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Bariatric Gastric Sleeve Surgery Update and Results – 9 Months Post-Op

Bariatric gastric sleeve surgery results - This is an update 9 months after gastric sleeve surgery including before and after pictures (or is it before and during?). She is losing weight quickly and eating a healthy diet that she can maintain for life! She talks a lot about adjusting to her new body and how it feels to lose so much weight! Also discusses a set back and how it has affected her plan.

My bariatric gastric sleeve surgery was April 6, so it has been 9 months since my surgery. I have lost 166 pounds so far.

I have had a rough two months since my last update. Well, not rough exactly, the time was truly wonderful, but it was rough for my weight loss. I lost 19 pounds during November and only 1 during December.

First, we had Thanksgiving. Joe and I combined my new food needs with the family's traditional Thanksgiving menu and came up with what we thought would be good for everyone: roast turkey (spatchcocked of course), mashed potatoes (for the family), sugar-free mashed sweet potatoes, stuffing (for the family), roasted asparagus (my favorite vegetable), and green bean casserole

I portioned my meal as usual – 3-4 oz of protein with 3 oz of sides. I ate just a taste of green bean casserole and sweet potatoes and focused mainly on asparagus. I was happy with myself and ate leftovers for days. 

I continued to lose steadily over Thanksgiving, so I was happy with my results.

Then came our cruise.

My surgeon's office told me to let go on my dietary restrictions and eat whatever I wanted while I was on vacation. I had decided in advance not to do this as it would set up bad habits and would simply put me on the wrong course once I got home.

We were gone for a total of 10 days, 7 of which were aboard a Disney cruise and 3 at Walt Disney World.

If you have never cruised before, there are a few things you should know. First, the food is amazing. Really and truly, the best food you will ever eat in your whole life. Second, they encourage indulgence. If 3 appetizers sound good to you, the waiter will encourage you to order them all. Want all the desserts on today's menu? Go for it! They don't bat an eyelash when you order ridiculous quantities of food. Third, temptation is everywhere. Aboard Disney cruises, there is a near 24/7 ice cream station as well as 24/7 room service where you can order warm chocolate chip cookies with Mickey ice cream bars, and all the above is included in the cost of your cruise.

I did really well with my resolve for the first two days. I did have desserts, which I had not previously had since my surgery at all, but I only had sugar free or no sugar added desserts.

Unfortunately, opening the door to even sugar free desserts led me to slide right back into old eating habits. By the third day, I ordered a crème brulée and ate the whole thing. And then when Grace didn't like it, I ate hers, too, making myself incredibly nauseous.

Then on the fourth day, I ordered 2 desserts. I don't remember what they were or whether I ate them all, but I had stopped ordering sugar free desserts and just ordered off the regular menu.

And then on the fifth day, I indulged in warm chocolate chip cookies and a Mickey bar with the kids at bedtime after having had several desserts with my meal at dinner. (My entire family had been having cookies and a Mickey bar at bedtime every night, and I held off this long but gave in.) 

It just kept getting worse. I ate until I felt full which always leads me to overeating and, within 15 minutes of the meal, feeling sick and stuffed. I know this is because I eat too fast, but I have not, in nine months, been able to slow down enough for my satiety cues to work before it's too late.

Before the cruise, I measured every food religiously no matter what it was or where I was eating, to make sure I didn't eat too much. During the cruise, that all went out the window, even though I did have my travel food scale with me and in my bag, I never used it.

The overindulgence came to a crescendo when, on the way home from the airport, I ate a reasonable meal at The Cheesecake Factory, followed by all but a sliver of a 1,200 calorie piece of pumpkin pecan cheesecake. I rationalized that I was still on vacation, but I knew inwardly that that cheesecake had more calories that I am supposed to eat in a whole day. And yet, I ate it anyway.

When we got home, I weighed myself and had lost 1 pound since the day we left. (Joe said I did good because he gained 8 pounds!)

While I was happy that I lost that pound, I was disappointed with myself for overeating so much and so often. My fat brain resurfaced with a vengeance on vacation, proving to me that I may be a recovering food addict but will never be fully recovered.

I have found it a little difficult to return to my previous healthy habits. As I expected, I am having trouble passing up foods that I know are none of my business like bread and pizza and cheesecake. I have been passing them up for the most part, but I broke the habit of passing while we were away, and I have to make conscious decisions with every bite at every meal, and that is super hard.

Christmas rolled around five days after we got home from the cruise. Again, Joe and I planned out a meal that would be good for everyone: baked ham with no glaze, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes (from a package), stuffing, roasted cauliflower with Parmesan cheese, roasted asparagus, a cheese plate, and a sugar-free cheesecake. I tried the sweet potatoes even though they contained sugar as the second ingredient (I shouldn't have), but fortunately didn't like the spices in them and only ate that one bite. I had some cheese, ham, cauliflower, and asparagus, and this was a fine meal, but again, I felt like I overate especially when it came time for dessert and I ate a big chunk of that cheesecake mid-afternoon.

I ate a piece of the cheesecake again the next day, even though I already had my calories for the day, and even though I wasn't particularly hungry. I almost threw it away after that episode so that I wouldn't be tempted by it anymore, but I didn't. I ate another big chunk (weighed out so as not to be too much, but still too many calories) for an afternoon snack one day instead of having a protein shake. So I was over for calories and under for protein for that day. I asked Joe to throw away what was left so that I wouldn't be tempted by it anymore. It felt like a huge waste and a defeat in a way, but also a victory in that I realized it was too tempting for me and took control of the bad situation.

I discovered after getting home that I can now eat between 7 and 8 ounces of food at a time, and I've been struggling with whether I should be eating that much or if I should go back to the 6 ounces I've been eating all along. It is true that the stomach stretches a bit as you get out from surgery, but my surgeon's office says I should be eating around 3/4 cup of food at a meal right now, and I'm pretty sure that 7 ounces by weight is more than 3/4 cup.

I'm trying to listen carefully to my body, but I am well aware that I can't trust my feeling of fullness to decide when to stop eating. I need to weigh out my foods carefully.

I wanted to have baked brie for Christmas dinner, but they were out of brie at the Walmart where we shop, so we didn't have it. They had it in stock after Christmas, though, and I made my baked brie later in the week. It tasted amazing but was very high in calories. I ate 2 servings of it for dinner one night (decent in the protein department, but over 300 calories), and loved every bite. 

However, after a couple of days worth of brie and the mozzarella stuffed meatballs Joe made the day before, I have gained 4 pounds. I am still counting my calories, but consistently going over 1,000 calories per day. My scale is sometimes finicky, and I realize that this may be a false gain, but still, it was a wake up call that I need to make some big changes in my habits and get back on track with my eating plan.

Through all of this, I have maintained my daily walking habit, even on the cruise. One day, I hit my highest number of steps ever – over 16,000. We walked the Castaway Cay 5K that day plus all the walking on the ship and the island. Aside from that, I didn't have a daily focused walking time but hit my step goal every day just by virtue of being on this enormous ship where everything is far away.

Joe calls me his Workout Warrior because he cannot keep up with me when he goes along on my daily walk. It is hard for me to believe that I am walking for 35-37 minutes a day, more than 1.5 miles, and even when it's cold. This week, the wind chill has been between 2ºF and 11ºF every day, and I have bundled up and walked.

Despite what I have said above, the two months since my last update haven't been all bad. I have had some huge non-scale victories including:

  • My first time on an airplane with no seat belt extender 
  • My face is no longer round. (This may have changed a while ago, but I just noticed.)
  • I was able to wear my fraternity letters (Phi Sigma Pi) for the first time since college. 
  • I have walked 2 5Ks.
  • I am very close to what I weighed in the seventh grade. I remember this very clearly because it was 229 pounds, and the nurse weighed everyone in my gym class. She wrote down our weights on a chart, and another kid saw mine and told everyone in the entire school that I weighed 229 pounds. Kids chanted 2-2-9 every time they saw me for the entire year. It was brutal, and I've never told anyone about it before now, but I will never forget what I weighed that year.
  • I'm down to a size 18 in women's or an XL or XXL in regular clothes. I can easily fit into an XXL sweatshirt or t-shirt, and I am super excited about all the cool new Disney clothes I got on our trip.

I don't go back to my surgeon's office for my 9-month checkup until January 31, so I don't know if my protein and iron have evened out or not. I am still eating 100-120 grams of protein per day and taking a daily iron supplement, so I hope that has helped.

What has most certainly not helped is that I didn't track my protein on the cruise at all. Really, I couldn't, because there was no internet and the My Fitness Pal app doesn't work without it. I was eating so much at mealtimes that I wasn't hungry for my shakes in between times, so I just didn't have them. 

A few days after we got home from the cruise, my hair started falling out again, so I am certain that the lapse in my protein shakes caused my protein to dip far too low again. I am slowly building back up, but my hair is still falling out. That mass shedding had largely stopped before the cruise.

I was worried about losing my stamina for my daily walks while on the cruise, but that didn't happen. I returned home and jumped right back into my walking habit without any trouble at all.

These posts always end up being way longer than I intended, but so much is changing, and I want to update you on all of it. I hope this has helped you, especially if you're considering surgery or have recently undergone surgery.

Thanks for reading!

Looking for other updates? See the whole series here.

Bariatric gastric sleeve surgery results - This is an update 9 months after gastric sleeve surgery including before and after pictures (or is it before and during?). She is losing weight quickly and eating a healthy diet that she can maintain for life! She talks a lot about adjusting to her new body and how it feels to lose so much weight! Also discusses a set back and how it has affected her plan.

© 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

18 thoughts on “Bariatric Gastric Sleeve Surgery Update and Results – 9 Months Post-Op”

  1. I want you to know that your posts on this topic have been very helpful to me. I have not, and don’t intend to have the surgery, but your honest thoughts on weight and weight loss has been very eye-opening for me. So many things you have said stuck home to me. I went on a high protein, low carbohydrates diet, in which I measured my portions and calories and lost a happy amount of weight and then the holidays struck and I lost the will power. This was last Christmas and I have not yet been able to get back on the horse as before. This Christmas was even worse and I am at my all-time highest weight. I think the fear of failure makes me not even want to start. Hearing your honest assessments of your failures, your achievements and how hard, but possible it is to regain success has given me the encouragement I needed. Thank you. Bless you.

  2. You look absolutely fabulous and should be SO PROUD of yourself (I know you are!) So you may have backslidden a bit during your cruise and the holidays – just get back on the bandwagon now. My daughter and I started Weight Watchers in October. I knew I wouldn’t be able to track what I ate on our cruise, so I just decided that I needed to trust myself to make decent choices. I did try some desserts, but don’t think I finished any of them. I did finish several of my meals though. I thought I may have a gain, but I guess all the cruise walking balanced it out and I did end up losing 2 pounds. The holidays were tempting but, again, we tried to make good choices. I did, however, splurge a few times – like I had a piece of my Aunt’s apple pie on Sunday because it’s literally THE BEST apple pie in the world and it’s not like I get to eat it every day. I did have a loss last week, but not so sure about this week. We’ve also started working out in the mornings at the physical therapy office where my daughter works – it’s an EMPTY gym, so it’s an awesome opportunity.

    Slow and steady wins the race, right?

    • That’s right! It’s been hard for me because I lost so fast initially, and now it’s just been kind of meh for a month, entirely due to my own decisions. I also had a piece of pie at a holiday party (after I wrote the post), but I am not beating myself up for it. It was a very special occasion, and I’m not going to eat it during the regular course of my life. So I think I’m good.

      • Absolutely! I try to have the philosophy of not depriving myself of those things that I really enjoy. And, instead of eating the whole pie over the course of a few days, I will feel much less guilty if I allow myself to enjoy one slice at a family gathering. We also learned how to adapt some favorite holiday recipes – like buffalo chicken dip – to make them less calories and more easy to fit into our Weight Watchers daily points allowance.

        Learning how to make positive choices and learning to adapt to a new lifestyle – not always easy, but definitely worth it in the end!

        Keep up the good work!

        • Not depriving myself is SO hard for me. If I have one bite, it always leads to two. Two bites quickly leads to the whole slice. And then, once I’ve had one slice, I’ll probably have another. I am terrible when it comes to that, and I need to just not even start the process. I have had success with Halo Top ice cream – having just the 1/2 cup serving size and only on very rare occasions, but in general, I can’t even sample sweets and other treats.

          • It’s such a hard balance! You know yourself better than anyone else, though, so you know what you can handle and what you can allow yourself to eat, etc. For me, I look at it like this … I don’t want to never be able to eat a piece of pie again, so I feel like I need to occasionally allow myself that luxury.

            We, too, have discovered Halo Top and it’s been a godsend for me. I LOVE ice cream, so it’s nice to be able to eat that and not feel the least bit guilty about it!

  3. You are being very sensible and truthful with yourself. You must allow yourself so.e cheats. There is a happy balance and it seems as though you are doing great. Don’t be too hard on yuourself!!

  4. I love how you chose to be open about your surgery and weight loss journey. You’re such an inspiration and an exemple to follow. I’m reading it since the beginning, and seeing you being so honest and transparent about it is heartwarming. I’m about to undergo bariatric surgery myself, and I’m less apprehensive after reading your story. Thank you.

  5. I am so incredibly proud of you! Not just for the weight you have lost but because of your honesty with your issues around food still. Those truths are so very important. I loved that one of your non-scale victories was about the airplane seatbelt. I remember when that happened to me and I was just thrilled beyond belief! Not sure what vitamins you take – but I highly suggest Solgar (brand) VM-75 multivitamins. I have been using these for years and they are amazing I think. My husband takes them also. They are packed full of good stuff for you! Keep up the great work!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thank you Robyn! I still haven’t hit that point that you did – where I can just listen to my body and eat enough but not too much. I was hoping that I would, but I’m starting to think I’ll have to weigh and measure forever. I am taking a bariatric blend of vitamins called Journey 3+3. I like them because they have everything in them, and I only have to take them twice a day. I don’t have to remember to break off the calcium and iron and everything as before with my doctor’s vitamins. Does that make sense?

      • You are doing BETTER than I am with still doing the weighing and measuring of your food. When you go away from that, like you did on cruise, it is a hard road to follow. One thing that doesn’t seem to change is that if you eat too much you will get sick – that happens to me sometimes still and it helps me re-focus. Just keep hanging in there, you are doing an amazing job! Being aware of the TYPE of foods and the AMOUNT of foods also will be good for your girls – not that they have to starve themselves, but that they should be aware of what and how much they are eating. I so wish I would have been able to do that when Taylor was young, but I just wasn’t at that point. Now with the grandbabies I try to make sure they eat good portions of good and healthy foods when they are here – I try to load in the veggies especially for them. You are also doing so great in that you are getting so many steps in each day – these are all things that you will imprint on the girls. {{{HUGS}}}

        • PS – on the vitamins – when I first did my surgery I bought all the “recommended” vitamins and it was VERY expensive and I found I did not do well with most of them. When I talked to my actual surgeon he was fine with my changes even tho his “office” recommended the other vitamins. Along with the 1 Solgar VM-75 multi I take each day I also take liquid B vitamin mix. I used to talk calcium also but they made me constipated. I still try to take as much protein in my diet as I can, even tho I love veggies more, but they seem to be enough for me. I stopped the protein powders and shakes quite some time ago because they also made me constipated – never a good thing! Ever single person is different in the supplements they need and what their body accepts or rejects – keep doing what YOUR BODY says is right for you.

  6. I enjoy reading these posts, too. I’m working on weight loss with WW (slowly but surely) and trying to forge new eating habits and attitudes about food. I have a really hard time stopping after one bite, too, but I love food!! I don’t want to lose that enjoyment, but I also know I need to keep making good choices to be my best self–for my kids, my husband, and most of all, for myself.

    Thanks for being so brave about sharing the way those cruel kids taunted you in middle school. I’m so sorry that happened. Words like that cut so deep. 🙁 Keep remembering your position in Christ. That never changes.

    Press on, workout warrior!!

  7. I think you look fantastic ! I will be getting sleeved in early April, I can’t wait !! Thanks for the update. I’ve been stalking your blog for awhile now. 🙂

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