My 2015 Resolutions

Who has made a new year’s resolution and given up after about, oh, a week? Yeah, right here. Every year I try to make some ambitious goals. Every year I fail and give up. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever even tried to achieve my resolutions for more than a week or two.

And what is on that list of things to change every year? “I’m going to get healthy!” HA! That has never happened, for me. BUT. This year is different. And while I say that every year, this year is actually different, for I come prepared! I’ve noticed that there are always several major flaws in my resolutions, and this year, I’ve fixed that. The mistakes I routinely make are:

1. Setting vague goals.  “Getting healthy” means nothing. Healthier than I am now? Technically losing a pound makes me healthier than I am now. Do I need to clean up my diet? Do I need to exercise?

2. Setting unrealistic goals. Trying to lose 150+ lbs in 6 months is never going to happen (for most people). Even 50 lbs in 6 months is unrealistic if you don’t have a game plan.

3. Not having enough faith in myself. I never stick to my resolutions, so I start each year by setting goals I assume I won’t achieve, simply because I’ve never achieved them before.

4. Giving up after a mistake. The first “cheat” meal I have, turns into a cheat day. Which turns into a cheat weekend, because “I’ll restart my diet Monday.” Which turns into a cheat month, because “I’ll start on the first.” Yeah, I never end up getting back on the horse.

But this year, I’m ready. I have specific, attainable short-term goals that will help me get to my realistic long-term goals. Having lost so much weight already, I know I can do this. I headed into 2015 with confidence. And even though I’ve cheated a little here and there, I’m taking things one meal at a time and getting back in the game right away. I got this.

 

So what are my goals? Well, I have several main goals to reach by the end of the year, and monthly mini-goals that will keep me on track to reach those goals. Some of my goals pertain to my marriage, so those I won’t be sharing, but health and fitness wise, here’s what’s up:

Main Goals:

1.  Eat a healthy, low-inflammatory vegetarian/vegan diet.

2.  Reach my goal weight of 145 lbs.

3.  Actually take care of my body. (Somewhat vague, but the mini-goals are specific.)

 

January:

1.  Stop eating processed meats (bacon, lunch-meat, fast food, etc).

2.  Be in the 220’s by the end of the month.

3.  Start taking ALL my vitamins, EVERYDAY.

 

February:  

1.  Stop eating red meat and pork.

2.  Be in the 210’s by the end of the month.

3.  Drink 8 (8-oz) glasses of water a day.

 

March:  

1.  Stop eating all poultry.

2.  Be in the 200’s by the end of the month.

3.  Eat/drink at least 60g of protein a day.

 

April:

1.  Stop eating all seafood.

2.  Be in the 190’s by the end of the month.

3.  Swap out chemical laden hair/skin products for natural versions.

 

May:

1.  Reduce intake of eggs (use healthier, plant-based substitutes as much as possible).

2.  Be in the 180’s by the end of the month.

3.  Get on a steady sleep routine.

 

June: 

1.  Reduce intake of dairy (use healthier, plant-based substitutes as much as possible).

2.  Be in the 170’s by the end of the month.

3.  Establish a steady morning routine. (Yoga, meditation, tea, etc)

 

July:

1.  Replace chemical laden foods with natural, healthier alternatives.

2.  Be in the 160’s by the end of the month.

3.  Establish an evening routine.

 

August:

1.  Limit snacking to 1-2 times per day, with one snack ALWAYS being a healthy choice.

2.  Be 155 by the end of the month.

3.  Swim for cardio twice a week.

 

September:

1.  Swap out regular grains for whole grains.

2.  Be 150 by the end of the month.

3.  Strength train upper body/core twice a week.

 

October:

1.  Swap out grains (especially pasta and bread) for plant-based options as much as possible.

2.  Be 145 by the end of the month.

3.  Strength train lower body twice a week.

 

November:

1.  Have at least one fully raw meal a day.

2.  Be 140 by the end of the month (5 lbs under goal weight as a safety net).

3.  Actually dress like I love my body!

 

December:

1.  Do a three-day juicing detox once a month.

2.  Stay within the range of 140-145 lbs!

3.  Make new goals to push myself for 2016!

 

So far I’ve done really well, and I truly have high hopes for this year. If I can handle it, I may even try to add some extra goals. I can’t wait to see how far I will go!

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3-Month Progress Pictures and Update!

Hey, there! I’ve been slacking SO hard on journaling my progress, but I’m trying to get back into it! Before (and shortly after) surgery, everything was so stressful and new and exciting, so I was always pretty amped to write about how things were going. Now that I’ve recovered and can eat normal foods, things feel “normal” again. But before I get into how things are going 3 months after my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, I HAVE PROGRESS PICTURES TO SHARE! 

I’ve been so excited for this part of my journey, because let’s face it- everyone wants to see those before and after pictures! No matter what diet/fitness regimen/whatever a blogger is writing about, I always check out their before and afters first. So while I still have a long way to go, I’m proud to present to you my progress photos!

Highest/Starting Weight: 310 lbs Current Weight:  230 lbs

L:  Highest/Starting Weight: 310 lbs
R:  Current Weight: 230 lbs!

3-month progress- side view

3-month progress- side view

Ribbet collage 3

3-month progress- back view

80 lbs in 4 months (3 months post-op + 1 month pre-op diet) is more than I ever thought I could lose. I’m incredibly proud of my progress, and I can’t wait to see where I’m at three months from now! As for now, though, I’m going to answer some questions I’ve received over my little hiatus!

My FAQ About Life 3-Months Post-Op:

Q:  What can you eat 3-months post op?

A:  Whatever I want! From what I’ve seen with fellow patients, everyone is different in what they can tolerate and when (if ever) they can tolerate them again. For me, pasta, soft bread and rice are things that have to be avoided, as they tend to expand in my stomach and cause a lot discomfort. I also have a harder time eating red met (steak, even ground beef). It just sits in my stomach pretty heavily.

Q:  What do you eat?

A:  While a lot of people swear that low-carb is the only way of life after surgery, I do not restrict carbs (other than those that my stomach won’t tolerate). I did not get this surgery so that I’d be stuck on the Atkins diet the rest of my life. I love carbs (especially healthy carbs) and they aren’t what make us fat. Taking in too many calories is what makes us fat, plain and simple. So what do I eat? Well, here is what I ate yesterday:

Breakfast- Egg white + 1/8 cup Cheddar

Snack- 2-3 slices of clementine

Lunch- 1/4 – 1/3 cup of soup + 1 scoop protein powder

Snack- 1 ounce cheese + 1-2 crackers

Dinner- 1.5 oz baked chicken + 2 tbsp mashed potatoes

Snack- 3 crackers

Was it the healthiest day? No. Did I eat “too many” carbs? To some people, yes. But I got my protein in, stayed within my calorie range, and still lost over 0.5 lb by this morning. I feel good and I’m not feeling deprived of the things I actually want to eat.

Q:  How many calories do you eat a day:

A:  I aim for about 600-700. Always check with your nutritionist, though, as they all have similar, but different recommendations.

Q:  Do you have dumping syndrome/throw up after eating certain things?

A:  I HAVE NEVER THROWN UP AFTER SURGERY! Apparently it’s not super common, but I have not tossed my cookies once since the surgery. And while I don’t suffer from the dumping syndrome, if I eat too much too fast I end up slimeing (gross). What that is, is mucus that’s created to help your food slide down to your stomach. Since we have such small stomachs, though, slimeing tends to lead to throwing up, as there isn’t any room for the food and the fluid. For me, though, it’s only happened a couple times, and (as nasty as it is) if I just spit into the toilet/sink for a few minutes (and not swallow the slime) it tends to subside.

Q:  Does your hair really fall out?

A:  For some people it does, for others it doesn’t. For me, I started noticing hair-loss about a month ago. It’s gotten progressively worse, (not too noticeable on my head, just in the shower/hairbrush) so I’ve been diligent about taking my vitamins and biotin, as well as upping my protein a little bit for safe measure. Fingers crossed it helps!

Q:  What protein powder do you use?

A:  GENEPRO! It’s a protein powder that is processed in a certain way that allows the serving size to be only 1 tbsp for 30g of protein! It’s seriously a lifesaver. I mix it with anything creamy (soup, chocolate milk, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, etc) and I absolutely cannot taste it, smell it or feel a change in texture. It’s amazing! So far I’ve only been able to find it on Amazon, but it arrived very quickly and cost about $30 for a month’s supply (which is actually lasting me longer)!

So those are the most common questions I’ve received, but feel free to ask about anything else!

The Carb Police: Get The Hell Out of My Diet

I might get some hate for this, but I really don’t care at this point, so here it goes:

*****Carbs are not the enemy. They will not make you fat.*****

I’m *this* close to shoving a cake down the throat of the next person who judges a fellow bariatric patient for eating carbs. In all of my bariatric support groups, there are at least 50% of the group acting like the goddamn carb police.

Someone shares a picture of their dinner consisting of some chicken, some broccoli, and *GASP* MANGO?! The second someone sees fruit on a plate, 20+ people jump in to say “Wow, that’s a lot of carbs.” or “Ummmm my nutritionist told me to stay away from fruit or I’ll gain weight.” or “PLEASE TELL ME YOU AREN’T EATING ALL THAT SUGAR!”

Who the hell are you to tell someone what they should be eating? What works for you, might not work for everyone else. Is a low-carb diet a route to weight-loss? Yes. Is that bite of nutritious mango going to make you gain 150 lbs? No. And I can GUARENTEE you that not a single. solitary. fat person. got to be obese from eating fruit.

Then there are the people who get uptight about someone saying they had some brown rice or whole wheat pasta. Are those things higher in carbs, but not as nutritionally packed as fruit? Yeah, but why would you get your panties in a twist over someone else’s choice in a side dish? You don’t want to eat rice? Then don’t eat it.

And, of course, there are those who get down right nasty over someone saying they “treated” theymselves to some popcorn or chips. So what? A treat is not the end of the world. If someone chooses to incorporate treats into their diet, that has nothing to do with you and your weight-loss.

Personally, I do not feel my healthiest if I don’t eat fresh fruit at least once in the day. And you know what? I had nachos at the movies this afternoon. And they were delicious. I only had about about 6 chips with a little of the cheese throughout the entire movie, but they were great and I savored them. The rest of the day I ate healthy meals, and to me, that’s good enough. I’m not going to eat junk every day, like I used to, but I will go totally off the wagon if I don’t allow myself some guilt-free treats every so often. But that’s just me.

If you’re into low carb eating, go for it! If you’re a fruitatarian who eats fruit 90% of the time, good for you! Just remember that there is a line between offering wanted advice, and being judgmental.

Four Weeks Post-Op: Cleared for Exercise!

After four weeks of my toddler resenting me for not picking her up, I can FINALLY lift her and start exercising! Granted, with my EDS3 I can’t do much, but I started working on some very gentle yoga to get myself loosened up before I start my aquatherapy soon.

While I doubt I’ll run into many VSG patients that ALSO have EDS, if there are any post-oppers out there that have limited mobility or a condition that makes exercise limited or impossible, I’d love to connect and compare notes. Most people in my support group are doing like 3 Zumba classes, cross-fit several times a week and starting running programs, so I definitely feel like I’m at a disadvantage with my weight-loss since I can’t do any hardcore exercise. Either way, I’ll keep y’all updated on the exercise front!

The “Three-Week-Stall”

Just a quick note about stalling (plateau) shortly after getting the Sleeve. I see a lot of fellow new post-oppers on the message boards losing their minds because around week three, after surgery, they hit a stall and stop losing weight. Some people are stuck at that weight for a couple days, some a couple weeks, and I’ve even seen a few stuck for an entire month or so. I, too, hit my three-week-stall right on schedule, and was stuck for just over a week before the weight scale started to budge again. I just want to reassure anyone going through this that it happens to ALMOST EVERYONE and WILL happen to EVERYONE at some point on our journeys. And it’s completely normal! Just hang tight, because before you know it, the weight will start coming off again! Stick to eating healthy foods, getting enough fluids and you’ll be fine!

Lies They Tell You in Bariatric Support Group

Okay so maybe I shouldn’t call them “lies”, but I think there were waaaay too many people sugar coating things, trying to put on a brave face. Either way, no matter how smooth things go for other people (whether they’re true or glossed over), keep in mind that all of those risks they assure you are no big deal, or are super rare, CAN HAPPEN TO YOU. So here are some of the most common things I hear post-oppers assure the newbies that are just unfairly sugar-coated:

1. “You’ll feel GREAT by day three! There’s hardly any pain!”

You are about to have major abdominal surgery. I felt like death for the first 5 days. Day 6 was when I no longer feared my muscles were going to tear open, and even then, I could barely get in a water bottle a DAY, and the protein shakes were just not happening. It got to the point where I went back to the hospital due to passing out twice from not getting enough protein/calories. I’m 3.5 weeks out and JUST starting to feel “normal”.

2. “Buy a protein shake you like, in bulk, BEFORE surgery, so it’s less work!”

YOUR TASTE BUDS AND STOMACH TOLERANCES MAY CHANGE AFTER SURGERY! I agree, you should find one you like, and get a weeks worth so you don’t have to worry about it right away. I developed a severe intolerance to any dairy/whey protein, and I had just received $200 worth of Unjury (one of the best protein powders on the market) from my father, which is now collecting dust in my pantry. By the time my doctor realized that was why I couldn’t tolerate them, I’d already been in the hospital for passing out due to lack of calories and dehydration. So please, DON’T BUY IN BULK UNTIL AFTER SURGERY!

3. “You will NEVER be hungry!”

By week two I was starving every two hours. All it would take is 3-4 bites of some greek yogurt and I was full, but like clockwork, I’d be starving in two hours. It’s not the mental hunger. It’s not because I’m thirsty. It’s not acid reflux. I. AM. HUNGRY. So while you may not have any hunger, don’t assume it’ll magically go away for months, like my support group told me.

4. “Just eat/drink more protein and you’ll feel better!”

Protein is not the answer to everything, and I’m starting to get sick of the word itself (this must be what it feels like to be a vegan). My doctors and peers chalked my pain up to not getting enough protein, when it was due to an intolerance in the protein powder. There are also a ton of vegan/vegetarian post-oppers out there that NEVER drank protein shakes, and NEVER went on a low carb diet and STILL lost the weight they wanted to lose. Protein is not a magical cure for everything.

5. “If you choose to eat carbs, you’re choosing to be fat again!”

As I stated before, lots of people still eat carbs after surgery. Lots of SURGEONS AND NUTRITIONISTS don’t put their patients on low-carb diets, and they still lose their weight. I did the low carb thing to lose extra weight before surgery, but I did not get this surgery so I could be stuck eating meat and dairy for the rest of my life. I’m going to eat a healthy, BALANCED diet. My body, my rules. Get over it.

There are more I’m forgetting, but I just had to get those ones out there while they were currently pissing me off. So if you find you’re not getting enough support at your groups, there are some great online support groups on Facebook, and lots of blogs like my own that are much more honest. I don’t know if it’s because everyone is meeting face to face or what, but the in-person groups are just full of people trying to act like they’re tough. Why? We are all going through the same thing? We can’t support each other if we’re not up front with our struggles.

And just to make sure I’m clear on this, I most definitely do not regret my decision to do this surgery. It was the best choice I’ve made for myself, and I wish I’d made it sooner! I just want people to know that if shit gets tough, it’s normal to have set backs, and you’re not alone!

I’ve Been Sleeved!! (My Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy)

It’s been a while, but I’m getting reconnected with everyone and getting back to writing about this journey!

Speaking of which, I’VE BEEN SLEEVED! My recovery has been waaaaay more intense than I was expecting. My support group and physicians gave me a LOT of false confidence going into this, and I wish I’d joined the online support groups sooner. The physicians are selling you this surgery, and while they will do their best to make sure they do it as safely as possible, they’re there to make money. And my support group? It consists of about 30-80 people that sugar-coated the hell out of this journey. At least out loud. After pulling some people aside, they were much more open about their hardships with the recovery than they were in front of the group. I think everyone tries to be encouraging and put on a brave face, but I need some reality, people!

So let take a step back and give you the run down on my hospital experience. On 10/14/14, I got the sleeve I’d been wanting for the last year and a half. The pre-op diet up had been rough, since I’m just not into protein shakes, but my day-of-surgery weight was 277.0 lbs, for a pre-op loss of 33.4 lbs! I was pretty proud and confident that my liver had shrunk up enough to make a safer surgery, which indeed went well!

After waiting anxiously for two hours in the pre-op bay, they finally wheeled me into the OR, where I was a bit, uh…taken aback by the set-up. With my previous surgeries, I went into ORs that had these little trays of tools that were covered by sheets, so you didn’t have to see them. This time I see a table (at least 10 feet long) FULL of crazy instruments. It looked like a torture chamber that you would find in a Saw movie. *Shudder* But, that sight was gone very quickly, since my anesthesiologist worked like a ninja. I was on the OR table for all of 15 seconds and my guy puts the mask on me and says “Goodnight!”.

Waking up from surgery was a bit of a blur. There was a lot of pain, a lot of nausea (which I get from all surgeries) and it took a few hours to be able to stay awake for more than a minute at a time. Thankfully I had wonderful nurses that kept up on my pain meds and Zofran (anti-nausea med). After sleeping off some of the anesthesia, my nurse had me up and walking the halls to prevent blood clots. Not fun, but better than getting DVT.

Once throwing up was no longer a major threat, I was given three little medicine cups with mini ice cubes, and I was told to take all three in an hour. Thaaaat didn’t happen. I think I had two the entire day. The next day was a good bit better, and by the afternoon I was able to get 2-3 ounces of water down each hour, and sent home. Bring a pillow to put over your stomach for the ride home! It will help keep things from bouncing around on the bumps in the road.

Now, a lot of people I know said that they felt totally better by day 3 or 4, but I felt like hell for almost a full week after the surgery. Sleeping was painful, since I couldn’t sleep on either side or my stomach. My back muscles ached from walking around all slouched over. It sucked, but it was a bit better each day.

This past Saturday (at almost three weeks post-op) I wound up passing out twice due to lack of calories. I’m apparently very intolerant of dairy, now, so all of my whey protein powder that I’d been trying to force down was just not doable. Now that I’m on my mushy phase, I’ve been able to get in enough calories and protein, so I’m gradually regaining my strength.

The best news, though, is that I’ve lost a total 53 lbs in the last two months, and I’m actually starting to feel normal again!

So for anyone out there that is thinking of going down this path for weight-loss and their health, know that it’s so worth it. It’s not easy, and in a lot of ways much harder than traditional dieting, but it is a great tool to get to a healthy place and I’d recommend it to anyone that’s considering it. My only regret is that I didn’t do this years ago!

**If anyone out there looking to get the sleeve or weight-loss surgery in general, and has a question they don’t want to post publicly, feel free to email me.**