A year later…

I met the goal I set for myself when I began this journey about a year ago: I lost the 75 # I had regained after once having lost 100#, and I’m more physically fit than I’ve been in years.
Those successes, however, pale in comparison to another, and it centers on the name of this website: The Biggest Liar. I’ve said before that I relapsed into my eating disorder because I listened to the voice in my head that said I needed food to cope with my feelings. Until the past 2 1/2 weeks, however, I had not faced a true test of healing and recovery from my eating disorder.

I experienced workplace incidents that triggered the PTSD I have as a result of childhood trauma, specifically Childhood Sexual Abuse. Moving past this has been especially difficult in light of the fact that I cannot merely avoid returning to the place where I was triggered; I obviously have to go to work every day. The fallout of being triggered was experiencing  symptoms that I have not experienced in years, most powerfully that of dissociation and confusion. I didn’t “eat over it.”

Last week, two of five kittens that a stray pregnant cat gave birth were slaughtered in the most horrendous way by some neighbor dogs. I was able to place the surviving three with a local humane society and they went into foster homes–as in–INSIDE foster homes. I was unable to bring the kittens, who will be six weeks old tomorrow,  inside our house, and my efforts to keep them safe failed. I am hoping that time will make what I saw not so vivid in my head. It was awful. Again, this would have been something I numbed myself over, but I didn’t.

I first began eating a lot of sweets as a child–but it really took hold and became extreme binge eating when I as a teenager, after I told my mom what had been happening to me at my stepdad’s hands and nothing was done to help me.

I had fleeting thoughts of pigging out as a result of the traumatic events of the past weeks, but the thoughts passed relatively quickly, I believe, in part because I cannot physically DO THAT any more. I could make unhealthy choices, and I caught myself starting to automatically choose protein bars over “real food”, but I am staying mindful.

In truth, in the worst of the past weeks, I actually went the other extreme, finding it nearly impossible to eat. At the end of one day, I updated my food tracker and realized I had only consumed 245 calories. The tracker enables me to pay attention to my protein intake as well as calories, carbs, & fluids, so I forced myself to consume some food. When I was in the throes of my eating disorder, I used to alternately binge-starve-binge-starve–but I don’t think that is what was going on so much as just being so anxious that I didn’t have an appetite at all.

I feel like I’m coming out of the fog, and I made it through without, for example, going to Sonic and getting a milkshake. I haven’t had any sugar like that in over a year, and there’s this thing called Dumping Syndrome which is supposed to be awful, and it happens when sugar/high fat are consumed after so long NOT eating it. Besides, I’m proud of the progress I’ve made.

I’ve never given weight numbers all along, but now I will. At my heaviest, before 2004, I weighed 225 pounds. I had gotten back up to 205. I now weigh 130. For most of my high school years, I was between 135-140, and, Lord, did I think I was huge. My biggest dream was losing 20 pounds so I could be stick-thin like the cheerleader types. Sadly, big round butts were not “in” when I was in high school, or I would have been the envy of all (LOL).

Last time I saw my primary care doctor, he was enthusiastically talking about how, after I lost all my weight, I could have plastic surgery and have my loose tummy skin tucked and my boobs lifted and my arms tightened. Aside from not having a money tree in my backyard, I intend to have none of that stuff done. My body is my body. We have been through a lot together, and we have the scars to prove it. I am not judging others who have such procedures done, but I have no desire to undergo cutting and pain and the risks inherent in such major surgery, besides that I swore I will NEVER undergo surgery again unless NOT having surgery will allow me to die.

Nope. I’ll take my skin, all of it, and continue to work daily to eat healthy, work out to the best of my ability, and enjoy the benefits of not carrying around the equivalent of 2 huge bags of dog kibble on my body.

Right now, I’m one-day-at-a-timing it, taking baby steps to get through the dregs of being triggered, and looking forward to finding my long-lasting “Steady On.”

 

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4 month update! Questions? Comments? Concerns? Quandaries?

Hey-o, I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m doing great. I’ll warn y’all now: this post is chatty as can be, so if you’re not in a chatty mood, move on by.

I had my 2nd post-op follow up this past week, and the surgeon was very pleased with my progress. I’ve lost almost 60 pounds from my highest weight, I’m working out 6 days a week, and the hip pain I had before is better in that my left hip no longer hurts. My right hip still does, but I found out it’s not weight-related.  When I fell in a restaurant in May 2017, it was a really violent blow to what the physical therapist scientifically (LOL) called “the butt bone.” NOT my tailbone, but the bottom edge of my pelvis.
My husband stayed on my butt (no pun intended) about getting an MRI to find out what’s wrong, and the MRI showed that I have a partially torn tendon (gluteus minimus) where it connects to the hip bone (trochantor), and bursitis, which is inflammation of the cushion between the bones (I think…).
I just started physical therapy this last week, and– this is an indication of my seriousness about getting my life back to where I’m not dealing with this pain any more– I am going for a cortisone shot on Tuesday. I am a complete wuss about stuff like this, but I am reasoning that since I hurt like a M-F when I walk too long, I can’t lay on my right side without pain, and I also can’t use stairs, kneel, or squat (the last 2 mean I can’t work in my garden, which pisses me off), it’s stupid to allow my fear to keep me from getting a treatment that could allow me to have my full life. I mean, seriously, y’all: I get 21 Botox shots in my head every 12 weeks for my migraines, and I fought the doctor for a year, avoiding getting the shots, because of my fear. Are the shots pleasant? NO. But they’re not as bad as one would think, and within a couple of weeks, the Botox sets in and I’m able to have a normal life, where before I was very limited by chronic pain. (That’s part of the reason I fell into relapse, turning to my drug of choice: food, to soothe myself.) So if Botox shots help so much AND if I’m tough enough to handle those shots, I can certainly handle ONE shot in my hip.
After I get the shot and it does its thing, it’s possible that the inflammation will go down and NOT come back. At any rate, I’ll be able to make progress to weight-bearing exercises, which will strengthen my hip muscles– and I am determined to make great progress before I have to go back to work! Since I do a recumbent bike 45 minutes 6 days a week at varying resistances, I have more strength in my right leg than the physical therapist expected.
I’m going to be flying out of state soon, and I’m hoping after I get the shot, it will mean I am not lurching like Quasimodo as I trek to my gate. So weird: that’s how this whole adventure started: when my hips hurt so badly and I couldn’t walk without basically waddling that I got to my gate and immediately called Methodist Weight Loss Institute in Dallas. (That’s the bariatric surgery program they have at Methodist Hospital.)

October 2017

On the very first post I made, I included a photo of myself at a book festival event. Here’s one where I was signing books & cards for students.

This surgery has been the best decision for me to manage not just my weight, but my eating disorder issues, as well. I have adjusted very well to the restrictions and taking vitamins and other meds.

June 2018, with my daughter who inspired me to have this surgery because of her success.

I already take meds 3 times a day anyway, so I didn’t have to learn a new habit. I have not had the urge to binge, and when I was in full blown relapse, I was having food issues nearly every day (again.) Do I have little blips go through my mind sometimes? Yes. But I don’t act on them and I don’t feel “electrified” with the compulsion to eat. I’m happy.

If you are considering having this surgery, just know that it requires rule-following and for you to have a mental outlook that sees the sleeve as a tool, not as a way to feel left out of what others are eating, and not as a way to eat a bunch of crap and get away with it.  I could eat nearly anything I want at this point, but I choose to stick to protein and produce. So many of the foods that are on the “avoid” list are also my binge foods, so it doesn’t hurt my feelings to not eat them, especially since when it comes to stuff like cookies, ice cream, bread, etc., NO AMOUNT COULD EVER BE ENOUGH. When I eat that stuff, I’m thinking about where I can get more, before I’m even finished chewing the first mouthful.

I am feeling so much better, y’all, and it’s not about appearance for me. It’s not even about being able to wear clothes I used to be able to wear before I gained weight. I just feel FREE of the urge to stuff myself until I can’t move.

I don’t know how much more weight I’ll lose. I am getting around 1,000 calories a day now, so I guess my body will stop losing weight when it’s reached a natural set point. My goal when I started out is about 15 pounds from where I am now, but I’m not worrying about it. I have a big box of clothes the next size down that I need to switch out with the stuff that’s too big now, and then another set below that. All these are clothes I used to be able to wear before I relapsed over a period of several years. Another good thing: I haven’t had to buy one stitch of clothing. When I end up with clothes that are too big, I’ve been bagging them up and taking them to Goodwill.

If you are contemplating this surgery yourself, I want to warn you that there will be people who discourage you from having it done or who had it done and regained the weight (it IS possible–completely as possible–to regain weight as it would be if you did not have a stomach the size of a skinny banana and unable to hold more than 4 oz. of food at a time. There’s plenty of stuff to eat that would fit in there. Milkshakes, anyone? Hmm?) You will also read things about marriage/divorce and some of the unpleasant side-effects of the surgery, i.e. loose skin from losing so fast, etc. I am a member of some private Facebook support groups for people who have had this surgery.
Some of the concerns/kvetching I see posted there include the following. (Please don’t take me as being judgy about these. I’m going to write (in parentheses) what I would do to make sure my needs are met in these circumstances, because that’s a way I take care of myself. I think this is from my childhood, but not having my needs met–or the perception of same–is a trigger for me in the realm eating disorder and anxiety disorder.)
The following is inspired by info I’ve read on forums I follow:

1. “I went to [insert special event here] and couldn’t eat what everyone else was eating, and I cried.” (I’d bring something I know I can eat in the event that all there is in the way of “special event” food is lard sandwiches and sticks of butter or something equally unfriendly to my goals. Again: I COULD eat just about anything if I wanted to, but I did not have 85% of my stomach removed and experience everything I went through to get to the surgery, PLUS the yicky experience I had with the anesthesia, to throw it all away. I’ve been healthier before and I fell into relapse. I do NOT want to be in that place again.)

2. “My husband said [insert ugly thing here about the person’s appearance before AND/OR after weight loss.]” (Well, first of all, my comment on things like that is, “Invite him to go f–k himself as the earliest possibility.” I don’t know if I’m just lucky or what, but my husband has loved me at my highest and lowest weight, and he does not make comments on the way my body looks no matter what I weigh. He’ll tell me I look nice and all that, but he doesn’t verbally dissect my body to note the changes in it. The ONLY time he’s said anything about me needing to lose weight was when I developed sleep apnea again and he said, “If you ever lose weight again, I’ll bet the sleep apnea will go away.” And he was right, it did. But I didn’t do this just because he made that comment.)

3. “I can’t survive on the liquid diet.” (Yes, you can. Plus, following the rules on the liquid diet prior to surgery means your liver is shrunk up to make the surgery easy to perform. My liver was so tiny that the doctor only had to do 3 incisions instead of 4-5. Chicken broth (I added pepper to mine), vegetable broth, beef broth, sugar free popsicles, protein shakes (including ready made like Premier brand and ones you make yourself, like Muscle Milk…there’s lots of ways to cope. And pee. You will have to pee like crazy.)

4. “I can’t survive on the soft diet.” (Yes, you can. Plus, the reason for the soft diet for the first 4-6 weeks after the surgery is because 85% of your stomach was removed, and they stapled the sleeve along the edge. Do you seriously want to “cheat” on this part and risk blowing out part of your new tiny tummy? PLUS, I still eat a lot of soft foods now because I find them easier to go down.)

5. “I heard that 50% of marriages end in divorce after one of the spouses has this surgery.” (Well, I’ve heard that 50% of all marriages end in divorce regardless of whether one spouse has bariatric surgery. I’ve read posts from spouses who feel so much better about themselves after they lose weight that they choose to dump the partner who acts like the one I reference in item 2. I’ve also read posts about people who divorce because the partner is so insecure that he or she assumes that since their spouse lost weight, that means they are going to cheat. Another common thread is that the husband/family did not want the woman to get the surgery so he/they is/are punishing her now for getting it by providing her no support or assistance when she’s tuckered out from having major surgery…. like I said, I must be really lucky, because none of those issues are present in my marriage/family. ALSO, I think the above issues for these people were probably there in some way before weight loss happened. I would NOT allow these fears to keep me from getting healthy.)

6. Another one: “My spouse, “X”, does not like my body because I have loose skin.” (Hm. Reminds me of this Dr. Phil episode. The woman had a male friend and they wanted to take their relationship to the next level but he couldn’t stand to see her body in a swimsuit (or, I’m assuming, without the swimsuit.)  This is all kinda weird to me–that they were like this–and the lady wanted to have surgery to remove the extra skin because THEN this guy– who, honestly, was NOT anything to write home about–would love her. He was going to loan her the money for the surgery, but he wasn’t sure if his “investment” would “pay off.”
How freaky is that, y’all? I told my husband this morning that if certain parts of my body get any lower, I’ll be able to tuck them into my waistband, mmkay? I’m not thrilled about the situation where I have loose skin or “flat” body parts, but rapid weight loss causes that, and it’s not like we don’t know that ahead of time. Within 18 months, anything that’s gonna tighten up will do it… and things that won’t tighten, I suppose, can always be rolled up. (HA ha ha.) ALSO, there’s a lot of talk about skin-tightening cream on the forums I follow. I  kind of doubt that any skin-tightening cream will work, but I’m sure the loose skin will be nice and moisturized.)
Here’s what I’ve learned about plastic surgery after bariatric surgery, based on what I’ve heard from other people who have pursued having loose skin removed:  insurance won’t pay for it unless the extra skin is also a medical issue, like it has rashes or it gets in the way of being able to do basic self-care. AND, here’s what I’ve learned about myself: there is no friggin’ way I’m going through surgery again unless I’m dying. Besides that, even if I had tens of thousands of dollars to have some doctor cut and tighten, I can think of better ways to spend the money. I’m not judging anyone else who has it done–and there are some people who medically need it in order to be healthy, but it’s not for me.
OH and by the way? Paul, the guy on the Dr. Phil show, said that Dawn’s stomach looks like a pork rind. I would have to do it, y’all: I would HAVE to invite him to f–k off at his earliest opportunity. What a douchecanoe.)

7.  “You mean I can’t drink [insert name of soda here] any more? I hate my life!” (I saw a former teaching partner yesterday and told her that I no longer drink Diet Coke. She was surprised, because I was a Diet Coke addict. I used to bring my own case (it’d last me a week) and kept it in my classroom fridge. I started the day with a Diet Coke and was rarely without one all day long. I had begun to lose my taste for it over the past year or so, but when I knew that this was something I had to give up, I did it. December 23, 2017, was the date of my last Diet Coke. It is not lost on me that I sound like someone who gave up drinking or drugs on a certain day. I was heavily addicted to caffeine.
Anyway: YES you can give up soft drinks. Compare your love for that soda to your future as a healthier person. I order water with a slice of lemon when I go out; I drink a lot of Crystal Light, although some of them are too acidic and bother my stomach, and I’m experimenting with that. Crystal Light Peach Mango Green Tea is one I can handle. Plus, I drink a ton of water. I could also drink decaf tea if I wanted. Caffeine is also a no-no because of stomach irritation.


The program I went through, Methodist Weight Loss Institute, did a great job of prepping me for what to expect, and meeting with the nutritionist for 4 months prior to surgery helped me because I was accountable in terms of a weigh in– couldn’t gain an ounce!, and in setting goals for what I would work on. I think the key is accountability, which is why I have this website. I thought about deleting it since I rarely write on it, but I want to keep it up because it provides me with accountability, whether or not anyone but me reads it.


Questions? Comments? Concerns? Quandaries? Hmm? (That’s what I ask my students after I explain something.)
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. They are moderated and you will not see it appear until I approve it, but ask away if you want.

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The book I co-wrote that nudged me toward exiting relapse AND ch-ch-ch-changes goin’ on here…

How co-writing my latest book, Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt, nudged me toward overcoming eating disorder relapse
Every significant change in my life since the early 2000s has been documented in published form through characters: I wrote Courage in Patience, Hope in Patience,  and Truth in Patiencea teen girl’s story of recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse, as I went through the same journey. I was able to be much more understanding and empathetic to the main character, Ashley Nicole Asher, than I was to myself at the time. Stepping outside of myself to see the process through her eyes allowed me to let go of a lot of shame.

After finishing therapy–I lost a great deal of weight while in recovery–I subsequently regained a chunk of that weight because I listened to The Biggest Liar–which is that voice in my head that insists I can eat like other people do, AND that food is the ticket to feeling emotionally better when I experience sadness or anger–so I wrote Big Fat Disaster. It’s the story of a girl who is Odd Girl Out in her family. Mom & sisters are Barbie look-alikes and Colby has her dad’s former UT linebacker body type as well as the Binge Eating Disorder he suffers from. They bond through baking cakes, making icing, and eating a lot, and in large part because of that, when her family splits up, cake icing is her go-to drug. She eats to soothe herself as her life is crumbling around her. I sought to tell what it’s REALLY LIKE to be in that mind-space of feeling electrically charged to numb out with food–it’s an impulse that is hard to describe, but I tried–while at the same time, she runs her hands over her stomach at night and prays that some miracle will occur and she’ll wake up and they’ll be gone. I know very much what that’s like as well. I have an advanced degree is self-loathing.

The spark for that story came from me being in a place of practically “popping” awake one day–as if I’d been in this years-long daze–and having the realization of, “Oh, shit, I’m fat again,” and those self-hating thoughts that I’d suffered with my entire life and done battle with in therapy and seemed to have conquered–were back with the same tsunami-force waves of shame that they’d had back in the dark days before therapy. And I realized that I had to question that–really challenge that–because I AM different than I was before I got well. I am fundamentally DIFFERENT, and I fought like hell to learn to love myself, so WHY IN THE HELL WAS IT OKAY FOR ME TO HATE MYSELF AGAIN, JUST BECAUSE I REGAINED SOME WEIGHT?
And I decided that it WASN’T okay to do that. I sought to explore that by writing Big Fat Disaster (the title is in reference to the main character, Colby, overhearing her mom telling her sister, “Colby’s a big fat disaster, eating everything in sight…”)
Spoiler alert: writing the book did not make me buckle down and deal with my shit. Not really. I was roller-coastery about it until this past fall when, as I wrote in When I Made Up My Mind, on the home page of this site, I found myself waddling through the airport, my hips grinding with every step and the realization that the reason bigger people waddle is from pain. That’s when I settled into my gate area, popped open my laptop, and googled “bariatric surgeons” associated with the hospital where my daughter is a nurse.
I’ve never looked back.

But before that momentous day last fall, I co-wrote a book for victims of PTSD (and the people who love them and those in the mental health professions), called Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt.
My co-author is Matt E. Jaremko, and he is also the person who led me through recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse and my eating disorder, as well as a litany of other issues.  The impact he had on my life is immeasurable. He taught me that behavior comes before feelings, and that I need to question my thinking, i.e. separate facts from crap. The thing is, I had allowed myself to become complacent. I was at the mercy of The Biggest Liar.

Many years after I completed therapy, Matt and I decided to write a book that would give insight into the recovery process from the therapist’s point of view through the character of Dr. Matt, who is also in my Patience books and Big Fat Disaster, and through the patients’ points of view, through the members of a therapy group who are all scarred by PTSD and seeking to rebuild their lives. Ashley from The Patience Books (AKA my alter-ego) is in the book, too, aged up to 19 and about to go off to college.

Colby from Big Fat Disaster is not in the book, but an adult named Felicia is, and it was in writing her story that I felt myself moving toward once again taking on The Biggest Liar instead of allowing it to keep running my life. The most consistent trait throughout my battle with an eating disorder is that how I feel about myself–and how I look to myself (I have body dysmorphia, too: it’s just another of my charming features) from my first thought as I rose out of bed in the morning–is how I ate the day before influences what The Biggest Liar says to me.  (Note: lest you think I hear this as an actual voice: NO I DO NOT. “The Biggest Liar” is a metaphor for eating-disordered-thinking. Glad we got that out of the way.)
So: will they be self-hating thoughts or will I kinda like myself today? This past October, when I seriously pursued eating disorder recovery from my long-ass relapse, I automatically had those thoughts and I had to remind myself that I didn’t binge the day before, so can it, TBL. 
I am grateful to tell you that when I speak of this morning ritual of will-she-or-won’t-she-hate-herself-this-morning that it is mostly “in remission” at this point.

I’m telling you all this because I am committed to be honest, and, given what I’ve always heard from other people in reaction to the books I write, I am NOT alone in this kind of disordered thinking. And even though I wrote a book (Big Fat Disaster) intended to pull myself out of that shit, and in many ways I did, some stuff is/was just so fucking automatic that it takes/took daily challenging it to make it stop. And, changing the behavior (by not bingeing) that kept triggering the shameful thoughts was part of the way The Biggest Liar calmed the eff down and was less of my morning greeting. True story, though, y’all: I dreamed, and STILL dream sometimes, of eating massive quantities of sweets, and I wake up with those self-hating bullshit thoughts again, and I have to, once again, question my thinking and challenge its veracity.

Anyway, in Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt, Felicia is 34 years old, and she experienced sexual trauma throughout her formative years. She began eating to soothe herself and became trapped in that cycle. When she begins to address the trauma she suffered, she decides she wants to also address the binge-shame-binge-shame cycle she’s stuck in. I know so well what it’s like to be stuck in that place that, even though I felt self-conscious sometimes about pulling back the curtain on an actual binge cycle, I committed to doing it so that others can know they are not alone, AND that there is HOPE. When Matt and I wrote the therapy sessions between Felicia and Dr. Matt, I was influenced by the therapy Felicia was getting, and it nudged me toward the same book Dr. Matt recommends to Felicia, Reclaiming Yourself from Binge Eating by Leora Fulvio.

Writing Felicia’s responses to Dr. Matt’s gentle guidance–her shame that if she told him everything, he would judge her; her absolute fear that this person she had come to trust with her secrets of being sexually abused would find what she was telling him about the way she eats in secret to be a bridge too far, and her fear that he’d stop being a reliable person for her; her doubt, her fear that this would be just another diet, and diets make her binge (like they make me binge), and so on–made me think about the fact that I KNOW there is power in changing my behavior–I’d done it before–I knew I could get to the place again where behavior, not feelings, were running the show. Did you notice how many times “fear” is mentioned in my description of Felicia’s feelings? Fear is a mind-fuck, y’all. It just is.

Even though not everyone who has PTSD has an eating disorder like Felicia has (and not everyone with an eating disorder has PTSD), when I wrote the Prologue for Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt, I was thinking both of how I felt before my first appointment with real-life-Matt, and it is how I think Felicia would have felt, too. If you want to read it, check it out here.  You can find out more about the book here: check out the drop-down menu under “About This Book.”

I always learn so much when I write the truth through characters. And, as I always tell people when they ask where I get my ideas, “If I ever get totally healthy, I won’t have anything to write about…” (ha ha attempt at humor ha ha.)

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Tomorrow, my surgery is a month old. In keeping with my approach to talking about this stuff, I’m not going to discuss specific weight or “poundage”–because, in keeping with the way it’s always been since infinity, the struggles I’ve had throughout my life with “The Biggest Liar” are not about the number on the scale. It’s about behavior. And this new phase of my journey is no different. For example, some new behaviors are:

Learning a different way of taking daily medications, being mindful of taking calcium/vitamin D supplements 3 times a day and multi-vitamins 2 times a day. I have to take the calcium and multivitamins (which include iron) at least 2 hours apart so that they are absorbed correctly. And, the multivitamins have to be taken with food. I also take a B12 supplement daily that melts on my tongue. It’s hardest to take all the meds I have to take in the morning, including this one medication I have to mix into 1/4 cup of applesauce. I’ve learned the order to take the meds and how to best get them down so I am not nauseated and/or get really, really hot. When I first started taking them, I had to get up super early for work so that I could lay back down for a while because I felt so yicky. But I was just taking them in the wrong order; too much was hitting my empty stomach. I also changed one of my anti-depressants (Welbutrin) from taking extended release to a non-extended release form, and when I stopped taking the ext-release, the nausea & getting hot subsided a lot. I knew I was supposed to change from Ext-Release, but my prescribing doctor told me I could try them to see if they are a problem, since that type of medication is supposed to dissolve in the small intestine, not the stomach.

Another change in behavior is paying attention to making sure I take in at least 64 ounces of liquid each day, and I’m not drinking with meals or 30 minutes before/after meals. Confession: I’m better at not-drinking-after-meals than not drinking before.

I quit caffeine and Diet Coke right before Christmas, so I’m not missing that, but avoiding caffeine like picking up an iced tea when I’m out is a new thing. I just take a Yeti with Crystal Light in it everywhere I go, and I drink it throughout the day at work.

I’ve finally gotten better at eating–and I know that sounds weird, given that The Biggest Liar is a huge fan of out-of-control eating (LOL), but (on the recommendation of my daughter, a successful gastric sleeve patient), I bought some baby spoons for eating, and that helped me take smaller bites. I’m also learning to recognize when my body is telling me to wait before taking another bite–the discomfort when I eat too fast is sooooo unpleasant. Envisioning the food going down helps, too. I can feel now as the food proceeds into the sleeve.

I measure out everything I eat to make sure I’m able to track it efficiently, as well as be able to make sure my eyes are not bigger than my stomach. That was an issue at first; I thought I could make the same size protein shakes I was making before surgery, but I can’t.

I use this app called Baritastic to track everything, including exercise. I can download reports for when I go to the doctor or I’m just curious as to how I’m doing. It breaks down by meal and by day the nutrition I’m getting.

It took me about three weeks to get “regular” about exercise again–and I’ll admit, it’s a challenge right now. I tire easily and it’s very challenging to go as fast as I did before, even though I’m doing the same workout I have for a long time: 45 minutes on my recumbent bike, with varying resistances set by a program. I’m supposed to go at least 11 mph nearly all the time, and most of the time I’m pushing to get to 10 mph. When resistance goes up to 13–the highest this program goes–it’s hard for me to get past 9 mph. My daughter reminds me that I had major abdominal surgery and general anesthesia, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s because my average daily calorie intake at this point is about 800 calories a day. The program I went through does not set a daily calorie goal; they just emphasize 60-80 grams of protein a day (at least) and 64 oz of fluid a day. I’m still in the soft food stage: my stomach is still healing. From what I read on various forums and from doing a little research, it’s normal to not be able to consume much at this point.

I consciously am not putting “progress” pictures on here. There is a pic of me at my heaviest (this go-round, that is), on the “When I Made Up My Mind” page, but you won’t find images of me in a leotard taking a selfie in the bathroom mirror. I’m just not doing it. Not criticizing people who do, but I’m not one to do that. I kind of think it’s from having my body scrutinized and stared at so much when I was growing up. I have no interest in making my body’s appearance the focus of this website. Besides, I’m actually a pretty shy person, but nobody believes me when I say that. My focus is more on getting really healthy and achieving simple things, like hopefully getting to a point my hips no longer grind when I walk or hurt when I sleep on my side. Daily exercise really helps loosen ’em up-that’s for sure.

Oh, hey, one more thing–and this is exciting! I’ve lost enough weight that I no longer have sleep apnea! I put my CPAP machine in the closet today. I’ve stopped snoring and I also don’t stop breathing in my sleep anymore. Whoohoo! Very happy about this sign of progress and getting healthy.

And one no-so-great-thing…but I’m not freaking out, because I know it’s normal and expected and it’ll stop–but my hair is falling out faster than normal. It’s apparently from the shock to the system including hormones and calorie reduction and the surgery and anesthesia, etc. But, seriously, y’all: my bathroom counter looks like Cousin It from The Addams Family shook his head like a model doing a photo shoot. My hair is a few inches below my shoulders. My hairstylist told me I wouldn’t need to get it cut short when this inevitable falling-out happens: it’ll come back. It just may take 6 months. This hair loss thing usually starts at the 3-4 month mark post-surgery, but it can also start at the 1 month mark. At least my hair’s not coming out in chunks or anything…

That’s the latest & greatest, y’all. I began writing these posts just for myself, but I know people are reading this: I can see traffic on this site through my analytics program. So, welcome. I hope that, if you’re on the same journey I am, you have awesome support and people who have your back. I read stories on some Facebook groups I’m in where people are going through this change without the support of their family and friends, and I feel both sorry for them and angry on their behalf. I’m blessed beyond measure to have a rock-solid support system. They were with me on my journey through recovery from CSA, and they, in addition to my friends, are with me now.
You are welcome here.

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