Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Things To NEVER Say To A Sleever

People who have never undergone weight loss surgery of any kind often are confused, uneducated, and in some cases, just flat out ignorant about the whole thing. It's my goal to educate those who "don't know" about the truth on WLS and what is myth. Many times someone will say something so outlandish about WLS  that it makes me laugh (really? you think they turn our stomachs inside out??), and others they will say something that is just flat out rude. So, for those of you that have never had weight loss surgery, I have compiled a list of things you should NEVER say to a Sleever (or a Gastric By-Pass patient, Lap-Band patient, or any other person that has ever had WLS).

1. Isn't that the easy way out? NO IT IS NOT. First off, we are (literally) forcing ourselves to get over an addiction that most of us have had for a very, VERY long time (food). It's like uuber rehab for fat people. Only WE have to be around our addiction ALL THE TIME. Second, we STILL have to watch what we eat and exercise, just like everyone else. Our surgeries are a TOOL to use in CONJUNCTION with all of that. Easy way out? Hardly.

2. You don't look like you've lost that much weight! Really? We look in the mirror every day and still see ourselves as fat as we were six months ago sometimes, and you think that's a proper response? Everyone's body is different and everyone reacts differently to surgery. Besides, did you think that we were all going to lose 100 within a week?

3. You're losing too much weight! This is another gem. Please PLEASE don't say this. Our weight loss goals are between us and our doctor, and yes sometimes we do end up losing a little too much. But chances are, we will begin re-gaining some of that weight back soon. So unless we start looking a little too much like Karen Carpenter, don't worry. We got this.

4. Can you eat that/ should you eat that?/You can't eat that! We know what we can and can't eat, and sometimes what we CAN eat might surprise you. Also keep in mind that something we might not have been able to eat a time ago might have found its way back into our diets. Again, remember that our diets are between our doctors and us. And sometimes we might eat something we shouldn't or we might even indulge once in a while - that's okay. It happens to everyone, even Jillian Michaels once in a while.

5. Do you want my old . . . No. Unless we ask for it, express interest in it, or it's really, really nice (designer) we really don't want your old clothes. We've worked really hard to get where we are, and sometimes someone offering their old "fat clothes" to us is just a sad reminder of who we once were.

So now that we have those out of the way, here are some things you can say instead:

1. You're so brave! You have no clue what some of us had to go through for surgery. For many of us, bravery was an important part of that.

2. How much weight have you lost? Most of us are really, really proud of how much we've lost and will tell anyone that wants to hear it!

3. You look great! Even if we don't. Say it anyway. Some of us could really use the ego-boost some days.

4. What can you eat? We will gladly tell you what we can or cant digest that week.

5. Here's a gift card to *recipients favorite clothing store here*. We love new clothes, even if it's only one size smaller! (hey, who doesn't, right?) Sometimes a new top, new dress, or new jeans (ALWAYS new jeans!) can really make us feel special and beautiful, and proves to us that it DOES work!

The thing to remember is this: BE MINDFUL. And always feel free to ASK QUESTIONS. If there's something you don't understand, there's absolutely nothing wrong with educating yourself on the truth.

Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kick Start for Sleevers! Intro and Week 1!

Kick Start for Sleevers!

I am SO excited to launch this plan!
This is a 4-week plan to jump start your metabolism and help your weight loss get back on track. This plan is intended for those that have had their sleeve 6 months or more. Please be sure to consult your doctor or nutritionist before starting any plan as the information found here may differ from your doctor’s orders.

First some information on this plan.

There are “allowed” and “avoid” foods, just with every plan. The reasons behind this are nothing more than carb and sugar counts, for most of them, although protein counts are also a high factor as are health benefits. Keep in mind that MOST of these foods will be re-introduced after a time period. There is a huge similarity between this plan and the Atkins and South Beach diets. This is on purpose. These diets have proven health benefits and results. The main difference here is the “allowed” foods and the AMOUNTS. Remember, Atkins and South Beach – along with every other diet plan – were created for people that have not had weight loss surgery, so modifications must be made in order for them to work correctly for us.

All nutritional and calorie counts have been formulated using My Fitness Pal and are to be thought of as an approximation. Counts may differ depending on brand and measurement differences.

Week one consists of an ULTRA low-carb ULTRA protein-filled reset type diet. It is similar to “stage one” of the Atkins plan, with a few small tweaks that make it appropriate for a sleevers lifestyle.

Week two will reintroduce certain fruits and vegetables that were removed during week one. These will be lower-carb fruits such as berries and vegetables such as green leafy veggies.

Week three will reintroduce MORE foods that were cut out during the first two weeks such as beans and legumes and even more veggies.

Week four we will begin re-introducing whole grains back into our diet – some sleevers have issue with rice and bread, so be careful there. But small amounts of quinoa, millet, and flax can go a long way, baby!

This week we start with WEEK ONE!!

Week One
Ultra High Protein

Remember when you started your full-liquid diet after surgery? What did your doctor tell you? What advice did your nutritionist give? If they were anything like mine it was:

Not that protein is MORE important that water – but they are on the same level of importance. Why? Well, of course water is hydration – our bodies are 90% water, so we kind of HAVE to have it to live, right? But why so much protein?

I admittedly didn't take much stock in this at first until I learned more about our bodies and how the sleeve is so different than anything else, but here’s the gist:

After surgery, our bodies NEEDED the protein for healing. It was a huge part of that process. It helped with iron and niacin – two integral building blocks of life. It was this protein that helped the seem of our “little bananas” heal.

Fast forward to a few months after surgery. By now you were on solid foods. What was that like? Which foods did you eat first? My very first actual solid food was scrambled eggs. I remember how heavenly they tasted!! Hey, after weeks of protein shakes and yogurt, eggs were a very welcome change! From there I tried chicken, beef, fish, and shrimp. Notice something missing? That’s right. Vegetables. Now, I did try mashed cauliflower a time or two and green beans, but my focus was still on the protein. Protein was first. I wasn't even allowed raw veggies until I was two months out!

Week one focuses on that protein surge that our bodies received the first few weeks after surgery. The lack of carbohydrates that most of us had made our metabolisms skyrocket! Our bodies went into ketosis which jump started our weight loss. The first 2-3 months, most of us lost ¼ of our excess body weight or more! The first week of this plan will do just that. Our bodies will return to that ketosis stage and our metabolisms will, once again, skyrocket!

Allowed Foods:
Meats, fish, poultry, tofu, pork products, high protein shakes (low-carb!), cheese, milk (whole milk), plain (unflavored) yogurt, sour cream, eggs, all natural no sugar added nut butters – ANY high protein, low carb food with no added sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, etc.), any and all spices, herbs and seasonings you wish, broths (beef, chicken, veggie).

Avoid foods:
ALL carbs including bread, pasta, rice, oats, all flours, crackers, etc.
Vegetables (may use some such as onion and garlic for seasoning purposes and may also use tomato-based sauces)
Artificial sweeteners (If you MUST have a sweetener use stevia)

Notice there are no veggies on the allow list. Not yet. Although seasoning with things such as onions, garlic, and tomato based sauces are okay for this week, the addition of vegetables for eating will take away from our protein needs for this week. Please note that this stage is ONLY one week, and SHOULD NOT GO past the week!!! We WILL re-introduce those vital plants back into our diets, but this week is to re-focus on protein. This allowed foods list seems restrictive, and in a way it is, but keep in mind that cheese means ANY cheese, meats mean ANY meat (yes, even bacon!). The main thing is to READ LABELS. This week PROTEIN ONLY (beans will return, BTW!!). Don’t just limit yourself to the list, however. ANY food that is high protein and (virtually) 0 carb is allowed. That includes butter and oil. In fact, I encourage you to cook with butter and (yep, I’m gonna say it!!) LARD. Confused? Don’t be. Studies have shown that animal fats are actually BETTER for you than margarine, canola, and safflower oils. Not comfortable with “going there yet” – no worries! You can still use the other oils (canola, olive, peanut  during this plan if you like, but refrain from margarine altogether. Yes, spices, herbs and seasonings are all allowed. Coffee is allowed as well, but be sure to use half and half or heavy cream instead of flavored creamer. Tea is even better and not as hard on the digestion. If you HAVE to sweeten it, use stevia to taste and if you want some flavor to it, feel free to add all the vanilla extract or cinnamon you like. Stay as far away from chemical artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharine as possible. You might also choose to avoid sucralose, as it is being discovered that it can hinder weight loss as well.

Here is a sample meal plan for the first week. Don’t be alarmed by the calorie counts (some days are lower and some days are higher than others). Keep in mind that this is NOT about the calories, but about the protein. If you’re uncomfortable with the calorie count, feel free to add more fats to raise the count, or less to lower it. Also note that I have tried to be frugal in making this meal plan – some days you will have  a repeat. This is so that you can save on grocery bills! Those of us on a budget know how frustrating some meal plans with their refusal to use leftovers – NOT this one! Always remember that this is a SUGGESTED meal plan. Feel free to create your own custom plan from any of the allowed foods! 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Announcement!! Kick Start For Sleevers!!

This post has taken a WHILE to write because of all the research I've had to put into it. I am going to make the following statement to keep things legal, so to speak:

I am not a doctor or licensed nutritionist. I am a regular person just like you. The following information has been based on my own personal research. Please remember to follow your own doctor's orders and advice regarding your gastric sleeve or other weight loss surgery. Thanks.

One thing that all sleevers have in common is this:

Inevitably our weight loss slows or stops altogether.
This can occur for so many reasons, but the most common one is that when our bodies get to a certain point in our weight loss, we naturally fall into a "comfort zone" and reach a stall that can last for MONTHS. Another factor is that our sleeves start to relax and restriction is not what is was in the beginning.
At this point, it's time to re-evaluate our situation.

Many sleevers fall into the mindset that they have a "pouch" and can "shrink" their stomachs or improve restriction by going back on a full liquid diet or doing what's called a "pouch test". These methods DO NOT WORK for sleevers. The fact is, we just don't have a pouch!!

With surgeries such as the lap-band, the gastric by-pass and the duodenal switch, patients are given a pouch at the top of their stomachs in some form or another. This pouch includes both the muscular and the "stretchy" parts of the stomach. With the sleeve, however, there IS no stretchy part of the stomach - that part is removed completely in most cases, and we're left with only the muscular portion of our stomachs. Here is a great illustration of the differences between the band, the gastric by-pass, and the vertical sleeve. The point here is, a sleever's stomach will never be able to "stretch" in that manner, therefore there is no cause to try to "shrink" it back down to size.

What does this mean? Well, to put it simply, a liquid diet is intended for someone to be able to shrink their stomachs back to size. When done properly, for people that have normal sized stomachs or for other WLS patients that have a pouch, this method works well. For someone with the vertical sleeve, however, this method can actually do more harm than good causing malnutrition, digestive issues, and other problems.

In order to kick a metabolism into gear, two things must happen. First, the body must be producing more energy than it's taking in. Believe it or not, in order for this to happen, sometimes the amount of energy taken in has to INCREASE rather than DECREASE. In other words - You need MORE calories to burn!

Now, for those with a regular size tummy, this isn't a problem. They can just increase the amount they eat and be fine. But for us sleevers, it's an entirely different story.

But I think I have found the secret.
It's simple, really. SO simple, in fact, that it's almost embarrassing.
It involves completely changing your eating and throwing everything you thought you knew about food out the window.

I am calling this the "Kick Start Plan for Sleevers".
This is going to be a multiple-post series, so PLEASE bare with me. I promise all the how-to's will be coming, along with sample meal plans and recipes as well.

Are you ready for change?
Are you ready for your weight loss to kick back into gear?
The official launch for this plan will be MONDAY.
Again, PLEASE keep in mind that:
Everything that I will be sharing with you over the next few posts will be based on my own personal research and experience!
(make sure you talk to your doctor before starting ANY new eating plan - your doctor's orders may differ from the information your receive in this blog!)

See you Monday!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Weekly Update: SO CLOSE!!!

Well I've actually lost more weight this last week than I expected too, since last week was Valentine's week and I ate CRAP all week (cookies, chocolate, fast food, etc.). And here's the kicker: 

Say WHUUUUUUT???????
This week's weigh in puts me at 204!!

Seriously, the DAY I hit "ONEderland"  I am going to CRY!

Now this is something I'll never understand:
I try my hardest day after day to "eat clean" and get stalled. BIG time.
Or I lose MAYBE a pound, if even that much.
The one week I "let myself go" and eat junk food more, I lose??

What's up with THAT??

Well, I DO have a theory:
Calorie counts.

You see, sometimes, we need to RAISE our calories in order to lose weight or break a stall (I know, I know, it sounds really weird and confusing and kind of like it might be dipped in BS a bit, but bear with me).

Here's why:
Our bodies sometimes get in a "rut". In other words, our systems get used to eating a certain way and then get "relaxed". 

It's kind of like a romantic relationship. The first few months are a whirlwind of excitement as we get to know our new partners and our relationship. Then, eventually, we get to a point of comfort. We know that this relationship is IT for us and we're in it for the long haul. We start to do things that we wouldn't do otherwise because we're no longer in it to impress someone. We stop wearing makeup on a regular basis, show up in our jeans and t-shirts, and let ourselves settle into soft, cozy warmth and comfort of the heart.
Believe it or not, weight loss is very similar.

The first few months of an eating plan you will lose - a LOT. For many people, the majority of their weight lost weather it be from WLS or a food lifestyle will be in the first 6 months. For example: I had 140 lbs to lose at the start of this journey. Over the past 6 months I have lost 89 lbs. That's over HALF of my excess body weight. I now only have 51 lbs to lose - and that may take another 6 months to a year to get off. Why? Because I've reached that "comfort zone".

My body knows that THIS eating lifestyle is IT for the long haul. So I've started slowing down on my weight loss (I'm sure the fact that I have less to lose factors in there too!). 

When a stall happens within the first three to four months, it's normal and natural - our bodies have to catch up with our weight loss.
But after six months, we slow down and it's no longer a stall. I like to call it a "rut". 
Changing up your eating for a week or two helps raise your metabolism back up and lets the weight loss kick back into gear.

Most doctors and nutritionists recommend raising your calorie count for something like this. Which works GREAT when you're a person with a normal-sized stomach.
But for us WLS patients, there is only one way to get a raise in calorie counts . . .

So this week has been a lot of breakfast burritos, tater tots, chips, candy, cookies . . .
I actually wasn't even THINKING about my weight!! 

But looking back, I realized my calorie count went from about 950-1100 to almost 1500! That slight raise in calories is what jumped my weight loss back into gear!

Now am I going to eat like this all the time again?
NO WAY - THAT'S what got me here in the first place!!!
I am back on my clean-eating regime this week - low carb and high protein. 
But it's nice to know that if I DO crave a homemade chocolate chip cookie every now and again that it's not going to kill me. 
How'd YOUR week go?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Weekly Update: Inch By Inch . . .

This morning the scale and I had a little discussion. 
It went something like this:

Me: I hate you.
Scale: I know. I don't like you much either.
Me: What are we going to do about this?
Scale: You could just quit walking all over me.
Me: Or I could throw you out the window.
Scale: No. I don't like that idea.

Me: Okay, tell you what. 
You start doing your job, and you can stay. 
And I'll only step on you once in a while, deal?
Scale: Fine. Deal.

So I stared at the scale while I lifted my foot to place myself atop that dreaded pedestal.
I forced myself not to look as I regained balance.
I said a silent prayer.
Would this be the day?
Will I finally hit 199 today?
Will I FINALLY be in what we like to call "ONEderland??"
I look down.
The good news is: I'm down another pound.
The bad news: I'm not at 200 yet.

My goal was under 200 by my birthday (which was Sunday)
That goal was not met. At all.
But I'm not going to be upset about it.
In fact, I'm going to rejoice because 
Another really fun fact:
This weekend my husband and I went out of town for my birthday.
He took me shopping (lovely man, isn't he??)
I bought new jeans in a size 16.
I wanted a different color, and he said,
"They have that in a size 14. You ought to go ahead and get those, since it won't be that long until you're in them."
Wise man. I should listen to him more often.
Because my BRAND NEW Old Navy size 16's are
slightly too big.
Yeah. I should have bought the 14's.

This week I have also learned a few things that I didn't know:

1) Sugar does not necessarily cause dumping for me.
2) Overly processed foods DO cause dumping for me.
3) I like red wine. Whoda thunk?
4) Salmon packets are amazing and wonderful and delicious and everyone should make them. 
5) Protein. It's what's for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast.
6) Not everyone wants to hear the truth about their nutritional choices.
7) Chai tea is yummy.
8) Recipe development is really, really hard.

So there you have it: my week in review!
How was YOUR week?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Final Whole Foods Challenge Post - What Worked and What Didn't

This has been a hard challenge - even for me. And I have to admit that I failed in many aspects.

For example:
Some things happened out of my control resulting in a lot of away-from-home time. Because of that, we have eaten a lot of takeout. I'm actually embarrassed to admit that, but it's the truth. Eating at restaurants is one thing, but fast food?? And the thing is, when you're undergoing a stressful time, fast food is actually the absolute worst thing for you. I know this. I did not adhere to it.

What could I have done different? PLANNED AHEAD. Knowing full well that there were things that were going to have to be done certain days, I should have planned ahead for a busy week, making up quick-fix packages (aka meal kits) and planning crock-pot meals. But, alas, I am not always that forthright.

Things I did right: Most of the places we went were sit-down restaurants. In those cases I almost always ordered soup, salad, or grilled meat and veggies.

Other things that didn't go as planned:

- The link-up. Because of the lack of participation, I ended up giving up on having a linky. Maybe some day . . .
- Raw milk. I have yet to make it to the dairy to get some. I did switch over to whole milk, however, which I understand is better, even if it's not raw (I also am sure to buy milk that is certified hormone-free!)

So there you have it. I am a failure, so to speak.
How do I feel about that?
Well, honestly not as bad as you might think.
You see, even though things didn't go quite as planned, I realized something important: My food choices have changed dramatically. Once upon a time, my fast food meal would have looked like this:

chicken fried steak sandwich with onion rings and tater tots with a large diet coke.

Now my fast food meal looked like this:
small chili cheese tots.

I know, still not the best choice, but considering what it WOULD have been . . .

My sit down meals would have looked like this:

Bacon cheeseburger with fries OR Chicken friend chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy, fried okra and a roll.

This weekend it looked like this:
grilled fish with beans and grilled squash.

So I guess that things aren't quite as terrible as I thought they were.

Well, this challenge is over. Will I do it again? Who knows. What I do know is that even though things didn't go quite as planned (as is life sometimes) I was still able to make better choices than I would have in the past. And that's a good thing.