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.
© 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.