Thursday, August 25, 2016

Carbs: The Scariest Food Group

This will likely come as no shock to anyone who has had WLS (weight loss surgery), but for the rest of you I'll let you in on a secret - - carbs are not our friend. Or at least over-doing it on carbs is frowned upon for those of us living with a hammock. And I'm not talking about natural carbs, like fruit. I'm talking about the delicious, life-giving carbs...pasta, bread, rice, etc. I've had a number of friends do low carb diets over the years - Atkins, South Beach, etc. I have always said I'd rather do a all-carb diet than try to live like that. On more than one occasion I've said I don't want to live in a world without carbs.

That being said - I am now able to have carbs. I was advised to keep under control, but they were no longer "forbidden" as they had been for the first 3 months after surgery. Here is another point where "fat brain" rears it's ugly head - because let's be pre-surgery body was built on carbs. Many, many, many carbs. So much bread. SOOOOOO much bread. Preferably with butter, garlic and cheese on it. Or with a ridiculously topped burger between it. Pasta? Love. Rice? Give it to me. Although it offered next to no nutritional value, bread was life for me.

So permission to enter back into that world gave me pause. My nurse told me "you'll never be able to eat bread like you used to" (bless you, hammock) which was somewhat comforting - but I also know I can allow myself to work around my current limitations if I want to. Yes - I can only eat so much at a time...but I could still allow myself to eat frequently. That is one of the things my friend M, who had this surgery a few years ago said...he's sometimes finds he's eating when he's "not full" rather than when he's hungry.

I've avoided carbs for the most part, because I don't trust myself. It seems easier to just stay away, than find out the hard way that their siren call is more than I can resist. It's really starting to annoy me though. I need to get carbs coursing through my veins to be able to have the energy to do the things I want to do. So I'm trying to gear myself up to work a some into my diet here and there - sweet potatoes, a bit of rice, a tortilla here and there. But I will likely never again buy a loaf of bread. My nurse told me she can't keep nuts in her house - she doesn't trust herself. For me, it's bread. I was wondering if anyone sells bread by the slice? Something to ask Panera the next time I'm in the neighborhood.....

I have told you all of this, to finally get to my point. I was meeting my fellow VSG/WLS friend M for dinner. I told him to choose the place based on any cravings he might be having. What does he pick? Pasta. The same place we went for his "last meal" before he started his liquid diet before his surgery. The second I read the text I was filled with panic. SHIT!!!! Pasta. And this place also serves this really delicious, warm, salty/peppery bread w/ seasoned olive oil before the meal. SHIT. SHIT. SHIT!!!!!! I tried to calm myself by reminding myself of what my nurse had said - - 80/20. Eat on plan 80% of the time. Allow yourself to live a little 20% of the time. I could do this....

Left = before, Right = after
I looked at the menu in advance. I picked out 2 dishes that seemed like they'd be ok - both had chicken. I abstained when the initially brought the bread to the table. I didn't want to hog hammock space, and was slightly concerned I wouldn't stop if I started. I ordered the special - cheese tortellini with spinach and red pepper with chicken. When it arrived I tried to make sure to get a bunch of the chicken down. I enjoyed the cheese in the tortellini because....cheese! It was delicious. I ate slowly so I'd be sure to recognize when I was full. I stopped well before the miserable stage. I even had the salt/pepper top of one of the pieces of bread when I was done. And I had a ton of leftovers.

Now this is a double-edged sword. I love that I can get 2-3 meals out of a standard meal in a restaurant. But I realized I have typically picked things that are still within my plan - so having the leftovers isn't an issue. Like the night we went for pizza - I sent the rest home with my sister, because I would have eaten pizza for ever meal until it was gone - and that is no bueno. But this time I now have 2 more servings of pasta at my house. (I didn't take home any bread) It will test my will, but I am actually feeling very confident that I'll be fine. I'll split them up so I'm not having pasta every day. I'll be more diligent about my other meals to make sure I'm keeping them a little more lean than I normally pay attention to. This was a huge hurdle for me, and I'm feeling confident that I can be responsible...even with the temptation of the dreaded carbs.

Do you have anything that you just can't allow yourself to keep in your house because you just don't trust yourself?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

4 months, 2 days

It is unbelieveable to me that it's already been 4 months since my surgery. Time has flown by. There are the occasional hiccups - but I am definitely grateful the vast majority of the days that I decided to finally go for it. Since my surgery I've lost 80 pounds. It's absolute madness that I've lost 150 pounds through this process....and that I still have so many to go!!!

About 2 months ago, my youngest sister Mackenzie (see also: my activity coach) said I should do the 5K walk at the "Rock the Pavement" even on August 20th (this morning). I thought that seemed like a reasonable timeframe to work up to walking 3 miles, so I recruited my kind friend Stephanie to walk with me. And a deadline was established. What better way to celebrate my 4-month surgiversary? 

In those 2 months we did a few walks that were about 3 miles - so although I move at the pace of a tortoise, I knew I could cover that distance. I was feeling pretty good about things - and then this week hit. I had my most exhausting work rotation, oversleeping and missing a walk, one day where I was not feeling well at all, a day in the 90 degree heat at the fair and a day of laziness to conserve energy. 

What I have learned is that apparently having a bit of an off week leading up to something with actual parameters/expectations will allow 495-pound Natalie brain to come in and completely fuck everything up. Now let me say that I fully understand there should have been no reason for panic or anxiety about this morning - - I have covered this distance in the not so distant past. I suspected our Uber would be able to drop us off near the starting line. But that mattered very little to my crazed brain......

I couldn't sleep last night. It was like I was somehow transported back to the days prior to losing some weight - prior to this surgery - where every event, especially those to a somewhat unfamiliar area, were cause for a total freak out. I was trying to figure out how the driver could get us as close to the starting line as possible (we were able to pull into a lot right near the action). I was losing it over the fact that I may have to walk a little over 3 miles to get to, and back from, the actual race/walk path - and I'd only ever really walked those 3 miles! Everything that was added on was pushing further and further from my tested distance! (insert extreme eye roll here) The only legitimate concern I had was the standing. I still hate standing...or rather, my knees still hate standing. But even that was going to be within reason. But try telling that to my whirlwind brain when I'm trying to sleep.

So we got there - and it immediately started to rain. I guess my constant requests to "please don't be too humid" were heard - - but overcorrected. It rained the entire time. we were drenched. My white tshirt was maybe not my best decision, but at least the logo was covering my boobs. Due to the crap weather, there wasn't the anticipated turn-out. We started our walk a little early - figuring if we were going to get rained on, we might as well be moving. I am still slow-as-shit, but we finished. I was grateful for both of my activity coaches today. I am also grateful that is over with.

Other than that, the last month has been somewhat uneventful. Just trying to eat mostly protein and some fats - - working in a carb here and there. So happy to have had pizza a couple of weeks ago - it is still my fave, so I'll have to watch that one. I have had a few protein shakes, and they don't seem to make me nauseous anymore, which is a total win. I recognize I'm in the honeymoon phase - and am happy to still be here. I have days every now and then where I just want to stuff things I don't need into my face (cheese curds, chips & salsa, french fries) but I think that's normal. So far these wants have been short-lived, which is awesome. I still miss diet coke everyday, but alas it is not to be. 

I'm trying to move my ass more - - I genuinely enjoy my walks (typically right around a mile & a half) so those no longer feel like absolute torture. I am slowly but surely seeing improvements. I still have shit for energy, which is somewhat frustrating - but will hopefully improve now that I can actually drink more of my protein - hopefully allowing some space for some well-placed carbs.

Most of the time, life is pretty damn swell. I'm trying to roll with it - not put too much pressure on myself, but also now allow myself to slip back into old/lazy habits. My body is changing - able to do more than I would have thought it would at this point. Now if I can just figure out how to shutdown my crazed brain when it rears it's ugly head, I'll really be getting somewhere..... 

Monday, August 1, 2016

It's the Little Things

So much has changed for me since April 18th. Not only did I lose a sizable portion of my stomach, and my gall bladder (which I am SO THANKFUL they ripped out while they were in there rooting around!! There are so many weight-loss surgery patients that have to go back and have a 2nd surgery to remove it. More pain, more recovery. Yuck) but the removal of those two things marked the start of something that has been pretty damn fantastic so far - - a willingness to participate.

Most of the changes I've seen in myself over the last 3-1/2ish months are likely what you'd expect. I can do more, because I weigh less. My clothes are a little looser. My joints don't scream at me quite as much as they used to. My grocery bill has gone down because I eat baby amounts thanks to my hammock. But what I have been the most surprised about are the little things.

The little things are not anything a person who hasn't been severely overweight would likely even think about. Like getting my laundry out of the washing machine - - I can actually bend over, and get the stuff off the bottom/stuck to the sides so much easier than I used to be able to. Running errands - - I used to dread them. My knees would ache so much by the time I was done. I'd be dripping in sweat. I would strategize about exactly where everything was I needed, and how to get to them with fewest amount of steps - - Now I'm all over the damn store finding all sorts of crap I don't need. Things as common as washing and putting on lotion. I won't elaborate - - but let's just say it's easier. I can sort of bend at my waist a bit now - I can actually reach my feet to tie my shoes without the ridiculous amount of effort that used to require. I now appreciate being able to go for a short stroll to stretch out my legs, instead of trying to figure out everything I could possibly ever need in one trip so I wouldn't have to get back up for a while. I no longer worry about how far I'm going to have to walk if I go somewhere - - I still don't want to have to stand once I get there - - but the walking part is no problem. Getting into, and out of, my car. My FUPA no longer rests on my steering wheel, so I don't feel like I'm ripping it off my body every time I try to get out of my car. Basically - everything is just getting a little bit easier...and that is a really welcome feeling.

Team Unicorn
 I'm still trying to figure out how to work carbs back into my life - - just to help with my energy level. Day-to-day, I'm great. But when I have my workouts with Scott, or my longer walks, or even golfing (with a cart - but still kind of a lot of moving around) I just get wiped by the end of it!

Saturday I golfed 18 holes (best ball tournament - I could never play 18 with my own shots - - I'd still be out there!) with Team Unicorn at the OGBB Fundraiser. It was awesome. So entertaining, got to see a bunch of my friends, and I didn't feel like I was going to completely drop by the time it was over. I'm seeing improvements in my stamina, and that is just awesome. The whole point of me having this surgery was to be more active - - and I'm getting there....slowly, but surely. I'm looking forward to the point where I can do a few more intense things within a couple of days of each other, and not have my legs feel like they're filled with lead. That's the current dream, people!

Rosemount Irish 10U A - State Champs, 3rd at Nationals
I spent Sunday watching some amazing young ladies rebound from their toughest loss to date, and play 5 straight games coming back through the losers bracket. I was even there to watch them beat a team that had bested them at all of their previous meetings this season. I am so grateful to these kiddos, and their parents. Their season was just getting started soon after my surgery, and they gave me something really awesome to focus on, other than myself (and my occasional annoyance with this process). They gave me a reason to get out of the house. I made it to as many games as I could, and watched them improve so much. They put up with my incessant cheering (which likely sounds like yelling) and pacing and excitement. I can't imagine being a parent! I was just the aunt, and I felt so invested! They were my first "Aha moment" after surgery - because I realized I never would have been at their games if I hadn't had this surgery. I would have missed all of these fantastic accomplishments by my niece. And they helped me see a glimmer of that competitive person I used to be. I had lost that a long time ago...likely buried under about 138 pounds of dormancy. Being a really small part of their amazing season was a gift, and I am genuinely sad to see it end.

My nieces and nephew were one of the major reasons I decided to do it. My nephew Grady continues to be my biggest cheerleader - I got told "Natalie! You look better!!" when I saw him last Thursday. I think that counts as a pretty nice compliment from a 5 year old? I want to be an active member of their lives. I want to enjoy spending time with them that doesn't necessarily involve the couch. I don't want to miss a single one of the amazing things they're going to do, because they're awesome and I absolutely love and adore them. I can't wait to see what the future holds for them!

 There are so many things that have changed in such a short time...and so many things that are going to change for me in the months to come.... I just hope they're all as awesome as what I've experienced so far, because live is pretty damn good right now...and only getting better.