My bariatric gastric sleeve surgery was April 6, so it has been 7 months since my surgery. I have lost 146 pounds so far.
I just measured myself for the first time in six weeks. I step on the scale every morning, but measurements are much less exact and take longer to see change.
Since April 6, I have lost 17 inches at my waist. 17 inches! Almost a foot and a half and very close to 1/3 of my total starting girth. I can’t believe what a difference that is. When I held up 17 inches on my tape measure, I was in shock.
I’ve lost 14.5 inches at my chest and hips which is also a lot, but not as much as in my middle.
I knew I was big before. That was a given.
What I don’t know is how small I am now. I weighed 254 pounds as of this morning, but I still feel inside like I’m a 400 pound person. I expect myself not to fit in seats. I look at clothes and think, “Oh, that will never fit.” I look in the mirror and see someone who is flabby with a lot of sagging skin and rolls, not someone who is 17 inches smaller around than she once was.
I weigh less now than I did when I graduated from high school 21 years ago.
When I was in college, I felt enormous. I was just about 20 pounds heavier than I am now.
I was the fattest person I knew, and none of the boys I knew wanted anything to do with me. I went on a few dates here and there, always with strangers who weren’t students at Penn State, and I had lots of guys tell me that they’d love to go out with me – if I wasn’t so fat. I mean, they were always nicer about it than that, but that was the bottom line. We could be friends, and they really did like me, but they couldn’t deal with the fat.
I was sad and lonely and mostly spent my time at Old Grandma’s house because I couldn’t deal with the social scene at school. It was too painful.
Now, all these years later, I feel vibrant and alive at this weight. I don’t feel small as I said, but I know I am small compared to my old self.
I can cross my legs quite easily, something that I’ve never been able to do in my whole life.
I can walk up a fairly steep hill without getting winded. I can also go up a flight or two of stairs without getting winded.
I have a lap which I haven’t had for a long time because my stomach stuck out too far. My kids like to sit on my lap and so do the cats.
Joe compliments me endlessly. He was always affectionate and told me that I was beautiful and that he loved me, but he says more and more often now.
I feel I need to address sex for a minute because it too has changed dramatically as the result of my weight loss. In the interest of my easily embarrassed husband’s privacy, I will say only that it has changed for the better. WAY better!
The lower part of my stomach is still quite big in proportion to the rest of me, which makes me feel fatter than I am. I am looking forward to the day when that shrinks because to me, being thin means not having that big belly down there. We’ll see.
We went to Hersheypark not too long ago, and Grace wanted me to ride the Wildcat (a wooden roller coaster) with her. I used to like roller coasters, back when I was in college, so I agreed to go on. We waited in line for about a half hour, and when we got up to the platform, I took one look at the seats and declared that I would not fit on the ride. I was prepared to be mortified when I stepped in and couldn’t wedge myself into the narrow seat.
“You’ll fit Mom,” she assured me.
“I don’t think I will. Will you be okay to ride by yourself?” I asked.
“I won’t have to, Mom. You’re going to fit!” she repeated. Then she pointed out someone getting off the ride who was slightly round but normal looking. “You’re smaller than her, and she fit.”
I couldn’t believe her. There was no way I was smaller than the woman she pointed out.
But guess what.
I got on the ride, fit totally fine without even having to wedge myself in, buckled the safety belt, and pulled down the lap bar. No problems whatsoever.
I couldn’t believe it even after it happened, and I was elated – until the ride actually started moving and I realized that I no longer like things that I enjoyed in college. The roller coaster was not my favorite. I felt like I was going to fly out the whole time, and my uptight, safety-conscious self was not okay with that.
That’s just one example of something that happens almost every day. I expect chairs to feel wobbly and booths to feel tight and to have to squeeze myself into things. But the chairs are fine, the booths have plenty of room, and I don’t have to squeeze anywhere.
A friend I ran into at Walmart told me that I look normal. “No one would ever guess that you used to be so big,” she said.
I have never been normal. I was overweight and had belly rolls on my first birthday. I weighed 100 pounds at 6 and 229 pounds at 13. I weighed about 250 at my high school graduation, and 400 in March of this year. I have always felt fat and definitely not normal.
I had my 6-month post op appointment with my surgeon’s office a couple of weeks ago. I don’t remember specifically what my numbers were, but the doctor was delighted with my weight loss. She told me that it would slow down considerably soon (something I was prepared for in theory but really disappointed me when it happened). Both my protein and iron were low, so I had to make some adjustments there.
The iron was honestly not a big surprise because I eat seafood as my protein about 90% of the time. Beef and pork have more than double the calories of shellfish ounce per ounce, so I usually stick with the shellfish. I started taking an iron supplement which she said should be sufficient.
The protein was more of an enigma. For my height and body type, she initially told me to eat 60-80 grams of protein per day. For the first 6 months, my personal goal was 75 grams, and most days, I went over into the 80s or even 90s. But my protein has been dropping steadily since my surgery and is now too low.
The doctor advised me to up my protein to 100-120 grams per day, but I still need to stay under 1,000 calories per day. So this presented some challenges.
First, I switched from an egg and a stick of cheese (approximately 150 calories and 13 grams of protein) to a container of Greek yogurt with 1/2 scoop unflavored protein powder mixed in (130 calories and 25 grams of protein). Then I increased my afternoon shake from 1 scoop of protein powder (20g protein) to 1.5 scoops (30g protein). So that increased my protein intake by 22 grams per day and about 150 calories.
It’s harder to stay under 1,000 calories a day now, but I am managing it almost every day. I don’t get uptight when I go over, but I do try really hard to plan ahead and stay under as much as possible.
I think this extra 150 calories per day is why my weight loss has slowed down so much. I only lost 8 pounds last month whereas 16 the month before and 21 the month before that. But my body needs the protein, so slower will have to do.
I had been taking a supplement that was specifically sold as a hair and nails formula for bariatric patients, but it didn’t help at all. It had biotin and some B vitamins, and the doctor said that there is no evidence that biotin and B vitamins help with hair or nail growth. My nails are as bad as they’ve ever been in my entire life. They are very short and often rip below where they’re connected to my fingers.
And my hair.
Oh, my hair.
I’ve spent my entire life with super thick, super curly dark hair. It is no longer thick at all. It’s maybe not even average anymore. I don’t have bald spots or anything, but it looks thin and lifeless to me. I’m hoping it will come back once I get my protein levels straightened out.
We are going on a 7-day Disney cruise with an extra 4-days at Disney next month. I am apprehensive about this primarily because I know I will have a hard time tracking my food and staying under 1,000 calories per day. It won’t be a huge deal if I gain weight during the cruise because I know I will eventually take it back off, but it will be next to impossible to estimate my calories and portions without my trusty My Fitness Pal app. That scares me. I need to feel prepared and in control of my eating for my own peace of mind.
Otherwise, everything is amazing. I feel great both physically and emotionally, have tons of energy, and rarely feel tired even when I haven’t had enough sleep. My marriage has never been better. I walk faithfully every day, even in the rain. The kids usually walk with me, but I have to be honest and admit that I like it best when they stay home because then I can listen to the Outlander or Brave Writer podcast.
I had stopped taking my narcolepsy medicine for a few weeks but found that I was getting sleepy at inopportune times and did go back on that.
My blood pressure is still high, so it looks like I won’t be able to go off that drug, but I can report that my light bladder leakage which I have talked about here before very honestly has almost entirely gone away. I was really hoping for that.
I have not experienced the extreme cold feeling that a lot of bariatric patients get, although my feet are always cold now and I do get a little chilly. I wear slippers or socks pretty much always, and I usually have a sweater nearby.
I have mostly given up on jeans since they cost like $50 a pair and I have been shrinking through sizes in a month or 6 weeks at the most. (I tried the thrift store but could never find the style or size I needed.) I might give jeans another try now that my weight loss has slowed down so much, but I have been to this point living in Lularoe Tall & Curvy leggings. I’ve always been a hater, but a friend recommended that I try them, and my sister gave me some websites and Facebook groups where I could get them for only $10-15 a pair, and I am now in love. I wear them pretty much every day. They are soft and comfy and stay up which is more than I can say for my jeans.
When I was a little girl, like in 4th or 5th grade, I used to daydream that I came back to the bus stop after the summer and no one recognized me because I was so skinny. I don’t think I’m unrecognizable now, but I feel like my daydream is finally going to come true.
© 2017, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.