Monday, March 31, 2014

Pre-op class #11, weekly weigh-in & the dental hygienist from hell

Among the things that I had scheduled today was an appointment at my dentist's office to get a cleaning.  I also somehow have a chipped tooth, so I knew I was going to be there for awhile today.  I'm not one of those people that hates going to the dentist.  I like the feeling of having a really clean mouth and, except for one time, all of my experiences have been good.

Make that two times ...

My dentist has a thriving practice and she is awesome.  The hygienist that was working on me today, however, was new, at least to me.  I was sort of looking forward to my regular person because he's always been very chatty and is gentle on my mouth.  This one was like evil Nurse Ratched.  She had me laying down on the chair and every time she went to grab a dental instrument, she would hold it in the air, inspect it, turning the blade or hook this way and that and then lower it into my unsuspecting mouth.  Mind you, I'm watching all of this from where I'm trapped.  Then she would scrape and scrape and scrape some more.  It was if she was taking a chisel and chipping away at imaginary icicles in my mouth.  Several times I had to raise my hand to ask her to be a bit more gentle.  She sang while she worked, yet I had no idea what it was - something incoherent and evil I think.  Oh, and the absolute worst, she would let too much fluid build up in my mouth before she sucked it out with that straw thingy.  Ewwww!

Bleh.  On to my class and weigh-in.  For this week, I lost a pound.  I was disappointed with it.  Two is a low number to me, so one was almost as if I gained.  I have to keep remembering that this is no race to the finish line and I'm doing everything I am supposed to be doing in terms of what I'm eating.  I do need to kick up my exercise though.  I just don't think I'm getting enough in.  I asked my friend if we could start walking again at lunch starting tomorrow.  We were both excited about that until we found it it's going to rain tomorrow and Wednesday.  Boo.  I do have a gym membership so there's nothing that's preventing me from staying away from a workout indoors.

This week's class was about assessing my new relationship with food since starting the bariatric pre-op classes 11 weeks ago.  Some of the questions I need to ponder this week include:

  • What factors in my current lifestyle contribute most to my obesity?
  • What do I need to do to commit to lifestyle changes that support my health?
  • What weight do I think is my optimal healthy weight?  Have I ever maintained a weight as an adult that was comfortable and felt good to me?  What felt good about that weight and will I be satisfied to be that weight again?
  • What style of eating will fit me best?
There were more questions, but those are the ones that jumped out at me the most.  One of the things that amazes me about these classes is that we're not just skimming over surface-level topics.  We are really diving in to the heart of what has brought us to seek bariatric surgery in the first place.  I appreciate that because I want to go deep with all of this, even when it's difficult to face the answers to the questions.

In a discussion with our facilitator, we addressed a concern I had, which was, "What if I don't lose the 10% weight loss that Kaiser wants prior to having the surgery?"  Our facilitator assured me, and my classmates, that people who do not meet the 10% loss will need to see the doctor in charge of the program at Kaiser to review where we're at.  Essentially, all patients move forward to the bariatric center that will be performing the surgery, but the surgeons at that center may request additional weight loss before surgery can occur if they deem it necessary.  The best I can do is try my hardest to reach my goal of losing 37 pounds before finishing this part of the program.  I'm almost halfway there already, so that feels good.  Once we're done with the classes, we will then go for a fitness test and lab work before everything is forwarded to the Pacific Bariatric center.  Then, they will contact us to schedule three appointments on the same day - meeting with a psychologist, internist and then with the surgeon.  During the meeting with the surgeon, we'll then book the surgery date.  The end of the classes is several months away, but we're almost halfway done and I know the time will go even faster as we get closer to summer.

This week I'm going to work on the questions I mentioned above and then I think I'll post them on here.  That keeps me honest.

Water Challenge Day 68:  Drank 179 of 179 ounces

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Telling the difference between head hunger and real hunger

Seriously, what's the deal with head hunger and why is it so cruel?  I feel like I'm starving and, trust me, there is no way I'm starving right now.  I had a very filling dinner with plenty of protein and fiber in my pork and broccoli.  Yet, I have that feeling in my tummy like I need to go into the kitchen and find something to eat.  Then I wonder, is it really my tummy telling me that or my head?

Head/emotional hunger is such a strange phenomenon.  It has the ability to absolutely convince a person they need to go in search of food.  Right now.  Immediately.  No stopping at go and collecting $200 ... just a straight shot.  There are a couple of things I'm doing to combat that.

  1. I have been drinking a lot of water or Crystal Light.  The fluids help me to feel fuller and really gauge if there is a rumble in my tummy for nutrients or because I somehow have a brain that says I'm supposed to do that because I've always done that.
  2. I'm tracking all of my food using MyFitnessPal.  If you're not using something to track your intake, I would highly suggest that app.  Not only does it keep me accountable, but I have a great circle of friends there that help keep me honest.  Anyone can go in and see what I have eaten, how much I've had to drink and exercise I'm doing (or not doing).   My screen name is MissKathyJean if you would like to find me over there.
  3. Coming onto this blog and talking about where I'm at with wanting food.  Part of my transparency includes saying when I'm having these moments.
I know that a lot of behavior modification will have to take place in my life so that I stop going to the old way I have always done things.  The idea that it takes only 21 days to break a habit or start a  new one, at least to me, is completely false.  Sure, in some things that may work just fine.  However, when it comes to food and the desire to eat even when I'm not hungry, I have a feeling this will be a long journey.  In fact, I may never cross the finish line.  From what I can see based on others that have already had their weight loss surgeries, it is something they still continue to battle.  How do I go from wanting food when I'm bored, angry, tired, stressed or any of those emotions that have caused me to go to food in the past?  I dream of being able to have food just for nutrition and not to solve some sort of problem.  Dare to dream, right?

How do you handle head hunger?  If you don't happen to have that problem, congrats!  But for others, do you have strategies that you have used to get through a moment without succumbing?  

Water Challenge Day 67:  Drank 193 of 179 ounces

Finding Kickass Kathy to get rid of the funk

Yesterday I was in a terrible funk.  There were two things on my mind that just brought me down.

First, I received some pretty bad news about my graduate program the day before and it just carried over into yesterday.  The program that I'm planning on starting in the fall, hopefully after my surgery, is a master's in education program leading towards a credential to do counseling at the high school or college levels.  I currently work in the counseling department of a high school, but not as a counselor.  My official role is as a guidance technician.  I do a lot of the same work, I just don't handle certain things and, of course, do not receive near the same pay.  I had decided, though, that it was the next thing I wanted to do.  I believe so strongly in continuing to learn and grow in my profession.  The program itself is actually not the problem.  It's the interning part that is.  My district has a rule that you must intern three full days a week and take a cut in pay to do so.  I don't necessarily have to intern in my district, it would just be easier.  However, I figured that if I could somehow swing going part-time and maybe live on loans for a few months, then that's the sacrifice I would have to make.  I work for an excellent district, one of the top ranked districts in California.  I happened to talk to a person who is in my job at another high school in my district and she is doing the same sort of program.  In talking to her about it, she shared with me that not only did she have to go to 40% of her full-time contract, but, by doing so, she lost her benefits.  I was not prepared for that, not at all.

I have to give some back story on this.  I have worked for my district since I was seventeen years old.  I have worked my way up through entry level work to where I am now.  Prior to working at my current high school, I was located at the district office.  I have now been at the high school, in the counseling department for the last nine years.  Trust me, I am very close to our counselors and am a big part of the team that is the counseling department.  I couldn't be any closer to being an official counselor than I am now.  I answer many of the same questions and help many of the same students.  This is not to minimize the job of a counselor at all.  It is a very difficult profession, requiring a person to have a tremendous knowledge base and certain level of intellect.  People who do not work in the field might think a counselor's job is very easy but I can attest to the fact that it really is not a cakewalk.  In fact, I would say it's opposite.  Many students do come to me for counseling advice and guidance, along with my regular job duties that deal with college and career related issues.  I have the same knowledge base as well as, I hope, that certain level of intellect.  I am very respectful of the different roles and will send a child to their counselor when appropriate.  Yet, my goal has been to study more to meet the requirements for someday being hired as a counselor.  Now that my district insists on the three full days of interning (rationalizing that it is impossible to experience everything a counselor does on a part-time basis), it is no longer an option for me.  I can somehow swallow the idea of going very part-time, but I cannot give up my benefits.  Good Lord, I have diabetes and am about to go into major surgery.  I can't toy with losing my insurance.  Granted, the internship is not until next year but I can't go into a program and take out more student loans if it's not going to work out.  At this point, I have contacted the director of my master's program to see if I have other options, such as interning in another district.  The news was a blow to me, though.  More than being angry, my heart was just broken.  This is something I want so badly and I pray it will work out.

The second issue that was difficult yesterday was that I just felt tremendously lonely.  I am not in a relationship right now and haven't been for the last two years.  I was deeply in love with my ex-boyfriend and he ended up hurting me in a way that I can't even describe in words.  It wasn't physical abuse and it wasn't another woman, but it hurt far worse.  We were together off and on for years.  I met him, first as a friend, when I was 25 years old and now I'm 42, so it's a good chunk of time that I knew this man.  It took quite a bit of time to get over the hurt and to realize he was a real bastard for what he did to me.  Maybe someday I'll tell the story of all that, but suffice it to say that I had a hard time even breathing when it happened.  I just was shattered.  Lately I've been having these really vivid dreams of meeting someone else.  Actually, not just one person but a series of people.  Then, when I wake up, I remember that I'm all alone.  I feel like an ugly duckling so often and wonder if there will ever be someone else in my life again.  When I look in the mirror, I just don't see what other people see.  Some have called me pretty and beautiful, but I just don't see it.  All I can focus on is being overweight.  Most of the people in my life have a significant other except maybe one or two of my girlfriends.  It makes sense that I would question myself if most everyone else is with someone else and I'm not.  It really got to me yesterday.  Nothing happened necessarily, just that I guess it was a culmination of many Friday nights feeling all alone.  We ended up having an earthquake nearby and I was reading on my couch when it happened.  And, when it was over, I was all alone.  I think I'm a good person on the whole, but I just wonder if God has decided I will be one of those people who He deems to be single for a purpose.  It's really difficult for me.  I do not like being alone.  In fact, if I'm being really honest, I hate it.

With all of this said, I went to bed last night mighty feeling sorry for myself.  When I woke up this morning, I walked down the hallway to the living room where I was greeted with the sun shining in through the windows as I opened the blinds.  It hit me that this was a new day and I needed to let the sadness of yesterday go.  What better way for me to do that than to go out for a walk.  I had a really fantastic breakfast to get my energy ready and knew I needed to be out there in the sunshine.  More than that, I wanted it.  I needed to find Kickass Kathy.

Me trying to give a tough face before exercising ;-)
So I got out my earbuds, threw my iPhone onto my hip and started to stretch for a long walk.  My intention was to go on my usual route around my house, but go a longer way.  So I started to stroll down the road only to spot two really big stray dogs in the distance.  I didn't see an owner around and they looked a little too much for me, so I hightailed it in the other direction.  I went a way I have never gone before and walked against traffic.  In the part of town I was in, that's what I needed to do.  There are great areas were I live and some equally not so great areas.  It was actually a good thing for the chronic pain I have in my leg because, even though I still had pain, I did not have to deal with a lot of hills, which seems to hurt so much more.  I noticed the pain start in my hip and radiate down to my knee.  While it still hurt a lot, it was something I could manage.

So above is the route I took. It ended up being 3.45 miles, which was a 1118 calorie burn for me because of my current weight.  What I thought was really great was seeing different people on the walk and really checking out some of the businesses that are located near me but I never really notice because I'm too busy trying to pay attention to the road when I'm driving.  When I got back home, I was definitely glad the walk was over but I was also very proud of myself for going such a long distance, even with the pain in my leg, and not giving up.  I sat down, drank some water and stood in the moment.  The funk that I felt yesterday was completely gone and I was incredibly grateful for that.  I pray for continued strength to deal with the difficult days as well as rejoicing with the good ones.

Water Challenge Day 66:  Drank 48 of 179 ounces
(horrible, but I more than met it for today)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The bigger issues of weight loss

I had all sorts of lofty goals when I returned home from work yesterday.  I was going to do some work in my backyard, go for a walk and sort through some paperwork in my office.  When it's light out later in the evening, I love how much time is left in the day after I get home from work.  Unfortunately, none of that happened.  I haven't been sleeping very well for the last couple of weeks so I decided to just take a little nap.  That was nine hours ago.  I guess I needed the sleep badly.

I have been thinking a lot about the surgery.  Who knows if that is what has been keeping me up or not.  The potential is there to change my life significantly and I so badly want that.  It is very difficult living in this body on a day to day basis.  If I sit and think about it right now, the chronic pain I feel in my left leg is pulsing, my back hurts on the right side and I'm feeling shaky because I woke up with low blood sugar.  Beyond that is the weight on my body. There are times when I look at my arms and truly do feel like the Michelin Man.  When I look down at my stomach, I wonder if there will come a time in the future when it doesn't protrude out father than my breasts.  With all these thoughts in my head, I wonder about those people in my life, or just in society in general, who have made comments like:

"Mind over matter"
"Just push away from the table"
"Don't you care about your body and your life?"
"I don't see what the problem is.  Just eat less and exercise more."

Trust me, people who don't quite understand, if I could just simply lay down the food, walk to the gym and be cured of whatever it is that pulls me to eating, I would.  It's not nearly as simple as that.  There is some sort of strange magnetic attraction that food has had on me over the years.  It has been a comfort, friend, enemy and devil all at the same time.  If you have a normal relationship with food, kudos to you man.  I mean, seriously, I'm so happy for you and wish I could be you.  Wouldn't it be fantastic to just say no to a piece of cake and really mean it?  For me, when I'm asked if I want a piece of cake, say when I'm at work and someone is having a birthday, I will say no.  Yet, I'll look at the cake with longing.  I'll walk by it too many times to torture myself, wondering what it tastes like in my mouth and wanting to eat the whole thing.  If I dared bring that cake into my house where no one is looking, I'd eat the whole damn thing.

Most people just don't react like that to food.  So when someone tells me to just push away from the table, it's not so simple.  I am working hard at changing my mindset and developing new, healthier habits.  It's not something that can happen overnight since food has been my "go to" practically since birth.  I know the surgery is not magic.  It is just a tool, albeit my favorite one in the box.  If used properly, it will help me get to a healthy body weight while I still do most of the work.  It reminds me of my first car.  My first car was actually the family car, but my dad decided to give it to me and he got a new one.  It was ten years old and had manual everything.  For me, I didn't care.  I could drive to school on my own, take my friends anywhere we wanted to go and freedom.  Ahhhh!  The giddiness of all of that was soon replaced with attempting to roll down the windows because there was no air conditioning except there was also no button to push that magically lowered those windows.  So I had to do all the work by cranking the windows down manually.  We also did not have power steering in that car.  While there was the tool of the steering wheel, I actually had to do most of the work.  Does anyone remember having to pull out of a parking spot without power steering?  There's a lot of arm work that goes into that puppy.

I do look forward to surgery and what the future can hold, but I also know that I need to continue doing the work now.  That means continuing to track my food, exercise and work on the emotional side of this journey.  I am so grateful to have this blog, supportive friends, a good therapist and my weekly classes that continually help me to keep exploring the emotional side of all of this.  It is fair to say that this is not just about calories in and calories out.  It is so much bigger than that.  Don't get me wrong, I continue to work on that, too, but there are so many layers to the onion.  I'm peeling them one at a time.

Water Challenge Day 65:  Drank 100 of 180 ounces :-(

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pre-op class #10 and weekly weigh-in

Wow, this week's pre-op class was pretty difficult.  The topic was on addiction.  One of the things I absolutely love about the classes and why I'm so grateful to be spending the time working on various topics each week is because it so much more than just the semantics of the surgery.  Sure, we could spend our time reviewing the pros and cons of our choices and the nutrition issues that go along with them.  After a certain period of time, though, we would only be dealing with surface-level topics.  The bigger concern, at least for me, is the reasons why I have gone to food in my life.  Giving my body nutrients to sustain my life often times never really crossed my mind.  Okay, that might be the case for things such as asparagus and oatmeal, but those are not the sorts of foods that I have found myself clinging to in moments of need.  It has been things more like a carton of ice cream, cake, pie, cookies, muffins, pizza, chips.  I wish I could tell you all that I have been a lady around these foods, but I'd be telling you a bold-faced lie.  What I was in those moments was a compulsive overeater who would eat the whole bag, box or carton of whatever concoction was in front of me if left on my own.  When no one is looking, I would definitely go to town.

Am I a food addict?  Hell yes.  I am to food like a drug addict is to crack or the alcoholic is to the bottle.  I cannot rationalize in my mind that it is not as serious because it is.  For me, it has always been that way.  Part of why I have a blog in the first place is to help me move on from emotional eating into something much more wonderful.  I sit here at my laptop and share my life and feelings with all you lovely readers and friends because I need to let go of the ways I have always used food in unhealthy ways.  Being transparent helps me share myself with you, but also with myself.  

The reason this week's class really got to me is because what we were discussing hit me squarely between the eyes.  It described me perfectly in what I do with food and that was hard.  Granted, I am not doing many of the things that were brought up right now, but I'm always inches away from it.  For me, it's a matter of making a conscious decision at each meal to give my body loving care and not abusing it with sugar, flour and grease, which are downfalls for me.  Today at lunch, for example, I found myself needing to go out and get myself something to eat because I didn't prepare food at home and my friend that I usually walk with wasn't at work today.  So I found myself alone.  I started rationalizing in my head how I could get away with having a hamburger and no one would know.  God, where did that come from?  I would know.  I'm not working on weight loss and good health for anybody else, just me.  As I wondered where I would go for lunch, I knew exactly where ... a place that I could not get fast food.  I knew I would be kicking myself if I did that.  Thankfully I found enough strength inside to just say no to those fleeting thoughts and I found myself ordering a salad.  

Our class material covered the different thoughts that someone has when it comes to how their addiction imbeds itself into their lives.  One difficult piece was the phases of addictive behavior.  I was talking to a couple of classmates and gave an example of something I have done before.  At times where I know I'm going to be home alone or when I start thinking about leaving work for the day, I have had thoughts about food and how I could get my hands on it.  We're not talking about eggplant here.  

In this one particular instance, I thought about how good it would be to buy a carton of ice cream at the store on the way home so that I could eat it in private.  I would leave the office and stop off at the grocery store, looking for my fix.  I would be tunnel-visioned, only wanting that one thing and not caring about any negative consequences.  I'd buy other foods to cover it up so that a normal-sized person wouldn't judge me, but the ice cream was all I cared about.  I'd get home, close the blinds, open the carton and then dig in.  My phone may be ringing or someone could have been knocking at the door and I wouldn't care.  I was on a mission.  The first few bites would taste like pure heaven, but then I'd start to feel guilty.  My blood sugar would skyrocket and I'd inject insulin to offset the high number.  I'd feel shame and remorse but then, in that moment, instead of throwing the rest of the carton away, I would eat it until it was all gone.  Maybe I did it in one sitting or maybe I would do it over the course of the evening, but make no mistake about it when I say it would be gone.  And I would be left having to deal with the repercussions of what I had done to myself.  Who in their right mind eats a carton of ice cream except for an addict?  Going even further, who in their right mind goes for more food after that is gone?  

That above example is not about gluttony.  It is about how an addiction can take hold of a person.  Some may think that addiction to food is nowhere near as bad as drugs or alcohol.  The problem in that scenario is that while death is much more eminent with a drug addict, the same thing happens to a food addict except their death takes a lot longer.  It comes in the form of a diseased body riddled with excess weight, chronic pain and numerous ailments.  Who willingly chooses that?  It's an addiction.

Thankfully I am not participating in that sort of behavior any longer, praise you Lord, but I could be one bite away from it.  If I dare bring any of that sort of food into my house right now, I know it will be gone because I would have eaten it.  Something would have compelled me and it's precisely that something that I am working on.  Maybe I can reintroduce those foods in the future, who knows.  Right now, though, the inside has to be healed just as much as the outside.  I don't want to go through surgery only to be back in the same place all over again.  I am willing to dig as deeply as I must to prevent me from returning to old behaviors.  I do have a fear that I will go through surgery and that I will fail.  Whatever the doctors and experts tell me to do, I am willing.  Sometimes searching my soul is incredibly painful.  It means opening doors that I wanted sealed shut and being honest at a level that feels brutal at times.  

As I was reading a few blogs earlier, I discovered the greatest post from Diane over at Fit to the Finish.  Her post, "Losing a Bunch of Weight Doesn't Ensure Happiness" was amazing.  If you have a chance, click on this link and read that post, especially the ending where she provides great suggestions on working towards emotional healing.  I know this is a long process and does not happen overnight.  But, if I keep working on it, it will continue getting better and, who knows, maybe someday ice cream won't call to me so much.  If it does, I definitely don't have to answer, one day at a time, one meal at a time.

Oops, I almost forgot ... I lost two pounds this week.  Yay me ;-)  Believe it or not, I'm happy with the slow loss because it means I'm heading in the right direction.  Thanks for always being so supportive.  It really does mean a lot to me, more than you could ever know.

Water Challenge Day 63:  Drank 180 of 180 ounces

WLS decision made, sleeping after surgery

I'm a planner and always have been.  I don't like to leave too much open to chance when it comes to big decisions.  When I decided to buy my house, I did an incredible amount of research so that I wasn't make horrible choices that I would regret.  I talked with different lenders, looked at how interest rates would affect my bottom line every month and really looked at pros and cons before throwing my hat into the ring.  I have no problem being spontaneous about some things, but major life decisions for me are pretty serious.  So, when I decided that I was going to have weight loss surgery, it was something that I gave incredibly serious consideration.

After weighing pros and cons, doing a ton of research and talking to a lot of people who have already had the various surgeries, I have decided that I will definitely be pursuing the vertical sleeve and not the gastric bypass.  While I am keeping an open mind, it is just my preference at this point.  My body has been through a lot in it's 42 years, particularly in the last several.  Let me see if I can remember it all:

  • Cancer that required surgery for two separate sites on my body
  • Lost 192 pounds with Optifast and then gained a lot of it back
  • Chronic pain syndrome with my legs
  • Back pain
  • Osteoarthritis in both my knees
  • Tendinitis and carpel tunnel issues that required surgery in my right wrist, with continuing problems in both wrists
  • Intestinal and digestive issues
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • High cholesterol
Anyhoo, I'm sure I'm not remembering everything but suffice it to say it's a lot.  While I don't want to put my body through more, I feel that weight loss surgery is necessary for me to have a good quality life.  My attempts in other ways so far have been unsuccessful.  Given my choice between the two surgeries, I want to go with the less invasive one, especially when having to potentially deal with malabsorption issues.  If my surgeon told me he would not support the vertical sleeve and would only perform the gastric bypass on me, then of course I will reconsider.  However, given everything I have seen so far from my insurance company, the choice is really up to me (insurance covers either of these two surgeries). 

There is a certain sense of relief in having made the decision because I at least know what direction I will be going in.  One of the things that has been on my mind a lot lately is the sleeping issues I have.  I have shared a lot on this blog before about my issues with sleeping and the CPAP.  While it's a hit or miss for me right now, I'm continuing to use it.  When I can fall asleep with it, I have a wonderful state of feeling like Sleeping Beauty.  Yet, no matter what I do, I cannot sleep on my back or side with it.  I try and then my body wakes up.  I think it's from the obstruction of my airway in those positions.  I keep trying, though.  My sleep doctor has told me that my pressure is exactly where it should be based on the data from the machine, so he's not sure why I can't sleep in those positions.  

Instead of continuing to stress endlessly about whether or not my inability to sleep on my back or side will prevent me somehow from having the surgery, I decided to pose the question to the Facebook group I'm in for people who have had or are going to have the vertical sleeve.  I have asked the question before to gastric bypass group I was in (with not many responses), so I thought I'd try with sleevers since that is the surgery I will be doing and this particular group seems to be a lot more active.  Here's the feedback I received.

My original post:  I'm in the pre-op classes right now, but I have a question about the surgery.  I'm a tummy sleeper, cannot sleep on my back or side no matter how hard I try.  I do have a CPAP machine and even that is not helping.  So, if you have already had the surgery and sleep on your tummy, how did you manage with the surgery since the incisions are on the stomach?  I won't be able to see my surgeon until after I'm done with the classes so I'd just like to hear from others with the same experiences.  Thanks.

Responses (trying to keep the respondents confidential) ...
  • I was sleeping on my stomach the first night.
  • Had surgery 3/10 and sleep on my stomach.  The first week was rough but I am fine now.
  • It took me about a month.  You will find yourself on your stomach one morning and not even know you did it.
  • You just have to.  It sucks.  The first few nights you'll pretty much be out of it so it won't bother you.  But it is hard.  I slept in a recliner for part of the night for nights four and five.
  • I had a friend that slept on her tummy in the hospital right after surgery.
  • You'll be able to sleep.  I slept on my stomach from week out.
  • I am having an easy time on my left side hugging a pillow.  I informed my husband today that we need to go buy me a body pillow.
  • I waited about 2 weeks then went back to sleeping on my stomach.
  • It took me a week.  I kinda leaned on my stomach.
  • I slept in a recliner for the first two weeks, then I eased onto the bed.  I think a lot of it depends on how big you are/were when you have the surgery.  Also, where the doc puts the incisions  and how many you have.
  • I slept just fine on my back.  I was really surprised that I could do it.
  • I slept in a recliner for a couple of weeks.
  • So far adjusting with pillows on my back or side are working for me  I also use a CPAP.
  • It was only a week I couldn't sleep on my tummy.
  • I also slept in a recliner.
  • I slept in a recliner too.
  • I didn't sleep in a recliner.  I slept in my bed and after a week or two was back to sleeping on my tummy.
  • Slept on my side and hugged a pillow.
  • I used a lot of pillows in the bed or slept some in the recliner ... after about a week I could sleep on my side and at about 2 weeks I could sleep on my stomach again ... didn't sleep very well until I could sleep on my stomach again.
  • I slept in a recliner with pillow over my belly.
  • I was outpatient.  I was home 2 hours after my surgery and slept on my stomach when I got home.  You will be fine.  Don't confine yourself to a chair ... give your bed a shot and try sleeping on your stomach.  It may not bother you ... it didn't bother me.  You will want your bed.  Trust me.
  • I'm 4 weeks out and have been able to sleep on my stomach since week 2 ... for the first week it was on my back ... then I went side ... and then I used pillows to help me sleep on my stomach kinda ... and then advanced to my stomach.
  • I had surgery wed and am side sleeping already.
  • I sleep on my tummy, the first few nights after surgery I slept upright in a recliner though.
  • Tried turning myself in recovery to side.  Once in room, turned on side and slept on side/tummy.  Way I normally sleep.  I cannot sleep in a recliner.  Too uncomfortable on back.
  • I too am a tummy sleeper but I was SO MUCH more comfortable on my back ... the meds do that to you!  It becomes a challenge of trying to get comfy so I can assure you it will be easy just to sit back with extra pillows in bed and sleep!
I was incredibly grateful to receive such amazing responses.  It made me feel 100 percent better and immediately removed the worry I was having inside about how I would possibly sleep after surgery.  So now I continue to move forward on this.  I'm reading a really huge book that one of my fellow classmates in the Kaiser program lended to me on the sleeve surgery.  It's such a great source of information and helpful tips in how to be successful so I'm taking notes on it.  I'm feeling really good about my decision right now and am staying positive.  I've still got months and months to go before I can have any surgery, but it's good to know where I'm headed.

Day 62 of Water Challenge:  Drank 180 of 180 ounces

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cooking with Kathy: Everything But the Kitchen Sink Beef with Veggies

I'm feeling better since yesterday so I decided it was time to cook a veggie-rich dish.  Ready for another episode of Cooking with Kathy?  I feel like I need to get my Julia Child voice out right now.  (Wasn't she fabulous?)

Everything But the Kitchen Sink Beef with Veggies


  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 8 oz beef tenderloin (can be substituted for a different cut to save on calories)
  • 2 c mushrooms (I went a little cray on these, but I love shrooms!)
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 whole zucchini
  • 2 tbsp Yoshidas Original Gourmet Sweet & Savory Sauce (you can omit this and just spices for flavoring to save on the sodium, but I wanted to add a little extra yumminess)
I came up with the name for this dish because it's how I often cook when dealing with veggies - I open the fridge to see what I have on hand and how much of a shelf-life is left.  My father would probably blow a gasket knowing I used the beef tenderloin he bought while he was here visiting on the stove instead of on the grill.  He bought a package of 4 steaks for something like $35 at Costco.  They are so delicious but way more steak than I would normally eat.  So I just divided the left over pieces and threw them in the freezer for future use.

The first step is take out your pan and saute your EVOO and garlic over a medium heat.  If you're trying to watch your oil (although this one is a healthy fat), you can use cooking spray instead.  While that's getting going, slice your beef into bite-size pieces and then add that to the pan.

While all of that is browning, dice all of your veggies up.  I give a rough chop to the mushrooms and zucchini while keeping the bell pepper in long pieces.  

When the beef has just a little bit of pink left, add in the sauce/spices before the veggies.  I like to do that to ensure the flavor is not just on the veggies but the entire dish.  And, yes, I measure to make sure I'm not putting too much in.

Time to add in all your veggies at once.  At this point, I also turn up the heat a little bit to get those veggies cooked.   I would prefer them to be a little crunchy and not soggy.

The veggies do a great job of cooking down, so it's not nearly as much as it looks to be.  I chose to have this dish without any carbs, but you can pair it with a serving of brown rice or quinoa.  Here's the delicious finished product.  

Nutritional info, 2 servings with the following in each serving:  
340 calories, 23g carbs, 14g fat, 30g protein, 521mg sodium

Water Challenge Day 61:  Drank 180 out of 180 ounces 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Pardon me while I get a little personal

I know this is TMI but I am in pain while I type this to you all because I haven't been able to go boom-boom (my polite way of saying it) in a couple of days.  Sorry for just putting it out there but it's what I need to talk about right now.  If you've been reading my blog for any period of time, you know that I share a lot of the good, bad and ugly on here.  I have to do that if I'm going to be honest, and that is my full intention.  I know I'm not alone with this problem, it's just that I'm uncouth enough to bring it out in the open.  You're welcome ;-)

When I was on Optifast, I had this problem occur almost on a weekly basis.  It was awful, but because I was losing so much weight so fast, I dealt with it.  I wasn't happy about it at the time, but I guess you pick your battles.  I know that a big reason it occurs is because of dietary changes and perhaps not getting in enough nutrients.  When I was doing that program, I was getting in about 500 calories a day.  I was supervised while on it, but it is no wonder that I developed some of the issues that I did.  Now, with my current 1200 calories a day that I'm doing in the pre-op stages of surgery, I find myself not eating enough calories and food groups.  The calorie limit is a suggestion to help us get off the weight, but it is by no means mandated.  What I've noticed, however, is that I have many times when I'm well under 1200 calories.  Sometimes I do go to bed hungry and sometimes I don't feel the best.  I guess, in my head, I need to suffer to lose weight.  Nobody has ever told me that before.  I think it's just something that has been ingrained in my head from other experiences in my life.

In looking at what I'm eating, I do notice that I've been focusing more on protein.  That is a good thing to do, especially with my future weight loss surgery.  That protein will be the most important thing to eat, yet I can't forget other parts of my diet.  And, for some reason, I have been skipping getting all of my supplements in.  These daily supplements are not required, but are good for my overall health.  Going along with that, I sometimes will forget to inject my insulin.  I'm a diabetic and need that insulin, but I've been very lax on taking it.  I know ... I can't do it because my very life depends on it.  I have to improve on that.

I seriously don't know why I've been doing these things, but I'm publicly owning it on here.  I know some of the people who will be reading this and they will absolutely not let me get away with doing these things that negatively impact my health.  I have taken all of my supplements and will inject after I post this message.  I promise!  I'm so glad I have this blog because I can be accountable here.  Thanks for reading and being supportive on my journey to better health.

Water Challenge 60:  Drank 180 of 180 ounces

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Might be time to give up another food

I've been doing an excellent job on giving up my sweets and bread.  I've only been doing it for a couple of weeks, but it's really kept my food very clean and simpler.  Sweets for me is all about desserts ... ice cream, cake, pie, candy, etc.  I'm trying to incorporate those changes now since I have quite a few months before I have my weight loss surgery.  I don't want to be one of those people who rationalizes bad food choices after the surgery, saying that I somehow have to live so it's okay to eat a little something sweet now and then.  Personally, I don't need butter pecan ice cream to live.  Actually, that stuff makes me die.  Slowly, granted, but the result is increasing my blood sugar and my weight, leading to death if a I stay on that course.  Today, though, I realized I should probably add chips to my list.

I went to the store to go grocery shopping, and I found myself really staring at the breads and sweets.  I almost felt lost, in a sense.  I walked down the aisle that has the ice cream, for example, and realized there's nothing in that particular aisle that is for me any longer.  As I realized this, I had an overwhelming sense of feeling emotionally lost.  If I don't go to that food any longer to cope with stress, boredom, anxiousness, etc., then what will I go to now?  This voice inside my head said, "Well, if you can't have ice cream and you can't have bread, at least you can still have chips."  The feeling was as if it was a consolation prize.  It's no consolation, though, because I'll go through the whole bag of chips before I can put it away in the cupboard.

Is eliminating every problem food the solution for me?  Well yes and no.  Yes because my problem foods contain sugar, fat and grease - either all together or separately.  These are things that I'm pretty sure I won't be having after the vertical sleeve or gastric bypass.  I haven't learned everything there is to know about the do's and don'ts, but from what I've seen so far, these particular foods will need to be pretty much eliminated from my diet.  I also recognize that eliminating any food that gives me the desire to want to overeat or binge is not an ultimate solution in the end because I then may eliminate every food possible!

For now, though, I know that there are certain foods that are triggers for me to compulsively overeat.  If I can eliminate those triggers right now, perhaps that's what I need to do.  It feels amazing to be able to end a day knowing I ate healthfully and have no regrets with my choices for the day.  I'm doing what's right for me and my health.  Sometimes that means making difficult decisions, but ultimately it is better than having my hand down a bag of chips or in a carton of ice cream.

Water Challenge Day 58:  Drank 180 of 180 ounces

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pre-op class #9 and weekly weigh-in

Yipee, my staying stagnate streak has ended.  The last couple of weeks I was staying at the same weight, but I dropped three pounds this past week.  I'm happy with that.  Maybe all the extra exercising that I have been doing has helped!  Unfortunately I didn't get exercise in today.  I wasn't able to walk during lunch because of work commitments and the same will be true tomorrow.  I'm promising right here that I'll get some sort of exercise in tomorrow after work, whether at the gym or at home.  I don't want too many days to pass in between.

Last night's pre-op class was about healthy physical activity and building exercise into my life.  I'm glad that I've been exercising consistently because it felt good to be able to say the things I'm already doing.  In going through the material, I was reminded that exercise is not necessarily just going to the gym or going for a walk.  There are ways to get your heart pumping that can be incorporated into daily living, such as taking the stairs instead of an elevator or parking the furthest spot away in a lot instead of the closest spot.  Some really great suggestions from the reading include:

  • Leaving sneakers by my front door to remind me to walk
  • Bringing a change of clothes to work with me and going straight to the gym afterwards (that is a really good one because once I get home and start to relax, I won't want to go)
  • Scheduling exercise into my calendar to remind me to get it done, just like any other appointment
The most important take-away for me is to always remember there is time to exercise.  The commitment level has to be there.  I've been incorporating changes in my life to prepare myself for surgery and my life afterwards, like no longer having sweets and bread.  While it has been challenging, it has felt pretty awesome to know that I can do this.  The same is true for including exercise and more movement in my life.  Sure, I don't necessarily want to do those things at times, but I always feel better when I do get in more physical activity.   

One of the things that has really helped is being actively engaged in MyFitnessPal.  I log in all my food every single day, along with my exercise.  I even have changed the settings so anyone can go on there and check out what food I'm eating.  That keeps me super accountable and very honest.  Sometimes that's not easy.  Today I had picked up some lunch because I didn't make the time to do it at home.  I got very tasty, but not great for me, Chinese food.  I still logged it in.  It's frightening to see how many calories are in Chinese food.  No wonder it tastes so freaking good!  It's not worth it, though.  I don't want to have days like this all the time where I'm worried that I'm going to go over my daily allotment just because of the choice I made at lunch.  Sometimes the hardest thing is to be honest, even with just myself let alone other people.  I'm committed to change, though, so I'll keep moving forward.

Water Challenge Day 57:  Drank 192 of 180 ounces

Saturday, March 15, 2014

We should all feel beautiful

As my alternate persona, Kickass Kathy, I feel like I can get out there and do anything I set my mind to doing.  This morning, I got up, ate a healthy breakfast and then proceeded to go out and get some great exercise in.  I burned 788 calories and felt like a rock star.  I walked around my neighborhood at a higher speed than I do during the week and I was singing along to the songs playing in my ears from my iPhone.  I felt amazing.

There are other times, though, that I feel like an ugly duckling.  I suppose it comes with the territory of being an obese person in a world that not only does not accept us, but hates us for being "weak".  Let's face it, alcoholism and drug addiction seem to be more acceptable than someone that goes to their food to stuff their feelings away.  On top of that, I feel a heightened sense of not belonging because I don't look like everyone else.  With an an ethnic background of being Filipino, Hungarian, German and Norwegian, it's hard not to be labeled as exotic.  All of these things feed into my idea of being ugly.  When people call me beautiful, I often wonder if perhaps they're not just a little high.  I'm being serious!  How can they look at me and say that?  When boyfriends have said it in the past, I just figured it was because they wanted to have sex with me.  Some guys will feed a line to a girl just to get her into bed.

I saw the greatest quote recently on Pinterest.  "One day I decided that I was beautiful, and so I carried out my life as if I was a beautiful girl.  I wear colors that I really like, I wear makeup that makes me feel pretty, and it really helps.  It doesn't have anything to do with how the world perceives you.  What matters is what you see.  Your body is your temple, it's your home, and you must decorate it." - Gabourey Sidibe"  She's the actress that starred in the movie, "Precious".

That's a pretty powerful message, isn't it?  And, really, she's absolutely right.  Outside beauty, just like inner beauty, is not thinking you're all that and a bag of chips.  What it is about is knowing your worth and accepting yourself as exactly who you are in the moment.  That makes you beautiful.

I would tell that to any child that comes to my office at work because I believe it to be true.  So, why, then, are there different rules when it comes to finding beauty within myself?  Of course there aren't different rules. I suppose I bought into the messages that society and specific people told me about being unlovely and unworthy.

There's actually a reason I'm bringing all of this up today.  I have a new friend who is in my bariatric pre-op classes and also reads my blog [hi my lovely new friend!].  She is a hairdresser and recently asked me if she could cut my hair.  I actually was thinking of asking her, so I was glad she brought it up.  I was in between wondering if I should grow my hair long again or keep it short and I was desperately in need of a cut.  I never thought I could pull off short hair because those that have those cute little styles are generally confident, beautiful women and I just didn't feel like I was either one.  Yet, my hair was driving me nuts.  It was just too long to do anything with.  So, long story getting longer, I made an appointment with her to get my hair cut today and told her that she had free reign on my head.  The last several times I had my hair cut, I just wasn't happy so I knew I would need to find someone new.

As I sat in the chair, even though my new friend was engaging me in conversation, I found myself not wanting to look in the mirror.  I looked down into my lap several times and talked to her.  I was fully focusing on what we were talking about, but I was also purposely not trying to look at myself in the mirror.  When I did, I honed in on the weight around my face more often than I would like to admit or the features that I felt made me look "ugly".  We had a great conversation and I was able to move past my insecurities to have it.  I just hated the fact that I was focusing on myself and what I didn't like more than anything else.  Yet, as she was cutting and the direction she was going in was starting to come into focus, something amazing was happening:  I looked at myself in the mirror and started to think that I looked cute.  This is a big deal.  It's more than just a haircut and a mirror.  This speaks to how I view myself as a worthy child of God.  It speaks to how I often feel "less than" when comparing myself to other people.  Something inside of me was saying, "No, stop looking away from the mirror.  Sit still and just be."  And so I watched.

I love how it turned out.  I love how it has made me feel - spunky and pretty.  We should all feel those things, at least once in a while.  So, like Gabby, perhaps I too will decide to be beautiful and carry myself as though I am.  By doing so, perhaps I will come to the point where I can find acceptance and know I am exactly the way I am supposed to be for exactly the purpose God intends.

Water Challenge Day 55:  Drank 170 of 182 ounces

Friday, March 14, 2014

Feeling proud of myself

I just have to say that I rock.  That sounds pretty egotistic, doesn't it?  There's an actual reason.  Here it is.

This is a report from MyFitnessPal on the exercise I did this week.  These were my lunchtime walks with my co-worker/friend.  We take lunch for an hour, so part of that hour is exercise and the other is eating our lunch.  I didn't get a walk in on Monday, but walked every day except that this week.  Today's walk just about killed me.  We decided to take a different route, one that we haven't taken in a while.  It's got hills in it, which I knew were going to be hard for me since the extra weight makes every hill feel like I'm getting my butt whipped.  This one was no exception.  By the time we got back up the hill and returned to our school, I was huffing and puffing and feeling sweaty.  I don't like that.  I sat in front of my fan in my office and just relaxed while I ate my lunch.  It wasn't until later this evening when I saw this chart summarizing how I've done and I felt a little bit like a bad ass!  I have passed up cupcakes, pie and cookies that were at work this week.  I drank lots of water.  And I laced up my sneakers that I keep in my filing cabinet and went to burn calories off.  It is so fantastic to know I'm doing something great for my health while also alleviating stress at the same time with my friend.

I do have to say that I am feeling good to be ending this week on such a positive note.  I do have plans to exercise both days this weekend, probably a local walk near my house tomorrow and I think a beach walk on Sunday.  It's supposed to be really hot here on then, so go to the beach I say!

Water Challenge Day 54:  Drank  132 of 182 ounces

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hard to work at staying in the moment

On my way home from work these evening, I wanted more than anything to stop by the store to get some food to eat.  I was rationalizing in my head that I needed to get some more spring mix for my salads and toothpaste.  Yes, I need those things but I knew what I really wanted ... food to snack on or, dare I say, binge on.  I was wanting sweets and chips.  I had a real struggle with myself to not turn into the grocery parking lot.  There's actually quite a few stores near my house, any one of which would have done the trick, but I courageously plowed through and stopped nowhere except my garage.  Whew!

When I got in my house, I was absolutely ravenous and that certainly played a part.  Up to that point in the day I had eaten 560 calories between breakfast and lunch.  Okay, that wasn't bad except that I had burned 501 calories doing a walk at lunch with my friend.  That meant that I was working on only 59 calories.  No wonder I was so hungry!  The other issue that I had going on in my head was that I have decided that I wanted to give myself as much preparation for eating after the surgery as possible, so I decided it was time for me to cut out some foods.  My thinking is that if I do this gradually over time, the transition might be a little easier.  The things that I'm working at cutting out right now are sweets and bread.  As I wrote about in yesterday's post, my relationship with sweets is love/hate.  It's time for me to start cutting that stuff out.  If I don't have it in my house, I won't eat it.  That same thing goes for bread.  I don't know about you, but I love the smell and taste of fresh baked bread.  I love it too much ... I've been known to eat a whole loaf of bread in the matter of a day, even though it would shoot my blood sugar through the roof.  Yet, I know I want to be as successful as possible with the surgery and I don't plan on playing around with the doctor's instructions for how to eat well after the sleeve or bypass is done.

Today is the first day of cutting those foods out and I really noticed it when all I wanted to get at the grocery store was a "last supper" of sorts.  I knew deep down that the store was the last place I needed to be right now.  I'm so glad that I'm turning to God to give me the strength to not succumb to my food desires.  It will get easier in time, I completely know this.  I just have to remember this when I want to change my mind and go back to my standard of compulsively overeating those foods.  I have no business having a relationship with ice cream.  I have to remember that all I need to do is take it one day at a time, that's all.

Water Challenge Day 53:  Drank 145 of 182 ounces

Don't you want a cupcake Kathy?

This is the plaza area of our beautiful high school.
California livin at its finest!
I had a relatively busy day at work, just running around doing a million different things.  We had an Elective Fair at school, which is something that I coordinate.  It's an opportunity for our students to learn about the various electives we offer from teachers or other students currently taking the classes.  That was happening at lunchtime, so I needed to make sure everything was set up properly.  After our custodian got all the tables and chairs set up, my friend and I went around and moved them around a bit and put signs ups.  We both have pain in our wrists from injuries, so that was a big challenge.  Just standing over the tables and putting on the signs hurt my back.  Years of being obese has really taken a toll on my poor body and so things like just standing too long hurts.  I shouldered through, though.  After the event was over, I went back out to the plaza and took the signs down.  My physical job wasn't at all a big deal when it came to this event, but sometimes just little things like standing and bending over is hard at this weight.  

After I was done with that, I went on my lunchtime walk with my friend.  We always have a great time when we go walking.  It seems like the time goes by so fast, especially with two friends just talking the whole time.  Sometimes I do have to tell her to slow down a little, but I'm hoping that improves with time and I can keep up.  I'm so proud of myself for continuing to do the lunchtime walks because it's a great way for me to get exercise in each time.  I do get sweaty and I hate that when I have to work for the rest of the day.  However, I have to choose between that and not getting in the exercise.  When I consider the fact that it is so good for my heart, helps me lose weight and gets me out of the office for a while, I'll deal with being sweaty.  Besides, I have a fan and that seems to cool me down.  

After our walk today, I helped set up for another event we had in the afternoon with some of our parents.  So I worked with our student office aides and set up for that.  It hurt my back again but I pushed through.  I seem to do that a lot, pushing through pain.  I know that's not good to do, but I am on pain medication and it hardly makes a dent.  When I was done, I had a student waiting for me in my office and missed singing to one of my co-workers that had a birthday (one of those days I guess).  Whenever we have a birthday, we all gather around in the office, sing to the person and have cake or some such thing.  Today it was cupcakes.  The admin assistant who put on the celebration saw me afterwards and I mentioned to her that I accidentally missed.  She knew I had been out walking earlier and so she asked me, ever so sweetly, if I would like a cupcake.  Would I like a cupcake?  Oh, I don't know, is the sky blue?  Of course I wanted a freakin' cupcake!!  Yet, I didn't have one.  Sweets are a weakness for me.  One cupcake is too many and a thousand are never enough.  Does anyone else relate to that?  As long as I don't have one, I'm fine.  Of course, I had those feelings inside wondering why I have to be so different.  I got over myself, though, because I realize it really is no big deal at all in the grand scheme of things.  I mean, yeah, I can't eat cupcakes in moderation.  That's okay because it could be much worse.  If I think about it, seriously it could be a whole lot worse.  I could substitute it for not being able to drink alcohol in moderation or not being able to do drugs in moderation.  Okay, perspective!

Water Challenge Day 52:  Drank 70 of 182 ounces
(yeah, really bad job today but I'm still working on it)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pre-op classes #8 and 20, weekly weigh-in

I'm feeling a little frustrated ... two weeks in a row, no weight lost.  Yeah, that blows.  I'm still pushing forward though.  I did take a look at the food I've been eating and I haven't been doing great in getting enough calories in, particularly on the days when I exercise.  To keep myself as honest as possible and making sure I track things every day, I have been opening up my food diary so that anyone can look at it when I log it in through MyFitnessPal (screen name MissKathyJean for anyone that wants to "friend" me over there).  Today, for example, I was so low on my food intake that I noticed it when I had dinner and it forced me to eat a little more.  That's a good thing.  The past couple of days, I have skipped meals.  Although it wasn't intentional, that's not a good move and my body could very well be going into starvation mode so that could be why I've stayed at the same weight.  It's something for me to be honest about and look at a little bit more.

Last night I completed week 8 and week 20 in my pre-op surgery classes.  Week 8 was my normal class, but I also did week 20 because I'm going to miss it coming up in June.  That's the night that we hold our annual Senior Awards Reception at work and, since I'm in charge of it, I thought I better make sure I can be there.  One of my friends at work all but threatened me that if it wasn't possible for me to make up the class that I was to go to the class and let her take over my duties that night.  No discussion or debating was allowed, I was to go no matter what.  That was very sweet because I know what a huge sacrifice that is, but she also didn't want me missing the class.  We can only miss four classes (all of which we have to make up).  I have been absolutely blessed with how supportive my friends and family have been.  Even my dad has really come around.  We just talked on the phone this weekend since he lives in another state and he told me how much he's in support of the surgery.  What a turnaround!  He even told me that he'd like to see me have the sleeve done instead of the bypass because of potential complications and lack of malabsorption issues.  Apparently he's been doing research and even watching surgeries on YouTube.  Got to love my dad ;-)

Anyway, back to the classes.  Week 8 was about nutrition and supplements.  Week 20 was basically us getting into groups and answering questions about what we have learned so far.  It was very evident to me that I've been doing a lot of research since I knew all the answers for that week 20 class yet we haven't covered a lot of it in my regular class yet.  I do have to say that I have been taking this very seriously and educating myself as much as possible on my various options as well as potential side effects and complications.  This last year or two has been incredibly challenging to me.  It was just about a year ago when all of the medical complications reached a boiling point when I was on Optifast that I made the choice to stop the products and began the process of starting to gain weight back.

The weight gain has been rapid and incredibly emotional for me.  Going from 420 pounds down to 228 and then back up to 380ish pounds has broken my heart more than I could ever say.  I don't even know how to convey it into words in a way that could really capture the depth of the emotions that I have gone through.  Looking in the mirror as the weight was coming back on was utterly devastating and painful.  I felt incredibly trapped and broken, as if some entity was taking over my body and I just stood there, letting it invade.  Yet, through all of this on top of everything else that has gone on in my life up to this point, I have realized that I have some sort of inner strength that has given me the power to somehow move mountains.  A lot of people would have given up, but I'm like a dog with a bone ... relentless.  I have a fervent desire to conquer no matter what the obstacles.  My health is much too important for me to give up and give in.  So I'll continue working my best to keep moving forward.  There's a lot of fight left in this girl!!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Thanks for the gum on my shirt

Sorry I've been quiet the last couple of days.  I was reviewing for the CBEST that I took this morning.  If you're not familiar with that test, it is the one given to people who either want to become teachers or who are going into professional degrees within education in California.  In my case, it is something that is due by the end of my first semester of grad school so I thought this time would be great since I'm not taking classes until the fall.

I am extremely grateful I decided to study because many of the math concepts were things I haven't touched since around 1986ish, when I was a freshman in high school.  There were parts of the test that I had to read over again a couple of times because I couldn't concentrate very well.  Part of that was because I couldn't sleep at all last night and so I was super tired.  Another huge part, however, is because the girl next to me was constantly shaking her leg because of her nerves and her shoes rubbed together.  Normally that isn't a big deal but when the entire room is quiet and you hear the click-click-clicking of patent leather soles, it made it harder to concentrate.

I did take note of the desks as I walked into the room.  They were the typical self-enclosed desks with a writing surface wrapped around a chair.  My heart dropped because I wondered if I would fit in my assigned seat.  This is always one of the things I worry about when I walk into a classroom.  I have never had the unfortunate situation of not being able to fit in my chair, and I certainly didn't want this to be the first time.

I barely fit into this desk.  Not only did I notice that, but the people around me did, too.  They either just stared at me or gave me a sympathetic half-smile out of pity.  That's just great ... not exactly what I wanted to deal with while taking this important test.  While sitting in the desk, it was really cutting off my circulation and I had to move around quite a bit to adjust.  As annoying as the fidgety girl was next to me, I could have been just as annoying for people around me.  Sitting in that desk for nearly four hours probably heightened my uncomfortability.

When I was excused, I struggled to get out of the desk to the point where other people around me looked up to see what all the commotion was about.  I felt my legs shaky and I was just silently praying that I wouldn't lose my footing and that I would be able to walk out of that room with some dignity.  I finally made it back to my SUV and sat in the seat with relief.  When I looked down at my shirt, it had wrinkles from where my tummy was fighting the desk.  The pressure of the desk laying right on top of my extra weight was pulling at my muscles and I surely was in pain.  I also took away a lovely parting gift - gum.  We were testing in classrooms at a local high school so I had somehow taken some kid's chewed up gum that he stuck under the desk and collected it on my t-shirt.  That's just great!

Now that I think about it, I really believe my nervousness was about fitting in the desk.  The questions weren't necessarily hard per se.  It had things on it like probability, inequalities, converting fractions to decimals, finding perimeters, reading comprehension and writing two on-demand essays.  One essay was on the idea of classroom instruction on computers versus a teacher and the other was to describe an important decision in my life and the effects of that decision.  There were a lot of questions, but they weren't terribly difficult.  It did hurt my injured wrist from all the writing, but really the negative experience was about me fitting my body into the desk. It was just another case in point for me that pursuing the weight loss surgery is a good decision.  This isn't about vanity, it's about things like fitting in a seat comfortably.  The humiliation I felt this morning of barely fitting in that seat stays with me and I don't want it to stay in my head.  In fact, I'd rather not have those experiences.

I pray that, as I move forward with continued weight loss, I do so with courage and conviction to speak up about what my desires are instead of potentially being told what to do from my insurance company.  They haven't done that yet, but I have been warned that a surgeon may want me to go in one direction when I want to go in another.  I need to stand my ground.  As I spend time doing research and educating myself on my choices in the two types of surgeries that are options for me, I am realizing more and more where my heart and what I want to see happen.  I am gravitating toward the vertical sleeve and away from the gastric bypass.  Of course I'll keep you all posted as I continue my long journey toward the surgery, but that's where I stand right now.

Water Challenge Day 49:  Drank 118 of 182 ounces 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pre-op class #7, weekly weigh-in and serious contemplation

Boooo, I didn't lose weight this week.  I know that's okay, but I was a bit disappointed.  I'll keep trekking along.  It's hard to believe I already finished my seventh pre-op class ... they seem to be going pretty quickly.  Of course the process from the start of making the decision to having weight loss surgery up to now has been slow, but the anxiousness I had been feeling before is not with me now.  I find it difficult to make this huge, life-altering decision only to be told I would have to wait about nine months for that to happen.  Yet, I have found myself happy that Kaiser put on the brakes so that I could be educated during this time.  

The class last night was an opportunity to learn more about the difference between a gastric bypass and vertical sleeve, the two choices we are given through Kaiser.  Not one to be patient and wait for this particular week to learn more information, I have been doing a lot of research on my own.  I don't take this lightly and so I find a huge desire to be well informed.  The principal at the school where I work has called me a lifelong learner because I approach things like this as a student.  That's not necessarily a bad thing at all.

Bypass or sleeve, which way to go?  Oh, if only you could get in my head right now.  I cannot possibly describe the level of seesawing I feel inside.  In the beginning, I was all about the bypass.  People keep calling it the "gold standard", the one in which other surgeries try to emulate.  That makes sense since it has been around the longest and has a proven track record.  Then, as I was doing more research, I felt sure that I had switched and wanted to pursue the sleeve.  It simply is far less invasive and does not have the malabsportion issues prominent with the bypass.  I believe constipation is a bigger issue, which has to be a large concern for me since I had some major problems when I was on Optifast.  Of course, ninety percent of your stomach is removed, so there's that to consider.  However, after the discussion last night, now I wonder if perhaps the bypass is a better surgery for my situation.  The biggest issue is that I am a diabetic and most people who have that choice of surgery have diabetes resolved.  That's a big deal to me.  Of course, it does happen with the sleeve as well.  If I go with the bypass, I will have to be very committed to taking the supplements for the rest of my life because my body will not naturally be able to produce those essential nutrients any longer.  When I think about my commitment, I think about my brother.  He had a heart transplant years ago and while he does not take nearly as many anti-rejection meds as he did in the beginning, he must take pills every day.  The flip side of that is that he was given a new life, so a few pills in the big scheme of things isn't really a big deal.  He is committed to his new life, so this begs the question:  Am I just as committed?

Can you see now why I'm freakin' confused??  The facilitator did assure me that I will have an opportunity to speak with the surgeon and discuss my choices prior to the surgery so that we can make a decision together.  I have a feeling I will be told the bypass will be the surgery he will support for me because of the diabetes, but I also want to discuss the sleeve as an option.  On paper, it makes more sense to go with the bypass but my poor body has been through so much and to put it through the more invasive surgery as an automatic choice is something I fight. According to our patient manual, the weight loss is about the same with both procedures, although it will be a little slower with the sleeve.  When the possible complications with a bypass are 23 percent as compared to less than five percent with the sleeve, I'm sure you can understand my pause.

There are some questions that I will need to consider as part of all of this.  Instead of rushing through them in class last night, I want to spend some time really working on them this week and honestly searching my soul in terms of what is right for me.  Some of those questions include:
  • Why am I contemplating bariatric surgery?
  • Which type of surgery do I want and why?
  • Have I honestly tried to lose weight non-surgically?  Why will surgery be different for me?
  • Have I really considered the risks of surgery before now?  What risk level am I willing to accept?
  • Have I considered the hospital portion of this process?
  • How will the type of work I do affect my recovery?
  • Am I willing to give up some foods for the rest of my life?  Am I willing to take nutritional supplements daily for the rest of my life?
  • What level of weight loss will satisfy me?
  • What will success be for me?
  • How willing am I to commit to managing my food intake for the rest of my life?  How willing am I to deal with the underlying reasons for my past overeating?
  • In what ways might I and my friends and family sabotage my program?
  • Am I willing to stay on my program for the rest of my life?  What steps can I take to make sure I follow my program?
  • Am I willing to minimize or eliminate eating high-sugar and high-fat foods for the rest of my life?  What steps can I take to make sure I remain compliant with all my post-operative instructions?
  • Am I willing to remain vigilant regarding my caloric intake for the rest of my life?  What steps can I take to make sure I monitor my food and calorie intake?
  • Am I willing to take the time I need to be sure my decision to have surgery is the right decision for me?  What do I need to know in order to make my decision?
Wow.  I can really see that the answers to these questions will be incredibly important for me.  Not
only are the answers important, but my willingness to be honest is equally as important.  This is more than just about which surgery I will choose but ultimately why I am choosing surgery in the first place.  I had a thought last night, fleeting as many of the thoughts I had, about maybe revisiting Optifast again.  I was able to lose 192 pounds through the program.  As fantastic as that was, I think my brain has forgotten all of the issues I had while I was on the shakes, though, especially towards the end.  I don't want to scare those that read my blog who are on the program right now, but I had a lot of medical issues going on after being on it for so long.  Truly, I think I thought about Optifast again because surgery is scary.  I gained a lot of my lost weight back after stopping Optifast and I can't forget that either.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not rethinking having the surgery (although that is okay if I choose to not forgo it in the future).  Surgery is just a tool, albeit a very important one, but I must give those questions serious consideration.  My life will change forever.  Forever.  I owe it to myself to spend some time in serious contemplation and answering those questions with my deepest level of honesty.  Heavy stuff.

Water Challenge Day 46:  Drank 182 of 182 ounces

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cooking with Kathy: Turkey Spaghetti Squash

A friend and I decided to go out to breakfast after church.  It was 9:30, several hours after I usually have breakfast so I was ready to have something yummy.  Can I just say how horrible restaurants are for what they try to get away with?  Of course everything looked scrumptious because I was extra hungry but I did slow down enough to at least look at the descriptions of the breakfasts because they include the calorie count (at least out here in California).  I even pointed it out to my friend and we both just sat there wondering what we could have that wouldn't include all of our calories for the day in one meal.  She's not really watching her intake like I am but she was even floored.  I did manage to pick something out that was okay, but man did I want to work out afterwards.

This got me thinking about why being educated and aware of what I'm eating is incredibly important.  I've been setting my daily calorie goal at 1500 to trick my mind because I'm really striving for somewhere between 1200-1300 calories per day.  It's working because 1500 seems like a lot so I end up having under 1300 most of the time.  Whatever works, right?  For dinner tonight, I decided on my favorite go-to veggie: spaghetti squash.  Anyone that knows me knows that I love, love, love spaghetti squash.  I replace pasta with it any time I get the chance and I really don't miss regular pasta at all.  It's got 10 grams of carbs per cup in it instead of of the 40-60 grams of carbs found in a half-cup of noodles.  Besides, it's a veggie so I get a two for one.  I made Turkey Spaghetti Squash for dinner so I thought I'd share with you.  Each serving of this stuff is 272 calories and super filling!


1 cup of spaghetti squash
1/2 cup of pasta sauce (I used a heart-smart variety so it was low in everything)
4 oz. lean ground turkey
minced garlic

Start with a large uncooked spaghetti squash.  Costco has them, two for $5.  Grab a plate and a large butcher knife.  Some people will put their spaghetti squash in the oven and cook it for 60-90 minutes.  Yeah, not me.  Take that big knife and stab that squash about 20 times in different places.  It's actually therapeutic if you've had a rough day!  Put it on a microwave-safe plate and cook it for 30 minutes.  The time for the squash actually depends on how big it is.  Sometimes 20 minutes will do, but this guy needed 30.

While that's cooking, saute your lean ground turkey in the minced garlic.  You can use cooking spray or even a little extra virgin olive oil to prevent the garlic from burning and giving extra yummy flavor (it's a healthy fat!).  I cooked an entire package to use for other meals, but all you need is four ounces.  And, yes, I did end up weighing my ground turkey on a kitchen scale to make sure I wasn't eating too much.

This is also the time to let your pasta sauce simmer.  When I do use ready-made sauce, I will often times throw in other spices.  Tonight I threw in basil and rosemary.  I know, rosemary is weird but I just felt like it.

When the spaghetti squash is ready to be pulled out of the microwave, be careful because it will be scorching hot.  In fact, I'd recommend you wait a few minutes before you cut into it because you can burn yourself from the steam.  I've done it before.  When you're ready to cut into it, you know it's done because it will be very easy for your knife to slice into it.

When you open it up, you'll need to scoop out all of the seeds with a spoon.  Then take a fork and start scraping from one end to the other.  This gives it that pasta look.  It helps your mind believe you're eating pasta if it looks like it, at least I found that to be the case.

That size of a spaghetti squash makes seven servings, so I now have plenty for other meals.  The last step is to combine everything into one fabulous concoction.

All of that for under 300 calories is pretty amazing.  I completely see why it's so much better to make food at home.  It's fun to go out to restaurants for sure, but I know I will pay for it in one way or another.  Making this at home makes me feel so much better knowing that I'm not eating tons and tons of calories.

Water Challenge Day 45:  Drank 120 of 182 ounces