Month 5, by the numbers
Nov 17, 2013
I know I'm late on getting this posted and I just realized I completely missed my October post (read on for why). It's just taken a while to sit down and get it done! I did not manage to get a photo in front of the front door (yet), but here is a slightly different approach:
This month found me the world traveler - to London and Wales! Partially for vacation and partially for work, it was a good test of whether or not I had internalized all of this into a lifestyle change. The good news is that I believe I have. More on that to come.
Results from October to November:
Pounds lost: 6.2
BMI change: -1
Body fat %: -4%
Inches lost: 7.75
So, if you look only at the pounds lost, this month looks kind of tragic. But, when you put it in perspective with all of the other values, it was a great month. I'm proud of/worked hard for my 4% body fat loss, and nearly 8 inches lost is not trivial, especially when 2.5 of them came from my hips. It put me into a size 12 - the first time I can ever remember wearing that size. So, progress is progress, no matter how you slice it. I looked at a quick comparison from my September to October data where I lost 10.1 pounds, but only 3.75 inches. I had also started more serious weight training at that point, and so I am sure that at least part of that measurement data was from muscle building. What this month's data tells me is that my body is becoming more efficient, and this is a really good thing.
October was a completely nutty month for me. It seemed like I was away from home more than I was home. I was abroad for a while, I was at a work retreat for a while, and I was also at a client event that provided 5 meals a day of really healthy, delicious food for 3 days. Let me tell you, I ate. I wasn't afraid of fish and chips in the UK - I just ate a tiny bit, like 1/4 of the ENORMOUS fish portions and a few fries (chips). Nor was I afraid of what we fixed at our work retreat (it helped that I planned the menu), providing enough variety to keep me from wanting the cookies and ice cream too badly. And, I indulged at the client event. The client event was interesting. It was sponsored by the medical director of CocaCola, and in reality it was 3 meals + 2 snacks per day, but on a sleeve diet, it was 5 meals. We had lean proteins like chicken and salmon - all prepared deliciously, we had fresh fruit everywhere, we had fruit smoothies with plain greek yogurt and chia seeds, we had veggies prepared in the most wonderful ways, and we had Coke sweetened with Truvia (I brought one home; haven't tried it yet. I stuck with Dasani and SmartWater). I didn't want the starchy carbs at all, and frankly don't remember what there was in that department! I indulged on a couple of chocolate covered strawberries - what a lovely treat that didn't sabotage me like a brownie or cookies or cake would have! I can only wish that all the food at other client events was so nicely planned.
In every case, I tracked, and tracked, and tracked, and made adjustments as I needed to. While in the UK, I did relax my carb limits from 40 to 60 grams, but kept protein as A#1 importance and went on with it. And it worked. I had a supply of Quest bars that went with me to serve as a snack or meal in case of emergency, but I didn't need them all that much. I made choices that worked. The hardest thing was actually eating frequently enough, particularly while I was running the meetings in the UK. The rest of the world is on that 3 meals/day schedule, but given the low quantity I can eat at a time, I can usually go 3-4 hours before I need to eat again. I managed by keeping snacks at the ready.
My travel made it tough to really keep up my appointments with Matt, my trainer, but I found I got exercise in different ways. I walked (accidentally, I admit) 3.5 miles in London one night. Some people run the London marathon? Not me, I do the London 5k, but you can bet it was tracked. I walked on the beach at our work offsite. And, we weren't really sitting at the client event, either. So, while I didn't always do great at working out, I feel I made some progress and proved to myself that an active lifestyle is a totally doable thing.
My big progress on the exercise front is what I'm able to do. Last week, I was able to lift 135# in the squat, and I'm over 100# in leg extensions and hamstring pulls. My arm and upper body strength is really improving as well, but I don't remember the weight level there. And, I started what Matt refers to as "big girl ab workouts". I was so very sore afterwards, but I could tell it was an amazing workout. I feel like I'm moving away from modified workouts because of my shabby fitness status to legitimately real workouts that "normal" people could handle and it's a thrill.
I mentioned I'm in a size 12 now, right? I am actually really struggling with this. More on this in the head game section. Since my last post, my image consultant, Karen, and I went shopping, and she picked out some fabulous things to try on. I bought a few of them for London. Here is a photo of me in an amazing dress that she selected for me. Everywhere I went, and every time I wear that dress, I get compliments. In fact, I probably get compliments of some sort or another on my clothing at least once a week, even if it's just jeans and a blazer. My goal in working with Karen was to go from frumpy to fabulous, and if the feedback from others is any indication, I must be on the right track! My big event coming up is our holiday party. The theme is Classic Hollywood. I'm looking for a simply amazing dress. I would like to channel Rita Hayward and have asked my hair stylist to give me a suitable hairdo. Stay tuned for this one - it's going to be a lot of fun. I just need to get out to a store that has high end formals and try some things on.
The head game:
So, this size 12 thing has really thrown me for a loop, unexpectedly. It started when I bought jeans last weekend. The 14s were too large. As sort of a joke, I tried on 12s and they fit. I took a photo of me wearing them and sent them to one of my fellow sleevers, who promptly pointed out that they looked great and the sweater I was wearing was too large. So, I bought two pairs of the jeans and pondered how on earth I ever became a 12. We have our hot tub back up and running, and of course none of my bathing suits fit me, so I needed to get a new one of those despite my husband's attempts to persuade me to the contrary. Guess what size? Yep, also a 12, but this time the feeling I had wasn't pondering, it was almost panicky. It was at this point that I really realized that I needed to get ok with this as quickly as possible because I felt that my reaction to this had the capability to send me into self-sabotage. Here is as far as I have gotten on this topic.
The closest I can come to describing this is that it is almost like I feel like I'm edging into someone else's space - like I really don't belong here, like I'm trespassing. This isn't MY space - I have no definition or memory of myself here, ever. I can remember 14s from my teenage years, so I had some previous identity there. But 12? No way. I think I have seen my sister in this size in the past and she is a tiny person. I know I have seen friends here and they are tiny, too. So, I have been focusing on being ok with this, saying yes, this is me. In a size 12. And I belong here, and I'm going lower, so watch out.
The other part of the equation is what I visually see myself as. As I was snapping photos of myself in different bathing suits and sending them to Karen, I kept thinking, oh, I look like my sister, or my aunt...anyone but ME. It was never me. And it dawned on me, the picture of myself in my head is so totally out of whack and being threatened by the concept of a size 12. So, I started a project called the photo of the day (POTD) project. Every day, I am taking a photo of myself. I'm printing them out and hanging them on my bathroom wall where I can spend time looking at them, absorbing them, realizing, this is YOU, now. I am hoping this helps. I will let you know. The "is" photo above is one of my POTD entries. I am ok with saying, I love the way I look in that photo, but, I don't see me as me, yet. The brain is a funny thing, Indeed. Thank goodness for my therapy sessions, as they provide a grounding point as I move through all of this. My therapist, Deanna, doesn't know about POTD yet. I will share with her when I go this week. I hope she's ok with it.
The other big thing I have had on my mind has been the importance of surrounding yourself with a team. I have talked to others about it, even those that don't know I have had surgery, and I have told them about my team. I really really REALLY think that having my team around me has made such a huge difference in everything. In fact, I'd say that to anyone considering surgery or any sort of major body readjustment, don't attempt it without a team in place. Check out my previous blog posting on the topic if you want to know more.
Other peoples' reactions:
Observations, comments, and compliments were abundant this month. Things like 'you are shrinking!"; "I don't recognize you!" (yeah, I don't recognize me, either, lol); "if you keep losing, you'll have nothing left!" were pretty common. Truth be told, they feel great. I'm no longer invisible to strangers and have caught colleagues as well as total strangers checking out my ass (creepy and funny at the same time). I feel like I'm a normal person just living in the world. I rode on airplanes without issue. No funny expressions from people. I can't help but feel like I'm some sort of undercover agent somehow, but I think that relates back to the head game thing. I have told people about what I am doing (gym, food, working with docs, therapist, image consultant), but not what I have done. I have decided that if someone asks me straight up about surgery, I'll tell the truth, but won't necessarily offer it with a few exceptions. I did tell one person recently, a long time friend who struggles with his weight. I stressed the fact that only one of our friends in common know the truth, and went on to tell him the details because he seemed to be at wit's end with options. I told him that I don't usually tell people about the surgery, only the stuff I am doing now, and he agreed with me, actually. His take: "I have a friend who had the lap band who didn't do those things and she didn't really lose because she didn't do all of those other things." It all comes back to my belief that in the long run, all the sleeve is helping me do is eat less and not feel hungry. Those things are not trivial, I understand, but are just a part of the overall bigger equation.
How I felt:
I loved that I had energy to travel, to walk so much, to do so much. I love not being invisible anymore. I love that I'm doing the so called "big girl workouts". Feeling sore after a workout actually makes me feel happy, because it's a tangible indication that I've doing something good for myself. Weird, huh? I love how I look in my new clothes. I love that Brian and I are traveling this path to fitness together. Life is truly good.
There are some cool things to look forward to like the big party at work - I can't wait to see what I look like! Otherwise, I'm just going to keep on going with what I'm doing with regards to food, exercise, and getting my head in order. See you next month!
The importance of a good team
Sep 14, 2013
If you're considering this surgery, how do you know you will be successful in the long run? Are you worried about being successful for the long term? Do you worry that you might not have what it takes to be successful?
We've all been there.
My approach has been to surround myself with a team to support me as I make the transition from obese woman to normal sized woman. I urge each of you to consciously choose a team to support you on your journey and RELY on them. Some of my team members are with me by choice, others are with me because I pay them to be here. They may not be around me forever, but they are critical to my success this first year. All are important to me. Here is my team listed in order of amount of contact I have with them:
1. My family: my husband is my biggest source of support because he was on a weight loss journey of his own this year. Doing this with him has made this much easier because we didn't have competing opinions of what to eat. We share stories and work out together. In my case, it has made my marriage stronger. My kids are right behind him on the list. At 18 and 15, they are a source of support for me. They encourage me and provide counterbalance/conscience when I am about to do something stupid ("mom, you aren't going to eat THAT, are you?"). Most of all, they are all proud of me and that really keeps me going. My husband tells our story to anyone who will listen. So does my 18 year old son ("Mom, can I get a copy of your before/after photo?"). I shop with my 15 year old daughter, and she gives me encouragement and says delightful things like "I can wrap my arms around you again!"
2. My trainer: I signed up for a 12 month contract 2x week with my trainer, so we spend a LOT of time together. We have worked together since May, a month preop, and have established a close relationship. He "gets" me, and understands what I am afraid of/intimidates me and won't let me hurt myself. I trust him implicitly. He also pushes me and calls me out when needed. Our styles are compatible. As I look at the other trainers interacting with their clients, I feel so fortunate to have mine. A couple of weeks ago he told me, "my job is to make you feel sexy." I agree - to an extent. His job, as I see it, is to help me to begin to feel confident in my body and help me take steps physically to get there. The work of getting to feeling sexy starts in the gym, but it is so much more...
3. My online friends: Yes, each of you. I read your stories and many of them make me think about how I have handled things or will need to handle things in my own life. I don't generally attend in person support groups for a number of reasons including work and gym commitments, and the sheer hassle of getting around in Atlanta in the afternoon rush hour, but this more than makes up for it. I have established relationships with some friends outside of these and other forums and we communicate via phone and facebook. I know I can call them when I'm challenged and they can do the same.
4. My chiropractor: She is one of my biggest cheerleaders, a fellow health nut, and has also helped me keep my body in synch. Not only does she do adjustments, but she also does massages and gives dietary recommendations. As I have lost weight, the forces on my body have changed and things have gotten out of whack. Or, I have overdone things at the gym, and need to get the kinks worked out. She's been there for all of it.
5. My image consultant: She has helped me to discover my sense of personal style and find options that work for me, where I am at that point in time. She also pushes me to explore my boundaries, and has really helped me to redefine my professional image which has been a big deal this year due to a couple of promotions that recently occurred. I always felt frumpy and invisible when I was big. Now I feel confident and attractive and even sexy because the work that I started in the gym now can be clothed in beautiful, well-styled clothing that works for me and makes the right statement. It is rare anymore that I run around town in yoga pants and a baggy sweatshirt because she has taught me to respect and care for myself more than that.
6. My therapist: She is my miracle worker. I can name probably a dozen times that she has managed to get me unstuck. A number of them were big deals, big enough that in the past I would have lapsed into self-sabotage and/or given up. I chose someone with specific experience in eating disorders because I knew going into this that this whole dysmorphic thing was a big deal for me, and she's been able to help me through. Other friends have found good relationships with therapists who focus on eating disorders or addiction recovery. Pick the one that is right for you.
7. My executive coach: I had a couple of big recent promotions in my job. My coach is my newest addition to my team but she's helping me figure out my approaches and communication styles that will work for me going forward. Her work overlaps with my therapist and image consultant but is specific to work. I started with her at the first of the year and already have gained insights. I could have used her services when I was still heavy, but I do find that since I am thinking about myself differently now, I respond to the world differently. One colleague summarized it as my "energy" has completely changed. My coach is helping me to examine specific work-related topics and how I respond to them.
8. My hair stylist: she regularly talks me off the ledge regarding my hair loss and, like the others, has a vision of what I could be.
9. My physicians: This includes my surgeon and my PCP. My relationship with all of them has changed. It used to be that I would go to them for support or to be guided. Now I find that I go to them with requests for assistance or information. I feel as if I have gained more control over my health and therefore, instead of them telling me what to do, I am more in the position to call the shots. Conversations focus not on what is wrong but how to keep things going right. The game has totally changed.
It seems that two notable absences on my team are a nutritionist and IRL friends. I have been comfortable with the nutritional support I have received from my surgeon, chiropractor, and trainer, and my loss patterns have been working for me. I suppose if I got stuck, I would add a nutritionist to my team, but I haven't felt that need yet. Others have close relationships with theirs. My IRL friends haven't been as supportive as I would have hoped. Not many know about my surgery, and they encourage me when they see me, ("wow, you look great, how do you feel?") but there hasn't been the level of deep soul sharing that I have with other members of my team and that is ok.
If I had to summarize, I'd say that it's important to take the time to really focus on yourself the first year. Yes, it might cost money. Yes, it will definitely take time and attention but it is worth every moment. I envision my team in a circle around me. If I get out of bounds, they push me back in. In each case, it has taken me REACHING OUT to them and opening myself up to their support, and that has taken a tremendous amount of bravery that really pushed me beyond my comfort zone. I think my lack of doing this with my circle of IRL friends is the reason they are not as influential.
Keep an open mind to what is possible in this process, and you will see benefits far greater than you ever imagined possible.
90 days out
Sep 11, 2013
This month was such a huge transition period for me. It seems like EVERYTHING changed, for the better, I think. I am really starting to feel like Laurie 2.0. Here are some photos to get us started. This is the last set of photos with the blue bathing suit. It is huge on me and I'm surprised important parts were not hanging out. So, starting this month you will see the introduction of outfit #2. Not my best look, but I think it's important to be able to see as much as possible on these photos.
My goal this month was to lose 8 pounds. I managed to lose 12.6. Based on my measurements, I lost 8.25" total this month and an incomprehensible 35.25 inches since I started measuring at the beginning of my preop diet. That is nearly a yardstick! That number includes 9" off of my waist since I have started and 8.25 off of my hips since I started.
I had a really amazing thing happen this month, though, and it had nothing to do with the scale. I measured my body fat and lost 2.7% body fat in 2 weeks time. This was also the part of the month where the scale moved really sluggishly. So, I proved to myself once and for all that good things are very very definitely going on even when the scale isn't moving! And, this month, I was able to confirm that I am in fact a stair-step loser. For the latter half of the month, the scale doesn't move much. For the first half of the month, it just tumbles. I have been ok with that. Knowing there is a pattern there, plus knowing I am definitely losing fat while I don't lose pounds, helped me to settle down a lot. And, I almost forgot to add that I broke the 200 lb barrier last week, coming in at 199.3. Of course, my weight continues to fluctuate a bit, but I will take it. And own it. Also, I'm seeing bones come out of hiding, namely my collar bones and wrist bones. It feels like reuniting with old friends I haven't seen in a while. I can also feel far more than I can see. My shoulders feel pokey now when I put my hand on them.
Eating has become...easy and routine. I eat 3 oz of meat at a meal, generally. I pretty consistently consume between 700-800 calories. I have managed to up my protein, too, to around 80 gms per day. Carbs continue to hover around 40. I like to see my MFP graph at 50% protein, and the other 25% segments divided between fat and carbs. I prefer to have fat higher than carbs. Meals generally consist of whatever meat I am eating (thank goodness for chicken in 3 oz cans), plus some veggies (less than 1/8 cup). I have discovered a few goodies that taste great, like Beanitos chips, which have 4 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of fiber in a full serving. The good news is that I can have 1/2 of a serving and feel happy. My water intake most days is typically between 80-96 oz, with 64 being the barest minimum I allow myself. Here is a typical food day picture:
This day included a full serving of beanitos, chicken, cheese, a protein drink, veggies, and some other things. I'm feeling that I'm doing ok with balancing my diet.
I upped the sessions with my trainer this month to two per week, plus two additional days of cardio if I can squeeze it in, and it's going well. I can see improved definition in my arms and legs and my abs now report for duty on occasion. I love working with him, especially when he says things like "you surprised me that you could do that." It makes me want to try harder. I have really surprised myself that I enjoy working out as much as I do. It's like little mini hourlong vacations all to myself. This week, my contract with my trainer expires and so I am reupping for 12 months, continuing to go 2x per week. It feels like a really big step, but, as my therapist says, I am worth it. And, making this commitment ensures that I will keep going even after I reach goal. Accountability isn't to be underestimated, here. As I look around the gym, I see women that look like what I want to look like, so that is really good too.
This month I started working with my image consultant. My first appointment was amazing - I feel like I came away with the secrets to the universe unlocked. We identified my colors (I am a True Summer), and she put together this awesome book that has important things like hemlines and sleeve lengths customized to my body. I have a plan for shopping for new clothes, and I can go about it in a way that doesn't feel overwhelming. She sends me sale info and so I have managed to pick up some nice new Talbots outfits for about $35 each. Can't beat that. Sizewise, I still have NO IDEA what size I am in space. Rackwise, I am in a 16/18 misses. I decided a couple of weeks ago that I can't shop in women's sizes any more. My butt and legs are simply too small. I picked up jeans on sale in both an 18 and a 16. I picked up skirts in 16 and 14 (for a rainy day). I picked up some size L shirts from Talbots that fit great, and I also picked up an XL that I swim in. Realistically, I am probably a 14 up top and a 16/18 on the bottom. I head to London next month to run some meetings, and I will be looking spiffy in my new skirts and tops I bought! Now I just need some shoes.
I had labs run at the end of August and they came back normal, with the exception of Vitamin D. Here were my numbers:
A1C: 5.3 (normal is 4.8-5.6) was 5.9 in May
Total cholesterol: 118 (100-199) was 175 in May
Triglycerides: 62 (0-149) was 198 in May
VLDL: 12 (5-40) Was 40 in May
LDL: 65 (0-99) was 97 in May
HDL: 41 (>39) was 38 in May
fasting blood glucose: 67 (65-99) was 82 in May (on Metformin)
I shared these with the surgeon at my 3 month checkup. His reaction: "Good for you - you're not diabetic anymore. Go enjoy your life." Even though I was never truly diabetic based on my A1c readings, I was certainly heading that way. Still, his comment pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?
Other people's reactions
People have started to notice my loss. A few have asked how much I have lost, but the majority just ask what I'm doing. I tell them I have joined a gym, hired a trainer, eat small portions, etc. They know that hubby is health focused too so it makes the conversation smoother. I have decided that if someone asks me straight out whether I had surgery I will tell them the truth, but because I wouldn't volunteer the information if I had had a hysterectomy, for example, why mention this? The other thing I noticed is that I receive more eye contact from strangers. I must be in the process of becoming less invisible.
The head game
I have enjoyed my sessions with my therapist and feel they have helped me. I know that my self-perception of my body is still all out of whack. I hold up clothes and think, "there is no way...." and then they fit or are even roomy. She encourages me to do good things for my body, focused on respecting it. She encourages me to stay off the scale and I have made progress, now weighing only every other day. What's most interesting is that I can feel myself settling down. She has encouraged me to trust myself and what I'm doing, and reassures me that when I am eating only 800 calories a day, losing weight is unavoidable. I think getting to the realization of my weight loss patterns and being ok with them/accepting them has helped me to stay off the scale.
I did have something funny happen a couple of weeks ago. I seem to have forgotten I had surgery and had to change how I eat. Not that I ate badly, mind you, but I did prep badly. The first incident involved oatmeal. I prepped an entire bowl of oatmeal with protein powder. It wasn't until I sat down to eat it that I remembered there was no way in hell I could eat it all. So, I had my 1/3 of a cup and tossed the rest. I didn't feel I was missing anything, and I certainly didn't want to eat more than that, but I thought it was funny that I could forget so easily. Then, later that same week, I was calculating what I was going to eat for dinner, and I calculated in a full cup of Shelly's ricotta bake like it was the most natural thing in the world. When was the last time I ate a full cup of anything? It must have been early June, I think. Again, I just adjusted my totals to a realistic number and went on with it but it struck me as funny that I would just sort of lost my mind twice in one week.
How I felt
I crossed some big thresholds this month: Halfway to goal and welcome to onederland. I think my hormones have begun to shift, as evidenced by a much heavier period this month than I can remember in in a very long time. I feel I am looking sort of funny with my clothes off - sort of wrinkly and deflated, but I can't help but look at it as progress. I do hope my skin catches up with me at some point. I love that I can see muscles and bones beginning to emerge. I did spend a week or so being just exhausted around my period, but I rolled with it, listened to my body, rested when I felt I had to, and gradually my energy levels returned. I've stayed off of the stuff I detoxed from, caffeine being chief among them, and I'm really proud of that. Brain power is generally good. Physical energy is pretty good, too.
Sometime this month, I will cross another huge threshold: no longer obese. My BMI is at 30.9 at the moment; I need to lose 1 point to get there. 3-4 more pounds should put me there. My trainer has challenged me to lose 2% body fat again, so that will give me something to work toward. Both of those will be a big celebration, to be sure. Next month's post will either be early or late because I will be heading to the UK on the 12th.
First Post-op labs
Aug 31, 2013
Got my lab results! Normals are listed in parentheses. Last labs from May (3 months prior) are listed with *asterisks*.
A1C: 5.3 (normal is 4.8-5.6) *5.9*
Total cholesterol: 118 (100-199) *175*
Triglycerides: 62 (0-149) *198*
VLDL: 12 (5-40) *40*
LDL: 65 (0-99) -*97*
HDL: 41 (>39) *38*
Blood glucose: 67 (65-99) *82* (on Metformin)
TSH: 2.140 (0.450-4.500)
B12: 791 (211-946)
Time and again I am seeing how my body is responding favorably to these changes. I said I was doing this to outlive my mom, who died at age 49. I'm feeling really, really, really GREAT about my decision at the moment!
I can't tell you the last time my entire bloodwork panel was in line, without meds.
My awesome day with my Image Consultant
Aug 19, 2013
Today, I had my first in-person visit with my image consultant, Karen. She met me at the door with "You're so skinny!" followed by "you're all legs! Definitely good to hear. :)
I arrived wearing my new size 16 (note: no "W" following that number) pants, a sweater in a color I thought looked good on me, and a new XL blazer. All from NY and Company over the weekend. I love the new pants as I feel I actually have LEGS in them. For the next three hours, we did all sorts of things that weren't rocket science, but left me feeling as if I had discovered the secret to the universe.
She had given me (and my daughter) a homework assignment: Parse through magazines and cut out those pictures that resonated with me (and her, about me). We had fun and had cut out the same picture a number of times. I walked through each of these with Karen, telling her what I liked about each photo and why. We used this to develop my style personality, which is "classic". She explained why I have (had!) clothes in my closet that may have fit great, but that I didn't like to wear - because they didn't fit my style personality. She said I should complement my "Classic" wardrobe with items that are sporty, versus items that are dramatic or traditional. She also said that most of the items sold in stores are traditional, and so I need to not make the mistake of falling into the traditional trap and grabbing what is offered. I need to stay true to my personality. Princess Diana was/is one of my icons. I marveled over her grace and poise, and it turns out that she is/was one of the quintessential "Classic" personalities. That just fits me.
Here is one of Karen's blog posts discussing style personality: http://www.styleyouniversity.com/style-personality-dress-to-express/
Then we moved on to color analysis. I had a little mini-facial to remove my makeup and she dressed me in a gray hairdresser cape and gray surgical cap to neutralize my hair and clothing color. She, herself, even wore a gray smock. She sat me in front of a well-lit mirror, and proceeded to drape me with different fabric swatches about the size of placemats. It was fascinating to see how my skin tone, dark circles under my eyes, and skin smothness changes as she changed the swatches. Dark colors that I THOUGHT looked good on me washed me out and gave me dark circles. Colors I knew looked bad (orange!) still looked bad, but we stumbled across a subset of colors that evened out my skin, took away the shadows, and made the red in my skin less noticeable. It turns out I am a "pure summer", which is also called a "cool summer". I ended up with a swatch book of colors that I should look for. This link tells a little more:
She then took my measurements (different from the ones I have been measuring, actually), for something called the Fashion Code, which turned out to be a custom-generated book (52 pages) of best-bet lengths for hems, sleeves, and necklines. It was in my inbox when I got home today and it blew. me. away. Why do I like certain shirts but not others? The neckline was wrong. Why do some of my skirts look frumpy? Wrong length. Etc. etc etc. This all was based on MY measurements, so now I know what to look for in anything I buy, and why I love some of my scoop neck shirts just make me look and feel so good. OMG, this needs to become a must-buy for any woman entering the workforce.
Here is more information on it, including the play-at-home version: https://thefashioncode.com
We ended the day with Karen giving me a hit list of items to pick up. I need to start with foundation pieces in my neutral core colors of charcoal and black. This means I need to grab pants, jackets, skirts, and dresses as I find them. Then, she wants me to pick up different items (shirts, sweaters, blouses, etc.) in two accent colors I pick for the season. This will give me a good, basic, workable wardrobe that I can build on to. I think I am going to focus on cranberry and green, both of which I love, have confirmed will look great on me, and are in ready supply this fall. These little hotties are definitely on my list:
She gave me tips on accessorizing, telling me that there is an animal for each woman, and based on what I showed her, she's encouraging me to look at some leopard print, perhaps like this. How fun is this?
Our next stop is shopping prior to my trip to London in October - my first international facilitation gig! I am really worried about finding a coat that will get me through as long as possible. She found this one, which she thinks MAY fit me in a size 12-14 and get me through most of the winter if I layer. I may order one to see how it fits:
My head was swimming as I got home because of ALL THAT KNOWLEDGE! But, as I related the information to my husband and daughter, it all made good sense and I realized I understood it better than I thought it did. I just love feeling so empowered and knowledgeable on how to be beautiful.
60 days out
Aug 11, 2013
I haven't been blogging as much since I returned to work. I am hoping my posts will help me remember what was going on. First, i have some photos to share:
This may be the last month you see me in my bathing suit for this photo. It's getting loose in all the wrong places. I can see a difference, particularly in my face.
M2 Highlights (not in any particular order):
- Real food!
- A really stubborn weight loss
- Clearance to resume all activities
- Starting back with my trainer
- Did I mention...Real food!
- Learning to drink water like a boss
- Hired a therapist
- Hired an image consultant
- Took the best badge photo ever at work
- my first 5k
During M2, I have lost 11 pounds, exceeding my goal of 10. I'm pleased, although it's been stressful! From 7/12 through 7/30, I lost a total of 2.9 pounds. That was it! I was starting to freak out. I measured, and realized that I had lost more than 2.5 inches from my hips, but OMG, the question "is this all there is?" was ringing in my head.
I had my public whiny freak out moment on OH and was given two clear directives:
1. Drink more water
2. Amp up the exercise.
So I did. And you know what? It worked. These old timers are SMART. Check out my graph:
Beautiful, isn't it? I am having colleagues I haven't seen in a while ask if I've lost weight - two in the past week.
Foodwise, I have been so very stable with calories between 600-800 per day. Protein is consistently over 60 and as high as the low 100's. Carbs are generally 40 or below. There hasn't been anything I couldn't tolerate so far. It has been fun trying new (old) foods and discovering that the magic just isn't there like it used to be. I have discovered that I still have an extreme affection for tortilla chips, and so I must be careful with them, but the sleeve prevents me from eating very much, so I satisfy myself with nibbling on a few and find myself completely happy. I have myself in a really workable routine.
I am having to relearn how to trust myself around food. It was easy when I was on a restricted diet to say, oh, I can't have THAT, but now that all the restrictions are off, I need to use my brain and stick to my plan. Here is where I see the advantage of the sleeve tool. I know full well that I can eat whatever I want, but if I eat too much of it, I'm done. It'll be a couple of hours before I want anything else. If I get to feeling cocky and wanting to push it, my sleeve makes it really clear really fast who is boss. I haven't gotten sick (knock wood), but I have felt pretty crummy after eating on a couple of occasions. So, I know I am obligated to get my protein in. I have a limited amount of space and time in which to get it - which means I better be smart in how I do it. It really is just that simple. Wow.
The water trick I put into place is 4 (bottles) before 5 (pm). My goal each day is to get 4 bottles of water in before I leave work for the day. I refill my bottle before I leave, and can get another in on my commute home. Easy-peasy. A squirt of Mio and I'm good to go, just sucking that stuff down.
There is a lot of good going on. I am really digging my therapy sessions. And, I feel so much better on days I hit the gym. I am, for the time being, making decisions based on what *I* need for my body, not living like a cork in the ocean, just bobbing around at the currents.
As for my M3 goals -
- My therapist wants me to weigh every other day. I will try.
- Keep the water going
- Keep the gym love going
- Stay on plan, but experiment with foods so I don't get bored.
- 8 lb weight loss
Check out my uploaded photos to see the best badge picture ever.
6 week post op
Jul 25, 2013
Yesterday, my 6 week surgiversary, was a bit of a disaster. I had made an appointment with a therapist a week prior and she mentioned that she wanted me to stay off the scale. So I tried. I managed to stay off of the scale from last Thursday through yesterday.
Yesterday morning, I woke up and hopped on the scale. I was UP almost a 1/2 pound over last week, at 219.8.
I was MAD. I hollered at hubby, "I did NOT go through all this to stay stuck at fucking 220!!!!!" Then I apologized.
It wasn't his fault.
Nevermind all the NSV's like fitting into a pair of 16w's the day before (they were tight, but they zipped and I could sit in them), or losing 2.5" from my hips from last week to this week. I was still mad.
Then I started looking for reasons: For the week before, my water intake had been ok, but not great. Calories had been hovering around 550. Carbs had been 40g per day or less. I had walked the track 1x during that week, but had also had a lot of other walking and activity over the weekend.
The therapist who told me I need to focus on treating my body with respect. Interesting topic! She also said that as I got better at trusting myself and operating with respect for my body, I will decrease my reliance on external stuff like scales and measuring tape. That therapist is wise, I think. I look forward to continuing with her. The rest of the day was ok.
This morning I woke up and I threw caution to the wind and got on the scale. 219.8 yesterday. 218.1 today. WTH? At least I wasn't mad today.
I had my 6 week post op appt this morning and they were very complimentary of my progress. They said my next checkup will be in 6 weeks and by then, I only need to lose 10 lbs to meet their goal, so I continue to be ahead of schedule. Hearing this was good for me. It won't help me take my OWN pressure off, but knowing what the doc is expecting makes it easier.
I asked the doc about water = loss and what scientific basis there was behind it. Is there science or is it an old wives' tale? He said a little of both, but the thinking is that by having the body well-hydrated, it is less likely to try to absorb all calories in food that comes in. OK, I will buy that.
Speaking of water, I have found an unexpected benefit of my commute. I got in my shake with 16 oz of water on the way in and another 16 oz on the way home. So, I have had a great water day. They want me to not worry about calories until I get my protein in, and work to eliminate shakes as I can. They said this would likely equal up to about 800 calories per day.
I'm cleared to start exercising, and I already have an appt with the trainer for next week. I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things.
Lessons learned: for now, I need to keep weighing. Exercise and water, for me, are key. I wonder how many times I need to say that before I actually believe it and do it.
WLS survival tip: measuring as you go
Jul 18, 2013
I have found these little dandies to be immensely helpful:
I bought them over a year ago for my daughter's cake decorating activities, but I have now commandeered them for myself. Measurements are marked right on the bowl, and they have cute lids for storage. They are reasonably priced and dishwasher, freezer, oven, and microwave safe.
Handy, handy, handy.
Backstory: My insurance nightmare and happy ending story
Jul 18, 2013
I realize there is a gap in my blogs that covers this period of time, so I'm putting it here for reference.
My first submission went into UHC in December 2012. My BMI was 38.3 and my height, as I later found, varied by 1.5 self reported inches in the 6 years represented in my medical chart. My UHC plan required a BMI of 40 and 5 years documentation of MO by an MD. Don't worry, the insurance coordinator in my doctor's office told me, they'll take 35 with comorbidities. No, they didn't. I was denied in late December.
The doc's office clarified my height based on medical records, and resubmitted to the next level appeal. By then, we had missed the window for peer to peer. This was in mid January. I was denied again, this time by a UHC plastic surgeon, still because I was underfat/overtall. At this point the insurance coordinator said there was nothing else she could do for me. That day, I hired Walter Lindstrom's office.
The next appeal was to my husband's employer. It was due in late March. Lindstrom's office put together a 60 page document explaining how UHC's guidelines were outdated and how I should really qualify, and added another 60 pages of my medical record. At the top of the pile was an official statement of height and weight from my PCP. These latest values put me over the threshold of 40. We expected roughly 30 days to hear a reply....nothing.
Kelley Lindstrom started calling the employer to see if she could get a status update. The person we sent the packet to, as dictated in the second level denial letter, no longer worked there. Since it was my husband's employer, he scoured his Outlook directory for HR contacts. Kelley used this to find one who could confirm it had been submitted to the right place but could not find it. We had to resend, but we weren't penalized because we had a delivery receipt prior to the due date. By this point, it was late April.
This contact then was able to get us on the docket for the internal review board for early May. Kelley worked with her to get her to really understand what was going on, why their criteria was outdated, the key points she should address, etc. We were not allowed to present on my behalf. This contact was going to handle everything on my behalf in this meeting.
Kelley called me the night before and said she felt we had a 75% chance of things going well. It was my Hail Mary pass. My last chance. If I was denied, I had no recourse or options for external review because of the way the insurance plan was structured. My next option was going to have to be to keep the weight on, and restart the submission process after 6 months from the original submission date. The only hopeful thought I had at that point was that because my weight had ballooned, I would certainly qualify based on the stated criteria.
I expected not to hear anything for the remainder of the week, but Kelley called me the day after the review board met to tell me I had won. Even more importantly, the company's medical director realized, as a result of the thoroughness of the argument that Lindstrom's had put together, that their criteria was outdated and that they were telling UHC to change it. So, not only had I won my battle, but I had made it easier for others who followed to get their surgery, as well. I was elated.
An important thing to note, here. I didn't win automatically because I now qualified based on my confirmation of height and weight, but the height certification was important. Typically, they won't allow NEW medical information to be added (e.g. my weight continued to climb), but height apparently was assumed to be static, something that doesn't change. So, the committee considered my height as confirmed by my PCP. That value superseded all of the other height readings in my chart.
My surgery was June 12. I probably could have had it earlier, but decided to hold off a couple of weeks in order to finish a project at work.
I feel for anyone caught in denial hell. The first 6 months of 2013 were awful for me. I had had to reject a number of dreams (I will be looking much better for swimsuit season, I will be close to normal by the 2013 work holiday party, etc etc etc.). I was not able to lose weight, not knowing what was going to happen next. I was in limbo mentally and physically. I was miserable. It was awful.
My advice: fight the fight if you're denied, no matter the reason. Get an advocate (I really recommend Walter Lindstrom) if you can't fight it yourself. Don't give up, but pity parties are ok, and probably necessary. And, talk to someone who's been there. A friend...hell, me! Message me if you need to. I understand. It is a sucky reality but it is winnable. Hang in there, and most importantly, be strong.
Related post: Tips for newbies worried about qualifying for their insurance: http://www.obesityhelp.com/forums/insurance/4634683/Tips-for-newbies-who-are-worried-about-qualifying-for/
My month 1 closeout and proving I lost inches while stalled
Jul 13, 2013
Yesterday was my 1 month surgiversary. I did photos, measurement, and weigh in.
By The Numbers
I had started playing around with better diet at the end of May, even though the official start of my preop diet wasn't until 5/29. I thought the first of the month would be easy to remember. I measured on the 23rd to see if I could attempt to capture evidence of the elusive 3 week stall and the veterans' advice that you are losing inches during that time. More later on this topic. I remeasured on 7/1, a month down from the original measurement, and again on my 1 month surgiversary.
In total, I lost 28.3 pounds in the period of time from 6/1 through 7/12, so most of my preop phase through 1 month out. In that same time, I lost 19.25 inches.
Most importantly, I hit my goal of 20 pounds down since the morning of surgery. I also know that it's going to slow down rapidly from here, but I am pleased with the head start that I got.
My measurements really surprised me, and although it is too early on a Saturday for me to be doing any sort of serious math, I can certainly play around with visuals. So, I mapped my measurement info on top of my weight loss graph. Here is what I found:
First, that spike between 6/10 and 6/17 is my post surgery spike. If you are a newbie and you see this, let me clarify: YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT IN THE HOSPITAL - in my case, 10 pounds. Luckily, mine came off pretty quickly - within days, and I was able to get down to business.
As you can see by the graph, I never really stalled, but I did hit what I referred to as the doldrums in late June starting at around 2 weeks out. Loss was sluggish at best, stagnant at worst, and I was trading the same half pound back and forth for a few days there. So, we'll call that my "3 week stall". I marked it on the graph.
You might have heard vets tell you if you are not losing pounds, you are likely losing inches. I wanted to see if I could find this for myself. I started looking around at what my measurements were doing in that time. I marked them on the graph, as well. I did a little bit of math, and found this. Between the first and second measurements (8.5" lost), it equated to an average of .38 inches lost per day. In the second segment (3.5" lost), it equated to an average of .43 inches lost per day. BUT, in the final segment, which included the tail end of my "stall" and beyond, (7.25" lost) it equated to an amazing .60" lost per day. That is over 1/2 an inch per day lost off of my body! No WONDER it felt during this time like my pants fit loosely one day but reached comical, clown-pant proportions seemingly overnight. So, in Mythbuster fashion, I will rate the advice that if you are not losing pounds you are probably losing inches...
Here is why I didn't rate it confirmed. I could not prove, based on the measurements I did, that inch loss occurred at the same time as pound loss. But, I will say it shows that there are good things going on internally when we're stalled (or, for me, sailing in circles). More importantly, it probably also proves that I will never win the Nobel Prize for math, so if anyone who is/was a math major reads this and wants to take a swing at some different analysis, I will be more than happy to share my raw data.
How I'm feeling
I think the sleeve and I have ended the first month on really good terms.
On protein: In the first month, my sleeve and I had one mild disagreement over a Chike shake, leading me to the conclusion that while Chike shakes taste good, I need to avoid them for the time being. Unjury is providing the smoothest sailing for me at the moment. Even my preop go-to, Isopure, tastes very metallic now. Oh, and I cannot forget my old friends Syntrax Nectar Lemon Tea and Roadside Lemonade. They have really gotten me through, with their 100 calorie, thin liquid, non-creamy goodness. My only gripe about the Nectar shakes is that when I put them in my shaker bottle, I get a lot of foam, which is somewhat offputting. If I stir them in a cup, they don't really mix all that well, but there is less foam.
On eating: My doc seems to have a very conservative diet advancement plan, so at 30 days out, I have only spent about 3 days on pureed. And you know what, that is ok. I still find myself reverting back to full liquids (blenderized soup) for lunch most days. I'm playing around with how to amp up protein, like adding 2 tablespoons of unflavored Greek yogurt to some spicy soup (hint: it tastes like sour cream!). It's very doable at the moment. My best purchase was my Magic Bullet blender. I blenderize everything in that thing. Highly worth it.
On drinking: I have learned a few things: 1. It is hard for me to drink drink drink, so I needed my in-your-face reminder rings (see previous blog post about human abacus method of tracking liquid consumption). 2) room temp beverages go down much more gracefully than cold. 3) flavored beverages go down much more gracefully than unflavored, but strong flavorings stop me in my tracks. (see my previous blog post about 2 things I won't do again). 4) I lose better the more water I consume.
On energy: The first two weeks, I felt like this:
I would try to do something (like get up and brush my teeth) and at the beginning, I'd feel fine. But, not long into it, I was just wiped out, sort of like the chicken at the bottom of the image, in the walkway. I was on track to become a contender for the Olympic napping team. Toward the end of that time, I rapidly felt better, and once that started, I started talking to my doc and boss about returning to work. The doc was unconvinced, but I persuaded him that the brain was coming back online, but I recognized the body was lagging and needed more time, so how about working remotely? Everyone was happy about that, and I returned on POD 28, from the comfort of my bedroom recliner chair. Perhaps happiest of all was my family. Once the brain woke up it noticed plenty of things that needed to be done around the house, and since the body was still on restriction, this meant they were elected to carry out my work. So, they were more than happy to have mom distracted with work again.
I return to work, swimming, working out with my trainer, and, well, anything else I want to do in less than two weeks. I think it is funny how the doc said that once I clear my 6 week checkup, I will be cleared to do kickboxing (if I want. I don't want). It amuses me that one day I cannot lift 26 pounds but the next, I can kickbox. I am sure there is a progression underneath here somewhere, but since they are not tracking me every day, I appreciate that I need to follow the rules till then.
On healing: 3/4 of my incisions are closed and fine, but still feel a little "grabby" inside now and then. I figure this means they're still healing on the inside. The one in my belly button continues to lag, but it looks like it's in the final stages of losing the last of the scab now. Immediately after surgery, I was covered in a lacy, itchy rash on my abdomen and back. I figure it was either a reaction to the iodine prep stuff they used, a generalized reaction to the steristrips, and/or a reaction to CT contrast they used when checking me for clots.
On getting on with my life: Two big things have happened: First, I bought clothes from a regular store, in a size XL. (you will see the dress in my photo at the end). Second, I hired an image consultant to help me redefine my style. I am already learning a lot and am looking forward to Laurie 2.0 as we go. I cannot wait to restart with my trainer, and I think the combination of the three will be such a great combination. I work my sleeve + work out and keep losing, my image consultant helps me target my look, and I keep shopping in regular stores! Wheeeee!
Finally, here is a photo of me taken last night, with my son who graduated from high school (in my XL size dress):