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Monday, January 27, 2014

Choosing an eating plan

By now, the motivation from New Year's has probably worn off.  You either found an eating plan that works for you and are sticking to your new habits; or you fell off the wagon and chucked the whole idea of eating well.  What happened?  I think we unfairly tend to question our dedication and willpower.  As a group, those of us that struggle with our weight, beat ourselves up too much.  Most of the "professional dieters" I've met are extremely focused and dedicated.  Our mistake is in not choosing an eating plan that fits our lives and works for our bodies.

I am diabetic.  One of the reasons I chose to have weight loss surgery was that it can put diabetes in remission.  I heard story after story of people who came out of surgery and never took diabetes medication again.  This was not my experience.  My body has a unique chemistry.  Generally when people eat less carbs, their blood sugar goes down.  For me, if I eat too low carb, my body stops producing insulin all together and my blood sugar goes up.  All of my doctors are stumped and think this couldn't possibly be true, but for me it is.  If I eat the way bariatric patients are told to eat, it is not the healthiest way for me.

In order to choose the right eating plan for you, you need to listen to your body and find what works.  Instead of seeing a setback as a failure, we should evaluate why it didn't work for us.  Was it too strict?  Did it eliminate foods that you aren't willing to give up?  Did the chemistry not work for your body?  Did it not fit into your lifestyle?

Before my surgery I tried so many plans with varying success.  If I pay attention, I can realize that each "failure"  told me something about what works for my body.  Weight Watchers has me eat too many calories, Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem don't allow me to experiment with recipes, raw vegan was the wrong chemistry for my body, Atkins and paleo had too few carbs and too much fat.  Ideal protein was too restrictive.

It's taken me a lot of effort to find the sweet spot of diet and exercise.  Heck, I'm still not sure I have the right combination.  Currently, I am working with a dietician to tweak to right numbers.  I know I hate counting calories so I structure it differently.  I count carbs, protein, and fat for each meal instead.  I know I have trigger foods like cheese and chocolate, so I limit them to one day a week.  I know I need some carbs, but they need to be high fiber.

Give yourself permission to play around.  Don't beat yourself up over perceived failures.  Evaluate after a few weeks.  Tweak.  Repeat as often as necessary to find what's right for you.  Don't give up on your health!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Riding the waves of motivation

So the holiday season is over.  The number one resolution is to lose weight and get more exercise.  Every where you look there is an ad for weight loss.  There must be something to this mob mentality.  For the majority of us, we will ride this motivation until we hit an obstacle.  Once we miss one work out or get invited out to lunch, we will break habit and not return for awhile.  How do we sustain our motivation?  Is there a way to feel as excited about our new habits year round?

I guess the first thing is to ask ourselves why we feel motivated at this time of the year.  Some of it comes from being relieved that we are done over-indulging.  From Thanksgiving till the end of the year, it is an orgy of gluttony and laziness.  All of that is done now and it's time to get back to reality and routine.  I think there is a part of us that even though we enjoyed the rest time, is ready to get back to routine.

Another thing that drives us at this time of the year is that everyone is joining in our quest.  It's a whole lot easier to make a healthy choice at a restaurant when everyone at your table is doing the same.  It's a lot more difficult to make that healthy choice when others are ordering fatty foods and desserts.

What can we take from this time to help us sustain our motivation year round?  We can use this time to learn and adjust what methods work for us and which methods don't.  Obviously if I have allergies, committing to walking outside with a buddy may be problematic.  If I love to cook, I may not do well long term on a program that requires me to buy there food.  I think any of us can do something short term, but what will work for us in the long run?

If the thing that is working for you right now is that everyone is sharing your goals, maybe you should consider joining a group.  I personally love  It's free and they have communities for just about everything you can think of from age groups to medical conditions, to interests.  Weight watchers is another great option.  Join a gym.  Keep a journal of how you feel about the changes you are making.  Read it when you are feeling less motivated.  Celebrate your successes.  Make a pact with friends.  See who can last the longest.  Put some money behind it.  Have a group of friends chip in, whoever loses the most weight in a time frame, or logs the most activity, or sticks with their program the longest wins the pot.  Basically, surround yourself with a group of people that are working towards the same goals.  Choose a large enough community that when the first wave of people drop out, there is new blood to remind you why you are doing this.

In the next few blog posts, we will talk about how to choose a food and exercise plan. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Should vs. Want

The other day, a dear friend of mine and I were discussing motivation.  She was helping me understand the difference in should vs. want.  Basically, if we are motivated by what we think or know we should be doing, our motivation will wane pretty quickly.  We really won't make significant changes until we want to.

I had my three month follow up with my bariatric surgeon a couple of weeks ago.  I am doing great health wise.  As far as weight loss, I have lost about 30 lbs. since surgery and 50 lbs. since last year.  the doctor wanted to tweak a few things.  They think I may be snacking too much.  They also think that my 10 hours of water aerobics a week isn't enough exercise.  Because I am teaching, they feel that I may not be getting my heart rate up enough. 

Before the visit, I knew I was in a weight loss stall.  I just wasn't ready to do much about it.  After talking to the doctor, I was in a state of thinking what I should be doing.  It really wasn't appealing to me to give up snacking.  I'm eating so little at meals, that I really want my snacks.  I get hungry and don't make good choices with my meals if I don't snack.  How can my 10 hours of exercise not be enough?  Granted, I know I'm not always working at a hard level, but it's just not fair that I have to do more! 

These were my thoughts all last week during Thanksgiving.  I was definitely in a place where I SHOULD make changes, but I didn't WANT to yet.  I had the week off from work and really was a glutton in my food choices.  (My surgery prevents me from being a glutton in the quantity of the food I eat.) 

All of a sudden this week, I wanted to make changes.  The things I had been railing against seemed easy all of a sudden.  I decided to add some Tae Bo workouts to my schedule.  I love kickboxing and it was easy to find a time to fit in a couple of half hour workouts.  On Wednesday, I decided to take a mile walk.  I usually don't enjoy taking walks, but I called my sister and before I knew it, the mile was over.  I reviewed my snack choices and realized that my snacks had turned into little meals.  Instead I chose to change my afternoon snack to an actual snack and my bedtime snack became a handful of nuts.  What had seemed so hard and painful when I was in a "should" frame of mind became easy and fun when I was in a "want" frame of mind.

I think it's important to be honest and gentle with ourselves.  Obviously we should pay attention to what we should do, especially when it's for our health, but the trick to lasting change is to get to where you WANT to make the changes.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Defining your happy

What do we all really want out of life?  The usual answer is health and happiness, but what does that mean? 

A few years ago, I was trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life.  My kids were getting older and were in school later.  I love my part time job, but should I be working more?  Did I want to keep being primarily a mom or should I develop a career?  In my daily devotional, there was an exercise in imagining your perfect life.  It was probably one of the most important exercises I've done.  I sat down and imagined my perfect life with the career I was considering.  What were the highlights?  What was the impact on my family?  Then I imagined my life with taking care of the family as my primary goal.  What would be the cost to my self-esteem?  I ultimately decided to keep my part time job and focus on family.

Once I realized how important this tool was, I started using it to make all kinds of decisions.  Every couple of months or so, I sit down and let my imagination go wild.  What is my perfect life?  What is my idea of a perfect family, perfect marriage, perfect job? 

How can we move toward what makes us happy if we don't even know what happy looks like for us?  I invite you to go ahead and dream your wildest dreams.  Write them down if that helps you.  Spend some time with yourself and figure out what will make your heart sing and your spirit soar.  From there you can build a roadmap that will get you to your dreams.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 11 post-op, the protein powder wars

I am doing really well.  The chiropractor fixed my neck, so that was a big deal.  I forget my Tylenol often, so my pain level is really low. I've been out and about a bit. My biggest thing is my doctor has me on clear liquids until day 15.  That has been the hard part right now.  I am getting less than 500 calories a day.  I'm not necessarily hungry, but I have low energy and feel empty.  Every doctor is different. It's been hard getting on support forums and seeing that a lot of people are already doing purees.  I won't hit purees for over 3 weeks.  I am completely looking forward to it.

For my doctor, clear liquids means broth, water, sugar popsicles, and protein powder mixed with water.  This surgery means lots of protein powders.  Before surgery, I heard a lot of people having problems finding protein powders they like.  I thought how great it was that I was already using powders I like.  What I didn't realize is that chocolate and vanilla get very boring after awhile.  I bought some sugar free Torani syrups to help mix it up, but it is very different gulping down a protein shake versus having to sip on it for awhile.  Finally this week I found a brand that has fruit flavors like lemonade, peach, etc.  They are Nectar by Syntrax. They have been a life saver.

I have been finding that my blood sugars are getting higher each day.  I'm currently not taking any medicine because most people see their sugars drop when they aren't eating any carbs.  My surgeon said she hadn't seen this before.  What I learned from trying to lower my a1c pre-op suggests that my body needs some carbs to process in order to produce enough insulin.  I've contacted my endocrinologist to help me decide on some medicine until I start full liquids.  We will see what happens from there.  Regardless, I am confident that this surgery will improve my health and possibly cure my diabetes.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Post op

When I was pregnant with my first child, the birthing coach had us watch birthing videos.  There was one where the woman had an orgasmic birth. This is exactly what it sounds like it would be.  She had no pain, no pain meds, and really seemed to enjoy her experience.  Even though I knew it was unrealistic, I thought, "That's what I want!" Of course, I had the more traditional birth experience, pain even with pain meds and it wasn't quite as enjoyable until I got to see the baby.  Luckily for the population, pain fades and I even went on to have a second child.

You would have thought I would have learned from this experience, but frankly, I'm not that smart.  When I was looking into having my surgery, I was totally believing the stories where the people had surgery on Friday and were ready to go back to work on Monday.  I had one guy tell me he was at the gym on day 4!  I am not trying to scare people off, but I was completely unprepared for my level of pain.

Surgery - Day one:
I got to the hospital super early and was looking forward to the calming juice I was supposed to get in my IV.  The anesthesiologist told me that I had to be coherent to talk to the surgeon.  By the time I talked to the surgeon, everything went super fast and no calming juice for me.

After surgery was a blur.  Everything went well, but my hernia repair was more extensive than they thought, so surgery time was double.  That first night was awesome.  My dream had come true.  There was so very little pain.  Why hadn't I done this sooner?

Post op - Day one - All was well until the nurses told me that they were switching off my pain pump and switching me to oral medicine instead of IV.  I wasn't really concerned.  I was a model patient.  I had even been up and walking several times.  By that afternoon, reality set in.  I really think most of my pain was due to the gas they had pumped into me to expand my belly.  I never knew gas pain could be so bad that the thought of dying wasn't scary.  I really had to think about my kids to want to keep going on.  I only broke down and cried once, but I think that was just because I was so focused on the pain that I had no energy to cry.

Post op - Day 2 - The nurses kept telling me that this was going home day.  I knew better, though.  There was no way my surgeon would send me home when she saw my pain level.  Of course, I was wrong again.  The doctor told me how great I was progressing.  I figured she was lying since I wasn't at the hospital she had her practice at and didn't want to make the trip on a work day.  When I started questioning why I had done this to myself, one of the nurses reminded me that I would have eventually had to do the hernia repair anyway.

The first night at home was hard.  I ended up taking myself off the Vicodin and switching to Tylenol.  I know Vicodin slows your bowels so I figured it wasn't helping my gas pain.

Day 3 - I took out my pain pump they put it my belly.  My ab muscles started hurting like I was stabbed 6 times in the gut. Oh yeah, I was!  I also had this horrible kink in my neck giving me a migraine.  Maybe they positioned me weird?

Day 4 - Today has been much better.  I feel human again.  I've taken several walks outside. Short ones of course.  I am even alone for a couple of hours.  My husband is only 5 minutes away.  I've gone to the bathroom by myself and have had bowel movements.  I still have pain in my neck and abs, but I am using arnica gel and heating pads. I've gotten all my protein drinks in and most of my water.  Finally, today, I may tell you that the process wasn't too bad.  Thank God our memory of pain fades and thank you all for your prayers and support.  It really got me through the worst of it.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

One Day Pre-op

Surgery is tomorrow morning and some nerves have crept in.  Nothing serious, just a tiny bit of, "What in the heck am I doing!". I would hope it would be natural to feel that before any major elective surgery.  I have reminded myself that although the next two months will be difficult, I need to remember the long term goal.  The fact is, I've done EVERYTHING I can to lose this weight.  It's been effort after effort for all my adult life. I've done radical diets, major dietary changes, tons of exercise...I have lost weight only to regain when I stop being extreme.  Even though I eat healthy and exercise, my blood sugars are creeping up.  What a miracle it will be to cure my diabetes!  There is a very good chance that today could be the last day I take diabetes medication.  I know this is the solution for me to take the weight off, keep it off, and improve my health.

So the pooping juice hasn't been too bad.  I would say that the clear liquids have been harder.  I'm only allowed protein powder three times a day.  The rest is broth, water, and sugar free popsicles.  I am hungry, lethargic, and have a headache.  It is completely bearable.  I have pre-op at the hospital today and surgery first thing in the morning.