Status Update #14

Today was my latest check-in with my surgeon. My state of mind is pretty much the same as it was in my last post, so we’ll just jump to the numbers.

Weight on day of surgery: 239.2 lbs
Weight last time: 164.6 lbs
Weight today: 172.4
Total lost: 74.6

The crappy, crappy numbers.

I’m not sure why I’ve been having so much trouble lately. I just know that the urge to give in to my cravings for my trigger foods has been too much to resist since about May or so. I’ve done better some days and weeks than others, but over all, it feels like this summer has just been one big ball of stress-induced eating. I know I have a lot going on, but it’s all good things. It strikes me as odd that I’m this stressed out by good them. But then I’ve thought for a while now that I have some sort of mild, undiagnosed anxiety disorder, so that might have something to do with it. Y’know. Just a little.

So today my surgeon and I came up with a plan. I am to see how my stress levels and therefore my eating habits are by the end of the month, and if I haven’t been able to find my way back to more positive places, I need to go talk to my general doctor about trying some sort of anxiety meds/mood stabilizers/etc. My surgeon and I will reconnect in early November and see how I’m doing either way.

Since I can’t afford to talk to a therapist, this plan actually gives me a little bit of hope. Just a tiny amount. I can’t begin to tell you how long I’ve yearned for a better way to deal with my stress levels, or how lost I’ve felt when it comes to finding it. Medication might not help, but I’m willing to try it. Thankfully, if I am prescribed something, it’s likely to be a very small dosage. So…well, we’ll see how things go, and I’ll keep you all posted.

There will be no photo with this update, as you should already have an idea of what I look like at this weight. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to post a photo of myself at a weight with a five in the middle place.

Putting Things in Perspective

So by now anyone reading should know that I have some issues with willpower when it comes to food. …normally that sentence would contain at least one link to a relevant blog entry, but there were so many to reference that I just left it out. But really, if you’ve read even one of my last few entries, you should be up to speed on that aspect of my personality.

The reason why, in this particular entry, that information is pertinent, is because this summer has been…decently terrible as far as my willpower is concerned. My weight is still below 170 pounds, thankfully, but I was so close to 160 at one point. Yes, it’s only a difference of about ten pounds. But my body shows even five pounds gained or lost. The joys of my individual body type.

I hate to say this but, well…I’ve been feeling fat. I find myself back in that cycle of wanting junk foods and eating them while in some weird state of denial that surely I’ll be fine later, and then feeling like a failure and all-around horrible human being after the denial and endorphin high wear off. To say that I didn’t miss this would be putting it mildly at best.

I guess as far as my weight is concerned, I’ve been doing somewhat well thus far, all things considered. But this 160-170 pound neighborhood in which I currently find myself is becoming my new baseline, and thus, putting on even a few pounds because of poor eating habits makes me feel pretty bad about myself. I’m trying to get my eating habits back on track, but it’s not easy.

So I’ve been trying to keep in mind these photos:

Status Update #9

From Status Update #9.

The photo on the right was taken when I weighed only about two more pounds than I currently do. I know there is a remarkable difference between the photo on the left, taken before surgery, and the right hand photo. It’s an amazing record of how far I’ve really come. So as I’ve been hating myself for gaining five pounds, I’ve been trying to put things into perspective. I’m not sure it’s helping, honestly.

And I’ve been trying to keep in mind how much better I feel in the long-term when I don’t give into temptation and when my weight is around the 160 mark. That’s unfortunately pretty difficult when my brain is screaming at me for short-term gratification.

I think one thing that’s been weighing on my mind a lot lately and adding to this overall feeling of “fat” is my stomach. The loose skin is really starting to bother me, and there’s no way to do anything about it without further surgery. Which I can’t afford. …I’ve never wanted to crowdfund something in my entire life, but no way in hell is that happening.

My food and body issues have been weighing on my mind a lot lately. Enough so, in fact, that I finally looked into psychiatric help for dealing with them. But my insurance will only cover 80% of the bill after I have paid my yearly deductible (which I haven’t yet), and before that, naturally, it would be entirely out of pocket. While 80% is a nice high number, the remaining 20% is beyond my means. Not to mention the 100% I would need to pay out of pocket before my deductible was paid off.

So I’m feeling a little stuck in a couple of different ways. I hate being aware of a problem but lacking the ability to do anything to fix it.

About the only positive body-related thing I have to report today is that my hair seems to finally be making a comeback. Hair fall is a natural part of a weight loss surgery patient’s post-op life, and over the course of the last year and a half, my hair has thinned by a noticeable amount. Even the strands themselves seemed less thick than they had been prior to surgery. But I’ve noticed recently that my hair is feeling and looking thicker and fuller again. I was beginning to worry that would never happen, so it makes me very happy that that doesn’t seem to be the case.

…though that happiness is somewhat tempered by my current dismal feelings concerning the rest of my body. Before I had surgery, I typically felt that my only genuinely attractive feature was my hair. My brain seems to be trying to wriggle itself back into that old, familiar mindset. And I’m trying to prevent it from going there. We’ll see how successful I manage to be.

In the meantime, I think I could use a boost. What positive things are going on in your lives that you might be willing to share, readers?

Eating Day-to-Day

My surgeon’s office likes to be very involved with their patients. They do a lot of great outreach things, including pre-op informational seminars and “Transformation Tuesdays”, which is a sharing of stories from their LAP-Band patients on Facebook. All of these activities are opt-in—they are, of course, very careful not to share anyone’s information without express consent. I’ve been to one seminar and I’ve sent blog posts along for Transformation Tuesdays twice. And I’ve asked what good topics to blog about might be, which is why this post was written.

When asked, the Transformation Tuesdays correspondent replied:

I think one of the biggest things that we get a lot is people think they will NEVER be able to eat again. Our goal is for people to eat a variety of items—only learning healthier options.

I was also talking to a perspective patient at the seminar I went to about post-op diets, and he expressed his concern that he would never be able to eat things like steak again. From what he said, I gathered that celebratory steaks are a family tradition for him, so it was understandably important to him that he be able to partake post-op. Steak is one of the foods they list that post-op patients might have difficulty with. Everyone’s body is different, but I thought it might be useful to examine some of my common food choices as a post-op LAP-Band patient. Note that not all of these are one hundred percent balanced, but even over a year later, I’m still working on that. I feel like I’m doing better, but it’s difficult to break the habits of a lifetime.

Breakfast
They encourage LAP-Band patients to eat a lot of protein. To that end, I typically start the day with this meal.

A breakfast idea

Mmm, pigmeats

This meal consists of one egg, scrambled, with ketchup (you’ll find ketchup to be a recurring theme); two ounces of Eckrich skinless smoked sausage; and two ounces of red seedless grapes. This is a goodly amount of food for this particular LAP-Band patient, and it’s all delicious. Together, these foods account for just over 300 calories and around 12 grams of protein.

I won’t lie, I’ve had to adjust to eating this sort of thing for breakfast. I grew up eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast every day, which, apart from not being a food that’s high in protein, also doesn’t take as much effort to prepare. I’ve begun cooking my eggs and sausage ahead of time so that it’s more difficult for me to be lazy and decide to eat something else in the mornings.

I find that the part of me that wants to just eat and eat and keep eating is actually pretty mollified by having a multitude of foods to eat at each meal. Even if I’m only having comparatively small portions, the variety helps to satiate my urge to look for more things to eat.

Lunch
Lunch is usually a bit simpler for me than breakfast. But not as far as flavor is concerned.

A lunch idea

This is what heaven would look like if it were food

This concoction is half a cup of cous cous, two more ounces of sausage (because I apparently really like that stuff), an ounce and a half of extra firm tofu, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Tofu is a wonderful way to add low-calorie, high-protein content to any food. It’s similar enough in texture to the sausage that, when cooked together, I can’t really tell the two apart when I’m eating them. Sautéing them in the same pan causes the tofu to pick up the flavor of the sausage. It also prevents me from having to use any oil or butter to sauté the tofu; the grease from the sausage is sufficient.

Mixing a tablespoon of brown sugar into the couscous/sausage/tofu combination satisfies that savory/sweet craving very nicely. And the entire concoction is overall incredibly satisfying in a lot of ways. It accounts for 420 calories, and an unknown quantity of protein, because I failed to mark that in my notes.

Dinner
For dinner, I usually aim to have a variety of foods on my plate. This particular meal was made for my husband’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, and so it contains some rare indulgences.

A dinner idea

Om nom

Hey look, steak! I haven’t had any difficulty with it post-op. The trick is to make sure you cut it into manageable bites and chew it until it’s no longer recognizable that it was ever a solid food. Sauces help, and my sauce of choice is, as you might have noticed, ketchup.

A bite of steak

This is a “manageable bite” for the size of my individual mouth

This meal is comprised of three ounces of cap top sirloin petite steak (180 calories) with the fat trimmed off, salad (which I never count because it’s salad) with half a tablespoon of low-fat ranch dressing (which is equivalent to a quarter of a serving, or 20 calories), and homemade French fries (which in this case was half a potato fried in olive oil—I’m honestly not sure of the calorie content of it, but I’m certain it’s up there).

All told, these three meals probably accounted for 1200 – 1600 calories for the day. I try to stay under 1500 calories, but birthdays are an allowable exception (within reason).

I have also successfully eaten many foods they recommend you avoid post-op. For example, my usual lunch involves a sandwich. It’s an open-faced half sandwich on toasted bread, but it is on bread. I’ve also eaten both soft and hard tacos, as well as popcorn and birthday cake. Carefully. As with all foods as a post-op LAP-Band patient, I eat slowly and chew my food thoroughly before swallowing. And if something isn’t sitting right with me that day—it might be my sandwich, or it might be my morning eggs, which are a soft food and therefore much less likely to ever cause a problem—I will stop eating it. Or I’ll slow down. Whatever my body is in the mood for at that particular point in time.

So will there be a lot of changes to your diet if you decide to have any for of bariatric surgery? Yes. But I look at it like this:

I was miserable before I had surgery because of my weight. I felt terrible both emotionally and physically. Now I actually like the way that I look, and I feel much better overall. So yes, on the one hand, I could have opted not to have surgery, and continued to enjoy afternoon-long ice cream and chocolate-covered pretzel binges. That would have made part of me happy. The sick part, quite frankly. Now that I’m post-op, I might not be able to demolish half or more of a large pizza all by myself anymore, but I like myself as a person much better. And I consider that a more than worthwhile trade.

Besides, as I’ve said, I can still enjoy those indulgent foods. I just can’t have as much of them as I used to, and frankly, should not have been eating to begin with. On the pre-op side, the potential changes are frightening. But trust me, on the post-op side, they’re worth it.

(For one thing, I’ve discovered just how much I love fruit. The amount of enjoyment I get from fresh fruit is probably illegal in some parts of the world. Holy shit is fresh fruit delicious.)

So if you’re a prospective LAP-Band patient and you’re worried about post-op changes in your diet, I hope this post has helped to illustrate what a post-op diet can actually be like. I know it can be really unnerving to go to a seminar or do research online and hear that, once you have the surgery, you won’t be able to eat this, that, or the other thing anymore. Maybe you won’t, or maybe you will. But either way, at the end of the day, isn’t your own health and comfort level more important than food? (Remember, this is coming from an admitted addict and compulsive over-eater.)

I will finish this rather length entry with this video. There’s some interesting information in here. Give it a watch, and if nothing else, at least try to be mindful. Even general mindfulness is something our culture is pretty bad at.

Status Update #12

Greetings, gentle readers! It’s been around two months since my last Status Update, and boy do I have some things to share. So settle back and prepare for lots of words coming at your face.

First off, as always, the usual progress report.

Weight on day of surgery: 239.2 lbs
Weight last month: 166.4 lbs
Weight today: 164.6
Total lost: 74.6

Woo! I got my 75 Pounds Lost pin today from my surgeon. By their measurements I’m still .4 pounds away from truly hitting the 75 mark, but sheesh. Close enough. Besides which, my scale told me I was 162 this morning, so I think it works either way.

75 pounds lost

*achievement unlocked*

I am, as you may surmise, rather pleased with myself and my progress. I know I’ve said in the past that my goal was to get down to 130 pounds, but honestly? I’m pretty happy in the 160 – 165 range. I feel comfortable, I feel attractive, I don’t feel inordinately fatigued upon exertion, life is good. The only thing I’m actively unhappy about these days is the loose skin around my midsection that’s giving me some tummy rolls. Sadly, those aren’t likely to go away without some surgery, and that’s not in my budget (to put it mildly). But overall I’m very happy with the results of this crazy thing I did to myself a year ago February, which is an awesome thing to be able to say.

I’m a little surprised that I’ve reached this latest milestone, though, because May was not the greatest month on record. It’s not every menses that makes me want to eat all the chocolate in the world, but last month’s did, and for up to a week on either end of my cycle to boot. Hooray ladybits?

I’ve also been experiencing some difficulty with anxiety management, which is a thing I frequently struggle with, and a very large trigger for bad eating habits. But I’ve been trying, and that really is an important thing. It’s so tempting to just give up and/or in for at least a little while, but dancing on that particular slippery slope is a Bad Idea.

So there’s one milestone! And this is my 80th post on this blog. Another milestone! The next milestone involves my wedding bands.

I took them to the jeweler today, because I have finally determined that it’s time to get them re-sized. I’m not expecting to lose much more weight, and certainly not enough from my fingers for it to make much of a difference. And dammit, I miss those rings. It’s been almost a year since I’ve been able to wear them.

But there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that my wedding band, which is a simple ring with no settings, can be re-sized very easily. The jeweler is even doing it free of charge, since we bought it from them.

But the bad news is that my engagement ring cannot be resized due to the nature of the setting and the drastic change in sizes.

My engagement ring

This is what it looks like, for those unfamiliar. And it’s garnet and black spinel, in case you’re wondering. (Can you tell I get asked that a lot?)

The ring is currently a size seven. My finger is down to a size five. So it’s likely that resizing it will cause the side stones to pop out pretty frequently.

I wasn’t surprised by this news. I was actually expecting this to happen. So while it’s unfortunate, at least I wasn’t completely blindsided by it.

The jeweler does have the capacity to do custom work, so they could completely remake the ring…but we can’t afford that. So at this point, I’m not sure what’s going to happen as far as this ring is concerned. I will at least be able to wear the super-important wedding band again, but the husband and I will have to discuss what we want to do about the engagement ring.

The last thing I wanted to add to this entry is something about which I am giddily excited. I have always loved corsets. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 2006 or 2007, I learned how to make them myself. And I don’t mean those flimsy things you can buy in the mall—I mean sturdy, steel-boned, tightlaced, real corsets that create waist reduction and wide expanses of glorious, erm, tracts of land. But I had to stop wearing them even prior to surgery because of my hernia. And then after surgery I figured that I wouldn’t be able to wear them again because, well, I have a physical object wrapped around one of my internal organs.

But I asked my surgeon about it today. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t have much experience with the combination of LAP-Bands and corsetry, but he said I could go ahead and try it. Carefully. And if it’s comfortable, then I can continue to wear corsets. Carefully. If it isn’t comfortable, well, at least I’ll have tried. I can’t tell you how much I miss them.

Obviously none of the corsets I made for myself back in the day will fit me anymore, so I’ll have to wait until my next convention before I can try one on. But that’s not going to be too long of a wait. I intend to go armed with my measurements and find a corset vendor (thank the gods for Steampunk being a Thing these days—there’s almost always at least one corset vendor at any given con with a dealer’s room) and try a corset on. And then…we’ll see. And I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Because if it’s comfortable to try on and hang out in for a few minutes, then I get to start making my own corsets again.

And I cannot wait to see what this new body looks like in a corset. I was frequently assured that the old one was a sight to behold, and I like this one better, so I’m excited. I’ll post an update and possibly a photo or two (if the vendor will allow) once this happens.

For now, off I disappear into the mists of the Internet again until I have something more to say. Thanks for reading!

Status Update #12

PANTS?! What is this craziness of which you speak?

Subtle Shaming

As I’ve discussed previously, I am a big advocate of being body-positive. A friend recently shared “10 Ways We Body Shame Without Realizing It”, which I thought would be good to further disseminate here.

Whether you’ve experienced any of this and couldn’t put your finger on why it made you uncomfortable, or you were raised in an environment wherein which this type of discourse was considered normal, all of these points are good things to be aware of.

Anyone out there have anything they might want to add to this list?

Some Things Worth Reading

First of all comes this bit of awesome that will restore some of your faith in humanity. Major kudos to this dude for sticking up for a total stranger. There need to be more people like him in the world.

Secondly, in case you didn’t already know, that fad weight loss stuff is complete and utter bullshit*. There really, really, really is no substitute for a healthy diet and exercise. About the only “get thin quick” thing I can think of is bariatric surgery, and that’s definitely not nearly as easy as various companies would have you believe their bogus products are. If you want to lose the weight and keep it off, you have to make thorough lifestyle changes and take care of yourself. You don’t get to have your cake and eat it, too. It’s not worth the calories anyway.




*Yes, I know Cracked.com is a comedy website. But really and truly, fad weight loss gimmicks do. Not. Work. At least not in the long run. Treat the problem, not the symptom, and the symptoms will go away.