Monthly Archives: September 2013

WLS 18 – Running my Ass Off

Two things happened this week. I ran, and my ass fell off.

First the running. On Saturday I went to the gym with my wife. I am getting tired of the same old machines all the time, so I thought I’d try something different. Ever since I started planning for my surgery, my dream has been to be able to run like I could when I was younger. Running when you’re heavy is a very tricky matter. Sure, I could run for short distances, but long-term running was out of the question. Or, as I told my exercise guy at the surgical group, until I lost some serious weight the only thing I was going to do was blow out a knee. Your joints can only take so much stress.

Now that I’ve been losing, the question is “When do I start running?” If I start too soon, I could end up with injuries. But if I wait too late, I may never start. I kept putting off starting, and I’m the world’s best procrastinator.

Saturday was the day — or at least the day to test the waters.

I started in on jogging, figuring that I’d do a very easy jog as long as I felt comfortable. No trying to run as fast as I could or none of that nonsense. Just loping along. I had a heart rate monitor so I could keep an eye on how I was doing.

Turns out I did pretty well. All that hiking and working out on the elliptical machine, along with this new naturally low heart rate I have, made me able to run for a while without my pulse getting too high. I made it easily over a mile — maybe close to a mile and a third — before I quit. At the end I even tried out a runner’s “kick”, where you sprint the final little bit before the finish line.

Wow! Didn’t see that one coming! I can run!

Still, I’m going to play it cautious. Even with my weight loss, I weigh 30 pounds more than I did when I was a young whipper-snapper, and old bones and muscles aren’t as limber and flexible as young ones. I’m thinking once a week I’ll try running under very controlled conditions — inside, soft track, and so on. After losing another 20 pounds, say in 2 months, I’ll move it up to 2-3 times per week and take it outside. But for now, there’s no rush. Just little baby steps. I’m in no hurry to get laid up for months with a sports-related injury, especially now!

The other big thing that happened this week was I noticed my ass fell off. I found this most disturbing.

One of the things people dread the most when thinking of weight loss surgery is looking like an old bloodhound. You know, they have a really wrinkly face, and these huge flaps that hang off from their arms and belly. Going into the surgery the docs are pretty clear on the fact that you’re there for health reasons, not cosmetic ones. The goal isn’t to get you looking like a superstar model, it’s to allow you to live an extra 20 years that you might not get otherwise. If you live that time looking like you need ironing? Well then that’s just the price you pay.

So I was clear on the terms going in, but I still wondered how it would all play out. Would I look all wrinkly? Would I have these huge skin flaps hanging off of me? Would my face look like a bulldog’s?

Walking around the house last week, my wife said “you know, your butt has fallen off”.

I found this a rather unusual thing to say, so I went to look in the mirror. Sure enough, instead of a large butt that stuck way out and knocked over lamps, it looked like somebody had pulled the plug out and my butt just, well, deflated. Instead of a bunch of cushioning, I had wrinkly skin.

I lost my ass.

I’m also seeing extra skin around my middle section, which isn’t unusual since I’m losing a ton of pants sizes very quickly. My face also looks completely different than it used to. And this jives with what I’m hearing from my online support group: people notice their weight loss first in their faces and then in their butts.

Losing your ass, as you might imagine, can be very uncomfortable. I put a wallet in my back pocket and after driving for an hour my butt hurts. Same goes for sitting on hard wooden chairs. Without that normal rear bumper, it can hurt when you sit.

I still have no idea how this will all turn out. For some folks with serious skin flap issues, more surgery is required to get rid of it. The doctors usually want you to wait a year or two after you’ve stopped losing weight, just to make sure you’re not going to gain a bunch back and that the skin flap is staying. Also there are insurance requirements to consider. Most insurance policies will not cover having skin flaps removed unless you can show several months of recurring rashes and skin problems associated with them. Finally, they say having excess skin removed hurts like the dickens. I’ve heard people say it was worst than the weight loss surgery itself!

I’m hoping that the skin around my waist will get reabsorbed into my body as I continue to exercise. My face should work itself out also. But my butt? I may just have to get used to having a skinny butt (in reality a flat butt), and not worry about it. After all, I’m a guy. I think the last time I looked at my butt was 1980.

Now that I’m busy running my ass off, maybe I can start running my stomach off too!

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Weight Loss Surgery 17 – back to work

This week was “Back to Work” week. I was on-site with a client most everyday. This meant traveling out-of-town, living in an hotel, and trying to make a good impression while meeting a bunch of new people.

In short, a stressful week.

I did well, though. I think because of three things.

1) I planned ahead of time. Before I left, I packed my vitamins AND my meals for the entire time I was there. That’s right, 15 meals, all in a big bag. Good thing I bought those containers earlier, huh? This way I was able to measure out everything. There wasn’t an opportunity for me to go “off the menu” and do something stupid. I simply kept eating the things I was already eating at home.

2) I exercised every day. Every morning I went to the nearby gym and did something, anything. Some days it was the treadmill, some days it was the stepper. I didn’t care about intensity level or anything. I just wanted to spend an hour working up a sweat. I’ve found that when I work out, it increases my ability to handle stress throughout the day, and I was going to need that ability.

3) I found something to do with my time I would normally spend eating in the evening. Usually when I travel, after work is a special time for me. I go back to the hotel, or go out, and I can have whatever I want. Over the years I’ve gotten into the pattern of getting stressed out during the day, then “relaxing” by overeating after work. I didn’t want that option this time, so in the evenings I went for walks on the local trails. (I was lucky to be in a town with lots of pedestrian trails). This kept me busy, got me outside doing something healthy, and was more fun than staring at the hotel walls.

It must have worked fairly well, because when I weighed today I had lost 7 pounds. If you’re keeping track at home, I’ve been averaging a little over 3 pounds per week for several weeks, just like clockwork. Last week, though, I didn’t lose anything. So instead of obsessing over the scales this week, I spent the week helping other folks and doing my thing. I kept on slogging away, and my weight took care of itself.

Today was also a big day because I went to my 3-month post-op follow-up. The nurse practitioner is a nice guy, and he asked some standard questions and looked at my bloodwork to make sure I was getting the appropriate amount of nutrition. My B12 and D levels were high. B12 isn’t much of a problem — a little too much and your kidneys will filter it out. D is more troublesome. Too much D can be damaging. So I’m laying off the D for a while.

In another 3 months I go back with more blood test results, see him, the nutritionist, and the exercise guy. They’re all great folks, but I kind of feel like I’m reaching the end of how much they can help me. It’s really all up to me now. A few more visits over the next year or so and then I’ll probably transition to follow-up work done by my local doctor. I have to admit, if the hard part is reading numbers on a lab test and adjusting my intake to make them normal, I’m not sure why there has to be a doctor involved at all. I should be able to just order my own tests and make my own adjustments. I may look into this.

The NP asked me, “So how does it feel to have lost 80 pounds in just over 3 months?”

I thought for a moment.

“I hear surfers say that the coolest part of surfing is waiting in the water until just the right moment, then hopping up on their board and realizing they’ve caught a great wave. I feel like I’ve caught a great wave, doc. I’m just riding it to see where it takes me”

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WL 16 — First Stall

It finally happened, the week everybody was telling me about. My weight loss stalled.

On the internet support forum, people are always talking about plateaus. Much of the time, the old timers reply like this “As long as you are eating like you should, getting enough protein and water, it’ll work out. Don’t sweat the stalls”

So I’ll do my best to follow that advice. Still, I can’t help but wonder if there was something I did.

Saturday was hiking day again. A couple of my sons and their friend went with us to a local steep mountain hike. We had a blast.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

It wasn’t a piece of cake, though. Temps were in the upper 80s, and it was a difficult hike. My second-oldest son Charles, who weighs about 6 pounds soaking wet, didn’t seem to mind too much. But dad was sucking wind!

When I got back, the next morning I weighed myself. Down 3 pounds! Woo Hoo! But I was cautious. Surely I had sweated like a bear the day before. Better to wait and see if I gain it back. So the next day I weighed again. Yep! Still down 3 pounds. I had lost 3 pounds in one day. Extrapolating, by the end of the month I should be down 90 pounds and done with all this losing weight stuff.

Of course that’s not how it worked out. The NEXT day, I had gained it all back. And the rest of the week my weight stayed constant. The week ended with a loss of zero.

Bummer.

Couldn't have done this 3 months ago

Couldn’t have done this 3 months ago

I think one of the most frustrating things about being really overweight is the sense of loss of control. There are folks who have an iron grip on their weight — I have always felt some of these folks were wrapped a bit too tightly, but that’s beside the point. At some point in my life I realized I was not one of these people. Sure, I could gain control for a little bit, but it always got away from me, and over time it always increased. One of the big reasons for my surgery was my realization that I had to make major changes if I wanted dramatic results. Another dieting adventure where I lost for a few weeks, or a few months, or even a year or so, only to gain it back and then some? I didn’t want to keep playing that game.

It’s funny, but I feel the same way weighing today as I did hiking up that mountain on Saturday. At some points I didn’t know if I was going to make it or not. But instead of trying to worry about “making it”, I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. I didn’t have to climb the entire mountain; I just had to keep walking.

So as bummed out as I am about my weight not going down for the past week, it helps to put things in perspective. I’m still eating mostly the same. I’m still doing the same things. It’s probably the most natural thing in the world for my body to want to take a breather and figure out what the new normal is going to be. If anything, all that sweating on Saturday probably made my body start holding a lot more water back in case of future mountain adventures. That’s fine. If the stall continues for more than 3 weeks, I’ll start getting alarmed. Until then, though, I’m just going to keep on doing what I’ve been doing.

Next week I plan on being with clients most everyday. So that means packing and planning my meals ahead of time. It should be one of the bigger tests since the post-op adventure began. Wish me luck!

Beautiful day for hiking -- and working up a huge sweat

Beautiful day for hiking — and working up a huge sweat

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