The first month or so after having my band removed was pretty normal with food. Everything I ate was basically the same as what I ate when I had the band. Quantities were also basically the same. I didn’t really think about food any differently than I had before, other than to just be relieved that I could swallow broccoli without needing to vomit.

But the past two weeks or so have been different. Simply put, I can’t stop eating. Anything, everything, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. It’s as though any food that happens to be nearby is suddenly magnetized to me and I feel compelled to eat it even if I don’t actually want to eat it.

I’m also hungry way more than I ever was before. I can eat a full and healthy dinner and then a couple of hours later I’m actually, stomach growling, hungry. Case in point, the other night I had roasted chicken (no skin), with baked sweet potato, and roasted Brussels sprouts. By 9:30pm I was hungry enough to eat another whole meal! I didn’t of course, I told myself, “it’s ok, you’ll eat again tomorrow”. (This was my standard OA mantra.)

But then the next morning I was having my pre-op blood work drawn, which meant I had to fast, and I didn’t get the opportunity to eat breakfast until after 10am. Now I’m no stranger to hunger but it was the first time I could remember feeling so unhinged by being hungry. I was cranky and impatient and just wanted to stomp over everyone in front of me in line at the lab (they were running way behind schedule).

By the time I left and went to get food there was so little time before I had to be at work that I ran into the grocery store looking to just grab something from the salad bar. Which I did, some nice plain yogurt, cut up fruit, and 2 hard boiled eggs. But, then I also went and grabbed two big plastic-clamshells of cake from the bakery department.

?!?!?!?!?!?What?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Then I ate half of one of them with my fingers while driving. I seriously don’t even know who I am anymore.

When I got to work I threw it all the rest of it out, uneaten, in an outdoor, public garbage can so there was no way I could retrieve it later.

I feel as though there is something neurochemical about this because psychologically and emotionally it doesn’t feel like anything has changed. But my behavior has changed in ways I hate.

Holy cow, I am ready for this surgery in 10 days. I want to be free of this weird hold food has on me. I remember this, from ages ago, when I was young, before OA, before the band. It’s like some external being has got a hook in me and can control me in ways that make no sense. But I remember that after the band that all lifted. It was gone and I was just at peace with food for the first time ever. They say that happens with the sleeve. One nurse told me that the bacteria in the stomach and intestines change after the sleeve and that fixation on food lifts.

I hope so. This can’t come soon enough for me. I need the relief.

My doctor says that there is an 18 month window for weight loss after surgery and that then after that following the rules is about maintenance not weight loss anymore. He describes it as a marathon, not a sprint, but that first 18 months out of the gate seems pretty damn important and messing around with the guidelines seems like a sure fire way to fail. So, if I’m going ahead with this I have to be all in.

I’ve looked online at calculators that tell you what to expect in terms of weight loss after surgery. They tell me I should expect to lose 68 pounds from the sleeve. But the calculators also say that if I were having the band surgery I’d expect to lose 57 pounds and when I had the band I lost 90 pounds. So… I’m wondering what the realistic expectations should be for me. Is 68 the best I can hope for? Or will I be able to hit the 90 pound mark again? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve got 18 months to get it done either way and I’m not going to mess that up.

I’m 12 years older than I was when I got the band surgery, which means my body is older than it was and has been through more (like another pregnancy). But, I’m feeling just as motivated and I’m just as much of a rule follower now as I was then, so I think I’ve got a chance of making a run of it back to the 90 pound loss.

I pulled out my spreadsheet where I kept track of my weight loss and inches loss in 2005. It took me 10 months to lose 85 pounds. Then it took me another 4 months to lose an additional 5 pounds. I know that at the 10 month mark I was wearing a size 6 and decided that I’d essentially reached my goal and was comfortable settling in. I stopped following all the rules and was honestly thrilled that I was maintaining (or very slowly losing) my weight while basically eating whatever I wanted in small quantities.

But I don’t think I’m going to satisfied with that this time. I want to be healthy, not just thin, and I sure as hell don’t want to fail at this again. So, yeah, I’m hoping that by the 10 month mark I’ll be down by the same as I was before. And then I don’t want to slip into bad habits again.

I keep telling myself not to expect too much. But I also keep telling myself that last time I got pregnant and gained weight from the pregnancy and the band being emptied and then I never got restriction back properly after that and that I won’t have these obstacles this time. I don’t know…

I just know I’m gearing up for “a marathon” and the results are going to matter to me so taking it seriously is going to matter. So, here’s to taking things seriously.

I can tell that I’m starting to feel more optimistic about my choice to get the gastric sleeve surgery because I’ve started shopping for the stuff I’m going to need after surgery. With 3 days on a clear liquid diet and then 21 days on a full liquid diet I have to plan for success or I’ll find myself eating and drinking things that I shouldn’t because I won’t have the right stuff on hand.

On Wednesday night I went to my pre-op class where they handed out all of the information about the post-op diet. It’s very very similar to the post-op diet I had after the gastric band 12 years ago and so nothing was really new about it to me. What was new, or will be new, is that the products on the market are different, updated, dare I say improved, and I knew I needed to familiarize myself with them before surgery.

I never liked the protein supplements that were on the market 12 years ago. The one I could stand was the unflavored Designer Whey protein powder which I just put in smoothies and stirred into yogurt. But it wasn’t really a big deal because I never had trouble getting in all of the protein I was supposed to have in a day just from eating. (They really stress protein because with rapid weight loss you risk losing muscle mass and protein helps prevent your body from burning muscle instead of fat.) Without having any trouble getting the protein requirements into my diet in food form I kind of left the supplements by the wayside last time.

But this time I know it’s going to be different because unlike last time they will be cutting and stapling my stomach and the tissue itself will have to heal and that’s going to take longer. Last time I was back on regular foods within 2 weeks. This time, it’s going to be closer to 5 weeks before I can eat regular food again and I don’t want my muscles, skin, hair, and nails to fall to pieces during that time.

So yesterday I went out and bought a bunch of protein supplements, some for the clear liquids phase and some for the full liquids phase, and tried them out. I have to say there really has been progress in the past 12 years. Isopure, which is like a Gatorade style protein drink that has no carbs and no sugar, has 40 grams of protein in a 20 ounce bottle. 12 years ago it was so disgusting to me that I couldn’t tolerate it at all. Now, it’s honestly not so bad. It’s flavoring is so super strong that I watered it down about 2/3 water to 1/3 Isopure Alpine Punch flavor. But once watered down it was actually pretty good and I can see myself drinking it during the weeks I’m on liquids only.

I also grabbed a couple of boxes of Muscle Milk 100 calorie shakes, one vanilla and one chocolate. I’ll be honest, I did not have high hopes for these at all. Years ago all the premixed shakes tasted like chalk (anyone else remember trying Slim Fast in the 80s?) so I avoided these premixed shakes as well. But, once again I was wrong. The Muscle Milk 100 calorie boxes were pretty good and with 20 grams of protein in 11 ounces it seems that these will help me get my protein needs met while I spend weeks unable to eat anything with “chunks” in it.

I think the thing that has me most amazed is not the taste of these products, but rather how much I find I am looking forward to not having to eat. The food cravings, the will power, the exhaustion, and the hunger have been plaguing me for a long time now. As much as I am constantly thinking about food, what and when to eat, I just want to be done with it. The idea of spending weeks drinking shakes and sipping pureed soups in 2-4 ounce increments is actually appealing.

I remember what it felt like after my band surgery, I didn’t want to eat. My stomach organ hurt from being manipulated and the idea of eating was not appealing. I know, with the cutting and stapling, this is going to happen again. I’m looking forward to it. It’s like a hard reboot of my brain and it’s desire for food.

Anyway, at this point this is what counts as optimism and I’m going to take it.

When I started this blog 5 years ago I was 189 pounds and feeling miserable about myself and controlled by food. I lost 35 pounds during that journey and spent two years “on the wagon” of eating well and maintaining my weight loss. Then, three years ago my son developed a series of health problems and my ability to do anything for myself collapsed under the demands of the schedule of doctor’s appointments, meetings at school, and OT, not to mention the emotional toll the whole experience was taking on me. Three years on he’s now stable, and home schooled, and on the track for success that we’ve all worked so hard to get him on. It’s a serious accomplishment and I’m proud of myself for all we’ve accomplished. It took determination, follow-through, immeasurable amounts of patience, and lots of love.

But now, I weigh 236 pounds (at last count) and feeling generally miserable about myself would be a welcome relief as compared to the self-loathing I feel. I can’t bear to look at myself in the mirror. I can’t bear to see my face in profile. I can’t bear to be touched by my husband because anywhere his hand touches reminds me of the profound shame and disappointment I feel about my body and my weight.

This is awful.

The weight loss surgery I had in 2005, the gastric band, stopped working for me years and years ago and I lived through the years of the Dukan Diet without any help from the band. In the past three years it’s become a flat out liability preventing me from eating raw vegetables and “unlubricated” proteins, which meant adding fat to my diet that didn’t need to be there or else I’d be barfing up the food I was trying to eat.

So last September I went back to see my surgeon to talk about what my options were. This began a new journey to find a solution. I’ve had blood tests, an endoscopy, tests, consultations, and a surgery to remove the band from from my stomach. All of this is in preparation for a new weight loss surgery (new for me at least) that’s coming on May 1st. The gastric sleeve.

I’ve been through weight loss surgery before. It’s not the easy way out. It’s so freaking hard and requires so much time, attention, dedication, and consistent follow-through. What you are or aren’t eating is only a portion of what matters. There’s weeks of not eating at all while your body heals from the surgery. There’s making sure you’re taking your supplements, getting in enough water, never drinking and eating at the same time, counting your protein grams to make sure you are getting enough, making sure you’re getting your fiber in supplement form in case you can’t get enough roughage in your diet. There’s feeling constantly tired from lack of calories, and counting, counting, counting, every day without ever stopping. All of this is on top of being a mother of two, one with special needs, being a wife, having a job, taking care of our house and finances. It’s a lot without all of this other stuff to get in the way. It’s even more with it.

I confess I’m nervous about this next step. I’ve been through this before and while it worked beautifully at first, I was 100%. On. Top. Of. Everything. the last time and I had the emotional resources to manage it all. Now, I’m just not that sure.

What I am sure of is that I can’t be 236 pounds forever, and if I don’t do this surgery that 236 is only going to go up (no doubt it will whether or not I want it to before May 1st), but if I do have the surgery it will go down.

I don’t honestly know how far down that number will go. Some estimates say that I’ll end up at 167 pounds some say 175. These were the estimates I got after my first surgery and I wound up coming to rest at 157. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to get back to that 157 mark. But at this point 175 sounds pretty darn good. Just being able to be comfortable in my clothes again would be amazing. Not feeling like I’m in “point and laugh at the fat person” territory would be amazing.

Honestly, the last thing that worked for me was the Dukan Diet that I chronicled here. I think that the reason that it worked was that I used my Overeater’s Anonymous tool of “just for today”. No, with the surgery I can’t opt to just stop when and if I don’t want to do it any more. But I know that the OA strategy of telling myself that it’s just for today, one day at a time, get through until bedtime helps manage a lot of the psychological effects of being on a rigorous weight loss program.

Between today and surgery I have a few goals:

  1. Writing here to keep me focused.
  2. Stop drinking with my meals.
  3. Get in 64 oz of water a day (or drink 3 full “cups” from my large straw cup)
  4. Start increasing my chewing.
  5. Start walking a bit each day.
  6. Cut down on sugary foods.

The last one will be the hardest. Honestly, they’ll all be hard but getting in the water will probably be the easiest because I’m already getting in two of the large cups per day so getting in the third won’t be that hard. In fact, I can probably just add a mug of tea in the morning to get me over the hurdle.

I rambled quite a lot here and it’s mostly because I’m trying to get focused and it’s resulting in a shotgun approach so I’ll wrap it up for now. So, that’s all for today. More about my weighing in plans next time.

Well, somehow I’ve reached my first goal which was (as I remember it) to get under 200 lbs.

As of this morning I am officially in “One-derland”! I weighed in at 199.5 pounds. Just under the wire, but I’ll take it!

Honestly, since I’ve gone back to eating carbs the weight has been coming off more slowly. Especially since I had my period last week. I was hovering at 201.5 lbs for a couple of weeks and didn’t have much to say other than, “I have to eat carbs because if I don’t I get so dizzy and nauseated I get nervous to drive and have to lie down every day.” Not fun.

But I think I’ve discovered that if I just don’t eat crappy junk food, processed food, cookies, sweets, etc. while I’m taking this medicine and eating normally I can do fine.

I’ve been thinking what to call this type of eating… and although this might be too filled with judgement for many people who struggle with food, for now I’m calling it “eating like a grown up”. Let’s face it, my kids eat a ton of stuff that I would love to eat, but just shouldn’t. They are still growing and I’m not. Their bodies and metabolisms can handle daily ice cream and cookies. Mine can’t.

My parents, my in-laws, most of my friends, all of whom are at a normal weight, don’t eat that crap except on special occasions. So, that’s what I’m trying to do. It’s what I’ve been doing these past couple of weeks and I’ve lost 3 pounds since starting so that’s ok by me.

I lost 10 pounds the first month on this medicine and seriously dieting. But I felt like crap all of the time and it was not sustainable.

I lost 5 pounds the second month on this medicine and just eating like “a grown-up”. I feel basically healthy and fine and much less tortured by food.

We’ll see how month three goes.

One caveat to the eating plan… I’m generally not eating wheat. I’ve realized that it really does give me a headache. I say things like this all the time after I stop eating wheat. I must sound like a moron now for “realizing” the same things over and over again. But it’s true. Wheat makes my head hurt. But, I’m not interested in feeling massive amounts of deprivation or frustration right now. (We’ve got enough going on with my son.) So, if I’m at home, I stick with gluten free. If I’m in a restaurant I try to avoid it, but if I have a little of it out I’m not going to panic about it or feel guilty.

For today, that’s the plan

 

I’ve been gone this last week because once again things are going on with my son’s health that distract me from everything else. You’d think we’d be used to this by now and it wouldn’t throw us for a loop. But it always does.

I’ve been ok with the food this week. Perhaps a few more grams of carbs than I should have but most of them were coming from fruits etc. so I wasn’t too worried. But this morning I’ve eaten 1/2 pancake that my son left on his plate and three waffles. All with butter and syrup. Oh, yeah, I also had a chocolate chip cookie because I was so hungry I couldn’t wait for the waffles to cook.

I have to hold this together.

Even my husband is having a problem with food and he doesn’t even have eating issues. Last night we ate our dinner and then when the kids were eating pizza he ate two slices just because it was there.

I can’t let this go off the rails completely. I just can’t. I feel as though there is too much at stake. But I lose my ability to see the bigger picture when I’m emotionally stressed like I am when my son’s health is at stake. The stress also makes my body grab on anything and everything I eat and refuse to let go, so no matter what I do this week my weigh in next time is going to be terrible.

Great attitude, right?

I logged the waffles in my food diary. I guess I’ll just try to adjust the rest of my day to compensate.

Sigh. It never really gets easier.

 

After four days of being on this new plan of eating I decided that I needed to know what was going on. So, I weighed myself on Saturday morning, two days earlier than I had planned.

I stepped on the scale and thought to myself, well, this is it.

I lost 1 pound in those 4 days.

So, now, I’m committed to this new plan.

For now.

For as long as it works.

But this new medication has made me say something I never thought I would: I need the carbs.

Not junk food carbs… just some occasional slices of gluten free bread for a sandwich or an apple in the afternoon. Itkeeps my blod sugar up which keeps me from feeling dizzy, nauseated, and exhausted. I consider this a win.

So, I’ll wait until Wednesday for my next weigh in and be hopeful that the loss continues.

201.5 and counting.

As I mentioned last time, I ate an apple and some GF toast and started to feel like a human being again. It was kind of surprising how different I felt but I wasn’t prepared for how different I was going to feel 24 hours later.

On Tuesday I spent the day eating relatively “normally”. Here’s the run down:

  • Breakfast: 2 eggs over medium with two slices of GF toast
  • Lunch: Low-carb, low-sugar, protein bar (Quest bar)
  • Afternoon snack: 1 cup fresh strawberries
  • Dinner: 2 sushi rolls with raw fish which included approximately 1/2 cup white rice total
  • Night snack: 1 orange

I couldn’t believe how dramatically everything changed as a result of adding back in such a small amount of carbs. I felt healthy again. I felt energetic not exhausted. The nausea and dizziness were gone. In the afternoon and evening I got a little tiny bit woozy and decided to have some fruit and the feeling instantly went away and I felt good again.

On Tuesday I also went back to tracking everything that I ate. For the past two days I’ve stayed in my ranges for carbs and protein and I’ve felt well, not perfect – I don’t want to overstate things, but pretty darn good. So much better than the past month and a half that I almost can’t believe it.

When I look back on the way I’ve been feeling physically the past six weeks, and what and how little I was eating, it seems almost dreamlike that I was walking around in such a fog. Today my stomach is full and my head is clear and while I’m still not eating junk and sweets I’m not looking at every piece of food as an enemy anymore. Which is nicer than I can express.

I’m going to stay hopeful that the scale isn’t going to show me that this is a terrible mistake. I think that if it becomes clear that the only way I can lose weight anymore is to starve myself like I’ve been these past weeks then I’m going to very seriously consider the possibility that fat and fit is going to have to be who I am from now on.

But, again, I’m done prognosticating. Today is today and I’ll worry about the rest of it when it happens because I admit I no longer know much of anything. And that’s ok!

Well, not entirely “done”, just regrouping.

As happy as I am that I have lost 12 pounds there’s been something wrong and I can’t just let it go on anymore. The constant hunger coupled with nausea and inability to eat leading to days upon days of 600 calories leading to exhaustion had to stop. It wasn’t healthy.

So last night I did some research and discovered that the medication I’m on does not go well with a no/low-carb diet in many people. In fact, it forces them into a hypoglycemic state that causes nausea, exhaustion, and dizziness. Sound familiar?

So at 10 pm last night, when I finally felt like I could eat something again I had a couple pieces of gluten free toast and felt “normal” for the first time in a couple of weeks.

So I weighed myself this morning, one day early of my weekly weigh-in, so that I could conduct a reasonable experiment. Basically starving myself out of the utter repulsion of food yielded me a weight loss of 1.5 pounds in six days while feeling like complete hell and dragging myself through each day in misery. Let’s see what eating a few reasonable* carbs each day for six days while continuing the medication yields me in terms of both weight loss and state of being.

If at the end of the next six days I’ve still lost weight of any amount I am going to stick with this new plan.

If at the end of the next six days I’m at the same weight I’ll give it another week to see what happens.

If at the end of the next six days my weight goes up then I will have to stop altogether and regroup… again.

* So, obviously, I need to examine what “reasonable” means. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Still avoiding:

  • Sweets or sugars like cookies, cakes, etc.
  • Giant meals of pasta or seriously heavy processed carbs.
  • Gluten whenever possible (it messes with my emotions and anxiety).

Adding back in:

  • Whole fruits
  • Small (as in side dish portion – roughly 1/2 cup) rice, potato, sweet potato – ie. whole food starchy vegetables & non gluten grains & beans
  • A couple of slices of GF bread if I want a sandwich or slice of toast with some eggs

My goal will be to shoot for under 100 grams of carbs a day. Way back in the day when I was losing weight after my weight loss surgery I was eating roughly 100-140 grams of carbs a day in the form of whole foods like rice, beans, potato, and fresh fruit. (I rummaged through 10 years of Fitday calendars to find that, but it’s true.) So I know that eating whole food plant based carbs is possible for me on a weight loss plan.

Which brings me to the obvious inevitable… portion control and getting my anxiety and depression under control with coping strategies that don’t involve food.

Bam!

There it is.

Well, at least there it might be… see what happens on that scale in a week.

Sigh. This will never end.

 

 

Last night I made garlicky green beans and my husband put some ribs on the grill. I was so excited for that dinner. Protein and vegetables, just enough fat to be tasty but still pretty lean, flavorful and satisfying. Then, as he brought them in from the grill and placed them on the counter for me to cut into servings the hunger I’d been fighting all day turned into a wave of nausea. I couldn’t shake it.

The punch line? My dinner last night? One rib. One. No green beans. One. Rib. One rib that I forced myself to eat.

The same thing happens over and over again to me nowadays. I’m get hungry, I go to eat, I get nauseated and can’t eat which means I’m hungry again in an hour. Or, if I force myself to eat, because I know I should, the nausea take hours and hours to go away. Sometimes it makes me feel so bad I need to lie down.

What’s the practical outcome here? I am basically hungry all of the time except when I’m nauseated. Lovely.

Food was always something that made me feel good (when I wasn’t binging and abusing it). But sitting down to a nice, on plan, meal was joyful. I could lose weight and still love what I was eating. Obviously you don’t love every meal every day. Breakfast is routine and uninspired most of the time. Lunch is usually just fuel to get through the busy afternoon. But both of them tasted good. Dinner was the place to relax and enjoy myself with something creative and flavorful and enjoyable.

But now, all meals are sort of a challenge that leave me feeling either totally disinterested or totally dissatisfied.

I’m still eating my oat bran at breakfast most days. But fairly often I’m skipping it and eating a low carb, no sugar, gluten free protein bar. Then when lunch rolls around I want to have something off plan but instead I eat another protein bar. Or, more often than not, I just skip lunch altogether and eat that second protein bar in the late afternoon munchie time. Dinner, half the time, is a bust like last night. Blech.

So am I losing weight? Yes. At least I have been up until now, we’ll see what Wednesday’s weigh in has to say on the subject in two days.

But is it sustainable? Hell no.

Or is it? I don’t want to eat so perhaps it is sustainable. Perhaps I’ll go a long time without wanting to eat.

Or, perhaps I’ll miss food so much, the social aspect of eating, the comfort of chewing, the pleasure of tasting something that’s both good and good for me, that I’ll go back to eating crap just to get some tiny part of that back.

I’m fairly confident that most of this experience is coming from the medicine my endocrinologist put me on. My husband has suggested that I stop taking it to see if that helps bring my appetite back. But, “why would I want that?”, I ask myself. If it’s working to help me lose weight don’t I want it to keep going?

For the first time, maybe ever, I’m not really sure. On balance, life’s happier with food.

The real problem is I can’t stay still. My husband pointed that out last night. I’m either losing or gaining at a fairly fast clip… I don’t have much insight on that right now… I suppose that needs to go in the idea incubator and I’ll come back to it in another post.

For today, I’m just trying to hold on.