It has been almost two months since my last bariatric surgery update, so I wanted to pop on and let you know how it's going. So many of you have written with kind words and encouragement and asking how it's going. I am truly honored by your emails and comments!
In short, it is going great!
I have lost 84 pounds since March 29 (3 months and 2 weeks), and I am recently (in the last month or so) able to see a difference in myself. And now that I can see it, what a difference it is! I know I still have a long way to go (200 pounds is my personal goal), but when I look in the mirror, I see a much thinner person.
I am able to wear all the cute clothes I packed away years ago, including some favorites from Kiyonna, which I absolutely love. They make me feel pretty. And they are quickly becoming too big, which means that I am visiting the thrift store pretty often to get new stuff!
I had jury duty last week, and something miraculous happened. I crossed my legs for the first time in years! That is something that you cannot even think about doing at 400 pounds.
In a recent post, I wrote about how nearly everything I ate made me nauseous. Robyn, my dear sweet friend who had this same surgery years ago, commented that she only has that problem when she doesn't chew her food well enough. I started chewing more - a lot more - to see if that would help, and it did! I now chew my food until there is nothing left of it which is somewhat annoying but much better than constant nausea!
One problem that I do have is that I don't know when I've had enough to eat, especially when we're not eating at home. When we're at home, Joe measures for me. I know I can eat about ⅓ cup of volume or 2-3 ounces of meat with a few bites of veggies. My surgeon's office said I'd be able to eat a full ½ cup by now, but that is way too much for me. I'm not complaining - I like that so little food fills me up!
I packed my lunch every day when I was on jury duty so that I wouldn't have to go out for lunch. It seemed too complicated to have to pay for food and throw most of it away since carrying leftovers into a courtroom wouldn't work very well. 2 pickled beet eggs filled me up completely, and it was great! So easy to prepare for.
As I said above, I do have trouble knowing when I've eaten enough. Most of the time, I end up eating a little too much, and when I eat too much, not only am I uncomfortably full, but I get terrible heartburn that lasts for hours, usually until my next meal. I am going to mention this to my surgeon when I see him next week. I try not to overeat, but I think we need to also address the heartburn. I'm hoping he'll put me back on Protonix as that would be much cheaper for me than an OTC medicine.
Another thing I'm going to mention to my surgeon is my hunger pains. I have been having severe hunger pains to the point of nausea at meal and shake times pretty much since the week of surgery. The pains get way worse when I drink water. I heard from the nurse at my family doctor's office (who also had gastric sleeve surgery) that this is not normal at all and can be another indication of an acid reflux issue. Acid reflux is apparently very common among sleeve patients.
I think I have mentioned this before, but I found a Facebook support group that is related to the website bariatriceating.com, and I love it. They are very strict - no bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, or sugars. Carbs from veggies only and minimal fruits in the weight loss stage. No bananas and low fat meats only. It is certainly not a fun way of eating, but I think it is largely the cause of what I consider tremendous success so far.
I have come to accept that food isn't supposed to be a pastime or a friend, and I am treating it as it is supposed to be - fuel for my body. I think my longterm success in losing the weight and keeping it off depends 100% on eating this way for life.
I was reluctant at first to try the bariatriceating.com products - shakes and vitamins - because they are very expensive, but I am glad I eventually took the plunge. I have gotten 10 different flavors of their shakes, and I really like most of them. (The ice cream sandwich and banana smoothie are not my favorite.) Some flavors can even be made into brownies or pancakes, but I am hesitant to try that as I'm afraid it would lead to more goodies.
After bariatric surgery, you have to commit to taking bariatric vitamins for life. People who don't end up with severe osteoporosis as young people, teeth falling out, and all kinds of terrible deficiencies which affect them for life. I bought the vitamins my surgeon's office sells, but they recommend that you alternate them with Citrical every 4-6 hours throughout the day. I always forgot to take at least one pill during the day. Always. The vitamins from bariatriceating.com have less of each individual nutrient, but you only take them twice a day. I never forget them, so I am pretty sure I'm getting more of the nutrients now than I was before. I think I have to get labs done soon, so I'll find out for sure.
I have not found it easy to stick to my 1,000 calorie daily limit all the time even though I can only eat ⅓ cup at a time. Especially when I don't plan ahead, I top out above 850 calories (sometimes way higher).
We went to a hot dog supper at church, and I ate 1-½ hot dogs topped with some Coney Island chili, cheese, and refried beans. It seemed like the right amount of food, but when I entered it into My Fitness Pal, it was over 400 calories and put me over 1,000 calories for the day. I learned that day that I need to do a better job of planning my food out before I eat it.
Another surprise was the delicious zucchini lasagna that Joe made. It had no noodles, and we doubled the meat in it, so I thought it would be healthy. Lots of protein and no carbs, right? Um, no, not healthy at all. It had over 300 calories in my tiny piece. I reworked the recipe to take out the double meat, use 93% lean ground beef instead of 80% (which used to be our go-to) and half of the cheese, and that made the calorie count more reasonable. I am learning so much about food in this process!
Yet another surprise has been what I'm eating. I feel like I've written this before, but I can't find it, so here goes again: I can't believe what I'm eating. I have not really been a seafood fan throughout my life, and I gag at anything that tastes remotely fishy. I am now eating seafood at least once a day. Shrimp is my main go-to, but I like fresh scallops more. Both have a tremendous amount of protein with almost no fat and very few calories. They don't get dry like other meats (dry foods are a big no-no). Unfortunately, scallops are $16 a pound on sale, and shrimp is $6 a pound on sale. We do get shrimp a lot, but scallops are a rare treat.
I want Joe and the girls to switch over to my way of eating, but since I don't do the cooking at our house, it hasn't really happened. Joe has become very conscious of added sugars (we eat nothing with more than 7 grams of sugar per serving) and shops with my needs in mind, but he and the girls still eat a lot of empty carbs. I think it would do them all good to cut those out.
I still struggle with not drinking Mt Dew every time I see it. There was a vending machine in the jury room that stocked both original Mt Dew and Code Red (my fave!) and I really really really wanted one. But I didn't, and I'm glad. I hope that choice eventually gets easier because it hasn't yet.
I feel like I could fill up another thousand words with all the changes in my life since my surgery, but I'm going to try to keep it brief:
- I'm down from a tight size 32 to a well-fitting 24.
- I can walk to my dad's house (only ⅓ mile but up a very long, very steep hill) and only stop once to catch my breath.
- I can walk for 20 minutes on a gentle slope without stopping to catch my breath. (The girls and I walk at lunch, usually about 20 minutes although sometimes we walk to my dad's for a quick visit.)
- I had to tighten the toe straps on my Tevas - even my feet have shrunk!
- My belly no longer touches the steering wheel in the car.
- I can sit in every restaurant booth I have tried without squeezing.
- I had to get a new, smaller (and prettier) band for my FitBit.
- I am wearing my engagement and wedding rings - and they are almost too big.
- Grace can reach all the way around me, and Allie can almost reach.
- I can walk all day at Hersheypark (usually 3+ miles throughout the day) and my legs and feet don't hurt by the evening.
- My favorite dress - a size 30/32 maxi that is so comfy - is so much too big that it drags on the floor.
- I have donated 4 large, contractor-size black garbage bags full of too-big clothes to the local Christian thrift store.
- My knees no longer hurt, ever.
- I look good to myself when I look in the mirror, and that is the most important thing of all.
As I said in the beginning, I am so happy with my bariatric gastric sleeve surgery. I can't even imagine what I'll look like when I lose another 100 pounds. I weighed 229 pounds when I was 12, so if I get below that, it will be totally new territory for me.
What questions do you have about my bariatric gastric sleeve surgery and recovery?
I promise to respond below!
Looking for other updates? See the whole series here.