Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Conscious eating

I have been doggedly trying to practice this the past few days. Drinking more liquids rather than eating every time I get the notion. Asking myself, "Are you REALLY hungry or would drinking something fill you up?" (Sometimes, drinking something IS enough--I just have to be aware.) This morning I danced around for fifteen minutes while I watched TV to get my heart beating. I'm also trying to think more positive thoughts--how much I've lost already, how much better I feel.

My shift is supposed to change to days next week, and I really hope it does. I'm averaging maybe four hours of sleep a night. I've been researching pools and health clubs where I might be able to go, and have found a couple of options.

I've discovered that I really love Bret Michaels' diet Snapple flavor that he created on "Celebrity Apprentice"--it's called Bret's Blend Tea, Trop-A-Rocka. Goofy as that name is, I hope they keep making it; I usually don't like the tea flavors, and it's hard to find diet Snapple in anything else.

I also discovered my stomach is happier when I have Jamba Juice swap out the juice and completely substitute it with the Splenda low-cal dairy base so that all my drinks are made of is that and fruit. Pomegranate and mango combos seem to be the mildest.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

If only bad habits could be edited

I'm taking a professional editing class--it's part of the Technical Writing Certificate I'm working toward in my spare (cough) time. The final project assignment is to edit a piece of writing that's 5-10 pages long, using the different levels of editing we're learning about, etc., etc. It's hard to find pieces of writing on the web that it's okay (read: legal) to edit, so we were steered toward Wikipedia for sources.

I looked up some random stuff I thought I might be able to write about, like 'shabby chic', and there wasn't enough text (or enough interest on my part to make it a final project). Then, a light bulb went on (must have been the Rockstar I just finished--wink wink) and I thought, "I'll look up 'gastric bypass surgery'!" I cut and pasted the whole kit and caboodle into Word and it came up as 17 pages, so even with the random white space where the graphics would have gone, it should be plenty long enough when all is said and done. I emailed my instructor with a couple of questions and now await his reply. Some stuff in the article jumped out at me.

"The long-term mortality rate of gastric bypass patients has been shown to be reduced by up to 40%;however, complications are common and surgery-related death occurs within one month in 2% of patients."

I knew this; in fact, I actually thought the surgery-related death statistic was higher. I think it may have gone down in the 12 or so years I've been reading about it; initially I had the impression that 1 in 4 patients died pretty quickly following surgery, which was one of the reasons I initially refused to get it. I tell people they should know the worst-case scenario(s) and be able to accept them before they undergo bariatric surgery.

"The Consensus Panel of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended the following criteria for consideration of bariatric surgery, including gastric bypass procedures:
1. People who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. Or,
2. People with a BMI of 35 or higher with one or more related comorbid conditions.
The Consensus Panel also emphasized the necessity of multidisciplinary care of the bariatric surgical patient, by a team of physicians and therapists, to manage associated co-morbidities, nutrition, physical activity, behavior and psychological needs. The surgical procedure is best regarded as a tool which enables the patient to alter lifestyle and eating habits, and to achieve effective and permanent management of their obesity and eating behavior."

That's what they've been telling me. Tool. It's easier said than done sometimes, but it's the most useful way to think of the surgery.

"In 2004, a Consensus Conference was sponsored by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery (ASBS), which updated the evidence and the conclusions of the NIH panel. This Conference, composed of physicians and scientists of many disciplines, both surgical and non-surgical, reached several conclusions, amongst which were:
• Bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for morbid obesity
• Gastric bypass is one of four types of operations for morbid obesity.
• Laparoscopic surgery is equally effective and as safe as open surgery.
• Patients should undergo comprehensive pre-operative evaluation, and have multi-disciplinary support, for optimum outcome."

Okay. I agree with this, and it's what I'm getting.

"The gastric bypass, in its various forms, accounts for a large majority of the bariatric surgical procedures performed. It is estimated that 200,000 such operations were performed in the United States in 2008. An increasing number of these operations are now performed by limited access techniques, termed "laparoscopy".

Laparoscopic surgery is performed using several small incisions, or ports, one of which conveys a surgical telescope connected to a video camera, and others permit access of specialized operating instruments. The surgeon actually views his operation on a video screen. The method is also called limited access surgery, reflecting both the limitation on handling and feeling tissues, and also the limited resolution and two-dimensionality of the video image. With experience, a skilled laparoscopic surgeon can perform most procedures as expeditiously as with an open incision—with the option of using an incision should the need arise."

My surgery was laproscopic. I had that unusually thick abdominal wall problem, but my incision scars are almost invisible already, not even a year out.

"The gastric bypass procedure consists in essence of: creation of a small, (15–30 mL/1–2 tbsp) thumb-sized pouch from the upper stomach, accompanied by bypass of the remaining stomach (about 400 mL and variable)."

Wow, that's tiny.

"The gastric bypass reduces the size of the stomach by well over 90%. A normal stomach can stretch, sometimes to over 1000 ml, while the pouch of the gastric bypass may be 15 ml in size. The Gastric Bypass pouch is usually formed from the part of the stomach which is least susceptible to stretching. That, and its small original size, prevents any significant long-term change in pouch volume. What does change, over time, is the size of the connection between stomach and bowel, and the ability of the small bowel to hold a greater volume of food. Over time, the functional capacity of the pouch increases; by that time, weight loss has occurred, and the increased capacity serves to allow maintenance of a lower body weight.
When the patient ingests just a small amount of food, the first response is a stretching of the wall of the stomach pouch, stimulating nerves which tell the brain that the stomach is full."

What I heard was that a 'normal' stomach can stretch to the size of a football. (An example like that is easier for me to visualize.)

"In almost every case where weight gain occurs late after surgery, capacity for a meal has not greatly increased. The cause of regaining weight is eating between meals, usually high-caloric snack foods. There is no known operation which can completely counteract the adverse effects of destructive eating behavior."

This is the part that hit me where I lived, particularly the last sentence--because I know how very true it is and live it every day, sometimes much to my own chagrin. It's just another way to say, "This surgery isn't a magic wand"--which is, of course, what I've been saying (and learning, literally) all along.

There were more interesting little factoids on Wikipedia's gastric bypass surgery page, such as that post-surgical folk absorb alcohol faster and take longer to get sober (which would seem logical). The statistics were also kind of fun:

-65-80% of excess body weight is typically lost post-op;
-High cholesterol is corrected over 70% of the time (I'm in the remaining 30%, lucky me);
-Type II diabetes is resolved in over 90% of cases, sometimes within days of surgery (this did happen, yay);
-Sleep apnea is often cured, though no statistic is given;
-acid reflux and joint pain are often gone quickly, although no statistic is given.

The article does stress the importance of having a support system in place due to the psychological ramifications of this surgery. I would definitely, definitely concur.

Energy drinks: pro or con?

Almost every time I am drinking an energy drink, or talk about drinking an energy drink, someone says, "Oh, they're so bad for you." Well, everything is bad for you, isn't it? (she groused with no attempt to hide her irritability) I mean, life is going to kill us all at some point. In all seriousness, though, I haven't researched them except in terms of deciding which ones I like the taste of--and I only drink sugar-free, of course. I also have never drunk more than one in a day, nor would I--especially not prior to a workout.

I'm not particularly fond of Red Bull, though it is okay as a drink mixer and most places seem to have some sugar-free behind the bar. NOS has been my favorite thus far in terms of taste (despite the fact that it is the official energy drink of NASCAR, which did give me pause)--it's more citrus-y than the others--but I have had a hard time finding it in sugar-free, or at all. I heard that Wal-Mart recently pulled NOS from store shelves for causing heart palpitations in someone somewhere, but I would also be willing to bet that the person/those people pounded several of them beforehand, and that it may or may not have been the same person who sued McDonald's because they spilled some coffee on themselves and found out (shock! horror! disbelief!) that it was hot.

My happy medium for energy drinks seems to be Rockstar, which can be acquired by the case at Costco for the cheapest price I've seen, and can be found in sugar-free just about everywhere.

Yes, it has a lot of caffeine--80 mg in a 16-oz. can--but want/need for caffeine is usually why one drinks one of these, isn't it? There are 0 carbs and 20 calories in said can, which also contains 200% of the RDA for Vitamin B2, 100% of the RDA for Vitamins B3, B5, B6 and B12, as well as taurine, ginseng, guarana, ginkgo, L-carnitine, and a few other things of that ilk that are said to be beneficial to one's overall health.

If dairy and/or coffee are hard on one's stomach, I guess I don't see the harm in energy drinks. They are "lightly carbonated" as opposed to the full carbonation of soda, which is preferable for post-WLS folk. There is no aspartame (at least not in the sugar-free Rockstar can I have next to me as I type this). I'm going to have to talk to my nutritionist next time around and see what the big deal is.

Saturday 9: Go Your Own Way

1. When was the last time you were told to go your own way?

I always go my own way. I've been doing it for so long I don't remember.

2. What one experience has strengthened your character the most so far?

My divorce and its surrounding circumstances.

3. What's your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?

Read under the covers, perhaps with a cat or two nearby.

4. How long can you go without your cell phone?

Forever. I really only have it for emergencies on road trips and the like.

5. Do you wish you were somewhere else right now?

Yes. Always. I'd love to be on the Oregon coast or on a cruise ship with Mr. Salted.

6. Of all the people you've ever known, who have you most feared?

In the end--myself.

7. Do people tell you that you look your age?

I got carded for alcohol until I turned 41. Now I feel like I'm aging at warp speed.

8. Your ex shows up randomly at your house, what do you say?

Did your car break down?

9. Do you believe everyone deserves a second chance?

Not everyone. As the Shinedown song says, "Sometimes goodbye is a second chance."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sugar's revenge

I am feeling somewhat the worse for wear this evening/really early morning (swing shift and all). The temperatures were in the low 90s here today, and I'm not sure I believe in hell--but if there is one, I know why it's purported to be hot. High temperatures are nowhere near as miserable as they were 91-give-or-take pounds ago, but summer will never, ever be my favorite season. I'm as pale as it gets, generally light-sensitive, and far too much shaving of the body is required for everyday societal acceptance. A season where you can drink hot tea and put more clothes on, with overcast skies that never exacerbate a headache--that's a season I can get behind. But I digress.

As I've noted here before--somewhat ruefully--I have had much more adverse reactions to fried and fatty foods since surgery than I have to foods containing sugar, and the latter foods are much more my bugaboo. ("I can take or leave sweets," some people say. I don't envy many people, but I envy those people. A lot.)

I believe the culprit for tonight's stomachache was, ironically, sugarless gummy bears--I must have eaten too many of them. I believe they are sweetened with maltitol and most anyone who's ever eaten sugar free candy knows better than to overindulge, weight-loss surgery folks or otherwise, because the end result is unpleasant. (It could have also been the fact that there was some sugar in my Jamba Juice, some in my protein bar, some in my protein shake, and it all swirled together to become a miniature cyclone of gastrointestinal discomfort.)

As the kids say, I've been schooled.

In about a month, I will be a year out and I'm feeling somewhat discouraged. My weight has been in the 208-210 range lately and that number is going the wrong way. Clothes are still getting smaller, so maybe the weight is still being redistributed, but I've got to get out of this rut.

Friday, July 2, 2010


I am not intentionally ignoring the blog...I have had nothing to say lately. Full-time swing shift has me much more sleep-deprived than usual, and I can't seem to acclimate even though it's been a month--and allegedly, we will be going on day shift in less time than that. (I can hardly wait.) The sleep I do get is sporadic and not of good quality, so I am feeling barely taped together. I feel out of sync with the rest of the world, almost exclusively communicating with Mr. Salted via notes and text messages. Since we actually like each other, this sucks. I miss him. I am relying on caffeine a lot more than I'm comfortable with, and I had a screamer migraine a week ago that forced me to leave work halfway through my shift. I was down with said migraine all last weekend.

My weight isn't doing anything in particular. I am trying not to succumb to temptation and succeeding probably 2/3 of the time. I guess I am discouraged to some extent, but mostly, I am just tired.

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Seattle, WA, United States
This blog focuses largely on a personal journey to and through weight-loss surgery. It's also about reading, writing, animals, photography, love, humor, music, thinking out loud, and memes. In other
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