Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back in the groove

I joined the gym at work, a hidden little gym that's mostly occupied by physical therapy patients.  LOVE IT!  I had my first real training session on Thursday and went in for an upper body workout and bike ride on Friday.  I was able to get 20 minutes on the bike and I think I went about 11K!  Oh yeah!

Have I said how much I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE strength training yet?  Well, I do.  I need to increase the weight on my other upper body exercises, but we had the chest press spot on.  I have been able to feel that slight soreness where my arms meet my chest all weekend.  What a great sensation!  It just makes me proud and makes me feel strong.  

I can't wait to get in there tomorrow, but will I do upper body or lower?? Oh decisions, decisions.

Plus, I've dropped a few pounds since the dog show weekend. I'm down to 221, which is a 53 pound loss from my all time high and 20 pounds since surgery.  It appears I'm averaging about 10 pounds a month so far.  I lose 2 pounds.  Chill out awhile at the same weight, then a few weeks later drop 2 or 3 pounds.  That seems to be how my body lets go of the weight.  We'll see how regular workouts at the gym impact that.

My trainer still thinks I shouldn't walk from the shuttle lots.  The impact of walking seems to make the bursitis in my hip flare up.  I might try it once a day (in the morning) and ride the bus at night. Just to see how things go with my hip.  

It's funny how much I enjoy moving these days.  (Did a pod person just write that??)  Sitting still too long makes me achy.  In a bad way, unlike the good ache from weight training.  

Speaking of moving, it's Sunday and I've got 9828 steps on my pedometer!  I've done that through running errands this morning and cleaning around the house.  I still need to mow the grass in the back yard, so I know I'll pass 10,000 today for sure.

Seeing a huge number on my Body Bugg's display is much more gratifying and satisfying than eating a piece of pizza.  Yeah, now I'm sure of it.  Been possessed by aliens.  For sure.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The need to focus

Apparently I am only able to do one thing at a time.  I'm not as good at multitasking as I thought!  Every experience is lesson if you choose to perceive it as one.  I learned a lot this weekend.

Last week was a challenge with eating.  Though I now have semi-decent restriction in the mornings, it wears off after a few hours of being upright.  And I have pushed the limits of my eating.  Yeah, I can still eat quite a bit.  Bad girl.

Thursday we had a going away party for a work pal.  I ate my new favorite meal ever:  deli cheese rolled up around luncheon meat. YUM! Now I get the Boar's Head provolone and use that as a cheese tortilla around Boar's Head Low Sodium Turkey Breast.  I love this and it's chock full of protein.  The cheese and turkey are so flavorful that I don't need any kind of condiments.  Mmmmmm.

But I ate more than cheese and meat at that gig.  I had cookies.  As in plural.  It's good because I am learning about trigger foods and what I can and cannot have in my proximity.  I also took some lemon pound cake to bring along on my weekend trip.  It was free.  I couldn't help it.  But I need to remember just because it's free doesn't mean you need it.  (Just because you can doesn't mean you should!  This is my mantra, though I seem to block it out at times)  Friday we went to lunch at TGIFriday's.  I had a cheeseburger and some sweet potato fries.  I was very good about eating slowly and chewing well.  I didn't eat the bread and left at least half of the fries on my plate.

Then came the weekend dog show road trip!  I did well and ate MUCH better than I normally do at dog shows.  No icky carnival food.  I only ate out two meals, both at Cracker Barrel.  I took RTD protein drinks in Mocha, took lots of cheese and turkey, yogurt, boiled eggs and some protein bars.  I got a motel room with a fridge so I was able to keep all that fresh and my crystal light cold.  I kept a 32 oz bottle of that with me at all times.

First time I went to CB, I did well.  I ordered my typical Old Timer's breakfast with bacon, 2 eggs and hashbrown casserole.  I ate a biscuit, a slice of bacon and the eggs and took "home" the rest (see below).  Normally, I eat the whole plate and several biscuits.  So that was a good exercise in control and moderation.  When I went on Sunday with my corgi pals, I got the Sunday chicken with apples and hash brown casserole.  I ate most of one piece of chicken, the casserole and a biscuit.  That was much more than a cup of food.  And I wasn't even uncomfortable.  

Though I carried my food journal with me, I did not use it.  Though I was physically pretty active, I think I "gained," about 2 pounds.  More likely than not, it was just due to being thrown off my schedule and is probably water weight.  I know I did not consume an extra 7000 calories over those few days!  I'm not worried, but the whole weekend was a clear reminder that the band is just a tool and I will still be fighting this battle the rest of my life.  Focus and awareness are always required and documentation, for me, is quite necessary.  

I did well on my first trip post band.  My vet's wife, Joy, said I looked like I was melting.  "Oh yes, it is humid," I said.  "No," said Joy.  "You look like you're melting away!"  She said that she couldn't tell as much the previous weekend, but in the week between the two dog shows, she could really tell a difference.  Wow.  The week I gained 2 pounds! But my clothes are even more baggy right now.  So go figure.  I was just pleased that I was cool the entire weekend and barely broke a sweat in spite of the activity.  Skinny people were complaining about the humidity and I barely noticed it!  DEAR DIARY!  Me not dripping with sweat while brushing out my dogs at an outdoor show site while wearing a grooming jacket??? That's a first for sure! 

Though I did well in staying moderately on track, I learned that I have a long way to go.  But it was fun and I'm glad I went.  However, I'm looking forward to getting back to my normal routine tomorrow. Routine is good!  Helps reinforce behaviors I'm trying to train myself.

Here's the leftovers from my breakfast-dinner at Cracker Barrel.  Usually there is NOTHING left on my plate.  For $7 + tip, I got two meals.  That never happens! ; )

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My first fill

I had my first lap-band fill on Wednesday and it was a pretty good experience.  Well, considering the length and girth of the needle they used!  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I have been in Bandster Hell for the last several weeks. This is the time when you feel like you're existing on Chinese food--you eat and you're hungry an hour later.  I don't have restriction in my band, so stuff dribbles out my upper stomach and through my system pretty fast.  Top exercise on that and I end up ravenous most of the day.  I try to space my meals out evenly, and it's not that bad. I'm getting used to the super loud growling stomach hunger pangs. But in Bandster Hell you mostly have to rely on willpower because the band's restriction isn't functioning yet.  About 6 weeks after surgery, once you're healed, fills can begin and the band starts doing its thing.

First off, I have to say that my energy levels are actually on the rise. This is boggling my mind.  The fact that I have not sat in the purple chair since Saturday is crazy.  It used to be the epicenter of my life. Me, my chair and my TV.  I still watch TV, but it's more of a background thing while I'm writing or washing dishes or tending to the dogs.  Wow.

I was quite energetic on the way to the clinic.  It took awhile for them to call me back, so I used that time wisely, writing out belated birthday cards to my Taurus friends & family.  The 100 Oaks facility is gorgeous and it has huge skylights in the waiting areas, so it's not a problem for me to have to wait.  Relaxing in the sunshine.  Ahhhh.

After the weigh in (226 on their scale), I went back to the procedure room.  A nurse got everything set up and Dr. Williams came in.  He was quite pleased with my medical progress (drop in blood pressure, HbA1c, etc) and weight loss.  He was good about answering my questions and quite tolerant of my juvenile behavior!  Okay, I'm not quite that bad, but my self confidence is doing wonders at eroding my mouth filters.  I'm saying a lot of stuff that used to just stay in the confines of my head.

For those who are considering the Lap-Band or who haven't yet had a fill, here's how it works.  First I laid on my back on the table.  At this point, Dr. Williams said, "So tell me where your port is."  I was like, huh?  YOU'RE the one that shoved it in there!  YOU tell ME!  I do think I kept that smarty pants comment in my head, ha ha.

The skin above the port is swabbed with an ethanol wipe, then the needle is whipped out.  It's probably 6" in length and I have no idea what gauge it is.  It's big enough that I can still see the hole today! But not much bigger than the type of needle used for blood draws.  It just looks a bit more intimidating.  The needle also has a stopcock on it so they can remove the syringe and keep the juice from dripping out.  I mean saline.  Ahem.

After a bit of palpation, Dr. Williams took aim and went for it.  I was not offered any numbing juice (yes, all liquids in my world are considered juice) and it really wasn't needed. The initial prick stings a tad more than a blood draw, but not much.  Once he gets past the surface, I didn't feel it any longer.  Certainly not worse than having an inept phlebotomist who insists on chasing rolling veins!  

Once he got to the port, there was some resistance to the needle.  I could feel it POP! when it went through the surface of the port.  It was really funny feeling.  No pain, just an odd pressure.  The oddness of the sensation made me laugh, but I had to try and stifle it. Jiggling laughter belly does not help when some guy is ramming a 6 inch long needle into it!

He confirmed he was in the port (pulling and pushing fluid out . . . I guess by not seeing any blood in the syringe is one sign!), he started adding the saline.  Dr. Williams added 1.5 ml to my 10 ml band.  He told me there was probably about 2 ml in it initially, though at my clinic they do not count that.  They only track what they add through the fills.

In order to determine if they've over-filled you, you are asked to sit up and drink some water.  Note to self #1:  bring your own liquid.  I had to drink Nashville tap water.  Eew.  Note to self #2:  they make you sit up with the needle still in you!!!  Remember when I mentioned the stop cock in the end of the needle?  Yeah, they take off the syringe but leave the needle in place.  It makes sense because if you're too full of fluid, they can simply reattach the syringe and remove some without having to re-stab you.  The whole concept is kinda creepy though.

My mouth filter failed to kick in at this point, as I grabbed my boobs and exclaimed, "As long as my boobs stay big enough so I can't see the needle, I'll be just fine!" while he raised the head of the table.  My boobs did a good job of blocking it.  I could see the outer end of it, but not where it went into my flesh. Eeeew!

I had a few ounces of tap water and it went down okay.  I was a little burpy after, but I have been pretty burpy since surgery, even in the absence of carbonated beverages.  I think I'm still eating too fast. Anyway, there was no creepy gurgling or feeling like I was going to have liquids come rushing out my mouth.  So we deemed it good, he slid out the needle and gave me a bandaid to cover the puncture.

Immediately after, I felt like I had just eaten a meal--totally full! After the fill, we're supposed to go on liquids for 24 hours.  I just had a cup of coffee and feel full, actually.  I need to eat breakfast, though, because I need to take meds.  And I have to have food-food in there for that.  Maybe I'll have a protein shake for late b'fast at work and snarf my pills down then.  

This is hysterical--a cup of coffee filled me up!  

I can't wait for lunch.  I'm going to have some of my yummy ricotta bake (or maybe some blended chili, can't decide).  Now the true test of the fill will happen--does 1/2 cup of that make me full?  Or will I be starving an hour later?  Only time will tell.

Dr. Williams says it takes 3-4 fills for his typical patient to hit the sweet spot.  That's the fill amount that will make you full after <>

I go on the 17th of June for that fill and I can't wait!  But hopefully in the interim, I'll enjoy my first fill and learn how to deal with life with a bit of restriction.  You'll be the first to know if I end up sliming or barfing at lunch today.  I'm sure you're on pins and needles waiting for that, huh?  hee hee!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New to me!

Ha!  I haven't been on a date in centuries and guys generally don't give me the time of day.  But the past few days, I've been quite amused by a bit of attention.

This morning I went to Home Depot to get some mulch and fencing stuff.  The bags of mulch were really heavy and slippery because of all the recent rains.  I was at the trunk of my car trying to maneuver a bag into my trunk when this guy ran up to me and asked if he could help me.  Whaaaaaa?

I have wrangled many a huge and awkward object into the trunk of my coupe . . . landscape timbers, many bags of dirt & mulch, etc.  Not once has anyone offered me any help!

So having a stranger help me was quite entertaining to me!  How fun!

And the other day I had a busy manager help me at FedEx Kinkos. Usually when I drop off posters for laminating, they take it and tell me to come back in a few days.  Last week the manager did it on the spot, ignoring the long line of people waiting to take care of me.  Tee hee!

I don't think this is because of my nearly 50 lb weight loss.  Actually, I think it is because I feel so much better physically and emotionally that I have a completely different air about me.  

I'm looking forward to seeing where this takes me!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The proof is in the pudding (sugar free,that is)

I had my first visit with my endocrinologist since my surgery.  I met with her a few days before my liquid diet began, so we could discuss changes in my diabetes medications.  It's been about 6 weeks since then and here are how things have changed:

Weight:  from 240 to 229 (lost 21 lbs, currently I am 225.6)
Blood pressure:  from average of 135/80 to 111/61
Resting pulse:  from average of about 85 to 76
HbA1ac (3 month glucose reading) from 8.7 to 7.8

An HbA1c reading of 8.7 equates to an average plasma blood glucose level of 232 mg/dL.  I have dropped my daily average to 200 mg/dL, with my new level of 7.8.  Also, there are 3 month old red blood cells hanging out in my system, which impact the reading.  Once another few months pass, I expect my values to drop even lower.  My ultimate goal is to be between 5 and 6 for my HbA1c (100 to 135 mg/dL). Since I was diagnosed, the level has never been below 7.6. 

Here's a really nice HbA1c calculator, if you're interested. It converts HbA1c to average plasma blood glucose levels, which are the numbers you see on your blood sugar meter.

I am very proud of the reduction in my HbA1c!!! I'm such a science nerd that these kind of numbers really get me excited.  And of course, these numbers also mean I'm getting healthier.  Dr. Bao was quite excited too--she was all smiles as she reviewed my blood sugar readings.  

Since surgery I've been diligently tracking 4+ times a day.  She did say I could drop that back some.  But I find I am more accountable if I document. Skipping one reading, for me, leads to skipping the next. Not writing my food down leads to forgetting what I have eaten and almost gives me permission to do whatever.  So maybe I'll stick to my pre-meal readings only, so I know what dosage of insulin I need (if any!!).  But I'll still track.

I expect my journaling to be a big help and reminder to me when I hit that first really big stall. A reminder of how things are really changing, even if the scale isn't.  Works for me!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rave Review: Soy and Flaxseed tortilla chips

I went to my first OH picnic last weekend and had a fabulous time!  One of the best things was hearing tips and food recommendations from the other people who'd had surgery.

Scott and Melinda are two of the very active people in the group and they have tons of suggestions, recommendations and recipes.  Both rave about Trader Joe's and Mel talked about how when she and her guy go to Mexican restaurants, she brings along a single serving of her favorite Soy and Flaxseed tortilla chips.  They're from Trader Joe's, have a lot of protein and omega 3 oils, and are a healthier alternative to gorging on restaurant chips.

I went to the doctor yesterday (yes, I actually have stinkin' bursitis in my hip) and the doctor's office is mere blocks from Trader Joe's.  So I made my first visit.  I was kind of surprised because I am used to it being that health food store from a few years ago.  The store is more open than it used to be (not as many shelves), but for what it lost in shelves, it more than makes up with in stocking employees.  Jeez!  I could barely get through the aisles!

But I finally found Mel's recommended chips plus a few protein bars and headed out.  I tried a chip in the car en route to picking up my work iMac.  Actually, they're quite good.  I like the nutty taste that the flaxseed gives them.  Obviously they're one of those special treat foods, but they are definitely something I will buy again. 

And like Mel, when I meet my friend Katy at Cinco de Mayo for dinner, I'll bring my ziploc bag of a single serving of the healthy chips.  What a great idea!  This is why I hang out with these guys--they have such a wealth of experience to share.  And I adore them for sharing!!!

Rave Review: Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift Pro Roller

I have wanted one of these things since I saw them on Martha Stewart while recovering from my surgery.  

With my weight loss so far, my double chin is changing.  It's getting smaller but, freakishly enough, it's getting wrinkly.  Ugh!  It's totally genetics because my mom's wattle is wrinkly too. Lucky me, it seems I get the BEST genes from my parents.

Anyway, it's like a small roll on deodorant, except it's wrinkle reducing juice.  I finally broke down and bought one at Target the other day.  And I LOVE IT!

I don't know how it works, but it does!  Even after just a few applications, my wattle wrinkles are less pronounced.  We'll just say at this point, I am a total convert to the Garnier Nutrioniste products, even though I don't particularly care for their spokesperson Sarah Jessica Parker.

Perks to being fat are few and far between.  One of few is that fat people are generally less wrinkly.  I guess I should get proactive about skin care as I lose the layer of chub that plumps out wrinkles.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Owning It

Do you remember that old Great Depression song that used to show up a lot in Warner Brothers cartoons?  The tune went, "We're in the money; we're in the money.  We've got a lot of what it takes to get along!"

Well, right now I keep singing, "I'm in the 20s!  I'm in the 20s!  I'm really happy 'cause this fat is gettin' gone!"

Yeah, I'm owning it and saying it out loud!  Today I weighed in at 229.2.  I finally broke the 230 mark after hovering there for the last several days.  FINALLY!  (plus I know I have to go to the bathroom at some point this morning, which may take me to the 228s, heh heh.  Every little bit counts, ya know!)

That also has me mere ounces away from losing 45 pounds from my all time highest weight. Oh yeah!  

Plus I'm less than a week and a half away from my first fill.  Once that happens, I'll be out of the healing phase and into the serious weight loss phase.  I can't waaaaait!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Seriously? Looking forward to Monday?

Though I love the weekends, I miss the structure of the work week.  

I eat breakfast and take my meds and vitamins at home.  Enjoy a nice 20 minute walk to the office from the parking lots.  11 am is a blood sugar check followed by 2 calcium lozenges.  I eat lunch around noon. Between 2 and 3 pm, another blood sugar check, a yogurt snack and the rest of the day's calcium.  Take another 20 minute walk to the car.  Dinner when I get home from work.

Structure.  For an Oh Shiny person like me, structure is a good thing.

This weekend has been great, but my schedule has been completely random.  No breakfast yesterday, had a huge meal at the OH picnic. Had a little left over crock pot chicken and beans for dinner.  Today I had coffee at 9 am, ate nothing until about 2 pm, and just finished dinner at 8:45.  Bleh.  Not ideal.

Plus, I am now in the scary world of Soft Foods.  There are so many options in Soft Food Land!  Yikes!!!  Having a larger selection of things to eat AND no structure is a recipe for disaster!  Just a good reminder that I need to continue to be aware of what I'm doing (or not doing) and make sure to be in control of my choices, not falling into old, bad habits.

Hopefully the rain will go away soon so I can spend more time out working in the yard and far away from the kitchen!

Only 10 days until my first fill.  Hopefully at that point, my bandy will help out some and I'll have to rely less on will power.  I'll tell ya, it's been a long 5 weeks since I started the liquid diet.  I am SO looking forward to some restriction!

Friday, May 1, 2009

I went to P.F. Chang's!

Today was my first restaurant meal since my surgery.  I have been sticking more to mushy foods than the soft foods that I should be on. Since it was Friday, our traditional lunch out day, I decided it was time.  And I wanted it to be good.

So Jane and I schlepped in the rain to P.F. Chang's over on West End.

I also took my printed copy of their nutritional information.  I love Chang's and I also know all the good stuff is pretty bad for you.  Since my reset button was hit (surgery day), I know that if I want to go out, I need to make healthier choices.

The thing about restaurants these days is that the portion sizes are HUGE and unless you know what you're getting into, you might be quite surprised as to what you are putting down the old hatch.  The Band demands responsibility.  Otherwise it won't work.  So I printed out the information and brought it along.

Since the wait was nearly 40 minutes, Jane and I were lucky enough to find seats at the bar.  We sat with heads together poring over the data.  Maaaaan!  I was really wanting the crispy honey chicken.  If opted for the lunch bowl, the stats were a mere 1271/50/150/56 (calories/fat/carbs/protein).  OMG, that's like 3 days worth of carbs in a single meal!  I used to eat like this all the time?  If I opted for the dinner plate, it contains 236/10/46/13.  Oh, that's not too bad. Except that there are SIX servings in one dish!!!!  So if you ate the whole plate, which is easy to do, you'd consume 1416/60/276?!?/78.  Holy crap!

Well, I'd definitely meet my 70g protein/day goal . . . and my carb requirements for the WEEK.  Yeah.  As much as I love you Crispy Honey Chicken, I'll pass.

What I ended up getting was the cup of egg drop soup and the shrimp potstickers, steamed.  The soup was 61/2/10/1 and the potstickers were a reasonable 58/1/8/6 each.  I picked them all apart, but all in all ate about 3 of 4.  My grand total for lunch out was 235/5/34/19. Still a little high in carbs for me, but totally acceptable.  I am actually pleased with my choices!  

I didn't much care for the shrimp potstickers.  Next time I'd get the peking dumplings (93/5/7/6 each), but I like them better than the shrimp, so eating 2 of those and taking 2 home would be a good plan. Or get the salmon.  Jane had that (785/35/73/43, which includes a 2 gallon bucket of rice) and gave me a teeny sample.  It was quite good, actually. The salmon not in the rice bowl has two servings, each with 367/16/27/28.  No rice included and I'll probably pass on the rice anyway.  But I know that's delicious and as healthy as it gets at P.F. Chang's.

This experience just drove home the fact that now I need to think before I eat.  I may not get the tastiest thing in the world every time as I experiment, but as my tastes change from greasy to healthy, I think I will be very happy with my new perspective on dining out.