Tag Archives: overweight

Dealing With New Insurance, Etc.

So, I have to go see my primary care doctor next week and the week after that, the bariatric surgeon.  Since changing jobs, I had to jump through all kinds of hoops to make sure that I have the correct plan that covers both of my doctor’s offices and covers what I need it to cover.

I spent an hour on the phone arguing with the insurance company to make sure that I had everything lined up for my appointments.  Then I had to call both doctors and get the appointments moved around and all of the new information to them.  It was a hassle, but it’s done now.  I hate dealing with this stuff.

I had the same insurance for seven years.  I was pretty much on insurance auto-pilot.  I knew my plan.  I knew what I needed to do.  I knew how much to set aside every year in flex-spending to cover what I needed to have done.  Now I have to re-learn everything all over again with a whole brand new insurance company and a brand new plan.  What a freaking nightmare.

I think I have everything covered, though.  I see my primary care doctor on Tuesday.  Then I see the surgeon’s on the Monday after that.  It has been three months since I visited the surgeon.  I have not seen my primary care doctor since before the surgery.  She will be so shocked to see me.

I have to get some blood-work done for the surgeon’s office and I also will probably have to get some basic blood-work for my doctor as well.  My workplace did a blood screening recently and my numbers were pretty good.  Cholesterol – normal.  Triglycerides – normal.  Good cholesterol – a tiny bit low.  Blood sugar – normal.  So, yeah everything is looking much better than it did 6 months ago.  I am going to take those test results with me to my doctor.  I will have my regular preventative care check up in July.

Wish me luck.

My Expanding World

Now that I am getting smaller my world is getting bigger.  The one thing about my being obese is that it was very hard for me to move around.  Walking to shop area of my neighborhood was out of the question.  Between back pain and asthma, I could barely walk to the lobby of my building.  It was horrible.

Now that I have lost 86 pounds, I feel so much better.  I am walking a lot more and that is such a liberating feeling.  I am walking a lot every day now and I love it.

Yesterday, WordPress sent me an email from the Daily Post called Phoneography Challenge in which they instructed their bloggers to take their cell phones and hit the streets in their neighborhood, take pictures, and write about it.  I really wanted to do this yesterday, but I did not get a chance yesterday because of work and the general exhaustion that followed.

Today is such a beautiful day here in Northern Virginia.  The sun is shining.  The birds are singing.  Everyone is out walking their dogs, (big thing in my neighborhood).  I just could not sit still inside my apartment in this weather, especially after the horrible cold, windy non-snow storm we had earlier in the week.  I had to get out.

I left my apartment armed with my iPhone and laptop and marched myself down the hill to Shirlington Village to get some pictures, have some decaf cappuccino in my favorite café, and write a blog post with pictures.

I love the area of Arlington where I live.  There are quite a few restaurants, some specialty stores, a grocery store, a library with a theater inside of it, a movie theater where the independent movies are run, and lots of places where you can sit and read, or socialize.  It is a walking village, so there are people walking all of the time, especially with their dogs.  There are even bowls of water on the sidewalk, which there were none out today unfortunately, in case your dog gets thirsty.  Humans have to pay for their drinks.

The first thing I saw was this is the tree outside of my apartment building.

tree

 

So, here are the pictures I took today on my trek through Shirlington.  This first one is of a shop that sells locally made olive oils and vinegars.  I love this shop.

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Busboys & Poets is my favorite restaurant.  It is named after Langston Hughes who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in the 1920s.  He literally went from busboy to poet.  They have good food and provide a great space in the community for art, culture, and politics.  Love this place.

 

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Someone knitted a cozy for the bus stop sign.  I thought that was cute. busstop

 

Cakelove is a locally owned business.  The cakes here are awesome.  They do sell cupcakes, which works very well for this community as people can grab a yummy cupcake while walking their dog.  They also have cakes.  I ordered one today for my sister’s birthday.  The best part about their cakes is that they make gluten-free and vegan cakes and cupcakes.  Probably the best cake I’ve ever had.

cakelove

Cheesetique is a locally owned shop that sells, well cheese.  They also have a restaurant side which serves the best mac&cheese in the country.  Don’t take my word for it,  Food & Wine thinks so too.cheese

 

How nice they provide doggie-doo-doo bags. dog

 

You have no idea how hard it was to get a photo of this fountain when there are no people sitting all around it.  To the right there is a small boy and his mother.  You do not see them here because I really tried to get the picture with no one in it.

fountain

 

This is the Shirlington Library.  It is the only library I know that has a theater included.  There are plays there all the time.

library

 

Cool street lamps and my thumb. light

 

 

I got a salad at Medi, which, as you can plainly read on the napkin, is a Mediterranean restaurant.  I had not been there before today.  A friend of mine goes there quite frequently and raves about it.  It kind of works like Chipotle.   You decide if you want a pita wrap, a salad or a rice dish, choose your meat which are chicken, steak, lamb, or veggies, then choose toppings which are a combo of sauces, veggies, and cheese.  I chose chicken because as my friend Bobby reminded me through peels of laughter, that lamb is red meat.  I still cannot have red meat just yet.  The food here is delicious.medi

 

Cool sign. sign

 

Thai Shirlington restaurant where I got sick from dumping syndrome after having the soup.  My own fault, really.   I had the soup about a month after my surgery.  Nonetheless, their food is delicious.thai

 

 

 

The movie theater where the independent movies are shown.

theatre

I enjoyed my walk, coffee, and lunch today.  It was great to get out of the apartment and walk around.  I will have to do this more as the weather improves.

village

 

 

Thank you for visiting Shirlington!

 

Being Prepared: It Is Not As Easy As It Looks

Now that I am working at an office again, I have to spend a lot of time preparing and being ready for my day as far as food and vitamins go.  Staying on schedule as far as food/drink/protein/vitamins is very important post surgery. 

When I worked from home, it was pretty much a no-brainer.  I could cook when I want.  Take my vitamins and drink my protein as necessary.  Everything was right there with me.  It was easy.

Now I have to make sure that I have two protein supplements, all of my vitamins for the day, my lunch for the day, and money to purchase food in case I forgot something.  Not to mention, I have to factor in a 30 minute breakfast window into my morning routine.  I normally just barely have time to shower, dry my hair, style my hair, get dressed – keeping in mind that he getting dressed portion of my routine includes squeezing myself into some Spanx – find everything I need to take with me and dash out the door in time to catch the bus to the metro.  Now I have to take 30 minutes to have breakfast?  What a P.I.T.A.

I tried eating breakfast while I dry my hair and get dressed, but that has not been working out too well.  I start eating and then forget I was eating and end up throwing it away.  Or I eat too fast and get a stomach ache.  Not good.

I could wait to get to work to have breakfast.  If I do that, I have to carry one additional meal with me on the Metro.  Plus that puts my breakfast too close to lunch.  So, I either put off lunch until later in the day, have my meals too close together, don’t get enough water in, skip a protein supplement so that I’m not too full for lunch, or some combination of the aforementioned.  It just throws my whole schedule off if I wait. 

It has been a struggle to get the combination right, but I think I have a good system going.  I have also done some things to help me streamline the morning process.  I pick out my clothes the night before.  I prepare at least 3-4 days of breakfast and set it aside in refrigerator to only be used for breakfast.  I make 3-4 hard-boiled eggs, small pot of oatmeal, and some kind of fruit.  I also keep extra non-fat plain greek yogurts handy just in case.  I make my lunches ahead of time too.  Then I pack up everything I think I might need; laptop, keys, vitamins, protein supplements, etc.   In the am there is less gathering and less prep work.

Here was my am schedule last week:

  1. 6:30am  – wake up and shower
  2. 6:50am  – dry hair
  3. 7:10am – get dressed
  4. 7:20am – gather everything I need
  5. 7:30am – dash out door

Here is my new and improved schedule for this week:

  1. 6:00am – eat breakfast
  2. 6:30am – shower
  3. 6:50am – dry hair
  4. 7:10am – get dressed
  5. 7:20am – gather everything I need
  6. 7:30am – dash out door

In between all of this in my crazy morning routine, my sister calls me nearly every day.  We have our daily sister-chat in the morning otherwise we would never have time to fit in a good gossip.  Some times we talk for a full 30 minutes, but most days, we barely have 5-10 minutes to talk.  It’s quality not quantity that counts right?

I hate getting up at 6:00am.  It is so early, but I found I had to make starting my eating schedule off properly a priority.  Some days this may shift a bit as I have some flexibility with my starting time.  And days like yesterday where the government was closed, I can work from home which helps. 

I just cannot afford to lose focus just because I am working in an actual office now.  Staying on the proper food/water/protein/vitamin schedule is too important if I want to continue successfully losing weight.

 

Halfsies

When I first started this process, I set a goal for myself.  I wanted to have a go weight so that I knew where I wanted to stop and how much weight I wanted to lose.  When I was in high school, I weighed between 125-135.  I know that the average weight for a woman my height can range from 106-140 depending upon the size of her frame.  I believe I have a medium frame.  The average weight for a woman who is 5’1″ with an average frame is 115-129.

height weight chart

 

I would love to be in that range, 115-129.  That would be perfect.  But, I am not too concerned with perfection.  I am very concerned about my health.  If I end up in the 125-135 range, but I’m in good health, I will be happy.  Heck, I’d even go up to 145 as long as I am healthy and can do everything I want to do and can fit into cute clothes.  I would just be tickled pink.

That said, I do have a goal weight.  My goal weight is 125.  I do not know if I will ever get there, but that’s it.  To reach 125, I have to lose 173 pounds off of my original weight.

Well, today I am proud to announces that I have reached the half-way point.  I weigh 212 pounds.  That means that I have lost 86 pounds, 86.5 being half of 175, so roughly estimated, I have lost half of the weight I need to reach my goal weight.

That is all I have to report today.  I just had to blog to say, “Yay me!”

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The Fashionista Inside of Me

scarf

I always knew there was a Skinny Girl lurking somewhere inside of me.  But what I did not expect that I also have an inner-fashionista.  (My sister Jen would be so proud!)  Now that I have purged my closet of all sizes 26 and above, I am anxious to start shopping for real clothes.  This feeling was further compounded today by my trip to the local shopping mall.

As an aside, I guess I have not been to the mall in a very long time, but my last two excursions to two different malls left me shocked by the preponderance of designer and high-end, high-fashion stores like Louis Vutton and Gucci.  Yes, the Gap and other stores are still there, but seriously, when did everyone but me start to think they should dress like Brangelina?  I guess being a fat chick for so long, I missed out on the social significance of being a fashionista, but I seem to be catching on quick!  And what the heck, why don’t these designers make clothes for larger girls?  I mean, we like to be fashionable too!

But I digress…

Today I went to Tyson’s Corner Mall, I guess it’s really called Tyson’s Fashion Center or something like that.  My original goal was to go see Les Miserables before the Oscars tonight.  Well, the movie starts at 335pm, which left me plenty of time to get some walking in, drink some fruffy tea or coffee at Barnes and Noble and write a blog post.

I parked at the part of the mall closest to the main roads.  AMC is at the furthest point from that location.    I figured this would give me lots of walking space, which it has.  And, I could stop at a store and get some panty hose and/or tights for my new job, which I start tomorrow.

What I did not count on was the effect “window shopping” would have on me. Seriously, I could really empty my bank account at this place.  Fortunately, I stuck to two pairs of tights, some tea and the cutest scarf from Free People (see pic above).  That store certainly appeals to my inner bohemian.  But I was sorely tempted to buy the clothes at Ann Taylor Loft even though I cannot yet fit into them.  Fortunately, I held off.  The LL Bean store did not have the shoes I like in my size, but the sales associate kindly reminded me that I could order them online.  The woman at the Spanx store wisely talked me out of buying any more Spanx until I lose more weight.   (The 3x I have is quickly becoming useless to me, but I cannot quite fit into the 1x I bought online).

I actually had a funny exchange with the sales girl at the Spanx store.  I guess it is their policy to approach people by asking them if they have ever tried a Spanx product instead of saying, “Can I help you?”  It’s clever, I’ll admit.  “Can I help you?” is pretty cut and dry.  Yes or no, that is all that is required.  The people who say “no” actually mean, “Leave me the bleep alone! If I have a question, I’ll ask you!”

Asking if they have ever tried the product is still a closed question, but if you say no, that is an invitation for the sales person to explain the product to you.  Sneaky.  One side of me likes that.   Another part of me is still irked that they are trying to sell me something.  Well, my response when I was asked was, “I’m wearing one now,” which you know, I am.  That led to a conversation about why I’m wearing one and ultimately led her to advise me to wait to buy any more.  Maybe not their original goal, but my wallet feels better.

All I know is that I had better start saving now, because when my weight loss is complete, I am going on one heck of a shopping spree!

What Is Gastric By-Pass Surgery Exactly?

So, I have had some questions lately from friends.  Some people have asked me to describe what is involved in a gastric by-pass surgery.  Not what I have to do to get ready, but what the doctor actually does to your insides that helps you eat less and thus lose weight.  I have also had people who are considering different procedures and ask my opinion, because you know, I’m an expert, right?

OK, you can stop laughing now.

But seriously, unless you are researching gastric by-pass surgeries because you want to have one, you may not be aware of what actually happens when the doctor performs the surgery.  I know I was not aware.  And if you are considering the surgery, the best thing to do is to reach out to people who have had one of the procedures and ask questions.  Each procedure is different and each person reacts differently to the results after the surgery.  Oh and yes, there are several different types of gastric surgeries one can consider.

I want to spend some time today discussing some of the different surgeries and the doctor does.  I will also include some YouTube videos and other links that will describe the surgeries better than I can.  This post might be kind of long.

What is Gastric By-Pass Surgery?

Gastric By-pass surgery is when a surgeon somehow creates a much smaller stomach and re-routes your digestive track to that smaller stomach.  This will help an obese overeater eat less and help them lose weight.  There are several ways to achieve this smaller stomach.

The surgery can either be an open surgery or a laparoscopic surgery.   An open surgery is exactly what it sounds like.  This is a traditional surgery where the doctor makes a long incision to operate.  A laparoscopic surgery is when a series of small incisions are made and tiny surgical tools are used to perform the surgery.

The different types of Bariatric surgeries are the Roux-en Y gastric by-pass, the lapband, the gastric sleeve, the lapband and gastric sleeve combo, and the duodenal switch.  The Mayo Clinic has an excellent site with pictures and vivid descriptions of each of these surgeries, but I will give a brief description here.

Roux-en Y Gastric By-Pass

This is the surgery where a small pouch is made and the rest of the stomach is cut off and then the intestines are rerouted to the small pouch.  An alternate version of this is to staple the larger stomach off from the pouch.  This is the surgery that I had.

bariatric-surgery-4-162-2col

This YouTube video further describes the procedure if you’re interested.  It is not graphic and does not show a live surgery, but uses pictures to show what he doctor does.  I could not watch videos of live surgeries.   Too gross for me.

The Lapband

The lapband is when a small band is used to create the small pouch instead of stapling.  Sometimes the larger part of the stomach is reduced to create a gastric sleeve.  There are a couple of different bands.  One is a metal band that stays in your stomach.  The other is an adjustable band that occasionally needs to be filled back up with fluid to keep it firmly tight around the pouch.

bariatric-surgery-2-162-2col

Gastric Sleeve

A gastric sleeve is when part of the stomach is removed to create a smaller narrow sleeve type stomach.  This can be done on its own or in combination with the lapband.

sleeve-gastrectomy-2col

Duodenal Switch

This is the most drastic surgery.  Usually, the stomach is left in tact or this procedure can be done in combination with gastric sleeve and the digestive tract is rerouted to by-pass most of the intestines.  This is very drastic.

I am not very good at describing this surgery, so I am going to refer you to the YouTube video and the link I provided above.  This was not a surgery that I wanted to have.  Too drastic for me.

These are the primary procedures.  Each surgeon has their own speciality.  You will need to work with your surgeon to decide which procedure is best for you.

Advice

As far as my advice, I am happy to listen to anyone who wants to ask questions.  I will happily answer them.  If you have decided you definitely want one of these procedures, great.  I have all kinds of advice and ideas.

If you are on the fence, my advice is to think about this some more.  Go back to the drawing board.  Talk to your doctor.  Join a gym, try a new diet plan.  Buddy-up with a friend.  Seek counseling.  Join a support group.  Try to lose weight the traditional way through diet and exercise.  Do not rush into a procedure because you feel helpless.

If after you feel you have tried everything and you feel surgery is your best option, go for it.  Just remember, the surgery is a tool, not necessarily the answer.  You will still have all of the problems you had before the surgery.  The desire to eat or overeat is still there.  Any depression or self-doubt persists.  Laziness is still a problem.  So, unless you are willing make those changes as well, the surgery will just be one more, albeit very expensive and drastic, short-term fix.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets.  I learned a lot about myself and my health, both physically and mentally, through this process.  I am glad I did it.  I could not, however, have done this before I was ready.

Surviving Winter…Sort Of

I have to admit, for winter in DC, this year has been pretty mild.  Temperatures are mostly in the 40s or 50s.  Very few days lower than that.  And no snow to speak of.  I know just north of here in Pennsylvania, they have had a lot of snow and very, very cold temps.

Normally, I love this chilly weather.  I am pretty hot-blooded.  I am always warm.  Even in winter, I rarely turn on my heat and often need a fan to keep cool.

Not this year.  This year, I am freezing.  I have the heat on in my apartment.  I am wearing layers, sweaters, thick warm socks, a fuzzy pink robe, and snuggling up on the couch under blankets.  I was visiting a friend’s house last week and I got up and put my jacket on I was so cold.  She asked me if I was leaving already and I said, “No I’m freezing,” at which point, everyone in the room started laughing.  They were like, you are always the one who is hot.  Not anymore.  I’ve actually considered buying one of those snuggly blankets with the arms in front.  Who is this person I’ve become?

I know I’ve lost 65 pounds, oh and btw..I’ve lost 65 pounds (!!!), but I remember when I weighed around 230-ish when I was younger and I was always hot then as well.  Why is it I am now cold all of the time?

I remember that I told my sister before the surgery that maybe after surgery I would stop being so hot all of the time.  I hated being hot all of the time.  I actually preferred to be cold.  People always told me it was because I could not feel the cold.  This is not true.  I could feel the cold, I just preferred it to being hot all of the time.  I still prefer being cold to being hot all of the time.  I just wish I could warm up a little bit now and then.

For now, I plan on wrapping myself up in my pink fuzzy robe and thick woolen socks with my steaming cup of decaf tea and hibernate in front of the TV under blankets until spring.

A friend of mine reposted this picture on Facebook.  It is adorable…and don’t these cats just look warm?

 

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