Category Archives: gastric by-pass

The Choices We Make

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I have a co-worker, a young millennial who has a loud vibrant personality. She is brash, unapologetic, and funny. I wouldn’t have her any other way. She recently moved offices and I miss the energy she brought to an otherwise mundane job.

Every day as she breezed out of the office, she would mockingly say over her shoulder, “Make good choices!” And we would all laugh.

Recently, I was part of a pilot group with my therapist. If I had  not written this before, I am seeing someone to help me with my binge eating. She is writing a book about how to lose weight and keep it off forever.

The group I was a part of has been reviewing her book and launching a kind of support group where we read chapters of her book and discuss the ideas in that chapter. We were her beta readers/guinea pigs. This past weekend, we all met in person to discuss what we thought of the book and make suggestions for the support system she wants to create. I am so glad to have been a part of that group.

The book is very interesting. The book is less about what we eat and more about why we eat what we eat. She really encouraged us to explore the reasons behind our eating habits.

Of course she thinks the best diet for weight loss is low carb, high protein focusing on eating fresh meats and fish, high protein vegetarian options, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Very similar to any good bariatric diet, right?

So, why can’t we stick to it? Why do we constantly sabotage our diet plans? Why do we make choices we know will not help us on our path to a healthy weight and relationship to food?

Those are the questions through both my sessions with her and the book she’s working to address.

For me, a lot of my bad choices have to do with my inability to deal with stress and toxic people. I get very stressed out when I think about the toxic people in my life, and there have been several who have entered and left my world. Some stay longer than others. It has taken me a long time to realize their behavior is about them and not me and to create a distance between me and them, even if that barrier is just a mental one.

I also suffer from a low self-image and self-confidence. Many people who know me would certainly be surprised to know this. I hide it well most of the time. It is hard for me to find good things about myself.

After I had lost about 130 pounds, a guy I am friends with complimented me on a shirt I was wearing. He said something like, “That green color looks very good on you.”

I immediately replied with how much more weight I needed to lose, my hair looked awful, pick any one of the myriad of negative thoughts inside my head.

A female friend standing nearby turned to me and said, “No! Stop, Colleen. He complimented you. Your answer is, ‘Thank you!'”

She knew what I was doing. I was not used to being complimented about my appearance. She knew this. And she put the brakes on my negative thought train. At least the verbalization of my negative thoughts.

So, I have been exploring my insecurities. My inability to deal with stress and toxic people. My negative thoughts. And why I look for solace in food.

It is hard to constantly stop myself before I make a bad food decision and analyze the why. In the past, I’ve made a decision about what I wanted to eat and then just ate it. Even if I did not eat it to excess, I still often made very bad food choices.

So, this is what I do when I want to eat the cheesy poofs or whatever food I am craving at the moment. I stop and ask myself some questions.

  • Do I need this to feel full and meet my nutritional goals? (Is this choice a need or a want?)
  • Why do I want to eat the cheesy poofs?
  • What is going on? Am I stressed out? I am feeling bad?
  • What happened today, last night, yesterday to make me feel this way?
  • Will eating this particular food help me achieve my weight loss/health goals?
  • What impact will this choice have on my calories, protein, carb intake for the day?
  • What can I eat that I like that will keep me on track?
  • What other choice can I make?

 

Sometimes I even stop and pull out my phone and enter the cheesy poofs into myfitnesspal.com just to see what that choice will do to my daily goals.

I am successful in making better choices probably 95% of the time. Do I slip? Sure. One example, I had an extra slice of toast one day. Normally, that is enough to send me into a tailspin and think the whole day is lost. But the next day, I entered everything into myfitnesspal.com, and I was only a couple of points high on my carbs. I met my protein goals and calorie goals.

So, great choice? No. Diet-killer? Not even close. I was still on track.

Another thing I do is I try not to think of my entire weight loss goal every time I eat. I do keep that goal in mind every day, yes. But for each meal or snack, I think only of that meal or snack. I might think of how it fits into my daily goals, but in the moment, I do not think too much beyond that.

I chose that approach because sometimes thinking of the entire goal is too overwhelming and seems unattainable. Today, this moment, this meal, that is a doable goal.

I get weighed every two weeks, and in that moment, I only think of my bi-monthly goals. I do sit down with the doctor afterwards and talk about long-term goals, but only a month out. Most importantly, I’m not weighing myself every day and stressing out about the numbers on the scale.

Biking and exercising also helps. I have been biking quite a bit, although the impending snow storm in our area has really put a damper on that recently. But biking takes my mind off the stress of the day, releases endorphins, and generally makes me feel better. Not to mention, it is great exercise for a weight loss plan.

The result is, of the 58 pounds of regain, I’m down 18 pounds. And my overall goal is now lower as well. So, now instead of needing to lose 94 pounds, I only need to lose 76 pounds.

So, good news all around. I am working on improving my mental health and making better choices. I’m also losing weight, exercising, and feeling better!

Will I always make good choices? No, definitely not. No one is perfect, and I know I am not. But I know that if I stay focused, I can make much better choices moving forward.

I’ll just keep my co-workers voice in my head every time I reach for those cheesy poofs reminding me to stop and “Make Good Choices!”

 

 

Biker Girl!

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So, yesterday I tried something new, something I have wanted to do for a long time. Something I used to do when I was younger.

I went biking!

OK, I didn’t go very far, but that’s OK. I have not been on a bike in over 20 years. When I was very young, a kid all the way through high school, I used to bike all of the time. It was my main source of transportation and gave me a sense of freedom.

Once I became morbidly obese weight in the high 200s to low 300s, biking was not an option for me. So to be able to get back on a bike again held a lot of meaning.

My sister moved to Texas a few weeks ago and she gave me her bike. She knew I was looking to buy one, but I did not really have a lot of time to be trolling Craigslist to find an inexpensive used bike. She was purging before the move and decided to just give me her bike.

When I first got on the bike, the tires had no air. I fit on the bike perfectly. We put it in the back of my car, and it stayed there for a few weeks until I could deal with the no air problem.

I went to a bike shop near my apartment to get air in my tires and get a couple of supplies. I wanted to get a helmet and some lights for the bike. I also wanted to get a bike rack because getting the bike in and out of the hatchback is a pain in the ass.

Immediately after getting air in the tires and getting the bike rack installed, I drove out to my brother’s house and hung out with him and my niece for a bit. Well, really him, because my niece is now 8 and friends are much more important and fun than aunties. So basically, I drive 40 minutes to get a hug and then she runs off to play.

Such is life.

Anyway, it was late by the time I got back home. I took the bike off the rack and was walking it out of the garage and up to my apartment. I stopped in the lot for a few minutes a figured I would give it a quick spin.

To my surprise, I could barely touch the ground. I immediately felt very unsteady o the bike and almost toppled over. I tried a couple of times to find my balance, but I just couldn’t.

Feeling a bit embarrassed and nervous, I took he bike up to my apartment and just stared at it a bit. I was absolutely convinced I would never be able to do this. But I really wanted to. I put the bike in front of a bookcase and practiced sitting on and putting my feet on the pedals just to get the feel. In retrospect, holding onto the bookcase was probably not the brightest idea. Had I toppled over, I risked pulling the whole thing down on top of me. Fortunately, that did not happen.

Yesterday I was determined to at least get on the bike and maybe try to do a couple of laps in the parking lot. The parking lot of my building is kind of big, so a couple of laps would be a good starter.

I was very nervous and feeling very self-conscious about what people would think because I couldn’t even find my balance. Nonetheless, I did it. At first, I tried to position myself near a pole so I could balance myself. Then I practiced just scooting along to get the bike moving. I tried a couple of times get both feet on the pedals, but could not find my balance.

After a few minutes of scooting, I just told myself to do it. I took a deep breath and just forced myself to put both feet on the pedals and push. And I was off! A little wobbly, but I did it!

I rode around the lot for about 10 minutes. I did several loops in the front of the building and around the back. When I was done, I was exhausted and a little sore, but I did it!

I took the bike back inside and figured I was done for the day. Then my friend Sush texted me and asked if I wanted to come watch the DNC with her and watch the democrats elect Hillary, the first woman to run on a major party ticket. I excitedly texted back sure! I’ll ride my bike over!

I don’t know what made me say that. Maybe it was the endorphine rush from my short ride around the lot that made me feel invincible, but a huge part of me was screaming, “WTF! Why???”

Now Sush lives about a mile down the W&OD trail from where I live, so it’s not far. That wasn’t the problem though. I live on this HUGE hill that leads down into Shirlington and then down to the bike trail. While I could ride comfortably in my parking lot, and I was pretty sure I could make the mile on the bike trail, I was very worried about going up and down that hill.

So, I walked the bike down the hill. Once in Shirlington, I started riding towards the bike trail. I stayed mostly on the sidewalk except when I had to cross the street. It was a pretty easy ride on the trail. I was slow and other bikers did pass me. Fortunately, I had spent enough time walking on the trail, that I was familiar with biking etiquette. If another biker wants to pass you, they ring a bell or say, “On your left,” and that is your queue to stick to the right so they can safely pass. And it truth, I wasn’t on the trail long enough for this to really be an issue.

I did get off the trail a little too soon and wandered around a neighborhood that was not Sush’s for about a minute, then got back on the trail to get to her actual neighborhood. Sush was so excited to see me riding a bike. She knows what an accomplishment this was for me. She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders since I started my weight loss. She knows how much I struggled before, and she is so happy to see me doing things I never would have attempted.

The ride back was a little more difficult. Coming back to my neighborhood was kind of uphill, so the ride was a little more of a struggle. And it was so hot yesterday. And when it came time to walk the bike back up to my apartment, I was thoroughly exhausted. But I did it!

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Me post bike ride.

I’m going to go for a little ride tomorrow in the other direction on the trail just to see how far I get. I don’t work until the evening, so if I start early enough, I should be OK. I’m so glad to be biking again. I think my next investment though is going to be a pair of padded biker pants.

 

Looking Back

Two years ago today, I weighed 298 pounds and was in the hospital. I had my gastric by-pass surgery October 24, 2012. It’s amazing how my life has changed! I’m not quite at my goal weight yet, but I know I will never weigh 300 pounds again!

BEFORE AFTER

I feel so much better and my life, which was once so lonely, is very full. I am happy with the new direction my life has taken. I know a lot of people look down on bariatric surgeries. I know I did for a long time. Many people think this is the easy way out. For me, where I was in my life, it felt like the only choice. I have no regrets. I am not looking back!

Edna Mode

Here is a brief list of the many positive changes

  • I can walk without pain.
  • Breathing is easier.
  • I can walk and breathe at the same time!
  • I feel very self-aware.
  • I am no longer invisible.
  • I am no longer invisible to men. (!!)
  • I feel more confident.
  • My blood pressure is normal without medication.
  • My blood sugar is normal.
  • My triglycerides are normal.
  • My heart rate is normal.
  • I don’t have to shop at plus-sized stores any more!
  • My grocery bills have gone way down.
  • My overall health is right on target!
  • I have a whole new wardrobe!
  • I got rid of all of my fat girl clothes.
  • I can use a small suitcase as my clothes do not take up so much room.
  • I am very active.
  • Because of my improved health, I can go to all kinds of fairs and festivals!
  • For the first time in a long time, I really see a future for myself.
  • I look cute in clothes!
  • There is room between me and the steering wheel of my car.
  • I can fit comfortably in most airline seats (as comfortable as one can get in those).
  • I can run a little bit.
  • I re-discovered just how awesome my friends and family are!

Sometimes this journey is still hard. I will always have challenges, and I will always fight this fight. But for the first time in my life, I feel like I am winning!

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Lazy Sunday

IMG_0055I guess it’s not really all that lazy. I was up early this am. I met a friend for coffee and then I went to this new organic market and bought some fruits and vegetables.

My sister has been having me try these new protein shakes made with vegetables, nuts, and fruits. They are really good. So I bought the ingredients to make some myself. I also bought the ingredients to make protein ice cream. I also made blueberry and chocolate protein ice cream this morning already. They are in the freezer now. I plan on sharing the recipes this week.

I need to get my swimming and walking in today and do some housework in prep for the work week. I have a full week this week. No more vacation until July when I go to the beach.

So, last week, I did a lot of walking because my friends were in town visiting. My challenge this week will be to keep the walking and exercise going on my own. I have some plans for that and I will write more about that later this week. I also plan to finish reading Salt Sugar, Fat this week so that I can write-up a review of my thoughts.

So, to recap what you can expect this week, new high protein recipes, my new exercise plans, and a possible book review. Are you excited? I know I am!

It’s supposed to storm after 4pm today, so if I get my outside exercise done before then, I can stay in and watch tv the rest of the day guilt-free. Wish me luck!

A Room With A View: What Gastric By-Pass Surgery I Really Like

Today’s Writing 101 Assignment is called “A Room With A View” and they are asking us to look ahead and talk about a place we’d like to go. I am going to turn the assignment on its ear a bit and talk about where I have been.

One of my Facebook followers asked me to talk about what the surgery is really like because not everyone has such positive results. She is absolutely correct. So I am going to talk about my experience the first day or so after the surgery.

A day and a half after my surgery, I blogged a bit about what it had been like. Re-reading that post, I realize that I did not give many details or really describe how I felt physically, so I will talk about that some here.

The doctor said the surgery went well. He did notice that my liver was very large and covered in fat. He took a sample so that they could have it analyzed to make sure that it is OK. Bottom line, my liver is not that bad off. Mostly just covered in fat, which is getting better.

I awoke on the table, which they told me would happen. They woke me up to remove the tubes from my lungs. I had been intubated for the surgery. I remember them  yelling at me to breathe and I remember having the sensation for a long time afterwards that I could not breathe. I also had what I thought was horrible chest pains. I told them I was having chest pains. I was afraid I was having a heart attack. The nurse asked me where the pains were, and I apparently pointed to directly to my incision. The pain was unbelievable.

I was clearly briefed on all of this before hand. They also told me that I would not remember waking up. They were wrong. I remember and it was horrible.

I do not remember being in recovery. I do remember finally being wheeled to my room. The room was incredibly hot. When I weighed 300 pounds, I was much more sensitive to temperature than I am now. I could not stand being hot. So, being wheeled into an overly hot room, did not go over well. It took the hospital an hour to get someone in to change the temperature and bring me a fan. Finally, my sister, who works at one of their other hospitals, flashed her badge and raised a stink. I five minutes, the problem was solved. Apart from that minor hiccup, the hospital, the staff, etc, were fantastic. I have no complaints.

I was in a lot of pain. A lot. Of. Pain. Anybody who tells you that the surgery is the easy way out, is clearly an idiot. I challenge them to allow me to cut a 7 inch incision into their stomach to slice and rearrange their innards and see how they feel. It was just awful. All I could do was lay in bed, moan, and sleep. When the nurses told me I had to get up, use the bathroom, and take a walk, I seriously thought they were nuts.

The good news is, I did have a pain machine. I did not use it at first, mostly because the other drugs they had me on kept the worst of the pain away. Also, I thought that I had to be careful about using it. I didn’t want to take too much. The head bariatric nurse came in and told me to go ahead and use it as I needed it because they wanted me to not allow the pain to keep me from getting up and walking. And they wanted me to do a lot of walking.

So, I did use it. And I walked. The pain meds were kind of nice, I have to admit. I regretted leaving the hospital and leaving the serious meds behind because once I got home, that’s when the real misery began.

The pain meds made me sick the first day I was home. I almost ended up back in the hospital. I almost vomited. That would have been really bad as I could have done a lot of damage to the incision and staples. My sister called the surgeon at 3am my first night at home. He had prescribed some stomach medication, but they were huge capsules. I couldn’t take them. Finally, he told me to empty the capsules and dissolve them in water. I felt much better afterwards and the emergency was averted.

Life was very hard for about two weeks. I couldn’t stand on my own. I couldn’t lie flat. I slept in a large overstuffed chair in my sister’s house. And I had a hard time keeping on the food/water schedule.

That said, I did get out and do what the doctor wanted me to do. I walked. At first, I only walked to the corner and back to the house. My brother would pick me up from my sister’s and take me to Target or the library. Target was good because I could use a cart to steady myself. My sister even created a route through the living room and dining room for me so that I could walk around when I was home alone while they were at work.

Learning to eat again was painful. I was eating pureed food for six weeks. In some ways, it wasn’t so bad. In others it was So disgusting. I got really tired of hummus and now I cannot even stand it. Sometimes I can eat it, but often, I cannot even look at it. Not every meal sat well with me. My brother-in-law made grilled chicken for me and then put it in the food processor. It was awful.  I took one bite and while the chicken taste was OK, the texture almost made me hurl. Nonetheless, I couldn’t not eat it because he really went to a lot of effort to make sure that I had appropriate food that I could eat. So I ate as much as I could.

Also, I could eat something one maybe two times, then the sight of it made me sick. That did not bode well for the big pot of pureed lentils they made me. I love lentils. I eat them all of the time now, but just after the surgery, a few servings made me not want to even look at them.

I also had a lot of constipation in those early days. The worst part was, I was not allowed to push to help expel. Pushing could have strained or potentially ruptured my incision and internal staple line.

I was home after a month at my sister’s place. I was able to take care of myself. I went back to work six weeks after the surgery. I worked from home at the time, so I was able to return and not worry about the impact traveling to/from work would have on my health. I had the surgery on October 24, 2012 and by New Year’s I was slowly starting to introduce solid foods.

The first few months after the surgery was very difficult. The rapid weight loss made it a little easier to bear. I was slowly able to walk with ease and breathe. That alone made it worth it. Sitting where I am now, 127 pounds less. Able to walk anywhere I want, able to exercise, eating a little more, and feeling healthy, to me it was all worth it.

That said, the surgery does have the potential for some very serious problems. I encourage anyone considering the surgery to research and arm yourself with the knowledge of what the potential complications could be. Do what you can to make yourself as healthy as possible before the surgery. It will help a lot to prevent some of the complications.

The surgery is not for everyone. It is a huge life change. There are foods that I may never be able to eat again. I will always have to take vitamins and protein supplements. And I will always have to be prepared for adverse reactions to the food I eat. I also do not know what sort of health issues I may face in the future.

That said, to me the surgery was worth it. I was facing some seriously scary health problems as a result of my morbid obesity. The potential health problems that could result from the surgery were no more serious than the health problems I faced every day.

Looking back, the pain and difficulty during the surgery, the months of prep, doctor’s appointments, medical procedures, tests, and personal sacrifices that I made to have this surgery were worth it. I learned a lot about myself, the food I eat and why I overeat. The surgery has been a great tool to help teach me control.

I think that’s the most important thing for anyone considering the surgery to understand. The surgery is a tool. It’s not a miracle cure. You will not be all better. It will not solve your psychological problems. And it’s a temporary fix for your bad behavior.  You will be able to eat more eventually. You can go back to eating high caloric food, fattening food. The surgery only temporarily helps you control what you eat. The behavior modification has to come from  you.

I have reached a point where I can eat more and eat different kinds of foods. The surgery taught me control. The doctor and nutritionist taught me healthy eating. They prescribed exercise. They gave me all the tools I need to successfully lose weight and live a healthier, fuller life.

Now it’s up to me.

Talking About Food – Liquid Pizza (Writing 101 Day One Challenge)

Today is my first food post for my June blogging challenge. Not too many people understand meal planning and restrictions for bariatric patients. Today I am going to share a recipe for one of my favorite, albeit, stranger meals. I also want to talk about some of my dietary restrictions and why I chose to create this strange little meal.

For a long time after the surgery, I could not have bread at all. I do sometimes have a little, but I keep it very restricted. Bread swells in the stomach and can stretch the pouch. Also, it fills you up with starchy empty calories. My surgeon and nutritionist want me to focus on nutrient rich foods. Starchy foods, such as bread, are not nutrient rich.

One of my favorite foods is pizza. I have not been able to eat pizza since about 2002 because I developed very serious food allergies. I was very allergic to tomatoes and milk products. The combination of tomatoes and cheese sent me to the emergency room with a swollen face on more than one occasion. It seemed the wiser choice to give up pizza entirely.

After the surgery and some weight loss, my allergies abated. I decided to slowly reintroduce foods I had been allergic to. I had great success with that. My allergies did not bother me at all. I decided it was time to try pizza again. The problem was, I could not have any bread.

In the diet plan my surgeon gave me, I was allowed to have a few tablespoons of marinara sauce as a source of vegetables, especially during the pureed food phase of the diet.

During the first few months after the surgery, I decided to try to add cheese for protein, put it in a small dish and pop the whole thing into the microwave for 30 seconds. Tada- liquid pizza was invented.

Now I have taken this idea to a whole new level. I put shredded cheese into a dish and pour marinara sauce over the top. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top and put in toaster oven for 20 minutes.

The dish I use is 4 inches in circumference and 1 inch deep. This holds about 1/2 cup shredded cheese 1/2 cup marinara sauce. I usually cannot finish the meal. Here is a picture:

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The dish looks much bigger than it actually is. I put it on a small plate because it is so hot when it comes out of the toaster oven.

I have varied this recipe quite a bit as well. I’ve added ground turkey, vegetables, pepperoni, chopped up turkey burger, whatever I happen to have on hand.

I do sometimes have pizza now. Thin crust, always. I usually take a couple of small bites to get the full-on pizza experience. Then I just peel off the cheese and other ingredients and eat that. Mostly though, when I want pizza, I forgo the bread and just make myself a small dish of the liquid pizza. I couple that with some vegetables or a piece of fruit. Here is the full recipe.

COLLEEN’S LIQUID PIZZA (This has been added to Skinny Girl Recipes tab)

1/2 cup shredded cheese – any kind will do although Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio is one of my faves (100 calories per 1/4 cup)

1/2 cup marinara sauce – I use Trader Joe’s organic marinara sauce (50 calories per 1/2 cup)

1/2 teaspoon of parmesan cheese (5 calories)

Calories per meal: 255

Combine all ingredients in a small dish, bake in toaster oven for 20 minutes. Use egg turner to remove from toaster oven and place dish on small plate. Enjoy with a small piece of fruit or a vegetable.

Alternately, you can microwave this. I am trying to get away from microwaving. I have become somewhat of a purist when it comes to my food. I’m buying more organic, shopping at farmer’s markets, and buying grass-fed meat free of antibiotics and steroids when I can. But that’s just me. You don’t have to be as neurotic as I am about food.

Enjoy!

(Disclaimer: While marinara sauce is an acceptable vegetable, I do not subscribe to the notion of pizza as a vegetable. Pizza is pizza which is a meal, and not always a very healthy option, particularly when a loaf of bread is consumed in the process.)

NSV Goal Achieved – Kayaking On The Potomac

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When I first starting planning for the gastric by-pass surgery, my sister and I would talk about all of the fun things we would do once I was healthy and thin enough to move around without struggle.

My sister has a kayak and her husband a boat. They went boating frequently in the summer. When I was a little thinner, I used to go canoeing. But since I had put on so much weight, these outdoor activities had become impossible for me.

Admittedly, I’m not really much of an outdoors girl. Walking in an urban center is about as outdoorsy as I get.  I really do not like the bugs and dirt, the lack of air conditioning or anywhere comfortable to sit that comes with the outdoorsy life. I am a spoiled urban chic and I love it!

That said, I have always wanted to go kayaking. I always thought it looked like fun from the time I was a kid. My sister and I kept planning that after the surgery, when I am thinner and healthy, we would go kayaking.

We’ll, yesterday I finally did!!

 I had so much fun! At first, I was apprehensive. I slowly got into the kayak. My brother-in-law held the boat in place and my sister helped me in. It was very wobbly and I was nervous about sitting. My brother-in-law just kept saying, “It’s ok just let your legs go. There’s only one place for you butt to go and that’s in the seat…or the river. Either way, don’t worry, we got you.”

I was not comforted.

I did manage to plant my butt in the seat with no problems. They handed me the oars and made sure everything I had with me, my bottle of water, my keys, my cell phone…because you know,  you gotta have a cell phone in the middle of the river…were safely placed in the sealed compartments and pushed the boat with me in it out into the river.

I felt very unsteady for a few minutes and thought to myself, “This was a mistake!” I wobbled around for a few minutes, absolutely sure that I was going to just end up in the river.

I never used to be afraid of such things. When I was younger and would go canoeing, we had no problems getting wet, splashing each other, laughing at other people falling into the river. I had the distinction of never having tipped a canoe. That was until I proudly bragged about never having tipped a canoe. Then of course, that very same day I did.

It was actually kind of scary. It had rained a lot and the river was kind of rough. There was a downed tree at the edge of the river and we were heading right for it. I held out the oar to stop my head from bashing into the giant root of the tree. The canoe came to a sudden stop and tipped over. My butt hit the riverbed. I had a huge bruise for months. All of our stuff floated down river. A group of canoers sitting on the bank jumped in and managed to get everything, except one sock.

Somewhere out there, is a picture of me all soaked and looking like a drowned rat. I’ll have to see if I can find it.

I digress…

I started using the oars to steady myself. Slowly, I started going up and down the river. In no time at all, I was whizzing by the picnic site yelling, “I’m kayaking! I’m kayaking!”

My sister and her husband just laughed and laughed. I had no idea why.

I was out on the river for about an hour. My arms HURT today. A lot. But I had a blast.  It did not feel like I was out there for an hour. It felt like I was out there for about 15 minutes.

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Later that night, my sister told me why they were laughing so hard. They showed me this clip of Bill Murray from the movie “What About Bob?”

I just cracked up.

I did manage to get one picture of myself and one picture of the front of the kayak to prove that I was in it. My sister sent me this cool picture of turtles to put on the blog. I did see turtles on the river. I had no idea that there were turtles in the Potomac.

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Anyway, I did it! I went kayaking and did one of things my sister and I planned on before the surgery. If nothing else good had happened to me, being able to kayak made it all worth it!

Why Weight Loss Surgery Is Not The Easy Way Out

Why Weight Loss Surgery Is Not The Easy Way Out.

 

I am sharing my friend’s blogpost because I agree with her wholeheartedly! Anyone who says that bariatric surgery is the easy way out has no idea what they are talking about. Please click on the link and read her post!

Bariatric surgery is a huge lifestyle change. There are struggles and difficulties, and potential major problems. But, if you follow the plan, you can achieve great success and change your life.

My surgeon’s office made it clear to me that the surgery is not a cure, it is a tool. The tool can help you change your life, improve your health, and lose weight, but you still have to do all of the hard work. There’s nothing easy about it, but like anything that is good, it is worth all the hard work in the end.

via Why Weight Loss Surgery Is Not The Easy Way Out.

The Compulsive Eater Sleeping In My Bed

“There’s a compulsive eater sleeping in my bed.”

475px-The_Scream

I said this to my mother a couple of months ago.  I had been sick.  I caught some kind of flu that also affect my stomach.  I did not eat for two days.  When I could eat again, I tried saltines and chicken broth.  The saltines turned out to be too heavy for my tummy, so I switched to Pringle’s.  The Pringle’s did the trick.  I could 5 or 6 of them to absorb whatever nastiness was going on in my stomach, and they were not too heavy.

I know Pringle’s are chips, therefore junk food, and therefore not good for you, but they worked and got me though the illness.  I had no problem eating them in moderation, 5 or 6 chips at a time, and it was just enough.  I have not gone back to Pringle’s since.

Through my illness, I left the saltines sitting on my bed table, where they remained untouched until I was feeling better.  Big mistake.

Once I was feeling better, I actually started feeling hungry.  I discovered that in the middle of the night I was waking up and stuffing saltines into my mouth without even thinking about it.  It was second nature to roll over and reach for the crackers.  Most of the time, I barely opened my eyes.  I just reached over, grabbed a handful of crackers, and started stuffing them into my mouth one after the other until they were gone.  I don’t even remember if I tasted them as they slid down my throat and into my tummy.

I awoke covered in crumbs, an empty cracker sleeve on the bed table, feeling guilty and ashamed.

I don’t keep food near my bed anymore.  You would think that after the surgery, with such a small pouch, I wouldn’t be able to eat an entire sleeve of saltines, but apparently I can.  It would seem that the conditioning that comes from decades of bad eating behavior trumps new eating restrictions nearly every time.

Now that I can eat more, nearly 1400 calories a day, including protein drinks and snacks, some of my old bad behaviors are trying to make a comeback.

I had a hard time through the holidays.  All of the cookies and snacks were really hard for me to deal with.  I did OK when I was in Pittsburgh visiting my mom.  When I told her that the Christmas cookies were a huge temptation for me, she threw all of the ones she had away so that I would not be tempted.

New Year’s, however, I caved to temptation.  I went to visit friends in Delaware, which was a lot of fun.  I made my pumpkin brownies, which everyone loved.  And I made Chicken Saag, which everyone also loved.  My friends made Channa Masala.  I had plenty to eat that was good for me and fit my eating plan.  What did I do?  I ate the good food and then went back and had the occasional cookie or chip.  I did not have a lot of food, but I had enough of the junky type food that I did eventually get sick.

One of my friends kept telling me to be careful, but I just knew I would be OK.  I did not get sick New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.  I got sick on January 2.  On my way to work.  On the Metro.  It was ugly.

I’ve talked in previous posts about dumping syndrome.  Sometimes the symptoms hit me right away, sometimes it takes a few hours, sometimes a day. I’ve also described some of the symptoms I’ve suffered, including nausea, headaches, sweating, and instant diarrhea.  I don’t get all symptoms each time I get dumping syndrome, but usually, a combo of some of them.

I will not describe all of the details of what happened that day, let’s just say, it was not pretty.  The DC metro apparently does not have public restrooms either.  All of the stations do have a bathroom, but you have to ask a metro employee if you can use it.  Not all of them will allow you, apparently.

I started feeling sick at the Pentagon Metro station.  I waited 10 minutes for the train.  I only had to go three stops before I would be able to get off the train and find a bathroom.  I only made it two.  I was in the Rosslyn station begging for a bathroom when I got really sick.  I ended up having to leave the station and go across the street to the mall, but by then, it was too late.

The metro employees were not very helpful outside of offering to call an ambulance, which would not have helped at all.  A very nice woman noticed that I was not feeling well and offered me some water.  I wish I would have had the sense to thank her properly for her kindness at the time, but it was all I could do to get to a bathroom.

After I got myself cleaned up and was feeling better, I walked around the corner  to Starbucks and bought a bottle of water.  I logged onto my work computer and sent out an email letting everyone know I would be working from home.  I waited another 15 minutes to make sure I was well enough to head back out into the world.  I then hailed a cab and went home.  I did end up having to go into the office later that day, but I drove.  I did not want to risk another metro episode.

What this taught me is that while the surgery solved a lot of my overeating problems, it did not solve all of them.  The compulsion to eat junk food, for instance.  That compulsion is strong.  The surgery also did not solve some of my triggers, what causes the compulsion to eat to emerge.  I am beginning to notice that I have a tendency to eat when I’m stressed-out, or when I’m upset about something. And the urge to eat at night is beginning to return.

The first year post-surgery, when I lost 127 pounds was the easy part of my weight loss journey.  Now that I can eat a little more, and I’m struggling to manage my triggers and compulsive eating.  The hard work seems to be just beginning.  If I want to lose the additional 46 pounds I have to lose, I really need to assert some control over my eating problems before they ruin all of my hard work and undo all of my weight loss.

I have not had a really great start to the New Year.  I guess it can only get better from here, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work on my part.  The fight against compulsive eating is apparently going to be a lifetime battle for me, but I know it is one that I really want to win.

It took almost three days for my system to fully recover from the metro incident.  My pride, however, suffered a bigger blow than my body did, and my take longer to heal.  If allow my compulsive eating patterns to overtake my life again, my pride may never recover again.

The Anti-Reunion

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was going to Pittsburgh for Christmas and while I was here I was meeting with some of my high school friends for a sort of anti-reunion.  Well, it happened.  I went. Here’s the proof:

1984

They scheduled the event for a Friday night, which made it a little difficult to get to. I worked on Friday morning then took the rest of the day as a vacation day.  I drove the 4.5 hours to Pittsburgh then had to change clothes quickly.  My best friend from high school was meeting me at my mother’s house.  We had plans for dinner and then we were going to the casino together to meet our classmates.

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Now, I graduated from high school 29 years ago.  I find that so hard to believe.  Yes, I know I’m 47, but it feels like the years have just flown by.  My friend Carolyn showed up a little late for dinner, but I didn’t care.  I just had more time to prettify myself, and trust me, I needed it.  Carolyn has not changed at all.  She looks slightly older, but that’s it.  She pretty much looks exactly the same.  The years have definitely been kind to her.

Sophomore hs

Sophomore hs

Talking to her really felt like coming home.  It was amazing.  I haven’t seen her for many years, but we talked as if we have talked to each other every day since high school.  We just picked right back up where we left off.  I felt the way I did when I met up with some of my grade school friends a few years ago…that I had found something I had been missing for years.  It was like finding the missing part of myself that I had forgotten about.

We showed up at the casino fashionably late.  We walked right past our high school friends.  Then we heard them calling our names.  They probably recognized me right away from all of the pictures of myself that I put online.  And of course Carolyn has not changed at all.  And the fact that we were together, the way we always were in high school, of course they recognized us.

I had trouble recognizing people.  My one friend, I was in the band with him, I just walked up to him and another guy and asked them their names.  I’m friends with him on Facebook for crying out loud.  He just looked at me and said, “You know me, Colleen.”  What an idiot I am.  As soon as he spoke and smiled, I knew.  Then I recognized the other guy with him.  He was in the band too.

Now, you would think that I would have thought to pull out my yearbook and look up the people who RSVP’d to this thing.  No.  Not that smart apparently.  So, instead of making an ass of myself, I just started asking the people I knew who some of the other people were.  By the time the evening was over, I was able to place everyone.

Now, none of these people knew me when I was fat.  In high school, my weight ranged between 120-135 depending on the year.  I think my lowest weight was about 120-121, but that did not last long.  Most of the time, I weighed between 125-130.  I spent a brief stint in my freshman year weighing 135.

So, for them to see me at 171, I had definitely gained weight since high school.  Still, I think I look pretty good.  Most of the people who were there are friends with me on Facebook and some of them read this blog.  Not all of them.  Now I’m sure many of them will at least read this post.  (hello guys!)  Some of them have seen the pictures of me at 300 pounds.  Most of them have not.

After most people had left, me, my best friend, and two of the other girls had a very long talk about weight.  We all laughed at how when we were young we thought we were fat.  I know.  We were not.  Carolyn and I weighed roughly the same weight in high school.  Funny thing is, we weigh about the same now.  Still, we were always dieting, and we always thought we were so fat.  Clearly, we were not.

It’s really a shame, because we were all beautiful, but none of us felt it.  We were always so consumed with how the other girls looked, the fact that some of them were so skinny.  When I look back, I realized that they were unhealthily skinny in many cases.  Yet, we felt so inferior to them.  Why, I do not know.  Some of the girls we were so jealous of, that we thought were so perfect were no different and no prettier than we were.

What I wouldn’t give to go back and talk to my younger self and tell her not to take it all so seriously.  That in the end, none of it mattered.  None of it defined who I am.  I defined myself.  The number on the scale didn’t matter.  Not to people who were truly my friends.

At some point during the evening, we appointed someone to organize an official 30th reunion, since 2014 will be 30 years since we graduated high school.  We are having an official reunion over Thanksgiving weekend next year.  Plans have been made, date set, location secured, Facebook page created, ticket prices established.  They apparently put the right person in charge.