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 (?)

Monday, August 14, 2017

A New Reality

Wow! It's been four weeks since surgery. Time has really flown. I was also release to go back to work today. I'm very fortunate to work from home, and my employer is very supportive and gave me the time I needed to heal. I'm actually back two weeks earlier than scheduled.  It was a good day!

I really took it easy this week per Doctor's orders. I mainly cleaned up around the house and started cooking again. I really enjoy cooking - especially trying new recipes. I use Pinterest religiously, and I was happy to pull out one of my favorite recipes to bring to a deck party with some friends. They love Almond Butter Cups and cornbread so I made both.

I hadn't made items like this in a while, and I'm a huge fan of cooking from scratch since that's how I was raised, and I feel it's a wonderful, healthy option. When I had lost a good amount of weight earlier in the blog, I made so many good meals. I was flirting with clean eating. I completed a Whole30, and fell in love with the power of Paleo eating and sweet potatoes. I now realize as I gained weight, I lost a lot of passion for cooking in the kitchen because I had gotten so big that it was physically taxing to cook.

Cooking from scratch requires lots of work - prepping ingredients, chopping and slicing, shopping at various stores. I stopped a lot of that and mainly focused on items I could quickly get to the table, which did both me and my husband a disservice.  With the weight I've lost so far, I've found my passion again. I contemplating returning to Paleo/Keto as a food methodology.

Eating is such a large part of our social functions. My family always celebrates birthdays, anniversaries, and just being together with food. When I get together with my friends, we always bring a dish to share and we enjoy noshing as we catch up with each other. My husband and I enjoying dining out. As a bariatric patient, I'm entering a new reality where I must be comfortable with my limits.

I've eaten out since I've had my surgery with my husband. We had Mexican (my favorite) and I thoroughly enjoyed the $2.00 refried beans I ordered and took home to eat for the next few days. I've eaten with my family and small pureed dinner with them. I had a ball at the deck party and happily ate a tablespoon or two of Buffalo Chicken Dip and Hummus (Yes, please!) My friends are wonderful and asked specifically what I could have. Luckily, those two dishes are common at our gatherings

My fork wasn't that big!!
I ate with my tiny utensils and tiny bowl and laughed the night away. Of course, they were curious about my surgery, and I happily told them my steps. My friends are amazing and supportive, and I appreciate the interest they showed because I know they are concerned for my health and well-being.

It's unfortunate that many bariatric patients hide their surgery because of the negative feedback and stigma applied that we are taking the "easy way out." People try to talk them out of it, or they won't be supportive of their decision. I've made it no secret that I felt that way at that point. Now, I feel it is my duty not to hide. If a person wants to know, I'll tell them. If a person has negative points that they want to share with me, they won't like my response. I don't deal in negativity so take that shit somewhere else. I don't care if people stare as I eat with my tiny utensils or ask for a take out box as soon as my food arrives. This is my new life. My new reality. And I welcome it.

HW 361 (circa 2006)
SW 278
CW 259
GW 160 

Monday, August 7, 2017

I Forgot

Hey everyone! Thanks again for reading the misadventures of Me and Matilda. I'm three weeks post-op today, and I at times I felt so amazing I forgot I had serious surgery three weeks ago, but Matilda let it be known who runs the show. Matilda runs this!

I am very happy that I am still on pureed foods. My favorites are beans, guacamole, hummus and salsa. I've pretty much been switching between these foods and sometimes combining them. My fav combo so far is 2 tablespoons of beans, 1 tablespoon of guac and one tablespoon of salsa. I've yet to get all of it down, but I can do pretty good in 30 minutes.

I also had my three week follow-up appointment with my surgeon's office. My blood work is very good, blood pressure excellent. Incisions are healing good. Next appointment will be in September and they will do a full blood work up to review my vitamin levels.
Matilda's first warning....
Now, about the tug of war between Matilda and I. Things were going great. We were getting along very well. I was feeling great and my energy was up so I decided to do more than I was supposed to... It was more activity that Matilda was ready for so she whispered softly "No!" On Saturday, I had more activity and was enjoying myself. Matilda got a little upset and said a bit more forcefully, "NO!" I still ignored her so on Sunday, she took me out. I was enjoying myself at the Jazz Fest with family and friends sitting peacefully in my chair, when all of a sudden I felt like was going to get sick and faint at the same time. I was hot and flushed. So, my hubby, the dear man he is, hustled me out of the park and back home where I could rest and get comfortable. I was very nauseated, but I never got sick. Matilda was shouting "NO!" and grumbling and huffing and puffing all day Sunday and didn't calm down until around noon today. 
Matilda's last warning!!

I spoke to my Physician Assistant about it today, and she pretty much told me I was doing too much activity, and I needed to rest for the next few days, and she's right. My right side is a bit achy and Matilda is still cussing at me for not paying attending to her message. I'm sorry Matilda. I hear you loud and clear. I'm only allowed to walk until 6 weeks post-op. At that time, I should be able to do more activity - and lift heavy things, which I really love to do and miss terribly.

Now, if any of you out there are considering weight loss surgery, there are many options out there. Luckily, my husband had a friend who has the gastric sleeve and was able to outline exactly what I could expect if I decided to get the procedure. I appreciate the guidance T.D. 

Once I made the decision to pursue surgery, I contacted my local hospital which has a bariatric program. I made an appointment to attend the informational, and that was my first step. Once I reviewed my insurance to make sure the surgery was covered along with the surgeon and hospital, I was good do go, but it doesn't happen overnight. Some insurance companies require 3-6 months of dietary documentation and review. My insurance required 6 months, and at first I was upset, but then I realized how much of a blessing it was because I really needed to prepare mentally for this life change.  My insurance plan required the following:
  • 6 dietary documentations from a medical professional. I was lucky that my surgeon performed these visits. For 6 months I met with him to review my dietary progress and along the way, we formed a bond. I'm so happy I chose him.
  • No weight gain from your initial starting weight. I'm sure there could be reasons why your insurance would approve surgery with a weight gain, but I didn't even want to go there.
  • BMI over 40 - or BMI of 35 with several co-morbiditites. I had a BMI over 40 along with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and mild sleep apnea, which was discovered during testing.
Now, my bariatric program had additional requirements:
  • Extensive blood work 
  • Sleep apnea study
  • Upper endoscopy
  • Attendance at three pre-op support group meetings
  • Psychological clearance by a mental health professional
  • Three dietician visits - two group meetings and one individual meeting
So, it's really wasn't a gut check decision. I had plenty of time to make sure this was the right choice for me. I couldn't have asked for a better bariatric program or a better surgeon. 

So, as I sign off and get back to relaxing before Matilda starts shouting again, thank you for reading. I will have pictures next week at my 1 month review.  You'll find my stats below.

Weight Loss Stats
  • HW 361 lbs (circa 2006)
  • SW 278
  • CW 264.4
  • GW 160

Monday, July 31, 2017


Good day! I hope everyone has a good week. I'm now two weeks post-op, and today I can official start the next stage of my diet--pureed food, which is pretty much like eating baby food. I know that may sound pretty disgusting, but I'm really excited. Why? Well, when you've been on a liquid diet for 26 days, you taste buds are ready for some texture - even if it's mushy. There are many choices, and I'm ready to put my stick blender to the test. Hummus, guacamole, beans, greek yogurt, chili, soft scrambled eggs... Believe me, I'm not crying about this stage. I'll be eating pureed for three weeks.

I'll admit I advanced my diet by trying a few things early. Why? Well, I feel so good. Sometimes I don't even feel like I had surgery, and that's when I have to be careful. I can do stairs now, but I still can't carry anything heavier than a gallon of milk. I did have a hernia repair, so I'm happy my husband reminds me to sit my ass down. Love you honey!

So, last Thursday, I tried mashed potatoes. I ate about 5-6 tiny spoonfuls over 15 minutes using my diet tool spoon. Saturday, I tried pureed chicken and grits. I ate about the same amount in the same time. Sunday, I had about a tablespoon of greek yogurt, and FINISHED IT in 15 minutes. I also has about 6 small bites of scrambled egg for dinner.  Took me about 18 minutes.  So, as you can see, I must take small bites, chew and take my time. Matilda liked everything except the mashed potatoes. It made her a little uneasy so I just took my anti-nausea medicine, and I was good to go. She loved the chicken, grits, yogurt and egg. It's a bit overwhelming to think, "Is this how I'm going to have to eat for the rest of my life?" But, I'm working with a baby tummy. I will always eat slowly, but I'll be able to eat more food as Matilda heals. I'm taking it one day at a time.

I promised in my last post to explain a bit about my decision to get the gastric sleeve. Many of you know me very well, and it's not a secret that I love to read and learn. I love facts and data, and that's pretty much how I came to my decision. Facts and data. Now, I know many people feel that science can be subjective, and for those folks, you do you. For me, after I reading a few books, the writing on the wall was clear.

When my doctor put me on another medication in mid 2016, I was pretty bummed out. I had gained back all but 5 pounds of the weight I lost this last go-round, and things were a bit bleak. I couldn't wrap my head around why I felt like my body was physically and mentally working to gain weight. I constantly has mental battles when I went grocery shopping. Don't buy those chips and dip, yet I grabbed them. Don't eat those Lemon Oreos, yet I sat and eat the entire package in one sitting. Don't eat that candy, yet I'd eat a 5 lb bag of Swedish Fish with no problem. It was completely automatic, almost like I had no control...AND I KNOW I DID!!

I couldn't understand why my body was happy heavy, when I was completely miserable.

So one day, I was searching youtube to watch Weight of the Nation, which is a great documentary It
about the obesity epidemic.  I also came across another documentary called That Sugar Film and it seemed intriguing, so I watched it, and was mind blown. I knew sugar was my main problem, but I had no idea to what extent businesses will go to make a profit. That was just my naivety. So, next I came across a lecture by Robert H. Lustig on youtube that has received over 5 millions views. It's lengthy, but I was enraptured because he was able to explain what I have been struggling with my entire life. My Body Set Point - the amount of body fat (and hence body weight) most people cary is relatively stable and appears to be controlled or maintained at a level.
After the video, I went to my public library and checked out a few books to read:

  • Fat Chance by Dr. Robert H. Lustig
  • The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes
  • Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes
So, yeah, the nerd in me was in full mode. Mind blown over and over again. My body is wired and likes being heavy. My body will fight me tooth and nail to get back my heaviest weight because it likes it there. It doesn't matter that I have co-mobidities that will put me in an early grave. My body likes it, and will make sure I stay there. 

And, and although I was happy to read about the science of set points and how my body worked, it was a bleak outlook because it made me think there isn't anything I can do about it. I've lost over 100 pounds twice in my life time, and gained pretty much all of it back. How can I battle against my own body and win?

I wasn't going down like that. I began to research about how to battle set points and establish a new one. Many people are successful at reaching a new set point with the diet and exercise. Sadly, I am not one of those people, but there was research stating that bariatric surgery can be a useful tool to establish a healthy body set point, and that's how I made my decision.

My sleeve is not the answer... it's a tool to get by body to a healthy set point. It will be difficult. It will take time, and I will probably have to fight to maintain it. I went through 7 months of preparation to get to this point. Matilda and I have a lot of work to do, and we're looking forward to it.

Next week, I'll go more into the steps needed to prepare my mind for surgery. Thanks for reading. 

Weight Loss Stats
  • HW 361 lbs (circa 2006)
  • SW 278
  • CW 268
  • GW 160

Monday, July 24, 2017

Welcome Matilda

Hello everyone! I hope I wasn't too dramatic with my last blog post. It was tough for me to decide how to tell everyone what was going on, so I just figured I'd throw it out there and see what stuck. I do appreciate all the support and well-wishes that I received. It means so much to me.

When I decided late last year to pursue weight loss surgery, I had no clue that the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (or VSG) was an option. Last time I looked into to surgery, my insurance covered the gastric bypass and the lap band, and I decided against both of those because I just knew I could lose weight on my own, which I did. But, as I learned in my studies and experience, there is a big difference between losing weight and maintaining weight loss. My hope is that VSG will help me lose a large portion of my access weight and maintain it. How that happens is for another blog post... it's all about your body set point, and weight loss surgery is a tool to move that needle.

So how am I doing??

I'm one week post op, and I feel good. I started walking as exercise on Saturday, and I went again to the YMCA today for almost one hour. I'm happy that I was working out prior to surgery because I feel my body is already accustomed to moving so I should have a quick and healthy recovery from surgery. I'm also allowed to drive short distances.

I said "NO" to pain meds after the hospital - which I'm happy about because I haven't suffered any ill effects from that stuff.

Did I mention I'm not hungry.... That's a huge plus. I drink plenty of water and calorie free, sugar-free, non-carbonated beverages to prevent dehydration, and I supplement my meals (liquid broths and strained soups) with one scoop of unflavored protein powder or chicken soup flavored protein powder.  Oh, and I really like sugar free popsicles.

My diet is very restrictive to allow for my new tummy to heal. I always though it funny that people named their sleeves after surgery. Why would you do that?  Then, I found out why.  My tummy talks to me all day long. She grumbles and sighs. Huffs and puffs.  Curses and squeals. She's a cantankerous old hag so I named her Matilda. In all honestly, Matilda has treated me quite well. The most unhappy she's been was the night after my surgery when I had two awful bouts of dry heaving.  But that wasn't her fault. Anesthesia is a bitch, and I've never had surgery before.

I also didn't realize how important it was to pass gas! My nurses cheered when I farted in the hospital because it means I'm getting rid of the gas they use to inflate your belly during laparoscopic surgery. The gas can be quite painful and I'm still dealing with it today, but the more you move, the more your fart, and the better you feel. 💨💨

I don't want to bore you incessantly with other drabble, but I will say the staff at UPMC Hamot in Erie, PA is great. They helped to get my nausea and pain under control without using opioids, oh... and if you followed my Popeye arm from FaceBook, the fluid was finally absorbed and my forearm is back to normal (bad IV location). It looks worse than it was.

Next week, I'll have more details on my journey to weight loss surgery and the steps it took.

Thanks for reading!  And feel free to ask me any questions you like. I will also be updating my weight loss chart and including new pictures.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Open Mouth... Insert Foot (Instead of Food)

It's been a very long time, well over two years, and and a lot has happened in that time.  First, the most amazing thing...I got married to the most wonderful man on 2/3/2016. We are still going strong. He is my best friend, my biggest support and my rock. My life is so much better with him. We got married in Las Vegas, which was perfect for us since that was the first trip we took together as a couple.

Happiest day of my life!
As you can also see in this picture, I gained a significant amount of weight that I lost over 5+ years ago when I started this blog. It's definitely disappointing. If you have ever gone through significant weight loss only to regain, it's very difficult and demoralizing, and I've gone through this TWICE! I was so ready to get rid of all those "BIG CLOTHES" in my closet when I shed weight. Then, when I started gaining, I couldn't fit anything. So, I ran back to those stores I swore I'd never shop at again just to buy just one pair of pants because I just knew this was a temporary phase...  Only to buy another piece, and then another piece, and then another pair of pants but bigger because the I outgrew the previous pair. I have clothing in my closet that ranges from size 24 to size 14.  Size 3X to size L. It's a closet full of broken dreams.

And what do I tell all those people who were following me and cheering me on? I'm definitely not the poster girl for weight loss. What do I say to them? What do I tell them? What do I say to myself?

All I can say is I'm sorry. I let go. I let it all go. I loss focus. It was so easy. I found reasons not to exercise, which is just pure laziness and avoidance. I didn't want to stop eating the candy and the carbs and the sweets that I love so much. I have no excuse. There is no excuse. I stopped exercising ,and I started eating too much. That's how the weight came back, and it came back fast.

I'm back on my meds again. My diabetes returned along with its buddies hypertension and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). I'm on two medications for hypertension now... four medications all together. I know I need to lose weight and keep it off. That is the only way I'm going to get rid of these medicines, and I miss my activity. I loved working out. I loved doing things that I couldn't do before. I want to get back there.

I ask myself every day... Why? Why did I let it go? All I can do is shake my head. I honestly feel like I came across as a pompous know-it-all. I didn't know what's best when it comes to weight loss. I didn't have a clue. If that was the case, why am I back to square zero for the third time. I have so much to look forward to in my future. Why would I want to spend years with my new husband sick with comorbidies and constant increases in weight? 

So, all of this self-degradation leads me here. I was afraid to return to my blog because I was ashamed, but two very good friends (and you know who you are) convinced me to return because my story isn't as uncommon as I thought. Maybe I can still help people, and I owe many of you a very large apology.

First, I apologize for disappointing you. I shouldn't have stopped blogging because of my 

shame at failing once again.

Second, I apologize for all of those people who are part of the bariatric or weight loss community. I used to believe weight loss surgery was the "easy way out," which is pure ignorance of a subject I knew little about at the time, and I hope you welcome me into your community because I am having weight loss surgery today.

For those of you surprised at my choice, I surprised myself too when I decided to do this eight months ago.  That's right. It took EIGHT months to get here. I did not tell a whole lot of people, but I'm certainly not hiding it either. And it sure as hell wasn't easy. 

Last, I apologize if I hurt anyone by not saying anything. I needed to do this for me, and I have the support of my family. It helped me get where I needed to be mentally and physically for the surgery and recovery. I hope you understand that.

As for the future of this blog, that's up to you. Do you want to read about all this stuff...AGAIN??? 

I do enjoy blogging because it clears my head. I like going back and reading what kind of head space I was in at a moment in time. So, I'll keep up the weekly posts. Maybe I can help one or two of you make a decision. I had a few people help me make mine, and I appreciated their help and wisdom. I want to pay it forward if I can.

I've been morbidly obese my entire life. I've never known what a "thin" day felt like. One day, I hope I will. In future posts, I'll give details on what happened over the last eight months. It was quite a journey.