Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!


What a year 2013 has been!  So many big changes for my husband Charles and me.  There have been great moments and very hard ones.

1. Deciding to leave my first teaching job where I spent the first five years of my teaching career.  It released me from so much stress and insecurity when it came to my professional life.  I was able to find a new job in a school where my knowledge and experience has been embraced.  I am challenging myself in new ways professionally and working in a community that celebrates the good work of both students and teachers alike.  I feel valued again, something that was missing for the last few years.
                           My English Team                   Me and my work wife/co-teacher, Melanie.

2.  Finally arriving at the decision to have weight loss surgery.  It was something I had thought about over the last few years but I always believed I could do it on my own.  I did lose weight on my own, for years, yo-yoing over the years.  I finally have the tool I needed to make this time the last time.  It is the best choice I ever made.  It was a hard choice for sure, but the right one.

This is the picture took of me @NYU
                                               at my first appointment in July.

3.  My husband left his job as well.  He has been consulting this fall but the impact on his wellbeing is undeniable.  I am so proud of him.  (He is so cute!)

4.  The passing on of my beautiful Grandmother.  Diane was my last living grandparent and she and I were close.  My father reminded me that she never forgot who I was, even though I have lived 3000 miles away for the last 9 years.  Every time we spoke on the phone she knew it was me and always sounded thrilled to be talking to me. (And I was to talk to her. :-)  This was our last visit in Seattle.

5.  I joined the gym and I like it.  Really.  

Thank you to everyone for reading, supporting, and loving along this journey.
Here's to great things in 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Chicken Meatballs

Chicken meatballs might be my new favorite thing.  I made about 20 of them a week or so ago and froze them all.  I defrosted half last night and reheated them low and slow in some very garlicly red sauce on the stove.  They were so yummy.  I tried them when some whole wheat pasta (which has 7g of protein/serving, which is 3/4 of a cup-way more than I would be able to eat).  I was able to eat about 2.5 meatballs and about 3 peices of penne.  I added a tablespoon (maybe a little more) of skim ricotta for some creaminess and some additional protein.  It was really yummy.  The pasta did nothing for me so when I reheated more for lunch today I just had 3 meatballs, a big spoon of ricotta and sauce.  Definately my favorite winter dish right now.
I adapted Smitten Kitten's Recipe for baked meatballs.  They are really yummy but I used what I could on hand

All Natural - Ground Chicken, 1 container (16 oz raw (112g) ea.)760044885600Ico_delete
Usda - Large Egg, 1 egg70056701Ico_delete
Bread Crumbs-salt Free 12oz - 4c Seasoned, 0.75 Cup250522795Ico_delete
Hunt's - Tomato Ketchup, 2 tbsp4010003208Ico_delete
Lipton - Recipe Secrets - Onion Soup Mix, 1 container (56 gs ea.)16032004,8808Ico_delete
Spices - Pepper, black, 1 tsp510010Ico_delete
Add Ingredient

Per Serving:184147148343
I can definately cut down on the sodium- by not using the prepackaged soup mix.  I can also cut down on the bread crumbs to bring the carbs down further- however, it is just one point on the diabetic scale and I am getting 7g of protein so I can't really complain.  Baking them was really easy, they didn't stick and the froze really well.  I might try a mix of turkey and chicken next time.  The learning continues.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Clogged Pipes and Breaking (Bad) Wind

Back to the gym tomorrow.  Between Christmas and being struck down with a nasty cold, the gym was the last place I wanted to be.  However, my body is feeling a little sluggish as a result and I am hoping the gym does the trick. I had emailed my nutritionist about "getting things going" and she suggested Senna Tea.  I have yet to pick any up but maybe after the gym tomorrow if a good walk does not get things going.  Filed under the "things they don't tell you pre-surgery" category is that most people only have a BM every 3-4 days.  WHAT???  That is nuts!  The reality is, only now, in week 5 am I getting close to 800 calories a day and 75g of protein and almost 2L of water each day.  I also have epic farts.  EPIC!  They are not stinky, just a lot of air.  This new body is fascinating.

Week 6 starts tomorrow.  Aside from the clogged pipes, I am feeling pretty good.  I am eating a lot of chicken.  Im still not allowed to eat raw veggies, which I miss a lot.  (Right?)  Simple things like iceberg lettuce would be delish.  I am looking forward to making lettuce wraps in the future.  Meat, cheese, lettuce.

In other news- I parted ways with the FB group I had joined pre-surgery.  I don't want to go into all the details but it is for the best.  I am still connected with a few folks who I was able to really connect to/relate to. I am sorry to lose such a large support system but I found it was doing more hurt and support and that is not the point.  My other current frustration is that my nutritionist is booked through the middle of January and is only available until 4pm.  I work until 3:45...so what is a girl to do? She has been fairly available via email but it is just not the same.  Hopefully, my old nutritionist in the neighborhood can start seeing me again.

Let week 6 begin.

HW: 386
SW: 370
CW: 333 (-53)
GW: Healthy!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Favorite Products (Some old, some new) so far!

These are a few of my favorite things.....
This is one of my new favorites- PERDUE® SHORT CUTS® Carved Chicken Breast, Honey Roasted (9 oz.) Chicken strips carved from chicken breast meat, then perfectly seasoned with only all natural ingredients and roasted for juiciness. Packed in 9 oz. sealed packages; refrigerated. Certified gluten free.

Made with skim milk and a serving size is 1/2 cup- more an enough for my little sleeve-I have mine with some low cal spray whip (15 cal/T) for a truly satisfying dessert. 

This is my stand by.  I started drinking it in August, long before I was sleeved in November.  It is not too sweet (I only use 1 scoop rather than 2).  It is good with milk or water.  It is something I can drink every day even though I am trying to broaden my food choices as I experiment.

Swiss Miss Sensible Sweets Diet 25 Calories Hot Cocoa Mix 
PER SERVING (1 packet): 25 calories, 0g fat, 160mg sodium, 4g carbs, 1g fiber, 2g sugars, 2g protein

I picked up 6 boxes for 10.00 on Amazon

Then I add a little of this...

or this...

They are both made with Splenda so there isn't the same strange chemically flavor that aspartame has.  (5 calories/ 2 Tablespoons) 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Eating out...and mental health.

My husband and I had dinner tonight with two of my best girlfriends from grad school and their respective husband/boyfriend.  I had looked at the menu online before we left so I had some idea of what I was going to order.  When the time came, the item I had selected an item from the kids menu- grilled chicken and french fries.  The waitress told me she could not let me order from the kids menu and that her boss would not allow it.  I was irritated and didn't really feel like explaining that I had bariatric surgery and that I just didn't want all the food that comes with an "adult entree".  Instead I had to order a side of fries and a grilled chicken breast (that was overcooked and dry- the fries were super yummy though...but as we all know, protein first!).   Needless to say, it was a little bit frustrating.  For next time I will just order the turkey burger and leave the bun.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the mental part of this entire journey.  I have a really great therapist- a LSCW- who I have been working with for close to two years now.  I do a 90 minute session once a week and added an additional 45 min. session later in the week.  I enjoy the process of debriefing and unpacking my experiences and developing a better understanding of the WHY behind the things I do and feelings I have.  It is not for everyone, I know this, but I feel like I am in such a different place now after my work with my person than I was 5 years ago when I first began therapy (with a different therapist) and addressed many of my food related issues.  I don't know how people embark on this journey and not have mental health support.  One session to be cleared by a psych is not enough in my humble opinion.   Truly understanding why we ate the way we did it an important awareness to come to.  I am physically unable to eat more than about 1/2 C. at a time but the head game of eating still rears it's ugly head from time to time and it catches me off guard.  Missing bread is one of the most challenging.  Wanting to enjoy a bagel and cream cheese on a Saturday morning-I miss that.  It seems silly to waste the stomach space on bread like that though.  When I can eat so little, why would I waste the space on a fifth of a bagel??? The head game is amazing and I imagine with time it will get easier but for now it is a huge part of this process.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas! One Month Down!

I decided to move the website over to just a blog.  As much as I like building websites, this is easier.  I am down 50lbs from my highest weight.  I put on a top today that is loose around my middle- I was also able to zip up my leather coat for the first time in a year!  I also moved onto to soft foods.  I am enjoying a lot of cold cuts and low fat cheese.  Speaking of, Christmas dinner tonight went well.  I married into an Italian family where the antipasti course before dinner is a requirement.  My mother in law has been extremely supportive through out this journey.  I had one slice of fresh mozzarella, two pieces of low sodium ham, and a piece of salami oh and 2 green olives.  Everything went down well.  I chewed, chewed, chewed.  For dinner, I had some spinach quiche that she got for me.  It was made with a phyllo dough crust so it was pretty low carb/high protein.  I also had a sliver of pork tenderloin that I had with applesauce- chewed, chewed, chewed.  I treated myself to one oz. of red wine that has given me heart burn but didn't bother my sleeve.  I also had a small cream puff-a wonderful treat but not something I will do on the regular.  It is Christmas after all.  I felt a part of the day and felt satisfied with the food I ate.

I am actually at 336- wishful thinking for the 332 but I am close!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that the spirit of the holiday season is alive and well in your home, your sleeve, and your heart!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

NSV: Non Scale Victories (and a SV too!)

It's the Thursday before break. I am tired and ready for Christmas vacation. Last night I took 9 of my freshman advisees out to dinner at Olive Garden. I have to admit, I was feeling nervous about eating out for the first time. I had arranged for the girls to have the pre fixe dinner- breadsticks, salad, entree, and ice cream. They were on cloud 9! I was able to order an unsweetened ice tea and a bowl of soup- my entire dinner came out to about 100 calories. Here's the thing. Two years ago we went to O.G.for our work holiday dinner. I ordered the Tour of Italy (the same thing many of the girls ordered last night) and I ate the entire dinner in addition to salad and breadsticks. It was a crazy amount of food. My students each took home their unfinished portion of their dinner...something I would never had done in the past. It was a successful first outing. After dinner I did the long walk to the subway, enjoying the holiday lights in Manhattan. I ended up having negative calories for the day- not the plan...I am hoping once I am into real food this is less of an issue. I hit the 45# loss mark yesterday too. A small child. Your checked luggage.

I have lost 9 of these!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Great Carb Debate of 2013

Here's the thing.  I can only eat about 4-6 oz at a time, depending on the food.  75%of my stomach was removed.  By default, I can't eat much.  There are people who run the gamut of carb beliefs: those who are the "carbs are the devil" people, the "low carb is fine" people, and the "everything in moderation" people.  I am somewhere in-between the last two.  It got me thinking so I did a little research. This article from LIVESTRONG states: 

 "The "2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans" recommends that about half of your daily calories, or between 45 percent to 65 percent to be exact, be provided by carbohydrates. This amount of carbohydrates corresponds to between 225 g and 325 g of total carbohydrates, of which 25 g to 38 g should be fiber, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. The carbohydrate recommendation can be met by following MyPyramid, which promotes the daily consumption of 5 to 8 oz. of grains, 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits, 3 cups of dairy and up to 265 calories' worth of sugar or processed foods, based on a 2,000-calorie diet."
When you are only eating 600-800 calories a day you have to scale the carbs-I teach English so don't ask me to figure out the math.  The article goes on to state regarding Low carb diets,

"Many low-carb eating plans recommend restricting your carbohydrate intake below 20 percent of your calories, which corresponds to 100 g or less of total carbohydrates a day. Although it is generally advised that the bulk of your calories be provided by carbohydrates, "the lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed," according to the "Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids," published by the Institute of Medicine in 2005."

Most of my meals have consisted of very high protein (think lean chicken breast and low fat mayo purees and mayo free egg salad).  It keeps me going through the day.  Tonight I made Whole wheat ricotta gnocchi. I had about 3/4 cup of the light bites with a small amount of pesto and low fat mozzarella.  It did bump up my carbs for the day but it was nice to eat something hot and rib sticking.

In the end, I think we have to listen to our bodies (not our minds-mental hunger is a dangerous thing) and our nutritionists. One day at a time.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Better Food Day

Yesterday I went to the gym for the first time!  I was able to meet up with a teacher friend from Grad school who lives in my neighborhood and we walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes. It might sound silly to some of you but for me, it was a big deal.  I felt good.

Today was a better food day.  I made sure to get up earlier so I could have 4oz of Greek yogurt.  Rose and I watched Obama speak at Mandela's memorial.  I packed the mayo free egg salad as well as chicken salad puree. The chicken salad is a little thick and sits in my tummy more than the eggs.  I also brought an extra shake to get in some more protein.  It helps my energy throughout the day.  Now if I can just get through the next week and a half to winter break Ill be golden.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Two Weeks Out, almost.

One week out, I went back to work.  My online support system (shout out to my November Sleever Group!) were supporting and surprised.  In doing some reading it seems like the average time off for recovery is somewhere between 4-8 weeks.  There was no way, as a teacher I was going to be able to take that much time off.  I originally had planned to do the surgery the week before Christmas vacation so I would of had closer to 3 weeks of recovery. When the option for a month earlier came up I jumped.  I always had faith in the ability of my body to heal and confidence in my support system to get me through these early days of learning to deal with my new digestive system.  

I went for my one week appointment on Monday. It was brief but I was down 30 pounds since October 18th. It is amazing to think about.  My five incisions are healing well and I have had little to no pain. My largest incision, the one at the fullest part of my stomach started bothering me two nights ago.  It is the one they pulled my stomach through (gross!).  I spoke to the PA at NYU on Friday who said that the pain is probably just scar tissue forming.  Today is is feeling better but still some tenderness.  My physical progress has been good overall.  

The mental game, well that is another story.  I hit the wall Thurday night.  I was barely able to drink another protein shake.  I made it though two more shakes friday but that was my limit.  After consulting my amazing support group, I decided to trust what my body was telling me and move forward with the puree stage.  Last night for dinner I had 2 tablespoons of pureed salmon with some low fat mayo and a little water to thin it out.  I was full after 2T of food.  Amazing, right?  I would not have been able to eat another bite.  Everything stayed down and it didn't bother my stomach (no intestinal distress :-).  This morning I had 1/4 of thin cream of wheat made with skim milk and a little bit of lavender honey.  I am trying to keep artificial sweeteners to a minimum.  The mental benifits of eating real food are amazing.  I am going to make a cauliflower cheese puree/bake for dinner tonight!  So excited!!!

My clothing is starting to fit differently.  When you weigh as much as I do, it takes longer to go down sizes.  I rely on the feel of my clothes and the messages my body is giving me.  Like:
  • my feet are no longer swollen at the end of the day
  • my knees hurt less
  • I am not as exhausted!!!
Needless to say, the first 12 days have gone really well.  I feel good and I am looking forward to the next two weeks of slowly introducing new food, starting my gym membership at Lucille Roberts and the last two weeks of school before break!  Life is good.  No regrets.

My new stomach.  This if from the "leak test" they did in the hospital the day after my surgery.  (Sorry it is sideways).  The really skinny part that looks like spaghetti, that is my new stomach.  The nurse told me it looked like they removed 70%.  From looking at this picture, it looks like 95% to me!  HA!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

5 Days Post-Ops and Downs

It's been a life changing week.  When I finally got home on Wednesday from the hospital I had some discomfort but the pain has been really manageable.  The more challenging part has been, as to be expected, with the food.  Learning my need stomach and what satisfied vs. full feels like.  The best analogy I can give is: it's like filling up a bottle using a funnel.  You try and guess how much will be ok but it is easy to overfill as the liquid funnels down into the bottle.  The feeling of overfull is immediate, I think.  Thankfully I have not had any nausea nor have I thrown up at all (knock on wood!).  I have my one week post op on Monday and I have lots of questions but I think I am healing well- my incisions are itchy=healing.  I am still having trouble taking a full breath, some of which I assume is swelling/bloating/all the IV fluids.  Overall, I am feeling good though.  Off pain meds.  Occasional gas discomfort in my left shoulder. but I can't really complain.

I did get on the scale today and I am only down one pound.  I am looking forward to being moving more again- feeling up for it.  We went out yesterday and it wiped me out.  It was good to get outside though, even on black Friday!  Ha! 

Two more days then back to the kids. :-)  

This one is from the first week of August with my dad. (Close to 390) 

 Today 11/30/13  (358, down about 30 lbs)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"I was a kidney bean, now I'm a banana" or "The Losers Bench"

Monday morning I arrived at NYU around 715AM.  Everything happened efficiently and quickly.  I was checked in then they took me back to go through all the pre-op stuff with the anesthesiologist as well as getting changed into a gown.  Thankfully I ALSO started my period (I know, over-share) but if you can plan better than I did, don't have surgery when you have your period.  Really.  That sucked.  Charlie came back to say hi and later goodbye.  Everyone at NYU was warm, funny and personable helping me to be a little more relaxed.  I had an IV put in and shortly after they wheeled me to outside my operating room.  I chatted with my surgeon and then walked into the operating room.  I climbed up on the bed, settled in, was given something and that was it.  I was out. 

<---Later I woke up in recovery.  Charlie was there.  I kept getting yelled at to breath.  Apparently, I don't breath enough. When I finally arrived in my room, we learned it was a "step down" room with 24 hour RNs in the room.  There were three other patients in the room and it was a noisy first day and night.  I sent charlie home around 4 so we could both sleep. Sleep was a joke that first night. Many interruptions, noises.  Charlie had told me sleep in the hospital in not restful, he was right.  My legs look like pin cushions from the heparin shots. The second say was a whirl wind.  I was in and out of sleep after waking up at 4 AM.  Rounds, the "leak test", which gave me horrible diarrhea.  (Over-share, I know).  I wish I had the pictures from the leak test.  You drink this solution then they x-ray you as you drink to see if there are any leaks in the new stomach pouch or as I am calling it, the banana.  They had a monitor in the room so the patient can watch at the same time.  It was very cool.

I thought I would be going home that night.  That was not in the cards because I was not yet getting enough liquids down.  In a way it was better I stayed a second night.  I was able to start practicing drinking more.  It is a totally new sensation than before.  My stomach now is so small that I try and drink 1 oz. of liquid every 10 minutes.  That's right. ONE OUNCE- that is less that a cup an hour however, if I do this all day the goal is that I make it to 64 ounces of liquid each day.   (There are 8 oz in a cup)  Needless to say, no more "big gulps" for me!  

Wednesday morning I was discharged around 10 am.  The weather broke just enough for us to get home in reasonable time. I have settled in.  Trying to get in my liquids.  Took a glorious shower.  Napped with the puppy.  She was very glad to have me home.

Now I begin this new life.  A new way of thinking about and experiencing food.  I have a long 4 weeks ahead of me- 2 weeks of liquid then 2 weeks of puree.  My 1 week follow up is on Monday- it seems so close- but now I am on the losing side.  This time next year I will have a different body, one once at a time.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Night Before Sleeving

Twas the night before my sleeving, and all through the house
my bags were not yet packed, so thankful for sweats and not a work blouse.
Lots of sf jello was made, to treat my new tummy with care,
for when I return home only a part of it will still be there.

I could go on but I don't really have the head space for it tonight.  Lots done today including putting up the Christmas decor.  It will be nice to come home to a holiday feeling.  Charlie will be with me all day tomorrow.  I was thinking today how glad I am this is not an emergency like when he went into the hospital almost two years ago now.  He will still be nervous but I am in good hands and we know what is going on.  There is no mystery here.

Thanks to everyone for all the notes/texts/email today.  I have so much love around me.  

A await my rebirth.  A heroine evolves.