Four Months–The End, The Beginning, But Really Barely The Middle

Yeah, I know that makes one huge heap of sense.  Please allow me to explain.

The End: I have decided to fire my surgery practice.  I’ll try to give you the Cliff’s Notes style story.  My surgeon repaired a hiatal hernia and despite me asking no less than six times, in and out of the hospital, I was NEVER informed and therefore received no aftercare instructions or alterations to the diet plan.  I only found out when I received a bill for charges not covered by the insurance company.  Then last week there was a HIPPA violation when I was sent a lab order for another patient.  If I wasn’t already fuming, that sent me to my outer orbit.  There’s just no amount of anything that is going to make this right.  It means I have to give up my AMAZING nutritionist and that almost makes me want to collapse into a pile of tears.  She’s helped me more than anyone in my whole nearly 13 year weight loss story.  However, the irony is by all appearances the hernia repair has been a failure since the moment I started asking about it.  I’ll be having a barium swallow and complete upper GI series next week to confirm it.

The old me would have just swept this all under the rug but the new me keeps asking myself: “What are the consequences to your progress if you try to hold on to this obviously broken situation?”  I don’t want to find out.  I have spent the past few months ‘fixing’ myself of all the moments I tried to puzzle together the good bits and doing my best to tip-toe around the bad ones.  The best part of all of this is I feel zero need to fix it.  It’s broken.  I didn’t break it so it’s not up to me to run around trying to make it all better.  End of story.

The Beginning: I want to draw my line in the sand and move forward.  Four months ago today I drew a different line in the sand when I had surgery.  It’s not like I can go back and change it, right?  So my job is to continue to move forward.  Today is a different sort of new beginning.  My only concern about moving forward is losing my nutritionist.  Oh I have the food part down and she even agrees.  The scary part is I have a weird body and she’s known exactly how to fix it.  No one has been able to do that for me.  Ever!  I have 12 years of diet failure so it’s not like I haven’t been begging and pleading for help all along the way either.  Fortunately, I have also learned a lot.  I know how to fuel my body.  I just need to hold on to the hope that God and the Universe will continue to place the helpers I might need in my path…and to not go crazy waiting for them to show up.  Today, I am moving forward all alone and all for me.

Barely The Middle:  Here’s the truth: I am two months shy of the halfway point on what is often referred to as the “Golden Window” by many bariatric specialists and patients.  The Golden Window is that magical first year where everything is easy–metaphorically–meaning the bulk of the excess weight comes off as long as the patient is doing her, or his, part.  Sure there are bumps along the way but the first year is very similar to the rapid change in the life of an infant.  Growth. Milestones.  I am not about to let anyone fuck with it.  This is my journey dammit.  My goals haven’t changed.  Of course, it has been feeling like everything is upside down but after a few moments of wildflower therapy on top of a gorgeous mountain it all became clear: I am upset about what happened…not where I have been or where I am going.  Huge difference.  My choice then is to let all the past die where it is and focus on MY GOALS!!!!!!!!!!!  Oh there will be fallout as the surgeon discovers what has happened because in my absolute heart of hearts I cannot imagine he knows but that fallout is the natural consequences running their course.  My goals are independent of the outcome…

Wait, how did I get this strong…

July Goals?

A few weeks ago I joined several Facebook support groups.  I just felt, and feel, like I need to be connected to other weight loss surgery people right now.  Where I am not close enough to my surgeon’s office to attend the support group, I figured this is the next best thing.

Today, one of the group leaders posted:

“What are you July goals?”

My answer was:

“To forget June ever happened.”

Mentally, physically, emotionally…June was just a big, ol’ huge vat of disappointment and frustration…and s-l-o-w weight loss.

How slow?

Slow enough it was my pre-op normal.

Yes, I have let the irony of me being flustered by losing at my pre-op rate sink all the way through my consciousness.

And, do you know what conclusion I arrived at?

My pre-op body and my post-op body are definitely not the same so I need to stop marking my journey now with those outdated signposts.

The truth is…Right now my body is NOT optimized.

Period.

No fussing.  No whining.  No rationalization.

And, it’s July now so how much longer am I going to be circling the drain about what a disappointment June was?

So am I okay with my glibly made goal to erase June from memory?

Uhh, noooooooooooooo.

Here’s my July goal:

20-25g of fiber daily

That’s it.

My new multivitamin pill is not being kind to my system so I need to make sure I am doing everything I can to keep my system running smoothly.

Not being able to buy my vitamin patches is one problem that is only exacerbated by not consuming enough fiber.

Besides, I am at the point where I have a really good handle on everything else except fiber.  When I scroll back through my food journal and when I am honest with myself, it is the one area I, as the controller of all things which enter my body, have slacked on.

Oh I can bitch about my supplement delivery method all I want but until I take accountability for consuming enough fiber I am not doing my body–or my attitude–any favors.

I am just complaining.

That is not me.

I am a woman of action.

That is my truth…and I am grateful a support group leader posed the question so I could knock some sense back into myself.

Sure, it feels lame to count fiber grams but it is always better than feeling gross and bloated because my plumbing isn’t up to plumb.

Pity party over.

Time to get back to me.IMG_8209

 

 

In My First 100 Days

I have planned this post for quite some time but I’m just finishing it up this morning.  It’s too hot to sleep with the desert southwest under a heat advisory–111 degrees today–so I might as well wrap this up before I decide too much time has passed and it feels lame.

My 100th day home from the hospital was Saturday June 18.

It seems unreal.

When I had 100 days before surgery, it felt like time was crawling.

But isn’t that always the way?

So what has the first 100 days brought me?

Let’s start with the obvious:

50.9 pounds of weight lost
3.8-percent body fat lost
25.25 inches lost (measuring right limbs only)
4 jean sizes down
3 shirt sizes down
3 dress sizes down
1-1.5 shoe sizes (yes, for reals and depending on the shoe)
2.25 pounds of muscle GAINED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Those are all measurable outcomes and they are completely mind blowing to the point I knew I had to frame them in this context.  I needed to write this out because I need to see it so much more than I need to share it.  I know my fellow WLSers totally understand how the brain and body are so out-of-sync especially at the beginning.

But what else have I seen, done, heard, and felt in these first 100 days?

The inside of a swimming pool…
I can hold Tree Pose again…
“Slow down…you’re walking too fast.”  (It’s hilarious to me actually)…
I have little baby abs starting to poke out from under my ‘melon’ of belly fat…
My rib cage…(but when I lay on my back there’s a good size depression)
My son said, “Mom…You’re getting some guns.”
I can do a forward fold and put 3/4 of palm on the floor…
I jumped across a small ditch but it was wider than my leg span so it was a full jump…
Realizing just how utterly amazing my nutritionist is…
My commitment to keep my goals health-focused rather than scale focused is stronger…
I can wash my whole back…(with a jacked shoulder this is a big deal)
A greater sense of confidence in the whole of my journey…
I trust my body…(so weird after all these years of putting in the work without reward)…
Less to almost zero acne …(46 years old and I can FINALLY stop using zit cream)
The positive changes it’s had on my family’s attention to their own health…
How many times I did NOT resort to food when faced with unimaginable stress…
That I actually learned to like water…(most days, most days…lol
That I haven’t needed to be perfect one million percent of the time…
I want to do squats…

I could probably do this for an hour or more but I think this is a good list to hold on to.

My point is having weight loss surgery does change the number on the scale but it also changes you and those around you in so many ways that cannot be quantified or anticipated.  I am grateful 99.99-percent of the changes in my body, life, relationships, and world have been positive.  So grateful!!!

It has definitely not been all sunshine and daisies.  It’s been a lot of hard work and making choices I would have rather not like getting that next bottle of water to go down or fixing myself a meal slightly different than the one I cooked for my family.  But, isn’t that the junction of success…doing the things you know are wise and prudent even when you would really rather not?

I love this quote by Jim Rohn and think it absolutely applies to the post-op life.

Jim Rohn Quote

Milestones And Disappointment

I have been working really hard the past few weeks.

Damn hard.

Hard enough to CRUSH my goals of falling under 220 before my three-month appointment (two days ago) and losing 50 total pounds (this morning).  I am also about to CRUSH my goal of hitting my lowest known adult weight by 4 July only to not be able to have enough money to travel to my surgeon’s office for my three-month appointment.

My hubs is self-employed and he didn’t get paid on time so I cannot go to my appointment.

If we roll the dice and I roll on down the highway to my surgeon’s office in Las Vegas, a five hour round trip, and one of the people who owes us money does not pay today we won’t have enough gas money for him to keep working tomorrow.

Normally, I do not mind our razor thin existence too much.  It’s hard.  I can do hard things.

Today, my disappointment is leaking out my eyes.

My surgery practice is AMAZING!!!  They’re a whole office full of cheerleaders and I really wanted to share my success with them today.

I’m not the sort who needs tons of people fawning over me.  If anything, it creeps me out.

Today, I earned it.

Today, I wanted it.

For a zillion reasons, this whole journey has been lonely.

The real life friends I included–because other than this blog, I have kept very quiet about it–have not shown up in the way I thought they might.  I kept my circle small on purpose and only included the people who I thought would ‘be there’ for me.  They haven’t.

Maybe that sounds spoiled or self-centered or whatever but, if you’re reading, you probably don’t understand the level of support I feel like I give them.

I know what is going on in many of their lives and it’s far more serious, in a couple of cases life-threatening, than my success.  I do understand the grand scheme of things.  It really is okay.  But dammit, I’m a good enough friend to know and understand.  And, I’m really okay ‘just’ having my surgeon’s office be my cheerleaders except today I can’t even have that much and it’s so damned disappointing.

I have worked really hard…

and now I am working hard to honestly acknowledge my disappointment while avoiding feeling the hollowness of celebrating alone.

50 pounds is AWESOME and I just want to share it with the people who helped me get there and who matter to me and it feels like that’s even asking too much.

 

 

This Month Was Better

In case you don’t remember, last month my home-from-the-hospital anniversary ended up being rather emotional.

My progress was stalling.

My body felt off.

The old, familiar feelings of “WHY, WHY, WHY…isn’t this working?” were swirling.

Thankfully, I recognized and honored those feelings and decided to share them with my seriously amazing nutritionist.  Through a chain of emails we pinpointed the suspected culprit in my diet and eliminated it immediately.  Ten days after discontinuing the preservative-laden lunch meat my body felt like it was getting back to normal–yep, a protein…a legal, nutritionist-approved protein–knocked my body out of whack and ground my progress to a halt.

I didn’t assume I was in a natural stall.

I listened to my body.

I did NOT listen to people who were telling me I should just ‘be happy’ with my progress so far or that I was being too hard on myself.  They haven’t lived in this body so there’s no way they could know but I couldn’t help but wonder maybe they were right.

Instead, I asked for help with confidence I was right something was wrong.

I found solutions.  Simple, simple, simple solutions to get me back on track.

I’ve been trying to lose weight for over a decade and have experienced a similar scenario more times than I can count but I have never had the level of professional support I have now and for me that is what is making all the difference.

Yes, having a vertical sleeve gastrectomy helped.  A lot.

BUT…

Without the custom attention of my brilliant nutritionist, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

I like it here.

I like the success I’m having.

I really like how almost predictable it is.  It’s only almost predictable because let’s face it…autoimmune disease is a roller coaster of crazy body blowouts…but I have been able to wrangle my body back into submission faster than ever.

I like having confidence in myself and my body.

I have never experienced any of this on previous attempts.

This…weight loss surgery…was the right tool for ME.

After last month’s experience, I also learned something new.  Despite my attempts at non-nonchalance, the remembrance of the day I came home from the hospital does matter to me.

It is a natural benchmark.  But, there is no requirement for me to have any emotional investment whatsoever.  I certainly do not need to be freaking myself out with goals, celebrations, photos, or anything else.

After last month, I decided I didn’t want to do that to myself again.  So, I didn’t.

This month instead of piling a heap of expectations on the day I barely let it register including moving my three month check up from the day before ‘the day’ to the week after.

You know as well as I do had I driven to Las Vegas the day before my body would have swelled up like a toad.  It always does.  Bodies with chronic venous insufficiency do not like to be captive in a car.  I would have stepped on the scale the next morning feeling defeated.

Seriously, who needs to ‘celebrate’ what has become a very positive step in recapturing my health with feeling betrayed by one’s own body?

Not this girl.

Not any more dammit!!!

Instead I realized I am super close to some milestones and so I tightened up my eating and made sure I was really holding myself to the line and I lost the most last week. 3.2 pounds, since lunch meat decided to go rogue in my guts.

Let me just tell you…

THAT FEELS BETTER!!!!

Not just because 3.2 pounds is nearly SEVEN TIMES what my non-wls surgery good weeks looked like but because I focused on what I could do.

Such a simple, subtle change.

I am now exactly one pound from losing 45 pounds since coming home from the hospital.

I have never, not even when I was lifting over 100 pounds in the gym, have I lose 45 pounds in a single year.  Probably not even in two years.

Then I’m exactly 8.6 pounds away from achieving my lowest known adult weight.

In between, there’s the 50 pound milestone.

It’s not just the poundage.

I’m down 3.4-percent body fat too.

For most people, you need to lose 7-12 pounds of body weight to lose 1-percent body fat.  What that means is I am losing mostly fat and retaining my metabolically active tissue aka muscle.  What that means is even though some people might call weight loss surgery the ‘easy way out,’ I am managing to keep my body’s metabolism from being destroyed by rapid weight loss (Have you seen the Biggest Loser studies?)

And, I sashayed into Old Navy on Friday and could zip every single pair of size 18 jeans I pulled even though while in the act of pulling them I was steeling myself for disappointment.

No more ‘big girl’ clothes!!!!!

I did take a peek at my measurements a few days ago but stopped when I saw I had lost over an inch from my waist since my last check three weeks ago.  I was trying to surprise myself…and I did…but now I want to wait until the day before my check-in for the full surprise.

I owe myself that much.

Do you know how crazy cool that feels to know and accept it too?

Adoring Your Body

 

 

Getting What I Want

10 Days…There are 10 days until my 3 month appointment. Okay, first WOW!!!

Second, having my son, who hadn’t seen me since before my surgery, home for the holiday weekend and the holiday weekend knocked me a little off track. He was blown away, ftw. However, my choices did not inspire the progress I say I want. I’ve already been able to pull myself fully back on track BUT I want the extra accountability of posting here.

For the next 10 days I’m on a mission.

I REALLY want to drop out of the 220s. I’ve been hanging on the edge too long. I’m ready. To get to 219.9 I just need to lose 4 pounds. To hit 50 pounds lost I need to reach 217.7.

That’s it. I can do that.

To be honest, declaring either still feels scary even after all my amazing success. I even doubled checked my post-op weekly results to make sure either is possible for my new body because I’m still having a hard time remembering to believe.

Oh yes, they can happen.

I ‘want’ to hit one of them by my appointment and I’m going to do everything I can to get what I want.

Here’s what I am going to do to get there:

100 oz of liquids, at least half plain water
70g protein (min) including one 20mg whey protein source daily
70g carbs max daily
Daily physical activity of varying levels and intensity

I even just took a picture of those goals and set them on my home and lock screens on my phone to remind myself.

I.
Got.
This.

 

Here Fishy Fishy

Yesterday I went swimming.

Yesterday I went swimming for the first time since our Princess Cruise to the Mexican Rivera last March.

Last March 18 I made the goal to go swimming onboard the ship.

Last March from the moment I ducked my head under the water and pushed away from the prickly concrete side I felt a big part of me swish to life.

Last March submerged in the Neptune Pool I decided swimming needs to be a permanent fixture in my life.  I missed it.  I knew it.  It was time to bring it back to me.

When the community pool at home opened less than two months later, I quivered wet and cold with fear over the thought of keeping that promise to myself.

I shivered for exactly 444 days.

Yesterday I was no long afraid.

Okay, I was sick and tired of being afraid.  There is a difference and I need to make sure I properly acknowledge it.

So yesterday I went swimming for the first time in exactly 444 days.

A curious thing happened. As my flip flops were clip clopping closer to the water’s edge I realized I had precisely zero fucks to give about what anyone thought of me or my body.

Yesterday as my body made the transition from land to water I felt the same swish of me returning to me the moment I was free of the ladder.

Ahh.

Yesterday I even laid out in the sun.  Twice.  Let me assure my milky white legs desperately needed to see the sun but my soul needed to be one with its light and warmth.

And one I was.

I remembered who I am.  Again.

The me I was before I wasn’t was a fish.

The me I was before I wasn’t actually looked forward to a new swimsuit each year.

The me I was before I wasn’t actually spent so much time in the sun I had body tan lines the year I picked the multi-color and white striped suit.  (Who knew you can tan through the white stripes on your swimsuit?  Surely not the diagonally stripped me that was.)

Today, I guess I could beat myself up for letting go of the me who was before I wasn’t or for holding her back another 444 days.

But, I’m not.

Today, I can’t wait to go swimming again.

And again.

And again.

I am a fish and I am glad I remembered.  Again.  After 444 days.

 

 

 

 

Un-Goals

On 7 January I started my, My Fitness Pal, account.  I had been faithfully using Fitday for over a decade but it had become a reminder of all the failing-to-lose past I knew I needed to break from it and start fresh.

On that presumably blustery day in January, I put in a goal weight even though I am NOT interested in being any one number on the scale. Ever.

But, it’s a number. It’s something to shoot for and something to mark my progress against. And, today I am so glad I did I let myself believe, if just for a moment, that number would be possible.

Because…

Today when I logged this morning’s scale wiggle in My Fitness Pal, it told gave me a celebratory message to announce I have made 51-percent of the progress toward that goal-but-not weight.

I’m just shy of my 3-month appointment.

Okay, let me pause and let that sink all the way in.

Blinking hard.

Disbelief.

Shock.

Surprise.

Amazement.

Wet-eyed smile.

Never. In. A. Million. Years….Did I think I could get to this point this fast.

Honestly, even sitting in my surgeon’s office four months ago I did not really believe having weight loss surgery was going to work.

I didn’t believe it.  But, I knew I had to try.

I am so grateful I found the courage and the oomph to try as hard as I have with everything else I have tried.

(In case you’re a new reader…I’m really only interested in having a healthy body fat percentage and for women my age it’s between 10-32 percent.  But scales are readily available in doctors’ offices so I have to at least be friends with the number they show me.)

Time. Real Change Takes Time

11 Days…It took ELEVEN DAYS for my body to get back on track after discontinuing the lunch meat for my body to say, “Okay, we can lose again now.”

First, I’m thrilled!!! I knew things would start moving again simply because they had been going so well. In some ways, these 2.2 pounds feel better than the some of the 40 I’ve already lost because they’re the first I really had to work for.

Second, my the big point I want to make is even when you identify things that might be slowing your progress and you make the necessary positive changes you have to be extra diligent and patient while your body is healing from the ‘damage’ you have done. It all happens so innocently enough too. For me, it was lunch meat.

If you’re struggling there IS a reason and it’s a whole heap of work to figure it out.

Do it.

Don’t quit.

In my case, it’s been a lot of reasons over the course of 14 years. But I haven’t given up.

Not that I’m a fan of the BMI chart but I’m also under 40 for the first time in I don’t even know how long.

Of course I also owe my amazing nutritionist a huge thank you!  She is literally changing my life!  Yes, I know I’m doing the work but to not be fumbling around in the dark trying to figure it out on my own IS life changing.

So many people interested in weight loss surgery focus on the surgeon and having a good surgeon is important but if the rest of the practice especially the nutritionist is not fully invested in your success you could end up with a less than stellar experience.  Your nutritionist should be your lifeline as you learn to navigate the post-op world.  It is her or his job to help you through those stuck moments.

Are you reaching out?

Are you listening and responding to your body?

My surgeon created the tool that is a vertical sleeve gastrectomy.

My nutritionist is the one schooling me in the fine art of using it to my best advantage and helping me take my complete medical history into consideration as I make food choices.

Knowing the difference is success like I have never known it.

Weight loss surgery was THE BEST DECISION I have ever made for my health.

Ever.

Hands down.

Even before the scale moved, yesterday was my best, healthiest feeling day in two weeks.

Yesterday, I hoped the scale would move but I was also sure it was going to move. And, I have to admit it caused me to pause. I have never felt this much confidence in my body’s ability to lose weight in my entire life.

I’m so glad the scale is catching up to the work I’ve been putting in.

I cannot fully express how amazing it feels.

The changing numbers are awesome but to being doing the work AND getting results was elusive, at best, before surgery.  Now, I have confidence.

Amazing!

 

How Much Does A Day Matter?

Since my last post, I’ve been working with my nutritionist to figure out why my weight loss was slowing/stopping. I am extremely diligent so there should be no excuse. But when the scale’s been taunting me it’s been rough.
 
Thankfully, instead of holding on to all that past pile of failure I reached out to my nutritionist. Thankfully, we’ve also had enough interaction for her to have confidence in me. We’re even partnering on a project so I can find confidence knowing she wouldn’t consider it if she thought I didn’t know my stuff, nutritionally speaking.
 
We found the cause. It took us exactly three emails over the course of half a day.
BOOM…Just like that there was the sneaky little culprit.  The one thing that looks good, that even follows her nutritional guidelines but also happens to a stop sign for my body.
This ‘never in a million years’ thing has been screwing with my head.  I’ve been dancing to this tune for over a decade. Things go great and then something happens. Worse when I’ve tried to explain it to doctors they just end up thinking I’m a liar or crazy or both.
 
But you know what…I have kept fighting.
I won’t quit on my body.  I won’t rest on the laurels of past progress when today’s is non-existent.  No matter what my body has thrown at me I keep trying to hit back. I have kept fighting to figure it out.
 
This time I let go of the worry and I let myself have confidence in my relationship with my nutritionist. I also let myself have confidence in my sleeve’s ability to do great work. Things are different now. Not only do I have a sleeve but I have a whole new relationship with my body.  A sleeve gastrectomy is the right tool for my body.  I have absolute confidence in that so when my weight loss slowed/stopped I knew it was something I changed.  
 
So what was the “it” creating all the problems?
 
Lunch meat.
 
Specifically, the preservatives in the lunch meat.
 
It’s the only new, non-natural food I’ve added to my diet. It’s getting hot here so it’s been nice to have an easy, cold protein on hand. And it’s just lunch meat and protein so it’s good, right? Maybe for some people but not for MY body.
 
It’s only been since Saturday since we figured it out so it’s going to take my guts a little bit to get back on track.
In addition to no longer ingesting those chemicals, we’re changing my probiotic and adding some other supplements to improve my digestion and gut function.  If my guts are this sensitive then I still have some gut healing to do.
Healthy guts are the key to healthy body.
Fat loss is ultimately a gut and digestive function.  From your saliva to your liver to the very microbes living in your intestines the metabolic changes which produce fat loss happen only when your digestion and gut function is healthy.

If you’re not losing weight, something is off.  Period.

If you’re doing the work but the results are not appropriate for the effort your are exerting, something is off.  Period.

You are NOT being too hard on yourself so do not let anyone get inside your head and make you feeling back for your ‘gut instinct’ that something is not working quite right.  That gut instinct should be a clue.  Guts are brilliant!  They tell you things about your health all the time.
 
So I lost a whole week BUT I didn’t stop trying.

I didn’t even stop when people told me to “chill” or to not be so “hard” on myself because I could feel ‘a change’ in my body but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was or how to fix it.

 
Back to only eating food I cook myself.

It’s a pain in the ass when life is busy or I’m tired but it matters to my progress so….FORWARD I GO!!!

If you are struggling, it can be something as little as lunch meat which is setting up that struggle.
You’re not crazy, I promise, but your guts are talking to you so I’m going to promise you if you listen you won’t have to struggle so much.
Healthy Habits Quote