Tunes for Tuesday: Glorious, by Macklemore, feat. Skylar Grey

Guys, this is my theme song right now. I keep walking around singing it because I"m feeling MUCH better after the gastric bypass surgery. I felt like I had turned a corner this past Saturday, but yesterday I realized I turned an even better corner. My tiny meals are staying down, I'm sleeping somewhat better, I'm starting to move more and get more stuff done around the house and -- oh yeah -- I'm down 20 pounds from just a few weeks ago, with my bodyfat percentage going from 52 percent to 45 percent. Boom!


Hey, look - it's me!

So last we talked it was the day before surgery, which occurred last Friday. It's been a week now, I've been home since Sunday and recovery has been OK.

I've learned a lot about coming off morphine, ketone bodies (they SUCK), drinking too much liquid at one time (no bueno) and not drinking enough liquid (also no bueno).

I also learned a new twist on that old fitness meme "Sweat is just your fat crying."

Fat crying

The thing is the size of a paper cut but it's a leaky little sucker. Apparently the fluid looks for the path of least resistance, and right now it's out my belly. 

Super awesome. 

But I felt disgusting before it actually started leaking and now that it is, my belly is feeling less swollen and looking better, too. That same evening that I made my poor, exhausted husband take me to the ER (Valentine's Day, of course!) I also ralphed all the way home. (Thankfully the ER had take-home barf buckets.)

Yesterday I went back to the hospital for a follow-up and learned that the leaking is a fairly common thing, and that the barfing was me trying to power down the protein shakes and broth in one sitting. I was trying so hard to get to 60g of protein I felt like I had to do 20-20-20 at every meal. Well, considering that I have brand new plumbing and a new stomach the size of an egg, that isn't a good idea. So for the past day and a half I've been breaking up the drinks into 4 to 6 ounce portions and doing much better on that. In fact, it's 5 p.m. and I'm nearly at 50g protein -- yay!

I've been pacing back and forth across the house, shooting for a mile a day. That'll gradually increase as I start feeling better (and stop leaking). With the Olympics on, I often cross country ski or speed skate across the house, and the dog thinks I am nuts. 

Now for the freaky fun stuff. 

Since Jan. 18 -- a little less than a month ago -- I'm down nearly 15 pounds. A good portion of that was the pre-op diet but I've been dropping about a pound or so a day this week. There's still some bloating post-surgery (and, of course, the leaking) so once that all settles down I'll be able to get a more accurate picture of my overall weight loss. My body fat percentage has also gone from a ridiculously fluffed-up 52 percent to around 48. 

How do I feel about all this?


(Nothin' like an MSNBC happy dance.)




Surgery is one week away

For the bariatric surgery of

Yep, that's right. It's happening. All the tests and exams are done (my bloodwork was surprisingly decent!) and insurance has re-approved the surgery.

Why "re-approved"?

I originally chose vertical sleeve gastrectomy, but early on I knew there was a chance I wouldn't be a good candidate because my esophagus is, well ...


(Actual footage of my throat processing marinara sauce without Prilosec.)

My latest upper endoscopy showed that my hiatal hernia didn't magically close up from the last time we took a peek, and this time my esophagus showed some erosive changes, WHICH IS NOT GOOD. It's called Barrett's esophagus, but mine is in the very early stage with no dysplasia (cell changes). 

My surgeon had said that sleeve surgery can create hiatal hernias over time, and make existing ones worse. 

Well, crap.

There's a very bad thing that can happen if you let your esophagus turn to beef jerky, and basically roux en y bypass surgery can actually reverse the Barrett's. 

Weight loss and GERD relief: Two birds with one stone. Believe me, I've been taking PPIs for a decade, eat super healthy and barely touch alcohol. I just have this stupid hiatal hernia and a flaming pit of acid in my stomach. 

So bypass it is!

Frankly, I'm more concerned with the Barrett's than the size of my ass, so agreeing to change course was a no-brainer for me. My surgeon has done many, many procedures over the years (Cleveland Clinic Florida is a Bariatric Center of Excellence), and he said while the bypass is more involved, recovery is around the same amount of time. 

I'm really looking forward to the improvements in both areas.

Last week, I started the pre-op diet, which was fairly easy -- two protein and veggie meals and one protein shake meal with clear liquids in between. I dropped around 5 pounds. but today was the first day of a liquids-only diet, and damn! I was doing OK with my delightful protein drinks and water until around 4:30 when the hangry polar bear appeared. So I busted open the low-sodium chicken broth, and I swear, it was the best thing ever.

Dinner was probably a little more substantial then I should have eaten -- I found a can of Progresso Organic Tomato Basil Soup in the pantry and stirred in a scoop of unflavored Quest protein powder. That's kind of a smoothie, right? Actually, the soup was a lot higher in sugar than everything I ingested today -- go figure! 

That held me for around an hour and the bear came back, so I just went nuts and ate an Oikos Triple Zero. 

Not perfect but, yeesh, the hunger monster is outta control. 

Tunes for Tuesday: Whatever It Takes, by Imagine Dragons

I was discussing carbonated drinks and caffeine with some friends on Facebook earlier today, and how they're off limits for some time after bariatric surgery. While I LOVE coffee and just put a new canister into my Sodastream, I started tapering off on caffeine this past week, getting ready for no caffeine for awhile. And right now, the only fizzy thing I'm drinking is kombucha. I'm hoping I can let it get a bit flat and just drink half a bottle at a time after awhile. I'm not sure what else I'll be eschewing immediately before and after surgery, but I keep humming Imagine Dragons' song "Whatever It Takes," because I know it'll be worth it in the long term.


Bonfire of the diet books

This is something I've been researching for quite some time, and I finally pulled the trigger: I'm getting a gastric sleeve procedure!

{Cue the protein-fortified confetti}

I went to an informational seminar way back in June, decided I didn't want to jump through a bunch of insurance hoops and put the idea on the back burner. I continued to eat kale and quinoa, exercise and drink water ... and GAIN WEIGHT.

After experiencing FOMO while seeing some of my friends get bariatric surgery and do smashingly, I revisited the idea and met with a surgeon at the beginning of this year. I also started working out much more regularly and rejoined Weight Watchers ... and DIDN'T LOSE AN OUNCE.

So I called the insurance coordinator on Thursday and discovered that I was approved for surgery. No long-term counseling, no nothing, she said. Just the usual pre-op exams and a scheduled surgery date sometime next month.

Armies sleevies


I think it helps that I'm on the low end of a qualifying BMI so I don't have to do any weight loss to get to a "safe" surgery weight. Either that or they took my "body of work" into account and decided that girlfriend has put in the prerequisites and is just ready to GET. THIS. DONE.

... which I am.

I don't smoke, I barely drink, I exercise, I don't eat fast food or candy bars, so all the healthy livin' stuff is in place. 

So why did I title this "Bonfire of the diet books"? Because I've been on or off or researching some plan that'll finally work for ...


That's way too long to futz around.

I have sold or given away a giant stack of diet books over the past year but I still hold onto a few for what reason I don't know. The rest of them might go on the barbecue.

But don't get me wrong -- I know that even post-surgery weight loss takes work. It just won't be the head-slamming-against-the-wall kind of work. Over the years my hormones have gotten me to the point where I'm hungry all the time, and I'm not talking "head hunger." I'm talking stomach rumbling real hangry hunger, even minutes after I eat. A gastric sleeve will actually remove a lot of what creates those awful hunger-producing hormones so I can eat a portion of food, feel full and get on with my life.

I'm looking forward to that most of all. 

Another thing I'm looking forward to is getting my hiatal hernia fixed. Apparently a lot of people who get bariatric surgery have hiatal hernias and don't even know it. I KNOW I have one, and I am a world-class belcher. I have done research on this and know that hiatal hernias can be a side effect of gastric sleeves, but since I already have one that is caused by my weight (and probably genetics) I'm pretty sure I'll be able to keep my stomach shut. I don't plan on doing anything to risk having another one.

The snowball starts really rolling next week. I have an upper endoscopy, EKG, ultrasound, chest X-ray, bloodwork and a 4-hour nutrition class scheduled for next week. These guys don't mess around -- and neither do I. 

I said 2018 was going to be the year!

Thankfully, the teenager is here to declutter the fridge...

Right now, the refrigerator is a weird but rapidly diminishing mishmash of leftover holiday food, and I couldn't be happier that the college student with the 31-inch waist (HOWWWW???) is here to help make it disappear. I made some amazeballs carrot dish from the January/February 2018 issue of Weight Watchers magazine on Christmas and highly recommend it. I can't post it because it's not online anywhere I can find, but this recipe from Epicurious is pretty close. The WW recipe uses nonfat Greek yogurt and twice as many carrots, plus the dish sits on a bed of carrot puree, which was basically a half pound of chopped carrots cooked in a cup of chicken stock until really soft and then pureed. 
So! On to decluttering -- one of my favorite things. I love to load up the car and bring a bunch of stuff to Goodwill before the end of the year for that one last tax deduction. I also donate a bunch of books to the local library, and earlier this month I sent a big box of shoes to Soles4Souls.

A thousand pardons

The headline is for my nearly 2-month absence from here and for the following:

Don't be insulted if I don't try your Christmas cookies.

Don't ask me if I want to share your onion rings.

That's right, I'm drinking kombucha at a bar.

When my birthday rolls around in a few months, I will be skipping the cake.

It's time to say "no thanks," "not right now," "just water for me," and "none for me."

I have made this grand pronouncement for years upon years (HERE'S one from 2015!), and I'm jumping the gun on 2018 to say I'm gonna go nose to the grindstone and spend the next year losing as much weight as I humanly can without losing my mind.

What's different this time?

Emoji-questionI pondered this question last night and decided that what will be different this year is that I'm not going to wiggle or stray or game the system or "just this once" or skip a day or any of that stuff that has slowed, stopped, or reversed me in the past.

Yeah, reversed.

Over the past year, perimenopause has finally settled in (seriously, I'm 55; how long was that going to go on? Like forever?) and, like magic, 20 pounds crept back on. Seriously, I didn't have to do a thing! 

(Hmmm ... maybe if I "did a thing" they wouldn't have crept back on but that's water under the bridge.)

My 2018 project needs to address the hormonal aspect of my new normal and attack the symptoms that come with the closing of Ye Olde Baby Factory -- like slowing metabolism, the need to get to sleep earlier (circadian rhythm FTW!), and the threat of bone and muscle loss.

Like I have stated countless times, I have been "trying to lose weight" since the age of 10. That is one shitty lifelong hobby, if you ask me. By fully committing to this project in the coming year, I can get the weight off and maybe take up bonsai or knitting or ice skating.

So I am going to read and research and work on a plan these next couple weeks, and I'll report back right before the New Year's ball drops. I'm committing to blogging once a week to document how my plan is working, whether it needs tweaks, and perhaps ask y'all what is working for you.


Cookies were eaten

Not gonna lie -- there was a lot of unnecessary eating going on at the house this past week. The week before Irma arrived it was "perishables week," which meant nothing from the pantry. Lots of omelettes, yogurt, things from the freezer. Fine -- so far we're doing well on the healthy scale. 

Cuban crackers -- zero fiber!

Then my sister and niece arrived with a bunch of groceries that included doughnuts, chips, and other assorted shelf-stable goodies. I had been on a mission to finish all my kale, which I did, but the desire for garbage got the best of me and I ate a doughnut and a couple servings of chips. At the same time.

Bleaaaah. Kale and junk food do not mix. I swear I've had a stomach ache for a week.

Every Floridian's favorite app this past week.

The next few days were a blur of chips and salsa, sandwich cookies, wind, rain and fallen trees. Aside from the trees and a green pool, there was no structural damage to the house. We only lost power for a day and a half, and I was able to wheel the contents of my fridge across the street to my neighbor, who had an extra fridge hooked up to a generator (MUCH THANKS!). I also took some brussels sprouts and carrots to a FWP's house (FRIENDS WITH POWER) where I performed a minor miracle and convinced a bunch of people that brussels sprouts were tasty. All I did was clean up the sprouts, cut the carrots the same size, sprinkled on some chopped scallions I found in my fridge, put everything on a sheet pan with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in my friend's oven at 400 degrees for around 25-30 minutes. 

Florida avocados are a lot different than California ones.

My friend (hi, Ruth!) gave us a lovely parting gift of a bag full of Florida avocados, which are all now ripe, so I'm feverishly looking for ways to use them up. I think I may just freeze a bunch for smoothies.

Yay, lights!

That evening we returned home to see the lights shining through the front door windows, which was great because I DO NOT handle heat well. Perhaps it's all the extra insulation in my caboose. That right there was extra motivation to "un-insulate" myself. 

Once the power was back, we were able to eat more normally, although my stash of frozen bananas for smoothies is now a solid blob of frozen goo. I think I may have to dump it.

I made it over to the gym yesterday and it felt GREAT to get on the bike and the treadmill, and heave some weights around. 

But yeah, cookies have been eaten. Like demolished. Like I skipped breakfast this morning because cookies. Like, do I have a picture of the cookies? No, because they're gone.

I found that it wasn't really the stress as much as the boredom that set off the Cookie Monster in me, because when the storm was really bearing down, food was the last thing on my mind. So next time (and, yeah, there'll be a next time) I'll make sure I have more things to offset the boredom.

And less insulation on my caboose.

Hurricane Irma prep time!

As hurricane Irma barrels through the Caribbean, we're getting ready over here. Water, protein bars, giant Ziploc bags, batteries -- all the fun stuff. And while it may be fun to subsist on bourbon and potato chips if the power goes out, I'd think that would get old really fast. 

My dietitian Meryl Brandwein, sent out a great email this morning with a healthy hurricane food prep list and some sample meals. You can read the entire article at her website, but I thought I'd share one of her sample days of post-storm meals:


Apple with Nut Butter
Rice Chex


Black beans 1 cup
Canned diced tomato ½ cup
Canned corn ( organic) ½ cup
Unsweetened canned fruit ½ cup


Nuts and Dried Fruit
Protein powder mixed with non-dairy milk or water


Vegetarian chili- 1 cup
Corn chips (organic)
Unsweetened canned fruit ½ cup

We've got a bunch of Quest and Zone Perfect bars in the pantry, and I just ordered a case of Orgain Grass-Fed Protein Shakes as well as a case of High Brew Double Espresso cold brew coffee. Mama needs her chocolate and her coffee, and both of these are shelf stable and aren't full of garbage.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to put everything we own in plastic bags ...