Rainy Day

by Christine on October 1st, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

There’s a monsoon blowing in here, rain rain rain. If you close the windows, it’s too hot in the house, but if you leave the windows open, the rain blows in sideways and drenches the carpet.  I hope the rain ends soon because I’m going for a quick mini-hike this afternoon with a friend.  Indian Ladder Trail wraps around the side of the Helderberg Mountains with spectacular views of the Albany region.

I didn’t do very much yesterday,  not at all. The only thing I achieved was going to the gym, doing 3 loads of laundry, and cooking hubby some dinner. Today I have errands to run, plus the walk in the park. I should be much more productive.

I believe I overdid it with this last fill. I’m having a hard time eating pretty much anything. I had some soup yesterday for lunch and only had about 1/3 of it, mostly broth. For dinner I pureed the leftover soup, and only ate about half of what was left. I didn’t barf it up, but I was left feeling utterly and completely full.  Since my fill on Tuesday, I’ve been lucky to eat 400 calories max, which is clearly way, WAY under what I should be eating. This is not healthy, and I can feel the effects of eating too little: I’m shaky and tired all the time. and if I’m not able to eat more by next week, I’ll have to go back to the doctor.  I’m hoping it’s just general swelling and will go down and get better, which is why I’m giving it a few days to be sure.

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Menu plans (for gastric band): What I eat

by Christine on September 16th, 2010

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

The other day I was yapping at Allan from “Almost Gastric Bypass,” asking him to post a few sample recipes of what a typical gastric bypasser might eat. After doing a quick internet search, I discovered that sample menu plans were really hard to come by. (He politely declined, claiming that nobody would really care.)  I then realized that very few meal plans exist for gastric banders as well. So…this is my attempt to offer up a few sample meals…things I eat…on the offchance that it will help someone out there in cyberland.

To start with, I recommend reading my “How I lost 90 pounds” post at the top of this blog. You’ll read a very general overview of my eating: I limit my carbs, indulge in healthy-fat foods, eat every 2 hours, etc.

Additionally, I aim to eat 800 calories a day. I get a lot of emails and comments from people shocked at that number and proclaim it to be much too low. I’m not suggesting that 800 is how much you should eat, but I DO suggest finding out what your calorie setpoint is. It’s different for everyone, so don’t just base it on some dumb medical chart hanging on a wall; every body is uniquely different (different genetics, different metabolism) so figure out what works for YOUR body and go with that.  I believe 1000 calories is my “maintenance” calorie setpoint, so I aim for 800 to get a 20% deficit, hence the weight LOSS.  It works for me; find what number works for you.

At 800 calories a day yes, I have plenty of energy and exercise sufficiently on this number — provided I’m not sick with the flu or whatever, of course. Unless you have a BMI of 18 or less or have other complicated health issues, you’re not going to throw your body into “starvation mode” or some other gimmicky bullcrap if you lower your calories 10-20%. Honest. No danger. In fact, there  are numerous of real, genuine scientific studies that extoll the benefits of reducing your calories, with facts that doing so reduces your risk for heart disease and helps you to live LONGER.

All that being said, here are a few sample meal plans:

Meal Option #1

Breakfast: Almonds (90 calories worth)
10 a.m.: 1 apple (80 calories)
Lunch: Healthy Harvest Soup (seriously, I live on these things): 150 calories (that means you’ll throw some away. Don’t finish a whole can.)
3 p.m.: 6 crackers (70 calories) and 1 oz cheddar cheese (80 calories)
6 p.m.:  2 oz grilled chicken (94 calories) with some 10 asparagus stalks (32) and 5 sliced mushrooms (40) sauteed in some garlic and 1 Tbs margarine (100 calories) and a dash of salt
9 p.m.: About a quarter cup of applesauce (50)
Total calories: 786 calories

Meal Option #2

Breakfast: 1/2 cup Honey bunches of oats (100 calories) and 1/4 cup skim milk (23 calories)
10 a.m.:  Grapes, 1.5 cups worth (92 calories)
Noon: Salad: 1 cup small cut-up lettuce of your choice (8 calories) + 1 medium tomato (22 calories) + 1/2 a cucumber (12 calories) and a small can of tunafish (70 calories) + feta cheese (less than half of one-quarter cup)(50 calories). Dressing is lemon juice and red wine vinegar (0 calories). NO MAYO WITH THAT TUNA.
3 p.m.: Almonds (90 calories worth)
6 p.m.:  2 oz grilled sirloin (107 calories) and 1/4 cup canned corn (44) + 1/4 cup black beans (50)
8 p.m.:  1 apple (80 calories)
Total: 748 calories

Meal Option #3

Breakfast: Medifast Protein Shake (I like Dutch Chocolate) mixed with water (100 calories)
10 a.m.: Almonds (90 calories)
Noon:  Campbell’s tomato soup (120 calories) + skim milk (40)
3 p.m.: 5 crackers (60 calories) and peanut butter (120 calories)
6 p.m.: Panera’s Vegetarian Black Bean Soup (200 calories), no sides.
9 p.m.:  Half a cucumber (12 calories) plus some lite ranch dressing (66 calories)
Total Calories: 802

As you can see, it’s very easy to eat every two hours, eat healthy and filling foods, and yet keep your calories well below your goal!  Honestly, if you cut out empty carbs (sandwich breads and wraps, potatoes, rice, etc) you’ll discover that it’s easier to keep your calories low.

I’m no saint. I make poor eating choices all the time. For instance, I’m sipping on a Red Bull (110 calories) right now. I have a weakness for just a tiny bit of Mr. Goodbar in the evening. I factor those into my diet by perhaps cutting a few almonds out or eating two bites less of my lunch.  In the end, I try to keep my calories focused on 800 calories.

My favorite foods are:

Breakfast:

  • Honey bunches of oats
  • Cheerios (plain version, not the sugary honey stuff)
  • Eggs, any style! (1 whole egg + 1 egg white)
  • Almonds

Snacks:

  • Cucumber or slices of bell pepper + LF ranch dressing
  • Almonds
  • Any fresh fruit at all. Just keep it to 150 calories or less.
  • Medifast protein shake (other protein shakes are ok, just watch calorie amounts)
  • Tuna fish + spicy brown mustard — NO MAYO and NO BREAD. Just plain.  Put it on some celery!
  • Cheese + crackers (limit the amount of crackers; watch the calories in the cheese)
  • Homemade guacamole on toasted ww pita wedge (the fewer pita wedges the better)
  • Pickles

Lunches

  • Healthy Harvest or Select Harvest soups (only 150 calories worth or thereabouts; that might mean throwing a little bit out). I particularly like soups that have beans or barley in them. I limit soups that have pasta, rice or potatoes in them (or I’ll “pick around” them, since it takes me forever to eat anyway.)
  • Campbell’s Tomato soup
  • Panera’s Vegetarian Black Bean soup
  • Homemade salad with any veggie you want in it. Throw in a dash of cheese or avocado! Vinegar + lemon juice as a dressing.
  • Leftover grilled chicken from the night before, with a side of veggie

Dinner

  • Pretty much any grilled meat (chicken, sirloin, pork chop, fish) with FISH being optimal.  Keep your portion sizes to about 2 oz, unless it’s fish in which case you can probably do 4 oz.
  • If you’re dying for a carb, try couscous or quinoa
  • Any side of vegetable, preferrably fresh. Add some extra-virgin olive oil or margarine, but watch the calories and only add about 100 calories worth at the most.

You can read a few old food journals of mine by clicking here and here for even more meal options.

Eating with Gastric Band
Eating with the gastric band can sometimes be a challenge. You’ll have to find what foods work for you and which don’t. For instance, I can’t eat broccoli any more to save my life.  I cannot eat bread products, such as pizza dough. Many banders have problems with steak and celery. That’s fine, just learn to avoid those items and instead eat foods that you CAN eat.

That being said, be careful that you don’t end up drinking or eating too many “liquid” calories. It’s very easy to opt for a protein shake because it’s easy, and then realize after the fact that 2 scoops = 220 calories. Yikes! Similarly, resist the urge to order cream-based soups (cream of potato, cheesey cauliflower) because they are loaded with calories. Instead seek out soups that have lots of veggies and beans in them.

Hope this helps! I’ve lost 90 pounds with the band so far, and by watching your calories and choosing healthy foods, you can lose the weight too!

(That’s me, 2nd to the left, with the blazer on)

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Titilating Tuesday!

by Christine on August 31st, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Okay just ignore the title there. I wanted something alliterative, and this is all I could come up with.

Still sick. Getting better, definitely not going to die from this little cold. I went to bed around 8 p.m. last night. The sleep felt fantastic. I probably could use a little extra sleep now and then.

Yesterday I finally called my surgeon’s office and made an appointment with him. First of all, I want to get my port looked at.  I told my hubby that he has to come with me. What will happen is Dr. P will say, “Ah, Christine, that port is fine. Looks normal,” to which I’ll be a pussy and say, “Oh. Okay. It doesn’t seem ok to me, but whatever you say Dr. P, you’re the expert.”  Instead, hubby will be there to say, “Expert or not, this shit is NOT NORMAL and you WILL FIX IT. She does NOT want to go through life with this alien port getting in the way all the F-ing time. It’s broken. Fix it.”  See, I can’t seem to utter those words myself, so I need to bring in the reinforcements.

I’ve given it some thought, and I think I want a small fill as well. I’ve been eating more than I normally would, and things like bread are going down just fine, and they shouldn’t be. (DO NOT ask why I even KNOW that bread is going down. Why am I eating bread at all? Why go there??)  Anyway, a little tweak, and I should be fine. The weight loss should continue. It’ll be a challenge to convince Dr. P to trust me on this one when I know he’ll see my weight loss since my last doctor’s visit and claim that I’m doing just fine where I’m at.  I guess I’ll jump that hurdle when I get to it. My appointment isn’t for another three weeks anyway.

Hubby has never sat through a “fill” appointment before. I am secretly eager to see the look on his face when the doc pulls out the Mega Needle and jabs me with it. Ha.

Oh, the grand adventures in lap-band-land.

Yesterday’s intake:

8 a.m.: 3/4 cup cereal (100) plus skim milk (25), Dayquil (100)
10 a.m.: Almonds (45)
Noon: Homemade gazpacho soup (100 at most)
1 p.m.: Almonds (45)
3 p.m.: Crackers (60) and peanut butter (120)
7 p.m.:  Tyson chicken patty (180)  plus less than one slice bread (40), diet pepsi, Nyquil (100)

Total Cals: 915

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Reward Day! Massage, Crepes, & Party!

by Christine on August 29th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Friday after work I met up with my friend Billi. She’s a sweetheart, and it was so nice to catch up with her!

We met at a restaurant and we shared an appetizer (bruchetta. OMG this restaurant has to-die-for bruchetta. I had 2 small slices) and then we decided instead of a meal we would split two deserts! We shared a canoli and some carrot cake.

Afterwards, I went up to Saratoga to the racino. I watched the harness track races for a little bit and lost $20 in the slot machines.  It was a relaxing way to pass a few hours.

I couldn’t wait for Saturday though! Saturday was my reward day! For losing 80 pounds, I wanted to reward myself with a 1 hour massage + mineral bath + sauna time.  My friend Danielle agreed to go with me. We went up to Saratoga Springs and oh, what a beautiful day it was! 70 degrees and sunny and absolutely perfect.  The sauna was warm and wonderful. The mineral bath was warm and relaxing. The massage was PERFECT and felt oh-so-good! I was particularly curious to know how the massage would feel after losing 80 pounds. Indeed I could tell a difference! Before I would have to tell the masseuse “please feel free to really press hard and get in there” because, let’s face it, there was a substantial amount of fat protecting against the muscles! This time I didn’t have to tell the masseuse that.  I could feel it in my muscles even more than before. The massage felt better this time than ever before!

Afterwards we were saying what a value the massage was. The Crystal Spa offers the 1 hour massage + mineral bath + sauna for only $90. That’s a real bargain! But I don’t want to have it all the time; some things are meant to be a real treat and reward, and massages are something that I like to keep in that “special circumstance” scenario.  I wish that going out to restaurants to eat is also something that is revered as a special occasion thing, but unfortunately it’s so commonplace with my household that it’s not special at all. I would like to try to change that little by little, if possible.

Afterwards we headed to downtown Saratoga for a special lunch. I really wanted a crepe to finish off the reward!  Ravenous is a wonderful crepe restaurant with real authentic French crepes, just like the ones I used to eat when I lived in Paris!  I couldn’t wait to order my favorite: nutella + banana.  Danielle ordered asparagus + goat cheese + tomatoes.  Both were delicious!

After a little bit of shopping downtown, we headed home to go to our neighbor’s pool party.

Before I went to the party, I wanted to make darn sure that I had healthy food on hand to munch on. I made a two-avocado bowl of fresh guacamole (I make awesome guac! It was devoured within seconds) and a large bowl of gazpacho soup.  I’m so glad that I had the foresight to bring over some healthy foods because there was nothing healthy to be found there! I had about 3 scoops of my guac with some nacho chips, plus two bowls of my gazpacho. I had 2 beers while I was there too (over the course of 8 hours) plus two butterscotch shots. I also managed to play a little volleyball and swim a little bit. I can’t call any of that really exercising, but I at least got a little movement in.

As a surprise, my hubby shaved his beard off! In all the years that I’ve known him, this is only the 2nd time he’s been beard-free. It was strange, like looking at a stranger, but nope, that’s still my awesome hubby! This morning he was proud to share that he’s lost almost 30 pounds!  I’m so proud of him!

I only have 12 pounds to go until I get to my goal of losing 100 pounds. This morning the scale was at 137.2.  I can lose this last 12 pounds, but I need to really focus on this and watch my eating better. My goal for reaching my 100 pound lost goal? Las Vegas baby!!  My 2-year bandiversary is at the end of February, and I would love to be at my goal weight by then.

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The Band and Sex (Plus date night recap)

by Christine on August 19th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

Date night

Date night was a blast! Unfortunately this is a very busy time of year for my hubby at work, and I think he was preoccupied with what was going on at the office. It took him a while to snap out of it, but eventually he did and we had a great time! For some reason we always take my car everywhere we go, even though hubby drives a very cute Honda S2000 convertible. I asked if we could take the convertible, and I went “WEEEEE!” and threw my hands up in the air! I think hubby takes the convertible for granted a lot of times, and yesterday my enjoyment of the car ride was a little fun, silly, and contageious for him! He revved his engine and ZOOOOM!!!!! The pickup on that car is awesome! It’s a stick shift, you know.  I’ve been learning how to drive stick shift in that car, but I’m uncomfortable with it (I just don’t do it often enough to develop a comfort level) so I never drive it myself. Too bad, it’s a fun car! Zoom!


We went out to eat and chatted about work and current events and the books we’re reading, etc. My hubby is extraordinarily smart — the smartest person I’ve ever known, and I’m friends with ivy league professors and rocket scientists and whatnot — and he’s keenly funny too. Having a conversation with him is always fun! I think that’s one of the reasons why I married him, because I knew that when we got old and only had ourselves, he’d always keep me company and keep me amused. We get along wonderfully, like two peas in a pod.

We went to see the Expendables at the Bow Tie theater in Schenectady. Now, Schenectady is an interesting place. In the 1800s, Schenectady was ruled by General Electric. GE employed something like 80% of the city, took extremely good care of the city. The homes and the architecture in the city is really breathtakingly gorgeous! But then GE went bust and lost three quarters of its work force (in the 1950s?), and Schenectady became a total craphole.  The buildings have falling into disuse, the crime is high, the taxes are ridiculous, the schools are some of the worst in the state, the city politicians are horribly corrupt, etc. Everywhere you turn, you can see signs of the prosperous days, but even the beautiful areas are surrounded by decay. It’s a sad sight indeed.  Recently, Schenectady is working hard to make a comeback. Its theater downtown (Proctors) is the nicest in the upstate NY area; based on Proctors as a central point, the city is revitalizing the downtown little by little. They are doing a great job, but sooooo much more needs to be done. The movie theater is one of the nice, new elements of the downtown. Hubby and I go out of our way to go to that theater as a way of promoting Schenectady’s economic development.

Despite an all-star cast, The Expendables was really not a good movie at all! It was amusing — the script was tolerable — and the action was well-choreographed.  That being said, the acting was surprisingly bad, and the script was extremely formulaic. I gave it a 5 out of 10.  It was fun to go to and had a lot of potential, but in the end it was hardly a movie that will pass the test of time.  It was worth it just to spend time with my hubby.

Food

My food yesterday left a little to be desired. I brought in some bean dip that I made the other day, which I had as a snack. Mmmm, perhaps I should have had it as a meal instead; there was enough of it. For our date night we went to a pub restaurant, and hubby recommended the hamburger, so I ordered a cheeseburger (no bun). I got a side salad instead of french fries, and I ordered a Blue Moon but only had about a quarter of it…the bubbles weren’t going down easily after eating all that burger! Burp.

At the movie theater hubby got a HUGE popcorn, and I got a diet coke that was larger than my head! Massive! I had about four handfuls of popcorn…but popcorn isn’t my downfall, so it was easy to stop eating after a little taste. Candy is my downfall, but I said no to the movie theater candy. Eating candy at the movies is especially dangerous because you can really lose track of how much you’re eating.

In all, my daily tally came to 1100 calories! oh dear, that’s much too high.  I must do much better today to make up for the splurge yesterday.

Sex and the Band

I know, this is the part that you all really wanted to talk about, right?  Dirty pervs, Revolutionists! Shame! This is only part of the my story, but forgive me for not being 100% forthcoming. I’ll share as much as I can…

When I was 225 pounds, I had a raging sex drive. The hormones were pumping, and I wanted it all the freaking time. Unfortunately my hubby has a nonexistant sex drive, so the disparity was oftentimes problematic. I  interpreted his lack of the horny-gene to mean that he was not attracted to me, no doubt because I was so fat.  I have to admit, this was a large reason why I was so desperate and intent on getting the gastric banding surgery. I wanted to lose weight, be pretty again, and have my husband find me sexy!

I had the surgery, and when I started losing weight, maybe around 175 pounds or so, something weird happened. My own sex drive came to a screeching halt.  I never really understood the stories about women that “never wanted it” because I wanted it, all the time, for as long as I could remember. This came as a very strange feeling to me, to be completely, “yeah, whatever, really, I think I’d rather sleep” when it comes to sex.

As I’ve lost weight, my hubby has been very complimentary about my weight loss. I realize that he does recognize that I’ve lost nearly 90 pounds, that I have a lot more confidence and a lot more energy. I think he does, in a way, find that confidence sexy. But, my hubby’s own sex drive hasn’t changed any.  He’s still perfectly okay to go vast periods of time with nothing. Once or twice, in the last year, he’s approached me (unheard of!) for a little nookie time, but I’ve been lackadaisical about it, and that not only shocked him but hurt his feelings too.  For once, the tables were turned and I think he got a little taste of how his refusals felt to me. I’m not justifying the two  “refusals” that I did to him — it’s not nice, I DO know how it feels, and I should have known better. But for the most part, we’ve settled into a routine that works for us and in a lot of ways, the surgery has helped to balance out a disparity between us and actually solve this problem for us.

So that’s a little background info, but all this leads me to a ton of questions:

First, I’m curious about why the “horny factor” dropped so significantly for me when I started to lose weight. Is this common for other people who have lost a lot of weight? Is the weight/hormone correlation the same for women and men?  Dr. F, perhaps you can answer this question from a strictly medical point of view?

Second, I want to bring up something that a lot of surgeons don’t address with their weight loss surgery patients. Did you know that a huge number of WLS patients end up getting divorced? The number is astoundingly high — 40-60%, I think. I think the reason for the divorce can be caused by a number of things, such as: an increase in self-confidence doesn’t work within a marriage that is based on a domination/submissive relationship. (My surgeon says this is most often the problem that he sees.) Also, if there are pre-existing problems in the marriage, then a person who has lost a lot of weight will feel more confident (and sexier) and look for a supportive person outside…and take on a lover.  Also,changes in hormones, such as what happened with me, can cause major issues when the sex life changes and both partners are not “on board” with the changes.

To me, this just shows that neither surgery nor weight loss is not a cure-all. We’ve all been saying that in order to be really effective at losing weight, you need to deal with a lot of emotional problems and baggage, and I think that’s also true in considering the marriage. If your marriage has problems currently and you somehow expect that weight loss will solve that problem, then the weight loss is not going to work. In fact, the marriage problems are most likely going to escalate.  It’s important that you work on these background problems either before or concurrently with your weight loss.

Thirdly, there’s the question of “feeling sexy.”  When I was fat, I felt extremely ugly, worthless, unworthy of being loved.  Now that I’ve lost a ton of weight, I feel much sexier, like I might almost, maybe be pretty, and I have a lot more confidence. All of that is great, but there’s still a part of me that is constantly looking for affirmation from others, especially from my hubby. If I’m being honest, I would say, “If my hubby doesn’t find me more attractive now, then I’m not sure that this whole process was really worth it in the end.” That doesn’t seem like a healthy mindset to me, but there you have it. I think that’s unfair pressure to place on your spouse (or anyone), but that’s how I feel.  I feel like I need to be validated by him, almost like I need his endorsement, “yes honey, you look good; you can feel good about yourself now.” Again, that’s not fair to place on him.

I know my hubby thinks I look better these days because he’s told me so. Even still, I find his lack of sexual attention to be upsetting and unnerving — even if I don’t necessarily want to have sex myself!  It’s like I need him to desire me sexually in order to feel sexy, which is unfair to him as well.  Where did this need even come from?

So what’s my question here? Umm…what’s “fair” to expect of your husband/wife when losing weight? Is it fair to expect them to want you more, now that you’re looking better? Is it fair to give them the power to make you feel good or feel bad about your weight loss? Is it fair to expect them to support your weight loss at all? Is it fair to want them to lose weight along with you? Is it fair to have expectations sexually of him or her that he/she may not be on board with?

I’m extremely fortunate to have a wonderful husband that is wholly supportive of me, and who I know loves me very much.  We may not be, ahem, the most active couple around, but at least for now, we’re pretty much on the same page with that.  And that’s good. I believe both of us are happy with where we are at in our relationship right now.

Do you guys discuss sex as it relates to your weight loss with your spouses? How are your relationships as you are losing weight?  Do you find that you get along better or worse now that you’ve lost weight?

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