Almost 5 Months Postop…Update Maybe?

I hadn’t realized that I haven’t blogged in so long! I mean, I knew it had been awhile but I didn’t know it had been so long one might be led to believe I’ve abandoned ship! Not to fear, I’ve got an update here! I can now understand why there are so many vloggers on YouTube that come up missing after some time passes though. Somewhere between the preop diet, having surgery, and being a couple weeks postop you’re swept up in this whole new life in which it feels like an entire lifetime passes each day. There’s so much that happens. Some things entirely new and other things that are old situations but you have a fresh point of view. I absolutely believe that there’s no possible way to have bariatric surgery and be “the same person”. You may feel deeply like *who you are* is the same but the things that are different are HUGE differences to those around you and they also make a HUGE difference in the new people that want to be around you. This is a difficult concept to grasp and I’m working with it everyday. 

Before I write too much I’ll also add that (at least for me) I have the attention span now of a gnat! I used to be able to focus on one task no matter how boring it might be or focus on an issue that was making me angry for a momentous amount of time but now that time span has been cut down to about 15-20 minutes. My thoughts are also all over the place so you’ll have to forgive my jumping around topics throughout this post. I have to just put whatever I think out there when I think it or else I’ll get sidetracked and forget completely. Why? I have no idea. Calorie deficit? High protein levels? Ketosis? Bariatric brain? Whatever. 

Back to my update.

Thus far I’ve lost 50 lbs which puts me exactly at 50 lbs more to go until I reach my personal goal and 40 lbs more until I reach my surgeons goal. I feel fairly confident that I’ll reach goal prior to my one year Surgiversary and this brings about a host of different emotions. All my life I’ve been a chronic yo-yo dieter so I always kept clothes of a wide range of sizes in my closet “just in case”. This time around I’m getting rid of things as I go down in weight. As much as I’ve heard, read, or observed bariatric patients (and anyone that loses weight really) experiencing regain, something just feels final this time around. That doesn’t make this any less difficult mentally. There’s such a vast difference between how I’m treated now versus how I was treated when I was morbidly obese it’s jarring. I don’t know any other way to put it and I don’t know if that is something I’ll be able to let go for awhile. As I am still 50 lbs overweight I can’t begin to fathom where I’ll stand in society once I am for the first time in my entire life a *normal weight*. As bothered as I am by others’ reactions to my weight loss at times the positive aspect of that is that more than ever in my life I turn inward for strength instead of leaning on others. I appreciate any and all positive energy that comes my way but I also know that I have to inherently know who I am, what I stand for, what’s okay and what isn’t by me, and that I am a beautiful human being regardless of my size….because *society* will mess with your head. 

Other news to spew before It falls right out of the left side of my short term memory bank. I’ve been hearing that Drake song “No New Friends” and have been feeling the exact opposite! In hindsight I look back on who I have allowed to get close to me and frankly I’m appalled. It truly is a reflection of how I felt about myself at the time in my life when I chose to call them friends. I realize that a great deal of the time I was just grateful to have anyone willing to be around or have a conversation with me. Now as I’m setting up boundaries of what is okay and what isn’t and what I like and what I don’t, my friendships are dwindling. Soon I’m pretty sure I’ll end up with either “All New Friends” or “No Friends Period” ;). I’ve cried about this at other times but right now all I can do is laugh because it’s amazing how much things have changed in my life in the past couple of months. I couldn’t have anticipated all of these changes at all but I’m enormously grateful to be where I am right now. 

Now for the stereotypical comment about how this has been the best decision I’ve ever made for myself.

I know it’s been said by many many bariatric post ops but I can’t help but repeat it because it’s the truth. To anyone that might be on the fence about bariatric surgery, just doing some research, or going through the process to have surgery in the future, I can bet almost anything that you won’t regret it. I really tried to gauge what my life would be like after surgery physically and emotionally and I felt like I almost had it pegged before even getting on the operating table but I had no idea. To those that have children it’s similar to that. Before you have a baby you plan everything out about how you’re going to raise your child and what kind of parent you’re going to be. The baby pops out and all of your plans go right out the window. Some parts of your plan actually pan out (maybe you actually bring baby home in the outfit you picked, maybe you’re able to breastfeed, maybe baby grows up to be a doctor or lawyer) and other aspects (plans to keep the house clean, baby will never ever have sugar or processed food or both for dinner, baby will grow into a child that never says a hostile word to you or slams a door) go up in smoke. 

Prior to surgery I had made a vow in my mind that I wouldn’t consume any more junk food of any type…ever again. If I craved something sweet? Protein shake. Want some pasta? Spaghetti squash! Have a taste for chips? Kale crisps! Just a few short weeks after surgery that vow went from rule bending to all but forgotten in my mind. I still focus on protein first. I still get in my required water (most days). I still take my vitamins (every day). But if I want some chips I’ll grab a couple. If I want a hot dog, I’ll take a bite. If I walk past Aunt Annie’s in the mall…I’ll probably eat some of a pretzel. Point being, I’m living my life! I had this surgery to guess what? Have a life! This means no more dieting. No more obsessing over every little calorie. I was on MyFitnessPal for a time but I’ve since stopped because I found myself beating myself up for not hitting a specific number of protein grams or going over my daily calories. I’ve decided I’m going to go with how I feel. Do the best that I can to avoid emotional eating and stop when I realize I’ve lost it and gone on a binge. Move my ass but not so rapidly that I injure myself or mentally burn myself out and don’t want to continue. That’s all. This is for the rest of my life…and not until I was officially post op did I begin to learn what exactly that means. 

Oh heck, oh heck, it’s up to my neck!

After getting past this situation it’s actually funny in a sad kind of way but when you’re in the midst of having a food stuck it’s terrible. At this point I get the same kind of things stuck all the time so before I eat it I already know I’m at risk but I think to myself, maaayyybe I’ll get away with it this time. No, my pouch has other ideas. My pouch wants absolutely nothing to do with chicken, tilapia, or salmon. Crab is fine. Tuna is fine. Lamb is fine. Even some beef will go down fine…but I should just say no to chicken right now. Anyway, last night I didn’t listen to the Almighty Pouch. The process goes a little something like this: 

Brittney Thought Bubble: “Mmm, that chicken salad looks good. Maybe I’ll have just a bite or two and it’ll be okay. It looks moist and you never know, maybe it’ll go down okay this time.”

I take a small bite and chew thoroughly and swallow. I wait a couple seconds and feel fine. 

Brittney Thought Bubble: “Hey! I’m getting away with murder right now! I think I’ll take a few more bites.”

I chew another bite thoroughly and swallow. I wait a couple seconds and take a bigger bite of chicken and halfway through chewing it my eyes widen and I realize I better not swallow this next bit of food or I’m going to be throwing up…immediately! I make my way to the trashcan and spit out this wad of chicken salad cud…looking something like what I imagine cow regurgitation looks like and so begins the pacing. 

I don’t know if this is what it’s like for everyone but when I have food stuck pacing always feels like the way to go. I pace the floor, I moan, and I make a batch of false promises to my pouch that goes something like this:

“Please pouch….if you would just let this food pass I promise I will never eat ________ again. Just let this one slide. I’m sorry! I’m so sorry pouch. Ugh, I have a problem. This is not a good time. Just let it go…just let it go.” 

Getting stuck (atleast for me) feels something like…I have a mass in my chest. It’s difficult to describe because there’s nothing I’ve experienced that feels anything like it. It feels like….food is stuck lol. It feels like it’s in my chest and if I’ve eaten enough of the offending food it feels like it’s at the back of my throat and if I lean over a sink I’ll throw it right back up. There’s this bubbly, foamy, especially gross type of saliva that accumulates in your mouth and you just want to spit it out…and if i’m making a mass production of this foamy saliva I’ll know that I’m going to throw up. Too much foam and i’m at the point of no return. It’s different, post gastric bypass hurling. It doesn’t hurt. Your food still tastes like your food, not stomach acid…there’s very little of it, and I feel better immediately after it’s over. 

I am beyond thankful for the invention of papaya enzymes though. When I get food stuck I just take three of those while I pace the floor and within a few minutes I’m back in business. Not back in business to where I eat the offending food again, but in business to where I’m not suffering and I can try eating something else that I know is going to work. 

Die another day haha

Mental Stall = Physical Stall

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I’ve been putting some thought into this so just go with me here. I believe that when we are mentally hung up on an issue we’re having difficulty getting past that manifests in not getting past a certain number on the scale. 

I know that I’ve never lost this amount of weight in this amount of time. I know I’ve never gone down this many clothing sizes in this amount of time (from a size 2X to some mediums in 7 weeks). At the same time I know at the root of this is the fact that all my life no matter what I’ve done I felt like it was never “enough”. I could have an A in a class but it’s only a 94%. I’ve made the cheer squad but I’m not the captain. I’m going to prom and I look beautiful but I’m not the queen. I have a car but it’s not brand new. You get the point. So accepting the fact that I’ve never allowed myself to just be is one part of the issue. The other part is why? Why do I allow myself to go to a certain extent but never let go and see where my full potential lies? I feel comfortable being “above average” but not my personal best. 

I wish I could tell you what the answer to that is…hell, I wish I could tell myself the answer to that right now but I’m beginning to see that a huge part of being a bariatric patient is riding the waves and dealing with buried issues as they come up and the answers will come to you when they do. This is so mental. I can’t stress that enough to anyone considering weight loss surgery. You think this is about losing pounds. You think this is about your medical issues. It’s not. It’s about a long stream of feelings/thoughts/events that have led you to the day you laid down on that operating table. 

I’ve really been telling myself that I don’t have a deep seeded issue besides eating too much and moving too little. Ohhh no, there’s more to it. There’s always more. 

Emotional Wind Turbine

Before having surgery I had read about the emotional aspect of weight loss. I read about hormones being released right along with fat burning and the effect that would have on my mood. I read about uncovering the deep seeded issues that lead to the weight gain in the first place. I read about obsession over the scale, every gram of protein, every calorie consumed or burned, and ounces of water. I consider myself a well informed patient prior to going under the knife.

…but here I am in the midst of it and I’m telling you this is quite a ride.

It’s amazing the issues that come up when you’re not eating. I have at least one epiphany a day. I also cry at least once every other day. When I’m upset i’ll feel like whatever I’m fighting for or against means the world. It’s like I’m in the middle of the Civil War and this is principle! I will fight to the death over whether I will be consuming soy milk or regular milk because to me this is serious! I can laugh about it later but at the time it’s so serious. Despite all the research in the world I couldn’t tell you whether I’m fighting because my hormone levels are out of wack, I refuse to settle for anything less than exactly what I want, or both. 

Prior to having surgery I said that as soon as I woke up from that operation I would never again eat for comfort. I would never again go to food when I’m angry or stressed. Food will be for fuel alone. My oh my have I had a wake up call. Again, I’ve read all about this being surgery on the body and not the mind…but strangely enough when it came to me I’ve had to experience this myself. Something will come up and before I’ve even fully processed what happened I’ll be thinking of what I want to eat. Fortunately this 30/30 rule (stop drinking 30 mins before eating, start drinking 30 mins after eating) has provided me somewhat of a delay and if I can put off eating because I just drank that gives me time to think about whether I’m actually hungry or upset. Again I will say that I am never hungry from a “rumbly in my tumbly” sense but it’s an all over the body feeling when I’m actually hungry (weak, lightheaded, low energy). 

Oh and the obsession! As a former Weight Watchers member I can remember being over the moon excited over a 2 lb loss at the scale for a week! If I managed to consistently lose that way, which more often then not would not happen but let’s play here, that would be a total monthly average of 8 lbs….which would be fantastic if I were on Weight Watchers. We read some stories, we know someone, or we look around online and see super speedy turbo weightloss like 50 lbs a month and decide that 2 lbs a week is an absolute travasham mockery and weight loss surgery has been a complete bust. Now that we’ve decided weight loss surgery has been a bust it’s time to take matters into our own hands. It’s time to drop the calories even lower than they already are, small pouches considered. It’s time to increase our grams of protein from 60 to 100 grams a day. It’s time to chug water like it’s actually air. Then after our militant efforts it’s time to step on the scale atleast once a day but possibly twice depending on how extreme we feel we are in our last ditch efforts to “make this surgery work” for us. 

It’s nuts! This is absolutely nuts. The logical part of my mind is saying that’s a waste of my time. I had weight loss surgery. Follow the rules. The weight will come off. No excess craziness involved…and not to be angry at “slow” loss because progress is progress. I wish I could say that my mental game has been on point since I woke up from surgery but it hasn’t been. Some say you take it day by day but I take it minute to minute, hour to hour. I may be low for an hour and completely content a couple hours later. This is what is meant by this being a journey. My becoming morbidly obese was a process that took years. Mentally I’ve been in that low spot for a long time and I can’t expect to be “over it” in a day, a week, or even a month. 

So here I am. Plugging along and working on me so that as the pounds and inches fall away, so do the negative thoughts I’ve had about myself. I’ve lost weight a million times over and this time I’m determined to make it last. 

Onederland!!

In about an hour it will be August 31st and that would make me officially one month post op. In this past month (and the two weeks I was on my preop diet) I’ve lost 33 lbs and am in ONEDERLAND!!! For those of you that don’t yet speak WLS that means that my weight is now in the 100s!! I watch lots of YouTube videos and I can’t really explain my thought process preop but I thought this wouldn’t be “as big” of a deal to me. I mean, just because the scale tips from 200 to being 197 doesn’t make me a new person….au contrare monfrair! But it does! Let me explain.

We have bariatric surgery because despite all of our failed attempts at losing the weight once and for all and reaching our goals we’ve never made it for whatever reason…or we have and gained it all back. We have the surgery because we have a renewed sense of hope that we can change our lives. This is a second chance to make things right. It’s a chance to do right with the bodies that we’ve abused for years…and no matter how tall you are, if you are over 200 lbs and female you are overweight. With myself being only 5’2″ when I was at my highest weight of 230 lbs that’s morbidly obese. So to wake up this morning and be 197 lbs..it’s confirmation that i’m headed in the right direction. That number is symbolism because I’m not the same woman I was before I was wheeled into the operating room July 31st, 2013…I went in there one way and came out another.

No more excuses. No more wasting time feeling sorry for myself and praying for something magical to happen to change my life. Something magical did happen and it’s in my heart. Every single day that I’m choosing to live is testimony that how I’m feeling inside and the thoughts that are swirling in my head is starting to manifest in my body and I couldn’t be more proud to be me. 

I think I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that how we feel about ourselves inside is manifested outwardly. I’m ashamed of how much I haven’t cared about myself and how very little I’ve felt I was worth. That’s not going to stop me from being who I am today though because every second, every minute, every hour, every day, is a CHOICE…and I choose me. 

 

ONEDERLAND!!! YAYY!! 🙂

I Don’t Ever Want To Forget

It seems like among those that have had weight loss surgery (and maybe those that haven’t but have lost major amounts of weight, I wouldn’t know because that’s not what I focus my attention on) there are those that spend the rest of their lives telling their story and talking about the fact that they used to be heavy and those that seem to “forget”. I’m sure that those that want to forget have their own reasons but this is the blog of one of those people that doesn’t. The reason I don’t ever want to forget this time in my life is because the pain of being here is what motivated me to have bariatric surgery in the first place! If I leave out that part of my life story there’s a huge chunk missing. 

I’m that girl crying in the dressing room because nothing fits and what I can get on to my body doesn’t look right.

I’m that grown woman who has given her number to someone I thought might be interested in me and felt let down when they never called.

I’m the mother sitting down while watching her child play because I get too out of breath, hurt all over, and sweat like i’m in the middle of the Sahara in a ten minute play session. 

I’m the daughter that gets looked upon with pity and disappointment because she’s not living up to the standard her parents had for her.

All of this has made me me and as painful as it has been I wouldn’t take that away for anything because I am a better human being for it. I believe there’s a reason for everything and there will be good that comes out of me having to go through this. This is why when I see myself reflected in another woman’s eyes and she asks me how i’m losing weight my having gastric bypass surgery will be my answer. It’s not an easy road to travel but I can’t explain that fully enough to any person on the planet that hasn’t had surgery already. It’s just not something that can be understood preop and quite honestly I feel no pull to explain just how difficult this is to those that are uninterested. 

Anywho, that’s just where I’m at right now. 

It’s Not About The Numbers

I was watching YouTube videos today (which I would say is a great place to go for information about weight loss surgery and support) and I just had to blog about this today. Before having weight loss surgery we spend so much time thinking about how tired we are of being the weight we are and what life is going to be like when we hit our goal weight. We put so much energy behind thinking about numbers. What’s our starting weight, current weight, goal weight, how many grams of protein, how many calories, ounces of water, etc etc.

At only three weeks post op I can already see this journey is a whole lot bigger than the numbers. This is about how we feel about ourselves. Who do we think we are vs who we want to be…what kind of person have we been. What made us the way we are and do we feel more comfortable staying that way or do we want to come out of this someone new. The head work is the most difficult part of this whole process…this I can see already…

And I’m terrified.

I’ve lost weight so many times in the past by having a “just do it like Nike” attitude. I never dealt with why I ate in the first place or why I’ve continued self destructive patterns. This time I know I’m going to have to or I will a) never reach my goal or b) reach goal and then regain some of the weight because I failed to deal with the “why’s”. This is a whole new level of difficult that I didn’t fully comprehend preop. I don’t think it’s actually possible to understand the full scope of what you’re signing up for before surgery anyway. You know what’s going to happen physically. You understand the risks. “I’m going to change my life” you say.

But how many times have we dieters actually said that? A thousand times? A million? What’s going to make this time different?

You.

Only you can make this time different. How do you do that? You work through the mental turmoil that pops up as you go. As hard as it is and you try not to eat those feelings away…and if you slip, keep going. Don’t quit. The only difference between success and failure is continued effort vs giving up. Saying this in English looks so so much more simple and easy than it actually is but that’s it. That’s all I’ve got.

….and if I happen to lose my mind somewhere along the road on this journey, here marks the day it was last seen.