My last bariatric gastric sleeve surgery update was about eight months ago, and so much has changed but pretty much everything is still the same.
What do I mean by that?
I started at 406 pounds in April 2017, and I got down to 197 pounds in August 2018. I am now approximately the same size and weight I was in September 2017 which was 274.
My food habits have still been pretty much in the toilet. I no longer keep track of calories, I often don't eat enough protein, and I sometimes eat sweets like brownie bites or donuts instead of real food. My stomach will only hold so much, and I want to eat the yummy stuff, so I do.
Also, I have gained about 75 pounds. I thought I had gained 55 pounds (which was horrifying), but then I shockingly realized that my scale was measuring incorrectly and I had gained even more than that.
I have gotten my act together, so to speak, in the last three weeks, and I've already lost 13, so I'm up 62 over my lowest weight from 2018.
This makes total sense, right?
I have been a hot mess, and I have gained weight, a lot of it. It's logical.
There is a lot of stress in my life right now (starting my MBA program with TONS of homework, moving my mother-in-law to be closer to us after a 3-week stay in the hospital, family drama and strife, feelings I caused with my children, more family drama and strife, guilt over too much screen time and not enough school time, and on and on and on), and I have been using food as a friend.
I remember early on in my post-surgery life when everything I ate made me sick, and I was so very sad that food had been my best friend for so long and it no longer was. From that point until about a year ago, food was not my friend. I did not seek food for comfort or to feel good.
Now I do.
Another bariatric patient about my age found my blog a few weeks ago and reached out to me. We've become texting buddies, and we encourage each other in our food choices and exercise habits. She has helped me quite a bit to get back on track. Right now, my focus is on exercise, and once I get that habit down solidly, I will work on my food.
After the shock of seeing 273 on the doctor's scale, I committed myself back to a no carb, no sugar diet. I've said before, countless times, that I would get back on the wagon, and I have failed. I have given in to the temptation of feel good brownies or cookies or ice cream. It always happens.
So again, I'm saying that I'm getting back on the wagon, and nobody in my real life will believe me, but I am going to try as hard as I've ever tried anything. I do not want to be fat ever again.
I am reading a book called Rewire: Change Your Brain to Break Bad Habits, Overcome Addictions, & Conquer Self-Destructive Behavior, and I am hoping that it helps with my food issues. It's about managing your own brain so far and actually aligns with a lot of the stuff I've been learning in my MBA readings on the psychology of working with people. It makes a lot of sense, and I'm going to keep reading it.
In my last bariatric surgery post, I wrote about how I was participating in Overeaters Anonymous. I did that for a few months, maybe six. I had three different sponsors, all of whom ended up relapsing. After a sponsor relapses, you have to start over at step one with a new sponsor.
And then there is the factor that OA takes A LOT of time. I was calling my sponsor every day (her requirement), listening to phone meetings for 1-2 hours every day (also required by my sponsors), reading and studying the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book every day (you guessed it, required), and journaling every day.
I was spending hour after hour every single day on OA, but I was doing it because I wanted their promised recovery.
It really wasn't sustainable. When my third sponsor relapsed, I didn't seek a fourth. It was just all too much and I gave up.
OA hadn't been working that well – I was still “in the food” as they say – but I had been earnestly working the program as best I could. It just wasn't for me.
So OA happened mostly over the summer, and by fall, I had quit. I was pretty much eating what I wanted, when I wanted it, snacking, and generally digging a hole for myself.
I brought this up with my therapist in the late fall, and we started working in sessions on my food obsessions and addictions. It is a slow process, and I am not making much progress but I keep telling myself that even baby steps eventually add up to real results. She had previously cut me down to once monthly sessions (because I had made so much progress emotionally), and I feel like that isn't really enough to work on this issue, but like I just said, even baby steps add up to real results.
I also have high hopes for the Rewire book. I'm trying to squeeze it in around my homework and doing pretty well so far.
From April to November, I had a streak of 187 days when I walked or did the elliptical machine for 40+ minutes a day. Then I broke my toe, and I couldn't walk without pain. And then I developed runner's knee which is where your kneecap goes out of place when you bend your leg. I had to do physical therapy three times a week for about eight weeks for that, and that interfered with my walking time too.
My streak was broken.
By the middle of December, I was lucky to be walking once or twice a week, but in January, I made up my mind and rallied.
Getting restarted with walking was tough. It wasn't as tough as all the times before when I was super fat and tried to start exercising, but I could tell that after three or four weeks of not walking, I was slower and the hills were tougher. I breathed harder and sweat more.
But I am doing it. I am currently on day 9 of a new streak, a streak I intend to continue.
One of the things that influenced my lack of walking was the weather. For most of the spring, summer, and fall, I walked in the dark around 5:30 am, and I walked for 60-90 minutes at a stretch which was generally 3-5 miles.
But when it got down into the 20s and 30s in the morning, it was hard to motivate myself to go out into the dark and the cold. I started walking at lunchtime again, which is fine, but I can't walk as far or as long as I used to when I was doing it in the leisurely hours of the morning. I usually take a 30-45 minute lunch break and walk as far as I can in that time.
My mother-in-law gave me her treadmill in September, but we just got around to bringing it from her house to ours. Joe moved some crap around in the basement to make room for it less than a week ago, and I have been walking on it when the weather is bad which is pretty much always in the wilds of Pennsylvania.
For the next two or three days, the early morning temperature will be right around 0ºF, so I will definitely be walking on the treadmill. I may continue walking on it after that and restart getting up at 5 am to work out.
There are two problems with the treadmill, namely that my heart rate doesn't get as high as walking outside even though I walk on an incline of 12 (whatever that means – I don't notice any difference between 0 and 12) and at my normal pace and second that the view is not very interesting. I alternate between watching tv on my phone (watched the new episode of Outlander this morning which was awesome, but there's only one episode left in the season) and listening to audiobooks. When I walk outside, I always listen to audiobooks, but there's so much more out there to think about and look at out there. Except not in the dark, so there's that.
But the treadmill is still much better than not walking or walking outside in dangerous weather, and it is also much better than using the dreaded elliptical machine.
My mother-in-law also gave me a stationary bike from the 1960s which has seen better days but still works for the most part, and I may spend some of my morning hour using that and then walking. I used a bike at physical therapy, and they told me that it was good for my knee which still gives me trouble sometimes.
Non-Scale Victories – It's still not ALL bad.
I wear roughly the same size clothing as my husband which may not seem like a big deal but is actually a giant deal to me.
I rode in an amusement ride at the York Fair with sweet Allie. I hated it and had to really struggle not to barf, but she was thrilled that I was small enough to squeeze onto the unnaturally small seats.
I wore the one size fits all ponchos at Niagara Falls with no problems, and I even kept my bag on my shoulder under the poncho. Not even close to a problem.
I haven't had to worry about sitting on a chair and whether or not I might break it in almost two years. I did, in fact, break a chair in my own dining room, but said chair had held me plenty of times when I was 400 pounds and apparently had just reached the end of its life. I was unbothered except for the scrape where the darn chair made me bleed.
I went to Wal-Mart, chose a fold up lawn chair, and bought it without ever even looking at the weight limit.
Also, I bought a new chair for my home office, and it did not have a weight limit listed on Amazon, and I did not even care because I knew I wouldn't break it.
Grace and I walked a 5K. Not only that, but we did not come in last or even close to last. She did, however, whine and complain every other step of the race while I felt invigorated and healthy.
I bought matching outfits with both of my children.
I regularly walk 3-4 miles and sometimes even further, limited only by my time and not my stamina or health.
I fit comfortably into seats in the theater and arena. Also, plenty of space in restaurant booths.
I can sit in an inner tube such as in the lazy river. Period. This never happened before, not ever.
This is perhaps the most important thing in terms of my transformation: A gorgeous man, whom I did not know, flirted with me recently in an obvious, almost over the top way. He touched my knee and made jokes. I didn't know how to react and was so giddy I had to talk it through with one of my closest friends. I was like, “You won't believe what happened!” and she was like, “Of course he was interested in you; you are a beautiful and smart woman!” and I sort of didn't believe her, but still it was terribly exciting. And, for the record, I recounted the whole thing to my husband who took the opportunity to tell me how smart and beautiful he thinks I am, and our whole relationship was re-ignited and if I tell you anymore, he will blush and most certainly object.
So there's that. Even though I've had some dietary and weight failures, my marriage is more exciting and spicy than I can ever remember and I feel great despite having gotten a little fatter.
The Bottom Line
I lost 207 pounds, gained 75, lost 13. I'm exercising every day again after slowing down for a while. I'm feeling healthy and alive and hopeful about the days and weeks to come.
Having bariatric surgery was the single best thing I ever did, bar none. Better than getting married, better than having children, better than graduating from college. Nothing has changed my life for the better as much as losing all this weight.
Looking for other updates? See the whole series here.
© 2019, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.