Sunday, November 30, 2008

Staying on track - requires discipline

This week was a challenge for me. I made it through my 12 days of vacation healthy. I woke up Monday for my 1st day back to work with a cold. I went to my hour water aerobics class and then my 30 minutes of self water exercising. I was worn out. On Tuesday I was so drained from the cold I didn’t go to the “Y”. The rest of the week went down hill. By Wednesday my voice was pretty rough. By Thursday the officers were able to hear about every 3rd word. They had to read between the words to figure out what I was saying. Friday was a little better, but I still sounded rough. I never had a sore throat, but sounded terrible. Anyway, this process of “deteriorating” health made it impossible to exercise. I’m ready to get back in the swing of it all on Monday.

I gained a pound this week. I’m not real sure how. I know it was Thanksgiving, but I didn’t have one. I worked Thursday and Friday from 10:30a-10:30p. I didn’t have a shred of turkey. I did have homemade chicken and noodles. I guess this next week I need to write down what I eat so I can track what might be causing the gain. This is the 2nd time I have gained since surgery. I know 1 pound isn’t much, but it is still a gain. I haven’t ever felt like I overate, but obviously I have been eating something(s) I shouldn’t be or at least not as much of it. Now that I am starting to feel hunger I must stay focused and continue to be intense in my goal seeking. If I am going to make my goal by my next appointment with Dr. Hachem I will need to loose almost 4 pounds a week. I will give it my best! I can’t live by the “what ifs” so I will just make the best choices. There is no perfect choice, but there are best choices and I will leave the rest to God.

Staying on track with weight loss and health goals requires discipline.
~Melissa McCreey~

I read a letter written by a potential WLS patient who lives with a post-op patient of 5 years. He said some have found the post-surgery restrictions of the WLS lifestyle to be frustrating. "Why did I do all this if I still have to diet and watch everything I eat?" is the way the question is often put. His answer came to him in a bagel ad slogan. "Eating smart isn't dieting."

This is a motto I need to focus on. I have tried every diet and weight loss trick imaginable. I have to focus on eating healthy and allow the rest to fall in place. If I focus on it being a diet I will only get frustrated. I hated that lifestyle and got discouraged by that lifestyle. So I need to step back, take a deep breath and use the tools this surgery provided me. I guess I need to just relax in the process yet be diligent in the process.

“Commitment and accountability are two great secrets of WLS success.”

"The difference between 'not enough' and 'more than enough' is your attitude,"
~Bishop T.D. Jakes~
We can get so wrapped up in trying to get what we don't have that we don't take time to appreciate what we do have.
~Valerie Burton~

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Getting Back to "Normal"

This week some things have seemed to be getting back to “normal”. It has been like the email they send out where all the letters are jumbled up but the 1st and last letter. You can breeze through and read the message. We get so used to reading by memory that we don’t look at the individual parts to see the complete picture. Life gets in the way of experiencing it sometimes. I have had the last 12 days off work. It has been a very relaxing productive vacation. Those seem like contradictions, but really they aren’t. I had things I wanted to get done, but if they didn’t, they didn’t. Well, I got them all done without feeling rushed. I got my Christmas shopping and wrapping finished. From here on out it is a busy time at work, so it is important to get this done early. This way I don’t get stressed and eat just to eat. I also can look at the jumbled up word and know what it is without looking at each individual letter. I can relax in my post-op state of thinking and not fall back on my pre-op habits. As I said, life gets in the way sometimes.

Back to the “normal”. In the last 3-4 days I have begun to feel hunger urges. My body has always told me I was getting full and I have been able to stop at satisfied. My difficulty was in eating often enough because I rarely got hungry to tell me to eat. Well, this last week I began to feel the urge or rumble of hunger. Now the difficulty is trying to figure out what to eat. Now is the time I have to lay the foundation for healthy eating (food as well as patterns). I have been trying to do that since day one of post-op. It is more difficult now because I find I want to eat certain things sometimes. I have been successful staying away from the unhealthy, non-essential foods (carbs, sugar, etc.). I have kept my portion sizes appropriate. I have kept my snacking so limited it almost doesn’t exist. So now that I am getting the hunger urges I have to pay close attention to my patterns. I have always been an emotional eater. I ate when I was bored, happy, angry, sad, excited, stressed, etc. See the pattern? Whenever I wanted to and whatever I wanted to! Now I have to plan for those times when the hunger urge is evident. I have to recognize if it is really hunger or if it is emotional. I have in the past (B.S.) eaten a snack (chips, crackers, candy, pastries, etc.) in order to “hold me over until supper time.”. Now I will have to make sure I really need to eat and determine what I will eat. I know I tend to “need” something around 4-5p at work to “hold me over” until 7-8p when I eat. I will have to make sure I take cottage cheese or peppers or something along that line.

The last 2-3 weeks I’ve talked to several people about the want or need to eat. There is a difference! I also talked about the thought process of “can’t” and “don’t need”. I had a friend say she tells herself she can’t have that. I told her to tell herself she doesn’t need it. Saying you can’t have it leaves the sour taste of being denied in your mouth. By saying you don’t need it your perspective is on the healthy side of taking care of yourself. I have found this works really well. Today was our church’s Thanksgiving dinner. There were so many wonderfully delicious looking desserts; chocolate peanut butter balls, chocolate chip cookies, cakes, breads of all kinds, candy/nut trail mix, etc. I thought so many things would be so good just to taste. My determination for success won out. I kept the focus on “I don’t need it” and was able to pass it all by. I took an orange cheese cake with mandarin oranges on top. It is a recipe I found in my bariatric cookbook. I wanted to make sure I had something I was able to eat and that would take the temptation away for the other things. It worked. I also took a bean salad from that cookbook to give me a known safe option of salads (berry/marshmallow/whipped topping salad, heavy fat-laden saucy salads, etc.). Of course the protein was found in the beans as well as my turkey. I could in good conscious eat mashed potatoes and turkey gravy. Another hazard of a community dinner is not knowing how the food was prepared and what “additives” are in the dish. So I tried to stick to the basics and be safe. I stuck to my pouch rules and found the dinner was very satisfying in taste and fulfillment. It can be done. I can live a normal healthy eating life after bariatric bypass surgery. People perceive it so hard to not be able to eat certain things and eat such small portions.

I have talked to several people lately that don’t understand how and can’t fathom eating such small amounts. They ask, “Will you ever be able to eat that again?” They were referring to the sugar desserts and the high fat foods. I tell them, I think I am high tolerant towards sugar, but I don’t need it and I don’t really miss it, so why tempt it by trying it? Also when I tell them I have a Happy Meal from McDonalds and can’t eat it all, they can’t imagine that. I tell them I could have eaten it all and been miserable, like I used to do B.S., but being satisfied is so much healthier and satisfying to my overall feelings that I am able to stop when my body tells me. It just takes some listening to do it. “Slow and steady wins the race.” I know my race is at 70 pounds lost now!

With this week being Thanksgiving and all the traditions that go along with it I am glad I have to work 12 hours on Thanksgiving. Last year I played it smart. I took what I normally would eat at Thanksgiving and then split it in half. I ate half at dinner and took the other half to work for supper. This year there would have been things I would have eaten last year that I am not able to eat this year (like chocolate peanut butter balls). I did excellent at the church dinner today so I think I would have the same ability on Thanksgiving. God does provide the will if you rely on him for it.

I pray you center your Thanksgiving on those you are with, recalling the many blessings you have been granted in the lat year and thanking God for them. My hope is this Thanksgiving will be a start to a year of many blessings and you will count a new lifestyle as one of them. I know I will! “Thank you God for giving me the means to have the surgery and the dedication to use the tools I gained from that surgery to take care of myself in a healthy manner.”

God bless,

DeAnn :0)

"The difference between 'not enough' and 'more than enough' is your attitude,"
~Bishop T.D. Jakes~
We can get so wrapped up in trying to get what we don't have that we don't take time to appreciate what we do have.
~Valerie Burton~

Monday, November 17, 2008

Walk towards the goals

This week I had my regular 3 month checkup with my regular doctor. He was very happy with me. He asked how much weight I've lost, I grinned and I told him 63 pounds. He said, "Look at that grin." He said he was very impressed with me. He asked me about my exercising and I told him what I've been doing. He figured I am exercising an average of 10 hours a week. He said he is very proud of me. I told him I quit using my C-Pap on Oct 31st. He asked why. I told him because I don’t think I need it anymore. I asked if he thought I needed to be retested. He said actually several months ago the insurance companies started covering an in home overnight oximetry testing. It measures the level of oxygen you are expending over a certain period of time. So he wrote a prescription for me to get one from my respiratory provider. I went and they "equipped" me with an oxygen monitor. I had to place a "clip" on my finger attached to a small monitor not much bigger than a small audio cassette recorder. I wore that all night and took it back the next morning and they analyze it and send the results to my doctor. I also took the computer chip from my C-Pap machine that has monitored my sleeping patterns for the life of the machine (about a year). So I will definitely know if I am safe to not use my C-Pap.

Also at this appointment my doctor told me he believes in a short time we will probably be able to take me off most of my medications. It is dependant on weight loss. He talked about doing testing at 50 more pounds. Maybe by my next appointment with him (May) I can get off my medications!! That is a huge goal for me. It gives me a lot of incentive to work hard with the exercising and watch my food choices wisely! One goal at a time through small steady steps!

This weekend was my trip to Oklahoma City for the Women of Faith conference. Shawna and I go every year. I had a goal that I was able to check off this weekend. On my list of things I wish I could do that skinny people take for granted is a goal of going through a turnstile by walking straight instead of sideways standing on my tippy-toes to get my big belly over the top. Well, I was able to do that!! I was also able to walk all the way around the arena without stopping. Last year I barely made it around halfway. So many things that seem like small things but are actually triumphs that need to be acknowledged. Shawna gave me the idea to keep a grateful list. So I will get started on that. I can think of several off the top of my head. I want to hang it so it can be used as an incentive in the tough times. This trip this year was so much easier in many ways because of my weight loss.

This weekend was also a true test of my ability to eat right and keep my portion sizes appropriate. From Thursday noon until Sunday noon we ate out. That is a real challenge for a gastric bypass surgery post-opter. Although a couple places gave serving sizes far too big I was able to eat and stop when I was satisfied. I never felt overly full. I was very comfortable and satisfied. I ate my protein 1st and a little of the “extras” (no desserts). I also was able to supplement a less than idea portion of protein with some lunch meat and cheese sticks I took along. I also added some peppers for vegetables. I felt good about my choices and the outcome. A couple of places allowed me to order smaller servings (senior menu) when I explained why I didn’t want a full serving.

Shawna and I talked about an event that happened last year at this conference. I told her it was probably the catalyst to my surgery decision. Last year we were sitting in our seats and talking and suddenly I felt someone sit on me. I looked over and it was a woman that had the seat next to me. She was so heavy she couldn’t fit in her chair. She lapped over not only into mine, but into the chair on the other side as well. I’m not talking about just touching me, but actually sitting partially on me. Well, the group she came with was perceptive enough to rearrange the seating. They put her between 2 of them and that way they were partially sat upon. I felt so bad for her, but at the same time I got a case of the giggles. As I sat there with her on me I thought, “I don’t think I have ever felt so thin since I was a child.” At that point I think the seed was planted that I had to do something! I knew Weight Watchers was not working for me and there had to be another solution.

This week I weighed a day later than normal because I wasn’t home Saturday. So my “trip eating” was included in on this weigh-in. I lost just over 3 pounds this week. So now I am up to 67 pounds lost since June 21st, 52 of that since surgery! I feel good about that since I had the 4 day “outing” included and a week of no organized exercising due to the busyness of the week. Shawna and I tried to do some walking.

Each day brings something new to my journey. Sometimes it is subtle and I don’t see it immediately as it creeps into my life. Other times it is clearly visible and I thank God for it. Sometimes it is a positive aspect and sometimes it is a less positive aspect. All are appreciated and measured for a lesson learned. Many times the outcome is in the attitude. Luci Swindoll was telling us in one of her presentations this weekend that she had to lose weight. After the 1st week on a diet, or as she calls it after rearranging the letter, an edit, she lost 2 pounds. She said she looked in the mirror and saw something different. She thought about what it was and it came to her that is was that she was thinner. She now has lost 40 pounds and it all started with the 2 pounds the 1st week. As she said, “It is in the attitude”.

Keep your attitude positive and the rest will fall in place through diligent steady steps. Keep your goals in focus and walk towards them.

Life is preparation for eternity.
~Rick Warren~

Saturday, November 8, 2008

2 Dates

June 1, 2000. October 31, 2008. Two dates that play in my head. The 1st is the day I started using a C-Pap. It was devastating to realize I would probably have to use a sleep breathing machine for the rest of my life. I had suspected I had sleep apnea for some time. I told the doctor I thought I had it. He asked me why I thought that. I told him because I was waking up by the sound of the gravel on the side of the road at 70 MPH; waking up to the sound of the horn from the car behind me because I fell asleep at the stop light; waking up several times in the middle of the night gasping for air and my heart racing. He said he thought I should have a sleep test done. Well, on June 1, 2000 I had my 1st night with my new bed companion. It was an affair that was not filled with love, but with resignation that it was a way of life for me. Since that night I have not gone but 3 nights without my C-Pap machine. The 1st two nights were last year during the ice storm and we were without electricity. The 3rd time was the night of my gastric by-pass surgery. So in 8+ years I’ve only gone 3 nights without it, until October 31st, 2008.

Yes the 2nd date in my head is the night I stopped using my C-Pap machine. I decided it was time to test the waters (or in this case, the air). I was very leery, hesitant and filled with a lot of fear. What if I wasn’t ready and I stopped breathing again. I thought, “Well, I’ve been there before and did okay. God will be with me and pull me through whatever happens.” So I crawled in bed, laid down, and waited. I actually fell asleep fairly quickly. I woke up a few times during the night, but not gasping. As the week went on I slept longer through the night. I found I was sleeping just fine. So I have not used my C-Pap since. Today, (8th) I cleaned my C-Pap equipment for the last time. I packed it up and stored it away. Now I don’t have the crease over my nose or the indentions in my forehead from the C-Pap mask. All this courtesy of weight loss!

I guess you could say there are a few “down” sides. I no longer know when the electricity goes out. See, with the C-Pap if the electricity goes out, the C-Pap stops and you have no forced air. Means you sleep with your mouth shut, it is impossible to breathe. I used to know exactly when the electricity went off in the night because you wake up gasping for air. I have a back up battery for my alarm clock so I don’t have to worry about sleeping through the electricity outage. I was also used to a constant hum of noise. Now I have to adjust to the silence. I’ve handled that perfectly. The machine always gave a dim ray of light. It would have been brighter, but I put paper over the buttons to block out as much as I could. I prefer total darkness in the room when I sleep. I had to adjust to the dim light the C-Pap machine emitted. It didn’t take but one night to adjust back!

Sleep Apnea - one co-morbidity from my list crossed off!

I have pretty much eliminated my back pain as well. I still have some stiffness and pain occasionally. It used to be all the time, but since the weight loss it is almost unnoted. I seriously believe this is due to the weight loss. My back has already been damaged because of the weight so I don’t expect it never to hurt again. It doesn’t stop me from doing what I want anymore. I also am able to get down on the floor with relative ease. B.S. (before surgery) I basically wasn’t able to get down on the floor at all. Today I got on the floor and unplugged my C-Pap and lingered around to untangle cords, re-plug in appliances and get back up with no difficulty. Another co-morbidity knocked down.

I can exercise, walk and take the steps without becoming instantly breathless. I used to not be able to take the steps because the weight made it very difficult on my joints and of course on my breathing. Exercising is without explanation much easier! As my friend Laura said last month, “I must say you move much easier.” Another set of co-morbidities eliminated.

Thank you God for Innovative Weight Loss Solutions. Through Dr. Hachem’s talent for performing gastric bypass Roux-en-Y surgery, IWLS staff’s support and a steady walk towards a healthier lifestyle I have lost 63 pounds since June 21st. Yes, this week I lost 3 more pounds. I am down 2 pant sizes and 2 shirt sizes.

My niece stopped by today and said I am getting smaller every time she sees me. It sure felt good. I am trying to be very conscious of what I eat. I am watching my portions closely. I am trying to make good food choices with proteins first. I continue to exercise and enjoy it. I am 29 pounds away from my goal for January 22, 2009. That would be just under 3 pounds a week. I want to be less than 200 pounds by my next appointment with Dr. Hachem. With dedication, focus and God’s blessing, I will make it!

I think the secret to a happy life is a selective memory.
Remember what you're most grateful for and quickly forget what you're not.
~"Grace" by Richard Paul Evans~

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mind Over Matter

Many believe weight loss is a mind over matter issue. “Just do it”! Well……

The “head struggle” still remains an issue for me. I want to eat healthy, but I find food at this point is not appealing to me. When I do think there is something I want to eat, it never tastes as good as I anticipated. The other day I decided I would splurge and have a toasted peanut butter and sugar free jelly sandwich. Something I always enjoyed. Well, it didn’t taste as good as I remember. So now I need to rethink my wants. Is the “dreaded” carbs of the bread worth it? Usually not. I guess I need to just stick to the protein stance. Instead of the bread, just eat some rolled up meats. Thanks to my friend who understands this process, she replanted the knowledge of eating meats as a “snack” when I need something. Because I don’t get hungry I toil with the dilemma of “do I want to eat because of emotional issues or boredom or do I want to eat because I need the nutrients?” Protein first! Surgery has provided, almost too well, the tool to handle the physical aspect of eating and now I must master the taming of the emotional and boredom aspects. That my friend is a tough one!

I knew going in to this the mental and emotional issues would be a big obstacle. I’ve done very well with both so far. As my pouch gets healthier and my variety of food increases I have found my choices must be more closely monitored. Having a high tolerance to sugar is another obstacle. I want to eat more dessert type foods (sugar free Jell-o, sugar free pudding, sugar free cookies, cakes, etc.) This is something I will have to reel in and eliminate. I need to get back to the basics.

I am 3 months post-opt and have lost 60 pounds. I do not want to lose the momentum I have had or the success I have obtained. So it is time to sit down, reassess, get back to the basics, look at the ultimate goal (healthier) and pat myself on the back for the strides I have made so far. Work is very stressful right now and it has added to the distraction of my primary goal. I know I need to get focused and stop taking things for granted. I know my body has the ability to function without the non-essentials. I know I have the ability to get my mind focused in the right direction. This is a life long quest and it has to be sought day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Each situation has to be weighed and actions have to be determined. I have to make myself accountable for my decisions and the actions those decisions lead to. I am a “working” success in progress. I must accept where I am now and work towards where I want to be in time. The journey is not finished.

Everybody stumbles.
It's what you do then that makes or breaks your life.