Nine Month Check-in

My nine month post-op check-in was this afternoon. The last time I had an appointment was July 10th. My weight then was 233, my weight today was 214. While my weight loss has significantly slowed the last 3 months, I’m pretty okay with that. My nutritionist said that most people lose about a pound a month after they get to the 9 month point, but since I’ve been running 4 times a week, she believes I could still lose 3-4 pounds a month. At 18 months post-op, most people hit their lowest weight. I’m 24 pounds away from my amended goal weight of 190, so it is very possible that I will reach it at some point in the future.

I signed up for my first 5K since I was 14. This will be the second 5K I have ever done and it is on Thanksgiving. When I run, I do at least 3 miles every time, so running the 5K will likely not be a huge problem for me. My sister and brother-in-law are running it too, so it’s almost a family. 😉

My life has changed a lot in the last year and I’m learning the quirks of my body that I never noticed before, like how I crave chocolate when I have PMS, or that I actually experience PMS now. Before surgery my period was very, very irregular (think once a year or even once every two years). Nowadays I can tell when I’m going to get it just by how I’m feeling. I get cramps now and that never happened before. I’m not happy about that, but now I know what other women are talking about when they say how painful cramps are. I was craving sweets like a mad woman two weeks ago and I was panicking because I thought my eating disorder was getting out of control. No, I was just experiencing PMS. I’m basically a teenager going through puberty again.

There isn’t much else to report. Things are going well. I still miss my cat like crazy and I cried about her while I was running today, but that’s okay. I loved her (and of course still do) and I’ll always miss her, but her death isn’t preventing me from living, so if I cry while I’m running, it’s not a huge deal.

Stats:
Weight: 214
Total Loss: 186
Pounds until Goal: 24

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The Topic of Regret

I frequent a forum for bariatric patients and one question asked was if anyone had any regrets. A lot of people responded with the only regret they have is not having it sooner. The thing about me is I don’t even regret that. I had the surgery when I was ready. If I had had it at any point before then, I know I would have failed miserably. I told my therapist this today and she asked why I think I would have failed. While I know the answer, I never really examined the reasons why I would have failed. The few times I tried to have the surgery, I believed losing weight was the only way I could be happy. I thought that having the surgery was going to solve everything and all of my problems would disappear. If only that were true. While my weight issue is getting better, it will never be fully resolved. I will struggle with food addiction the rest of my life, but it is up to me whether I let it win. Knowing I have an addiction to food is the biggest reason I don’t drink alcohol. I’ve never had a problem with alcohol, but I’m not even going to allow it to become an issue.

Speaking of my past attempts at weight loss surgery, I went for a run today and took a route that I used to take during my second attempt with surgery. The nutritionist kept insisting that I needed to keep up an exercise regimen but I was very much against it because I was struggling with depression at the time. It felt like the hardest thing in the world to just walk the 1.5 mile route because I wasn’t motivated to do it. Today on my run, I was going to do the 1.5 mile route again because I wanted to go a shorter distance but spend more of the time running instead of walking (which is what I have been doing). When I got to the point where I could turn and head home, I went the opposite direction and continued running. I ended up going double my intended distance. The last few weeks I have been wanting to get my heart rate into cardio levels for longer periods of time, but I’ve been embarrassed about running in front of people and have instead been mostly walking a 4.5 mile route. Today I made myself get over it and ran for probably 30 of the 45 minutes I was gone. It felt good to keep pushing myself. According to my FitBit, I was in cardio zone for 20 minutes too compared to the 9 minutes it was yesterday on my 4.5 mile walk/run.

So while I would have loved to have had the surgery years ago, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be running 3 miles a day 8 months after surgery because I wouldn’t have been motivated to exercise. I know I would have cheated and eat more than I should and more frequently. I don’t regret not having it sooner, because I had it at a time when I could be successful.

STATS:
Weight: 215 lbs
Total Loss: 185 lbs
Left to Lose: 25 lbs
Inches Lost Since January: 53
Pants Size: 14
T-shirt Size: Medium and Large
Amount of Food Eaten at Each Meal: 3/4 cup to 1 cup

Comparing Myself to Everyone

Clearly I am terrible about updating this site. A lot has happened in the two months, and most of it is not even related to my weight loss journey. On August 21, I had to put my 17 year old cat to sleep. I was devastated especially since she had been in my life since I was 14 years old. I miss her terribly and considering how much I relied on her, I am shocked at how well I am doing in the aftermath of her death.

Today I had an appointment with my therapist (who specializes in eating disorders) and I talked about my perception of how others view me now that I’m smaller. I told her that after being the biggest person among everyone I know for so many years, it’s a very weird realization that I am no longer the biggest and am now on the smaller end of the spectrum. Comparing myself to others has been a commonality throughout my entire life and I hate that I still do it as a 31 year old. My worth is no more or no less because I lost weight and other people’s worth is no more or no less because they are smaller or bigger than me.

What prompted the discussion of comparison was because I feel like I have been self-sabotaging myself again like I did when I was depressed. I have been in a 2 month weight loss stall. I was starting to accept that I had lost all that I could, but it occurred to me, that I’m not doing what I need to do to be successful. I’ve been seeing myself shrinking and becoming smaller than people who have always been smaller than me. Having been an obese person with horrible self-esteem for most of my life, I kept believing that my losing weight was making other people feel bad because I took “the easy way” for weight loss. Weight loss surgery isn’t the easy way and I know this, but I do believe it is an easier way. My therapist told me that while I have lost a lot of weight, I still struggle with the same things that people who haven’t had surgery. I have trouble picking the right foods, getting enough water, exercising frequently and all of that. Just because I lost the weight quickly, doesn’t mean I took the easy way.

Comparing myself to others is a thinking style that most adults grew out of. My maturity is still growing because I was depressed for more than a third of my life. Depression essentially stunts normal brain development which caused my emotional maturity to be stunted as well. When my therapist told me that most adults don’t compare themselves to others (at least to the level I do), it shocked me. It shocked me in that the way I think is not like how others think and also because I realized that I can change that thinking pattern. Comparing my life to everyone else’s is anxiety-inducing and esteem-crushing and it gives me hope that I have the ability to stop that.

As my therapy session winded down, my therapist said that my weight loss does not effect anyone else’s self esteem. Even though when I had poor self esteem, I believed other people’s successes were a reflection of my failures, it didn’t cause my poor self esteem. My poor self esteem was from a lack of confidence in my abilities and years of depression telling me I was worthless. After recovering from depression, I was still over 350 pounds, but not having my thoughts clouded by depression allowed me to find my worth and my happiness. I was happy when I weighed 350 pounds and I’m mostly happy now at 220 pounds. At the moment I am only mostly happy because of factors other than my weight, like losing my cat and financial difficulties, but that is how life is; I can’t always expect to be happy and that’s fine.

STATS
Current Weight: 220
Weight Lost: 180
Inches Lost: 43
Amended Goal Weight: 190

Having My Life Back

I’m 1 week away from being 5 months out from surgery. I’ve seen so many changes in the last 5 months, not just from my deflating body, but also on how I view and participate in life.

Last week I went on vacation to San Francisco. I flew in a plane, in coach and I wasn’t miserable. I haven’t been on a plane since 1999 and part of that was because of my weight and another part was because of money. While in San Francisco, my mom and sister and I walked a total of 40 miles in the 5 days we were there and we also biked. I haven’t been on a bike in over a decade because I was always too heavy. I’ve been doing things that I haven’t done in a really long time because I’m no longer 400 lbs.

I’m happy and I don’t think I will ever regret having the surgery. Before the surgery I was also happy, but I had limited ability to do things I wanted to do, so I knew that there was room for me to be happier. I wouldn’t necessarily say I am happier now though. In order to have the ability to participate in life, I had to take away one of my coping mechanisms for life which was food. I can’t eat as much as I used to, so I sometimes have to be very picky about what I choose for my meals. The giant bag of chips I would have gorged myself on before surgery looks different to me now. It’s no longer my way to forget about a bad day, but instead is a food that tastes good, but will not give me the protein I need and I know I will feel gross if I eat them. I do have chips every once in a while, but it’s maybe a handful. Depriving myself of things doesn’t work for me, but I needed to recognize that a handful of chips tastes the same as a bagful. Eating more doesn’t equal greater pleasure and in fact eating more usually equals feeling guilty and remorseful.

I made the decision a couple weeks ago to sell my bigger dresses on eBay. I listed 15 of my 3x and 4x size dresses and they all sold. I ended up getting $200 for all of them. I wanted to try and have them resized, but it just seemed easier to start over with a new collection. Plus shopping for smaller clothes is kind of awesome now.

So I’m a week away from the 5 month mark and as of today I am down 168 pounds since my highest, I have 52 more pounds to go until I hit my goal weight, and I’ve lost a little over 75% of my excess weight. With the sleeve the average excess weight loss is 50-60%, so I am doing very well so far.

Cooking Again

The last few weeks in my house we haven’t been doing a lot of cooking. Since I work later in the day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I don’t get home until after dinner. This schedule has resulted in me making something quick or having leftovers from a restaurant visit the day before. This evening I made the decision to actually cook something. A few weeks ago I made sweet potato gnocchi from scratch and I ended up freezing them for future use.

My refusal to follow the fad diets that I’ve seen a lot of weight loss surgery patients do has allowed me to actually eat vegetables and fruits. I cannot go low-carb and I cannot only eat protein and no vegetables. That is not healthy and that is also not what my surgical team recommends.

Because my birthday was last week, I have allowed myself to be a little indulgent when it comes to certain things, like chocolate and sweets. This has also led me to not do as well in terms of what the scale says. When dinner time came, I knew that I needed to actually make a meal and knowing that the sweet potato gnocchi was in the freezer waiting to be used, motivated me enough to create something.

I made soup. My mom asked me what kind and I told her, “It’s messa soup because I put a whole mess of stuff I found in the kitchen,” which is true. The soup that I made actually wasn’t that bad and that’s good considering I will likely be eating it for the next few days.

If you are interested in the recipe, here it is.

1 lb hot sausage
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery chopped
15 oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
48 oz of chicken broth
1 tsp of rosemary
1 tsp of thyme
2 cups of kale, chopped
2 cups of sweet potato gnocchi
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the sausage. Add the onions and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add carrots and celery, cook for 3-5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, broth, rosemary, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook for about another 5 minutes, add kale and gnocchi. Cook until the gnocchi float to the top (or if using store bought, cook for 3 more minutes). Serve.

I’ve gotten a lot better at creating my own recipes and finding things that go well together by experimenting and I love being able to add healthy foods into meals that could otherwise not be that good for me. I was worried the gnocchi didn’t turn out, but they were pretty good considering I have never made anything like that before.

Living with a shedding Wookie

My lack of posts to this blog is appalling, I know. I am nearly 4 months out from surgery and I knew there was a strong possibility that I would lose some of my hair because of the weight loss, but I prayed it wouldn’t happen to me. Despite my hopes of keeping as much of my hair as possible, I have been losing a lot more than usual. After I shower the tub looks like a shedding Wookie had just used it. Thankfully I have been blessed with very thick hair so it isn’t very noticeable to other people, but I have noticed that my ponytails are smaller and the hair in my brushes is more than usual. I know that I will get my thick hair back someday but it won’t be for awhile. It’s not like I can do anything about it anyway since I’ve already had the surgery.

In the last month or so, my weight loss has been stalled at or around 255 pounds. I thought that the reason I was at a plateau was because my period was due to arrive and I was retaining water. When the period never showed, I didn’t know what to think. The last time I had an extended stall (around 3 weeks like this time), I started cutting my carb intake and the stall broke. Because of my skepticism over fad diets like low-carb, ketogenic, and paleo diets, I refused to jump on that bandwagon again. Last week I consumed more carbs than I normally do and had at least 3 days in a row where I consumed around 1200 calories which is about 400 more than I usually do. In a matter of 4 days I dropped 8 pounds and I am now at 242 pounds. I spoke with my therapist today (who specializes in eating disorders) and I said that clearly my body is going to do whatever the hell it wants to do and there isn’t much I can do to control it. The weight will come off even if I eat ice cream (which I am actually doing right now), the weight will come off even if I leave the bread on my sandwich, the weight will come off even if I believe it won’t. The only things that will prevent the weight from coming off is if I decide to eat more than 3 times a day and I misuse the tool that is my smaller stomach. I know there will come a point when the weight loss will slow considerably and eventually I will reach the maintenance period, but I have not gotten there yet, so the stalls are not something I should be worrying about right now.

My therapist asked me a couple of weeks ago whether I am having trouble seeing myself in the size that I am now after the considerable amount of weight I have lost. I told her that I’m more often caught off guard when I see my reflection in a window or a mirror because I forget that I am now a lot smaller. One thing I discovered since that therapy session though was how I view the numbers on the scale. I need to preface this by explaining how my brain views things. When I think of the number 250, my brain has a specific place for it on a timeline or a plane in my head. The place where 250 is located is different than where 400 is or 75. When I step on my scale and see the number 242 pop up, my brain doesn’t go to where 242 lives. My brain seems to think that in relation to bathroom scales 242 and 342 are cohabiting the same house, when in reality they aren’t even in the same city. I don’t have this problem with numbers when it isn’t involving a scale though. So in some weird way, my brain still thinks I am over 100 pounds heavier than I really am.

I am happy to report that I have reached the same clothing size as some of the clothes in my mom’s closet (she’s also lost some weight lately but not because of surgery) and for the first time in my life, I am able to share clothes with someone. I remember owning a pair of size 32 jeans (which keep in mind is not a 32 inch waist). Right now I am able to wear size 16 jeans. I haven’t worn them out in the world yet though. Just because I can put on the size 16 jeans doesn’t mean I should be wearing them out in public yet.

Hopefully I will not take as long to update my next post. Here’s a quick rundown of my progress:
Current Weight: 242 pounds
Total Loss: 158 pounds
Loss since Surgery: 55 pounds
Amount to Goal: 64 pounds
Size Pants: 18 comfortably
Shirt Size: XL, sometimes Large
Last Time I Weighed My Current Weight: 2004, Age 18

Recognizing When Something is Wrong

It has been nearly two years since I have considered myself in remission from depression. I’m still doing fairly well in terms of my mood management, but I have become hyper-aware of any changes that could cause me to have another episode.

Since having surgery, I have tried to maintain as much normality as I could, even with my life changing so drastically. There are things that I have been able to recognize as a normal change that comes with surgery, like losing interest in most foods, but also realizing that losing sleep is not normal. In the last month I have averaged 5 hours of sleep every night. Needless to say in the last month, I have been unmotivated, irritable, on edge, exhausted, and unreliable. These side effects of sleep deprivation have been affecting my job, in that I am late more often than not. I ended up having a meeting with my boss and informed her of my sleeping issues and how I had made an appointment with my doctor to see what is going on. My doctor’s appointment was on Thursday and my doctor recommended I start taking a very low dose of melatonin before bed. It has been two nights while on it and last night was the first time I slept for eight hours. The last two days I have also not been late for work and have actually arrived 15 minutes early both days.

Two days is only two days, but knowing that there is something I can do to change things, has me motivated to make sure it continues. I refuse to go back to that time where I could barely get out of bed most days and would hide from the world because the idea of leaving the house terrified me. I’m proud of myself for taking the necessary steps in fixing a problem that would have only gotten worse if I ignored it.  It’s hard to keep myself on the right path of being mentally healthy, but it’s a lot harder finding the path after straying for a long time. So while I may wander off sometimes, I can still see where I need to be and always go back.  I will do my best to not get lost again, but staying close enough to the path that I don’t miss the flashing signs warning me of danger is the only way I can keep a relapse at bay. That doesn’t mean there won’t be an unexpected pit that I may fall into, but hopefully it’s only a few feet deep and I can lift myself out again, assuming my arms are strong enough because I’ll be honest I have never been able to lift myself up without assistance from a ladder or a chair. I’ve also never done a pull up. My weak arms aside, there is always a way out and as long as I am healthy, I can prevent myself from falling.