Six Months Out - Full Body Picture

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Updates as of 9.33 months post op

Sorry for the inspired title, but this is a housekeeping post, mostly! :)

First, I reached my first major goal on May 18, 2012. I'm now in the Century Club, which means I've lost 100 pounds!!!  I've been happy dancing over that for a couple of weeks.

Second, I am now an elliptical convert! I started out trying to use the elliptical about a month ago. My first session lasted all of one and a half minutes. I'm now up to using the elliptical for 30-60 minutes daily and I'm in love with it. I even prefer it over my beloved recumbent bike!

Third, I'm down to a sixteen/eighteen in pants and shirts, although jeans, being less forgiving, still require a 20 for me. :)

Here's an updated picture of me:

I took this one on June 2, 2012.

I still can't believe how fast the weight is coming off me! :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I posted this picture on Vertical Sleeve Talk a couple of days ago. Here it is for anyone who doesn't haunt that board like I do.  The picture generated some questions from new sleevers there, and one of those questions was what should she be doing now that she's sleeved. So, I put out a list of things I think are important for a new WLS patient to know and I'm repeating it, with a couple of additions here.

Here's what I'd advise to anyone just starting this journey:

1. Take your measurements pre-op. Keep track of them as you lose weight. When you stall/plateau, and we all do it, take your measurements again. Stalls are when I seem to lose sizes and notice the inches going away.
2. Stick to your post-op diet religiously. Your doctor has prescribed this diet because s/he feels that it's the safest diet to avoid complications with your new sleeve (pouch, etc).
3. Start walking as soon as possible after surgery. Always try to do a little more than you did yesterday.
4. The minute you're released to lift weights, start lifting weights. I do a lot of low weight, high repetition work and I started out doing 10 reps of the simplest arm exercises I could find. Biceps curls, triceps extensions, skull crusher.
5. Be patient. You didn't gain all this weight in a hurry, so you won't lose it in a hurry. It will still seem incredibly fast when you get to goal.
6. Visit a therapist to help you learn how to deal with the life changes from VSG. We wouldn't be here if we didn't have food issues.
7. Drink your 64 oz of water daily. Get in your protein daily. Repeat and repeat.
8. Join My Fitness Pal or one of the other food logger sites. It's tremendously motivating.
9. Look for the Non Scale Victories (NSV) every single day. It will help you stay positive about your journey and will give you motivation when yours is flagging.
10. Stolen straight from my friend on VST, FavoredOne... ENJOY THE JOURNEY. This isn't a race. You don't get extra points for not eating properly or for being the fastest/slowest/most average loser.
11. Make sure you take your pain meds immediately post-op if you need them. There are no awards for not taking the pain meds...just more pain.
12. Don't compare your weight loss to someone else's weight loss. Many things affect how fast we lose weight, including our genetics, metabolism, how much water and exercise we're getting in, and the mysterious "whatever".  Those with higher BMIs tend to lose faster immediately post-op, but then slow down to a crawl for awhile. It happens.
13. Do NOT become a slave to the scale. All it tells you is how much you weigh. It doesn't tell you if you're eating or drinking enough. It doesn't tell you that you've put on 4 pounds of muscle weight while losing 3 pounds of fat. The scale is a dangerous mistress. Take away it's power over you.

Above all, if you think something is wrong, call YOUR doctor. Don't wait for someone on a message board or a blog to tell you what to do. You (or your insurance company) paid this doctor for his or her expertise. Let the doctor tell you what's a problem and what isn't a problem.

Good luck if you're a new post-op, or even if you're pre-op and just starting this journey. There's nothing like it in the world.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The photo above was taken in September, 2009 at a friend's wedding. The photo below is two weeks ago. I think there are some marked differences.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I took myself out to lunch today and ordered a bunless cheeseburger with sweet potato fries. I actually ate about half the cheeseburger, the slices of tomato, some pickle slices, and 3 of the fries. The cook came out and I ended up telling him that the food was delicious, but I just couldn't eat any more. I was so full, but that cheeseburger was SO good.

The point of that is that you can have ANY food you want after surgery. You just won't be able to eat as much. I'm pleasantly full and not in carb overload from my meal. I'm just now finishing my unsweet iced tea and it tastes divine as well.

93 pounds lost feels really good today, especially knowing that I can eat anything I want.

Oh, and for my appetizer and dessert, I had 7 flights of stairs on either side of my meal. Being able to walk up and down those stairs without pain is a MAJOR incentive for me! :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Exercise Journey So Far

Exercise is a BIG issue for those who have had WLS. Non-WLS people don't seem to understand that we do have to exercise to get to our goals. I hate the comment about us taking "the easy way out". There's nothing easy about this. It seems like some WLS patients don't get it either. They really believe that this is a magic bullet that's going to make us lose weight with no effort on our part. That's not true.

When I first had WLS, I couldn't walk from my car to my front door without being winded. When I started researching WLS, I saw people who were crazy about exercise and I thought they were nuts. But, now I get it.

As I've progressed with my weight loss, I've also progressed with exercise. At first, I was literally walking up and down my hallway, then around the small end of my building, then the larger end of my building. At 3 weeks post-op, I was THRILLED when I managed to walk around the lake in my apartment complex. Wow, that seems like it was so long ago.

Over the last few months, I've added in more walking on the treadmill and then lots of time on the recumbent bike. Last week, I walked home from the gym and found that I can't walk as far on real ground as I can on the treadmill, but that's okay. My attitude now is that it WILL get easier as I continue to walk, so I'm making it a point to walk to and from the gym when I go to work out. That adds an extra 1.5 miles a day to my exercise totals.

I also started a weight routine right after surgery. At first, I did well to get in 10 repetitions with 2 pound weights. Now, the 2 pound weights have been moved to the car and I use them to get in some arm work while I'm driving long distances daily. I'm now using 5 pound weights for my "regular" weight routine and 8 pound weights when I'm doing abdominal crunches.

My workout routine is definitely low-intensity compared to some of the exercise gurus I see on the boards, but it's working for me. Nope, I'm not Bo Derek yet, but I'm seeing results. I have biceps; I have a waist...and my butt is looking pretty good, or so I'm told by some guys I know. I'm not training for a marathon. What I'm doing is incorporating exercise into my life, hopefully in a manner that I can follow for the rest of my life.

So, like the turtle, I'm taking it slow, but I will get to goal! :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday update

I guess I should update a few things around here.  I'm now at 261, and a size 16/18, depending on cut of the clothes. While my weight loss has slowed, I've been increasing my workouts and I'm now up to walking 1.5 miles (to/from gym) plus at least 30 minutes on the recumbent bike while at the gym. I have two goals on exercise: sweat profusely and get in at least 7 miles on the bike.

I'm seeing results, both in my clothes size and in my body. When I first started on the bike at this gym, my butt and hips rubbed my hands when I grabbed the side bars. Now I have at least 2 inches on each side between my hips and my hands. NSV for sure!

I have less restriction than before, although I still can't eat a lot at one sitting. I've recently been adding in more carbs and veggies because the carbs seem to help keep my endurance up for the workouts I've been doing. I'm still doing weights as well. I carry a 2 pound weight in the car and do my arm exercises while I'm driving long stretches. When I'm home, I use 5 pound weights for those arm exercises. I'm seeing results in my arm muscles from that as well.

The last couple of weeks have seen me add more protein replacements into my diet in order to meet my protein goals. I bought some GNC Total Lean protein shakes yesterday...meh. I'll drink them because they aren't horrible, but they aren't great either. OTOH, Clif bars are YUMMY! They have 15 grams of protein each and taste good, although the bars are kind of ugly looking.

Stir-fry has been my go to food lately. Lots of shrimp and steak stir-fried with veggies. I bought a couple of different sauces to try in them and the philly cream cheese sauces are okay. I haven't tried the two chinese sauces I got, although that's on the agenda for this week.

For some reason, my visit with my surgeon last week has really upped my confidence level about my weight loss. I feel like goal is really achievable now. I'm so close to 100 pounds lost that I can almost taste it. I'm anticipating the happy dance for it already!! :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Today's Exercise Check Up

Okay, so I've been KICKING BUTT on the bike lately, to the tune of 7.5 miles in 30 minutes!I love my own butt - it's getting SWEET! I can also walk 4 miles on the treadmill. I decided to do some moving things around this afternoon that resulted in my having to walk about .7 miles home on a paved problem, right? Yeah, no problem my aching thighs and calves! Apparently walking isn't as easy on real roads as it is on the treadmill...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Seven Month Check Up ... and Awesome NSVs!

So, I went in today for my six month check up with my doc...even though I'm already 7 months plus post-op. He gave me a graph of my BMI and weight loss since my first visit with him. The graph was eye-opening! I think I'm stalled, but his graph shows that I'm losing steadily.

After I asked my questions, including for a copy of the video of my surgery, he asked me a few questions. He gave me some samples of different brands of bariatric vitamins for me to review for him and asked that I let his office know if I like them. I'll do that over the next month.

Then he asked me if I'd mind answering a few questions online for him. I thought he was asking me to take some kind of online survey at first, but as he went on I realized that he wants me to answer questions for visitors to his website! WOW! I'm so flattered to be asked and, of course, I am more than willing to do that! :)

From what he said today, I've already exceeded his expectations for my weight loss and fitness level and he mentioned that I'm staring 100 pounds in the eye. He expects that I will be well over 100 pounds lost when I go back at the end of July for my 1 year check up. My anniversary isn't until the end of August, but to accomodate both or our schedules, I have an appt nearly a month early.

I've mentioned before that I think my surgeon is the bomb and he proved it to me again today! In just that short appointment, he managed to make me feel wonderful about my progress insteadof the frustration I've been feeling for a few weeks. He also explained a few different things to me about what to expect going forward. That really made me feel better about the next stage of my journey.

I was worried that I am out of the "losing" stage and now am into the "have to work really hard at it" stage. I want to be his poster child for the sleeve and he assured me that I already AM a poster child for the sleeve because of the loss I've had so far and how hard I am working at my weight loss. He also told me to expect big losses over the next few months, both because of the sleeve and because of my newly formed exercise habits. :)

I'm feeling pretty awesome tonight, especially for a sleever who went in fully expecting to find out that my results are disappointing. I'm actually pretty far ahead of the curve! :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I fit in my goal dress!!!

So, when I first started my journey, I met a gal at the support group wearing a super cute dress. A few days later, I ran into her during my post op at the surgeon's office and she was wearing the same dress, so I told her it was cute. She offered me the dress and I said Thanks, but no thanks. I told her it would never fit me, but she told me to have faith that it would!

At last week's support group meeting, she told me she had the dress in her car for me. I tried it on today, with absolutely no hope/thought that it would fit today. Well, it does!! LOL

I think it's too young for me, and it's definitely too low cut, but I'm crying because I never in a million years thought this dress would fit me and it does. THIS is a true NSV!!!

Maybe in another 20 or 30 pounds I'll feel differently, but right now, I will not be wearing this dress in public. I'm pumped, though, to see real, tangible results of all the treadmill, exercise, and recumbent bike time I've put into me!

Happy Dancing Today!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Life with the Sleeve

So, for the last few days, I've been incredibly busy with work. That's a great thing, but it makes keeping up with my eating/drinking a little tough. I've posted before that I must get 64 oz of water and 70 g of protein in me daily for optimal results from my sleeve. So, here's how I've done it the last few days.

Each morning, I try to drink 1 16.9 oz bottle of water before I leave the house. I also take my meds with this bottle of water, so I have a mini babybel right after I take the meds. My multi-vitamin is in my morning med routine and it contains iron. Iron on an empty stomach for me is a no-go.

I take a Premium Nutrition protein bar with me in my purse. This often becomes my official breakfast, and it's a great start to my day. They are under 300 calories and have 30g of protein. I prefer the Yogurt Peanut Crunch bar, but any of them are okay tasting. I buy a box of 15 at Sam's for around $14 dollars. Another bottle of water goes with me, usually flavored with Mio drops. If you haven't tried these, they are the BOMB!  The orange/tangerine drops make my water taste like Sun**Kist, IMO.

Since I usually drive about an hour, I try to finish the bottle of water and the protein bar on my drive. Food first, wait half an hour, then drink the water. I'm usually pretty close to finishing the water. Thank goodness I can drink faster now than I could right after surgery!

If I have lunch, it's usually around 1:30 or 2pm. I take something with me if I know I'll be out that late, usually a tuna kit or a can of soup. If I do have to resort to eating somewhere, I prefer a sit down restaurant because they almost always have a chicken breast/veggie combination I can eat. If I must do fast food, I'll order a salad with grilled chicken or a grilled chicken breast sandwich and eat part of the chicken and veggies on the sandwich. I'm still not eating much bread at all. I think I had a piece of bread last sop up the gravy from my homemade beef stew! ;)

I'm getting a little more creative at home with dinner. Chicken and pork have been my go-to meats for a long time, but I'm now adding a little beef in there. I like to set up the crock pot in the morning with a piece of meat and some dried beans. Season it well with chopped onion and some spices and I can let dinner cook all day. It's been really nice to walk in the door with dinner waiting on me the last few days.

My real challenge in the last couple of weeks is to start cooking for one person instead of half an army. When I bought this place, my son stayed in the apartment we had been sharing. He was a great disposal for all of my leftovers before and now I have to eat them myself or get over throwing away food. My thrifty brain has a conniption every time I toss food, so I have been working on cooking smaller amounts, or on freezing the leftovers.

One trick I found is to purchase a full package of meat, pork chops, thin sliced steaks, etc, freeze them on a cookie sheet, then store them in a plastic bag or container in the freezer. Right now mine are in a round tupperware container, but I'm going to look for two or three medium containers on my next goodwill run.  With a label, these should be a great place to store my meat. It's not like I need a ton. I can still barely handle 3 oz of meat per meal, so a medium container should be more than enough.

I also bought some "single serving" size veggies. Those are two servings (or more) for me, so I'll buy a bag of loose veggies next time and just dish out a spoon or two at a time.

One thing that seems to work really well for me, though, isn't tightwad at all: bottled water. I have a couple of water bottles and a water dispenser in my fridge, but I seem to remember to take water better if I can just grab a bottle from the fridge. Since I'm spending so little on other food, for right now, I'll use them. I really need to get myself in the habit of filling up my reusable water bottles and keeping them in the fridge, but I'm making a little progress at a time.

I do snack, but I try to make it healthy. I keep string cheese, mini babybel cheese, and peanut butter in the fridge/pantry. I've found that I really like something crunchy, too, so I have a bag of pretzels. I can eat 4 or 5 and feel satisfied, and they are great to dip in peanut butter for a sweet treat.  I also keep skinny cow ice cream in the freezer, but my lactose intolerance hit me pretty hard this week.

In other news, American Idol is back!! That's my one TV show that I don't like to miss. I really enjoy watching the young singers who are trying out...and, my track record is pretty good on who will be the biggest stars. That doesn't mean I always pick the winner, but I can usually tell who is going to go on to have a good career.

Monday, January 23, 2012

20 pounds closer to goal in under 5 minutes!!! :)

OMG!!! Just got 20 pounds closer to goal!!! Saw my surgeon today and finally remembered to ask him about a goal weight. His answer is 190, my number is 170. He says I'll bee too thin at 170 since I'm 5 feet 8. So, I am officially halfway to goal!!! :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How fast did you lose weight?

Family members have asked me if I think I'm losing weight quickly or slowly compared to others who have had VSG.  My response is that truthfully, I could care less if I'm a slow loser or a fast loser, so long as I'm a loser (of weight, that is)! :) I started at a 53 BMI, and I've lost 81 pounds in 4.5 months. IMO, that's the perfect rate of weight loss for ME.

One thing about losing slowly is that it gives your skin more of an opportunity to rebound so you will hopefully have less loose skin when you get to goal. Losing slowly also means you are probably losing more fat than muscle, which is great! Less muscle to have to rebuild.

And, numbers on the scale do NOT tell the whole story. I look for the NSVs or non scale victories. Are my pants looser? Can I walk further, do more, do I have more energy? All of those things add up, not just the pounds lost according to the scale. If you look through the any picture gallery, you'll see people who are 172 pounds that wear a size zero and people who weigh 172 who are a size 10. The differences are in height and muscle tone, usually. So the scale doesn't tell the whole story.

Muscle does weigh more than fat. Muscle also helps us burn fat, so building strong muscles is important. I stall when I work out, then a few pounds will whoosh off in a day or two. But, when I work out, I lose inches. By doing basic workouts, walking, bicycle, light weight lifting, I have lost two pants sizes in the last three weeks. I also haven't lost an ounce in over a week. Am I worried? Nope. I keep eating my protein, drinking my water, and working out. The weight loss will happen, but I want to be a solidly built 170, not a flabby 170.

The bonus of working out is the energy boost. IMO, everything looks better when you get that serotonin boost from working out and, BELIEVE ME, I can use that energy boost right now! :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Where I am Right Now In My Journey

So, as of a few days ago, I'm at 271.2...that .2 is important, LOL.  I had a small stall for a few days before that, then dropped nearly 10 pounds overnight. I've been working on my water intake because a drop that big HAS to be water, right? But, the loss has stayed.

I also dropped a pants size in jeans, which are the most unforgiving clothes, IMO. And, the new jeans I bought are already getting loose. I think I'm about to drop a few more pounds on the scale.

I've added in more raw and cooked veggies, and I'm getting ready to try some edamame. I found it in the freezer case the other night in single serving containers, so it's going to probably be lunch tomorrow.

I also dropped a bra size, from 46DD to 44C. I think that's pretty good, and the girls still look okay. I'm afraid they'll deflate completely, which would not be a good thing!

I haven't been on the treadmill as much lately, but I've been subbing work in the yard for the treadmill. My new place has steps leading up to the front and back doors, so I'm getting some stair work on them. I already see improvement in my ability to walk up steps, which is amazing!

Pictures, I know I've got to post some. I'll save that for when I'm home this week and see if I can't get some posted for you all.

Still working on grieving for my friend. I'm coming out of the numb stage now and hoping the worst will wait until after tomorrow since I have a busy work day planned.

Oh, and, most importantly, I now have internet service at home!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My "Talk" for Someone Considering VSG Surgery

I have posted my journey before, but I'll paraphrase it. I have been heavy most of my adult life, gaining a few pounds a year. But, I've been mostly healthy with no major problems. Until last May, when I got pneumonia and ended up in the hospital, which started a roller coaster ride of co-morbidities. Within three months, I was on oxygen, coumadin for blood clots, was dx with rheumatoid arthritis, borderline diabetic, etc. The list was as long as my arm and then I was hospitalized a second time for the blood clots, which threw two pulmonary embolisms into my lungs. Between May and August, I was told to prepare to die three times. My doctors told me I wouldn't live another year unless I got the weight off me fast.

I'm not looking for sympathy by posting all of that, just telling you that you can be perfectly healthy one day and practically on death's doorstep the next. When the problems hit, they hit with a vengeance. I was lucky that I didn't die from the pneumonia or from the pulmonary embolisms. It was almost too late for me to have WLS when I finally decided that I had to do it. Because I had all those other problems, instead of "just" being sleeved, I had to have two more operations in order to have the sleeve done.

Nobody knows how much time they have left, but I was determined to give my body a fighting chance at living. I hate to see someone put off WLS, especially if it's because they are currently healthy. If you're ready and want to take this weight off now, this is an amazing tool to help do that. And, I hope that it will save others from having to go through what I've been through.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


STILL fighting with Comcast, trying to get my internet up on a consistent basis. What a PITA!!! Now, it's their equipment not working right. Of course, when the tech was here this morning, it worked perfectly for him!! ARGHHHH!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bad, Horrible, Very Not Weight Loss Related News

I've waited a few days to post this because it's just totally fresh, raw, and painful. One of my best friends in this world died last Saturday. I originally met her when I did some recruiting for a Network of notaries. We became fast friends and I've probably spoken to her every day of the last 5 years.

Last week she had some weakness in her right leg and, after urging from everyone she knows, she went to the doctor on Thursday. He told her that she was fine, prescribed antibiotics and sent her home. She joked with me Thursday evening that the doc told her "This won't kill you."

It didn't. The coroner gave his report and says that she died of heart and kidney disease. I know for a fact that she didn't know she had either one.

Lynn, my friend, was a wonderful person. She had her moments of non-wonderful, but so do I. Her daughters are grown, barely, and the youngest had just left home right before Christmas. If she could see them, she'd be proud of how those gals and their daddy have stepped up and handled things in the last few days. I'm amazed that daddy is coherent since he was with Lynn when she passed. I haven't asked for details, but I understand it was very sudden.

I'm attending her memorial service tomorrow to say goodbye to a woman that I have come to love like a sister. Which means that we've fought and hugged and shared the details of our lives in great detail. I'm going to miss her. Words cannot express how much. I'm still in disbelief and shock. I keep waiting for the phone to ring and for Lynn to laugh and say "Wasn't that a funny joke?" Then I'd have to beat her, but I'd be so happy to hear her voice that I wouldn't know what to say.

Time to go figure out what I'm going to wear. I'm not sure that I have anything funeral appropriate that fits me. Definitely not something I wanted to be doing today.

I'm gonna steal Toby Keith's words: "I'm gonna miss that smile. I'm gonna miss you my friend. I'm not cryin' cause I feel so sorry for you. I'm crying for me."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cable Problems Abound

I'm so not impressed with Comcast Cable. When I called last week to move my service, they informed me that I would have to be treated as if I were a new subscriber because I'm now in a different "market". The bright side of this is that I should be installed sooner than those who were "just" transferring service and that I should receive a call back on Thursday or Friday to confirm me new, closer, installation date.

On Tuesday, I spent most of the afternoon trying to find someone who could tell me if I will be installed sooner, or if I am actually stuck waiting until Sunday for an installer. After 3 frustrating hours on the phone, I do not have any answers. So, apparently, I'm stuck. I will be back online as soon as possible. Right now, I'm cadging some wifi at Denny's. Thank you, Denny's for Free WiFi. And a big fooey on Comcast for being so customer service oriented! NOT!