Six Months Out - Full Body Picture

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Years Goals

So, I don't want to have resolutions for this coming year, but here are a few things I'd like to do in 2012:

-I want to be in the Century Club (100 pounds lost) by March.
-I want to reach Onderland by my Surgiversary in August. I'm at 281 today and that gives me more than 8 months to get there.
-I want to send a sexy pic to an ex. If that's evil, so be it. LOL
-Hopefully, I'm buying a house in the next few days. I'd like to have it paid off by June. This IS do-able, if I'm disciplined with my moolah.
-C25K. I want to at least walk a 5k this spring. I'd like to run at least one by the end of the year.
-I'm working on planning a family reunion this summer in Kentucky with my cousin. Since I haven't seen many of my cousins in years, this one is very important to me!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Big News!!

As of 2pm today, I'm a homeowner! It's mine, all mine. Bought and paid for with CASH! I'm happy dancing and may not be around for a few days while I do some moving. :)  I will, of course, post pics once things are put together!

The Numbers Game

70.8 pounds gone as of this morning. That's 20% of my body weight from start of my pre-op diet and 38.9% of the weight I want to lose to get to goal!!

happy dancing here:::::::::::::::::::

Monday, December 26, 2011

Food Thoughts

Eating is not a sin. Gluttony is, but that law was written in a time when one person's gluttony meant someone else in the tribe starved. Nowadays, we celebrate every holiday with food, which is an age-old tradition. But in the old times, they didn't serve a turkey, a ham, stuffing, taters, green beans, carrots, cranberry sauce, gravy and top off that little meal with a slice of 4 kinds of pie and 3 cakes!

We have passed the point of diminishing return. We have so much food available to us, and have been conditioned to eat to celebrate everything, that we don't have built in controls for our eating. Famine and bad crops kept many an old-timer lean and mean. Nowadays, we have grandma feeding everyone in sight because that's what makes her feel useful.

 Jeff Foxworthy makes a joke about it "Didjaeet?", but southerners are the worst. I'm guilty of this. The minute someone walks in my door I am offering up food, a beverage, a "little snack" maybe some crackers and cheese or we made cookies this morning, still hot!  Southern women make "sweet tea" that qualifies as dessert all on it's own!  I once had a glass of sweet tea from my Ex's aunt. I took one sip and thought I'd need insulin to counteract the effects!!!  She was so proud of her "receipt for sweet tea, straight from my momma" that I drank a few more sips before putting it down. I think Karo Syrup has less sugar!

So, we eat and we eat and we drink "sweet tea" made by all the aunties out there until we become the aunties and try to force feed everyone we meet either tons of food or gallons of sweet tea. It's a sad commentary on our nation that every occasion calls for food. I can remember cleaning out my car after a long week and finding tons of fast food bags. Sometimes I'd be brave and look inside them. Then I'd wonder "Hmmm, when did I eat at Ta*o B*ll?"  I wouldn't even be able to remember what I ate because I was doing so many other things while eating.

I'm afraid that America itself is getting to that point, where we eat everything in the world and then sit there wondering "What's in the fridge?"

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

Just wanted to thank the 4 of you who read my rants. Merry Christmas to you all!!! :)

Holidays, Weight Loss, and Eating

As I've said before, I refuse to think of food as good or bad. It's either protein or it's not protein. That said, the whole goal of being sleeved, for me, is to eat like a normal weight person would eat. I'm not going to beat myself up because I had 1 cookie or a piece of pie.

However, I do try to make sure I have my protein goal for the day met before I have sweets or other sliders. I also make myself accountable for everything I eat by using My Fitness Pal to log everything I eat. It amazes me how hard it is for me to eat sweets/carbs when I know I have to log it for the world to see!  My food diary is public for just this reason!

Don't beat yourself up for one day of bad eating, just dust yourself off and get back on plan. And, try allowing yourself a treat here and there, just like normal weight people do. You aren't on a diet, this is a life change. You're not going to go back to your old ways of eating, ever. The sleeve will always restrict the volume of food we can eat.

Our goal during the losing stage is to learn how to eat to live. IMO, if we tell ourselves that we can't have a certain food until we reach goal, it sets us up for that food to remain a problem when we reach goal.

Even though I still have a lot of weight to lose, I gave myself permission to have anything I want on Thanksgiving and will do the same today, on Christmas. I also keep my water and protein goals in mind on those days. But, if some food I love is on the menu, I'm going to have a few bites. I adore pecan pie, so I'll have a small piece of it at some point today, without guilt.  The difference now is that I will only have a piece of the pecan pie. I won't also have a piece of pumpkin pie and apple pie, both of which are just okay to me. I will savor every bite and really enjoy the taste of the pecans.

Again, I'm wishing everyone a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays! Enjoy life, that's why we're here!!! :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Insurance Company Requirements for WLS and a Rant, sorry.

A recent thread on VST made me write the following:

A young woman is researching WLS and is attempting to find out what her insurance company requires that she do before they will pay for the procedure she chooses. Her words, paraphrased, were that she was doing all of these appointments and requirements, but she doesn't feel like she's doing enough. IMO, she's already jumping through enough hoops, but I'm not the insurance company.

I can see what the next requirement will be: Stand on your head for six months! :)  The insurance companies already make bariatric patients stand on their heads for six months to several years to get this surgery. I was self-pay, but I read the horror stories about extended diets and insurance plans changing halfway through. People have had to do long term nutrition, dietitian, and psyche consults. Then, when you think you're almost there, they change the rules!

IMO, it's a bunch of baloney (except the psyche consults). The insurance company is going to benefit by paying for your ONE bariatric surgery, instead of paying for multiple operations later to help you keep breathing, or keep your heart beating, or to remove obesity-related cancers. 

I'd like to see it is insurance companies treated cancer patients this way. "Oh, you've got stage 1 breast cancer? Well, now you have to follow this specific diet for six months and see if it resolves itself. Oh, and while you're doing that, you have to talk to a nutritionist monthly, for which you'll pay out of pocket..."  People would be up in ARMS.

I need to join the Obesity Coalition. They are working to change the way fat people are treated in this country, both by the medical community and by the political machine. IF we obese/fat/big/large/whatever name people gathered our voices together, we'd be the biggest voting block in the world. I read a statistic the other day that says that 60% SIXTY PERCENT of Adult Americans are overweight. Maybe they all aren't obese, but they are all overweight. Now, that's a HUGE group of people (no pun intended).

Why haven't we joined together to force insurance companies to start paying for WLS without the insance hoop-jumping?  Esteemed medical professionals have stated that being 100 pounds overweight is like having an advanced cancer. It's not something that most people can cure on their own, nor can they just "eat less". By the time you are 100 pounds overweight, which I was, and many WLS patients are on the day of surgery, the co-morbidities are literally making it impossible (okay, extremely difficult) for the obese person to stop the cycle!

100 pounds overweight means that your heart and lungs do not work as efficiently as your smaller peers. It means that you often have diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, arthritis symptoms, and a score of other ailments.  So, the obese person (100 pounds qualifies) cannot work out effectively without putting undue stress on the heart and lungs. That person has to stop and use his inhaler and make sure he's adjusting his insulin dose to compensate for the exercise, all while he's exhausted and dealing with pain from sore joints due to arthritis.

So, insurance companies are, IMO, being penny wise and pound foolish. WLS should be available as a first option in the obesity fight. Once you reach 100 pounds over the recommended weight, the insurance should be BEGGING the obese person to get the surgery. Losing that 100 pounds reduces the risk of tons of medical complications, which, in turn, saves the insurance company money. It shouldn't be a question of can I qualify for WLS. It should be a question of how soon they can convince you to have it done!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Big Things In The Works

I haven't posted much in a couple of days because I've got some big news coming up in a couple of days. I've been working on getting things done, plus I have been a busy bee with work. I'll post about it as soon as it happens. A couple of my Vixen friends know, but please don't spill the beans on me! :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why So Much Weight?

I've spent tons of time thinking about why I had this surgery. Why couldn't I lose this weight on my own and keep it off?  Am I lazy? Am I stupid? I don't think I'm either one, but these are the questions that run through my head when I'm up way too late at night, or when I wake up at 5am and can't go back to sleep, like today!

So, as I'm lying there in bed knowing that I have another whole hour that I could sleep and realizing that I'm not getting to snuggle back under the blankets, my mind is racing all over the place. How on earth did a smart, successful business woman let herself get over 350 pounds?
My jobs were always very physical, until I graduated from college. Then I immediately got a desk job and didn't add some extra activity in to make up for the calories my job didn't burn. When I started my own business, the situation got worse because I was constantly on the phone and at my desk and my physical activity dwindled further.

When it finally dawned on me what I actually weighed, I couldn't get it off by myself. I lost 50 pounds on Atkins in 2010, but packed that, plus more, back on with one round of pneumonia in early 2011. I knew it was time to do something major, and I decided that WLS was that.

So, here I am, 3 months and 3 weeks post-op and losing weight like never before. I feel better, look better and I'm working on ME. For the first time in years, my first priority daily is myself, my health and what I need. I should probably feel guilty because I'm being selfish, but I don't.  Maybe that's because I know that, in order to help anyone else, I must be healthy myself.

I'm amazed at this journey I'm on and I'm looking forward to seeing where it leads me in the end!  Of course, I'll keep anyone who might be reading my ramblings updated! :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Check In

Work is interfering with blogging today, sorry to post so late in the day!

I had a couple of NSVs today. Folks that I haven't seen in a while commented on my weight loss, saying really NICE things. :)

Then, while I was lugging out my purse and my TWO briefcases this morning, someone offered to help me with them. I thanked them, but managed on my own. Before surgery, I'd have been huffing and puffing...and no one would have offered to help! LOL

Work is definitely picking up this week. I imagine I'll be pretty busy right up until Friday, which means I'll probably spend Saturday running like a maniac with last minute Christmas prep. To make this multi-cultural, Happy Holidays All!

I'm still loving my restriction from my sleeve. It's amazing to me how little I eat, or want to eat, on any given day. And, I'm not hungry, cranky, or tired from so little food.  I had set a goal to lose 20 lbs by Christmas, which would bring me to 280. I think I might make it since I'm at 283.4 today.

For reference, when I worked at the prison during college, 2001 and 2002, I weighed 260, so I'm almost back to that weight. Once I hit the Christmas Challenge goal, my next goal is to be at 230 by March, 2012. It sounds like a lot, but I'm performing a good friend's wedding then and I'd like to look nice in the dress I choose. THAT will be happening sometime in February.

I'll post pics of the dress then. :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Well, I did spend my Saturday relaxing with my friend. We had lunch, during which I ate more veggies than I've had the entire time I've been sleeved, I think. Then we ran around looking at houses, in and out of the car, then to a couple of stores, so I got my exercise in yesterday, even if it was in little spurts. To cap off the day, we had haircuts, eyebrow waxing and pedicures. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, how nice.

Mine took awhile, but I got to sit in the massage chair while the lady took oodles of time on my feet and legs. That was so relaxing, plus we got to catch up on each other's lives for the last couple of weeks. Hers has been very exciting because of the training for her new job!

NSVs yesterday: I needed to wear capris or pants that would roll up for the pedicure, which meant I had to dip into the clothes I bought at Goodwill awhile back. I'm happy to report that the cute capri pants I wore yesterday were in my new, smaller, size!   My friend, who hasn't seen me in a couple of weeks, told me that she can definitely see a difference in my face and waist. As a side note, isn't it nice to have friends who will stretch things to make you feel better?! :)  Also, despite all the walking and moving around we did yesterday, I wasn't exhausted or feeling like I had been beat up by the end of the evening.

I keep hearing that the energy level and ability to walk/do things keeps going up as we lose weight. I feel sorry for those who will have to keep up with me if that's true! I feel so much more energetic and alive now than I did just a few short months ago!!! To quote someone, "My future's so bright I gotta wear shades!"

Off to see what Sunday will offer up!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Plans

A friend is back in town after being gone for training for her new job, so we're going to have a girl's day.

We're meeting for lunch, then going to totally indulge ourselves with mani/pedis, haircuts, eyebrow waxing and relaxing for the afternoon. I need all of the above, but most especially the haircut.

Since surgery, I've let my hair grow and I have been trying to style it daily to help cover the fact that I'm thinning some on top. I need some shaping at least, but not necessarilly a cut, per se.

I'm calling this my Christmas present to myself, along with a reward for losing 1/3 of my weight I have to lose.

I also need to do a tiny bit of Christmas shopping for my son.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Some Things I Like Post-Op

Mio drops - they let me put just a little flavor in a drink, or a lot if that's what I want.
Mini Babybel cheeses-yum, just the right amount for a snack for me.
Rotisserie chicken-nice, moist chicken that is easy to chew and doesnt make Rex (my sleeve) complain

Cotton anything. I like that I can wash them in hot water and shrink them a bit for when I undergrow them. And, they feel good against my skin.
V-neck shirts. I didn't like them before, but now they show off my thinner neck instead of accenting the rolls!

Walking and Lifting Weights. I still laugh at myself every time I say I'm going to "work out". It seems like I do so little, but it's SO much more than I could do before. I see progress every time.

NSVs. I had no clue what these were before surgery and now I'm racking them up like pinball points! :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Got My Christmas Present Last Night, I Guess.

 I got a text from my hubby last night saying "File our divorce papers now!"

We've been separated since June and I've done all I know how to do, including going to marriage counseling with him. I guess he's not willing to try any more. I moved out of our house because he broke every dish in it the night I came home from the hospital after having pneumonia. I was still on oxygen and could barely walk or talk.

C'est la vie! I guess we just weren't meant to be.

A Day in My Sleeve

Here is what my daily food intake looks like at 3.5 months post-op:

8 am - Mini Babybel light (6g protein) eaten only because I can't take my meds on a totally empty stomach
8:30 am - meds, half a bottle of water
9 to 11:30- finish that bottle of water, have a cup or two of decaf coffee
11:30 ish - Breakfast or lunch, usually 1 egg, most of a piece of toast or leftover something from dinner the night before: 1 rib and leftover veg; or 3 oz rotisserie chicken with either 2 oz of veggie or a V8 juice. Sometimes I sub the meal with a protein bar.
12 to 3- more water, usually flavored with Mio drops. If I want a snack, I'll have another babybel or a couple of bites of the rotisserie chicken
5-7 pm- dinner. I can eat 2 ribs and some veggie or about 3 oz of fish/chicken/pork. Usually I can't get much in here for veggies, maybe 3 or 4 bites of a cooked veggie or 2 bites of a raw one like broccoli or cauliflower.
7-8:30 pm - more water, or hot tea, etc. This is when I'd have a protein shake if I'm low on protein.
9-10pm-snack, usually a SF pudding or, like tonight, I'll have a piece of sandwich meat rolled with a slice of real cheese like swiss or muenster. Since I usually go to bed somewhere around 11pm, and I take a handful of medications then, too, I need something to keep me from getting sick. I'll wait half an hour after my snack and drink another half to whole bottle of water while taking the meds.

Even with all that, I'm usually between 800 and 1000 calories.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I have been frustrated at times since my WLS, just like many others. It's disheartening to see your scale stalled at a certain weight, and it's tougher for many WLS patients because most of us have already tried (and failed) at every diet known to mankind.

That's the feeling I had when I first broke into the 200's. I hit 299 for two days in a row, then spent a week bouncing between 299 and 295. I kept waiting for two days at 295, but it just wouldn't happen! I was exercising, watching my protein and water intake and, in general, driving myself nuts. Of course, the advice is to only weigh yourself once a week, but I'm too stupid to follow that advice! I want to know every day how I'm doing, which is dumb because our bodies fluctuate based on what we ate and drank and how much salt we ate. For female WLS patients, it's even worse because our monthly hormonal fluctuations drive the scale up and down like a roller coaster!

What I try to do is to pay more attention to how my clothes fit and let the scale be "just" a number game. While I was bouncing between 299 and 195, I walked out of my last size pants. I wore them the week before and they were a bit loose, then I put them on during that stall, buttoned, zipped, then watched as they fell right off my behind and onto the floor! That's when I realized that this is a weird journey that I'm taking.

I'll drop pounds pretty steady for a few days or weeks, then have a horrible stall. But, during the stalls is when I usually lose inches and undergrow my clothes. So, I'm trying to teach myself to appreciate the stalls as much as the days that I lose pounds.

I really regret not taking measurements to start with, but I am also a sewist. I think I'll take my measurements from my dressmaker's dummy and see how they compare with my current measurements. The dummy needs updating anyway if I'm going to make myself a few skirts/dresses to wear for the next size down.

While I've been pretty open with my weight numbers, I'm not sure how I feel about posting my measurements online. I'll have to think about that and see what I decide.

Happy Birthday!

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled programming so that I may wish my baby sister a Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday, Michelle! I hope it's a great day for you!!! I love you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Non Scale Victories

Ahhh, the dreaded stall. Every WLS patient and dieter has them. You're doing everything you're supposed to do and you're working out, drinking water, but the scale just isn't moving. Or, it's dancing around between two numbers. How frustrating!!

How do you deal with a stall? For me, I try to concentrate on the Non Scale Victories, or NSVs. Sometimes I think I worry about NSVs more than the scale numbers. That's good in my opinion. It means that the scale isn't ruling my life. Don't get me wrong, I'm ecstatic when the scale shows a lower number, or a new decade, or, better yet, a new century. I sent a text to everyone I know the day I hit the 200's and I did a happy dance in my bathroom that I'm very happy wasn't filmed! It was a great day.

Sometimes, though, the scale doesn't move at all...for days. I could very easily start thinking that my WLS isn't working, or is done working. That's when I have to start looking for changes that aren't related to the scale. During my last stall, I actually managed to walk out of a pair of work pants. I put them on, buttoned, zipped, then started to walk and they dropped to the floor. I just stood there for a few minutes in awe that my pants were pooled at my feet. At first it didn't even register that pants on the floor meant they were officially WAY too big for me. I'd lost an entire size!

After that, I started really looking for those NSVs because losing that full size meant as much to me as losing 10 pounds on the scale.

Some of my recent ones are:

1.  I had to adjust how I sit when I drive. My seat belt used to dig into my hip, so I sat far to the left. Now I sit dead in the middle of the seat and that seat belt doesn't bite me anymore.
2.  I had to buy new undies, in a smaller size!
3.  I can sit in a booth at a restaurant without the table digging into my belly.
4.  I walked the length of the mall AND back without feeling like I was going to die.
5.  My towel now wraps around me with a very small overlap. Before that wasn't happening at all!
6.  I'm starting to like pictures of me. Yeah, I'm still fat, but the pictures show me that I am making progress.

It seems like I lose pounds, then my body shrinks while I'm in a stall. So, I need to learn to embrace the stalls just as much as I embrace seeing the numbers drop.

Monday, December 12, 2011

What Do I Eat After VSG

Food...ah, the conundrum, how to get in enough protein and still eat other foods. I am on a multi-vitamin daily to help with nutrient deficiencies. Nutrient deficiencies can make your body feel hungry because it's wanting something you aren't giving it.

Below are some questions I've been asked after surgery:

What do you crave after surgery? I had a major salt craving last week and OD'd myself on 10 olives and 3 small pickles. Then my tummy complained for the rest of the night about all that vinegar! LOL

What kind of protein are you eating? I am particularly happy with rotisserie chicken right now, especially the lemon pepper flavor. It's soft, so easy to chew, and it's dense, so it keeps my tummy full for a long time. I recently tried steak for the first time since surgery and that kept me full for quite a while as well.

Are you getting any carbs at all? I know that lots of folks try to avoid eating a lot of carbs, but your body probably needs some carbs to burn daily. Adding in some carbs helps with the empty feeling. A piece of toast may be enough (or too much if you're an early post-op).

I ate a lot of instant mashed taters with my early mushy foods. I don't eat them as much now, but they helped keep me feeling full back then. Of course "a lot" is a relative term. I'd have under an ounce of mashed at any one time, along with my 2 or 3 ounces of protein.

Another thing I do is to keep mini babybel cheeses on hand. I'll eat one of those if I'm hungry and it usually keeps me full until my next meal time. Most mornings, one of those is my "breakfast". I just can't face real food until after 11 am, it seems.

I have posted before that I see food now as either protein or not protein. My major goal every day is to get that 70 grams of protein into my sleeve. That's followed vey closely by my trying to get 64 oz of water in as well.

I basically eat anything I want, but those two goals are first and foremost now.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Exercise after WLS

This seems to be one of the major factors that decide our success/failure rates with WLS. The more we exercise, the faster the weight comes off. Isn't that a hoot? What "they" have been telling us for years is actually true!!

I ran track in high school, then I had a couple of babies and did some knee damage during the second pregnancy which kept me from really being able to walk well for a couple of years. Then, once I had packed on some pounds, I hurt way too much to get out there and walk, at least that was my excuse.

After laproscopic WLS surgery, I had a ton of excess gas. The solution to help the gas move out of my system was to WALK. I'm laughing at myself because, by the time I had surgery, it was difficult for me to walk from my car to my door. A friend went grocery shopping with me just before surgery and she carried in my groceries because I just flat could not do it. Talk about shaming me!

So, after surgery, I would walk up and down my hallway, and it hurt, but it got rid of the gas. After a couple of days up and down the hallway, I started volunteering to walk my dog. My son usually did it before surgery. The dogs walk area is maybe 30 feet up and down the sidewalk behind my apartment, and I was doing that a couple of times a day. After about a week, I decided that I'd walk around the short end of our building, and then the long way around the building. At 3 weeks out, I walked from my door, to the lake in our complex and I managed to walk around the whole lake! Rocky himself couldn't have been prouder than I was that day! I managed to walk about a quarter of a mile and thought I was HOT STUFF!!

Since then, I've been using either the treadmill or the exercise bike and I can go 30 minutes on either one..and I'm proud of myself for that, as well. But, I walk maybe 1.5 miles on the treadmill or ride about 3 miles on the bike. So, my speeds are nothing to write home (or here, probably) about. The reason I am posting about them is to let other obese people, like me, know that even the smallest amount of effort can and will add up quickly.

My usual practice with the mall is to park as close to the door as I can get, at the door closest to the store where I need to shop. Then I'd waddle myself into the store and back to the car as quickly as I could. But, a week ago, I went with a friend. We went in at one end of the mall, wandered through that store, then moseyed our way down the length of the mall to the store AT THE OTHER END of the mall. We did our shopping, and wandered through a bunch of stores again while heading back out of the mall. 3 months ago, this would have been a torture trip for me. I'd have been looking for benches and walls to lean against. Last week, I simply walked.

So, even though I started out in horrible shape, I am now comfortable walking the length of the mall. I have a goal right now to walk a 5k in the beginning of the new year. I know I won't be able to run it, but that's okay. I'm fine with walking it and I am okay if I'm the last person to finish. I just want to prove to myself that I can do that.

My results so far tell me that it is possible, so I'm going for it.

Why Not Diet? Why WLS?

I hear a lot of people talking about WLS as if it were the "easy way out" or "cheating" on weight loss. Comments about massive weight loss always seem to include "Well, did s/he lose the weight on their own or through surgery?"

I'm here to tell you that WLS is NOT the easy way out. First, it's expensive. I was a self-pay (thank you, Dear Husband) and it cost us $12,500, which is not pocket change. Add to that the medical problems I was having and that I had to have a filter installed before and removed after the WLS, with the attendant deductibles, and it probably cost closer to $20k out of pocket, before insurance paid anything. 

Second, if your insurance DOES cover WLS, and many do not, then you do a ton of hoop-jumping before surgery is approved. I've heard anywhere from six months to a year of supervised dieting under the care of a doctor, plus many insurance companies require high BMI (Body Mass Index) numbers. Some insurance will only cover surgery if your BMI is over 50. Others do allow coverage if you are under 50, but only if you have a certain amount of co-morbidities. Co-morbidities include things like diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, heart know, all those conditions that make it dangerous to have surgery.

Third, having any surgery IS dangerous. WLS has its own dangers and it's a great idea to research like crazy about your surgeon and your facility before you have surgery. I still plan to post about my doctor, who is an amazing surgeon! I had the best references for him, but still had worries about whether I would survive the surgery because of my co-morbidities. Mine included sleep apnea, borderline diabetes, asthma, DVTs and two pulmonary emboli. The DVTs and emboli are why I had to have a filter surgically installed/removed. And, the filter did catch two clots, so it was a necessary evil.

Fourth, WLS does not make you magically lose weight. I'm sure that we all wish that it did. What WLS gives you is a tool that allows you to not feel hungry as much. What you do with that tool is up to you. YOU are responsible for what goes into your mouth. YOU are responsible for exercising. YOU are responsible for following the plan that your doctor gives you.

MY doctor told me that I must do the following: I MUST take a multi-vitamin every day for the rest of my life. I do not have the option to not take it because my tummy will not hold the volume of food it held before, so I don't get a lot of veggies in me.  I MUST eat 70 grams of protein per day. This is a tall order, because many foods don't have protein at all. I eat a lot of chicken, tuna, cheese, and protein bars/shakes these days. I also MUST drink at least 64 oz of water per day. And, drinks with caffeine do not count because caffeine hinders absorption of water. I had a serious diet coke addiction pre-op, so this one is a biggie for me. My surgeon also says NO carbonated drinks. I hope he doesn't read this, because I still have a diet caffeine free coke sometimes.

Fifth, WLS still requires that you make good food choices. Once I get in my water and my protein, I can still screw things up. If I choose to eat cake, candy, ice cream, etc., I can eat them. They are called "slider foods" because they just go right through my sleeve and don't leave me feeling full. I could eat them all day long and then say that WLS didn't work for me. But, I'd be lying. The truth would be that I didn't work the WLS.

That's the fallacy, that WLS works for us. No, it doesn't. It gives us the ability to handle eating like a normal person. But, it doesn't handle the mental aspect.  I'm not on a diet now, any more than most people are on any given day. I'm commited to a life style change. I want to eat like a normal person. I want to look like a normal person, so I want to do what normal people do. Normal weight people eat what they want, when they want it. That's what I want.

So, I'm doing what the surgeon said and I'm refusing to believe that any food is inherently good or bad. Food is either "protein" or "not protein" for me. If I still need protein for the day, then I eat protein when I'm hungry. If I'm hungry and I don't need protein, I have what I want. Usually that means I eat some kind of vegetable. But, sometimes I eat an ice cream (Skinny Cow usually) or a sugar free pudding.

So far, my life style change has worked for me. I had WLS on August 30, 2011 and, as of today, I've lost 65 pounds, 13 pre-op and 52 post-op. To get this far I've had to cut calories. I get under 1,000 a day, but I'm so full that more won't fit, normally. I've also had to up my exercise levels and to stay on top of the water and protein daily.

I WILL lose the rest of my weight, but I have a long road ahead of me. There are plenty of people who have had WLS, lost their weight and then regained. WLS requires that we be vigilant for the rest of our lives and do what normal weight people (NWP) do. When they see that they've put on a pound or two, they restrict their eating and lose that pound or two.

But, NWP eat food. They don't ignore food completely and end up in the hospital with dehydration and malnutrition. Both of these are risks for WLS patients. Once we've had surgery, the danger of developing eating disorders is higher, as is the danger of cross-over addictions. WLS patients in particular have to watch that we don't replace food with alcohol (the ultimate slider!), with drugs, with smoking, or develop eating disorders like the chew and spit technique I talked about in the last post. I have been told that is called "cupping". EWWW

Anyway, sorry for writing a book, but this is why I chose not to diet anymore. I've done all the well-known diets and lost a few pounds, then gained them back in a hurry. WLS has given me a tool to use to actually take this weight off and keep it off. I think I'm going to add my Weight Loss Ticker to the page so that you can see where I came from and where I'm going.

One last point about WLS and dieting, once the initial spurt of weight loss is over, WE must keep going on the changes. The honeymoon period for weight loss after surgery is roughly a year, depending on the surgery. I probably won't lose all my weight in that first year and I'm predicting that my weight loss will slow way down the closer I get to that year mark, because that's what I hear from those who have gone before me.

I'm sure that's what happens to lots of WLS patients as they get further out from surgery. They get discouraged and don't stick to the plan when the weight loss slows down from that initial surge, and they stop being so diligent about their plan. Then they regain a few pounds, and a few pounds more, and so on. So, traditional dieting and WLS have a lot in common at that point. Add in that WLS patients are typically people who have had difficulty with "dieting" in the past and you can see that it's a double-whammy.

So, every time you hear that story about "Someone" who had WLS and regained all their weight, factor in all of the above. The WLS didn't fail. The person who regained the weight failed to use their tool to its maximum potential. That doesn't mean that every WLS patient will fail, but it does mean that we patients have to be vigilant.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Surgeon

Okay, I've stated before that I think my doctor is the bomb! So, here's a bit of information about him for those who are contemplating weight loss surgery and are in South Florida.

Dr. Patrick Domkowski did my surgery on August 30, 2011, at Sebastian River Medical Center. His website is I had never heard of him prior to talking to my friend, who is a nurse at the hospital. Her glowing reviews on how he treats his patients and his amazing bedside manner led me to attend his seminar in March or April of 2011.

Dr. D, as I call him to myself, gave an excellent description of the weight loss surgeries he does. I was leaning towards having the Lap Band, but Dr D said that the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) was a better choice for people who have an addiction to sweets. He was looking right at me when he said it, and he was right!

I made an appointment that night for a consultation appointment with him, but had to cancel that appointment because I was in the hospital with pneumonia on June 2, 2011. I rescheduled it for early July and nearly missed that appointment because I had been in the hospital for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVTs or blood clots) and two pulmonary emboli until the day before!

Before I could have an appt with Dr D, I had to fill out several pages of information, including a written statement about why I wanted WLS and which WLS I wanted. At the seminar, Dr D told us that he would give us his recommendation, but he would perform the surgery we requested. The pre-consult forms required me to do some heavy thinking about why am I fat and how did I get this way. It took me several hours to complete them.

When I finally got in to see Dr D, I was a nervous wreck and he calmed me down immediately with his demeanor. He asked questions from my forms and listened carefully to my answers. When he actually asked me which surgery I wanted, he agreed that VSG would be the better solution for me. Because of my recent hospitalizations, he wanted to contact my other doctors and consult with them before scheduling me for surgery. I went for a second visit with Dr D to discuss those consultations and he advised me that I would have to have a filter installed because of the blood clots.

That caused another round of doctor visits to vein and blood specialists before I could be approved for surgery. Once those were accomplished, Dr D's office moved into lightening speed with getting me scheduled for the filter installation and VSG surgery. Because of medications for the blood clots, I asked that they be scheduled as close together as possible, so I had the filter installed on a Friday and had WLS on the next Tuesday. I did have one additional appointment with Dr D just before surgery. I felt like Dr D wanted to make certain I understood the risks of the surgery and wanted to reassure both of us that I trusted him to make sure I made it through the surgery. I did trust him, literally with my life.

My hospital stay was great. The hospital staff was very concerned about keeping me out of pain and about getting me up to walk as soon as possible. I've been told that I insisted on walking from the recovery bed, which was wheeled into my hospital room, to the hospital room bed, and then I decided that bed was too darn soft and I'd rather sit in the chair, which is where I was when I became really aware of my surroundings.

Dr D came in both that afternoon and the next morning to see me. I was discharged to go home by early afternoon and that's what I did. I've been back for three follow up appointments and Dr D has been amazing about answering all my questions at each visit. He doesn't even roll his eyes when I ask him if I should "genuflect, bow down, or kiss (his) feet" at the beginning of each visit.

I think Dr D hung the moon, and I know that he gave me back my life. I was dying very quickly from the complications after my pneumonia. This surgery has made it possible for me to contemplate living long enough to possibly see grandchildren.

I did talk to and research other doctors ahead of time, but I'm glad that I decided to go with Dr. Domkowski.

Chewing up food and spitting it out?

Some of you may know me from the Vertical Sleeve Talk Boards. Someone there posted about chewing up food and spitting it out.  Something about chewing up a food and spitting it out just strikes me as wrong! LOL 

I'm really worried about crossover addictions and my mental attachment to food, so chew/spit doesn't sound like something I'd want to get into doing. Also, I had this surgery so I could live a more normal life. Normal people eat what they want, but they have the ability to stop when they are satisfied. That is what/how I want to relate to food.

For me, I think it would be unwise to get into the habit of chewing and spitting out my food.

 I am working to retrain my appetite to want what my body needs. Already, I've noticed that food now is either "protein" or "not protein". I have changed how much I eat and what motivates me to eat, so I've made progress. This is a life change, not a diet. From here forward, I want to use food to fuel my body and eat to live, NOT live to eat.

So, that's my philosophy on that. :)

Introducing Me.

Hello! If you've found my blog, you probably know me IRL and don't need this introduction. But, I'm gonna do it anyway.

I'm Lissa and I live in South Florida. My family moved here when I was 12, so I'm almost a native by now, right?

I was a normal weight until I had my first child, then couldn't figure out how to take the weight off. I did get back down to within 10 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight before I got pregnant with number two. While pregnant with him, I did some major damage to my knee and I couldn't walk well for nearly two years after his birth. I never resorted to a wheelchair, but I probably should have used a cane. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.

Over the years since number two was born, I gained weight, slowly, but it was still a gain. I tried Atkins, weight watchers, counting calories, etc. But, I just couldn't take off much. In early 2011, I had pneumonia that put me in the hospital for six days. Then I developed deep vein thrombosis and that threw two pulmonary emboli into my lungs. A doctor had the "come to Jesus" conversation with me and told me that it was either lose weight or die.

That's when I started researching WLS. Originally, I thought I wanted the Lap Band. I did tons of research on it and went to a doctor at Strax Rejuvenation in Fort Lauderdale who told me that they would do the lap band on me, no problem. Something about the place didn't fit with my personality, though, so I kept researching. 

I finally asked a friend who is a nurse what she thought about WLS. She first asked me "For whom?" and when I told her that I was considering the idea, she just about jumped through the phone with joy. Then she told me about a wonderful WLS surgeon at her hospital and suggested I check him out. I WILL post more about him later, but I went to his seminar and was highly impressed.

He talked about the Lap Band and about VSG (Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy) and said a few things that made me really think that VSG was probably the right way to go for me. I made an appointment for a consultation immediately.

On August 30, 2011, I underwent surgery to have 85% of my stomach removed (VSG). I think it's the best thing I've ever done for myself.

I'll post later about what the last 3 months have been like, including details about the pre and post-op diets and about what it is like to be ME today versus me 3 months ago. I also plan to detail my journey from here on out in pictures and in words for those who know and love me (all three of you!) and for those who may be thinking about following in my footsteps.

The picture above will change as I continue on my journey, but I will keep past pictures in my gallery for reference.