Saturday, January 14, 2017

Surviving the Holidays After Bariatric Surgery

Yeah, this is a difficult one.  I've held off on writing it, unsure how to really convey this experience to anyone outside of the bariatric world.

This was probably the easiest of them all.  My sleeve handles turkey.  I made a special cranberry sauce using low-sugar Craisins, as well as a pumpkin pie.  The sauce was pretty yummy.  I am not a fan of cranberry sauce, especially since I grew up with cranberry mousse (aka: the pink stuff), which is one of the most delicious things on Earth.  But I put this over my turkey and, while I still had to have the "pink stuff" pass by me, I held off.  This got me through Thanksgiving mostly unscathed.

1) This was a different story.  We did Christmas three (!!) times.  We went to my in-laws' before Christmas.  It was somewhat simple again because of having turkey.  But then came the cookies.  Ohh, the cookies.  I had to leave the room.  They were simply too difficult to resist.  I mean Christmas cookie?  Who doesn't love them?
2) Dinner at my parents' was ... far more difficult.  One of my favorite things was prime rib, not just because it's yummy, but because it meant one thing: Yorkshire pudding (a recipe from my Grandfather who was French and lived in England -- our crepe recipe is from him, too, but I digress...).  Yorkshire pudding is indescribable.  I've had it other places, but it's different.  You know how it is; once you have a specific recipe made by a specific person, nothing ever compares.  There was also the pink stuff.  Since my sleeve doesn't tolerate beef well (even filet), I brought chicken salad made with Greek yogurt, to which I added those low-sugar Craisins leftover from Thanksgiving, and something called Protein Birthday Bites in lieu of cookies.  But the cookie tray still passed...and those around me enjoyed every bite.  My Mom has made countless batches of cookies each year.  She stopped for a number of years, but started again this year and went full-force.  Some of those which made me drool were Bon-Bons, Chocolate Crinkles, Candy Canes, Snickerdoodles.... I have to stop.  Now, my Mom's theory has always been that Christmas cookies are ONLY for Christmas, so never made any other time of the year (except sometimes I would get them for my birthday if I was extra good).  This makes them extra-special.  That makes me extra-upset at missing them.  The good news is that I was able to see my brother and nephews who have spent much of their lives living out of the country and it's always great to see them!
3) Brunch/Lunch ... when coming up with a menu, my Mom asked what I could have, as she was getting sandwiches.  She made me egg salad (from 2 eggs and with light mayo) and I had some veggies and hummus.  Again the cookies came out.  Again I found myself passing around incredibly tempting foods.  Again I held firm.

This may not be the best motivation to keep that "willpower" (I don't really like that word, but that's another story) but I don't want to puke.  I know that if I eat the wrong thing or eat too much, that is always a chance.  I have already gotten nauseated and was certain I was going to vomit, but thankfully did not, from various and sundry foods.  The latest is water.  I used to LOVE water.  Seriously - it was all I drank.  To mix it up, I've been doing Crystal Light and when I tried water this past weekend, I couldn't stomach it.  One sip and I knew.  That's it for water - at least until I'm brave enough to try it again.

One of my favorite dinners of late is turkey burgers.  My Aunt made these when we visited in September and they're extraordinary.  I'm sure you're thinking something to the effect of "YUCK, BLAH, turkey burgers!"  But seriously, I don't think we've done beef since!  We get the high grade (98%?) organic ground turkey, throw in a teensy bit of bread crumbs (just to hold it together), locatelli cheese, a few spices, and the extra special ingredient - FRESH basil.  These burgers are extraordinary!  Hubby adds some deli cheese and grills them a little longer, but I don't like cheeseburgers, so that's never been an option.  Now that it's cold out, we throw them on the Foreman Grill and they are just as tasty!

I have been super lax with my exercise.  The bike became complicated because of Poly (our difficult child) and I haven't had the energy to walk the pups, so I've not been doing much of anything in that area.  But, my friend Janet keeps her own blog and her most recent entry kicked my rear into gear!  That said, I've already tried the Y and gave up.  I also tried LA Fitness and gave up - once I wasn't doing the water aerobics anymore, I was out.  A huge room filled with machines spikes my anxiety through to roof and I'm super intimidated.  So, after reading Janet's blog, I took the bull by the horns joined a small gym.  With that came 2 sessions with a trainer.  Needless to say I scheduled the first one immediately.  The guy is nice!  I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I am.  He wasn't some gym-rat, arrogant, steroid-pumped guy.  So I scheduled my second session.  Of course I got a migraine, but I actually rescheduled and went back.  And then I went for a third time and I'm going again on Monday!  I need the accountability.  Being a small gym, there aren't a ton of people there at once - at least at the hour I go.  The people that are there are also into their music or what's on the TV at their machine.  That said, I can't make any kind of agreement to meet someone there.  Also, since I'm on disability, I also don't run into a lot of middle-agers late morning/early afternoon.  While the people there seem very nice, they seem to want to get in, do their thing, and get out.  I know that I need the accountability.  I also can't afford to get injured and fear that I'll wind up screwing something up, use a machine wrong and wind up needing a zillion surgeries with only a slim hope of ever walking again.  Ok, ok, yes I'm aware that I'm exaggerating - to the extreme - but I can't get hurt if it's preventable.  The poor guy has tried to help me up from one of the machines that has me almost sitting on the ground (and pressing up with my legs).  I finally told him "I'm stubborn" when I didn't take his help for the umpteenth time.  He replied "I'm chivalrous."  Truth be told, I realized that I'm not used to my body.  I'm used to it taking 2 men to help me get up when I fall.  The next time I was on that machine after having that epiphany, I told him.  It's another one of those weird phenomena that people who haven't been morbidly obese can't explain.

I want to touch on something quickly.  It's a general  misconception.  Someone dear to us told hubby that he needs to "catch up" (he needs to lose some weight), but that he has to do it the hard way.  She was totally well-meaning and I'm not saying anything against her personally (in case she's reading this)!  The thing is, this IS hard!  It's far more difficult than any other attempts I've made at weight loss.  I can't cheat without serious consequences.  I can't have "just one" Christmas cookie or "just one bite" of pasta.  I'm on a load of vitamins and supplements and will be forever.  It's imperative that I drink 64 oz  I cannot drink that for the 30 minutes after I finish eating.  I have to get 60-80 grams of protein in every day.  That protein has to come first.  Veggies come after protein.  Fruit comes after that.  Even then, with being limited to 800 calories, I can't have much.  I have to take 25-30 minutes to eat.  I am to eat 4 oz (approx 1/4 cup or the size of your palm) over the course of that 30 minute period.  There is nothing easy about this.  It was major surgery, one which nearly killed me at first attempt.  It required months of doctor appointments, tests, and clearances.  And that was the easy part!  This is not a cure for obesity!  This is not a surgery you have and then go back to your old habits.  This is the most life-changing thing I've ever done...EVER!  So, please don't ever tell a bariatric patient that they've taken the easy way out!  Sorry, rant over.

So, progress....

Now, I had hubby take a picture in front of the Christmas tree, but the outfit wasn't terribly flattering, so I decided against using it, but I have earned putting my "One-derland" charm on the chain with my "Loser's Bench" - see?  I'll try to take another picture soon.

I've stalled a little bit and since reaching that goal, I've wavered between about 198 and 195, but I'm still below 200 and I'll take it!!!  I'm sure my workouts will help boost that number down more quickly and hopefully with no stalls!

One of the things my group of friends in the bariatric world focuses on is non-scale victories.  It's not all about the numbers!  I'm sorry if I'm repeating myself from earlier posts but I can cross my legs!  Heck, I cross them all the time, simply because I can!  Shirts I have never been able to wear (I'm thinking specifically of shirts I got in Disney World but they never fit) are now big!  I nearly skipped a jean size and am wearing jeans which nearly fall down right now.  The next size down is still a little snug, though.  I can just about fit a small farm animal between my gut and my steering wheel!  It was snug before (and that's being generous).  I had to have a CT done and put on the "fat gown" (as I've always called least since I had to start wearing it) and it was enormous!  I mean, I wasn't even able to tie it because one end was inside the gown and the other side was outside, so I might as well have been naked since I would have been almost totally exposed.  I also had to have an MRI (unrelated) and I FIT!  It was about 4 years ago when they last tried to put me in an MRI machine.  I've always found an open bore one or used a special facility where you sit "in" the machine so it's on either side of you.  Sure, that was a bit tight, but it was supposed to be so you don't move.  Anyway, they were scanning my knee, so I had to go in sort of far and I made it - they were able to just hit the button and not stand and watch to see if I can go in without getting stuck!

I want to add, for the record, that I wrote the first half of this post right after New Years.  Monday or Tuesday of this week I wrote the rest, hit save, and then it disappeared!  My frustration told me to give up, go to bed, and try again... but then life got crazy so I didn't get to it again until now.  I'm just praying it all posts!!!


  1. I'm so excited that you've started working with a trainer on your exercise! My husband actually gave me 5 sessions with a trainer for Christmas, but I haven't scheduled with her yet because she's been so busy with the first of the year and all. As much as you feel motivated to exercise from my blog, I feel motivated to eat better because of your blog. I know all the rules, but I still don't eat the way I should all the time. I've stalled since I hit my 100lbs loss mark and I think it's because of the way I eat. Thank you for "sticking up" for us and saying all of this about how it's not the easy way out to losing weight. It's by far the hardest thing I've ever done...but we got this! Keep up the good work!!

  2. I'm surprised that this trainer is so available, but I think part of it is the time of day and part of it is that it's a small gym. I did feel like one of those people who goes in and signs up on 1/2 (when I joined) and then stops after a month, But you, my friend, you have truly inspired me to keep it up. Someone once told me that it takes a number of weeks to create a "habit" - a number I can't remember (go figure). I'm so glad that where you are strong, I am weak and vice versa! That way we can keep each other in check. So, write me whenever you want...we can share recipes. In turn, you can keep my butt at the gym. Deal?

  3. Congrats! Love the post. pics look great! Way to go. keep up the good work.