Monday, June 29, 2009

Taking Care of Yourself Even If You're Overweight

Skinny for a Fat Lady

When I first went to see my surgeon, he looked at me and said, "You're sure you want weight loss surgery?" You see, I'm a little slip of a thing when it comes to weight loss surgery... Just a pound or two into morbid obesity. So why did I choose such a major fix for what some would consider an easily fixable problem?

Well, first off, I was at my highest weight ever on the day of my surgery, a weight I'd been for about a year. And I can tell you that, without the surgery, I would have gotten bigger. My weight has inched up and up, year after year, until I got to the point that I felt like a beach ball on stilts. 

I've always had a small waist, larger than normal hips, and heavy thighs, with a smaller top. Not a pear, really, just a bottom heavy hourglass. My waist has helped me look less heavy and I've been able to look quite a few pounds thinner than I am as a result. Then, last year, I started to get a belly. And it kept growing. Now, I know the signs of ovarian cancer, but I did what a lot of overweight people do, I blamed it on my weight. So when all of a sudden my bloated middle wouldn't fit into any of  my pants, I, without much thought at all, just assumed it was the next step in my losing battle with my weight. I actually started to look pregnant, and that should have given me a clue, but no matter how big I got, I kept thinking I was exhibiting more weight gain symptoms. 

Finally, at a gynocologist's appointment, I mentioned the gain and one thing led to another until I was in the hospital for surgery. It turned out I had a large (volley ball size... gross, I know) benign tumor on one of my ovaries, and a fist sized one on the other. I ended up having a total hysterectomy. I figured the removal of the giant cyst would make my middle slender again, but I was wrong. With the hysterectomy I was plunged into menopause. I got hot in the recovery room and I never really cooled down for the four months it took for me to finally find a doctor to put me on bio-identical hormones. Now I wear a hormone patch, and also use a gel 2 weeks out of the month to reverse my menopausal symptoms. And my middle has shrunk just a bit. I feel a lot better, my mind and memory are clearer, and I'm not hot all the time, just sometimes. 

Treat Yourself Right

I bring all this up because I did what a lot of overweight people do. Dismissed classic symptoms because I figured my problems were due to my weight. If I'd been thin and gotten a huge tummy I'd have immediately suspected a problem. Overweight me didn't do this, and it scares me that I didn't. Thank God my tumor was benign!

This whole thing became just another reason that I felt I needed a permanent tool to help me lose and keep off weight. I've been treating myself like a sick person. And my sickness is obesity. It's time to get better, and I know from all my diets and weight gains that there is nothing I can do on my own that will keep me a normal weight. So I chose the lap band and now I'm doing everything I can to bring myself down to a weight that allows me to feel normal. It's a long journey, but I know its one I'll be glad I took. 

I've lost enough weight since the surgery that I am starting to feel differently about myself. I was out shopping today and started looking at clothes. I immediately drifted to my "usual" (default dressing), and began looking at a black top with long sleeves. My daughter, who is 7, said, "Mom, you always look like you're going to a funeral. How about some blue?" After a moment I put the black top back and decided its not time to start buying clothes until I can go into a store, see something I like, and buy without compromise. In other words, I need to lose about twenty more pounds. But with the band, I'm pretty sure I'll be ready to shop in about a month and a half. And when I get there, watch out everyone, because I'm getting a whole new wardrobe!

View blog reactions

The Realize Lapband: Making a Choice

Why the Realize Band

If you are considering banding, you'll have a choice between the Lap Band and the Realize Band. After much waffling, I chose the Realize Band. I think its a big part of the reason that I'm not one of those poor people who are out there throwing up all the time.

The Realize Band is structurally different from the original Lap Band, with a narrower band and a softer material to hold the saline solution that adjusts the tightness of the band.

Food gets stuck quite a lot less with the Realize Band. I have been able to eat steak, (yum!), bread (most people have trouble with this) and other "problem foods," no problem! Also, my restriction before the first fill was good enough that I lost over 17 pounds in the first month. Now, less than a week after that fill, I have lost a total of 23 pounds. I'm not hungry, I'm not throwing up, and I feel great. My surgery scars are very small, except for the one where the port was placed, and I'm thrilled with the results so far.

If you are in the process of choosing a band, go to the Realize Band web page and learn about the innovations they bring to the band. I think you'll be glad you did.
View blog reactions

Friday, June 26, 2009

Recipes for Lapbanders: Steak!!

You Gotta Eat!

I was very worried when I heard that a lot of lapbanders can't eat steak. One thing that I am lucky about is that I really like meat. Yum yum! Since they ask you after banding to start your meals with protein, then good carbs (veggies) then bad carbs (bread?), its good if you are a carnivore.

You'll quickly learn that if you don't eat lots of protein you'll be hungry all the time, just like before the band! So, I've been experimenting with all sorts of meats. I started out with steak. Steak is super easy to cook, and if you buy the right cut, is not too expensive, since you'll only be eating a few ounces at a sitting. I go for thin New York Strips.This steak is also called striploin, Delmonico, shell steak,or Kansas City Steaks. Remember that the New York Strip has a strip of  fat and gristle along one edge, and you'll want to cut that off before you eat it. You can also try a filet, or tenderloin. The tenderloin is the steak with the least fat, but it is expensive, and usually cut quite thick. That's why I usually choose the strip.

My Steak Cooking Secrets!

To cook a great steak inside, its important to have the right pan. I use the Calphalon One Nonstick 11-Inch Square Grill Pan. This is a GREAT pan! It has raised places that make grill marks on the meat. And the raised lines allow your meat to sit up off of whatever fat is at the bottom of the pan. I spray the pan with Pam, and I use the kind that is made for non-stick pans. This pan is about $50, and you will use it all the time. It makes your food taste better, I swear.

The special heat conducting and surface on Calphalon creates something called "frond" on your food. Frond is the brown stuff seared meat gets on it and it tastes good, honey!! You will love steaks, chicken, pork or fish cooked in this pan.

First, let your steak reach room temperature. I use Lawry's Seasoned Salt, 16 oz * Economy Size on all broiled, grilled or roasted meats. It is the best of all the seasoned salts, and it is like magic on meat. Believe me, if you try Lawry's you'll be amazed how much better your food tastes, and when I use it on Eye of Round roasts and other roasts, people always beg for my secret. They ask, "is it marinade?, sauce? some other lengthy preparation?" Nope. It's Lawry's. On a small steak I salt lightly on one side.

If you have a gas stove you will have more control of the heat you're using. On my gas stove I crank the knob to high and really heat the pan up. This is what you want, because you want to sear the meat first. Once the pan is hot, I turn on my exhaust fan and put the meat in the pan. (This can be a steamy, smokey proposition.) I put the steak in, salt side down, and let it sear. This takes a very short time. Once the steak is seared (you can lift the steak with tongs to see if it is seared properly), I turn the steak and sear on the other side. Then I turn the stove off and let the meat sit there until it is cooked like I like it. I like medium rare to medium steak, so I only take about 4 minutes at the stove (maybe less). If you like your steak cooked more, just leave it on the unlit stove for longer and it will cook more. The more you cook the steak, the harder it is to eat, so keep this in mind.

If you have an electric stove, remember that you have a lot less control on temperature changes. I cook on electric stove a bit differently. I start with a hot pan and high heat, but I remove the pan from the burner often to control the heat. Just turning an electric burner down does not immediately reduce the heat. The element has to cool down first and that takes time. So pull you pan off the heat to cool it and you'll have more control.

Remember, Tiny Bites!

Once the steak is cooked, remove the fat strip, cut into tiny pieces (I cut before I eat so I won't get carried away and eat a big piece), and enjoy! If you want to make a thicker steak, just follow the above directions, but leave the pan on the burner longer. Once the steak is seared, you can turn the heat down and continue to cook until you get it cooked the way you like it. But with a very thin (less than one half inch) steak, you will be shocked how quickly your steak is cooked.
You'll enjoy this steak immensely. I've had no problem eating steak. I cut it small and chew a lot. I usually have white bean mash with this (good, so good) and it increases my protein for the meal. Got questions? Just ask in the comment section and I'll answer.
View blog reactions

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Moment of Truth: I Get My First Fill

No Big Deal!

I had the fill today, and guess what? It was nuthin'! First the very cute doctor explained what he was going to do while I eyed the needle. He told me that he was not going to numb my abdomen, because that hurt as much as the fill. Which, in the end, really didn't hurt.

I don't recommend looking while the needle goes in, because it is not a tiny needle. But it doesn't hurt much at all. Pretty much one pinch. Then he had to guide it into the middle of the port, which did not hurt, though it seems like it should and looks like it should. Then it was over. It literally took about 5 minutes from start to finish. He said he put 2ccs into the band. Just a tiny bit, really. He congratulated me on my weight loss and that was it. 

If the fill is worrying you, it shouldn't. I have to say that so far, there hasn't been much of a problem with anything related to the band. I don't really notice that it is more restricted. I'm eating fine, nothing is making me sick. Tomorrow, I'll give you some more recipes.
View blog reactions

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting My Fill: Tomorrow's My First Realize Fill

There's Restriction, Then There's Restriction

Tomorrow I go to get my first band fill. If you've done your homework, then you know that a fill is when your doctor does a little procedure to start filling the band that is lassoed just a bit under the top of your stomach. When the band is placed, it is placed empty. This provides some restriction. I haven't really been hungry much since the operation, with the exception of the first couple of days after. (My hunger was very, very stubborn.) But now I will have more restriction, which means that I probably won't be able to eat as much as I am now, and that I'm going to really have to pay attention to how big a bite I am taking.

So tomorrow I go to the office, and he will use a needle to inject saline into the port that he placed during my operation. The port is connected to the band by a little tube. The saline fills the band, and the band closes a little tighter on my stomach. I'll be able to eat even less than I have been (which ain't a whole lot!)

They recommend that you eat "band friendly" meals after this. That would be scrambled eggs, hot cereal, soup and the like. I'm wondering what the restriction is going to be like, since so far I haven't thrown up or gotten any food stuck or anything. A couple of times things have hung on the top of my stomach, and I've had to sit up straight, and crane my neck to get it to go down. But these are minor problems.

People say that after restriction you can throw up pretty easily until you get used to the tightness.This is a yucky proposition. I have been happily co-existing with the band, eating quite easily. I've been able to eat whatever I've tried to eat, no problem. So I'm not looking forward to the fill for that reason, and because I am a complete wimp.

Time to Confess

Of all the things I've obsession on over getting the operation, this is the biggest. I don't want him to put that needle in my port. I am a bit of a baby when it comes to needles. Actually, it all started because of a baby. I got gestational diabetes when I had my daughter, so from about month 5 on I had to inject insulin in just about the same place the port is sitting. Sometimes it was painless, sometimes it hurt like hell. So now I hate the thought of having another needle put there.

I'm planning to be a sport about it. I'll do my deep breathing, which has gotten me through childbirth, dental work, and every fight I've ever had with my hubby. It should work fine. I'm going to make a detailed post after the procedure, and I'm going to be honest.

You will have to have regular fills for the first three months after surgery, and then occasionally thereafter for the first three years after surgery. So get ready for a prolonged relationship with your doctor and everyone who works for him. Check in tomorrow evening to get the real nitty gritty on the fill. And take a couple of deep breaths for me, too.
View blog reactions

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Wish I Knew What I Looked Like: Body Image Issues Can Be Overwhelming

Image is Everything, and I Don't Have One

The other day, I talked about dressing by default, pretty much buying whatever clothing is left after I eliminate all the clothing styles I feel are wrong for me. Here are examples of my "problem areas."
  • My arms. They're chubby with little dimples on the elbow. I hate those dimples.
  • My legs. Chunky thighs. Don't like to wear dresses, shorts, skirts, jeans. I look lumpy.
  • Nothing with an empire waist, makes me look pregnant.
  • Nothing with a dropped waist, makes me look like a baked potato.
  • No waist of any kind, really. And I never tuck in. Why do some overweight people try to tuck in?
  • No turtlenecks, I need all the neck I can get.
  • No large patterns. (I look like a giant size world map.)
  • No stripes (On me they get wavy!)
  • No patterns at all, really, I like solids. Actually, I like black. 
Cut to the Chase!

Oh, good grief. What I'm trying to to say is I wear long or 3/4 sleeved black shirts and black stretch pants. That's about it. Some of them are cheap (Wal-Mart), and some of them are more expensive (Coldwater Creek, Chico's). But they all look pretty much the same. Black and stretchy. If the weather's hot, I wear light weight fabrics if I can find them. If not, heavy. As you can see, I could hardly limit myself more. And here's the funny thing. I have lots of overweight friends and they wear bright colors, and shorts and wacky patterns and empire waists and I always think they look so cute. I love that stuff on other people. But on me, no. And I've been dressing this way since I was about a size 12. I think its because I have never really known what I look like.

I've never seen a picture of myself where I wasn't shocked by how I looked. Whatever I thought I looked like when I got dressed that morning, that's not how I looked. It's so frustrating not to know what size you are, how old you look, or what you look like in profile. By the way, I am not blind. I have great vision. I just have body dysmorphic disorder.

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

I know it sounds like I have a bad dose of this disorder, but actually, it is very minor case. I don't have any social phobia, which is a hallmark of this syndrome. I'm not suicidal, another common symptom. I just don't know what I really look like, and that's been true since I was an adolescent. If you tend to obsess on some aspect of your appearance, or are shocked when you see a picture of yourself because you are either bigger or smaller than you thought you were, you might want to learn a little about this syndrome.

"Who is that fat person standing between my daughter and husband?" How many times have I thought that, before realizing it was me?

"I was never that skinny!" Pretty much what I think every time I look at a picture of myself at any weight that is lower than my current weight. (Get that?)

What the Hell is Going On?

Why am I this way? No one knows. This syndrome affects men and women equally. It's plagued me my entire adult life and it stinks. Now that I'm losing weight with my lap band (18 pounds so far) I have to ask other people if I look smaller. That really stinks! Right now I'm depending on my 7 year old daughter to tell me how I look. And she always says, "beautiful!" I love that kid, but its hardly a foolproof system.

I talked to my therapist about this, and she said "It's sad you couldn't enjoy how you looked when you looked great." Boy, is she right. I've mentioned before that I had a short run-in with anorexia. The way I cured myself of that disorder was I accidentally saw myself in a 3 way mirror in a Sears dressing room and thought,"Jeez, that girl looks awful. Way too skinny!" After a moment, I realized it was me. I went right home and started eating. It wasn't long before I was on the brink of a weight problem. Yes, I went from dangerously underweight to overweight in a few, dedicated weeks. Sheesh!

Getting Better

My plan for now is to educate myself more on body dysmorphia. I've included links to some books on the disorder at the end of this post. And I'm going to use clothing size and frequent picture-taking to let myself know how I'm doing. Oh, and I'll ask my daughter how I look every day. It can't hurt to hear, "beautiful!" a little more often.

View blog reactions

Friday, June 19, 2009

Getting Used to the Change: Lapband Transformation

Three Weeks Post Surgery and all is Fine?!!!!??

My newest challenge as a recently banded person is getting used to things:
  • My clothes are getting loose (Not complaining, reporting)
  • I miss bread (complaining)
  • I'm cooking more than I'm used to (complaining)
  • I'm still feeling weak and a bit down (complaining)
  • Lost 17 pounds (Obviously, not complaining!)
There's a phenomenon you'd better get ready for if you plan on being banded: a big letdown. I'll explain. I worked so hard, for so long, to have the surgery done that I think it was a letdown when I actually had the operation and I still had the entire weight loss journey ahead of me. It reminds me of when I owned my film company. We'd work so long to get relationships going with clients it would always be a shock when we actually had to make the film. Sort of felt like I should get paid for gettting the job, not for doing the job. So seeing months of weight loss journey still ahead is daunting, I'm not gonna lie.

Another thing to prepare for: utter fascination from other people about your band. Not many people know me here. I moved up north, a lifetime southerner, and I've had a hard time making friends her in Jon and Kate plus 8 land. I've been here five years and I have exactly no friends. Me, who had dozens of friends in Atlanta, was highly social, enoyed going out and meeting more people. I've turned into a recluse. 

I'm not sure what it is about me and this town, but we don't seem to mesh. I talk to people in the grocery, they look around for security. I make an aside in line at the CVS and people redirect their gaze to the cash register. It's weird. So not too many people know or care that I've gotten the band. But my family does, and my husband's family, and they are beyond interested. They want details. "Do you throw up?" (No) "Are you hungry?" (No) "Do you miss any specific food?" (Bread, see above.) 

So you can't wear your feelings on your sleeve when you get a lap band. Get ready to talk about it and try not to begrudge it. Even people who don't have a weight problem deal with food issues and they want to know what you're going through. I'm trying to share info without giving in to any feeling of being examined or judged. A little tough on the ego, (Question: "How much do you need to lose?" Answer: "None of your damn business!") but I'm dealing. It's not like they never noticed I was overweight before. They just didn't feel they could talk about it. Now, if they know you are banding, they're gonna wanna talk. And they're going to say things that might smart a bit. So just get ready.

On the upside, even with just 17 pounds gone I'm feeling fitter, lighter, prettier and younger. Now that is a real benefit. I'm going to keep my eyes on the prize and let the idle comments fly right by me. I've got a long way to go, so I'm not going to sweat the small stuff. View blog reactions

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Surprising Statistic About Lapbanding

Wow! Danger in Lapbandland

So, my therapist, who is a nutritionist and an expert on eating disorders, casually dropped the following fact: 50% of married lapbanders get divorced. Huh. They don't mention that in the "information giving seminar" I attended, and I'm betting they won't at any you might attend, either. Now a few seconds after she mentioned this, I realized that the divorce rate is 50% in the general population anyway, so maybe this isn't a significant statistic after all. But she says that experts think that it is, just don't ask me how the math works on something like that.

We spent a little bit talking about this, and she opined that, her experience, couples had trouble mostly because the unbanded spouse became threatened by the banded spouse's changing physique. Makes sense, really. When the old gray mare who ain't what she used to be starts bein' what she used to be and better... well... that's gotta jangle some nerves. And I'm sure it changes the dynamics of any relationship for one partner to go through a complete transformation (because it is both physical and emotional.) I immediately said, "I don't have to worry about that, my husband is excited about me losing weight." He is, too.

But I do detect a little bit of anxiety on his part. I've always been the person most interested in food in our relationship, but he's been able to enjoy my fixation vicariously. He has no problem with his weight at all. He can pretty much eat what he wants and stay slim. It means a lot to him when I cook, its one of the only "wifely" chores he seems to really take a lot of notice about. He loves coming home to an aromatic house and sitting down to a plate of hot food, made by someone who loves him. So he's probably worried it will never be like that again. I have been a bit worried about our family meals too. So, I got some bariatric surgery cookbooks, and I'm going to start cooking again.

One thing I've realized, any sort of high protein, low carb diet will work well with the band. Low fat is important too. The doc asks you to eat protein first, then "good" carbs, like veggies, then starchy carbs, like potatoes. So first I hauled out my old low carb cook books and refreshed my memory about some of my old, low carb favorites. Then, my order of bariatric cookbooks arrived, and I got pretty excited.

Most interesting to me is Eating Well After Weight Loss Surgery: Over 140 Delicious Low-Fat High-Protein Recipes to Enjoy in the Weeks, Months and Years After Surgery. This has some promising recipes that are quite sophisticated. The author uses spices and sauces to jazz up what could be some pretty boring fare. She also employs a technique that I have long used to make quick meals taste like they've taken forever to cook: instead of water she uses chicken or beef broth when cooking. This is a fabulous technique I caught on to years ago, and one that will thrill you once you try it out. With the new "soft canned" broths available today, which can be used and then refrigerated, you can keep broth on hand and use it at will. The author was a cook before she had gastric bypass, and developed these recipes with a friend after her successful weight loss. This one gave my imagination a boost.

I also liked Recipes for Life After Weight-Loss Surgery: Delicious Dishes for Nourishing the New You (Healthy Living Cookbooks). This book was written by a nutritionist. She is not quite as creative as the other author, but she makes up for it by including some must have recipes for staple foods cooked in a new way, like oven friend chicken. My only problem with this book is that it is short on the protein. But you can supplement protein using the shakes and drinks that are readily available.
So, now I have two books to help me feed my family. I plan on trying a couple of recipes a week, and I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, here's a recipe I made up myself to help me get off the mashed potatoes and increase my protein intake.

Creamy Mashed White Beans
1 Can Great Northern White Beans
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. lemon juice
Wash the lumpy stuff off of your beans in a colander. Combine ingredients in a non-stick pot and heat through. Once heated, mash beans and then stir to creamy consistency. (You can adjust oil and lemon juice to your taste.) This will yield about 2 1/2 servings, each with about 7 grams of protein.

This bean mash is great with grilled steak, and pretty much doubles your protein intake for the meal.
View blog reactions

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Saga of the Stretch Pants: A Tragic Tale

Stretch Pants Ruined My Life

Remember when you lived in jeans? How they fit perfectly right out of the dryer and then got looser and looser until you had to wash them so they'd fit right again? Those tight, warm from the dryer jeans kept me honest. I knew when I was gaining weight if my jeans wouldn't zip. 

Then, somewhere in the beginning of the 80's I heard about a new store called Express. Forget the Express you know now, a combo of boho and urban chic clothing for secretaries (oops, personal assistants) and other entry level gals of the late 2000's. This Express was the first place I found in Atlanta where I could buy rubber bracelets, brightly colored knit clothing, and unfortunately, stretch pants.

It was pure bliss, how these stretchy pants just kept giving and giving. All  of a sudden, I could stay in pants long after I'd passed the size on the tag inside the waistband. It seemed so wonderful at first, being able to fit into clothes pretty much forever, even if you gain weight, And after I got those first stretch pants at Express (coincidentally the last time I was really thin) I gained weight a bit at a time until I reached... well, now. 

Dressing By Default

So what do you do when all your clothes are stretchy? You get big. I really don't recommend stretch clothes any more. I think they ruin you. Right now, my daughter, who is 7 and rail thin, is wearing a little getup she fashioned for herself from her closet that features a pair of stretch pants. I really should take those away from her before they make her fat. 

The worst thing about being overweight in a way that makes you lumpy or out of proportion in various areas of your body is that you have to wear stretch clothes, and actually, you pretty much have to wear what fits you and what covers you. Even at Lane Bryant and other "big girl" stores, the clothing tries to ape what is in the normal size shops. I understand why, but it is depressing. Why put sleeveless dresses on fat arms? Or sell short skirts that strain to cover chubby thighs? I believe there's nothing sadder than a large person decked out in clothing that is styled for a reed thin model. 

So I wear clothes that cover me. And its not very exciting. I pretty much buy what fits and what covers. So I'm looking forward to wearing smaller clothing once I lose weight. I'll tell you one thing, though, I'm not wearing stretch pants. Those things'll make you fat. View blog reactions

Friday, June 12, 2009

Head Hunger From Hell

Wishing I Could Eat

It's two and a half weeks in and I am not hungry, but still I feel cracks in the resolve. Again, I'm not hungry. But I want to eat. Not just eat anything, but certain things are haunting me. Bread, which I haven't had in 3 weeks. Something sweet, like a cookie, would be great too. Or just more of what I'm eating now would work. 'Cause I'm not eating  much. Just a few ounces at a time. And no matter how slow you eat it, it doesn't last very long.

Eating Like A Roman

For a long, long, time, (at least a year), I've been eating what I want. I mean in quantity as well as variety. And you can really lose control doing this. Since I began having a weight problem I have felt I should deny myself things. Even if I'd eat too much, I still would tell myself, "I can't have dessert." Or, "I can't drink alcohol on top of all this food." I'd tell myself to stop short of total indulgence. Then, about a year ago, I just quit that. I pretty much ate what I wanted. It was heaven and it got me bigger than ever. What a surprise!

Now, with the lap band, I'm not really hungry. But my head still wants to overeat. And my head is persistent. It can think of the darndest things to tempt me. My head hunger can remember foods I haven't had in years, have only read about, only had once, just  made up right then and there... well, you get the idea. My head hates me, and it wants me to stay fat.

In fact, I could make a case that every fiber of my being, every molecule and atom wants me to remain overweight. It's the culture that wants me to be thin. Our American culture is threatening me on a daily basis. This is a problem, because I'm not planning to leave America. I heard on Oprah about a country where big women are worshiped as desirable above all others. It's a really tiny, poor country, of course. And hot. So I'm not moving there. Instead, I got a lap band and I'm trying to get down to a socially acceptable weight. 

But it is truly amazing how your own mind works against you. Like right now I want some chocolate. I'm thinking a Hershey's bar with almonds, which happens to come in a giant size as well as the small size most people are familar with. During my period of total indulgence I had a few of those big bad babies and let me tell you, more is better when it comes to chocolate. 

But I've told myself that those days are over for good, and even gone so far as to have myself cut open to ensure my success. So I'm going to try to trick my head hunger by eating low fat chocolate pudding instead of a giant Hershey's bar with almonds. I'm fairly sure my head hunger will know the pudding is low fat. But I'm gonna try to trick it anyway. After all, I'm really not hungry. View blog reactions

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tomorrow is 2 Weeks Since My Operation

Time Moves Slowly When You're On a Liquid Diet

I hope it ends up being ok, because I started on soft solids today. I'm way ahead of schedule, but I cannot "eat" liquids anymore. I'm starting to feel like a sieve. 

I had a little bit of tender meat today with some cottage cheese, and it went down fine, no problem at all. On some days I wonder if he really put the band in there, because you really don't feel anything much that would let you know its there. My incisions are healing, and I'm hardly ever even the smallest bit hungry. Maybe I won't need a fill? Who knows, this is unknown territory. 

I got in to the doc's office in 2 weeks, so we'll see what he says.

Things Are Going Great So I'm Freaking Out!

Losing weight is exciting and creepy at the same time. I've lost about 10 pounds, more than a tenth of what I'd love to lose (then I'd be bona fide skinny!), and I'm getting that feeling that you get... A feeling of power. No wonder so many people become anorexic. It is strange to have control over something that has felt so out of control in the past. And I'll admit, I'm looking at clothing sites (NY&Co. is having a sale on tiny clothes!). So that side of things is sort of thrilling. 

Then there's the self doubt side. The part of you that thinks "What if I don't keep losing..." or "What if I'm the only person in the world who gets a lap band and gains?' Things like that. THAT part is super creepy. It makes you realize that there is a part of you that is very self-sabotaging. Because this is going well, I'm not hungry at this point, and I'm not going on  a tri-county sexual rampage or shoplifting to replace my food obsession with a new obsession (so far, LOL), so I should be happy, right? Why is it so hard to just be happy with results and not question everything?

But if you take out the part where I'm freaking out (a big part), I'm happy. If I'm not careful, soon I'll be able to move down a size in clothing. I have every size in my closet, down to about 10, so all I have to do is shop the closet. I have tons of clothes with tags still on that didn't fit (too small, of course) that I can wear as I go down in size. 

It's Been A Long Time Since I Was Thin!

You know how you become invisible as you age? Well, it happens sooner if you are overweight. I've often observed that people will call someone who is thin beautiful when they are clearly not, just well groomed (and thin). And they will call someone who is fat every bad name in the book even though they are, in fact, beautiful. And don't even get me started on the other end of the spectrum, people who say every overweight woman "Really does have a pretty face." That should be considered the new way to call someone a pig. Because when people say that its just a way to say "Boy, is she fat," and still sound nice. Ask a fat girl. She'll tell you someone told her she had a beautiful face just yesterday.

Fat People Unite!

So when you get big, you get a sort of solidarity going with other overweight people, and you feel like you are deserting them when you start losing. And that's another impediment to losing weight. 

Oh, here's another thing I hate! When people are overly enthusiastic about your weight loss, just gushing about it, until you know that they thought you looked really, really bad before you lost the weight.. It's sort of like the whole Susan Boyle thing. I mean, even when the judges started praising her, they were insulting her at the same time. 

We all want to look nice, to fit in, etc, but I am here to tell you, people are a lot more than their weight. And our society just doesn't seem to realize that enough. 

So then I remind myself that I am doing this for lots of reasons, not just to fit into little jeans. I am doing it for my daughter, who is 7, and was born when I was less than a month from 44, and who needs a mom for as long as possible. I am doing it for my husband, who worries about my health. I am doing it for my parents and sisters so I can be of more help to them as we all age. And of course, I'm doing it for myself, so I can stop freaking out at every ache or pain, thinking I'm about to stroke out. Okay... and I'm looking forward to the skinny jeans. They have some really cute ones on NY&Co. for 34.99. So, so cute!

But get this straight, I am not doing it for the skinny jeans... only.
View blog reactions

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Low Fat Kitchen and Beyond: Things You Need for Low Fat Cooking

A List of Invaluable Stuff You Need After 
Lap Band Surgery

Thought I'd make a list of things I've found out about during my lap band research. Some things are for low fat cooking, some are for exercise, and some things are just for fun.
The Low Fat Kitchen - A Dream List 
It can cost a bit of money to get things set up, but you'll find that you use many of these items all the time, and you are saving your whole family from eating extra fat and calories when you cook using these products.
  •  Non-Stick Pans. Non-Stick is the only way to go if you are trying to save on fat. And after trying lots of brands, I've settled on Calphalon One . These are the best pans I've found for any kind of cooking, but especially low fat. Calphalon has several lines of cookware, and this is a mid-line product. I'm sure any of their lines will work for the purpose of using less fat when cooking. 
I thought long and hard before I bought this set, and I'm glad I decided to go ahead and spring for it. It was expensive, so I kept hinting around near Christmas, and my husband got them for me. 

Since then I've discovered that they put pieces on sale all the time at a discounted price, and I've used these promotions to add my collection. If you are doing family cooking, you need a set of cookware. If you only cook for yourself, you can get a grill, a small pot with a lid, and a medium or small fry pan and that's all you need. This is a lifetime set of pots if you treat them right, so though they're expensive, use them properly and they will serve you well. 
  •  Wilton Easy Flex Silicone Spatula 3 Piece Set  If you get the lap band, you're going to need spatulas. They are the only thing that will get the various things you blend and puree out of the blender. I like silicone spatulas because they are heat resistant. (What a wonderful invention!) This means you can use them to scramble eggs, too. A great, inexpensive addition to your low fat kitchen. 
  • Tovolo Standz Avocado Slicer If you're like me, you'll be eating a lot of avocados after your lap band. A great little tool that slices your avocado for salads. Makes a messy chore very easy, and helps you get your "good fats."
  •  Oster BPST02-B Professional Series Blender Any blender will do, but this is a great one. You'll need this to blend foods right after surgery, and later to make sauces and protein drinks.
  • Chinese Chef's Cleaver This is an inexpensive Chef's cleaver; you might want to get a more expensive one. I cooked for years without good knives and I don't really know why. I just didn't think they were necessary. If you only have one good knife, this is the one to get. You can chop anything with it, it's great for slicing veggies, you can use the top to tenderize meat, and even use the handle as a pestle to grind spices. A wonderful tool.
  • Oxo Good Grips Ice Cube Tray You can use this to freeze low fat milk to put into your protein drinks.
  • KitchenAid Cook For The Cure Measuring Tool Set, Pink Gotta measure things to make sure you're eating the right amount of things. This is a nice set.
  • Progressive International Microwavable Fish and Veggie Steamer Cook your fish and veggies in the microwave using this nifty set. Easy, clean way to fix fish.
  • Nordic Ware Microwave Tender Cooker 2.5 Quart Everything you eat, post banding, goes down easier if it is tender and juicy. This little gadget makes tender foods super quickly.
  • Progressive International Microwavable Mini Steamer About the size of a cereal bowl, this little steamer works great for making a couple of servings of veggies. 
  • Oxo Good Grips 8-Inch Double Rod Strainer Perfect way to strain soups and broths during the pre-op diet. Later, it helps with making soups and more. Doubles as a colander, too.
  • Nordic Ware Microwave Plate Cover 11 Inch Diameter This is a must! You'll be using your microwave a lot, and this will keep it remarkably clean.
  • Pyrex Storage 10-Piece Set, Clear with Blue Lids Gotta have storage! You'll be making soup a lot, and you'll have leftovers. This set is great, because you can store the soup in the bowl, and then heat it and eat it from that same bowl. A great set I can't live without.
  • Misto Gourmet Brushed Aluminum Olive Oil Sprayer Wonderful way to use the least amount of oil possible. This mister stays by my stove, and I use it all the time.
  • Oxo Good Grips Fat Separator, 4-Cup Use this with broths and gravies to remove as much fat as possible before serving. This is great for dieters, but really for everyone, because no one should be eating all that fat!
  • Oxo Good Grips 3-Piece Funnel and Strainer Set Two different size funnels, and a little screen that strains liquids as they are poured through. They nest for storage. You will need a funnel to make bottles of Crystal Light to drink, and for many other things
  • Cuisinart CSB-76 Smart Stick Hand Blender Great thing to have to make the all-important protein drinks. Allows you to blend in your cup, rather than messing up the blender.
  • Emsa Perfect Beaker Measuring Beaker Provides measurments of all types. Has a top so you can shake ingredients in it. Pours with no dripping. You'll use it all the time. 
  • Escali Primo Digital Multifunctional Scale Cool scale! Measures small amounts, which makes it perfect for dieters. It comes in all sorts of cool colors. Very accurate, and its small size makes it so easy to store.
  • Norpro 4-Piece Silicone Mini Flexible Pinch Bowl Set, MulticoloredCool little bowls that can be pinched to make a spout. Great for assembling ingredients before you start cooking. 
  • Norpro Egg Rite Egg Timer If you don't have a timer, this one is great. You'll find that eggs will probably become a big part of your diet after the band. This timer can be put into the water, and it will tell you exactly how cooked the eggs are, from soft to medium to hard and all stages in between. This thing rocks!!!!!
  • Fusionbrands Poach Pods, Set of 2 Another invaluable egg tool. If you like eggs, you'll want to eat them often after banding. You just crack the egg into the pod and put into a pan with 2 inches of water. Cover and cook until they are done to your taste. Take out the pod, pour any water off the top of the egg, and slide a knife around the edge to loosen egg, and slide into bowl. Yum yum!
Exercise Stuff 
  • Wii Fit The Wii Fit is a super cool new way to exercise. My daughter has the Wii game, so my husband, at my request, got this for me for my birthday. You have to buy the Wii game to use the Wii Fit console, so this is a pricey buy. What you get with the Wii Fit is a balance console. When you set it up it helps you figure your BMI (Body Mass Index). You give it certain information and it makes a profile for you that includes your Wii Fit age. This is the age you really are, with your weight and other information added in.  There are 4 categories of activities, strength training, aerobics, yoga and balance games. The console keeps track of your progress, and lets you know as your BMI improves. Your private information (like your weight) is lockable. Up to 8 people can set up their own profiles. This is fun way to get in shape in the privacy of your living room. The Wii Fit rocks!
  • Malibu Pilates Chair The Malibu Pilates Chair helps you sculpt long and lean muscles in the privacy of your own home. Like most exercise machines, it works if you use it. This one works really well, and offers both cardio and weight training in the same machine. Great for balance. This chair, at Amazon, is a better price than on TV or on their web site, and includes 4 workout DVDs, a manual and an eating guide.
    View blog reactions

    From One Strange Way of Eating to Another...

    More Weird Food: Minced Poached Eggs and Turkey
    So today I've been a little more sore from the surgery. It's been 12 days, and I think I probably overdid it yesterday, trying to help my mom with housework, carrying the dog around, and generally throwing caution to the wind. This habit I have of being lassez faire is going to haunt me for the rest of my life. I've always been one to push the limits of the rules (especially silly ones), and this always catches up with me in the end. Today I am experimenting with pureed food. Since I keep having trouble getting enough protein in, I thought I'd try a meat and egg breakfast.
    • First I poached 2 eggs. I use Fusionbrands Poach Pods when I make poached eggs. They are the easiest and neatest way to make poached eggs. Just crack your eggs into the little silicone cups and set them in a pan filled with about 2 inches of water. Then cover. Cook for at least 4 minutes, I like them pretty cooked, so I go 5 minutes. Then lift them out of the water.  
    • Take a knife and run around the edges of the egg to loosen it, and then slide them into your bowl. The pods are super easy to keep clean, and work better than any of the little electronic gadgets that I've tried. 

    • Once you have your poached eggs, you can cut or chop them up until they are in tiny pieces. Some of you might want to put them in the Magic Bullet Express High-Speed Blender when they are cooked instead of cutting them up, but for me, cutting them works fine.

    • Now you can eat them. I eat mine with a couple of slices of deli delight turkey and use the turkey slices like bread to get the egg yellow up. Remember to chew the turkey like crazy and take very small bites if you are in the pureed food stage.
    This meal works fine for breakfast or lunch and is heavy on the protien, since each egg has 7 grams and the turkey has about 2 grams.  View blog reactions

    Saturday, June 6, 2009

    Love Food or Hate it, Ya Gotta Eat Something!

    I love food. And sometimes, love hurts.
    As I've mentioned before, loving food and eating as a celebration, a reward, and a way to show others appreciation is part of what got me to the point that I had to consider the lap band. It was a hard decision, to diminish the love in my life. No one really has all the love they want, and here I am, purposely getting rid of a reliable source of happiness and joy.

    I feel silly talking about food as a source of joy, because loving to eat has become almost taboo in our society. Everyone is so afraid they'll get fat, they tend to look upon the excitement and contentment that a good meal can bring them as a trap, that when sprung, will disfigure them and reveal their innermost shameful need for comfort. So on the one hand, you have people eating for pleasure, who get big and that makes them unhappy. On the other hand, you have people who eat meager meals and unexciting foods, but they remain slender and that is a big payoff. 

    I'm sure that are many people who can eat for pleasure who don't go too far, but they are not the ones our society seems to notice. It's all this "My struggle to be thin", and "How I lost 100 pounds", and "winners and losers" that we hear about. And of course, the people who really cheat, by eating nothing (anorexic) and everything (bulimic), whose thinness makes all of us feel inadequate. It really is awful what, we, as a society, have come to in regards to food.

    All of this is part of the reason I chose the band. I wanted a tool that would allow me to still participate in normal eating activities. With the band, I will be able to sample Christmas dinner, not sit there with a plate of food I picked up from a diet service. With the band, I can eat normally enough that if I go to dinner with someone I haven't confided in about my operation,can order and eat from a menu without causing too much notice. And I can still love to eat! Just eat less. A lot, lot less. 

    Progress Report

    It's been ten days since my surgery, and my incisions are healing very well. I've had a couple of bad eating moments when I ate too fast (something I always did before the band) and got choked or food got hung up. When this happens, it feels like something is stuck in your throat. It doesn't interfere with breathing.

    I'm working hard to be mindful when eating now. Mindful eating is something I've been trying to do for years, but its part of my eating problem that I kind of blank out when eating. Can't tell you how many meals I've had where I suddenly realize I've finished my plate, and hardly remember eating the food that was on it. So I've never been successful at staying focused when I'm eating. But trying not to get food hung up is helping me stay more aware while chewing. Maybe I'll finally get a hold of this problem. It's my theory that if I am more aware while eating, I won't always want more food. I'll get more out of each eating experience, and stop pining for more and more. I'd love to get to a point where a meal is just a meal, and not the only important thing in my day. Stick with me and we'll see if I get there.

    View blog reactions

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    Whoa boy! My first problem with the band!

    An Unexpected Pain in the... Stoma?

    I've been getting pretty cocky in regards to the band. So far, I've been able to go to pureed and soft foods without a hitch. So today, I ate my breakfast, and about an hour and a half later I got hungry again, and decided to eat some Deli Delight Turkey to try to stay satisfied. 

    I did this rather casually, without much attention to chewing. On the second piece it happened -- a very sharp pain at the top of my stomach. Yikes! The food was stuck at the entrance to the stomach. I felt freaked out for a second, then decided I was okay, and stretched out to my full height and felt it slip into my stomach. But it did hurt. And it reminded me that my old, casual eating habits are not going to work with this band. So when I eat again (I haven't yet) I'm going to chew like crazy.

    Eating too much, too fast, for too long

    How did I come to eat too much? I've been thinking about that today, and it once again takes me back to our family dinner table. My parents insisted on family meals. This meant we all sat together (five of us), and ate our dinner. 

    My mom was what I thought of as the world's best cook. Raised in Kentucky where the vegetables are fresh and the meats homegrown, she could fry a pork chop or chicken perfectly, roast tender meats, and knew how to cook veggies with seasoning (bacon grease and onions) that would make you want to cry they were so good. Squash and mashed potatoes, green beans with onions, corn on the cob dripping with butter, sliced tomatoes, biscuits or rolls, dessert after every meal. Salads could be fruit with mayo and shredded cheese. Gravy ruled. It was all SO GOOD! And it seemed like plates-full and bowls-full of love to me. I couldn't get enough. 

    So one thing that made me eat too much was the food was good. I talked about this before, and its true. Good food makes you want to eat more, there's no doubt. And that full feeling. If you've had it, you know what I'm talking about. That feeling that makes you want to curl up and daydream, sit back and feel content, or maybe just go to sleep. That's another great feeling from my childhood. 

    Childhood Eating in Adulthood?

    When we were small, it was great that we ate a lot. We were so active we needed the fuel. We rode bikes, swam, ran, rode horses, jumped rope, played tag, walked all over and cartwheeled constantly. We took dance lessons twice a week, rode bikes several miles to piano lessons twice a week, rode bikes to the stables to take care of our horse (which required shoveling and hauling bales of hay and wood shavings), had a sailboat, went to camp, were Girl Scouts, and more. No wonder we were hungry and thin! We moved around constantly. It wasn't until we were teens that the motion slowed, and by then our eating habits were set in stone. A big dinner, yum, yum! A bigger dinner on Sunday, double yum. (Pot Roast every Sunday.) 
    We started to round out in good ways and some not so good. But how to cut back? We had no idea, really. We subscribed to the "eat a well rounded meal and you'll be healthy" rule. And we were healthy, just starting to look a little TOO healthy, I'm afraid. This is when I started to abstain from eating. Not a great approach. I've written a lot of my dieting history in this blog, and it makes sense if you go from the oldest entry to the newest. I suffered from anorexia for a short time, am a failed bulimic, and have yo-yoed since I was about 16. 

    Anyway, just remember to CHEW! And eat slowly. And cut your food into little pieces.

    View blog reactions

    Tuesday, June 2, 2009

    A Few Realizations

    Eating for One Now

    If you're considering getting a lap band, here's something you should consider as well: though you won't be able (theoretically) to eat a whole lot, and you (we hope) won't be very hungry, you'll still WANT to eat. Get ready to use some self control!

    Pureed Meal Recipe: Filet Mignon and Mashed Potatoes

    Tonight I made myself a pureed meal. It was my first try at this type of meal, and it came out well, maybe too well.

    First I bought some filet mignon. (When buying beef, remember that the darker red it is, the less marbleized it is. Marbling is the amount of fat in the meat.) I bought some very dark red filet. This is an expensive cut, but don't worry, you're going to get several meals from one steak. At least 3, maybe 4, because you just don't use that much.

    Filet mignon is the tenderest part of the cow, as well as being extremely low in fat. Filet is usually cut quite thick, and this piece was about one and a half inches thick. I heated my pan up very hot
    and seared the meat on both sides and on the edges, then turned the heat down and cooked the meat through, turning it once. 

    You can tell a steak is done when it is firm to the touch. Press firmly into the center of a steak. Soft is very rare, barely discernible resistance is rare, definite resistance is medium rare, firming up medium. You want your steak to be about medium. Don't cut into the steak to check for doneness, cutting it makes the juices run out, and dries the meat out.

    I use a Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 11-Inch Square Grill Pan when I grill steak, fish, or chicken, as it adds frond to the meat, which is the brown crust that tastes so yummy. You'll be amazed how much better your meat and chicken tastes using this pan! It's also non-stick, which is great when you're trying to save calories and fat.

    In most cases, you would not want to cook filet to more than medium rare, since it dries out due to the low fat content. But for this recipe, I was going to grind the meat up and wanted it cooked medium.
    I didn't add anything to the beef at all before cooking.

    After the meat was cooked I put it in the Magic Bullet Complete 21 Piece Mix and Chopping System
    (an indispensable tool for pureed meals) and chopped it up on "pulse". I added a little fat free beef broth to the beef in the bullet to keep the meat moist.
    It only took a couple of pulses to grind the meat up into very small pieces.

    Then I made some mashed potatoes, using those steam and eat potatoes from ore-ida. I used 1% milk when I made the potatoes.

    Then I took 3 tablespoons of the chopped up beef and 3 tablespoons of potatoes and mixed them together making 6 tablespoons of food. (That's all we are supposed to eat at one meal.) I added salt and pepper and a tiny bit more of the beef broth.

    Oh. My. God.

    Then I ate it VERY slowly. It was SO delicious! I'm so tired of blended soup and broth I was in heaven. This was a great meal, and it filled me up for about three and a half hours, which was fantastic. But I have to admit, I wanted more! I wanted to taste it more, chew it more, etc. So that is going to be a battle. It made me realize that in the past I have eaten so much food when I'm not hungry. I don't think I even noticed that I was eating when I was full. This is going to be an ongoing issue, I'm sure. It will take a long time to get used to not feeling like I'm about to burst after eating a meal. That super full feeling has been a part of my life for a long, long time.

    Uh Oh! Eating too much is fun!

    Thinking about this took me back to our family dinner table. My mom always cooked enough food for leftovers, and I have always done the same. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've never cooked a meal for my family that didn't have leftovers. I have always had a huge fear that I won't make enough food for my family or guests.

    At parties I put out a tremendous bounty, and people love to come to my house for that reason. I've always seen cooking and entertaining as a generous activity, and actually think negatively of people who throw out a veggie tray from the supermarket and call it a buffet. In fact, I am realizing that I've always considered it rude, miserly and even low class! (Glad I'm not too judgmental!)

    Cooking too much just naturally leads to eating too much, at least it has in my case. Having all that food around has made me feel safe, like nothing bad can happen. When the cupboard is bare, I feel anxious, worried, even scared. And I did not live through the Depression!

    Facing Facts

    When I have a lot of food on the table, I feel happy, that's all there is to it. So this thing of eating 4-6 tablespoons of food is going to be interesting. And cooking for my family is going to be interesting, too. Another slew of habits I need to try to break. There are so many! But here's the thing, I intend to break them. Tomorrow I'll let you know how the pureed meals are going, share another recipe, and some more products to make life easier. Oh, and I've lost 7 pounds!

    PS - Forgot to tell you, the protein supplement in the soup was... not great. I'll try to figure out something else.
    View blog reactions