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What Do I Eat Now?

My last post – I Wish I Had Known – was inspired by a YouTube video about what things they wish they had known before the surgery.  Another popular topic is to talk about what they eat at different stages of the post surgery time.  This fascinates me as each doctor seems to suggest something different and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of consistency in what doctors and patients consider appropriate.

I am almost 5 months out (5 months will be April 16) – and I had a few complications so I am further behind that I would be normally.  I am really eating at about the 3 – 4 month stage instead of 4-6 month.

First up are the vitamins.  Everyday I take:

  • Multivitamin (currently I am still taking bariatric specific ones)
  • B12
  • B Complex
  • D
  • Iron
  • Calcium Citrate
  • Biotin (to help with the hair loss)
  • Medication – I take one prescribed pill to help make sure I don’t get another ulcer

I am also supposed to have 2 – 3 protein shakes/drinks a day (my total protein intake a day should be around 60 grams).  I have struggled with this from the beginning.  But I make some progress the farther out from surgery I get.  I am currently getting in about 1 1/2 to 2 of the shakes/drinks a day.  I keep inching closer to the total.

And then there is food.   I am in the “full foods” stage – meaning I don’t have to worry as much as food texture anymore.  I am allowed 1/3 a cup of food or 3 oz at a time.  Depending on the food, I weigh or measure everything – for example 3 oz of lettuce for a salad is way too much so I use the 1/3 cup.  But 1/3 of a cup of chili is more than 3 oz so I weigh that. I am also supposed to split my portion between protein and fruit/vegetable.

Currently I have been eating a lot of the same things over and over again.  They are:

  • Taco meat – made with ground turkey usually.  And I will add low fat cheese and/or low fat/FF sour cream if I need it.  Especially after the gallbladder surgery, I had to be careful – cheese made my stomach hurt and the sour cream helped me digest it better.  I usually try to add some veggies to that if I can or I have them on the side.
  • Chili – I add in extra veggies to this so I can usually get this to be a half and half split without making 2 physical items.
  • Meatballs/mini meatloaves – this is a great one as the portion sizing is already done for you.  I still usually use ground turkey for these.
  • Salsa Chicken – I put this in the crockpot on low for the day and just use chicken and salsa.  Thats it.  I will add extra veggies if I have them or I can add a side.
  • Pot roast – again in the crockpot with lots of extra veggies.
  • Hello Fresh meals – I have to pick ones that do not use pasta or a bread source (more about that below) but I have already had some great chicken and pork recipes.  I make adjustments if needed to the recipe to make it healthier and my 2 meals for 2 people lasts me for almost a full week (and longer if I put things in the freezer).

I don’t really snack much right now – if I do it is usually unsalted almonds or cashews, Cuties, grapes or something similar.  Most of the things I have tried either don’t taste good anymore (like FF pudding) or are too sweet (like FF Popsicles/ FF jello).

I have been told to stay away from grains for the time being (1 year) and so far I have done well.  No bread, no rice, no pasta, no quinoa…it has been one of the harder things for me as I was very dependent on pasta especially when meal planning.  It is cheap and easy and fast and it tastes good.  This is to enhance my chances of significant weight loss so I get it – but boy is it difficult.

So, got a good recipe I should try for protein (as you can see I lean heavily on Mexican flavors, but am always looking for other flavor profiles that don’t need a grain and are not too difficult/fattening/suger-y)?  Let me know by commenting here or posting to my Facebook page.  Would love to try a few new ones.

 

 

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I wish I had known…

Last night was not a great night for me…I didn’t feel well for the first time in a while and I am pretty sure it was connected to food this past week.  I had an off week – out of schedule, unusual foods, eating out more than normal and while I didn’t overeat, it was not the regimented eating I have been doing since the surgery.

I was watching YouTube and came across a video about 10 things someone had wish they had known before having Gastric Sleeve.  And it got me thinking about what I wish I had know before I started all of this.  So I am sharing with you today my list of 10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Gastric Bypass:

1.  I have forgotten (for now) what it feels like to have real physical hunger.  I know this will change over time, but I struggle more mentally than I do physically when it comes to hunger.  I tend to eat on a more scheduled timeline now vs whenever I am hungry.  I am no longer living to eat but instead feel like for the first time I am eating to live.  And that is not a bad thing.

2.   I wake up happier in general.  This has been an odd side effect that I am not sure if I can attribute to any one thing.  And I certainly don’t wake up happy every morning.  But more often than not, I wake up rested (meaning I am sleeping better) and happier.

3.  I don’t hurt as much as I used to overall.  My joints feel better in general and while I still have some bad days, or moments, I am much better than I was.

4.  When the doctor tells you a small percentage of patients have a certain complication, pay attention…it could be you.  I didn’t really listen very well and then it was me…and now I regret not paying attention.

5.  Some of the side effects are completely unexpected.  For me the oddest is that no matter what I do, I can’t get warm most of the time.  This is not something I was warned about but had read that it could happen in the early months.  I am 4.5 months in and my apartment is set at 71 degrees and I am freezing.  Craziness considering I was ALWAYS hot before.

6.  Something happens when you see the pounds fall off that you may not be ready for.  Among those is the fact that everyone is “proud” of you now, you don’t see the weight coming off in the way other people do, and at times your body feels both foreign and familiar at the same time.

7.  The first time you are able to do something that you were not able to before, you will want to do it all of the time.  I have NEVER been able to sit in a chair and cross my legs until now.  It seems so simple, but I was never able to.  I actually have to train my legs to be able to do it comfortably as it is so foreign to my body.  And now, I am doing it just because I can.

8.   The routines are harder to break than the physical addictions at times.  Now to be honest, I think I knew this before the surgery but I underestimated it greatly.  My go-to boredom thing was food.  My “watch a movie” night involved snacks.  Driving in the car, meant a trip through the drive through.  A trip to any store usually involved seeing if they had anything to snack on (you would be surprised how many stores that includes).

9.  Sitting all day is almost impossible now.  I have to get up.  I have to move.  I have to not be at my desk all day.

10.  The process is more overwhelming than you can imagine.  When they say it is a whole life change, I thought I understood what that meant.  I didn’t.  There is virtually no part of my everyday life that is the same as it relates to my physical being.  I don’t know if you can imagine that, but it is the most intense thing I have ever done.

And I will add a bonus #11:

11.  The mental game is 100,000 times harder than the physical one.  I cry in the shower every day now as my hair falls out.  I want so badly to have a doughnut but can’t.  I miss bread daily.  I have lost my voice which is unbelievably difficult as it has always been my emotional release.  I am trying to be patient…most of this is temporary (not the doughnuts probably) but it is a lot.

I want to thank everyone who has listened to me moan about this choice I made and who has cheered me on from the sidelines.  Love you all.

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A four month update

My weight loss totals are pretty impressive if I say so myself.  My post surgery number is 89.6 lbs down and if you include my pre-surgery highest recorded weight, I am at 120 lbs down.

Of course a few things have been happening that have not gone as scheduled.

  • I have had 2 complications – a stricture and an ulcer.  The ulcer is I believe gone, but the stricture looks like it may continue to be an issue.
  • I had to have a second surgery to remove my gallbladder.
  • I am losing my hair (this is common in weight loss surgery patients and is temporary but with the upcoming wedding it is on my mind a lot)
  • I still have not found a consistent protein I can stomach in liquid form.  I am trying a new one this week to see if I can make this one work.  Fingers crossed.
  • The additional surgery put some of the exercise plans on hold again while the surgery healed (but that is almost over).

With all of that, things have been going right as well:

  • I have more energy
  • I have more stamina
  • My knees don’t bother me as much
  • My back doesn’t bother me as much
  • I am sleeping better
  • Mostly, I am happier

Stress has been an issue as of late – but that is largely from taking on too much at once.  I knew I had, but now that I am in it, I can really tell.  Work, wedding, move, cleaning out my possessions, money, health – it is all happening at the same time.  What was I thinking???? (not that I regret any of it)  Its just a lot.  I keep saying that, but it has.

I want to thank everyone for their prayers and well wishes.  I am in good spirits and as the wedding looms closer and closer, I am getting more and more comfortable with all of the changes that keep happening.

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Divided

“Well, opinions are like a**holes … everybody has one.” – Dirty Harry in The Dead Pool (1988)

This is pretty much where I am these days.

You can say we are a nation divided.  You can say that everyone but you is wrong.  You can say that you don’t understand what is happening to us.  But at the end of the day – the biggest issue – is that we all want our opinion to be right.

Life is complicated.  The issues that face us today are complicated.  We are often contradictory in how we react to issues  based on our preferences, our backgrounds, and our influences and changes that come with every day life.

I remember interviewing a former pastor of mine while writing a paper on the death penalty in college.   I asked him if he was for or against it.  He said that as a pastor he was against the taking of a life by an institution.  But as a father and as a husband, he may feel differently if the victim was one of his own.

That is the truest statement I have ever heard on a political issue.

We are shaped by the events and the people and the influencers that we surround ourselves with.   The truth is that we change our minds based on those same things.  The crosses we are currently using to bash each other around with may change in the future based on new influences.

Several times a day I find myself overcome with repulsion and disgust and agreement and joy and sadness and grief and a full range of human emotions just by reading my Facebook feed.  And that is just a small portion of the influence that others can have on me.

It makes me sad.  It colors my impressions of people I have known for many years.  People I love and respect.  And I have to work hard to not post opinions and throw more fuel on the fire.  I don’t always win that fight.  But I do try.

The saddest part is that I used to love a good debate.  But a good debate does not exist anymore.

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For the time being

I have been avoiding writing this as it is much easier to ignore what is happening than to address it.  But here we are:  I can’t sing.  Ever since this surgery and the subsequent endoscopies, I have been unable to since more than a few notes at a time…and when I do I am hoarse, uneven, with lots of breaks in my voice.   Whatever range I had seems to have gone away and I the sound is not akin to dying cats (with a vibrato that i can’t shake even when I want to).  Some notes are better than others – but overall, this is not me.

I am facing a second surgery – scheduled for March 1 – and then I am hoping that will be all for a very long while.  But in the meantime, I have been struggling with the loss of my voice.

For the uninitiated – and I apologize to all of the ones who have to hear me tread over this old material again – singing has been my THING for as long as I can remember.  It for the longest time was my life’s ambition and the only thing I thought I was good at.  So for me to lose this part of myself – even temporarily is like having an essential part of my being gone.  I don’t know who I am without it some days.

I understand this may be temporary.  And I will look into getting back into lessons once I get married and move.  Maybe I am just severely out of practice and need to let everything heal a bit more.  But I have had to face the possibility that it may not come back.

I used to say, I didn’t want to live without being able to sing.  Some days I still feel that way.  It is hard to explain to someone who is not me or has not witnessed what this gift has meant to me my entire life.

I pray every day that if God means for me to continue singing he will provide the way for that to happen.  For now, I will be over here humming.

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Food Right Now

The past month has not been easy.  But, as I sit very close to having lost 100 lbs since October, I have little reason to really complain.  These setbacks are not as bad as some I have read about recently.  And really, considering how bad my health was, this has all been a blessing overall.

Saying that, there are things I miss more than I hoped I would.  If you put these things in front of me, I could not eat them and I would not eat them.  But the thought of them gets me sometimes.   Mostly it is carbs like bread.  I miss bread so much.  I know eventually I will be allowed to have it again, but right now, I miss bread.

I am lucky in that there are not many things I have missed.  Not really at least.  I have to be so careful right now and I can’t handle too much anyway.  But, food used to be easy (too easy apparently) and now it is not.  And while that is ok, it makes me wish I didn’t have to think so hard about it.

In the meantime, I keep trying new recipes and finding new combinations that I really love.  Currently I have Chicken Parm meatballs and a beef roast with pepper and onion (like a Philly Cheesesteak).  All bariatric friendly, all low fat, low sodium, and low calorie.  And I am eating them with veggies and fruit.  Hard to complain right now.

The weight loss is slowing down now that I am starting to eat again.  Its good.  Still losing about 5 lbs a week right now.  Again, no complaints.

Thank you to everyone for their love and support right now.  I can’t wait to catch up with you all again soon.

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Medical Updates…

As I have been posting on Facebook, not all is well in Michelle-land.  About a week and a half ago, I started noticing that I could not eat all of the 2oz of food I am allowed at any given time.  And it was harder and harder to take all of the vitamins I need to take each day.  And then last weekend, I started to feel nauseous.  I was seriously worried cause I made a mistake and went to the internet for help.  (And just to be clear it was not WebMD – but a bariatric chat site where it was other patients I was talking to)

When the nausea had not passed after the weekend, and after taking anti-nausea pills, I reached out to my Nutritionist and she told me to cut my meals in half to 1 oz and keep taking the anti-nausea pills.  But by Wednesday, I was just nauseous all the time and I was not eating at all.  On Thursday, I couldn’t take it anymore and called the office.  Once they asked me a bunch of questions, they wanted me to come in on Friday.  And so off to my mom’s I went.

I met with a very nice Nurse Practitioner and she asked me a bunch of questions trying to narrow down how this happened and she said that basically there were 3 possible things happening.  Gastroenteritis – an irritation of the stomach lining was the easiest.  She told me to go back on the meds they gave me for acid reflux and that would start to help that (which I needed to go back on soon anyway).  The second possible was ulcers.  And finally, the third is a “stricture” – a tightening of the tube between the stomach and the small bowel.  Food can have trouble passing through there once the hold gets smaller.

She had me lay on the table and started pressing on my abdomen to see if my stomach was tender – it was…slightly.  But then she pressed on my right side and I literally kicked my legs in the air – it was pretty painful.  She said that indicated there may also be something wrong with my gallbladder.

I have to go for an ultrasound this week and I have some new meds that she is hoping will help me eat again – even in small doses – and will help tell if this is a stricture or not.  Then I go back on Friday for my normal checkup and we will have another conversation at that time.

I am scared.  If it is a stricture, I have to have another endoscopy – not a big deal.  If my gallbladder needs to come out, it means ANOTHER surgery.  That I do not want.  I feel like I can’t quite catch a break here with this one, but I do not want to have another surgery so soon.  And honestly, I cried today about it.  Financially this will be difficult for me and emotionally it will be difficult.  I just can’t think about it right now.

So if you think about it, say a quick prayer that this is over soon.  And I will not need another surgery.