Friday, March 26, 2010

The skin I'm in

Whenever I tell someone new that I had a roux-en-y gastric bypass, there are generally a few questions.
1. How much have you lost? (A natural question)
2. Did your insurance cover it? (I get this one at work a lot, either because they want to know if it's covered for themselves or because they want to know if their premiums are high because I'm spending the money on me).
3. What happens with, you know, your skin? By the title of this post you should have guessed that I want to talk about this one.

People are fascinated by weight-related skin issues. Like, "where does it go?" Or, "will you get surgery to remove it?" Etc.

Here's my take on it. I'm HOPING that I actually lose enough weight to worry about this. My weight loss has already slowed down to a couple of pounds a week, which sounds like whining unless you remember that I lost the first 60 pounds in 6 weeks. So getting small enough that my skin can't catch up would be awesome and incredible. Especially because I have good skin genes in some ways--thick, heals quickly, few signs of aging. Of course that also comes with the major cystic acne and the tendency towards skin cancer, but hey--I look like I'm still in my 20's.

So, being the proactive and beauty product-obsessed gal that I am, I read up on what I can do to potentially minimize a need for surgery. The best suggestions I got was to use a scar reducer (like Mederma) on my incision sites, and to baste myself with body oil designed for pregnancy. Being the product-whore that I am, I ran out and bought a pregnancy oil created by Weleda, and one from Belli.

Some background info: I had really let myself go when I topped out at 350+ lbs. I had shapeless hair, I stopped getting highlights, I stopped shaving my legs, and I didn't exfoliate and moisturize the way I should. In short, I had given up. Well, and the fact that applying lotion all over a quadruple-X-sized body is a real workout. Literally.

Now, I'm slowly getting back into the habit of taking care of myself physically. First, following the Rules of Pouchie. Second, taking all my required vitamins daily. And now, marinating myself in baby-to-be oil. It's just one more step in subconsciously reminding myself that I am worth a little more time and energy.

Since I just started doing this, I have nothing real to report yet (other than my skin feels and smells great). As time marches on, we'll see how it goes. But even if it doesn't help with the loose skin, I think the simple act of conscious self-care will help me with everything else.

Next step in taking care of myself, exercise. More on that later...

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'm so refreshed...I MUST DANCE!

his post is a bit of silliness inspired by my good bloggy (and real life) friend, Madame Happy Fun Pants (the link is to her weight loss blog).  Oh yea, HFP, this one is for you.

You see, a while back she posted about Megan Mulally doing a disco-inspired commercial song and dance for I Can't Believe it's Not Butter.  Actually, the full music video of it is kinda cute and makes a little more sense than the 30-second commercial.  That is, if you're into finding sense in a full-length music video of a commercial.  Dammit, but I get the "Turn the Tub Around" song stuck in my head every time.  It's called an earworm.  After the German phrase ohrwhurm.  Seriously.  Look it up.

Anyhoo, here is the antidote to that commercial--Hugh Jackman dancing about (using his broadway-bound talents) in the joy of Lipton tea refreshment.  At least, I think it's Lipton.  I may have gotten distracted part of the way through this.  I was definitely feeling thirsty, but I'm not sure what for. 

(you're welcome)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Like a bad rash...

I'm noticing that my old habits have been popping up.  I'm a typical ADD-type who needs focus and attention to get anything done otherwise I'll just float around aimlessly, falling back into the familiar and the comfortable.

Up until now I've stayed focused on what can I eat, how do I cook it, how much should I chew, what vitamins should I take, when my next appointment is, etc.  But it's been 8 weeks, and I'm getting aimless and bored.  This is hard.  I have to think and pre-plan everything, and planning is not really in my nature.  It's getting old and it's making me crabby, frustrated, and really tired.  I'm getting more and more tempted to just let it go, stop working so hard, and fall into my default program of overeating and hiding out on my couch. 

For the last week, I've noticed I've been losing my focus, but I didn't know how far it had gone until I was eating way too much granola last night (idle hands, you know) and I threw up.  That got my attention. 

I HATE throwing up.  It is the worst.  I would rather feel really crappy for the whole day than throw up and feel instantly better.  (Hey, it's what kept me from being a serious drinker in college!).  But I guess that's what I needed to happen to point out to me that I can't get distracted or complacent.  Even if I'm angry and resentful and want nothing more than the food equivalent of crawling under the covers. 

In the past I've always given in and lost my focus.  Each time, I'd gain back all the weight and hate myself for it.  That's why I knew that surgery was my last option, because if I gave up or lost focus this time my body would grab my attention and get me on track.  You know, by puking.

So this weekend I'm going to forgive myself for slipping.  And remind myself that I chose this, knowing that it would require work, focus, and yes (gasp!) lots of planning.  And tomorrow, I'm going to wake up, plan out my day with my food and my activity, and then get to it. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

This is real work!

My god.  I can barely afford to be working full-time, because this surgery is a lot of work.  To all those people that think surgery is "The easy way out", think again.  There is no easy way.

Lately (well, yesterday and today), I've been really angry about that.  I've lost around 65lbs in 7 weeks.  But, I've been through a major surgery (with complications), 3 minor procedures requiring anesthesia, gone to the emergency room for dehydration, put on supplemental oxygen because I wasn't breathing well, and had to completely change my habits and lifestyle.  I've also lost a month and a half of income and more medical bills than I can think about without giving myself the vapors.  And I'm just starting the hard part.  NOTE:  while I am normally a very positive person, I need to vent.  So here is the whine of the time:

1.  Getting enough water.  It's a bitch, frankly.  I can take about two mouthfuls of any liquid at a time (that's about 1-2 ounces...I measured it).  And I'm required about 64 oz of water a day.  This means that if I go to a meeting at work without taking water, I will not meet my minimum of water.  If I grocery shop for too long without a bottle of water, I will not meet my minimum.  If I nap for too long, if I forget to pay attention, if I get stuck in traffic...whatever.  And now that I'm eating solid food, I can't have any liquids for 45 minutes after eating.  AND I'm supposed to eat 5-6 times per day.  It's exhausting to remember to drink--how ridiculous is that?  And yet not drinking enough is one of the surest ways to end up feeling like crap, to the point that I had to visit the ER for an IV to get rehydrated.

2.  Eating enough protein.  I should have a minimum of 65 grams of protein a day.  To give you an idea, 3 whole eggs give you about 21 grams of protein.  I, however, can eat 1/2 an egg at a time.  That's about 3-4 grams.  This is why I have to eat at least 5-6 times a day.  And even though I'm not supposed to have any kind of liquid calories, I have to supplement with a protein shake or two just to get enough in.  But as much of a pain as this is (preparing food, remembering to pack a lunch, remembering to eat, etc.), without enough protein I feel like hell.  Oh, and you'll lose your hair (which has already started).

3.  Exercise.  Just because you can't eat much doesn't mean you don't have to exercise.  Without it, your metabolism will slow to the rate of a quadriplegic land turtle.  And I have had a major tendinitis flareup in my foot that keeps me in pain when I walk (and walking is the recommended exercise until about 8 weeks).  I wish I could do more, because it is such a pleasure now to be able to walk, move, or shop (the important one) without having to sit down every 200 feet from pain and breathlessness.

4.  Old habits die hard.  Eating out of boredom, eating out with friends to celebrate, eating whatever you want, eating fast, eating without paying attention to every bite--those are really hard habits to break.  I didn't realize the extent to which food ruled my life.  I mean, I know I've been fat, so obviously I've had problems with food.  But I had no idea how deep it went.

5.  Getting good nutrition.  I take 2 multivitamins each day.  And an iron tablet.  And a b-complex.  And a b-12.  And I have to start on fiber supplements.  And 3-4 calcium supplements a day.  And biotin (for the hair loss).  And omega-3.  And glucosomine/chondroitin.  And maybe even a probiotic.  That's all on top of the thyroid medication, the anti-depressant, and the mood stabilizer (not to worry, I was on those before the surgery).  I have a hard time keeping it all straight.  And I can't take anything larger than a pencil eraser.  So I had to change my current medications, get chewable or liquid versions of everything.  And some of them taste terrible.*  Imagine getting a headache away from home--where am I supposed to get some liquid Tylenol (I can't take ibuprofin anymore) without going to a drug store?

So yea.  Today I'm really whiny.  And a big complainer.  And I know, all things considered, that I'm extremely blessed.  And lucky.  And loved.  And all that crap.  But today, I am pissy, crabby, ungrateful, and mopey.  And, unlike before, I'm actually sharing it with people (you lucky folks!).  I used to PollyAnna-ize everything so that no one knew what a horrid person I could be sometimes.  Even at my most depressed, no one (except maybe 1 or 2 people) knew about it.  I got really good at hiding things.  And it's taken a long time for me to be able to talk about the mad, stubborn, crabby, and sad parts of me.  I like to think it means I'm growing as a person.

So tomorrow will be a new day.  Hopefully, I will feel good.  I know that planning meals, drinking, taking my vitamins, and walking a little more every day will help.  So before I go to bed (no later than 11:30, because lack of sleep makes everything worse), I will pack my lunch and remind myself that I'm doing all the extra work because I'm worth it.  Even the whiny me.

*Just found out from one of my favorite bloggers, Eggface, that there is actually a palatable B-12 spray made by Building Blocks Bariatric Vitamin company.  If you want to enter to win a free, one, follow this link to enter the contest she is holding.  Just tell her I sent you.  :-)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why do we eat?

BWLS (before weight loss surgery), I ate for many, many reasons:
  • It was noon (time to eat!)
  • I wanted to try something new, or have a new experience
  • I was bored
  • I just "wanted a taste"
  • I was happy and wanted to celebrate
  • I was sad and wanted to carb it all away (pasta worked well for this)
  • I didn't feel well and thought I needed food
  • It looked/smelled good
  • I didn't want to feel deprived
  • I just wanted a snack
  • I was hungry
  • I thought I was hungry
Now, here are my reasons:
  • I get hungry
  • I get that "run-down" feeling because I haven't eaten in a while
  • It's been more than 3 hours since I ate, and I know that if I don't eat now, I will start to feel really awful in a bit
That's it.  No "because it tastes good", no boredom relief.  Just pure physical need.  Weird.  I'm still not used to it, and I don't know how long it will take me to get there.  I do know, however, that I don't think I could have gotten to this point without surgery.  I know many people manage it, but I wasn't one of them.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My own weight loss Oscars!

I love the Academy Awards.  Always have.  Love the dresses, love the dumb speeches, love guessing the winner, love love love.  So yeah, I liked it a bit.   I was actually inspired to create my own Weight Loss Awards.  So, no stupid bits, or musical theatre, lets cut to the chase and open the damn envelopes already.  And the top ten winners are...

1.  Best WLS website:  Seriously has the best information, greatest support board, good shopping, and good advice.
2.  Best WLS blog:  Funny, smart, and has the best resources and information.  And she keeps it real--talking about her own medical issues since having her WLS.  And she curses.  AND she is on Kindle (now that is some major street cred!)
3.  Best WLS recipes:  I've already told you about Shelly, aka. "eggface."  She taught me to make a roast and WLS friendly ice cream.  She is the best.
4.  Best gift for a Post-Op who is also...oh look, a kitty!  What? Oh!...ADD:  the Salubrion Enso Clock Meditation Timer.  I tend to wander off and 3 hours later realize that I haven't had anything to drink (as I'm about ready to pass out).  This clock is great--I set it to chime every fifteen minutes, and that's the cue to sip from my cup.  Oh, and the chime is lovely--I'd pee my pants if I had a buzzer alarm go off all the time.  It was designed for meditation, but I use it to keep hydrated.
5.  Best gift for a person who will be stuck in the hospital for 5 extra days (and the subsequent ER visits):  Yup.  You gotta get a Kindle.  Saved me from having Death By Boredom.
6.  Nicest post-surgery complement to date:  "Huh.  Are those the pants all the clowns are wearing now?" --from my sarcastic but very sweet friend, upon watching me hoist my pants up to my armpits for the 40th time.
7.  The gift (fingers crossed) that makes me wanna pack a lunch:  The Laptop Lunch lunchbox.
8.  Best nurse at Rose Medical Center:  It's a tie between the one who complemented my backside (see previous post) and the one who cried with me when she had to put the NG tube back in after it fell out.
9.  Best CNA at Rose Medical Center:  the adorable woman from Russia who told me she was "mean and bossy" and kept making me walk.  I wish I could adopt her, she was so awesome.
10.  Best weightloss tool (tie)The Blender Bottle (I have a collection of 2 and plan to get another one for the car) and SporTea.  The first is amazing--I can put my protein powder (or Crystal Light stick) in, add water, drop in the whisk ball, and get a smooth, yummy drink with no batteries required.  The second is the only thing I was able to drink for 2 weeks--VERY low caffeine (caffeine-free equivalent), no sugar or artificial sweetener (but tastes great), a little ginger to help soothe Pouchie when she's cranky--it's awesome!

So please, a round of applause for all our wonderful nominees and winners!

Friday, March 5, 2010

I've lost that lovin' a good way!

So today, I went back to the diner.  I actually just wanted dinner at home, with the cat staring at me and Jeopardy! on, but I was with a friend and we were out and about.

So I got a plate that consisted of 4 pieces of bacon, 2 eggs, and 3 pancakes.  It was the smallest special they had (I had forgotten my "please give this surgical patient a child's meal" card).  I ate one piece of bacon, probably 1/8 of the eggs, and 3 bites of the pancake (with butter and sugar-free syrup).

Here's the thing.  I love any kind of bread product.  From any nation, with any grain in it.  White, wheat, or filled with buckwheat groats (that's a real thing!), I will eat it.  So you know the pancakes were calling my name.

Only...I didn't really answer them.  Why?
1.  Cold pancakes are not luscious and delicious. 
b.  White pancakes have very little of the delicious wheat flavor (which I hadn't realized before). 
3.  They were just...fluff.  They didn't satisfy or taste yummy, and I felt overly full afterward.

So perhaps I AM losing that lovin' feeling for carbs.  I had really hoped that would happen, but I didn't think it would.  It is my biggest downfall, taste-wise, and my biggest health concern (I have MAJOR belly fat and high triglycerides, which has been linked to overeating simple carbs).  So to no longer crave them would be a huge benefit for me.  And I'm starting to see that possibility...yea!

Apparently french fries are not included in this new aversion, however, because I was able to eat 2 of them from a friend's McDonald's bag last weekend and I felt just fine.  In fact, they were delicious and very satisfying.  Damn.  Maybe I will start loving squash in return for it.  That would be good.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Weird and recent descriptions of me...

Since having weight loss surgery, I have heard some strange comments about my body that I've never heard before:

1.  "You are a tight healer."  --my surgeon
2.  "You really should breathe more.  You're, like, a breath-holder." --the respiratory specialist
3.  "You look just like you, only shrunk."  --a co-worker (who is also a wonderful nurse)
4.  "It's like your face is coming out at me, because you're losing your neck." --The Mom
5.  "Wow, your whole backside is like a rock."  --a CNA, as she helps me out of the shower, post-surgery.  (OK, I have heard that one before, but I just wanted to mention it again.  Baby got some firm backside!)

As complementary and/or rude/inappropriate as these comments are, I find myself laughing about them.  I collect them and try to store them in my memory bank because I find it interesting how other people are noticing and processing the changes they see in me.  And I am suddenly noticing that another person's take on my body, attitude, or breathing is just an opinion--not the God's Truth.   

This is a major realization for me.  In the past I have been hyper-self-conscious about ANY comments relating to my body--good and bad, thin or thick.  When I would gain weight, I would go home and obsess over the comment.  When I would lose weight I would duck my head, embarrassed.  Now, I find that I'm just rollin' with it.  After all, when you spend 8 days in the hospital getting poked at by strangers, including a rough sponge-bath from a large, redheaded CNA in a room with glass doors, you sort of give up on your self-consciousness.  You have to. 

And so far it seems to be a good thing.  It's a breath of fresh air to know that my self-worth is less tied up in what others say than it used to be.  So if you see me on the street, feel free to note my 3-D face, if I'm breathing freely, or even check out the badonk-a-donk.  You won't be the first.  And at the rate I'm changing these days, I'm sure that you won't be the last.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Talkin' bout motivation!

I weighed myself a day early (I was gonna wait until my 6 week surgiversary tomorrow, but it was a morning that I just needed to know), and I found out that I'm now down about 60 lbs.  Having your stomach and insides re-arranged will do that to you.  And a week of the "Ice-Chip Diet" doesn't hurt either, in which the hospital nurses alternate between letting you have ice chips, or making you suck on a glycerine swap (not recommended, by the way).  So this means I am officially under 300 lbs.  It also means that it is time to start exercising.

You see, I was in so much physical pain before the surgery that I couldn't walk, let alone work out.  So my bargain to myself was that once I was under 300 I would start working out.  I didn't figure on re-injuring my bad knee (pretty sure it was just me crossing my legs indian-style that did it), or not having shoes that fit.  So I'm finding good and valid reasons to keep procrastinating.  But sooner or later, I'm gonna need to work out.

What do you do that motivates you to workout?  What do you love?  I need some help!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2 new one day

So today I went to a restaurant for the 1st time since my surgery.
*cue music* DUM Dum dum *end music*

I met my fabulous friend Joanie at an old school diner in Denver called Sam's #3 (look it up if you're in the area).  They have the most amazing chili, and I ordered a small cup of it, with a little cheese, and a side of home fries (which are more like sliced and cooked potatoes there).  I did okay, but I was definitely too full when we were done. 

Lessons learned:
1.  Really, let someone else order the home fries and poach one from their plate.  I only ate about 2 bites of them, and that was way too much.  1 bite would have been perfect!
2.  The chili is delicious, but it makes it super-hard not to drink because it's spicy
3.  It's REALLY hard to eat out.  Too many choices, too many distractions from actually eating the food, and too hard to know when to stop.

My second first for today was to make protein ice cream.  I've had 2 days in a row that I didn't get in all my protein, so I thought this would be a fun and delicious way to do it.  I was right!  Here's what I did:
1 packet of mint chocolate protein powder
1 cup of 2% milk
2 T of sugar-free vanilla syrup (although chocolate would probably have been better)
Mix everything using my Braun handblender with the whipping attachment until thick.  Pour into prepared ice cream maker.  Turn it on and remove it about 15 minutes later.

Lesson learned:
1.  YUM!
2.  Did I mention YUM!?

But I only had about 2 bites, because I'm still full from dinner.  I'm just hoping I'm not developing another stricture, because it seems like I can't have as much as I could even last week.  I guess we'll wait and see...