scale! Where's the tape measure?

I'll admit, there is a smidge of disappointment when you don't see the scale move, and that's why it can be a curse to have one if your home if that is your measuring stick. For me, it's more complex because I know why I'm stalling/gaining. I also know that in time, the scale will begin moving again. My body's gone through quite a shock, and it's still healing and trying to figure out what the hell I just did to it. This also won't be my first stall. I'll probably have several more before I finally reach my goal - whatever that may be. I'm looking for a size goal (12) more than a weight goal. I also want my guns to pop!

I think my biggest adjustment since I had the sleeve surgery is coming to terms with my "Fat Brain." What is Fat Brain, you ask? Well, for me, Fat Brain is how I approached food as an obese person - large portions, fast eating. Fat Brain is how I food shopped - going for less nutrient dense food and more processed food. Fat Brain is how I know I can eat two lamb meatballs and then only can eat one.  Fat Brain is getting upset that my serving of protein fortified cereal was only 3/4 cup because I didn't think it was going to be enough - only to find that it was more than satisfying.

Matilda says "Not today, Fat Brain."
Fat Brain got me at the grocery store today. Why don't you pick up that piece of carrot cake? I picked it up, and then I thought, I don't think I'll enjoy this. Look at all that icing. So I put it down. Fat Brain said to me pick out a pint of Halo Top Cookie Dough Ice Cream. You got a coupon. So, I did, but then I turned over to read the nutritional data, and I didn't want to put that stuff in my body yet. Fat Brain got me at my mom's house when I tried a small piece of pineapple pound cake - only to scrape off the toppings and eat two tiny squares and push it away. Fat Brain said, "YES! Dig in." Only to find that it wasn't satisfying, and I didn't want it.

Matilda is really running the show, and I appreciate how she really is making an impact of my food choices.  Right now, she is in love with low fat cottage cheese and turkey pepperoni. She also enjoys an occasional Gerber Arrowroot cookie or 1/2 serving of Pepperidge Farms Pretzel Goldfish. Who knew kiddy food could be so satisfying and at the perfect serving sizes - especially on those days when I may need the extra calorie boost from my activity. My mom did tell me my dad used to eat up our teething cookies when we were babies, so maybe I take after him.

Thank you Matilda Gertrude.  You are doing exactly what I need you to do. Healthy choices - and keeping my Fat Brain in check.  Until next week.....

Weight Progression
HW: 361 (circa 2006)
SW: 278
CW: 259
GW: Size 12!!












Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Struggle Is Real!

Hello Readers! I'm sorry for the late post. This last week did not go as I hoped. That's what happens in life. Murphy's Law does exist, and my personal motto has already been "Life is how you handle Plan B." I definitely feel like I'm in Plan B mode, and I'm going to handle it like a boss.

I'm finally in week six, and this week I'm allowed to go back to the gym and I can start with light weights. Sadly, I only worked out one day, and I did Zumba. I did great, but I didn't have the opportunity to do more than the one day. I'm a bit disappointed in myself that I didn't make more of an effort to go, and based on what happened later in the week and yesterday, I think I have bigger fish to fry than getting 3-5 days of activity in at this point.

My 41st birthday was Sunday, and overall I had a good birthday. I spent time with family and friends, which is how I like to celebrate. I didn't eat much. Had the opportunity to eat cake, had a smidgen of a bite, and didn't like it so I gave it to my husband. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that. I don't like cake. Matilda was like "Uh-uh!" It just doesn't taste the same. I wonder if it's more of a mental thing. I hope it means I'm fully embracing my new lifestyle. When I do crave something sweet, I have two Gerber Arrowroot Cookies. Low in carbs and sugar, it's the perfect treat. Plus, they are easy to eat and Matilda enjoys them very much.

So, back to my Struggle. I'm in the soft diet food stage. According to my dietary guidelines provided by my nutritionist and surgeon, I should be eating between 800-1200 calories a day and getting in 60-80 grams of protein, along with 48-64 ounces of fluid. I'm really having trouble getting everything in. If I focus on getting my calories and protein in, I fall short on my fluids. If I focus on fluids, I only eat two meals a day. It's starting to take it's toll because I've hit it.... THE STALL!

Weight loss stalls happen. I was expecting it a lot soon than now. Most patients hit their stall around week three... where the scale just won't move. I've had stalls before, and they can definitely be discouraging. This one, not so much. I'm very careful not to use the scale as my ONLY measurement tool because it's deceptive. I actually gained 2 pounds over the last week, but we all know there is no way I could have eaten enough to gain two pounds. But, lacking proper nutrition can reek havoc on the body, and that's now my focus. Proper nutrition.

I need to find a way to hit my protein and fluid goals. 48 ounces is not enough water for me. My body runs best when I can get my fluid in the upper 60's to 70 ounces a day. Right now, I'm skating by on around 48 ounces, and I'm feeling it. This week I plan to be more diligent with my drinking. It's difficult because I can't drink 30 minutes before or after each meal, and if each meal take 15-30 minutes, that's 90 minutes of not drinking 3-4 times a day. It adds up.

What happened yesterday hit home and showed me that I really need to try harder to reach my nutrition goals. I had to get blood work done for my next post-surgery appointment. A full blood work up - vitamins, minerals, protein, sugar - will all be measured. I usually go to ACL/Quest to get my blood work done because it's a walk in clinic, and it's pretty quick. Yesterday, they pissed me off by making me wait almost an hour because someone skipped over my name (yeah, right!). Then, one I got called back, the girl said she needed a break because she had morning sickness and was afraid of needles. Excuse me, but what the ever flubbing flub!! You in the wrong job sweetheart. So, she pokes me twice. No luck. Then another old broad tries and she's bending my arm all back and forth, and I

said "STOP! I'm out of here!" I was almost in tears by the time I left because I get hella anxiety when I get blood drawn because I've had some awful experiences. I had my first panic attack in March when I got my upper endoscopy done in March because they couldn't get the IV in.

Matilda wants a do-over!
So, I has to go to the hospital to get my blood drawn. It took three different ladies, four more picks,  three hours and 4 warmers to finally get ELEVEN vials of blood. By then, I was shaking because my blood sugar had dropped so low. I eventually made it home, cold and shaky and just pretty much passed out for the rest of the day.

My blood work results just reinforced what I knew to be true. Protein low. Iron low. Sugar too low, but A1C was great. Diabetes is in full remission.

Weight loss surgery is no joke, and it's not for everyone, but it is for me. Struggling is just another method of growth. Matilda is still brand new. She's unsure, just like I am, but somehow both of us need to find a way to make sure we feed our body what it needs to be strong. Time for Plan B. I'll let you know next week how it goes. Until then...

HW: 361 (circa 2006)
SW: 278
CW: 256
GW: 160 (?)

Monday, August 21, 2017

I Gotchu!

"Girl! Do yo thang! I gotchu!" -Matilda
Hello again! Matilda sends her regards. She's going quite well five weeks out. Time is certainly flying by, and it's also time to advance my diet to stage 3 - Soft foods, and it's just like it's described. Foods soft in texture. Avoid fruits and vegetables with skin along with raw vegetables.  Today I'm planning on having some salmon and broccoli. Wow, sounds exciting right? Well, I'm totally pumped because I haven't had anything but liquids and pureed foods for about 6 weeks so we are definitely ready.

Matilda and I certainly has quite an eventful week. We went to a Bruno Mars concert - which I was a bit nervous about. We also went out to dinner with family and did a 3K walk. So, lets debrief.

I've been waiting for this concert since January when I got the tickets. I went with my hubby and my parents - my mom is a quite a fan as well. I was a bit apprehensive because the last time I was enjoying music, I became ill and needed to leave. I certainly didn't want that to happen here.

We also went out to dinner, and I know that can be particularly challenging for weight loss surgery patients. I just approached it practically. My family loves Mexican, and I love it as well so I knew I tolerated refried beans very well. So we went to a Mexican restaurant. I ordered refried beans and one taco. I decided to be adventurous and take the ground beef and cheese from the taco to add to the beans. This could explode in my face because I've never eaten ground beef yet, but I also know that Matilda loves ground turkey so I'm hoping ground beef would be the same... And it was. Matilda was super happy, but I didn't each much because I didn't want to overdo it before the concert.

Treasure! That is what you are!!
At the concert, Matilda was quite content. She rocked out! We were dancing and wiggling, and yes, we were told to chill a time or two, but it's Bruno Mars! You don't sit down. We drank plenty of water because we were working up a sweat. In all, it was a great night. She got a bit grumpy later because she was empty, but I told her to hush and went to sleep. She got some eggs and grits the next morning, so she was happy again.

Add caption
I also signed up for a Erie Mayor's Cup 3K walk. If you've followed me in the older posts, you'd know about my journey to complete a 1/2 marathon, which I did complete. I don't have a desire to do that again, but I'd like to make running a part of my fitness goals. I'd like to complete 3K, 10K and 15K's.  My goal this time was to complete the 3K within 60 minutes, which I did with no problem. It was a hilly route, which is great for endurance so I made sure to keep my pace as quick and comfortable as possible. Matilda handled her biz, and was happy to get plenty of hydration afterward.

It was definitely a great week. Work went well. I feel like I'm getting myself back on a schedule. I'm going to pick up my activity this week because next week is week six - and that means I'm cleared for lifting again. I plan on getting back to my kettlebells next week. I won't do it more than twice because I still need to take it easy, but I'm ready to get back to picking up heavy things. I want to get back to my level of activity I had in the past. I loved it, and I miss it. It's time to pick up the pace.

For those of you reading, please let me know if you have any questions about my process. I don't want weight loss surgery to have a negative stigma. It's a tough decision to make, and I want people to know what I went through, and my recovery after surgery.

HW: 361 (circa 2006)
SW: 278
CW: 254
GW: 160 (?)