The Things You Can Accomplish When Your Feet Don’t Hurt

Prior to surgery (57lbs ago), I could stand for maybe 15 minutes, before my feet were in excruciating pain.  My activities after work were limited to one errand run, and then I had to rely on my husband to get anything else done, i.e. cooking or house chores.

Last night, I went grocery shopping, cleaned out the fridge of old food, stocked the fridge witht the new groceries, did 2 loads of laundry, cleaned my oven top and all the elements, did a load of dishes, and formed some hamburger patties to help my husband with dinner.  THEN my feet and knees started to get achy.

That’s a hell of a lot more than just a 15 minute grocery run.

And it’s only going to get better.

I’m 280lbs now.  I’m steadily losing between 1-3lbs per week.  I’ve had one stall in the last month, and I had my period at that time, so it was most likely from water retention.  I tend to put on water around my time of the month.

This last Saturday, I did a 6k walk (3.77 miles).  I felt like I could have gone farther, but I wanted to build my way up slowly.  My legs felt like rows of bowling balls on Sunday.  This coming Saturday, I will go for 7k.

My trainer is doing a 52k (32.3 miles) walk in August.  She’s doing it in support of a friend who is walking for charity.   I really wanted to join her, but I knew I could never do that much yet.  She suggested I work on walking as far as I can, then meet her 1k farther toward the end of her walk.  So if I can walk, say 10k by August, I would meet her when she has 11k left and do that.

I’m still having issues with abdominal pain around my incisions when I walk faster than 5k/hour (around 3 miles/hour).  So I kind of have to walk slow still.  I’m still lifting weights at the gym on the machines three days a week.  I’ve worked my way up to 3sets on 3 different machines per day.  I feel like I’m ready to try pushing it a bit further.  Today I will start the first week of my trainer’s Challenge.

My husband also started joining me at the gym every day.  It’s been wonderful.  I’ve started him off on 2sets on 3 machines, 3 days per week, just like I started.  Then we do HIIT treadmill walking two days per week.  We also walk the dogs for about 20-45 minutes in the evenings at a leisurely pace.

Eating has been wonderful.  I still have no cravings for junk food.  I don’t snack when I’m not supposed to.  I’m getting all my protein in and have had no difficulties, with one exception.

One time, I ate hamburger meat a little too fast and didn’t chew enough.  I ended up puking.  It was terrible.  I’m so glad my pouch is small, so there wasn’t much to puke up.  Because I have no stomach juices in there, it was all dry hamburger coming up.  Puking thick, dry food is a very unpleasant experience.  I nearly choked a few times, because the food blocked my airway, since it came up slowly due to being thick and dry.  I had to hold my breath and allow the food to pass.  That was rather difficult and scary.

Other than that, I love the new feeling of food going into the pouch.  I eat such small amounts and feel satisfied instantly.  I eat what I’m supposed to eat and then I can stop and be good for two to three hours

I remember eating huge amounts of food just so I could be full for two to three hours.  I’d go from feeling bloated to starving.  There was no feeling of relaxing satisfaction like I have now.

It’s been 3 months since surgery.  Energy-wise I’m finally back to my pre-surgery energy levels, with the ability to do more physically.  I’m taking in between 600-900 calories a day, 65+ g of protein per day as well.

For my next blog entry, I am sure I will have more exciting news and progress to post.  I’d like to also get some pre-surgery photos up here eventually with a 3 or 4-month photo comparison.


Phantom Fat and Scar Tissue

I’ve begun to experience a strange sensation I will refer to as “phantom fat”.   It’s like the concept of someone feeling a phantom  limb when they lose it, but still have the perception that it’s there.  I have phantom fat.  I feel it like I am still physically aware of where my fat used to extend to, but at the same time, I am also aware of where my new body is.  It’s a really weird feeling, and totally awesome.

I’ve also started to get some cramps in my abdomen when I walk.  It starts off feeling like I’ve got some gas.  If I don’t slow down, it gets worse until it’s a stabbing, tight pain under my right rib.  I got my doctor to palpate the area and we found out that the pain is stemming from around an incision.  He thinks it’s scar tissue.  Since all of our muscles are connected, it’s probably the scar tissue causing difficulties with connected muscles.  So I don’t feel the pain right where the problem actually is (unless I poke it), but muscles connected to it are being affected.  I’m supposed to slow down on the walking.  I was doing too much this early out anyways.  I was walking 5k’s on Sundays, then an hour of slow walking during the week.  Saturday is my rest day.  Plus I was doing 20 minutes at the gym at lunch on the treadmill twice a week, then 3 days a week 20 minutes on weight machines.

I’ve slowed down on the walking.  I’ve only taken short 20 minute dog walks in the evenings 7 days a week.  At the gym, I only go on the treadmill for 5 minutes to warm up, then I do the weight machines.  The pain seems to be gone now.  It took about a week to go away.  I am going to slowly work my way back up to my original activity and see how it goes.

This morning I swore at my weight scale.  I can’t believe how fast these numbers are dropping.  I’m down 50lbs now.

I went to Giant Tiger to go check to see if I fit into a size 24.  Two weeks ago, a size 26 was too tight.  Well, surprise!! Size 24 was almost too big.  I don’t mind my clothes being loose for awhile.  A 22 would be too tight to wear right now and I need some summer clothes, since I only have two pairs of capris.  My shirts are all really too big for me now.  They look like dresses, which is rather unprofessional at work, so I bought myself some 3x shirts (down from 4/5x).

Words cannot describe how happy I am right now and how much better I feel.

5k Walks

I haven’t written in a long while.  Things have been going really well.  I’m down 47lbs since the pre-op liquid diet.  My energy is good most days, but I do have bad days.  I have days where I feel completely run-down and everything makes me nauseous.  Then I have days like today where I feel really good and all my food is going down well, even things that made me sick a few days ago.

My go-to foods for when I’m having a crappy day are: chicken breast, lactose-free milk and yogurt, and berries.  My “normal” days include more canned fish and beans, a decaf latte, and some light cheeses.  Maybe a canned soup here and there.  I really need to get back into cooking to add some variety.  I am planning on making a pumpkin black bean soup tonight for my lunches.  Dinner this week will be chicken marinated in BBQ sauce.  Breakfast will probably be a smoothie made from lactose free skim milk, yogurt, and berries.  I can’t tolerate whey powder or premier protein shakes anymore, unfortunately, so there goes a huge easy protein boost.

I called the hospital and they told me I’m not eating enough healthy starches.  I’m not getting ANY starches at all, actually.  All they want me to add is a few crackers to lunch and for dinner, 1/3 of a potato or sweet potato.  So nothing major.  I’m going to have a follow-up call in a few days to check in to see if adding those bits of starches works.

Yesterday, I did a 5k walk for Kids Help Phone.  Last Sunday I did a 5k walk for Multiple Sclerosis.  Yesterday’s walk was nothing like the MS walk.  Yesterday, everyone seemed to be booking their ass and speed-walking the whole thing.  At the MS walk, everyone seemed to relax, take their time, and enjoy their walk.  I guess speed-walking is fine, but I kind of had the impression that everyone just wanted to do it quickly and leave.  I felt that it seemed to take the magic from the moment a bit, unfortunately.   It was a lovely walk, though.  My mother and brother showed up.  A friend from my husband’s work showed up.  It was a nice walk all around a park by a river.  There was one section where we walked around a little pond with geese and ducks.  Unfortunately, it started raining, but I didn’t mind.  I really don’t mind walking in the rain.  It was warm enough for the rain to feel refreshing.

This coming Sunday, I plan on attending a bicycle-fest.  I don’t know much about it yet, so I will post about it later.

I wanted to share an article that I found very insightful and helpful.  Even though I have just had surgery, I found it motivational to keep my head in the game and keep practicing healthy habits.

I should also mention that I am walking my dogs for an hour 5 days a week, going to the gym for 20 minute walks twice a week, and doing 20 minutes of weight lifting 3 times a week.  Saturdays are my rest day where I try to do as little as possible.  I do a bit of cleaning here and there, but I mostly sit or nap.


One-Month Follow-Up

I had my one-month follow up with a nurse plus a dietician group class on Wednesday.

What I learned from the class is that I am not getting enough fibre or carbohydrates.  I’m supposed to get a minimum of 90 carbohydrates per day and a minimum of 14g of fibre.  I was not watching fibre and my carbohydrates were about 25g per day.

The plan going forward is to add berries to breakfast (I will make a smoothie with a Premier Protein shake and 1/3 cup berries), and prunes to snacks and lunch (1-2 prunes).  I bought some high-fibre cereal, so I’ll have 3/4 cup of that and use my Premier Protein shake for milk as breakfast instead of the smoothie sometimes.

For dinner, I will add either prunes or 1/2 a potato or sweet potato.

I’ll have to add a screenshot from MyFitnessPal later today to this post once I’m home.

At the nurse visit, I learned that I lost another pound.  I’m down 41 pounds at 296.  I am down 8 inches on my waist (holy cow…).  I cried happy tears when the nurse showed me 8 inches on the measuring tape.

I’ve been cleared to start weight lifting again.  My trainer (who is not working with me at the moment) advised me to start working on the weight lifting machines for a full body workout twice a week for the next 3 weeks before I start using free weights or doing other movements.  She said if I need help with any of the machines, she would help me.  She also gave me a workout plan for after the three weeks, that she has on her website.

There was a 1-hour presentation with the behaviourist after the dietician’s class, but I missed most of it, because I was in my nurse’s appointment.  What I learned from that class is that my depression is pretty much “gone”.  Of course, I will never be cured, but I only had one episode of depression or low mood since coming home from the hospital 6 weeks ago.  I’m just so damned happy all the time, it’s nearly impossible to bring me down.  I have so much hope for the future and am so excited about what I’ll be able to do.  Every day, I’m daydreaming about running/jogging outside with my dogs or running a marathon, or participating in walking/running/biking fundraisers.

There were a few strange moments in the dietician group class.  Out of the group of 10 people that were there, everyone was having cravings for bad food or feeling hunger.  I haven’t had either in 6 weeks.  I thought at least one more person would be like me.  Everyone was talking about struggling with not being able to eat french fries, or talking about how embarrassed they were about their cookie/ice cream binges.  I’m just SO glad I don’t have that problem.  I plan my day out on MyFitnessPal for what I want to eat, I stick to that and I am satisfied and happy.  I eat healthy food and I enjoy it thoroughly.  I really hope this lasts and my old cravings and struggles do not come back.  Life is so wonderful right now without all of that garbage.

New 40lb Loss Experiences

I’m down 40lbs total since the pre-surgery liquid diet.  I’m now 297, down from 337.  I’m noticing some wonderful changes to my body.  I’m down a dress size.  From 28 to 26 US.  The 26s from my closet are almost too lose, so size 24 is coming soon.  That means that I’ll be able to shop in 5 different stores in my city instead of just one.  However, I won’t be doing that just yet.  I’ll need to stick to thrift stores until my weight starts to stabilize more.  Shopping at thrift stores is totally cool with me.  I’m not very picky and my job is cool with me looking frumpy.  I don’t deal with clients.  I just sit in front of a computer all day.  The last time I lost 70lbs, I told my boss I might look frumpy because my clothes were all loose and I couldn’t afford to keep buying new ones.  She said it was totally cool and of no consequence at work.

There were a few cool things that happened today.  One happened when I had to dash out quickly to get groceries.  I was feeling hungry and didn’t want to go shopping like that.  I had no good protein choices that were quickly available, so I ate three olives and I’ve been satisfied for the last four hours.  I did grocery shopping and picked up dog and cat food.  Three olives wouldn’t have done jack all for my hunger before.  Now I’m good for four hours.  Probably more, but I’m making dinner after this post.  How crazy is that?  Three olives….

Another cool thing that happened today was that I noticed that my walking is different.  My legs are closer together.  I remember having to keep my legs wider to support my wider girth before.  I also had to swing my legs out wide every time I walked to keep my balance.  No more swinging at all.  I feel more feminine and less ginormous.

I leaned on my hip while stopping to look at something at the grocery store.  I made a mental check to not lean on the hip too long or else it would literally feel like it was going to be dislocated.  But wait!  My hip felt fine!  I had trained myself to remember not to lean on my hips too long.  I don’t need that habit anymore.  How nice.

I took a nice walk with one of my dogs after finishing the groceries.  I did my regular 2.2k route.  I could have gone farther, but I wanted to save time an energy for making dinner.  I completed my route in 45 minutes.  I completed it 10 minutes faster than usual.

While walking, I noticed a few nice things.  One was that I was picking up the pace.  As I picked up the pace, I noticed that my heart was working, but the beat felt different.  It didn’t feel like my heart was going to explode out of my chest.  It felt like a comfortable, working beat.  My lungs also didn’t feel like they were starving for air.  They had a nice, deep burning sensation like they were being worked, but it felt good.

Tonight, for dinner (and for the week’s lunches) I’m making a chicken soup with coconut milk, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots.

I go back to work tomorrow for the first time since the surgery.  All my food is prepped and ready.  It will be my first day since the surgery that I won’t be able to take a three hour nap every day lol.  Oh how I will miss those naps.

Life With Hunger

I haven’t posted in awhile.  Things have been going extremely well.  There wasn’t anything really interesting to post about.  I eat what I should, I drink what I should, and I exercise.  Kind of boring to post about.

Just to forewarn everyone, this post gets very dark and angry.  There’s lots of ‘f’ words.  If you’re looking for something enlightening and positive, do not look below.  This is a vent post.

Today, I decided to post, because I woke up with a huge realization.  I woke up looking forward to the day.  I have no dread, no anxiety, and no depression for the first time since I was 6 years old.  The reasons for my mental anguish at a young age were due to family problems.  After I hit 10 years old, hunger was added to that and became the sole focus of my life from there-on out.  I had to get good grades to escape poverty, do well in college, and land a stable job so that I could finally relax without having to worry about the very real possibility of being homeless.  Throughout that struggle was the ever-present physical hunger.

Ever since I was born, I have been hungry.  My mother struggled to feed me as a child.  Breast milk was not enough.  I was always hungry.  The doctors requested that my mother add calories to her breast milk to satiate me.  It worked.  I had no weight issues as a child.

When I progressed to solid food, my mother grew exhausted with the constant need to feed me.  Her life was scheduled around my hunger fits.  I would grow so hungry that I would shake in my high chair and nearly topple it over.

I didn’t have to worry about my hunger as a young child.  My mother was always there to make sure I was fed.  I had no weight issues.

When I turned 10 years old, things changed.  My mother and father separated.  My mother had to take on extra work hours to make ends meet, as my father did not pay child support.  She was never home.  I was lucky if I saw my mother for one hour a day.  Extra lucky if I could see her for more than four hours on a weekend.  I had to fend for myself.  Our food came from cans and boxes from the food bank.  I ate baked beans, zoodles, cans of soup, and corn flakes.  No high-quality proteins or fresh fruit and vegetables.  I put on weight.  Fast.  I remember weighing myself at 13 years old.  I went from 115lbs to 150lbs in a little under a year.  It was not long until I reached my heighest weight of 240lbs at the age of 16.

I was constantly ridiculed by thin children from families who could afford to feed them properly.  My sister was as well.  She went on to develop anorexia, then bulimia at the age of 14.

My mother struggled to keep food in the house. When she could afford to buy groceries, she began cooking lean meats, vegetables, and tofu for our dinners.  My sister and I ate so much, most of my mother’s money went to food.  With that good food was rice.  We ate way too much rice.  No one in our family knew that was a bad thing.  Who was there to tell us?  This was an age with no internet and no nutritional education for children or adults.

The only difference between my thin sister and I was that my sister purged all of her food, whereas I kept all of mine in.  I couldn’t bring myself to purge.  I didn’t want to damage my esophagus or teeth.  I thought being fat was the lesser of two evils.  The other option was to go hungry constantly, which was a reality I could not bring myself to face at 10 years old or ever.  At school, I paid for that choice dearly.  Constant ridicule and complete ostracization.  I had no friends for three years because of my choice.  My sister, however, was popular among everyone, because she was thin and beautiful.  Everyone wanted to be like my sister. And so they were.  Bulimia and anorexia were the ruling lifestyles of each popular girl in the area of the city we lived in at the time.  If you did not participate, you were shunned.  I still see evidence of this 20 years later, as I have moved back to that area and bought my home here.

At the age of 16, I began a modified version of the Atkins diet under medical supervision.  My mother finally went to a doctor to ask for help for my obesity.  This was the answer I was given that did not cost my mother money.  It worked very well.  I lost 70 lbs and was down to a healthy 150lbs for about 4 years.  I was free of the hunger for those 4 years.  The rest of the story is in my first blog post.

As an adult, my life revolved around satiating my hunger.  I was not free to enjoy sports, social activities, or hobbies for very long, as hunger would always come up and demand attention.   When I say hunger, it’s not a “hey, you should eat something” kind of hunger.  I mean hunger as an all-consuming, completely emotionally distressing, all-encompassing feeling.  If I let the hunger go, I would get dizzy and increasingly emotional.  I would begin yelling at people for no reason.  I would be constantly angry and distressed.  I would be unable to focus on anything, as if I had severe ADHD.  I couldn’t even hold a conversation, because my mind would keep wandering to the nearest source of food.  To keep life normal, I ate.  To be able to function at work and make a living, I ate.  When I finally reached a stable point in my career and put my foot down against the hunger, my career suffered.  I could not concentrate at work and perform as I had before.  I have held the same job for the last 7 years, unable to advance, despite having opportunities to do so.  I cannot meet that level of performance with the distraction of constant hunger.  I refused to give in to my hunger any longer.  At 337lbs, I felt I had no choice.

I woke up this morning realizing that I have been living unimpeded by hunger for the last 3 weeks.  I have been enjoying hobbies, social events, exercise, my pets, and time with my family completely free of interruption by hunger.  I eat when I need to eat.  It is a brief event.  If I want to cook a healthy meal for some variety, I will do so.  Otherwise, I have a quick protein shake, some yogurt, or some soup.  If I go to a social event, I don’t have to freak out that I don’t have 20g of protein handy or that I have to find that 20g or I won’t be able to enjoy myself and might snap at someone accidentally, embarrassing myself.  I can enjoy the event and eat either before or after and not worry about a damned thing.  I can’t properly convey how wonderful it is to sit in a room with people, just look at their faces and converse with them.  To focus on nothing else but the conversation or the activity we are doing.  To fully immerse myself socially and mentally in the moment.  It’s indescribable.  It brings me to tears thinking of how long I’ve lived my life without being able to enjoy this one simple thing.

Then I become angry.  Why was I hungry for so long?  Why did I have to suffer this long?  Why would no doctor ever have an answer for me when I told them I couldn’t take this hunger any longer?  Because they don’t have an answer.  Because there is no research into hunger.  Because nobody feels this is a real problem.  We have an obesity epidemic in the western world and nobody gives a flying fuck.  Everyone wants these obese people to just fix themselves and not lend a fucking helping hand.  Because fat people are “lazy” and “disgusting”.  Well I’m sorry.  A newborn baby crying for food isn’t lazy or disgusting.  A two year old shaking from hunger isn’t lazy or disgusting.  That baby has a fucking problem. That baby grew up to suffer immensely.  And nobody gave a flying fuck, because nobody cared to learn why obesity is a problem and fat people “should just kill themselves”.

Well I tried.  It didn’t work.  I had people who actually cared about me who wouldn’t let me go through with it and got me help.  I managed to accept life with the hunger and accept that I would die because of it.  I accepted that I would die by putting food in my mouth rather than put a knife to my wrist.  Apparently the first is acceptable, and the second is illegal.

Apparently I have to exceed 300lbs to qualify for the only medical option in this world that gets rid of hunger.

I understand why.  I understand that Roux en Y takes off a significant amount of weight, so you kind of “need” it to undergo the procedure.  But why is this the only option?  We have so many advances in the medical world and so much research being done, but obesity is fucking ignored and shunned.  Few people even talk about it at an educated an intellectual level.  I find that disgusting.


One-Week Post Op: Dumping

For anyone familiar with roux-en-y gastric bypass, you probably already know where this is going.  I had my first episode of dumping yesterday.

I swear sugar-free pudding was on the list of things I could eat.  Well my body went into full-on rejection mode after 1 little cuppie thing.  The intestinal cramps were so bad, I almost passed out about three times from the pain.  There was about 30 minutes of non-stop intestinal cramps that ranged from the 2 to the 7 on the pain scale.  I’m not sure if my pain scale should be adjusted, since I nearly passed out on the 7 ones.  After about 30 minutes, I vomited up all the pudding and probably some digestive juice, because I puked up more than one cuppie thing worth of liquid.  Maybe about 4 cups worth of liquid.  The intestinal cramps faded within 30 seconds.

The intestinal cramps reduced to 2-4 intensity, but lasted for about 3 more hours.  I passed out asleep after 3 hours, so it may have been longer than that.  I had one more episode of vomiting an hour after the first episode, but this time, I was TRYING to vomit.  I wanted to get rid of the intestinal cramps so bad.  It helped, but the cramps persisted after I had vomited up everything that I could have.

Other symptoms I had were cold sweats and lots of adrenaline.  I did not notice the increased/irregular heartbeat listed on the internet as another symptom.  Maybe it was there, but I didn’t notice.

At first, I didn’t know it was the pudding.  I had intestinal cramps in the afternoon after I ate my mushroom soup/chickpea/protein powder puree.  They were very minor, maybe a 1 on the scale.  The cramps intensified immediately after I ate the pudding, but I thought it was the soup that had caused the dumping, since that’s when the pain actually started.  After I puked up all the pudding and the cramps majorly subsided, I was pretty sure it was the pudding.  Maybe the soup caused a minor irritation, but I believe the pudding was the main culprit.

The whole episode started around 6 at night.  I fell asleep at around 9 at night.  I woke up at 3AM to poo a large amount of liquid.  Then again about 20 minutes later, and again 10 minutes after that.  I looked up the symptoms for dumping syndrome and the intestines taking on water is one thing that happens.  So I’m assuming that’s why all that water was there.  I had not drunk any water since 5PM the evening before.

I remember I ate the pudding pretty fast.  I think my strategy going forward to avoid such an extreme episode will be to eat new things very slowly and allow the first bite to settle a bit before I continue.  I’m hoping dumping a bit is better than dumping a lot.  I hope there is such a thing.