New Year-Who Dis?

It’s been a long while since I’ve last done any writing. My long standing HP laptop of 11+ years finally gave up the ghost. I had prolonged it’s life by using a USB mouse and keyboard (as both had long since stopped working circa 2014). It was a powerhouse of a laptop and even had one of those ancient things called a DVD/CD Burner & Reader with a glorious 17″ screen. Yes, dear reader, I loved this laptop. So I started to look for a replacement and had found one in another HP (this one geared towards gaming BUT it had more memory and better RAM than those geared towards writing). So I waited until my tax refund came in only to have it all confiscated by the US Dept of Education to pay off loans (previously owned by Navient) that were on deferment until January 2021 (or so I thought). Now with the virus and all it entails, I waited for my stimulus check and with that, headed to get the laptop I wanted only to find that practically everything out there had been bought up. The only ones left were three versions of ACER, the more expensive HP ($700 versus the $300 one I wanted is a bit much right now), a Lenovo touchscreen, some other inexpensive/unknown name, and a Samsung Chromebook. I like Samsung. I’ve had a few other of their products. And at $200, it was cheaper, decently priced, and most of all, the last one left. I bought it and it’s taken me all of a week to sit down and write this new posting (getting used to typing on an actual laptop is a bit weird, OK?).

Since last year, many changes have occurred. Some for the best and some not so good. May 2019, I underwent Gastric Sleeve Surgery. My biggest weight (pre-surgery) was probably 340-350lbs. I had been 300 when surgery was approved and had lost an additional 12 to be 288 the day of surgery (the pre-op diet is a killer, but worth it). Now, 6 weeks ago, I was happy to report that I was 215. Today, I am at 229. Yes, I have gained 15 lbs in 6 weeks. I am not alone in this regard as many of us are stressed out, bored, and eating more comforting things, like sugary and carb laden items, because of the stress. Some are turning to drinking-heavily. Some are turning to smoking. We all have our triggers and we all have our go-to methods of self soothing. I tend to turn to things that are crunchy-salty (think crisps, pretzels, nuts, popcorn) and also sweet (cookies, donuts, chocolate, etc). I am also very tired and stressed as there are currently three of us running a 24/7 store at the moment, which means sudden blood sugar drops and lack of energy have made me turn to things that can give me a quick boot of energy. My coffee has gone from using a protein shake as creamer with some stevia to sweeten it to using regular creamer, hot cocoa, and stevia. Now, I worked this morning, and will be working this evening (yes, a split shift) and instead of coffee this morning, I opted for mint tea with one stevia packet. Oddly enough, I tend to drink tea as it is, sometimes a little lemon or honey. Rarely anything else (splash of milk if it’s an Earl Grey). But I had over brewed the tea bag, so as it was a tad bitter, a little stevia made it bearable. Plus it gave me that hint of sweetness I have been used to having lately.

Now, I could have cried, gotten more upset, and possibly turned to food over the realization that I have gained weight. Not to mislead, but I was upset. It’s been something I have suspeted for at least a month as pants are a little more snug and bras seem to be a bit fuller than they should be. My face looks a little more round than I want it to be. And you know what? That’s ok. Losing all the weight that I have is a major accomplishment. This globl pandemic is something none of us expected to occurr. I went from working out 3 to 4 times a week to not being able to work out at all. Now, I have been able to increase my steps. I went from doing a little under 2K to averaging 5K 3 times a week at the onset of this pandemic. I now easily do 7-8K a day. I am happy with that and hope I can keep walking 8K a day after everything returns to a more normal state of existence. I do credit the increase in walking with not gaining more weight, so I do know if I stick to  more rigid eating plan the increase in walking will start to show in a loss at the scales. So, to day, instead of curling up in a ball of defeat, I went and purchased two 12 packs of high protein shakes (30 grams protein), along with three 4 packs of like items (mainly, different flavors). Now, I do have some unflavored protein powder on hand, but haven’t really experimented with it. I have, to great success, added a scoop to a batch of homemade vanilla berry Chia seed pudding in the past. It’s something I plan on making again tomorrow (or Saturday) as it’s filling, high in protein and fiber, and low in calories. The most I should be eating is between 4-6oz a meal and I should be at 1000 calories or less until I reach my goal weight. Having looked at my food tracker (I use 2 different ones, Baritastic & Fitbit), I have been averaging closer to 1600 calories a day, which would be fine IF I was working out still and burning twice that a day. I am still learning and will own up to eating more than I should. But I will do better because acknowledging one’s mistakes is key to rectifying this issue.

So, why write about this? Because I reached out to a fwe people in an online Bariatri support group (I was part of three, ow only 2) and I was bombarded with notifications that I needed to see my Surgon and look into getting a revision done. Now, I’m not going to bash anyone who’s had to undergo a revision surgery. There are many reasons as to why someone goes from lapband to sleeve, or sleeve to bypass, or lapband to bypass, etc. Lapbands are not really done anymore due to complications that occur, one being that the band itself can twist and can cause serious gastirc pain. So, yes that is a valid reason for having the lapband removed and possibly undergoing a different baritric surgery afterwards (some do this at the same time, others wait for the body to heal). And I have read blogs and postings from others who regret ever underoing weigth loss surgery. It happens. Not everyone is mentally prepred for all this is going to entail. You must hange the way you eat and look at food for the rest of your life and that is scary. Now, I love to research so I did a lot of research. By a lot, I mean I have two or three Pinterest boards full of information, not to mention 2 binders (one given to me by my surgeon). I have topics ranging from information to meal ideas to hints, to notes taking in meetings, to little tidbits sch as products that are good r ones that I tried and hated. It’s a journey and I was determined to do my best. And I do feel that I am. Now, getting back to the group that I have left. Many in the group (I will not snitch) felt that any weight gain less than a year out from surgery indicated that my surgery was a “failure” and I needed to either have my stomach made smaller (a revision of the original surgery) as my stomach has clearly stretched out (I doubt it as if I drink 6 oz of water too fast, I will vomit) or I need to undergo bypass because I am gaining weight. Now, I am not aware of anyone is aware of this, but it’s perfectly natural for weight to fluctuate. I know the week before my period, I start to feel bloated, my breasts swell up and hurt, and the scale will go up 2-5 pounds (I should also mention that it’s THAT week for me, so 15 pounds may only be 12 plus 3 from this). It’s something that I have had to get used to (as well as having HORMONES, CRAVINGS, and, uh, NEEDS) that I have never experienced before. Unlike most of my fellow females out there, I have never had  regular cycle from the start an never really experienced things like PMS as others did. A month after surgery, I started. And yes, people in this group thought I was joking and made fun of me for it. It’s nothing to be laughed at as one of the main reasons women undergo Bariatric Surgery is PCOS and other hormone/weight related issues. I was always diagnosed PCOS (most women, FYI, are diagnosed with this) but my Endocronologist conducted a test that proved while I didn’t have PCOS, I was borderline. She also is the one who brought up having this surgery and has been really, really, awesome (I see her for Type 2 Diabetes and for birth control).

Now, weight gain after sugery is also fairly normal. My goal weight, according to the BMI chart (which is laughable in how inaccurate it is) says for my height of 5 feet 8 inches, I should be between 125-145 to have  normal BMI. Now, this chart doesn’t tkae into considertion body shape, especially bone structure, hips, and geneti disposition. My surgeon and I agree that an ideal weight for my height and body shape would be about 165-185, which according to the BMI chart would still make me overweight. Of course, at 125, I would look skeletal and not at all healthy. My goal is to hit about 175. Why 175, you may ask? Because almost every paper and medical study I was able to read (and get access to thanks to friends at universities who sent me PDF of medical journal articles), it’s common and normal for Bariatric patients to gain 10-20 pounds one to two years after reaching a goal weight. Now, a few studies from Europe concluded that gaining more than 10 pounds was considered a “failure”. Some of these same studies also felt that women who got pregnant after surgery were also “failures” because they gained weight during pregnancy. One of the guys whom my surgeon touts as a success story would be considered a failure be cause he gained probably close to 30 lbs since reaching his goal weight. Yet his weight gain has been muscle, not fat and I think he looks better now than he did when he first reached his goal weight.  That’s one area I feel should be studied more and that’s people who have undergone the surgery, and then have gone on to do things like build muscle, and toned, etc., as all experts will agree that muscle weighs more than fat. So if I reach my goal weight, but then build muscle and tone, yes I may go up in weight, but I may also go down in size and will also be healthier, and happier, than I was before surgery.

I don’t think it’s a failure. When you reach a goal weight, it’s a feeling of success. Many people have actually dropped close to 5-10 pounds after reaching their goal weight (so, they are under the goal weight) until they stabilize. Remember, to lose the weight, we tend to be on a strict 1000 calorie diet (60-80 grams of protein, under 100 carbs daily). And being on this kind of eating plan can last as long as needed until the goal weight has been reached. For some, it’s about 16 months. For others, it can last 30 months. Some choose to stay on it forever. My surgeon has state once a goal weight is reached, you then increase your food intake (yes, you start to eat more) until you are at a maintenance level. For me, that is probably somewhere between 1200-1600. And when I was working out so much, eating 1200, or even up to 1300 wasn’t too bad. Now, eating closer to 1600 is not good, but I am only human and I am still LEARNING.

So far today, I have consumed 840 calories, had 24 oz of water (plus the shake gives me a total of 35 fl oz out of 64 needed), but I have also walked 3500 steps and burned 1700 calories so far today. Now, if I can keep my calories under 1400 today, I can try to keep it under 1200 tomorrow, then work my way to being between 900-1000. Yes, it’s hard. I’m still stressed out. I miss going to the gym but I am going to look into some workout videos on Amazon Prime that I can do. I miss my boyfriend (yes, I met a terrific guy at the end of January/beginning of February and I am very happy and very much in love; he’s also super super supportive, a writer, and loves classic films). We fit together very well and I miss being able to just be with him (he suffered an AFIB attack 2 weeks back, so out of concern for his health, I have stayed away because he’s slightly immune compromised at this point in time. But you know what? I’m ok with this because I realized when he had his attack that I couldn’t imagine my life without him and knew that I loved him. And that means we must deal with this little inconvenience (and that’s all it is, an inconvenience) for a short while.

So, life has been a series of ups and downs since I last posted. Mainly ups, but few downs. Besides gaining a little wight, and losing my laptop, I broke a tooth that needs a crown. My Fitbit Charge 2 broke completely, so I purchase the Inspire HR (same features and cheaper) The lilacs are starting to come out. The grass is green and flowers are blooming. Henry is a year old (the new kitteh) and roughly 14lbs (he’s a chonky ginger boi). My niece will be three this year and she’ll soon have a little brother. Close friends of mine are also expecting their second, so life goes on. Yes, this epidemic is horrific. Yes, we are all stressed out. But we can survive, we can learn, we can be kind.

Prior to May 2019, the most I weighed was 350lbs. My A1C was over 10. I was on 80 units of insulin a day. I was taking a pill to help me sleep and another to deal with anxiety on top of the antidepressant. I had to take Iron and Vitamin D supplements because of an ongoing deficiency. I was a size 24/26 dress size, 44/46DDD Bra Size. I routinely had hospitalizations due to Asthma and Diabetes issues.

As of April 2020, My weight is 229lbs. My A1C was 5.9 and I am no longer on insulin, only on Victozia. I take 2 Flintstones Chewables plus 2 Calcium gummies a day along with Biotin (for hair loss, which is common after any major surgery). I only take an antidepressant. I have only used my inhaler twice this month (both times due to strong bleach smells). I wear a size 16/18 top, 12/14 bottoms, 40DD bra. Last fall was the first fall I can remember not having to go the ER for a bad asthma attack. I still am prone to Anemia BUT no other issues. I can keep up with an active 3 year old.

So, take care. Stay safe. And for goodness sake, it’s OK to be human. It’s OK to make mistakes.