Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Weekly Update - And Body Dysmorphic Disorder

My check up with my surgeon was last week, and I was told I don't have to go back for another 6 months - really?! Seriously, I'm not sure how comfortable I am with that. I guess maybe it's been a bit of a crutch for me to see him every 6 weeks - but 6 months??

My scale is still being a whiny little baby, so I'm having to go by what I weighed in at the doctor's office.

As of Friday, my weight was 208 and my BMI has gone down to 33!!
When I began this journey, I was 295 with a BMI of 49 - I'd say 87 lbs and 16 points off a BMI scale rating is NOT TOO SHABBY!
I have lost 56% of my excess body weight - which puts my actual goal weight at around 140 - But my PERSONAL goal (right now) is 160, so I have around another 50 lbs to lose.
My weight loss has slowed considerably, but it's still going down, so I am NOT going to complain!

Next week a good friend will be opening his fitness center, so I will FINALLY get to go workout on an (almost) daily basis! I can't wait!! Hopefully that will boost my weight loss and I can get this last 50 off before summer! (hey, it could happen!)

So, today I want to talk to you about a subject that affects millions upon millions of women worldwide. It's called Body Dysmorphic Disorder. What is it? In a nutshell: you look at yourself and all you see are flaws and imperfections - weather they're actually there or not, or weather the rest of the world sees them.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) can be caused by many environmental influences from peers to society, most common are little girls looking a fashion magazines wanting to be like the models on the cover. BDD is also the leading cause of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

How does this apply to WLS patients? Well, it's simple, really. We have been fat for so long, that when our bodies start to change, regardless of how drastic or quickly that change may come, when we look in the mirror all we see is fat, still. This does not happen with EVERY WLS patient, mind you, but it is quite frequent. In my own experience, it's a nightmare. While people are gushing over how much weight I've lost, I still look in the mirror and see the fat and the cellulite. I still see myself at 295 lbs, even though I'm inching up to 100 lbs. gone.

Will this ever change? I don't know for sure. I certainly hope so. I'd hate to get to 160 lbs and still see myself as huge. Many WLS patients turn to plastic surgery at some point, and I'm planning on NOT going that route (i hate surgery). I'm prayerful that through diet and exercise I find a peace with my body and my image of myself improves.

If you or someone you know lives with BDD: don't despair  You can find help in outside sources such as counseling, if it becomes so bad you become depressed. Remember to eat your protein and drink your water daily, and each day look at yourself in the mirror and exclaim: "I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . ." (Psalm 193:14). God made you in his own image and loves you just as you are. His only wish is for you to be healthy and happy.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Whole Foods Challenge Link Up! Week 3: Sweeteners: The Good, The Bad, And the STAY AWAY FROM!!

For information on the challenge and how to link your blog go here!

This week has been a challenge. It must be "that time" because I've been craving bad stuff like CRAZY. These have been my saving graces this week:

Salt and Vinegar Almonds: Okay, they are NOT all natural - but when you're fighting the urge to bury your face in a bag of potato chips - just one or two of these bad boys have kept the carb monster at bay.

Picked Vegetables: My sister made this amazing pasta salad this week. I am one that is not a fan of things like olives or raw onions, but here - I ate things I don't like because they were GOOD - the marinade took the bite out of the onions and I discovered that I REALLY like kalamata olives! Whoda thunk?

My Crock Pot: I love my crock pot and make everything in it - soups, stews, roasted meats . . . It's the greatest invention ever and I use it multiple times a week. If you don't have one, you should invest in one!

Chi Tea - I have discovered my substitute for coffee! I drink WAY too much coffee - and it's not that coffee is bad for you, but 3-5 cups a day isn't the greatest on your gastro-intestinal system (TMI?) Chi is naturally sweet with a yummy spice to it. And my mom found this chocolate version that is to die for.

Now, on to this weeks topic! SWEETENERS (The Good, The Bad, and the STAY AWAY FROM!)

We all know the dangers of refined sugar (oh, just Google it if you don't know already!). But for some of us, even raw sugar or turbinado sugar has a negative effect. For many of us, honey, molasses, agave nectar  and other natural sweeteners don't have an adverse reaction, but for those that do, it's a challenge.

Enter "artificial sweeteners". Okay, if you've read my blog before (and I assume you have) then you know how I feel about sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose. Aspartame has been linked to so many issues from ADD to obesity, diabetes and so on that I can't even go into them all. Bad, bad BAD stuff. And sucralose isn't much better, to be honest. It is also now being linked to issues with everything from worsening diabetic symptoms to gastrointestinal issues as well. There are others on the market, but you have to watch to make sure you're getting the most natural product on the market.

Monk fruit is a brand new sweetener on the market. In its purest, natural form, it actually has great health benefits, and is so much sweeter than sugar that only a small amount is needed. But be careful, because some manufacturers are combining the fruit extract with chemicals and refined sugars. READ LABELS. The benefits of using monk fruit is that it doesn't loose its sweetness when heated, unlike stevia.

Stevia has been on the market for a couple of years now, and it's one that I love. I use it in just about everything. Again, read labels and make sure you are buying one that is pure stevia and not filled with chemicals. My brand of choice is Stevia in the Raw.

Sugar alcohol and xylitol are not beneficial for anyone. They are 99.9% of the time synthetic, chemical, and can wreck havok on your stomach and intestines.

What sweeteners have you found that you love? Link up . . . NOW!

Please remember I am not a doctor or nutritionist - I am a regular person just like you that likes to do her research. Don't take my word for it - go do your own research! I use Google - so can you!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Whole Foods Challenge Link Up! Week 2: Paleo VS Low Carb: What's The Difference?

Happy Monday Kids! It's week two of my Whole Foods Challenge Link Up! For more information on the challenge and how you can link up check out this post.

How'd My Week Go?

Not bad, honestly. I did have a few slips here and there due to eating out and children's birthday parties - and believe me when I say that I felt it! (still do . . .) I DID, however, learn the art of the leftover-makeover! For example: One night we had lamb chops and roasted veggies. Later on in the week I mixed them with broth and made soup. Another night we had chicken with veggies. Again, later on in the week, I mixed them together and made "chicken-not-pie" (chicken pot pie filling without the crust). My mom sent me home with pot-roast this weekend which I will be using to make a beef stew (probably tonight - YUUUMM). I also discovered a GREAT bakery near my mom that makes AMAZING all-natural baked goods - and most are low-carb and/or paleo in nature.

Speaking of low-carb and paleo . . ?

So what IS the difference between a Paleo (caveman/Paleolithic) diet and a low-carb diet? IS there one? Well, yes, there is.
(all information here comes from various low carb cookbooks such as George Stella's "Still Livin' Low Carb" "The Atkins Diet" "The South Beach Diet" and various articles, web sites, and blogs on the Paleo diet - Google it for a plethora of information!)

The Gist on Low Carb:

The philosophy behind low-carb diets is simple. You completely get rid of things like potatoes, starchy vegetables, bread, pasta, and rice for a period of time. Depending on the diet plan, you may also get rid of fruit for a while as well. This puts your body into a fat burning mode called ketosis. After being in this state for about a week, you start introducing things back into your diet such as fruit and whole-grains in small amounts, but still base your everyday lifestyle around meats and vegetables. Some diets stick with leaner meats (like South Beach) while others allow, and even encourage, full fat everything (Atkins).

The Gist on the Paleo Diet:

The Paleo diet is based on what researchers believe man would have eaten in the paleolithic era. The philosophy is that our bodies are exactly the same now as then and there are certain foods available to us today that we are unable to digest properly because we wouldn't have had them available then. Most fruit, beans, dairy, and grains are cut completely out of the diet. Oils such as canola and olive oil are also cut out in favor of coconut and nut oils.

So What's The Difference?

One of the main differences between the two diets is the amount of allowed foods - the paleo diet is a little more restrictive than the low-carb diet. There's also a slight difference in the TYPES of allowed foods. While low-carb diets can be paleo in nature, a true paleo diet is not necessarily low-carb, as it allows tubers such as sweet potatoes and yams.

Which is better?

That is something that is up for serious debate. If you Google "paleo vs low-carb" you'll find a slew of articles and blog posts on this subject, and each are biased to their own side. The simplest answer to this is, which one speaks to YOU? For some people, the idea behind the paleo diet is a God-send. The biggest draw is that this particular diet is naturally wheat and gluten free (as well as rice, corn, soy, and dairy free). For others, the mere thought of going without things such as yogurt or beans in their lifestyle is enough to turn them off. For others, it may be more of a philosophy thing: some strict creationists reject the idea of the paleolithic era while others not only embrace, but encourage it. Likewise, there are some that simply cannot adhere to the idea of eating completely low carb because of recent studies done on ketosis.

The bottom line is this, after studying the two diets, think about which one fits you better. Do you love the idea of being able to love potatoes? Do you really like the idea that you can (someday) have pasta again?

Also keep in mind what your own body can tolerate - some people with gluten, corn, and other food allergies will probably do quite well on the paleo plan, whereas someone with an adverse reaction to potato starches and nuts would do well on the low-carb diet.

I hope this has given you some insight on the differences between the low-carb and the paleo lifestyle. As for myself, I am doing a pseudo-paleo lifestyle currently - I have added beans and dairy to my own eating style, but refrain from other grains and carbs as much as possible.

Which lifestyle do you prefer? Feel free to comment below, and remember you can link up all week!

Link up . . .

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Weekly Update: A Weigh-In Surprise!

This morning I had to do a double take on our scale.
You see, it's been a bit wonky in it's weighing capacity.

For the hubbs, it works just fine.
For me, 

For some reason, it doesn't like me, so it'll weigh me less or more by as much as 10 lbs sometimes! 
But I stepped on it twice, and it said the same thing both times (for once!)
As of today, Kids, I am at . . .
(drumroll please . . .)
205 lbs.

This came as quite the surprise because I've been weighing it at between 213-215 for the past two weeks. 
So I guess when the stall breaks, it breaks HARD.
So that means I am FIVE POUNDS AWAY, Kids, from ONEDERLAND!!!
I haven't seen 199 since I was a sophomore in high school.

So this week, I issued a challenge to my sweet readers (ahem. YOU GUYS).
By the way, it's not too late to link up if you like.
hint, hint
This challenge was all about changing your eating habits from eating processed junk to whole, all-natural foods.
How's it going for me so far?
Not bad. 
I have, so far: 
* switched from sweetened flavored creamer to half and half and raw stevia
* served fresh or frozen vegetables that were roasted or steamed
* created a homemade, low-fat cheese sauce
* made lunch with fresh ingredients rather than pre-packaged quick meals

So far, I'm doing well. 
I wonder if this switch is what has inspired my body to finally let go of over 10 lbs . . ?
Next week is a big celebration because it's my 6 Month Surgiversary!
I'm excited to share the pivotal moment with all of you.
Have a great day!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Whole Food Challenge Link Up! Week 1: Why Eating Clean is NOT Expensive

Last week I announced that this week I was going to start a weekly link up for those that wish to participate in my whole foods challenge.

Here's a little bit about how it works:
The challenge runs between January 7, 2013 through February 11, 2013 (the day after my birthday!). The five week challenge is this: Take a month to change your eating style and get rid of things like refined sugars, refined flours, and chemical additives/preservatives. Rather than having flavored creamer in your coffee, for example, try half and half or real cream with raw sugar, honey, agave nectar  or raw stevia. Rather than having a pre-packaged meal loaded with sugar, salt, and God-Knows-What, try making the same thing from scratch (you might be surprised how easy some things are to make!). Focus on fresh, wholesome, nutrient rich foods like fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh, lean meats. This is the challenge! You may link up each week, or one week, and since this is an open challenge, feel free to jump in at any time! 

To link up: Just click on "Click Here To Enter", enter your information and submit! A link to your blog post will show up at the bottom of this page!

One of the biggest complaints I hear from people is that eating healthy is too expensive. Let me be the first to say that this is not true. If you add up the average grocery bill for a family of four that includes items like pre-packaged meals (hamburger helper, macaroni and cheese, frozen meals, etc.), snack foods like chips and snack crackers, and beverages such as kool-aid, soda, etc., the bill for a week comes to over $200. Now take that same family and fill the cart with fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, fresh cheeses, beans, and nuts. Believe it or not the bill will be around the same, if not less (I've tried this experiment on myself. Note, this is ONLY food items, no other items such as household cleaners or paper products is included)! Why then do people think that healthy foods cost more?

Orgainic Food: It is a fact that foods that are organic cost more than the non-organic variety. Why is this? Well, simple supply and demand. Because fewer people buy organic, the prices have to be slightly higher in order to compensate. One way to get around this is to know when to buy organic. For example, with strawberries, organic is a must because the pesticides can get under the seeds. For bananas, on the other hand, organic is not as important because the fruit inside the thick peel is never touched. Meats, when possible, should be organic due to the hormones and chemicals fed to the animals. If organic meat is not possible, stick with leaner cuts of beef and chicken, as animal fats hold on to chemicals and hormones more than the muscle does.

Even so, the cost of a pound of organic, free-range chicken is only slightly higher than a pound of non-organic chicken.

Frozen vs. Fresh vs. Canned: There are some items that can be bought frozen, rather than fresh, at a much lower price. Some great examples of frozen foods are: Spinach, peas, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, okra, beans, black eyed peas, green beans, berries, peaches - the list really could go on forever. The thing is, when a food is frozen, it's actually frozen RIGHT WHEN IT'S PICKED. So frozen foods are actually fresher than "fresh"! As for canned, there are some foods that are just fine canned, as long as you read the labels and look for ones with no added sugar or salt and no preservatives. Some great canned options are: beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce. Try to avoid canned green beans, corn, peas, etc as those foods lose nutrients when they're cooked. Tomatoes, on the other hand, have nutrients that increase with the cooking process.

Lets look at the cost of an average meal for a family of four: (all prices as per and my local stores)

Hamburger Helper: $1.68
1 lb hamburger meat: 2.45
Canned Green beans: .75
Salad: 2.00
Grand total: $6.88

Now lets take that same meal, only health-ify it.

Homemade skillet meal with zucchini (.50), onion(1.00), garlic(.15/clove), canned tomatoes (.75), and 1/4 C brown rice (prepared) (.20): $2.60
1/2 lb ground turkey (with all the veggies, you don't need a whole lb!): 1.25
Salad: 2.00 (again, no need for the green beans with all the veggies in the skillet meal!)
Grand total: $5.85!!!

So, even though the main meal was a little more expensive, you saved money by using half the meat and omitting one of the side dishes!

I hope this has helped you see that eating healthy is not the expense that you might think. Remember to shop around and get the best possible prices on organic meats and produce, and remember that you can use half the amount of meat in most recipes that call for it!

That's all for this week, link up starts . . . .

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dumping Syndrome: What Is It, Who Has It, And What It Means To Weight Loss

Doctors are starting to be shocked to find that sleevers, like their WLS cousins the gastric by-passers, do show signs of something called "dumping syndrome". The essentials of this "condition" are as such: you eat something you're not supposed to and your body rejects it, causing you to get sick with symptoms such as a rise/drop in blood pressure, stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.

So what causes dumping syndrome? It occurs primarily in weight loss surgery patients that have had parts of their stomachs removed. This means that patients that have undergone the gastric sleeve, the gastric bypass (Roux-en-Y), or the duodenal switch can have dumping syndrome. It was earlier thought that sugar was the culprit, but recent studies are now showing that it can be caused by just about anything - including dairy, bread/pasta, high fat foods, etc - that your body does not like.

My own experience with dumping has been sporadic, to say the least. I have had dumping after eating everything from fish to ice cream. The worst I ever had was after I drank a full-sugar root beer. But the sporaticness (is that a word??) of my dumping got me to thinking and wondering - why is it that somethings make me dump and not others?

Case in point: one night the hubbs and I went to a seafood restaurant for dinner before visiting a haunted house. I had chowder and hush puppies. Less than an hour later, I felt like I had to pass out. I ran to the bathroom and experienced diarrhea and vomiting. As far as I knew, I'd had no sugar (I would later find out that was wrong, but that's coming).

Another case: while visiting a local renaissance faire, I had a drink that was a frozen cappuccino with whipped cream. LOADED with sugar, right? And after this, I was expecting a dump, but it never happened!

So WHY then, would a seemingly savory meal make one dump but not an indulgent sweet dessert? Why will some lunch meats make me sick, but not honey?

I started reading labels more thoroughly, and in doing so, I think I may have found the culprits.

High Fructose Corn Syrup
This ingredient is in many things - even things that one might not suspect such as canned soups and baked goods. Ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressings, and other sauces can also contain large amounts of it.

Refined White Sugar
This ingredient shows up in some of the strangest places - did you know that many lunch meats including deli ham and turkey often contain sugar? Other surprising carriers: tortillas, canned vegetables, snack crackers (!!!).

Canola/Peanut/Vegetable/Safflower oils
This surprised me! But it's true. These oils are the most often used in deep frying at restaurants. I also have similar reactions on a smaller scale to cooking sprays (made with canola/vegetable oils). Ironically, butter, olive oil, and coconut oil do NOT elicit this reaction from me.

Some surprising things I've discovered that do NOT cause dumping (at least not in me).

Honey, Raw Sugar (in small amounts), agave nectar, and molasses.

An interesting thought to leave you with:
WLS surgery patients that turn to an all-natural diet containing no refined grains or sugars and sticking with whole, natural foods tend to not experience dumping syndrome. What does that tell you? The same goes for people with type 2 diabetes, blood pressure issues, and heart health issues - with these people their symptoms are eliminated at an alarming rate, just by changing how you eat. Turning to these diets and eliminating chemicals and processed foods is better for you, all around.

Let's face it, 100 years ago, America didn't face the health epidemic we're in now. Why do you think that is? We didn't have the processes to take real food and turn it into God knows what. If we took the diets from the past and combined them with the medical knowledge we have today, there would be NO EPIDEMIC.

Start by reading your labels. Eliminate anything you can't pronounce. Give it a try for a month and see how you feel! In fact, I'm going to issue a challenge!

Beginning Monday January 7, 2013, I challenge all my readers to do exactly that. I challenge you to all change to a whole-food mindset for one month, and blog about it. Each Monday until February 11 I will have a link-up for you to participate in to share your struggles, successes, recipes, and things you've learned about food and yourself. Come join me on this journey! Hope to see you all then!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year Update!

Okay, so I haven't been diligent about blogging over the past few weeks. Blame the holidays. Psh. 
I can also blame the holidays for my current weight status. 
As of yesterday I was at 213. 
Okay, so I haven't GAINED any weight either, which I suppose is a good thing, but I am so ready to be out of the 200's it's not even funny.

But I have a plan.
A GOOD plan.

First off, I have to do a cleanse. 
This will get all of the toxins that I've put into my body this holiday season OUT.
There are many ways to cleanse your body, but I choose to go the natural route by doing a basic low-carb vegetarian diet for a week. (I will be having dairy in the form of yogurt). This diet will include a variance of fruits and vegetables as well as beans and legumes. No meat, rice, pasta, etc.

I know what you're thinking:
"But I thought weight loss patients had to watch their protein?"

Well, yes, we do. But I will be getting my protein from plant sources such as nuts and beans (did you know a serving of peanuts has 7 grams of protein?)

A typical day of eating might look similar to this:
Breakfast: Yogurt; Snack: handful (1/2 c or so) nuts; Lunch: Butternut squash soup; Snack: fruit; Dinner: Beans

That may or may not be EXACTLY what I eat, but it will be along the same lines.

After this initial first week, I will be re-introducing more protein into my diet in the form of seafood, white meat poultry, and lean meats such as lamb and pork (yes, pork is a lean meat!).

But I will still be staying away from carbs.

You see, over the holidays I've learned something about myself.

Hello. My name is Jennifer. And I am a carb-o-holic.

It actually surprised me to find this out - I'd always thought I was someone that could take them or leave them.
I can live without bread.
I can live without pasta.
Apparently, however, I cant' live without salty crunchy things like popcorn, crackers, pretzels. . . and chips.
I have a SEVERE addiction to chips.

Something else I've learned over the holiday season is this:
SUGAR is not what causes dumping syndrome.
But that's for tomorrow's blog.

So here's how I did in 2012:
Starting weight: 295
Weight at Surgery (July 11, 2012): 285
Current weight: 213
Total weight lost so far:
82 lbs!!
Now, if we're going by my actual highest weight of 310 I've lost 102 lbs total in three years.
Not to shabby, I'd say!

What's my goal for this year?
First off, I want to be under 200 (in ONEderland) by my birthday: February 10.
I would LIKE to see me at goal by September 1, but we'll see what happens (weight loss slows down a LOT the closer you get to goal).
I will also be staying on a cleaner diet - lean meats, veggies, fruits, and very little carbs.
This is not just for my weight, but also my health.
One more thing, because of my knee problems, I will be joining a fitness club (it's owned by a very good friend of ours) and working out with weights and bikes at least 3 times a week (maybe more!).
My final goal for 2013 is to keep posting and updating! 
This is for me as much as it is for you all - I really enjoy reading and seeing how far I've come!

This is going to be a great year!