by Christine on July 22nd, 2016
I recently was given the book “Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer. I’m only a few chapters into it, and I’ll likely talk about it again on this blog. At the very beginning of the book, the author talks about the incessant, chattering voice in your head. The voice in your head that comments on everything—especially on yourself. The voice expresses judgement constantly, and it can change its opinions at the drop of a hat. That voice is utterly unreliable. You’ve caught it blatantly lying. It’s not nice.
That voice is your head narrates the world around you. It says, “wow, that sun is really bright.” Did you really need the voice to tell you that? You looked at the sky and already noticed the bright sun—did the voice need to state the obvious? No. Singer claims that the voice’s attempt to narrate the world is actually your psyche’s attempt to place some control over your environment. Because, fundamentally, humans feel uncomfortable when they aren’t in control of their lives and environments.
“If you want to be happy, you have to let go of the part of you that wants to create melodrama. This is the part that thinks there’s a reason not to be happy. You have to transcend the personal, and as you do, you will naturally awaken to the higher aspects of your being. In the end, enjoying life’s experiences is the only rational thing to do. You’re sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Go ahead, take a look at reality. You’re floating in empty space in a universe that goes on forever. If you have to be here, at least be happy and enjoy the experience….There’s always going to be something that can bother you, if you let it.”
To me, this has a direct relationship to the voice in my head that narrates what I think about my body. “You’re fat. You’re ugly,” the voice in my head tells me a hundred times a day. “You WANT to swim on a hot day, but you better not get in a bathing suit in public. You’ll make someone sick. If you want to swim, you should find a private place to go instead of the water park.” My voice also says, “You fatty, if you eat THIS instead of THAT, you’ll lose weight.” Or it will say, “If you weren’t so weak-willed, you never would have gotten fat in the first place.” And so on.
I have a very active inner voice, and it’s never nice to me.
I haven’t quite gotten far enough in the book to figure out how Singer thinks you can ignore that voice in your head or transform its voice. He does assert that learning to turn it off, to embrace the present moment, and learn to bear reality as it really is—our actual experience of life right now, not just our narrated version—is crucial to finding happiness. This is a very Buddhist way of thinking, of course, to embrace the present moment. He cautions not to let your inner voice define who you are, since we have already decided that your inner voice is a lying, manipulative, awful voice.
“To attain true inner freedom, you must be able to objectively watch your problems instead of being lost in them… Once you’ve made the commitment to free yourself of the scared person inside, you will notice that there is a clear decision point at which your growth takes place.”
by Christine on November 2nd, 2011
3 years ago, I’d go to Moe’s for lunch and eat a whole Triple Lindy (which is a burrito with rice, pinto beans, steak, shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole).
Calories: 845, not even including the side of potato chips they give you, which is easily another 400-800 calories. No joking, kiddos.
I can’t believe selling food that high in calories is even legal. It’s not even tasty!
Or my co-workers would head over to the Cheesecake Factory. I’d have the Pasta Carbonera, which has 2134 calories. Granted, I wouldn’t eat it all, but I’d eat a good 3/4s of it.
Oh my. Those were the days, huh?
by Christine on October 4th, 2011
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?
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!
by Christine on October 3rd, 2011
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!
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
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
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!
by Christine on August 10th, 2011
Yesterday and this morning I thought I would post some pictures of food and what I’m eating and whatnot.
It all started with a trip to the grocery store. After yoga (yes, I’ve managed to hit every day of my XN 2-Week Exercise Challenge, except for one! 6 days and going strong!) I was pondering what to do about dinner. Now, I live in a godforsaken part of the world that has no Trader Joe’s or Wholefoods. In fact, the nearest Co-op is about 40 minutes away and completely inconvenient to get to. However, there’s a new grocery store in town called the Fresh Market that I think is like a Trader Joe’s. I hadn’t been there before (it’s not really convenient for me…about 10 minutes out of the way) but I decided to hit it up last night.
What a wonderful store! The vegetables look great. Their cheeses went on for miles. Their heat-and-serve foods looked great, and I would have gotten some salmon except the line was too long. Oh, and my favorite part of the store…a long section will make-your-own-trail-mix! They had tons of kinds to choose from! It was terrific!
Have you ever noticed that you rarely see overweight people shopping at organic food stores? Not like you see overweight people shopping at the Walmart Supercenter. I wonder why that is. I mean, the foods that you get at stores like the Fresh Market, Trader Joes, Wholefoods, etc….they might have “Organic” on the box, but they have plenty of crappy foods littering their shelves. You can still get potato chips and boxed/frozen meals…things loaded with salt and preservatives and fat and sugar. Similarly, you can always shop healthfully at other grocery stores like Walmart. There are plenty of fresh veggies, fresh meat, and good natural produce you can buy there. So why the weight discrepancy? And what makes “Fresh Market” a draw over regular grocery chains? Is it the appearance of the products and the store? Or is the food really healthier and more savory? Hmmm. I wonder….
In the end I grabbed some fixings to make a cheese quesadilla and a few snackies for work.
I whipped up a quesadilla. (I ate 3/4 of it.) It’s always important to measure! I took out the measuring cup to make sure I had exactly the right amount of countable cheese.
I wanted to indulge in a teeny tiny bit of sour cream, but not enough to break my calorie budget. So I took out a measuring spoon and gave myself just a little dab!
2 slices of whole wheat tortilla/low carb: 100 calories
Cheddar Cheese: 23 calories
Sour cream: 40 calories
Salsa: 10 calories
Total: 233; I ate 3/4 of the meal (but all of the sour cream and salsa), giving me 187 calories for the meal.
nom nom nom!
This morning I thought I would try some of this new granola cereal I bought at the store last night. Granola is yummy but it really high in calories (200 per 1 cup) and is high in sugar and carbs. Yikes! I better make this a once-a-week treat. I bet this stuff leaves me feeling hungry mid-morning, too. I would have been better off with an egg! Still, I measured out just a little bit and had my 150 calories worth. 150 calories is my goal for each meal….my lucky number!
Before I left for work I got the measuring spoon back out and measured out a small serving of nuts. You guessed it…about 150 calories worth! Now the orange stuff is weird. I’ve never seen it before! It’s some kind of dried + pressed peach thing. It tastes like a fruit roll-up. There’s probably a lot of added sugar in the thing, but I can’t seem to find any calorie stats about it online. Still, it is at least kind of natural, and I was wondering if that would help control my mid-afternoon sugar cravings. We’ll see! I forgot to picture a handful of baby carrots as well.
So my total calories for the day yesterday clocked out at:
7:30 a.m.: Cheerios (110 calories) + skim milk (23)
8:30 a.m.: Dunkin donuts coffee (168 calories)
Noon: Out to Chilis with a colleague: 1 bowl of chili with no toppings (310 calories), diet coke
7 p.m.: Quesadilla (187)
8 p.m.: 1 glass of skim milk, on ice (136)
Total calories: 934 calories
Right on target! My goal is between 800-1000 calories. I should have had a lower-calorie lunch so I could have had some snackies in the afternoon, but I had to work with what I had ordered.
This morning I weighed in at 131.0 pounds. Coming back down, but still up overall. I think the exercise is helping (duh!).
Good morning to you!