Bariatric Success

I may have posted about this before, but here are my keys to success around bariatric surgery:

  • Do the mental work to distance food from comfort, celebration, and boredom. Work with a therapist if you need to.
  • Set up your support people. Set boundaries by telling people who love you that negativity is not allowed.
  • Set realistic expectations. Don’t pin all of your hopes on a particular goal weight. Set some goals that are NSVs, like being able to fit in a theater seat or to walk a mile or reduce your diabetes meds or play tag with your kids.
  • Recognize that this will not make you happy, it will make you smaller. Period.
  • Make changes that are sustainable for the rest if your life. This is not a “diet” like you’ve done before. It’s changing how you will eat for the rest of your life. If you aren’t committed to that, don’t start this journey. I think the only thing worse than not losing weight, is losing weight and then gaining it all back, which is a distinct possibility if you don’t change the way you eat for the long-term.
  • Everyone loses at a different pace. Don’t compare your journey to theirs. You will have stalls where you don’t lose for a while; just stick with the program.

Here’s a test: can you eat a post-op diet now, and maintain it? What I mean is, protein first, veggies second, carbs after that, at least 80 ounces of water, at least 75 g of protein. Do that for a while and see if you can maintain it. Don’t worry about the amount of calories or anything at this point, because after surgery you’ll be eating a lot less. But eat in that way and see if you can be satisfied in the long term. Develop new habits. Then, and only then, are you really ready for this journey. I started the journey, changing my eating, but didn’t have the surgery for almost a year because that’s when I was mentally ready.

What am I eating?

Shrimp and scallop lunch. 3 scallops, 4 shrimp. Ate 2 scallops and 3 shrimp. 2 bites of veggies. Just a couple of bites of coleslaw. Lots of leftovers.

I stole 1 French fry from another plate, and shared 2 bites of ice cream from my mom’s birthday dessert. Little bits like that make me not feel deprived.

9 months post-op.

Body vs Weight

I continue to struggle with slow weight loss. If you look at the timeline, you can see that it’s going down, but just creeping down. I lose a pound, go up and down for 3 weeks, lose another, etc. I posted I was down 50 lbs total, but that was about 2 weeks ago and NOTHING since. I am following the plan. I have certain “macros” to follow:

  • Protein between 75 and 90 grams
  • Water at least 80 oz
  • Net carbs under 50

I don’t have a specific calorie target, but generally get between 900 and 1100.

I also follow all of the other guidance about not drinking while eating, and getting exercise. But nothing seems to change.

On the other hand… I’ve gone from a 4XL shirt down to a snug XL. That’s huge! I can wear some tops from a regular store! Unbelievable! I am thinner in many places: face, arms, legs, butt, chest.

On the other hand… I’m still carrying a huge amount of weight in my belly. I’ve gone from a size 26/28 to a 20/22. That’s 2 sizes, which is great, but actually I hit that many months ago, and since then, nothing.

Frustrated!!

Six Months and Counting

Yep, 6 months since my surgery.

No regrets. I’m in such a better place with my body than I was 15 months ago when I started this journey. And I see improvements almost every day.

People have asked how hard it is sticking with the dietary regimen. I’m not finding it that hard because my whole approach is to be chill and not feel bad if I don’t stick 100% to the plan, but stick to it pretty religiously. It’s become a way of life to have a water bottle with me all the time, bring food with me when I go places where I know it will be mostly food I don’t eat (like lots of carbs and/or sweets), and have food in the house that I love that nourishes me. I generally don’t make a big deal out of most of my meals: just have some tasty protein and a few small things on the side. I go out to eat. I cook and eat with my family. I just make good choices, and my surgery is a tool that helps me not eat too much.

I feel like I’m being successful in my lifestyle changes.

I wish I was losing weight faster; some people have lost 70 or 80 lbs or more after 6 months. I’ve lost 50. That’s not trivial, but not as fast as I’d hoped. On the other hand, I don’t have any of the issues that a lot of people have, like nausea, inability to eat foods they love, hair loss, dehydration, or really anything else. I just can’t eat a lot, have trouble with only a small amount of foods, and need to pay attention more than others. I’m happy with that.

Portion size is so surprising

Although the whole point of having surgery was to restrict portions, I’m still constantly surprised at how much less I eat. I ordered a fancy meal yesterday: lobster tail, green beans, cole slaw, side of crab/artichoke/spinach dip. I was able to eat 1/2 of the tail, 2 green beans, about 2 tablespoons of cole slaw, and about 1 tablespoon of the dip with 1/3 of a pita chip. I was literally too full to eat one more bite! In the past I could have eaten most, if not all, of it.

While this is great, it’s actually frustrating! It was all so good I wanted to eat more!

Holding Pattern

I feel like I’m in a holding pattern, not really going anywhere. I certainly feel better, but the pace is worse than a snail’s pace, nothing even close to steady, much less dramatic. It’s hard to stay motivated to really watch what I eat. I can easily see me starting to “slide”, to start eating higher calorie foods. I am able to eat those foods, haven’t really found much that I can’t tolerate, just in small quantities. Big confession: I had two bites of a donut the other day. I’m not beating myself up over it or anything, but it scared me that I had no ill effects from it, other than feeling full. Good thing I’m not much of a sweet eater or this could be a big problem.

Clothing getting big; food while visiting

I went to visit my nephew and his family, along with my mom and sister, and felt weird in my clothes. The pants are very loose, although not falling down. (OK, falling a little bit if I put my phone in the pocket!) The top keeps slipping off my shoulders. Very weird.

We ordered food for lunch. I got a protein bowl which was just 4 meatballs, some steamed broccoli, and 1/2 an avocado. I ate about 3/4 of a meatball, about 5 pieces of broccoli, and about 1/4 of the avocado. It felt weird to eat so little, but I brought it home for later. It was also great to just be able to order regular food off the menu. Nobody paid the slightest attention to how much I ate, so I felt comfortable just sharing the tasty food and the wonderful company.

Back update, and New Recipe

My back is definitely doing better today. Was able to do yoga. Also, since I’m over a month out, was able to do some ab work: I can tell I haven’t done this for a while! I actually really love exercising because of how I feel afterwards – strong! I’m looking forward to my back continuing to improve, and going for a WALK.

I also tried out a new recipe, something called a “chaffle”. Basically just egg and cheese in a waffle iron. You can optionally add other things like veggies. I have a little 4″ mini waffle iron that’s perfect for this! One egg and 1/4 cup of cheese makes 2 chaffles. Yummy! Here’s a picture, although I forgot to take a picture before eating so this is only 1/4 of one.

An interesting illustration of how much I can eat: I ate two of these, which was basically the whole egg and some cheese, with a little Smart Balance on top, and I am FULL. Actually maybe a little too full. Next time I’ll eat only one, and see how I do.

Restaurant Food

On Tuesday we ordered in Chinese food. I was able to eat egg drop soup (which also had mushrooms, carrots, and peas), some of the chicken from the chow mein (but not the noodles) and some of the moo-shu chicken (with sauce, without the pancake).

On Wednesday we went to Celia’s for Mexican food for Simcha’s birthday. I had refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, and pork carnitas. In very small quantities, of course (have a lot of leftovers!), and chewed the pork very thoroughly. I had a little bit of heartburn, but it was temporary.

Oh, and I had a VERY tiny taste of ice cream and whipped cream. Like 1/4 of a teaspoon. Just enough to get the flavor. That was nice.

So excited to be able to find things I can eat in a restaurant! The hardest part was not having any chips. Some day I’ll be able to have some, but only a little, or I won’t have room for the important nutritious food.

Eggs and Cherries

A couple of days ago I decided to try eating cherries. I figured I’d just spit out the skin. But when I started chewing, the skin just disintegrated, so I ended up swallowing it. My stomach noticed, but was ok. I could only eat about 3 of them, but that was enough!

Today I tried eggs. I lightly scrambled some. I was able to eat about 1-1/2 eggs, with no ill effect. Yay!