Monthly Archives: July 2013

Weight Loss 10 — 7 weeks RNY post-op – slipping and sliding

Mixed news as I head into week 8, but most of it remains very positive.

On the “down” side, my weight loss has settled down. For the last two weeks I’ve lost 7 pounds. But this was to be expected. Every WLS (Weight Loss Surgery) patient eventually settles down into a sustainable loss pattern. It varies by person and metabolism. The national average weight loss for people having an RNY is 13 pounds per month, so actually I’m just becoming more normal. Still, it would have been nice to have a couple more 20+ pound loss months!

On the up side, and probably related, my ability to exercise has gone through the roof. I have a sneaking suspicion that increased muscle mass is cutting into my weight loss, but again, this was expected. I may even slow down to a pound or two a week if I get into heavy weight-lifting. But the difference is energy is incredible. While only a couple of months ago I would soldier on through 35-45 minutes of cardio on the elliptical, this past week I’m easily putting in an hour. I could probably go longer, but I want to ramp up slowly. I’m also looking to add something else into the mix. The elliptical has taken the place of my walks, and I know that’s going to get boring after a while.

It’s great getting my energy levels up past where they were before the surgery. Aside from the weight loss, it’s something else tangible. I can feel the difference all day long.

The biggest drama over the past couple of weeks has been my CPAP, the machine I wear at night to make sure I keep breathing. As I lost weight in my face, I found that my CPAP mask was not working well. My mouth would fall open. This causes all sorts of problems, including waking up a lot during the night and not having mental energy during the day. I found a new mask that works, but it’s going to take another few days for the vendor to get the right size in. Meanwhile? I’m tying my head shut with a scarf. Yeah, I know. It looks quite funny, like I’m living in the 1800s or something. But it works, mostly. So who cares how it looks?

My biggest problem remains with portion sizes. Although hunger doesn’t affect me like it used to, when I’m feeling like I should eat, and I’m measuring out food for a meal, I can’t help but think “Gee! I should be eating a lot more than that!” and it causes me to measure out too much food. I’ve been battling this for a couple of weeks now, and the only solution I can find is to buy a bunch of little containers and measure all of my food out for the week at one time. The weird thing is that it’s not like the amounts matter — at the end of the meal I’m just as full one way or the other. It’s the measuring that seems to be my problem. So, we find a way around it.

I think overall one of the main benefits of the surgery is that it gives you “breathing room” to work through problems like this. In the past, each week could become almost like a battle. My “old” way of eating was wolfing down whatever I felt like. Many times this would be something like a double Whopper with cheese and a couple of large fries. No matter what I was doing, there was always a tension between my diet and my old way of eating.

Here, that isn’t an issue any more. Yes, I can screw around with my portion sizes — up to an extent. But I can’t run off to the local drive-through. That’s not happening. My stomach size and new aversion to sugars is like a safety net. There’s no completely falling off the wagon in a bad day. Sure, I imagine over time I could train my body to go back to those old ways of eating, but it would take some time. The surgery gives me extra time to fix problems as they occur without making things all or nothing.

So I just ordered the containers, and next week will put them to work.

I was interested in why I could actually eat more, so I emailed my dietitian. She said some foods, like yogurt, chili, or soup, were called “sliders”. They were moist enough that they could slide right through my pouch, giving the illusion of my having a bigger stomach than I actually do. Some other foods, like tilapia, turkey, eggs, or chicken, is dry enough that once I eat my pouch size, I’m done.

So for these slider foods, and probably for the rest of them, I’m switching to a measure-ahead-of-time system. It’s really weird re-learning to eat. Sitting at the table, not being able to read, chewing my food thoroughly? My impatience is killing me. I feel like I’ve been bad in school and have been stuck in after-school detention! Maybe I should work on my patience a bit, huh?

It’s all good, though. At the end of next week, I go back to the doc and nutritionist. I should transition to solid foods and be released for air travel and whatever normal things I want to do. Within 3 weeks, I should be at my half-way weight-loss point. And in a couple of months? Can’t wait to start back running again! Lots of things to look forward to.

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Like Star Trek, The Original Series? You’ll Like This

Bunch of fans got together and wondered “So the Enterprise was on a Five-Year Mission, right? What happened the last two years?”

With lots of folks donating time, labor, and materials, they’re creating a new, internet-only fan work about Star Trek.

If you approach this the correct way — a continuation of the original 1960s TV series using new actors — this is pretty cool. Amazing set work, a passable script, guest stars returning from the original series, even relatives of the original actors playing in the cast. All because they love the show.

In the startup world, you’re supposed to go out and show people what you’re doing to see if they like your solution. You know you’re golden when, while you’re showing what you’ve got, the other person says “Shut up and take my money, dammit!”

I felt this way watching this series. Heck, I’d pay 40 bucks for a DVD with a new season of shows on it — as long as they all had this quality. Here’s hoping these guys continue to pull it off!

Star Trek Continues E01 “Pilgrim of Eternity” from Star Trek Continues on Vimeo.

If you liked this review, liked the episode, and want to do the whole fan thing, here’s the Star Trek Continues page.

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Weight Loss 9 – 5 Weeks Post Op. Support Groups and Bad Days

Daniel-Forks

I bought some baby forks to remind me that I’m supposed to be learning to eat, not wolfing food down like a frat kid at a hotdog eating contest.

Last week I lost five pounds, had a bad day, and learned about online support groups.

The five pounds part was the easiest. I just did what I always do, loading up around 4-5 TBS of food three times a day for a meal. Old habits are hard to break: I find myself putting too much on my plate, thinking the more I eat the better off I’ll feel. Sometime in the last week I’ve began to feel a bit of hunger. Nothing much, and certainly nothing like it used to be. It used to be I would immediately start thinking about my next meal within an hour or so after eating. Hunger was a terrible thing that must be avoided at all costs. Now it’s much different. I could probably skip a meal if I wanted to, no problem. But once I try to start measuring out a meal, those old tapes start playing. If I’m feeling a little bit hungry, certainly I should put more food on the plate, right?

But my pouch catches me. Chewing slowly, I begin to feel full. If I don’t pay attention and keep eating, that’s when things take a turn for the worse.

Saturday was a bad day. Throughout the night, my mouth kept popping open while sleeping. Since I wear a mask over my nose to help me breathe, if my mouth pops open, I’m not breathing so well. It never used to do this. I guess now that I’m losing weight my head isn’t as fat as it used to be. Who knows. But the sleep was terrible. I would sleep for 10-15 minutes, kind of doze off, then wake up and shut my mouth. All night long. Going to bed at 11, II woke up around 10am feeling terrible. Anybody who’s ever flown a redeye flight knows how this feels.

It just went downhill from there.

Because I had slept so late, and because I can only eat at certain times, my schedule was hosed up. Instead of exercising after breakfast, I waited until just after lunch — a lunch which included some homemade beef stew that required a lot of chewing.

Lunch went fine, but slow. The exercise was okay. What I found out 15 minutes after getting off the exercise machine was that no, I was not going to be able to swallow anything. For a while. It felt like I had a huge hunk of food stuck in my throat, not going down.

So I wandered about the house, groaning and grimacing. I tried laying down. I tried walking. I tried sipping on some liquids (bad idea). A few times I came very close to throwing up. I decided that perhaps I wouldn’t be having fluids or anything else to eat today.

Then I remembered the Papaya Enzyme. I could see my nutritionist’s face clearly in my memory “One thing I can tell you for sure,” she said, “at some point, you’re going to have a knot in your throat and the food will not want to go down. This happens to everybody. When that happens, take some Papaya Enzyme”

Ok, sure. Sounds like this was the time. Where did I put those things?

In the back of the cabinet was a bottle. Inside were little chewable tablets. Why am I chewing up more stuff when I can’t even drink!  This made no sense. But I grabbed 3 or 4, chewed them up, then gingerly swallowed.

Within 15 minutes all the pain was gone. One of the most amazing things I’ve seen in this whole experience. I am now a true believer in keeping some Papaya Enzyme handy!

 

Meet my new best friend, Super Papaya Enzyme.

Meet my new best friend, Super Papaya Enzyme.

 It’s amazing how all of the information you receive during the pre-operative stage comes back to help you later on. The piece of advice I had the hardest time following was this: get into a support group. People in support groups do better long-term than those trying to do it on their own.

This is a problem for me because I live 4 hours from my surgeon. There are no support groups around here. Sure, there’s the generic addictive support groups, but those don’t sound like they would specifically help folks who have had surgery.

Fortunately I found that there were a bunch of online options, so I joined a couple of Facebook groups dedicated to folks with lap bands, sleeve surgeries, and bypasses. I even found out for people with a bypass that gain back a lot of weight, they can give you “band overpass”, which is a lapband on top of your bypass. Yikes! Hope I don’t end up there.

These groups are great for learning about your options and the various problems you might have. Several times a day people post about how their experience is going. With thousands of participants, there’s always lots of stuff going on. One person can’t eat anything. One person is having problems losing weight. One person is 3 weeks out from surgery and spent most of her time crying — at one point crying about bagels. Everybody else in the room pitches in and helps out. It’s not all bad news, however. Several times through the day people post their before-and-after pictures, or talk about the scuba diving, hiking, or marathon running they’re doing now that they couldn’t do before.

It’s a great place to feel connected, but if you join there are some abbreviations folks use:

RNY – Roux En Y. Where they connect a small portion of the stomach to the intestines 3 feet down, leaving the rest of the stomach connected as before, creating a “Y”. This is what I had

GS – Gastric Sleeve. They chop off most of the stomach but leaving it in place. Instead of a big stomach, your stomach is left in the shape of a tube.

LB – Lap band. Taking a band and wrapping it around the stomach, reducing your ability to eat

NSV – Non-scale victory. Fun news that’s not related to an arbitrary number like how much you weight. “I ran up a flight of stairs today without getting out of breath!” “I was able to sleep on my stomach for the first time in ten years last night!”

WLS – Weight Loss Surgery

I’m really happy I’ve joined these online support groups. It makes me feel better seeing other folks work through their problems. It also keeps me motivated when I see what great results other people are having. I don’t feel like I’m doing it all on my own. If I have a problem, not only can I reach out to my surgical group, I know I have some friends online I can reach out to as well.

And that beats a stick in the eye any day of the week.

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Weight Loss 8 — 4 Weeks RNY Post-Op. New Shoes.

Remember the last new pair of tennis shoes you bought? Perhaps it was one of those high-end jobs made of leather.

These are some really nice shoes, and people love them, but when you first get them, it’s not unusual for them to feel a bit — funny.

You put them on. They feel okay. Maybe a little snug. Then you walk some. It feels good, but not the same as your old shoes, which have been worn in by many hours of walking and standing.

As you turn a corner, ouch! They pinch a bit. Not enough to take the shoes back, but enough to notice. You realize that this will go away with time, as you and the shoes “get to know each other” and get all the bugs worked out.

Over the next week or so, the pinching is much less noticeable. The leather begins to adapt to your body. Then, at times, you realize that these new shoes are truly awesome! They have a lot more cushion than your old pair. They’re in much better shape, and they’re stronger. They’re going to do great and last a long, long time.

This past week has been “new shoe” week for my bariatric surgery.

At the beginning of the week, I was feeling better physically, but struggling with mental energy. This reached the bottom on Monday, when in the afternoon I decided to take another dose of my B-complex vitamins. (You have to be careful about this. You don’t want to take too little B vitamins — they’re required after RNY surgery. But you also don’t want to take too much) I felt a lot perkier! The rest of the day was more fun.

Then the whole week opened up. I would exercise in the mornings, my morning routine was dialed in, and I had more energy in the afternoons. While several times a day I would do something that would cause a bit of a bad feeling, at times I am beginning to feel much better than I did before the operation. I can see myself having a LOT more energy, motivation, and time than in the old days. These new shoes are going to be awesome!

Of course, being 50 pounds lighter helps things quite a bit. As I got ready to step on the scales this morning, I realized I’m developing a new fear: I’m having such an easy time eating 1/4 cup of food per meal, and I’m feeling so much energy, there doesn’t seem to be any way I should still be losing weight! But there it was, lost another six pounds this past week.

Not only has it been a good week, it’s starting to look like this entire next month is going to be a load of fun.

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