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“Only”

I’ve decided that I hate the word only. So many people on bariatric forums state that they “only” lost such and such pounds over whatever timeframe. The fact that they feel the number is less than ideal, that it’s an “only”, gets them discouraged and often times depressed. I’ve fallen prey to this habit myself, I’ll admit.

We’ve lost sight of why we started on our respective journeys of weight loss. Yes, the goal is to lose weight, but the end goal is to be healthier. The way, more often than not, to achieve that just happens to be to lose weight initially. So when I say that I’ve “only” lost 5 pounds last month, I’m losing sight of what I’ve accomplished over the last month, the positives. For example, yesterday Dad and I walked/hiked 4.1 miles around our new favorite park, where as the week before we did 3.7 miles. Last week Dad was able to do 2 tall stair steps along the trail. This week he did 5. We’re improving, even if we’re not losing. The word “only” implies that our improvements are outweighed by our weight. I’m not a fan of that even though I fall victim to it myself.

Some updates since my last post:

Dad and I are both in new BMI categories. We’re both just Moderately Obese now!

As of July 30th Dad was down 56 lbs total and I was down 71 lbs total, so far that is…

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I also chopped my hair off. I’m thinking the next stage will be some fun colored hair dye. Not entirely sure what color yet though. I’m thinking maybe dark blue, purple, and pink. Once upon a time I had bright blond hair with a rainbow on the back of my head. I miss my fun, happy colors. Also, note the appearance of my clavicles in the above after-pic!

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A couple of weeks ago I went canoeing with a friend and a bunch of my coworkers. It was very fun. We canoed, we drank, and we/I cliff dived. As you can see in the above pic I also got incredibly sunburned. This was even after applying sunscreen twice. I shudder to think if I hadn’t applied any at all. The next day when we went to visit my mother I had to hunt for something strapless so I wouldn’t scream in pain from the straps. A NSV that happened was that I wore my first 2 piece bathing suit ever. Granted it was a tankini, but that’s still a proper 2 piece suit in my book.

Our new favorite place to walk is around the trails at Sharon Woods. We combine the parcourse fitness trail, the gorge hiking trail, and the paved loop around the lake. If we do all of the trails they combine to 4.1 miles. Along the fitness trail are scattered activities to do, so it helps work out the whole body too. As you can probably tell in the above pic I think the 4.1 miles was a bit much for Dad this past weekend. It tuckered him right out. He kept “resting his eyes”.

The past 2 weeks I’ve been on Grand Jury duty. It was really interesting and very educational. All potential felony cases are routed through a grand jury to see if there’s enough evidence to indict and actually send the case to court. We heard 20-25 cases a day on average. 90% of them sadly were drug possession/trafficking. Bonus though was that my day didn’t start till 9 so I was able to sleep in a bit. This morning was a bit rough getting up again for my 7am shift.

This past Saturday I had a yard sale where the majority of what was sold was my fluffier plus sized clothes that I’ve shrunk out of. It was a bit like letting go of a beloved security blanket. In the past I’ve always kept my fluffy clothes just in case I gained the weight back. This time I’m not giving myself the option. I only kept 1 pair of jeans, a sweater, and a bra to do comparisons later on when I’m an “after”. While looking through my clothes to  separate out what didn’t fit anymore I found a big bin of clothes from high school/freshman year of college. Some of them were too big! I also fit into my homecoming dress from junior year high school again! Eventually I’ll take a pic and post it. I loved/love that dress.

12 week follow-up

I experienced dumping for the first time this last Monday, I think. I currently have an infected finger (see boo-boo below) and am on 2 antibiotics for it. Monday morning I took both on an empty stomach and then drank my protein shake on the way to work. About half way through my shake I started to feel like poo. Fast forward to 0700 and I’m in the bathroom throwing up. Fun times. It wasn’t that much, but still… The whole rest of the day I just felt like poop and a half. No energy, headache, no appetite, throbbing finger. It was an awesome day. I can’t for sure blame it on the shake and say I dumped or that it came from the pills on an empty stomach. Needless to say I’ve made sure to drink my morning shake first before the pills since then and luckily I haven’t had a repeat. The below pic is actually after it improved some, believe it or not.

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Dad and I have been working out together 3 days a week. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the group class and hiking either on Saturday or Sunday. In addition to that I’ve been going to a cardio dance class on Mondays. I’ve started to attempt to run to prep for the 5K. So far I can run for a minute straight. Out of 30 minutes I’ll run for 3 minutes with walking between the minute spurts. Not too shabby for a couch potato. I’ve had to double up in the bra department so I don’t knock myself out though. It works out pretty well. Underwire to keep the girls up and a sports bra to keep them in.

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Today was my follow up appt for 12 weeks post op. Below is the comparison pics from today vs my last preop appt. In addition from going from a size 22 to 16, my bra has gone from 44H to 40DD, though I could probably do a 38DD.

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Dad’s appt was monday. At both our appts they measured us to compare to our preop measurements. Here they are (in inches):

Dad’s- Total lost: 24 inches. 33 lbs since surgery. 53 lbs total

Mine- Total lost: 39.25 inches. 40 lbs since surgery. 68 lbs total.

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One slightly weird thing that’s developed for me lately is that I’m wearing more skirts and dresses, as evidence in the above photos. As I loose inches off my thighs I don’t chub-rub as bad and thus am more likely to wear something super girly instead of jeans and a baggy t-shirt. I’m also not having to wear leggings or bicycle shorts underneath like I always have. It feels freeing and very exposing at the same time.

Crazy Talk!

So I’ve always said that if you see me running you should be running too because that means that there’s something chasing me. Well I’ve decided to do something completely out of the box for me and sign up for a 5K. Crazy talk, right?! I’ve even roped one of my friends into doing it with me.

This isn’t just any normal 5K though. It’s at night, at King’s Island, glow-in-the-dark, and during the Haunt. This means there’s going to be people in costume jumping out at us while we run through a dark and spooky course. At the end of if all you end up inside the park and have “free” admission to the Haunt. This is the kind of 5K I can get behind, in theory. Also, the running is going to be more like walking fast and maybe the occasional jog. My training plan is to follow the program in the Couch to 5K app on my phone. It’ll eventually work me up to jogging/running the majority of the time. Again, in theory.

If you’re local and are interested here’s the link to the 5K page: https://www.runandriderace.com/kingsislandglow The same weekend they have another marathon during the day with fun runs and stuff for the kiddies.

Another huge victory, at least for me, is that this week I was able to move to the other scrub cart at work! For those of you not in the surgical field, let me explain. We have our scrubs provided for us and laundered for us because of all the gross gooey things we encounter on a daily basis. Those scrubs are organized by size on wire shelves/carts. Small, medium, large on one and 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x on the other. My entire nursing career I’ve been on the other. Yesterday I officially can fit in large scrubs and thus I’ve moved to the other cart! It’s a big thing for me.

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Happy Fourth of July!

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This fourth of July my family joined me on memory lane. We went to a local private amusement park called Stricker’s Grove. It’s only open to the public maybe 3-4 times a year, otherwise it’s rented out for events and such for local companies. Aside from the tradition fair food of funnel cakes and cotton candy they have some super yummy cookout food. Ride wise they have a fair few festival type rides and two mini-roller coasters. Growing up I used to go here with one of my friends and her family when her dad’s company had a thing there.

My shorties aren’t quite up to the height requirement for a bunch of the rides to go by themselves yet so I knew that my husband and I would have to be the designated responsible adults and ride with them. I had a bit of anxiety about this going in. From memory I knew these rides were not that accommodating to a bigger derriere. Was I going to fit? Was I going to get stuck? Was I going to be incredibly uncomfortable? I was very pleasantly surprised though! For example: The tornado.

These tiny bench seats are actually divided in two by a little padded divider. Combine that with not only a bar belt but an actual belt belt and I thought there’s no way I’d fit. Not only did I fit but I had enough room to where the bar came down without hitting the belly and I slid around a little bit on the turns! I had a few inches on either side of me between the sides of my little portion of the seat. I was also able to get in and out of all the rides mostly with ease! You have no idea how happy this made me. I’ve been seeing my weight loss in my clothes, but this was just another concrete piece of evidence to show how far I’ve come.

Another pleasant discovery of the day is that I have two little thrill seekers on my hands. My girls went on their first roller coaster and loved it! All of the thrill rides they went on they begged to go on a second and third time. That also made me incredibly happy. It probably made my husband a bit happy too since he’ll be off the hook once they’re tall enough to join me on the big coasters. So excited!

To the pain!

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One of my friends put this on my facebook wall and it is so appropriate that I thought I’d share.  (Double points to Gryffindor if you get the reference in my post title 🙂 )

Last week started my new exercise routine. I’m attempting to do something everyday, even if it’s just walking. Tuesday was the first group session with our trainer. See my previous post to see how well that went.

Wednesday I did yoga for the first time on the Wii. From a previous let’s-get-healthy kick a few years ago I had the Wii version of The Biggest Loser. It has many different workout routines and the digital versions of the trainers lead you through them. I chose Bob 🙂 It also creates a digital version of you, based on your weight and details you put in, that works out alongside the trainer. After loosing 55lbs my digital self is still overly fluffy. I wonder what weight I have to be for her to change too.  Since I’ve never done yoga before I didn’t really know what to expect, though I did it would be easier than it was. In my mind I thought it was all meditation and concentrating on your breathing. In reality it’s holding an awkward position for a whole minute while sweat drips into your eyes and digital Bob tells you not to forget to breath.

Thursday was my second group session, and Dad’s first. Wishy washy shrill trainer lady was a bit better this time. We worked out first and did the kumbaya circle last, during which she only commented for maybe a minute on everyone’s challenges/successes. Dad didn’t want to share. He felt as silly as I did. I come by my social awkwardness naturally. I was really proud with how well he did throughout the hour, especially since he started the hour with his hip and knee hurting.

Friday I opted to not workout. I was on call at work and ended up staying over. By time I got home I was so hungry that food was first and foremost on my mind. Post-op hunger is weird. It’s not what you really think of as hunger, but more of an emptiness along with a feeling that your blood sugar is tanking.

Saturday’s goal was an 8am zumba class. I did not make it. Anyone who knows me knows I love my sleep. 2 guesses what I did instead, and the first one doesn’t count. Dad went to the gym by himself though, to make up for not having the Tuesday session! So proud 🙂 I still needed to do something though. So in the afternoon one of my daughters and I went to the Loveland Bike Trail. We rented a bike and kid’s trailer. I lasted about 30 minutes before deciding we needed to turn back before I wouldn’t be able to get us back anymore. There and back equaled about 60 minutes biking with an extra 100lbs ish being dragged behind me. Not too shabby for not having biked in over 6-7 years. Phoebe and I then had a mommy-daughter date at a nearby restaurant, walked to a local nature reserve to do some geocaching, hit up a cute little ice cream shop on the way back to the car, and then drove home. She lasted all of 5 minutes before crashing 🙂

Sunday consisted of my first ever kickboxing class. It should be called buttkicking class because that’s what it did. It kicked my butt, hard. I couldn’t do it all and definitely couldn’t do it at the pace that others were able, but I didn’t stop and I didn’t quit. Not sure if I’ll go back. We’ll see. Here’s how lovely I looked afterward:

This was probably 15 minutes after the class ended and I was still red-faced! When I got home I vegged/recuperated for a little bit while we ate lunch. Then we all spent the next 3 hours outside. The girls doing sidewalk chalk, running in the sprinkler, and “helping” me. I, however, did not have as much fun as them. I spent the 3 hours doing major labor intensive yard work. Cutting down trees, vines, weeding, trimming bushes and hedges. Chainsaws are fun 🙂 I’m definitely a girl who likes her power tools. The husband even got in on the outside action and cleaned out his car.

After all this I woke up this morning and practically needed a walker! I hurt so much! The plan for today was a dance class similar to zumba after work. If my muscles don’t let up some before then I might flake and just rest for the day. We’ll see…

Deep breaths…

This past Monday marked the beginning of week 8 post-op. Dad is down to 227 and I’m at 215.

This week I had a NSV (non-scale victory). At work occasionally we have to wear lead aprons for cases involving x-ray. Usually I have to hunt for the 1 apron that fits semi-comfortably or deal with feeling like I’m, as my mother would say, 10 lbs of shit in a 5 lb bag. Well, this week I had extra room and was actually fairly comfortable! And I didn’t hunt for the 1 xl apron! Tiny bit excited about that.

At our 6 week follow-up appointment, which was really during week 7 due to scheduling conflicts, we were released to exercise. As part of the program we’re in we get a 12 week long “free” membership to the gym associated with the hospital. During those 12 weeks we have 24 group sessions with a trainer. Last Thursday was our orientation to the gym and we met our future trainer. Neither Dad nor I were very impressed. She’s so scatter brained! I’m usually a fairly laid back person but one thing I absolutely can’t stand is someone being wishy washy and indecisive. This individual couldn’t stay on point, couldn’t make decisions, and couldn’t remember what she was doing one moment to the next. Also, her voice was very annoying, at least to me.

Fast forward to yesterday, Tuesday, when I had my first group session with her. Our initial impressions were confirmed in my eyes. Dad got to miss out on our first session. Instead he had the lovely evening of getting a crown done at the dentist.

Because of the way the program is organized it’s a rolling admission of sorts. Myself and another patient were the newbies in a group of at least 12 that had already been together for a week. They had already been taught the fundamentals of what we were doing. At the beginning of the session, in which our trainer was 5 minutes late, we spent nearly 25 minutes going around introducing ourselves and telling a challenge or success to the group. All this is well and good and I don’t mind at all. However, our trainer felt the need to comment on everyone’s challenge or success for several minutes. While I’m sure she thought her comments were helpful I found them to be neither supportive or helpful. For example, someone had said their current challenge was transitioning in the post-op diet to the next stage and figuring out more variety to eat. The trainer responded by going on a diatribe for 3-4 minutes about how we shouldn’t use the word diet because it makes one feel restricted and causes people to fail. That we should use “healthy eating” or “mindful choices” instead of diet, while at the same time we shouldn’t restrict and should eat whatever we want, including ice cream. I’m sorry, but in this instance, in our new reality as bariatric patients the word diet is not an evil 4 letter word. It is actually a noun. A word that describes our new food situation. Maybe it’s the nurse in me that thinks of diet first as the food options available/allowed medically vs a restrictive plan meant to loose weight.

Finally after 30 minutes into the session we started working out. 14 circuits of 45 seconds doing leg or arm exercises she had spent a scatter brained 5 minutes explaining. The entire next half hour consisted of listening to her talk in a shrill, wishy washy voice while we went through the circuits. Of course the circuits weren’t organized so when we would move on to the next thing we had to decide what we were doing and hope it wasn’t taken. If everything was taken you were relegated to arm pinwheels or jumping jacks. I nearly knocked myself out with the boob floppage, but I got a compliment from a fellow group member on the quality of my jumping jacks so there’s that at least.

I’m hoping it’ll be better this Thursday when Dad joins me. We’re also planning on doing a Karate class the gym is offering. The times work out perfectly for when the session should be over. If she starts to annoy me I’ll just take out my frustration there afterward. Maybe I should also look up yoga or meditation or something too. Try to zen myself out, otherwise it’s going to be a long 12 weeks.  Deep breaths…..

Beware the She-Hulk!

“You won’t like me when I’m angry!”

I’ve noticed that lately I have a shorter fuse than usual. I’m a lot quicker to yell at the girls and a lot quicker to criticize the husband. My temper has not always been the best, especially when the girls are pushing my buttons, but this is extreme even for me.

So what do I do when something is out of wack or I want to know more? I research the crap out of it. My research regarding mood swings and hormonal imbalances after bariatric surgery actually resulted in some very interesting information. It also verified for me that my recent mood change isn’t totally on me and that I just have to ride it out, and find some different coping mechanisms, till my body normalizes again.

There are many reasons why one’s mood would go cray-cray post surgery. The first and easiest to explain is that we no longer have our go-to coping mechanism when things get tough: food. Without learning other ways to cope with stresses and emotions we can tend to become a bit wack-a-do temporarily while we learn.

Another reason that’s a bit more complicated to explain is hormone imbalance. When one is overweight their body produces more estrogen. As the weight comes off the amount of estrogen is decreased and testosterone in increased. Testosterone is linked to higher energy and sex drive. While the body is re-regulating itself, learning what it’s new normal is, these hormones are all over the place.

Hormones are also affected by the change in diet itself. The lack of, or dramatically decreased amount of, carbohydrates alters serotonin levels, and thus neurotransmitter activity. “It is the insulin release after carbohydrates are eaten that indirectly allows more serotonin in the brain to be made. Insulin changes the levels of amino acids in the blood and this enables one amino acid, tryptophan, to enter the brain. Serotonin is made from tryptophan, and thus is dependent on its brain availability.”

“Dietary regimens before and after bariatric surgery often create the perfect storm for serotonin depletion. High-protein/very low-carbohydrate diets are imposed on pre-surgical patients so they will lose some weight before surgery. Post-operatively, patients eat only protein and supplements to prevent muscle, vitamin and mineral loss. Even though tryptophan is one of the amino acids making up protein, studies done over several decades at MIT showed that when protein is eaten, little or no tryptophan enters the brain.”

“Low and/or inactive serotonin is associated with depressed mood and anxious mood, anger, irritability and fatigue.” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-antidepressant-diet/201403/depression-after-gastric-bypass-surgery)

Serotonin is basically the feel-good hormone. It is thought to regulate anxiety, happiness, and mood. So combine a lack of calories (thus decreased energy), a probable decrease in sleep amount, removal of go-to coping mechanism, and a decreased level of serotonin and you get an occasional episode of hulking out.

I think that this lack of carbs/serotonin depletion occasionally affected me pre-op too, though not to this extreme. It’s called getting Hangry. I’d totally turn Betty White until someone gave me a snickers if I went too long between food stuffs.

I feel better being a bit more educated in the why and how-to of the hulking out episodes. Now I just have to learn a new coping mechanism and try to space my tiny meals a bit better throughout the day, especially when I’m out with the girls by myself.

Week 6 update

This week marks 5 weeks post op. Dad is at 230lbs, down 50 lbs, as of last Thursday. He saw his renal doc for the first time since before surgery and was upgraded from stage 4 renal disease to stage 3, which is awesome! To give this perspective stage 5 is when one goes on dialysis, so that means he’s getting further away from it and already accomplishing one of his main goals of having the surgery.

As of Monday I’m down 51.4 lbs putting me at 216.6 lbs. Last Wednesday I had my annual health screening for work. This involves getting labs, height/weight, and “counseling”. Once the results come back you can compare to last years to see just how much of a fatty you’ve been over the last year, or in my case actual numerically presented benefits of the surgery and pre-op diet. Below are my results:

————           May 2016             May 2017              Normal Range   —————

BP                      124/84                      110/72

Waist                 44″                              38″                     less than 35″

Glucose              96                              80                       less than 100 fasting

Triglycerides     118                          104                      less than 150

HDL                   57                              35                         greater than 50

 

So I improved overall except for my HDL level. Still out of range for my waist circumference but that’s no surprise. Look how close I am though! According to my doc’s medical assistant one of the best ways to bring up your HDL is exercise, so it’s not really all that surprising that it’s low right now. I’m just coming off recovering from the surgery and light duty so I haven’t really been moving around all that much up until when I came back full duty to work a couple weeks ago. In theory it should come back up after I start actually exercising, which I can’t do till I’m released to do so at my appt next week. If you don’t know what HDL is, don’t feel bad. I had to look it up too. Basically it’s your good cholesterol that ushers out the bad cholesterol from your system, promotes cardiovascular health. If it’s too low your heart disease risk goes up.

At the last appt before surgery they took our body measurements. Seeing my waist circumference at the screening made me curious so I did another round of measurements to compare the pre-op ones. I know my clothes have been significantly baggier than usual lately but I was still very pleasantly surprised at the results. All of the measurements are in inches:

—————————-                  March 28                            June 6    ————————–

Right upper arm                          15.5                                      13 3/4

Right forearm                              12                                           10 3/4

Chest  (above breasts)                47                                           43

Waist                                             51                                           45

Hips                                               53                                           50 1/2

Right upper thigh                        32 1/4                                    29

Right mid thigh                            28                                          25 1/2

Right calf                                      19                                           17 3/4

 

Most notably I’ve noticed a big difference in my waist and chest. My jeans are literally falling off me. I’m trying to wait as long as possible to buy clothes so I’ll be investing in a good belt soon. Luckily I have a few drawstring pants that’ll come in useful. My chest is also shrinking fast, probably much to my husband’s chagrin. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very well endowed but instead of being a 44 H I’m now a 38F-40DDD. When I went hunting in my dresser drawers I discovered that as I outgrew my previous bra sizes I would just shove them into my drawer, so the deeper you go the smaller they are. In theory then I shouldn’t have to buy new bras for awhile. In theory anyway…

A recent NSV (non-scale victory) I experienced was that I was actually able to chase my 5 year old girls around the splash park this weekend. It didn’t hurt, I didn’t get out of breath, and I didn’t feel self-conscious. I also bought my first 2 piece bathing suit in my life. Granted it’s a tankini top that I’m going to pair with a pair of boy’s trunks, but still potentially belly exposing which is big!

Since I’ve been back to work full time I’m still working on what my daily eating/drinking schedule looks like. Right now I’m drinking half a protein shake on the drive in and then finishing it on my morning break plus some other fluids. Lunch is protein based something, around 3-4 oz. If I get an afternoon break I have something else protein based, usually a greek yogurt. All the while I’m sneaking drinks of water between cases. On the drive home I’m drinking my powerade zero like it’s going out of style, while also trying not to overdo it and get sick. It’s a fine line. I’ll get home about 6 and have a protein based dinner, 3-4 oz, while waiting for the girls to finish their dinner I’ll tend to be able to get outside the 30 minute waiting period and be able to drink something again. After the girls’ bedtime till my bedtime I try to get as many fluids in as I can.

If I’m under my protein goal for the day, which 90% of the time I am, I’ll have a cup of fairlife milk turned hot white chocolate with the help of some sugar-free flavor syrup. Just recently I’ve been able to eat and drink just a little more at a time so I’ve reached my protein goal 85-90% of the time, and if I don’t reach it I’m really close. Same with my fluids goal. Not quite there everyday but super close.

Another goal that I’m working on is making sure I get all my vitamins in. I’ve been really naughty about taking them. I know, I know. Not good. But I’m a work in progress and I think I have a schedule down for them that’s working. I’ve been able to remember all of them for 3 days straight!

Last but not least we had a new addition to the family yesterday! We adopted a stray 5 week old kitten from a family friend that rescued her. She’s been named Stormie, short for Stormageddon Dark Lord of All. We’re assuming she’s a she. If she turns out to be a he then the name works either way. She’s an adorable tiny ball of fluff. Right now we’re keeping her isolated in the bathroom to protect her from the other 2 cats and the messy house. This week’s project is to kitten-proof/clean the house so she can have some freedom. It would be just our luck that the first day we let her out she eats a rubber hair twisty or lone bead on the floor.