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!


Fill #10 or something

by Christine on July 19th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

Today I had a follow-up meeting with my surgeon (the marvelous Doctor P. who can perform miracles, I tell ya!) to see how I’m doing since my port replacement surgery.  This trip to the doctor’s office was a really weird experience. I remember the first time I went to my surgeon’s office.  I felt so orka fat going in there. I mean, I was seeing a doctor that specialized in fat asses like mine. When I got to the waiting room, I remember being so relieved that all the seats were the extra-wide ones. I could sit comfortably while waiting for the doctor, imagine that!

I remember seeing other people in the waiting room. Other fat people. People that took up every inch of those extra-wide seats. I remember sitting there distressed, realizing that I was one of them. I belonged there, waiting to see the Fat Doctor. It was a very eye-opening and humiliating experience. I was also terrified those first few visits to the doctor’s office. I was scared of what this process would all entail. I was scared that I wouldn’t qualify for the surgery. I was scared that the surgery would fail me, like all my diets and exercise failed in the past.  Scared and humiliated; that was me.

Two and a half years later, the change was astounding. I walked in the door and went to the receptionist, who looked at me like I was from another planet when I told her I had an appointment with Doctor P. “What is this for?” she asked me. “A follow-up visit after my surgery 2 weeks ago,” I told her, and she stared at me like I was insane.”Are you sure?” she asked me.

There was a woman in the waiting room. She was a much older lady–60 years old or something, much older than the usual weight-loss surgery patient. She had to use a walker to get around. Her weight was clearly hindering her ability to move, even to walk or stand at the counter. She kept looking at me and smiling at me, but was clearly puzzled. Why are you here?

There was another woman in the waiting room. Maybe 35 years old, probably a mother of 2.5 kids and a soccer mom to boot. She looked like most of the patients I have seen sit in that waiting room. She stared at me the whole time I was in the room. Glaring at me. Seriously, if looks could kill I would be dead. I wanted to tell her, “Do everything you can to make this surgery work, lady. I was you two years ago. This shit will change your life. It’s for REAL.”

I felt uncomfortable. Out of place. A stranger in a land that I used to be a member of.

The waiting room chairs seemed so big today. Like I could fit 3 of me in them. When did they get so BIG?

Then the nurse called me into the consult room. I was thinner than her. In fact, I was thinner than the ladies working at the front desk, and the woman working in the office down the hall. I was the thinnest person in the building, aside from Doctor P himself. Weird. The nurse was very nice, very complimentary, remarking on my weight loss. She smiled a lot and made me feel more welcome, and I appreciated that.  She told me that in her experience, the success weight maintenance patients are the ones that come in for regular visits (like once a year) and keep tabs on their weight and progress. I weighed in a 134 pounds on their scale (fully clothed, a bucket of water in my system) which was only 1 pound more than last time I weighed in in March. That surprised me.

Doctor P came in to see me. He took the bandage off my tummy and oh my! The incision is so small! The new incision is exactly 1.5 centimeters wide. I took out a ruler and measured it.  The freaking port is bigger than that! How do they do that?

Sorry for the gross pic, with my stretch marks and crap on there. Still, it shows how small my scar is, and how well it has healed in just 2 weeks!

While I was at the doc’s, I asked him for another fill.  He warned me about the dangers of over-filling (like he always does) and then he agreed to give me one (like he always does.) He gave me a whole 0.5 ccs in my band this time! That’s a lot! I asked him how much fluid I have in my band currently, and he said “more than 10.”  I thought I had a 11 cc band, but maybe mine is bigger. That means I’m nearly tightened to the max? It doesn’t feel that way.

I took my gulp of water, which went down just fine, and I was on my way. I made sure I gave Doctor P a hug first. A man that helps to give you your life back deserves at least that much, right?

It’ll be a soup night for me tonight, as it always is after I receive a fill!



by Christine on July 18th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Good morning Revolutionists! I hope you are all doing well. It’s a busy few days for me here, as you could see from yesterday’s post. This week at work will be a busy one, too.

  1. My car is on the fritz. Again! I thought buying an Acura meant that it would be better built, but apparently not. My air conditioning stopped working today, and today I was quoted $1400 to fix it. Cripes!!! It’s very very difficult to get ahead financially sometimes, you know? We’re exploring much, much cheaper options to fix it.
  2. Tomorrow I have a follow-up appointment with the bariatric surgeon. I’m healing nicely, so I don’t expect any bad news on that topic. I am, however, very eager to get a fill. I hope he will accommodate my wishes!
  3. Tonight we’re going to see Harry Potter! We’re also going out to dinner with friends. It’s always very important to pre-plan your meals if you are eating out; otherwise you will forget your commitment to lose weight and order something dumb like nachos or pasta with cream sauce.  There are a variety of salads and fish dishes at this restaurant that I like. I will order those, and then ask for a bunch of stuff to be replaced or removed to cut down on the calories even more. It’s picky, but it works!

Despite the issues with my now-shitty-POC car, I’m feeling pretty good today! I slept well, nothing hurts or is broken on me. I’m grateful to have a job and a paycheck, a husband that loves me, friends that put up with me, a house that hasn’t burned down, etc.


Gastric Banding Questions & Answers

by Christine on June 20th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

These list of questions courtesy of LapBandGal! Please feel free to share your answers, as well!

What would you say is the most important lesson or lessons you’ve learned about eating since you’ve been banded, and how has this contributed to your weight loss?

I’ve outlined my eight major lessons at the top of this blog under “How I’ve lost 99 pound” (which is really “how I’ve lost 102 pounds.”)  The key things are: eating a lot less and more often; eating real foods instead of processed foods; paying attention to your own body and not dumb FDA calorie guidelines; and stay away from soda.

If you’ve experienced any discouraging set back moments, how did you deal with them, how long did they take to pass– and what sort of specific strategies might you suggest that could work?

The more disappointing set-backs were when I was first banded. My first four-or-so fills didn’t work. I didn’t lose a single pound for 6 months following surgery. This is because my nurse practitioner kept missing my port site during injections (because I have a displaced band). No feeling of restriction, no weight loss. I was sooooo frustrated and angry! However, after I demanded to only receive fills directly from my surgeon, I quickly noticed the benefits and effects of the band, and the weight loss was consistent after that.

Have you ever worried about being a complete failure at the band, and then gotten over that worry– if so: did you tell yourself certain things that helped or do certain activities that reassured you?

I was terrified when I got the band that the surgery would fail me. After all, I had done every diet known to mankind. I had learned about nutrition, ate fantastically, exercised like mad. I saw seven different doctors, personal trainers, nutritionists, and nothing helped me to lose weight. In fact, I just gained and gained. It was horribly disappointing. When I got the band, I was so scared to place any kind of HOPE into the surgery. I was afraid that it would fail me.  When the weight started to come off, I could finally start to believe that weight loss was possible.

What is the proudest accomplishment you’ve made relative to your band journey thus far?

Oh gosh, there are so many Victories that I have had! Running a half marathon.  Doing a ropes-course challenge. Completing a boot camp. Wearing my wedding dress and seeing it fall off me like a tent. Buying a Size 2 and having it fit. The first time I looked in the mirror and said “Huh. I look okay” instead of what I have been saying for my entire life, “God you are so ugly. Who could possibly stand to look at you?”

What is the most difficult thing about having the band and what makes it worth it anyway?

The hardest part for me now is trying to explain the barfing episodes to people that don’t understand. “I’m not bulimic; it’s just the band working!”  I often have problems with barfing episodes when I am at restaurants…most likely because I”m too busy talking and not chewing well enough. I’ve had several instances where I’ve had to run to the restaurant bathroom to clear out the food bottleneck inside me, and there is a teenage girl in the bathroom at the same time as me. When the barfing episode comes on, it’s kind of an emergency situation–I can’t wait for everyone to empty the restroom so I can get on with my business. And I know how impressionable teenage girls can be. They see a 30-something year old thinnish woman come into a bathroom after eating a meal and barf in the toilet. What are they going to think? Every time that happens I want to talk to the girl through the wall and explain that it’s a medical thing, but that seems creepy and weird… I really think that’s the hardest part about this whole experience. It makes me feel so guilty, like I’m contributing to young girls developing eating disorders. SIGH.

Given the choice, would you be too tight or too loose and why?  How would you handle either situation if you couldn’t get in to your doctor for 4 weeks?

Too tight!!  Because if I was too loose I know that I would overeat. I just would.  I wouldn’t care if I couldn’t get in to see my doctor for four weeks. Something the wait IS that long! It would give me time to decide if I really wanted a fill (or un-fill).

What are your 3 to 5 ‘desert island band foods’– things you WOULD NOT/ could not/ don’t want to live without? What do you eat virtually every day and why?

Soup (tomato soup if I had to choose)
Salad fixins
Fresh fish (I prefer white fish, like cod or perch)

How many meals do you generally eat per day and at what times?

When I was losing weight regularly, I ate every just about every 2-3 hours, and 100-150 calories per “meal”:
8 a.m.; 10 a.m.; 12 p.m.; 2 p.m.; 5 p.m.; 8 p.m.

These days I know I SHOULD eat at the same regular intervals and same small portion sizes, but I find myself slacking off on it. I eat more like this now:

8 a.m. (coffee only); 12 p.m.; 3 p.m.: 7 p.m.; 9 p.m.

Do you exercise, and if so, about how much? Do you think exercise has been pivotal to your weight loss?

Keep in mind, prior to getting surgery, I was trying EVERYTHING to lose weight, and that included LOTS of exercise.  I exercised for an hour and a half, 6-7 days a week. After I got surgery, I exercised a LOT less.  I went to the gym maybe twice a week (usually weight training only; no cardio), then supplemented the rest of the time with roller blading, bicycle riding, yoga classes (sometimes); boot camp (sometimes) and other fun recreational things like hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, etc. (but those activities weren’t regular…only every-now-and-then.) So, although I was still exercising, in my mind I was exercising substantially LESS after surgery than before surgery.  Therefore, I say that exercise had less impact on my weight loss than food/intake did, but I don’t want you to think that I wasn’t doing any exercise at ALL.

After running my half marathon in December, I’ve kind of stopped exercising. I can feel the effects (I’m tired more often) and can see the effects (my skin is more flabby; I’m less toned). I should and want to work out more, but I’m trying to find ways to work out outside or by doing fun things instead of simply going to the gym. However, I won’t ever get rid of my gym membership. I never want to have an excuse about why I’m being lazy.


I can see my vagina!

by Christine on October 7th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

So there’s a few strange things about losing weight that I never really anticipated when I started this journey. 94 pounds later, and sooooo close to my goal weight, I’ve discovered:

  • My vagina. Seriously, I have one. And I kinda have an idea what it looks like, without the need to either straddle a hand mirror or lift about 40 pounds of lower-belly fat to find it.  Perhaps I’ll start waving to it, talking to it, maybe writing odes to it. It’s a like a new visitor ’round here. “Hi!!!”
  • My armpits. I had no idea that when you are fat, your armpits are kind of flat-ish.  When you lose weight, your armpits turn into these great big cavernous divits. And shaving is a MASSIVE pain in the ass. I’m constantly missing spots because of the divits. Or because the razor seems suddenly very large. Armits. Gnar.
  • Hipbones. I like to sleep on my side, and my hips dig into my ultra-super-fluffy mattress and HURT. What the flying fuck is up with that? I wake up sore as hell, my hips throbbing from sleeping on them.
  • My boobies. Two strange things have happened with my ta-tas.  First, I USED to have really big boobies–Double Ds, I think, I never really got fitted properly for a bra at my heaviest. Man, have my boobies shrunk since losing weight! I’m probably a B now, but I have all kinds of loose skin, so if you try to shove the extra skin into a bra cup, then it sort of fills out a C. Without a bra, my boobs droop and sag like dried up udders. It’s really quite awful!!  I think I can twirl them around and lasso a small cat if I wanted to, they are just loose flaps of skin.  The last few days I’ve discovered some other new phenomena with my boobs. I remember when I was gaining weight…my boobs became less sensitive. It’s like you have a set number of nerve endings in your boobs, and as your ta-tas get bigger, the nerve endings get spread out, so they are less sensitive. Now that my boobs have shrunk, they have become MORE sensitive. In a really good way. I like it, a lot.  I assume this is not uncommon with women who have lost weight? (Anyone care to “weigh in” on the topic?)  Welcome back, nerve endings.

So there you go. A few things I didn’t really realize about weight loss that I’ve recently discovered on my body. They are not all good — such as the shriveled up boobies. But you know what? It’s totally worth it, in the end, to be thinner. Every “bad” thing is liveable and totally worth going through this journey. I am still very, very grateful.

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