Friday, September 25, 2009

It's been a year

So this is it... my very own "I'm one year out!" post. Yes, it's been a year since I had my surgery.

In that time I've lost:

-110 pounds (give or take depending on the day)
-97.5 inches
-my ravenous appetite
-at least 38% body fat (I'm having trouble getting an accurate measurement on this one)

And I've gained:

-a whole lot of new friends, both online and in real life
-an athlete's body and lifestyle
-my life back

Okay, I didn't really get my life back. I got somebody else's much more fun and exciting life.

That's because I started this journey as a head and now I'm a whole body. Which is my way of saying I've transformed myself from a very intellectual person who would rather read a book or have an analytical discussion and ignored my body into an endurance athlete who loves the outdoors and can't stop moving and loves my body.

I also have seen a great improvement in my health. I'm off my blood pressure meds and my blood pressure is normal. My GERD is much improved, but I'm still on a PPI and I have to admit I'm slightly disappointed in that. Losing weight also helped with my plantar fasciitis, which is in remission even though I run several times a week. It also helped my "allergies" but only because many of my symptoms were actually undiagnosed GERD. My joints are a lot less creaky too.

I did my 1 year labs but they haven't been posted to my PAMF online account due to a technicality so I don't know what they look like, yet. My 3 month labs were quite good though and I'm not expecting any surprises. I'll see them when I go in for my official one year follow-up visit with Dr. Awesome, if I can't get them posted sooner than that.

It didn't do anything for my incontinence though. Actually, I think it might have made it worse. Therefore, I finally gave in and went on VESIcare to relax my bladder. It's been amazing and I wish I'd started taking it sooner.

My pap and mammogram and DEXA scan were all normal as well though apparently I do have some slight scoliosis -- my spin curves slightly to the right. However, I used to have a hump and that is mostly gone. I'm also shorter than I was a year ago. (I have always gone up and down in height by about 1/2 an inch and losing weight apparently hasn't changed that--I was hoping I'd get taller!)

How did I do it? (Everyone asks me this)

I was very strict during the first 6-7 months of the weight loss phase. I journaled everything I ate and every exercise I did. I kept my carbs pretty low. I kept down the treats. As a result, I lost pretty fast. I got to my initial goal of a normal BMI at 6.5 months and continued to lose after that. I also never stalled. I am sure that is because (a) I was strict with myself and (b) I tracked everything so I could see when I was getting off track before it led to a stall.

I also exercised much more than average. At first this was solely motivated by the desire to lose weight. But once I signed up for my first triathlon, everything changed. It gave me athletic goals outside of weight loss. I had paces I wanted to improve and distances I wanted to conquer. And that meant increasing the time and the intensity of my training.

The great thing about having fitness goals outside of weight loss is that now that I've lost all the weight I want to, I still have reasons to keep moving. This helps with maintaining my weight even if that's not really my motivation any more. Previously, once I was at goal, I couldn't motivate myself to keep exercising.

Did you ever expect to get this small and fit? (Another question I get asked a lot.)

My answer is No, but also Yes.

When I first started looking into weight loss surgery, I was thinking of my goal weight in dieter's terms. I figured I could get down to 145 lb. and maybe stay there. I wanted to be a size 12, or better yet a 10, if I could get there.

But as I researched more and read more people's stories, I started to see that WLS is not like dieting. I saw people get down to healthy BMIs and become athletes. Eventually, I decided I wanted that transformation for myself. Did I think I could get it? Most of me doubted. But I opened myself up to it and I think that's all it took -- being open to transformation.

How much can you eat? (This question comes up all the time on the boards.)

I can eat a lot. I consume an average of 2000 calories a day. I've gradually moved up to that in order to stop my weight loss. I do have to work at it though. I have to eat three meals and three snacks and also I need to consume calories around my workouts that are separate from my meals and snacks.

I can eat anywhere from 3 oz. to 7 oz. depending on what it is, how slow I eat, if I take a break and finish the rest of the meal later, etc. At seven months out, I took the cottage cheese test and was able to eat 5 oz. of cottage cheese. This surprised me as Dr. Awesome is known for making very small sleeves, yet I had one of the higher numbers among the group that took this test. Today I repeated it and I could eat 6-7 oz! (I didn't have tub so my measurements weren't as exact as I would have liked.)

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I want as much restriction as possible as I'm deathly afraid of regain. On the other, it would be nice to go out to eat with people and be able to eat enough that they don't comment on how little I can eat.

What are the bad things about the sleeve/surgery?

To some extent, there aren't any. I'm wildly happy with how everything has turned out. I got healthier and thinner. I've made all my goals and then some.

However, I did have my "pissy period" where I was constantly annoyed with how little I could eat and worried that I'd be like that forever (even though I knew in my head that I'd be able to eat more as time went on). And there are still times I eat too much and get pain or "the foamies" even at one year out.

I have to take a lot of vitamins too. I don't really mind this as much as I used to, but there are times when I'm with "civilians" and they don't understand. I like to be normal and taking vitamins four times a day isn't normal.

Also, as I said already, I'm still on my PPI. That is also annoying. I'm positive that my heartburn is being caused by something I'm eating, but I can't figure out what.

But that's about it.

Do you follow all the rules?

I still journal all my food and I plan to continue until I get comfortable enough to be able to know how my eating is going without it. I'm not at that point yet, but I hope to be some day.

I don't drink with my meals. I do sometimes start drinking before 45 minutes are up, either because I forget what time I stopped eating or because I got behind in my drinking and am worried I won't get enough fluid in. I do find that I get hungrier if I don't wait the full 45 min. or more, so I try not to do this.

The exception is for what I call "fueling". When I'm on a four hour bike ride, I can't be waiting 45 min. to drink after having a gel or I'll get dehydrated. So "fueling" is all about slider foods and drinking while I eat and drinking my calories. If I think of it as "fueling" with its own rules, it doesn't lead to bad habits though. At least not so far.

I eat foods that my surgeon tells us we should never eat again. I won't say "bad" foods, becauseI don't think of foods that way and I think putting foods in good and bad buckets is actually not mentally healthy.

Instead, I have my nutritional goals. I try to eat 1640 calories a day plus whatever calories I've burned in exercise. I try to get at least 115 grams of protein. I try to keep my carbs under 200 grams a day -- around 175 grams on average. If I do that, then I maintain and my eating is relatively healthy and I feel in control of my eating.

If I can do that and have a small piece of brownie and I feel like having a brownie, then I do. If I find myself craving all sorts of slider foods and eating three brownies a day -- even if I am still meeting my nutritional goals -- then I'll cut back on the treats for a while, because clearly I've crossed some sort of line and, long term, that kind of eating will not allow me to maintain.

I weigh myself every day, but I only record my weight on Mondays. If my weight goes over 115 pounds at any time, then I consciously cut back even if means "depriving" myself. (But I don't think of it that way, either. I think of it as the natural consequence of over-indulging.) If my weight goes under 110 pounds, then I eat more, because I don't want to have too low body fat or be all skin and bones.

Obviously, I also still exercise. I'm currently aiming for 10 hours a week on average. And I'm going to sign up to do my first Ironman next year. That may or may not change my training. I have a triathlon coach now, so I just do what he says.


My final stats

Weight Loss:
Start Weight: Fluctuated between 220.5 and 223.5
Weight Day of Surgery: 191
Current weight: 111.8 this morning, but it still fluctuates a lot; it's usually in the 111-114 range but has been as low as 108.7 and as high as 115.5.
Goal weight: 110-115

Monthly Losses:
Highest Weight: 223 (as of Feb. 2008)
Weight Date of Surgery: 191 - 32 lb. loss in 7 months
First month: 179, 12 lb. loss
Second month: 167, 12 lb. loss
Third month: 159, 8 lb. loss
Fourth month: 151, 8 lb. loss
Fifth month: 144, 7 lb. loss
Sixth month: 134, 10 lb. loss
Seventh month: 128, 8 lb. loss
Eighth month: 122, 6 lb. loss
Ninth month: 116, 6 lb. loss
Tenth month: 113, 3 lb. loss
Eleventh month: 113, 0 lb. loss

Inches lost:

Body Part

1 year



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