My Baltic Sea Vacation!

by Christine on June 21st, 2012

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, Gastric Banding Surgery, General Information

Hi everyone! I’m back from my vacation, and wow! What a vacation it was! I’ll give you the lowdown, but because this is I suppose technically a weight loss-ish blog, I’ll let you know what the food situation was at each place.

I took a mother/daughter cruise through the Baltics. It was me and my mom, my mom’s best friend, and her daughter. Four of us total. We started the cruise in Copenhagen and went to Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden. I also got to check out a little bit of Iceland on my return trip home. It was a fantastic vacation, and I’d highly recommend it!!!  Because it was a cruise, we mostly ate on the ship (Norwegian cruise lines, and the “free food” — not the pay restaurants — was just mediocre). However, we ate lunch at the ports when we could.

My band was exceptionally tight throughout the whole trip. I had called my surgeon to get it loosened before I left, but he couldn’t get me in for a whole month, so I just had to suffer. I barfed a LOT of my food up due to band tightness. However, the ship had soups on the menu often, and I discovered that the pastries went down pretty well, so I didn’t starve!

Weight & Exercise:
Started at 128.0 pounds.
Returned home at 126.5 pounds.
Lots and Lots and Lots of walking in each port! I took a yoga class on the ship one day, too.

DENMARK

Food:  Day 1:  Lunch was a salad with smelly prawns, hard boiled egg, avocado, and some creamy dill dressing (not my favorite). Lots of “Danishes” — the little pastries, which were fantastic!  My friend and I stopped at Wagamamas (one of my favorite restaurants) for dinner, and I had some Beef Miso Ramen soup.

Day 2: Breakfast included a Danish and some apple juice.  Late lunch/dinner on Day 2 was at a pub and included some nachos with cheese/guac/sour cream and a beer.

GERMANY

Food: Breakfast: 2 pieces of bacon, 1 scrambled egg, and some yogurt. We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant, and I had Tuborg beer, tomato soup, and a warm apple streudel. I had a cappucino that was so strong I had to put 4 packets of sugar in it! Yikes! The soup was a little odd tasting, but the desert was great! Back on the ship I had a steak and some cauliflower soup, and vanilla ice cream for desert. I had 2 cosmos during the kick-off of the ship’s sailing!

ESTONIA

Food: Breakfast involved some yogurt and orange juice. We did so much walking that we kind of forgot to eat. We stopped for a quite bite of some pastry that looks like a croissant but was filled with goat cheese. Warmed up, it was delicious! And I had a Fanta.  Back on the boat I had grilled chicken and fried mushrooms which were delicious! I had a espresso martini for dessert.

 

RUSSIA

 

Food: Day 1 breakfast included some fresh watermelon, 2 slices of bacon, 1 scrambled egg. Lunch involved chicken stroganoff, a side salad, a jelly roll, and some red wine for lunch. Dinner involved Chicken Kiev and soup.

Food on Day 2: Breakfast was yogurt and orange juice. Lunch involved beef stroganoff, cabbage soup (which was amazing!!), a baked apple, and white wine for lunch. Dinner was teriyaki chicken and rice, with soup and some lime sorbet.

FINLAND

Food: Breakfast included a danish pastry and orange juice. We were walking so much we kind of accidentally skipped lunch. We stopped for a danish in the afternoon. In the evening I had some orange roughy and mushroom risotto, soup, and lemon sorbet.

SWEDEN

Food:  Again, we walked so much we forgot about lunch! But this wasn’t good because we were very crabby about missing lunch.  Dinner was some chicken dish, tomato soup, and sorbet. This was a rather stressful day due to everyone being incredibly cranky, and it involved into the only drink-a-thon of the drip: 2 Blue Moon beers and about 4 shots of tequila.

ICELAND

Food: We had breakfast before we got off the ship: watermelon and yogurt and orange juice for me. I stopped at a grocery store in Copenhagen in the morning and had tabouleh salad, cheese and crackers, Fanta, and some cookies. When I got to Copenhagen I stopped at Quiznos for a turkey sub for dinner and another Fanta.

The next day, on my way home I had some nuts at the airport, 2 beers on the plane. Stopped for lunch on the 2 hour drive to my home and had 2 chicken fingers and some tomato soup.  Hubby cooked dinner: steak, rice, and skim milk.

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Gastric Band and Belly Button Piercings (Navel Rings)

by Christine on April 9th, 2012

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Exercise, Gastric Banding Surgery

It turns out that getting a belly button ring affects the gastric band. I wouldn’t have guessed that, so it has been a bit of a learning experience for me.

Here are some pictures. Please note that I think my belly button ring is infected. It’s a little red, and it hurts pretty solidly when I bend over and whatnot. I believe this is affecting my band even more than normal.

The main difference is that my band is HELLA TIGHT since getting pierced. This is because the band is absorptive, and I’m most likely retaining water due to a small infection in the band. (Read more about the band being absorptive here.)  I can barely keep any food down…been barfing up nearly every meal I try to eat. Fortunately I can still sip liquids, so I’m holding out on getting an un-fill to see if this will pass.

The second way the piercing affects the band is because the piercing is located very close to my gastric banding port! I’m fortunate that my piercer didn’t actually puncture the port hose or anything like that (note to you: if you’re going to get a piercing, you may want to mention the port and hose to your piercer so you don’t get punctured!) but I realize now that it could have happened pretty easily. The hose comes very close to my belly button, and so when I bend over or move in a certain way, I can feel the hose rub against the piercing. No bueno, and I may have to lose the piercing because of it. I need to talk to my doctor about it.

Of course, none of this means that YOU will be so affected by your belly button ring, but you may want to give it another thought before rewarding yourself for your weight loss, like me!

Here are some pictures. I know, my belly is hideous, especially with those stretch marks. I don’t intend on SHOWING OFF the belly button ring–I got it more for myself, so I know it’s there, as a reward for losing 100 pounds. That being said, you can see a few things from this picture (ignore the stretch marks, please!):

  • You can see my stomach area since my port re-attachment surgery. You can see a little bump off to the side of my tummy where the port is, but it’s not TOO noticeable.
  • Surgery scars: you can see two or three of my surgery scars on my tummy. These don’t bother me at all, but they are there.

In other news, I’m finally getting some exercise again, now that the weather is turning warmer. This weekend I went hiking in the Berkshires. It’s a path that I’ve done before, and I previously deemed the trail to be “easy” but this time I declared it to be “moderate.” In fact, the hike kicked my ass and I was sore for a day afterwards! OY! Must exercise more!!

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End of March Update!

by Christine on March 30th, 2012

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

Hi everyone! Sorry I’ve been a bit AWOL lately. I’ve been just enjoying life, doing the same-ol same-ol. I kind of feel like a broken record sometimes with the weight loss tips and updates on my life.  Still, I hate to neglect my blog entirely, so I’ll give a few updates now!

Post-surgery follow-up

I received a comment from my blog a few weeks ago mentioning that I never updated how my port-reattachment surgery went.  Well, it went very well! My healing time was much quicker than the original banding surgery.  Within a week I was feeling as good as new.  They used previous incision areas to access the port, so I don’t have any more scars than I had before. The port is still attached, 8 months later, with no problems to report.  Can you see the port through the skin? Not really. I have some droopy stomach skin from the weight loss, so that pretty much obscures the port. That being said, you can feel it really easily through the skin, even through the clothes. I hardly notice it anymore; you just get used to it. Overall, I’m pleased with my decision to re-attach the port in the same place. (And, for the record, my surgeon over at Ellis Bariatric once again did a fabulous job!)

Weight & More NSVs!

My weight is fluctuating a little bit more than I would like; today I was at 131.0, which is six pounds above my “goal weight” and just barely outside of my “maintenance range.”  Now that it’s getting warmer I will exercise more, which will help. My eating still fluctuates between crappy eating and healthy eating.

My goal FOREVER has been that if I reached my goal weight, I would get a navel (belly button) ring. When I reached my goal weight, I didn’t get the navel ring because I was self-conscious about the saggy skin. Well, I finally did it! I got the navel ring! Sure, I still have the saggy skin and it’s not like I’m going to be walking around with a crop top or anything like that.  But *I* know it’s there, and it’s a wonderful, constant reminder of what I achieved. Hooray!

Another NSV: As I’m getting more confident in my own skin, I’m meeting more people, making more friends, and getting hit on a lot more. I get hit on regularly these days, and it’s such a great ego boost! The other day I was out dancing with some girlfriends and some (quasi-creepy) dude bought our drinks all night long just for the chance to chat with me! What a compliment! Believe me, this stuff does not happen at all when you’re overweight.

Another NSV: I got my first tattoo!! I never would have considered it 3 years ago, when I was at my heaviest or with the low self esteem that I was suffering from. I don’t consider a tattoo in any way related to my weight loss per se, but it’s another confidence-builder and a reminder of how far I’ve come mentally and emotionally in the last three years! I am not really a fan of tattoos. Oh, I mean, I like them on other people, but I’ve never really cared to get one for myself. However, I really liked the idea of getting one at this time because it’s a reminder to myself to Stop Taking Myself So Fucking Seriously All The Time. It’s just skin. It’s just a tattoo. Life will not come to a crashing halt if you get one. I haven’t been fired from my job. And you know what? I rather like it, actually!

A weight loss challenge???

I signed up for a motorcycle rider class. I’ve always wanted to ride a motorcycle, and so I decided to take the plunge and get my license! The class is over Memorial Day Weekend. During that time I will get to actually sit on a motorcycle and ride it around and determine whether I am comfortable on a bike or, more importantly, whether I am strong enough to be able to ride it. I’m worried that, having lost so much weight, that the bike will overpower me and I will not be able to hold it up or maneuver it properly. A strange weight-loss challenge!! (Which will be answered in May.)  I can’t wait though! Another dream on my life’s “Bucket List” that I can check off!

Counseling

I’ve started to see a counselor recently. The jury is still out whether it’ll be helpful to me in the long-term or not, but he’s an interesting guy, and I’m interested in his “process,” so I’m sticking with it. I have all kinds of things that I want to work with him about, and among those topics are my distorted relationship with food (who knew? Fucked up food relationships don’t just disappear after surgery. Gasp!), my ongoing struggles with body image and self esteem, and also friendship and relationship changes since losing 100 pounds.

If you are going to be going through any life-changing weight loss surgery Dear Reader, I really encourage you to sign up with a counselor to discuss these topics in an ongoing manner, rather than waiting for any of them to become “issues.”  I am more and more convinced that they are common topics that most weight-loss surgery patients go through, and dealing with it from the onset of the surgery, rather than later.  Surgery and counseling really should go hand-in-hand. (Just my opinion.)

Again, I don’t know that I’ve seen any “results” or have “solved all my problems,” but it’s been helpful to at least attempt to articulate with some of these problems are and to begin problem-solve with an impartial bystander.

 

P.S. Today is my birthday, and I’m hoping to celebrate by spending time with friends and loved ones rather than with cake, food, and other unhealthy things. HOORAY!

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A blip in “maintenance mode…”

by Christine on February 23rd, 2012

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, Gastric Banding Surgery

Well, I’ve been driving this “maintenance mode” gravy train for a little over a year, and I’ve noticed that my weight has gone up and down a little bit (say, 5 pounds) but it has stayed well within range.

However, I can feel the weight creeping up right now. I’m at about 8 pounds higher than my Goal Weight. Although I have actually kicked up my exercise a little bit (which isn’t really saying a lot…I was doing NOTHING before…now I’m squeezing in 2 days a week worth of exercise) I have noticed that my portion sizes are getting bigger and bigger. I’m hungry all the time. I’m eating too much. And I’m not feeling the restriction that my band gives me when it’s just right.

I’m going to give myself 2 weeks to try to get this under control on my own. That is to say, I’m going to crack down on my portion sizes, cut out the sweets that keep creeping into my diet, and eat 6 small mini-meals a day. When I was actively and successfully losing weight, my diet consisted of something like this:

8 a.m. Yogurt & coffee (150 calories worth approx.)
10 a.m.: cheese & crackers (150 calories worth approx.)
Noon: canned soup (150 calories worth approx.)
2 p.m.: fresh fruit  (100 calories worth approx.)
4 p.m.: Almonds (100 cals worth), skim milk
6 p.m.: 3 oz of meat (chicken, fish, or steak) with some fresh veggies (150 calories worth approx.)
8 p.m.: 100 calories worth of chocolate for a treat.

That’s what worked for me in the past, so that’s what I’m going to try to stick to this time. 2 weeks…and if it’s not working for me, then I’ll schedule a little fill with my bariatric surgeon.

I know that the gastric band leaks very very very slowly over time, so it’s not unusual to find it more “roomy” as time goes on. Lots of gastric banders get fills once a year or so to keep it tweaked just right. I don’t mind that, but I also don’t want to rely 100% in the band and get lazy with my food. I realize that I need to put out some effort into this as well. Now is that time! Rawr!

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1 year goal weight anniversary & 5 tips for beating holiday weight gain

by Christine on December 19th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

Yesterday marked my 1 year anniversary of making my goal weight. I was banded in February of 2009 and I reached my goal weight in December 2010. It took me just about 2 years to lose 100 pounds.  I started at 225 pounds and I reached my goal weight of 124 pounds last year.  In the last year I have fluctuated in weight a little bit, less than 10 pounds worth. I have for the most part maintained my weight loss for the last 12 months. I hope I can maintain my weight loss for the next 70 years. Yikes that sure seems like a long time.

My 1 year anniversary passed by with no recognition or celebrating. While I am proud of my accomplishments, they seem bittersweet at the moment, especially because I’m learning that I’ve lost more than mere weight over the past 3 years.

Today I have my first appointment with a counselor. I’m anxious about the appointment and cannot concentrate on my work today. But, I’m also excited about the appointment, and I am feeling optimistic that maybe this guy can help me sort through my multitude if issues swimming through my head and heart at the moment. I’ve been to counselors in the past and have had zero luck with them, so I’m not holding my breath. Still, I’m hopeful. I’ll tell you what, something has got to give with me at right now.

I was reading online about what to expect with your first counseling session, and most articles say that you should come to the appointment with a solid understanding of what your problems are and what goals you hope to achieve. Well, while I can pinpoint some larger problems and long-term  goals, I haven’t got the slightest idea what my problem is right now. But I can say that I would sure love to pull myself out of this depression and be able to be happy in general, focused at work, and able to develop healthy and rewarding relationships with people in my life.  Lofty goals, I know.

Wish me luck.

In the meantime, here’s a few tips for trying to avoid packing on the pounds over the next two weeks:

1. DO remember to wear tight fitting clothes.

That’s right, even to the office party. Choose a fitted dress or pencil skirt with a snug sweater. Wearing body conscious clothes will serve as a reminder that you can’t overeat. Shift dresses can be paired with a wide belt notched one size smaller than usual for a more tapered look. Guys, you don’t get a free pass here.

2. DO delay gratification and wait at least 20 minutes before eating at an event.

Make at least one full lap around a party before starting in on the appetizers. Think about it: It’s rude not to greet people when you walk in, and how are you going to do that with a mouth full of food or hands compromised with a beverage and a canapés?

3. DO keep your hands to yourself at all times.

Keeping a drink in one hand and a cocktail napkin in the other will make it difficult for you to keep reaching for those mini quiches we all know and love.

4. DO ruin your appetite.

We won’t tell your mother. It’s far better to go to a party on a half-empty stomach than an empty one. By eating a pre-party snack you have the opportunity to make a sober food decision based on your preferences and not based solely on what’s offered at the party. Consider it nutrition pre-gaming. (Added note from me: Make sure your pre-party snack is healthy! Eat a big handful of carrots!)

5. DO start now.

If you had even a one-fourth pound weight loss for every time you said “Oh, I’ll start tomorrow,” you’d be a skeleton. Waiting for a New Year’s resolution is just delaying your goal by that many more days. It may not be feasible to lose weight during December, but there’s certainly no reason why you need to gain weight. There will never be a perfect time to eat right — you have jump right in and start with your next meal!

(stolen online from here.)

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