Product Discovery

After this week’s therapy appointment, I decided to make a stop at Aldi to pick up a few things. I had some recipe ideas that I wanted to make, including makeshift personal pizzas (which is 2 or more meals for me now). I came across packages of flatbread that I thought would make a really good crust for my pizzas.  The product is called Fit & Active: Multi-Grain Flatbread with Flax. That night I decided to make a flatbread pizza with the usual sauce and cheese and for toppings I chose pepperoni and spinach. Probably an odd combination, but I wanted some form of vegetable included and that’s what was handy. I baked the pizza at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes but it probably could have been in there less time. I was quite shocked that I actually really like the flatbread. When I had pizza before, the crust was never something I enjoyed, but I found this flatbread to be pleasing. I might try making chips with them too because I am a chip and dip fiend.

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Go-To Recipes (Week 5)

At Week 5 I am just beginning to introduce solid foods. There have been a few recipes that have helped me get through the transition and also give me a lot of protein at each meal. Because I am almost always running late, one meal that has been a Godsend for me is mini-egg muffins.  I typically make a batch of 48 mini-muffins and keep them in the freezer. I try different combinations with each batch, but the basic starter of each muffin batch is this:

  • 10 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of milk (I use skim)
  • 2 tsp of salt (although I like salt, so I usually add a little more)

Some combinations I have enjoyed are bacon, cheese and spinach, feta and tomato, feta and red pepper, cheese and bacon, and cheese and pepperoni.

Spray each muffin tin with a bit of cooking spray for easier removal and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. The first time I made these, I was shocked at how buttery they tasted despite never adding any butter.

As I’ve said, I freeze mine and then just take 2 or 3 out when I’m running late, pop them in the microwave for about 30 seconds and eat them on the go. Depending upon what I add to each egg muffin, I can get between 3 and 6 grams of protein in each one.

Week 5 Updates

Yesterday I was officially 5 weeks out from surgery. I began eating soft foods a couple of weeks ago and solid foods last weekend. In the last week, I have been told contradictory information from my doctors, therapist and dietary team and from people who have had the surgery. My eating guidelines from my team have been 1/4 cup of protein and 1/4 cup of vegetables or fruits. I usually have more protein than fruits and veggies, but I’ve been pretty good on sticking with that plan. People who have had the surgery claim I am doing everything wrong by including fruits and veggies and not watching my carb intake.

I was on weight loss stall for 3 weeks that finally broke on Sunday. When you have the surgery and end up staying the same weight for a long period of time, you question everything that you are doing. I must be failing if I’m not losing weight. I’m going to stay at this weight forever because I didn’t utilize my new tool properly. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, try not to doubt yourself. Keep doing what you have been doing, even if people who claim they are more knowledgeable because they’ve had the surgery tell you to do something different. I’m sure carb counting works for some people, but with my history of obsessive behavior and an eating disorder, it is not in my best interest to worry about that. I will lose the weight by doing what I am supposed to: eating protein, then fruits or veggies. The days I did limit my carb intake I honestly felt pretty horrible. I was weak. Every time I stood up, I got light headed. With my job in a library that requires I monitor a large machine, that would not end well if I ended up passing out.

As of today, I am down 20 pounds since surgery and my total weight loss is 125 pounds.

Welcome!

As I sit on my couch sipping an 8 oz protein drink, that will take at least an hour to consume, I struggle with how I can best use this website to spread knowledge and awareness about weight loss surgery. The world is bombarded with ‘quick and easy’ weight loss tips and constant reminders that we should all be thinner. For a lot of people, that worry of being too heavy is unnecessary, but there are many people who have good reason to be concerned.

The only time I was of normal weight was before age six. I wasn’t necessarily overweight in first grade, but I was bigger. I was tall (and still am) and looked older than everyone despite usually being one of the younger kids in class. As I got older my weight gradually grew farther from the expected growth standard for my age and concern for my health was brought up frequently.

When I graduated high school my weight was around 220 pounds. For being 5’10”, I was really only about 50 pounds overweight. I attended college three hours from home and relied upon the buffet-style campus dining service everyday. The “Freshman 15” became the “Freshman 80” and by the time I had finally decided to drop out of college three years later I weighed 330 pounds.

A few years after leaving college, I decided to try again at a college nearby. Around that same time, I started to seriously consider weight loss surgery. I knew a few people who had had it done and were successful and I wanted to be like them. I equated thinness to happiness. I strongly believed that if I could just lose my excess weight I wouldn’t be depressed anymore and I could actually start my life.

Attending an information session was my first foray into my weight loss surgery education. I left the session certain that I was going to have the LAP Band done. I set up the appropriate appointments to start my journey and saw nutritionists, surgeons, and nurses all specializing in bariatrics. My insurance didn’t cover a lot of the appointments, but I was determined to have the surgery despite working at a job that barely paid minimum wage. For months I went to appointment believing that I was getting closer to a surgery date. A nutritionist finally told me after multiple visits that I was not meeting the goals we had set and that I would not be approved until I followed through. I was disheartened and convinced that this person did not know me enough to know that I would be successful. I just needed to lose the weight and I would be happy.

It took another month for me to realize that financially I could not keep going. In a matter of five months I had amassed at least $3,000 in hospital bills, which was a quarter of my yearly income. I was convinced I would be obese for the rest of my life and I would never be happy because no one would let me have the surgery.

In 2015, around three years after my initial attempt at weight loss surgery, my life started lining up in just the right way that I was on the path toward ridding myself of depression. By August of that year my life felt completely different. I had newfound confidence and motivation to get my life started despite being obese. Happiness was never guaranteed by losing weight, even though I believed for years that that was the reason I was so miserable.

A year into my remission from depression I started to reconsider weight loss surgery. I was working full-time at a job that I loved (and still do) and I finally graduated from college six months before. I changed my daily habits and started walking for exercise regularly. My eating patterns became less frenzied and more planned and intentional. By January 2017, my nutritionist declared me ready for surgery.

By the time I had my surgery (vertical sleeve gastrectomy) on February 20, 2017, I had managed to shed 110 pounds which was half of the weight I wanted to lose. My weight loss surgery journey is not close to being done, but I’ve gotten so far already that it doesn’t seem impossible anymore.

I hope that reading about my experiences as I go through this process will help others make the decision whether weight loss surgery is a good fit for them. It isn’t for everyone and sometimes, like me, a person isn’t as ready as they think. It took me years to be completely ready, but it was well worth the wait.