Cosmic collision. What does it mean??

by Christine on October 11th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

I’m having one of those moments when the universe seems to align in some kind of weird way. And it’s all centered on Texas. Now, I live in New York, about a bajillion miles from Texas. I rarely, if ever, come across references to Texas. I live far away, in a whole different culture.

But the universe has aligned itself with me somehow. A friend just left to visit Texas for a week. A family member that lives in Texas just contacted me out of the blue. A college friend of mine just moved to Texas this week. I pick up a book and…lo and behold, it’s set in Texas! I turn on the tv, and the show takes place in Texas. I turn on the radio, and they are playing selections from the Austin City Limits music festival (in Texas). I tune into a blogger’s page, and it’s all about Texas today.  I sell some items on Ebay and most of the sales are for places in Texas. I go to the mailbox and get a wedding invite for an event in…you guessed it…Texas!

I’m not even counting all the Texas-sports team references in the last week!

What does this Texas overload mean?? Do you believe in coincidence?

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Fun weekend hiking & enjoying the fall colors

by Christine on October 10th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Exercise

It was a very busy weekend for me, and I got lots of weird exercise in, which is great! It’s my favorite kind of exercise…the kind that happens by happenstance!

Saturday the hubby and I headed off to the Herkimer Diamond Mine. It’s a real working quarry where you bust up rocks and search for diamonds. (They aren’t real diamonds of course–just high quality quartz.) We weren’t overly successful and only found a few super teeny tiny diamonds. Still, the process of hammering the hell out of rocks for three hours was interesting, fun in a weird way, and great for some upper body exercise! Three hours of that burned about 1,000 calories!

Sunday we went for a hike with a group of the hubby’s friends. We went up Buck Mountain, overlooking Lake George. It was a somewhat difficult hike (very difficult for the three newbie hikers in our group), very warm, but with fantastic views at the top!  Four hours of hiking burned maybe 1300 calories for me…not bad! It was just under a 7 mile hike, 2,000 foot elevation. Not one of the tallest peaks in the Adirondacks, but it was a very steady and unrelenting climb.

I was one of the carpool drivers, and man, driving after a long hike is really tough! All you want to do is kick off your hiking boots and sleep a little! I had a five-hour energy and some carrots and tried to make do.

After we went home and showered we all met back up at one of the friends’ house. Everyone had pizza (boo, I can’t have pizza! So I had some cereal at home before going over there) and played board games. I left early because I was pretty dang sleepy!

Today it’s Columbus Day and I don’t have the day off. I’m at work, but I’m feeling pretty tired. I don’t think it’ll be a very productive day at work!

Weight today was unsurprisingly down a little bit! 127.0 today, hooray!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

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Fun in the Field!

by Christine on October 6th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Yesterday for work I put on my blue jeans and joined our field crews out on some project sites. Boy was that fun! It was a sunny, 70 degree day, and I was right in the heart of the Catskill Mountains. It was stunning…perfect…beautiful!! I spent the day running around taking pictures of our projects and asking 10,000 questions. Our staff was fabulous and patiently answered all my silly questions. It was a lovely day…one of those days where exercise accidently happens while you’re out and about, having fun!

 

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Gastric Band Surgery Q&A Part 2

by Christine on October 4th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

Periodically I go into the Google Analytics of my website and discover that some viewers are asking questions about the gastric banding surgery and looking for the answers at my website. Here is the lastest group of “Questions and Answers” about the gastric banding surgery that might be of use to new bandsters.  This is Part 2 of the Q&A. Read Part 1 of the Q&A here.

 

How do I know if my gastric band is too tight?
If you cannot take a swig of water immediately after a fill, then your gastric band is definitely too tight. That’s the easy part.  However, finding the right balance between “tight enough to lose weight and be happy” and “too tight” might be a difficult balance to achieve. I know that I struggle with this almost 3 years after surgery! If you are finding that you cannot eat enough calories to survive (you know, if you’re dizzy and having a hard time concentrating because you’re not eating enough), then your band is too tight. If you find yourself choosing protein shakes, milkshakes, ice cream, and soup all the time because anything more solid than that is painful, then your band is too tight. If you find yourself barfing during most meals because your food is always getting stuck, then your band is probably too tight.

All that being said, I like to have my band pretty tight—maybe even tighter than most people. I know that I can’t eat certain foods, especially breads and pastas. Just because I can’t eat certain foods doesn’t mean that my band is too tight. I know a lot of bandsters that can no longer eat steaks or dry chicken. Again, this is normal and not necessarily an indication that the band is too tight. On the other hand, if you simply cannot be happy unless you have steak, and you find your band too tight to eat steak, then you might want to consider getting some saline taken out.

All in all, there’s no real hard and fast rule about finding whether the band is too tight or not. It’s really a matter of personal preference. However, a good rule of thumb is that if you cannot swallow any liquid, or if you have problems eating solid foods of any kind, then you should definitely loosen your band a bit. Other than that, it’s a matter of what you can live with or not.

 

How long is the gastric band waiting list?
Honestly, I think it depends on what region of the world you live in, what hospital you are going to, what surgeon you are seeing, etc. I know in the UK, the country only allocates a certain amount of money for the gastric band surgery, and so you might be on the waiting list for quite a while. According to www.gastricband.org.uk the waiting list in the UK can vary from anywhere between 3 months to four years.

I was banded in upstate New York, USA. I was not placed on any waiting list. Once I completed all my pre-surgery testing and requirements, I was immediately put on the pre-surgery diet. My surgeons gave me 2 months to lose 25 pounds on the pre-surgery protein shake diet, and as soon as I lost that weight I had my surgery. And yes, my insurance paid for the surgery in its entirety, but that really depends on your insurance carrier, your health background, the hospital you’re going to, and a lot of other factors.

I really recommend you check out the forums at www.lapbandtalk.com, especially the regional forums to inquire about this question.  (FYI, LapBandTalk.com is free to use and is a fantastic resource for anyone considering the banding surgery.)

 

Does gastric banding hurt?
Yes, the surgery itself does. But I personally found it to be a tolerable pain, that did not last very long (only a few days…maybe 7-10 days) and went away little by little, every day.  I’ve read other blogs from banders that found the pain to be too much, too intense, and last too long. I think part of the pain has to do with your tolerance, as well as your surgeon’s capabilities.

The band should not hurt once your body has healed from the surgery. If you are in pain several week or months following your surgery, you should definitely talk to your surgeon to find out what’s going on.

Will throwing up hurt the gastric band?
Fantastic question!

In my personal opinion and experience, I think all bandsters experience purging/throwing up due to food getting stuck in the band. Bandsters have all kinds of terminology for this experience, such as “sliming” or “B/Ping” etc.  This is a very common occurrence, especially once the band gets close to your “sweet spot,” which is the optimal tightness that allows you to live and eat happily but still allow you to lose weight.

Despite the common occurrence of the purging episodes, throwing up can hurt the gastric band, so you should really be careful about it. I believe the band is most vulnerable during the early stages of the process, when the band is deflated and fits loosely on the stomach. If you have a violent barfing episode, the heaving of the stomach can dislodge the location of the band around the stomach, thereby reducing the effectiveness of it. If the band becomes dislodged, you might not realize it right away. The doctor can find if the band has moved by using an X-Ray, or if after a few weeks or months you are not losing weight.

However, it also makes sense to me that barfing can hurt the band if it is filled with saline and tighter. When you are heaving, your stomach might press against the band with such a force that it could rupture the band. (Think of it like squeezing against a full balloon. What happens? The balloon explodes!) If your band “pops” like a balloon, the only way to fix this is by replacing it with another surgery.

All that being said, I’ve personally never heard of anyone having these problems – either band slippage or band “poppage”—because of a barfing episode. It’s just something to be aware of and watch out for. I think this is relatively rare.

 

Why has the gastric band come loose?
Oh dear! Your gastric band may have come loose for a number of reasons. Perhaps there’s a leak in the band itself, in the tube, or the port, or in any of the connections. There’s a lot of ways a leak can occur in the whole gastric band mechanical system. The band could also be loose if it merely has slipped from its ideal location. For instance, if it slips up the stomach, you probably would feel like it is very loose.

These are very serious causes, and only your surgeon can fix these problems if they occur. However, there might be a fairly simple reason for your band feeling a little looser. Your band is a semi-permeable membrane, which means that your band can actually absorb and release liquid through its lining! A lot of bandsters feel like their bands get tighter when they are stressed out, or feel like they get looser when they are dehydrated, like after a night of drinking. Therefore your band might feel a little bit loose just because you’re dehydrated. Eat something salty and drink a lot of water and see if your band feels any better in a day or two.

If you suddenly feel like your band is much looser than it was before, then you really should make an appointment to see your surgeon. He can check to see the saline level in the band or do an X-ray to see if the band has slipped, both of which are fairly painless and non-invasive tests.

 

Does a gastric band affect pregnancy?
The gastric band does not have to negatively affect pregnancy, but it’s important to understand the unique concerns that expecting mothers might have. Read my article about pregnancy and the gastric band here.

 

Can gastric band slip and then go back again?
If your gastric band has slipped from its location around your stomach, it’s possible but unlikely that it would go back again. If it slips, it is most likely to stay “slipped” until your surgeon goes back to replace it in the correct location.  Sorry! I stand corrected! See Angela’s comment at the very end of this post. Angela said that this very thing happened to her…her band slipped out of place. She had an un-fill, and then the problem corrected itself.  I had no idea that this was possible. Interesting, and thank you for sharing Angela!

 

Can you feel the gastric band through the skin?
No, you cannot feel the gastric band through the skin, but you may be able to feel the gastric band’s port through the skin. The port is the receptacle where your surgeons inject the saline. Read more about the components of the gastric band system in this article.

 

Gastric banding menus
Here are some resources for finding out what to eat –or not eat!—with the gastric band:

  •  This page lists the post-surgery diet requirements, as well as a list of foods that are typically not processed well by band patients.
  • Here is a list of mushy food ideas.
  • This forum has a lot of great food ideas.
  • This website has some food ideas.  

 

How much food can I eat during the mushy stage?
You should only be eating no more than a cup of mushy foods at any given sitting.

 

How do you locate the lap band port to make it unnoticeable?
It’s unlikely that a severely overweight person can see the port through their skin. However, as you lose weight and get closer to your goal weight, the port may become noticeable, either by touch or by site. I had many talks with my surgeon about this very topic of moving my port (which had become dislocated) to a place less noticeable. There are a variety of locations where your surgeon can put the port to minimize its appearance through your skin, from putting it under the abdomen, moving it to your side, etc.  Read about these options in more detail here.

 

Will the port from my gastric band protrude if I lose a lot of weight?
It might, possibly yes.  See this page for some ideas about moving the port if it is really bothering you.    Please note that the different banding systems have a different profile port. For instance, the Lap Band system uses a port that has a higher profile, which means that it sticks out further than other systems.  I have a Realize Band system, which uses a smaller profile port, which means that it’s flatter and thinner than the Lap Band system. However, many surgeons find the Realize Band port to be difficult to access when the patient is very overweight and has a lot of fat covering the port. It’s difficult to find where the port is because it is so much flatter, so the doctor might have to jab around with the needle a little more to find the injection site. Even more reason to find a surgeon with a  lot of experience, so you can minimize the needle-jabbing process!   My surgeon told me that a lot of doctors put a smaller profile port on male patients and a higher profile port on female patients. Doctors do this based on their experience and comfort level. You should discuss the type of hardware that he’s putting in you before your surgery, so you are aware of what you’re getting. Don’t forget that you can have an opinion about what kind of system you receive from your surgeon!

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Just another boring weekend

by Christine on October 3rd, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition

It was another boring weekend for me. This about three or four boring weekends in a row, and I’m going stir-crazy for a little excitement, let me tell you! I really wanted to go for a drive this weekend to try to find some fall leaf-changing colors, but it was cold and rainy all weekend, so we opted to stay home. Staying home is good for the wallet, but man it gets really boring! I’m not used to it.

We did go out and buy a new dishwasher. It’s nice stainless steel, hidden controls, lots of options. It was a good price, and the reviews ranked the dishwasher pretty highly. It gets delivered on Friday, and I’m pretty excited about getting it! No more hand-washing dishes, woohoo!

So now for a little dieting accountability again. Whereas last time I was under my calories, I suspect that I was over the calories this weekend. I have been counting calories for so many years that I count calories automatically, every time I come face-to-face with any food. However, since entering into “maintenance” mode, I’m trying to cut back on the tyrannical, obsessive calorie-counting, and just do periodic accountability checks. Time to find out how I did! 

Friday
8 a.m.: Coffee (120), 1 yogurt (80)
Noon:  Chili from Wendy’s (310) and a diet coke
4 p.m.: 1 beer (150)
6 p.m.:  salmon (200) and some basmati rice (60) and some grilled zucchini (30), 1 beer (150)
8 p.m.: 1 cosmo (150)
Total Calories: 1250 calories

Saturday
10 a.m.: 1 yogurt (80)
1 pm: tomato soup (150), skim milk (120)
3 p.m.: Coffee (150)
7 p.m.: grilled steak, about 3 oz (140) and 1 texas toast (150) and greens&beans (80), water
10 p.m.: Chocolate (120)
Total Calories: 990

Sunday
11 a.m.: Grilled cheese sandwich (330), skim milk (150)
1 p.m.: French onion soup w/mozerella cheese (200)
3 p.m.: Oatmeal (120)
7 p.m.: Spaghetti Christine-style (about 1/4 cup sauce with meat, no noodles, some extra veggies thrown in) (120), 1 texas toast (150) water
9 p.m.: Chocolate (120)
Total Calories: 1190

Huh, not as bad as I would have thought, to be honest. Obviously the alcohol calories put me over on Friday which is not ideal. But the rest of the weekend wasn’t as bad as I thought…I was guesstimating about 1500 calories those days.  There’s room for improvement, but not too bad overall. I felt like I was starving all weekend long!

My weight is holding steady at 130.0 pounds–right where it’s been all year.

My goal for this week is to make a conscious push to eat more veggies. We’re going to the grocery store tonight so I can stock up on som healthy stuff.  More yogurt! I’ve been craving yogurt lately.

Have a good Monday, everyone!

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