Just like that.

After my Poppy died last year, I struggled so badly with eating the things I was supposed to eat.  I coped with my loss in an unhealthy way and comforted myself with comfort foods.  When I tell people the story of my weight gain after bariatric surgery, I always say the same thing, “It felt like overnight I had gained 30 pounds and 3 sizes.”  I realize that sounds absurd, that it wouldn’t literally happen overnight.  But that’s what it felt like.  It felt like one day my size 14 clothing fit, and within a matter of days I was needing 20s again to be comfortable.  There was no transition, it was just BAM and the weight was back on.

I’ve thought about it since then, about if it was REALLY such a quick transformation like I thought, or if my mind just told me it was.  Then I went to Denver for the weekend for a conference.  Four days.  I didn’t eat horribly, but I gave myself permission to have a few drinks, some snacks I’d avoided for awhile, and pasta for one of my meals.  I didn’t go crazy, it’s not like I ate thousands of calories every day.  But when I got back, the scale said 10 pounds heavier.  IN FOUR DAYS.

I know that’s not “true” weight.  To gain 10 actual pounds of fat, I would have had to eat a ridiculous amount of calories in those four days.  Part of it is water retention for the salty snacks, part is bloat from my period, and maybe a small part is an actual gain.  The difference between then and now though is that I’m keeping myself in check.  I didn’t allow myself to continue beyond the weekend.  I got right back to my routine and healthy eating, and three days later, 7 of those “pounds” are gone.

But do you see how quickly things can get out of control?  And when you’re already feeling defeated and sad because of a personal tragedy, then all of a sudden you’re failing at weight loss too?  It takes effort.  It takes hard work.  It’s not easy.  I had always worried before surgery that it would be looked at as “The Easy Way Out.”  But I’m here to tell you that you still have to work damn hard, you have to put in the effort, or it doesn’t work.  I know I have some gals reading that are thinking about surgery, and i want to paint the whole picture for you.  Is it worth it to me?  Absolutely.  Would I do it again knowing that I would gain 60 pounds back a year after surgery?  Definitely.  I would just remind myself that it doesn’t happen without a lot of effort on my part.  And that if I get off track, whether intentionally or on accident, I just have to get back on track.  If I fall off the horse 100 times, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I got back on it 101 times.


Long Time Gone

It has been quite some time since I’ve written–I had to go back now and check to see when the last time actually was–February.  And here we are in July.  So what’s been going on?

We were lucky enough to travel to Florida twice this year already.  The first time was just for a long weekend for a friend’s wedding, which was lovely (but the drive was NOT).  The second time was for our family vacation to Anna Maria Island.  It was a very pretty place, and somewhere on the Gulf where I had not actually been, so it was nice to travel somewhere new.  Later this month we have to take a long drive again, but this time to Colorado.  I have a conference to attend for my Thirty-one business, and Eddie always comes along for the ride.  This will be my third year going, and I’m excited to see what’s in store.  After this trip though, we will be saving our pennies, as we have one more trip planned at the end of the year for a good friend’s wedding–in Cancun!  We’ve never been out of the country, which reminds me… passports… and we opted to have this trip be our anniversary/birthday/Christmas present to one another.  We are “experience” people and would rather go places and experience things instead of have actual possessions anyway, so not getting the physical gifts on those holidays is not really a big deal to us.  We will have the memories!

Eddie had a double osteotomy last summer and is still healing from the second one.  For those who don’t know, they cut a chunk of bone out of each of his thighs, essentially breaking them each, then put a plate in and wait for the break to heal.  One of the breaks is still there (how he walks around I have no idea) but it is slowly getting better.  Once it’s healed up, two more surgeries will be in the works to remove the plates, as they are causing a lot of pain and discomfort in being there.  Hopefully once the plates are out he will have more relief from the daily pain he is in.  He is the toughest person I know and I don’t know how he does it.  No other choice though, so just have to keep plugging along and live the life you have!

Despite his surgeries, he’s still done great maintaining his weight loss from the sleeve surgery in February 2013.  Over 2 years post-op and he still maintains a 200+ pound weight loss!  At his lowest he was around 160, but he is more comfortable hovering around 190, which is what he’s maintained. I’m so proud of him!  I, however, have struggled with re-gain.  I could blame it on a number of things in my personal life, but the bottom line is that I stopped following my bariatric diet plan, and when you do that, you gain weight.  I lost my Poppy, I had a stressful year afterwards, I had a giant tumor pop up in my breast and had to have surgery to have it removed (no cancer!), and a host of other stressful things happened that I couldn’t control, so I let my eating get out of control too.  I am working hard now though to get back on track and lose what I gained in the last year (60 pounds), and then hopefully some beyond that.  My initial goal though is to take off what I had gained back.  It seems that no one really talks about re-losing the weight after a post-op gain.  I’ve gone to support groups to seek motivation from others who may have done it, but those people aren’t there.  I’m sure they exist, but they’re not around to be motivation… so I will be my own motivation, and I will then go to those support groups after I’ve succeeded so that I can be the motivation for someone that might be going through this too.

I guess there’s not a whole lot more going on right now, just mostly same old same old… plugging along and rolling with the punches!

The wrong way to cope

Since the first of the year, my life has felt very chaotic. When things are chaotic, my knee jerk response is a very bad, old coping mechanism of mine, which is to turn to food.

It didn’t happen overnight, but slowly over the last 8 months, I have turned to my old ways more and more. My old best friend food started coming around more and more.

And I know no one would blame me, first the sudden and rapid illness that Poppy went through, his death, having to deal with tying up all the loose ends with his estate, selling my childhood home, Eddie’s surgery and recovery, struggles with my own and his own mental health, fertility struggles and medical tests that go along with that, and now a tumor in my breast that will be biopsied Thursday. So yeah, who would blame me for turning to food?

The problem is that after bariatric surgery, turning to the wrong foods will still make you gain weight, just like before surgery. Sure, maybe you can’t eat as much of the bad foods, but they still have calories and fat and all the crap that is bad for you. And if you eat “slider foods” you won’t feel full for as long, so you can eat more in a short amount of time.

And before you know it, you’re eating crap more than you’re eating healthy, and you begin to wonder why you even had surgery in the first place. You figure you’re already eating like crap, so why exercise? No, that doesn’t make sense, but that is what goes on in your brain. Your clothes start to feel tight and you feel like a sausage in them. You cave and go up a size because it’s better to be comfortable than to feel miserable. Except you do still feel miserable.

People still tell you how amazing you look and ask how much weight you’ve lost, only now you’re embarrassed to say, partly because you haven’t gotten on the scale in so long because you’re afraid of what it says. You don’t like to hear the compliments because you don’t feel like you deserve them because you’ve gained weight. Probably a lot of weight. You’re embarrassed and defeated. You don’t know how to get back on the horse.

You have all the knowledge in the world to do well. You have the tools, but you just don’t use them and you don’t know why. You have support. Your husband is so supportive, you have a huge network of supportive friends, but you still feel alone in your struggle. Like no one could possibly understand what it’s like or how it could happen that you go through such a huge surgery and still fail. Just like always.

I guess admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? So I have a problem. Now what?

Post-VSG Surgery Must-Haves

I am over a year out from surgery and things are smooth sailing.  I struggled for a few months after the death of my dad, but I feel confident that I am back on track now.  While trying to get myself back on track, I reflected a lot about what tools were key in helping me stay focused in my first year after surgery.  I have compiled a list of things that were helpful to me, that I considered post-VSG surgery must-haves.  I know there are several people reading that are considering or will be having the surgery, so I wanted to help those out, along with anyone else that might be curious.  So, in no particular order…

1.  Food Scale.  Especially in the beginning, weighing your food is really important.  When you’re only supposed to eat a couple ounces at a time, the food scale came in really handy.  It was most useful when moving to the puree and soft food stage, when your food is no longer measured in the 1/4 cups but in ounces.  I highly recommend a digital scale, not one of those that you just set your plate on and a needle moves.  Accuracy is best!  Mine is an old WW scale, but they retail for probably $20 on average.

2.  Small Bowls and Baby Spoons.  Eat out of small bowls and off of small plates.  Even over a year out, I still continue to do this.  Many of us have been so conditioned to thinking about filling a plate up or filling a bowl up, that when you put 1/4 cup of something in a big bowl, it looks like nothing, and your brain will play tricks on you.  So, use a small bowl.  Literally, get 1/2 c. containers with lids and use those often!  Baby spoons are really helpful in the beginning because you need to take super small bites.  It’s easier to take small bites when using a spoon that doesn’t hold much.  I still use them on occasion, just as a reminder to eat slowly and take little bites.  Cost: $5-10

3.  Water Bottle.  After surgery you aren’t supposed to drink out of straws.  You can’t control the amount of liquid that comes up a straw, and also a bit of air will go down too, and that shit hurts.  So, no straws unless you want pain.  I can now comfortably drink out of a straw, so it’s not permanent.  Get a large water bottle and drink drink drink.  Hydration is super important.  Right after surgery for several months, you will feel full ALL THE TIME.  You will wonder how on earth you’re supposed to get all your liquid in… but just do it.  It’s important.  Cost: $5-10

4.  Blender Bottle.  From here on out, protein shakes are going to be really important.  I’m not saying you have to drink them forever, but I would bet that a lot of sleevers do incorporate them regularly into their post-surgery diet in the long-term.  I know that I still drink at least one shake a day.  Some prefer ready-to-drink shakes, like Atkins (I love them!), but there is also more variety and flexibility with the powders.  That’s where your blender bottle comes in handy.  You always want to shake up your shake when you’re drinking it, or you’re gonna get gritty at the end.  Yuck.  Cost: 5-10

5.  Protein Shakes.  As I mentioned the Atkins ones are super easy and I think super tasty.  Sugar Free Carnation Instant Breakfast was also a go-to for me for awhile, because it tasted just like chocolate milk!  I also use the protein powders from Walmart in vanilla and chocolate, then doctor them up here and there to make more flavors.  I like to mix coffee and milk with the vanilla or chocolate for an iced vanilla or iced mocha latte.  Try throwing some sugar free syrups in there to spice things up too, or even a little sugar free jello or sugar free pudding powder adds flavor.  The possibilities are endless!  If you don’t like one brand, try another.  Everyone’s tastes are different, and they don’t all taste the same.  Also, just because you liked one pre-op does not mean you will like it post-op, so don’t stock up on tons before surgery because you might not like them after surgery. Cost: Varies, Atkins usually 4-pack for $6, powders usually a tub for $20.

6.  Scale.  I know this can be a slippery slope for some people.  Some don’t like to have a scale because they weigh too often.  For me though, a scale is necessary to keep me in check.  I used to weigh daily (and after surgery, you are likely to see a different number every single day!), and now I weigh several times a week.  If you don’t see the scale moving though, it can be a really good indicator that you should look at your daily habits and see if you’re following your plan as you’re supposed to.  Maybe you are, and you’re just at a plateau.  But maybe you’re not, and seeing the scale regularly can help keep that in check.  Cost: $20

7.  Gym Membership.  For me, this is really important.  I realize not everyone can afford a gym membership, so maybe just some equipment or other forms of activity are key for you.  For me, the membership is great because I love the group fitness classes the Y offers.  Additionally, our YMCA offers a scholarship program that I have been fortunate to receive twice now to help defray the cost of the membership.  If nothing else, your own two legs can take you places, so move move move! Cost: Varies, $20-50/month

8.  Smaller Clothes.  As you lose weight, your clothes are going to get bigger.  It can be tough to have to spend money every few weeks or months on smaller clothes, but it will be worth it when you see yourself changing.  If you hide behind the big baggy clothes, you can’t really see the progress you’ve made.  Check out free site on facebook in your area, post a want-ad on craigslist for clothing, or check out garage sales/resale shops for discounts.  You deserve to look good and feel good after your hard work, so don’t settle for wearing clothes that are way too big! Cost: Varies, depending on where you shop!

9.  New Underwear.  Just like you need new clothes, you also need new underwear.  This is something I think people don’t buy often enough!  We wear our old ones til they are holey!  But the big booty panties aren’t doing your smaller booty any justice!  Buy the smaller underwear!  And please, don’t get that at a retail shop:)  Additionally, you may find the use of a body shaper to be something to invest in.  I personally regularly wear one that is a tank-top style shaper, and wear it under my clothing.  I feel that it sucks in the deflated skin that I have around my middle and makes me feel more confident.  In the summertime though, now that it’s warmer, I have retired the shaper for the most part, because I would rather have some jiggle than sweat to death.  A shaper can work wonders though, it allows me to wear a smaller size when I wear it, because it sucks things in that would otherwise be all over the place! Cost: $10-20

10.  Progress pictures.  Take them!  Take them before surgery, take them after surgery.  You will be so glad you did.  You will have days when you feel like you haven’t made any progress, or that you aren’t doing “good enough”.  Look back on those pictures and realize how far you have come.  It is so worth it. Cost: Priceless

Long time no see!

I haven’t blogged in quite some time, so I have a few minutes and am going to try to do a quick catch-up.

Eddie and I both celebrated one year post op since the beginning of the year.  He celebrated his in February, and I celebrated mine in April.  It’s hard to believe a year has gone by already since our surgeries.  We both agree that we would definitely make the same decision if we had to do it all over again.  It has definitely been worth it.  Eddie has been at his goal weight (and then some) since September 2013, and has even lost a little since then.  He’s been working to stabilize at a weight that is comfortable to him, which has ranged anywhere from 160-180.

Since the first of the year I personally have been struggling to maintain my focus.  Right after the first of the year, my Poppy was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and passed away about a month after receiving that diagnosis.  That whirlwind was really tough to deal with at the time, and continues to be difficult to deal with daily as I try to tie up loose ends regarding my parents’ estate.  Thankfully they left me with not many ends to tie up, but of course there are some, as that goes with the territory of someone passing away.  Since about the first of the year I would say that I “relapsed” when it came to using food to cope.  I didn’t completely go back to my “old ways”, but I really struggled to maintain my daily routine with food, exercise, and just my whole health in general.  I let my gym membership lapse without renewing, eating out became more frequent and grocery shopping less frequent, and mentally I felt sad a lot of the time.  Add to that two vacations, where people typically splurge, and I was really struggling.  I was dreading going to my one-year appointment with the dietitian and surgeon because I felt embarrassed that I had not made more progress.  In fact, in all honesty, I had gained about 20 pounds back since the first of the year.

Meeting with the dietitian and being open with her was actually helpful to me.  We made a plan for me to get back on track, and I am going to re-apply for my gym membership by the end of the week (which is today!), as well as start attending my weekly Zumba classes again locally.  In addition, I am getting back to recording my food with myfitnesspal.  Even if it’s not a “good” food day, I need to record it and stay accountable.  Thankfully, she is going to email with me about once a week to check in on me, which is so lovely of her to do, and is above and beyond what she would have to do in her job.

I recently purchased a necklace that says “Find joy in the journey” and I feel like I really need to remember that.  It’s not about getting to the end result, but it’s about enjoying the process of getting there as well.  Doing things I’ve never been able to do before, enjoying life as a healthier version of myself, and just enjoying the journey, wherever that may take me.

On the Other Side

Today a very big thing happened.  Eddie is officially on the other side.  What I mean by that is that he no longer has a number he is reaching towards in his weight loss.  He is there.  He is past there, actually!

This morning he weighed in at 193 pounds, which is within his healthy weight range according to the doctor.  I believe his range is 189-194, and he is THERE!  It’s unbelievable!  Seven months, twenty-five days.  About 175 pounds.  I can’t think of any other words to describe it other than UNBELIEVABLE!

So much has changed.  As he gets ready to celebrate his 28th birthday on Thursday, I think back to where he was at his last birthday.  Nearly 400 pounds, uncontrolled diabetes (even taking 4+ injections of insulin a day), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, likely sleep apnea, tired all the time, depressed a lot of the time, just simply surviving instead of actually LIVING.  And here we are now, he’s no longer diabetic, no longer has to take medication for high blood pressure, no longer snores, has energy to do things around the house and in the yard, has a more positive mood and outlook, and motivated to live life to its fullest!  

Surgery has been one of the best things to happen to him and I could not be more proud at his progress!  He is truly the poster child for the surgery.  He’s had no complications, has done what he has supposed to, and has been wildly successful.  I’m so proud.  SO PROUD.  

You have done an amazing job baby, and you’re such an inspiration!  I look forward to many more healthy years together!!!

Results Not Typical

You know how you’ll see ads on TV for diets or exercise plans, and they’ll show amazing pictures of people’s progress?  And then in tiny letters underneath them, it says “Results not typical”?  Well I feel like that’s Eddie!  He is almost 7 months out from surgery, and is less than 15 pounds from his goal weight.  And it’s not like he had a small amount to lose… he had probably 175 pounds to lose once he had surgery.  And he’s lost 162 pounds of it already!  I’m so proud of him, and he’s doing so awesome!  I wanted to share his “Results not typical” pictures with all of you!

August 2011, highest weight

August 2011, highest weight

August 2011, at probably one of his highest weights.
August 2011, at probably one of his highest weights.

July 2013, skinny boy
July 2013, skinny boy

August 2013 looking good!

August 2013 looking good!


Amazing, huh?!!?