Friday, July 22, 2016

A Two and Three Year Update On Weight Loss via Gastric Bypass

I had Gastric Bypass Surgery, in conjunction with a total lifestyle and movement overhaul a little over three years ago now. I hit and exceeded clinic goals and my own. Makes for good reading, right? What's that? You're noticing that there's no 'Two Year Update' on the blog? Well, that's true.

I didn't do a two-year update and here's why: in having hit maintenance, I did as so many do and I floundered a little. Didn't know what to do with not having a 'goal' anymore. The day to day goal that it was suggested I take on wasn't meaningful enough to keep me motivated.  Moving into the weight maintenance part of this is HARD.
Don't get me wrong, I set myself to other goals, and succeeded little by little at those too. They were measurable, attainable. Things were moving on that front.
But this was a year where my use of the tool was put to the test: winter, vitamin deficiencies, three deaths in the extended family, medical and interpersonal challenges, kids and their eccentricities, and just plain old life rolled into one. It was a serious opportunity to fall back on my old habits of eating for stress relief and comfort. For a while,I bought into the lie that if you stumble, you're failing.

I won't lie, it was tough. Because I really like Peanut M&Ms, and cheesecake.
 But I want to keep what I have more than I want to go back to where I was. It became pretty clear I'd have to fight for it like anyone else that loses weight and wants to keep it off. You see my dear, as I've always said, weight loss surgery isn't a panacea. It's just a tool. And it takes a lot of effort to keep working all the tools day to day, under pressure. It made me a discouraged body, especially since it fell in that period of time where people stop giving such lovely feedback on the work you're putting in.

So what was a girl to do?
Well, I needed to invest myself back in the process. To make sure that I continued to give back to the people coming after me in this process, so I didn't forget where I came from. I needed to keep plugged in with the people who'd cheered with and for me during the pre-op and weight loss phase. They would now be the ones with whom I'd fight in the trenches for my maintenance.
When a fellow group member suggested we start a maintenance support group satellite and asked me to help admin, I hopped on board, both for motivation and accountability.

I ran a back to basics informational series, facilitated discussion topics for them and would you know? I was very much not alone. Turned out, we were all suffering in silence, until someone spoke up. And when one spoke, then others found the courage to speak as well.
The courage to talk about the hard things like 'not keeping off 100% of the weight'.
To discover how it's 'normal' to experience 'bounce back' to a degree after massive weight loss.
To give voice to the unspeakable fear that we'd gain it all back.
To realize there are actually two challenges to manage about regain: recognizing regular bounce back, and then allowing that to be worsened by black and white thinking that says "I gained some back, it's all coming back.  I can't do this."
To manage the reality that surgery doesn't solve all the problems.
To use the support we provide each other to formulate a game plan that would make it possible for that not to happen. 

To give a little context, I think it's important that you have a recap. In 2013, I started at an all time high of 307 pounds. On my surgery date, I was 286, after two weeks of medical fasting. And I worked it that first year. Wasn't sure where I'd end up because well, frankly I always wondered in the back of my mind if this would fail too. Mini goal by mini goal I inched my way down, surpassing the clinic's goal and then the one I'd set for myself. So much so that at my first-year appointment I was 162 pounds and clinic told me to stop losing weight.

But I was ever so close to 150 total lost. Silly me, I have a thing for round numbers. So I pushed it a little further and by my birthday that year, I registered 157, a grand total of 150 pounds lost. Where I stayed for all of a week. It wasn't maintainable, and I was physically miserable. But hey, most people were cheering me on, so it wasn't a problem, right?

By two years I'd had the 'bounce back' occur. Mentally, it's hard to gain weight after you've worked so hard to lose it. I was so concerned about negative comments. People can be cruel. Especially when you use a tool that carries some stigma, and they wouldn't mind seeing you fail. I was so concerned about criticism that I didn't even want to do a blog update. No celebratory pics to showcase how much of my loss I'd maintained. Nothing inspirational to see here. Move along folks.

But, get this... I was a little bewildered when the clinic wasn't at all worried about me at the two-year appointment. No negative comments at all. They considered me to be doing well, and perhaps that should have been a clue. But I didn't really register that at all.What I did do though is decide to continue the  mental work this past year to make maintenance a reality.

  It has paid off, but when it came time to have to get on the scale for the medical records again this year I wasn't less pre-occupied. It's kind of surprising how after all this time, the scale can still take up a lot of mental space. I suppose I can be like a dog with a bone that way.

Do you know? I attended my three-year appointment recently, and I had conflicting feelings because my weight had been bouncing around recently, and I had a pleasant surprise. My two-year and my three-year numbers were only three pounds apart. At the two-year mark 175, and at the three year 178. Maintaining within an acceptable range .

Remember, they only had documented the first year at 162, They never saw me drop as low as I did. In their perspective, I am well within the expected range of bounceback and I am now maintaining well. When I asked the dietician about it all he shared with me a point of interest: It is completely normal to gain 1-2 pounds from aging alone with no other changes. With all the other things I've got going on right now, I'd say that's kind of exceptional.

In retrospect, I should have stopped losing weight at 170. I was 170 when I got married in 2000, and I've put six term babies through my body since then. But none of that occurred to me at the time, when things got hard. I had the projected acceptable 'bounce back', but because nobody was talking about it, I thought I was starting to fail. Having to add different foods back into my diet in order to avoid the dizziness turned out to be a mental trip too, and trying to adapt to 'normal' life not so very easy either.
To be frank, it's a little like living in the twilight zone. Like 'normal' people, but not at all, because I constantly have to think about how what I put in my mouth will affect me.  I don't tolerate 'lots of sugar' so well. Also, the line has moved as to how much I can take in before dumping sets in, but there is still a strong punishment for poor food decisions.

So my adjusted weight range is 170-180- this keeps me from dizzy spells and I move well and feel generally well. Could I lose ten more pounds and be at the bottom of that range? Yes. But what woman my age doesn't want to lose ten pounds? Oooops my 'normal' is showing. Normal, what is that anyway? It's a dryer setting!

So what does all of this mean? If I were to choose the middle of my acceptable range as my 'goal weight' and compare it against how much weight I've lost, my weight today, I have lost 98% of my excess weight. Shut the front door! I guess that's not too shabby after all.

On a bloodwork level, last year my vitamin D was low and that seemed to have righted itself with appropriate supplementation in my vitamin regime. Iron is the going concern now, and we're investigating a little further because the numbers came out a little wonky.

What tools am I using to maintain?

CALORIES: Still trying to keep in the 1500 calories per day range
PROTEIN: 80-100g protein per day.
FLUIDS: Over 16 cups of fluid per day.
FITBIT-: Yes I'm still wearing that thing, and I get moving. I use it to justify my lack of gym time. If I can hit 10,000 steps I don't care about the gym. I've got a whole bunch of coloured bands for it. It's kind of funny actually, matches the warbrobe. Probably looking to grade to an Alta eventually.
TRACKING: when I don't I am much more prone to do whatever feels good. So yes, at least intermittent tracking is going to be a life long tool for me.
MENTAL WORK: Balance is really important. It's really easy to go back to the mental gymnastics and diet mentality.
SUPPORT: I have "been there, done that" kind of people who can speak sense to this situation and encourage me.

I talked before in other posts about needing to reset my defaults. I really don't eat well naturally. I have to maintain the habit.  So what is the best plan? The plan I'll use for life. If it's not maintainable, I'll stop doing it and I'll gain weight. Period.
So, ironically, I'm working every tool that even the people who don't choose Gastric Bypass have to work in order to succeed. Could I have done it without including this tool? Internist said nope. Not medically likely. So I work all the tools together. Shoots that whole 'easy way out' argument out of the water, doesn't it?

There are lots of things gastric bypass won't fix.  Having had gastric bypass complicates treatment of some of the things I have going on medically also. Fortunately, I've got a good medical team that is willing to work with  me on treating as many things with nutrition and vitamins as possible. That's really invaluable.

So  I've been all over the map on this journey.
 It begs the question: What does success look like? Well, I think that will vary depending on whatever life throws me at the time. But I will sum up the current view of success with a set of pictures.

I had someone once suggest  to me that perhaps I don't want to post my pictures (as frequently as they do) because I've gained back so much that I'm ashamed. Yes, it was a low blow, and hardly supportive. They were several steps behind me in the process and hadn't quite hit the maintenance stage and all that it brings with it yet, to be fair. That honeymoon period is a pretty big sweet spot and can make a person think 'regain can't happen to me'.

Well, I figure that posting infrequently to make more of an impact is the better way to go.

I'd like to address the above thought, so I chose to wear clothing I was wearing at my one year mark for my three-year photo updates. I still own both the pink cardigan and wear it occasionally, but my kid wanted to wear blue for the family photos and Mark and I had to wear blue to accommodate. So the black cardigan you get. I figure that being able to wear this at three years out served as commentary enough.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Things we never saw ourselves saying before kids!

It's no secret that we have some shenaniganizers in our crew.
It has had me saying some things I never anticipated saying:


High Five for NOT peeing in your underwear!

Please put your dress back down. Yes, your underwear are very exciting. no, not everyone wants to see them.

Well, honey, I'm not sure if there are toilets in Heaven.

Scissors are not for cutting toe nails.

No. My half knitted scarf does *not* look more beautiful off the needles. But thank you for showing it to me that way.

No, I don't think we will get a 'peed' snowflake to top our Christmas tree.

I'm not sure that the kitty really liked her bath, honey.

Yes, I am aware that hygiene is important, but my toothbrush is for me, not for the cat. 

So what did you never anticipate having to say BEFORE KIDS?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Help! I've fallen and I can't get up! (A commentary on falling 'off the wagon')

I wrote this as a response to a post in my weight loss support group, but I'm CERTAIN that more than one person needs this today. So edited for your reading pleasure:

You've fallen off the wagon and you're panicking. You think you've gained weight. You think all is lost.You're wondering where you go from here. You ask "What do I do now?!"

 So here's what you're gonna do.

First, take a deep breath. This is not an emergency.
I know it feels like it, but it's not. In the context of things, you've been here before and you can get out of it again. Your tool is still intact. It still works. Remember gastric bypass was never a cure-all. It's just one of many tools you work. So pick up your tool and work it.

Second, remember that it's not 'all or nothing'. You have the ability to decide that you are not left behind, and that you're not running from something (being fat, fear of regain etc) but running TO something (health, mobility, the feeling of comfort in your clothes.)
Make all your choices through that lens

Third, get rid of the junk food. The temptation is too large. Remove it from the house while you choose to get back to basics.

Fourth, get back to basics. Review week six of the surgery manual; if you lost yours, get another one.  The diet for life is your friend.
Track your food, there is just something about having to write it down that makes you think twice about eating the junk. Don't forget to measure. Portion sizes get big fast when we 'eyeball' it. Seriously.
For those of you reading this post that haven't had gastric bypass, this part won't make much sense to you, but suffice it to say there is a specific diet we adopt for long term health. The main theme of this thought is to get 'back to basics', and eat a diet appropriate to your situation.

Fifth get moving. Physical activity will help give you some exercise high and burn some calories. Both good toward your goal.

Sixth, revisit where you've come from. If you took 'Before' shots and measurements, and you are not as high as you were at your highest, this is the time to take them out...... forget what happened in the middle of your journey. You are likely still ahead of where you were.

If you are not, all is not lost. Not even a little bit. Repeat steps one through five until you get back to seeing results. In the meantime, make sure to work your support systems to their fullest. If that includes psych for depression parts of the journey, don't feel one iota of guilt. Just make the call and get an appointment. No shame. Make sure to get all the help you need to get healthy.

You've got this.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

All the reason in the world to pay full attention

The Negotiator is convinced we need a cat. It's not really likely to happen, but we did end up with a gerbil farm, all because of a field trip to price pet supplies, as an extension of math class, so I guess nothing's impossible.

This morning she was asking for a pen and a paper.

When I asked what she'd like to use it for, she replied "So that I can make a list of all the things we're going to need to get a cat."

"Fair enough." (I've learned to just roll with these things now. Just because we end up with a list of things a cat needs, doesn't mean we'll need a cat right?!)

Since I was currently in the middle of taking care of another task, she started making her list aurally.

"A bed, a litter box, cat food, water, a urinal...."

"A Urinal?!!!"

"No mom. A YARN BALL"!

Serves me for being distracted!

What wonderful things have you misheard your children say lately?

POST SCRIPT: We now have TWO CATS, and a crazy cat lady in the works... and she's making lists about dogs now...

Friday, April 24, 2015

Head Games, and Goals, and Regain! Oh My!

When I left my all time high of 307 pounds, I had lots of thought around 'goal'.
What was that going to look like?
Would I stop at 230? (The weight I couldn't ever pass through)
200? (Clinic's forecasted thoughts on the matter)
170? (My wedding weight, that I never thought in a million years, would happen?)
160? (My want list number?)
157? (To make it an even 150 lost)
Oh the head games.
I *did* make it to 157- for all of a week. I earned my bragging rights, but my butt hurt to sit, and I looked 'too thin'. I thought so, others seemed to, also. It was affecting quality of life to have gone this low.
I called 'goal' at a range of 155-165, to keep me from losing my mind with all of the trying to decide what goal looked like.
But you know where I've actually levelled out for the time being? (at 22 months)
You know. My 'impossible' number.
It seems (for the moment) where my body is happiest, without removing the excess skin.
It would seem that my 'unreasonable' number wasn't so unreasonable after all.
It's not a 'normal BMI'.
It's not everyone else's view of perfection.
I could decide to be discouraged about regain.
Or I could decide it's maintainable with the current laundry list of health issues I'm facing. That I am maintaining a loss of more than 135 pounds, and there is nothing unimpressive about that.
Inadvertently, I built regain into my goal, and balanced out. No guilt required.
Now, to behave myself and stay here.
Just thought I'd share that for anyone struggling with the concepts of goals and regain.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

One More Hilarious Reason I'm glad I Homeschool

It was a comedy of errors really.

Not sure I'd have even noticed if I hadn't followed up with the swimming desk.

I wanted to verify whether my kids had passed their most recent level of swimming and collect their badges.

The record holder scanned the list with me...

Story Teller... check
Mountain Goat..... check
Negotiator..... check
Artist.... check
Planner.... check

Wait. What's this?
Artist has no show listed beside his name.
Artist, but none of his other siblings.

That's strange. What do you suppose we've been doing with Artist, while his siblings attend swimming lessons? Duct taping him to the bumper of the van in the parking lot? No swimming lessons for you, Artist.

I was directed to ask the supervisor about it. I'm glad she found it strange also, since she has taught my son previously, recognizes that I bring ALL of my kids to class, and yet, there is a paperwork discrepancy.

I chuckle and tell her I suspect it is simply an admin error.
She decided to ask Artist's teacher about it, since she might be able to explain why he had also been missing the report card.

This is the funniest part.

Supervisor: So do you have "The Artist" in your class today?
Teacher: No, He's not here.
Supervisor: (Pointing at Artist) What about that child? What is his name?
Teacher: Oh, that's Tony. (Tony is not my son's name)
Supervisor: I see. How often does Artist attend class?
Teacher: He's been a no show for quite a while.

There is further discussion about the Artist's true identity.
Ah, the light bulb begins to go on....

Turns out Artist shows up for class, his participation has been credited to 'Tony the No Show' and Tony was issued his report card. Shockingly, Tony failed to show up to collect it.

Later I told the Artist what had happened, telling him that his name was actually Tony.
He was initially unimpressed, but then decided to make the best of it.
He's still in a superhero phase.

He's decided "Tony" is his secret identity.
He also passed.

He's also convinced that all he has to do is stop showing up for class in order to get a report card and pass his class.

Reason 3,261 that I'm glad I homeschool: It's a lot harder to lose track of who your students are.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Reorganizing our Schoolroom (Again)

You'll remember I posted before about our 2014/2015 School Room Tour, because we'd made, what I considered at the time, to be some pretty nifty changes to our school room.

You're welcome to check the link above to see the original post, but the pics above will give you an idea where I went with organizing the multitude of things needed for our school space.

Well, we've had a few months to test drive the new system and I was pretty happy with it. Functionally, I mean. I was so much more organized than what I'd been working with.
As time went on though, I could see that we needed to tweak it further.

We had some doors in the cubby units, that were brightly coloured, and I thought eye catching.
Turns out it's distracting for kids with attention problems.

So when we had the opportunity to replace our TV unit with a similar one in black, we scooped all the black doors from the front school room, and decided to match the doors to the already white units.
Very white, very boring. Very functional for the distracted monkeys.

The doors were added to more of the units, which allowed us to not see all the books. I think it contributes to a more stream lined look. The white very much brightens the room, which in med-January was a very welcome change.

We did also decide that we had too many paper types, note books, and even colouring books to store them in a way that helped us know in the first place that I already had them.
This resulted in me making more copies than necessary, or spending too much money on buying doubles of things. Big money saver, actually.

So we did a little reorganization, and added some more drawers to the units, rather than just doors.
We have partially re-labelled, but have more of that job left.

The neatest hack in this room, in my opinion, by far, were the tiny shelves that my dear husband added to the insides of the cubes. They hold the multitude of paper types, and small things, and do a great job of allowing us to see at a glance when we happen to be out of any given thing.

I am finding that I am breathing a sigh of relief. Things are easier to find, and less over whelming visually.

 Nony of A Slob Comes Clean, is a favourite blogger of mine when it comes to de-cluttering. She's great at talking about it all, and hilarious to boot. She talks on many occasions about the container method. How you can only have what fits in the container. These units we've put in the school room really work well with that concept, and I have to make what I have fit, or get rid of it, to keep the stuff behind the doors, which makes the whole room look better. Keeps me honest about my pack rat ways. Keeps me motivated, because I really like it when it's tidy, even if tidy seems a little out of reach with five children, who are onsite most of the time.

We did keep the coloured cubbies in one of the units, because those were the kids' personal 'locker' type storage space. They had become accustomed to the colours they each had, so they stay.
They may grow out of them soon, they may not. In the mean time, I have my splash of colour.

One last thing that we did was repaint and shellac the chairs in a darker colour. They used to be a honey colour and drove me a little crazy. This works better in the room, and is a little more forgiving than the light colour.
I would definitely say that the colour change in this room makes all the difference in the world.
Now to dig out the label maker and move on to making sure *everyone else* can find all the stuff and things.