Well, we went out to that same restaurant again (the high-end steak and seafood house) -- this time for my Mom's birthday. I was going to see my Aunt and Uncle on my Father's side (who I haven't seen in nearly 3 years) and my Uncle and his wife on my Mom's side (who I haven't seen since last Christmas). I admit, I was a little excited. Anyone I haven't seen in a long time can see a difference. It's a nice feeling for people to compliment me (although I still have that water-off-a-duck's-back "disease"), be happy for me, and encourage me. Don't get me wrong, I get that from friends and family here, but there's just something different when they see a drastic change.
Knowing that I was going to see family who I hadn't seen in a long time, I decided to treat myself to a new dress! You can see part of it in the picture below. I did get a "gut-sucker-inner" (my general label for any Spanx-type products. There is a part of me that really protrudes in whatever I wear and this dress was no exception. As far as clothes and shopping go, I'm just excited to be able to shop in a real, in person store! I have found some old clothes which fit (or hopefully will soon) and I certainly don't have a problem wearing them. Many are from when I worked, so are dressier than something I'd wear with denim shorts. I was at the dentist last week - I see the same hygienist each time. She was so surprised and so happy for me, telling me she can't wait to see me in 6 months and gave me a big hug. Back to my point -- she told me of a thrift shop about 10 minutes from the dentist (who is already 30 minutes from home), so I stopped in there. They had brand new clothes, tags still on, for under $10! Some clothes were 50% off so I got something like 7 new shirts and a dress for under $40. I foresee myself spending a lot of time here in the next year. Great store! Clean, nice clothes, jewelry, expanding to include furniture. A real gem! I never would have thought that I'd get excited about shopping again!
At the restaurant, I ordered the same: 3 scallops and asparagus, both grilled. I'm not sure why I bothered getting the asparagus because I'm too full to eat it, but one of my nephews took it to have it with his leftover dinner. For that matter, I wasn't able to finish 3 scallops over the course of more than the 30 minutes I'm supposed to take to eat. We picked up an ice cream cake for my Mom (after dinner, so I was stuffed!) and I was so full from dinner that it didn't even phase me, which I feared it would. Sure my brain wanted some, but my body said "UH-UH, NO WAY!" Having a complete aversion to vomiting - seriously, who doesn't (?) - I decided to listen to my body. No cake for me (is anyone else saying that in the "no soup for you" voice? Ok, maybe it's just me...)!
I'm still trying to figure out the brain hunger vs. body hunger aspect of this whole thing. I'm not used to giving any concern to that. Before surgery, hunger was hunger, period. And it meant that I ate. Period. And that meant that I got to be over 310 lbs and needed this surgery after numerous, almost countless, attempts to do this thing on my own. I try to eat every 3-1/2 to 4 hours to make sure I get my protein and to help me prevent headaches. Every medication I take is being metabolized differently now. I weigh significantly less, which automatically means there is less of me to pump those meds through. It's going to be a balancing act until I land at a reasonable weight (whatever that may be) and can figure it all out "for real." According to my doc's office, most of the weight will come off in the first 18 months; by next Christmas, I should be golden! Until then, trial-and-error pervade my life. Life is just different and in limbo more than usual. But I signed on for this and have put too much into it to just throw it all away!
I started doing water aerobics (can't remember if I've said that before), but have been somewhat inconsistent due to a variety of reasons. I have, however, continued to see the scale go down. I mean, how could it not? I'm eating around 800 calories a day. Anyone is going to lose weight doing that. I was excited to be able to add fruit into the mix (after I've gotten my protein and some veggies). It's that something sweet that I've wanted. I also made chicken salad, using Short-Cuts (Perdue), with Greek yogurt instead of mayo - try it sometime; not only does it pump up the protein, but it offers up a change in flavor. I so desperately wanted to add grapes to it, but ran it first the dietitian first and was thrilled to get the go-ahead!!! We've branched out some with our meals, trying new recipes, many of which have been quite good!
I've been taking pictures about every 4 weeks. While not all of them are clear (and I've kept my face out of them, even though people have told me that's where they can really see a difference), I have decided to post some pictures to date. Before I do that, let me say that from my first visit with the surgeon at 304 lbs, and a surgery weight of 261.2, I think I'm on the right track. I just have to get my butt in gear with increasing exercise, but that's another story. Ok, here goes nothing (and you get to see how sloppy and dirty my bedroom and mirror are):
I have to tell you that I realize I look pregnant in the 8 week picture - it's the shirt; it's just not cut right for my body.
I can't tell you the last time that I was under 230 pounds! I mean, I could look back because I have calendars up in my night table, but I don't feel like going up there right now. I can tell you that it's been MANY years! And the last time I did hit it, it didn't last long. I was probably about 180 when I first started therapy in March of 2000. When I stopped working in November of that year, I wouldn't be surprised if I was around 200 (meds are a horrible contributor!). There was a shirt I found and there is a picture of me wearing it on a 2007 trip to Disney World.
I'm becoming more accustomed to the dietary changes. I still forget to eat sometimes. I typically start off my day with a protein shake (between 33-35 grams of protein - I'm supposed to get between 60-80 grams daily). A protein bar is usually 20 grams. Then I'll have Egg Beaters or Rosemary Chicken, Chicken Lettuce Wraps (better than PF Changs, in my opinion), Chicken "Fried" "Riceless" Rice... and I keep trying new things. The last 3 got serious approval from hubby, especially the Rosemary Chicken and the Lettuce Wraps - 5 stars! I have a number of bariatric cookbooks and am trying to get adventurous (within the confines of my dietary restrictions, since each program is different).
Big news on the Jen front: I can CROSS MY LEGS!!! No, it's not ankle to ankle or lower calf to lower calf, but it's not ankle to knee! Again, something someone who hasn't been morbidly obese doesn't even think about, but it's one of those things that comes into play. Wear skirts is awkward, but now I can without fear of showing a little too much of myself!
I also went shopping - in my very own closet! Ok, much of what I found is from before I went on disability in 2000 so it has shoulder pads. Fear not, those will be removed before that garment comes anywhere near my body (other than trying it on). I absolutely will not - WILL NOT - be leaving the house with shoulder pads, unless I'm going to an 80s themed party (highly unlikely).
I said to hubby last night as I was struggling to get in my minimum protein that people think surgery is the easy way out. They have NO clue - and it's not their fault, they just don't have the experience or know anyone who has and has been honest about it. The hard work starts when real food enters the post-op world. When I go to the gym, I have time to eat a Greek yogurt (12 grams protein) because it takes me an hour or so to down a protein shake and I don't have that kind of time. When I get home I shower and blah, blah, blah and by the time I eat again, I'm already behind the 8-ball. I'm figuring it out, though... little-by-little.
The next hurdle is vacation next month. Just being at the supermarket last weekend with the Halloween candy out, I was reminded of the fudge, salt water taffy, funnel cake/funnel fries, pizza, burgers.... you know how it is. I mean, how many people go on vacation without food playing a fairly major role? C'mon... be serious!! I'll definitely be having a long conversation with my dietitian! I'll be packing my Magic Bullet so I can make protein shakes and some protein bars for when we're out and about. I also think we'll pick up some Egg Beaters and string cheese sticks to have on hand for a 6 g protein fix. From someone who isn't a big fan of cheese, I'm shocked at how much I'm eating - Weight Watchers brand makes a smoked mozzarella string cheese and they are pretty stinkin' good. The plain ones were really hard to get down.
Ok, so, if you've kept up with the blog, you've seen the restrictions. I've worked to darn hard to screw this up. What do you think would be the most difficult thing for you? I know I've offered up plenty of opinions and shared a lot of my story. But, how would you handle this? I venture to say that you'd be able to do more than you ever thought possible. Don't for one minute, though, ever tell anyone who is considering or has had bariatric surgery that it's the easy way out. There's no cheating if you want to succeed. No "one Skinny Cow candy bar is fine," "I can have just one chip and it'll be ok because I can stop there" or "one bowl of pasta won't hurt" - NO! WRONG! This is hard work. Just ask anyone who has been around me and sees what I eat and how I eat. HARD WORK!
I know there are some reading this blog who are considering the surgery. I do not discuss the difficult things to dissuade you from having the operation (whichever one you and your doctor deem appropriate with the greatest opportunity for success). I just want you to go into it with your eyes open. It is one of the major reasons I'm putting myself out there. Also, maybe you know someone who is going to have one of the bariatric surgeries. You need to know what they'll be going through. You need to know how to support and encourage them. You will be a vital part of their success.
On an unrelated note, this year I have begun a very small "business" as an independent consultant for a direct sales company. I have gained some confidence, both with the ability to wear something that doesn't look like a tent, and having positive feedback from what I've done with this. Being on disability, I'm not able to do a lot, but this allows me to set my own schedule and have parties when I feel well enough, do Facebook parties, and even have hostesses who opt for catalog parties. It can be really stressful sometimes and that's hard on me emotionally, but when something goes well and I can help someone achieve one of her goals, it's certainly heart-warming.
How can I help you? What questions can I answer? What support can I offer you or a friend? Please don't hesitate for one minute to ask. I mean, if I've posted that awful 310 lb picture, I'm willing to discuss "almost" anything. I want to help, encourage, support and celebrate your experience!