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 ...

via GIPHY

(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.

  Whateverittakes


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

NEXT MONTH!

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 ...

OVER 40 YEARS

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.

Deal?


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
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.

Fpl-screenshot
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. 

Avocados
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.

Electricity
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!

Irma
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:

Breakfast:

Apple with Nut Butter
Rice Chex

Lunch:

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

Snack: 

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

Dinner:

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 ... 


Operation #shittogether starts this week! (Plus, a What's in My Gym Bag update)

Hey there! I've been a bit busy the past few weeks, first getting the kid off to college and settled in his apartment (done!), then coming home and cleaning up the wreckage of said move (done!)

With those two big things done, we're officially empty nesters (aside from the dog). It's the perfect time to work on refining habits and that's what I'm doing this week. 

First off, my lunchtime workouts were NOT happening, and wearing workout clothes all day doesn't count, so this week it's roll out of bed and into the gym. I downloaded Jamie Eason's LiveFit app on my phone, and this time I downloaded the right app. I tried it a year or so ago but I had downloaded the more elaborate BodySpace social fitness app, which made following her program too complicated. This time I downloaded only her program and it's a lot easier to follow. 

Here's a video intro to the first week:

 I had bought an intro package to some kickboxing classes, but to be completely honest, I'm just not ready for it yet. After a couple hourlong classes, I found that my shoulders were really hurting and various parts of my feet are not happy (I wasn't exactly kicking the bag properly).

But more importantly, the whole day after the class I was ravenously hungry, like bottomless pit hungry, so I switched to Jamie's program because I find that I'm not a hungry grizzly bear if I focus on weight training.

And I really missed the gym! Fortunately, the one we've been members of since 1999 recently went through a huge and much needed remodel, so I dropped my secondary membership to Planet Fitness. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Planet Fitness, but with the kid away at college, I'm not getting my value out of the Black Card membership, and we have a kid going to college, so I'm looking for ways to cut down on costs. (Our main gym has a crazy cheap yearly renewal.)

Food wise I'm still doing Weight Watchers and leaning on fruit and vegetables for the bulk of my meals and snacks. I used to plan my meals around the protein but now the vegetable is the centerpiece. By putting produce front and center I'm taking in more food for fewer Smartpoints.

Wait a minute, I'm burying the lede!

I had skipped last week's Weight Watchers meeting because I had a dental cleaning, but I had a feeling it was going to be good news today because:

  1. I've been working out more
  2. I've been going to sleep earlier, so ...
  3. eating less late at night.

So I step on the scale Wednesday morning and BOOM! 5 pounds down, which is HUGE for me. I've also been replacing my evening snack with a bottle of kombucha. I've really grown to love the stuff and it's only 50 or so calories for the whole thing, plus I think it does good things for gut health. Whatever's on sale is what I buy. So far, I'm loving all the flavors from Humm, Kevita and Big Easy 'Bucha.

So what I call Operation #shittogether is coming together very nicely in my first week!

So what's in my gym bag?

Go Dash Dot
First of all, I have a new gym bag! I covet gym bags the way some people love Pradas. I've got big ones, small ones, gray, purple, pink, blue -- a gym bag for every occasion. My newest bag is the Infinity bag from Go Dash Dot. The bag was designed with the input of more than 100 women to make sure every square inch of it is useful. It's large without being too bulky, has a load of zippered compartments decorated with cool tassels, a padded laptop area, a shoe compartment that doubles as a yoga mat holder, a very cool, stylish strap and a great smaller inner bag you can use as a cross-body bag, so your purse and gym bag fit into one neat duo. So not only is it a premium gym bag, it's also a work tote, a diaper bag, and a crossbody bag.Inside that bag is my Bandi belt. I have a few of them but recently I got a large size to comfortably stash my phone so I can follow my workout program. There are a load of similar belts on the market, and I've tried many, but I always come back to Bandi belts because they're cute and they have a latch so you don't have to crawl in and out of it.

In my Bandi, along with my phone, is a pair of Sol Republic Relays Sport wireless headphones. I had gotten them a few years ago on Kickstarter, then there were production problems with them and they stopped selling them. Now, it appears, they're selling them again, and they cost even less than they did on Kickstarter.  I've had a few pairs of Bluetooth headphones and these are my favorites. They seem to keep a charge awhile, they're super lightweight, charge quickly and they sound great. 

Because I don't want to pay $3 for a snack at the gym if I find myself in need of something, I usually stash a non-melty protein bar in there. Quest bars have their moments, but often there's too much sweeteners in them and just taste overwhelming, but I was sent a variety of Mauer Sports Nutrition protein bars. Each bar is around 200 calories and around 20 grams of protein (dairy, pea and nut blend), so one and a coffee makes a quick on-the-go breakfast, and half a bar is a decent snack. There are no artificial sweeteners or flavors, they're not cloying at all, there's a great selection of flavors (I am partial to the chocolate chip cookie dough), and many of them are uncoated so they won't melt in the heat. 

And bonus! If you use the code Gail20, you'll get a 20 percent discount on your order of bars.

And because I edit and write for the Fit Bottomed World of blogs, I have a ridiculous collection of athletic shoes. One of my jobs is to schedule social media on posts, so I read pretty much every post on every site, old and new. And because of that, I find myself playing "Target Lady" and dashing off to order things when I read reviews. One recent purchase was these Brooks Neuro shoes. Since the post is a year or so old and Brooks has already released a Neuro 2, I was able to score a great deal on them. They're super cool looking, and the cushioning on the soles is great.

 

 

 


Motivation Monday: Decluttering is my most favorite thing ever!

My mom is downsizing to a condo, so she's having to go through 40 years of house stuff. She came over Saturday with some crumbly bits of newspaper clippings that used to be my grandmother's wedding announcement, and after we attempted to piece it together we got to talking about clutter.

My sister and I are very different when it comes tidyness. I tend to be kind of obsessive about it and she's, well, not. My mom's in the middle.

I honestly don't know how I became so fanatical about clutter but I think it had to do with my mom flinging my astronaut watch up the stairs and it breaking when it landed against a wall. I think at that young age I swore no one would ever complain about me leaving a mess anywhere.

(The "Easter egg incident" with my sister could also have been another seminal moment. My sister had a lovely decorated Easter egg that she squirreled away in a dresser drawer. Did I mention it was a real hard-boiled egg? After a week or so they don't smell too good.)

I even decluttered my blog last week!

Anyhizzle...

I'm not 24/7 super tidy, but over the years two things have really helped reboot my decluttering. One was FlyLady's daily emails. Way back when I signed up for those, FlyLady was just a Yahoo discussion group. She now has a website, an app, books, journals, a YouTube channel and a bunch more stuff. Check out her website and sign up for the emails. They give you a simple plan of action every day so that you can tackle one house zone at a time.

Another tool in my declutter box are the resources from Peter Walsh. I first read Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? and it really resonated with me. In it he refers to clutter as "the fat in our homes." (Conversely, FlyLady (Marla Cilley) wrote a book called Body Clutter, which addresses the flip side of that.) Check out Peter's website for his books, videos and newsletter.

I also subscribe to the Houzz newsletter, which I first signed up for when I was in search of kitchen remodeling inspiration. I still love our new kitchen, which celebrated its first birthday this summer, but Houzz is still fun for interior design eye candy and great articles like the one on decluttering, below.

 


The weekly weigh-in: 'Bonus' Points can be tricky

I tried something different this past week: I wanted to see just how many of those weekly bonus Smartpoints I could use throughout the week and still show a loss on the scale. I probably should have added a few, but, no, I used every last bonus Point.

Aaaaand, I gained half a pound, stopping my weight-loss streak at four weeks.

So live and learn, right? 

While I was momentarily bummed, I now know that I should simply focus on my daily Smartpoints allowance and treat those extra Points as something I can dip into perhaps a couple times a week. 

I'm also on the tail end of a sinus infection, so that curtailed my workouts. When I get sinus infections they manifest themselves in a huge nosebleed, and I didn't want to open the floodgates while working out. 

So that's my week in weight loss. But here are some foodie highlights:

  • Ever try shishito peppers? I love them, but they can be hard to find. I get mine at Trader Joe's, and they were restocked so I picked up a couple bags. Usually I roast them quickly in the oven, but I wanted to see how they'd do in the air fryer. They were fantastic. I air-fried them at 380 degrees for around 10 minutes with just a spritz of oil and a sprinkle of salt. Then you just hold 'em by the stem and eat 'em up, yum!

Shishito-peppers

  • I have serious "meal prep" envy, but I've come to the conclusion that the weekly prep fest just isn't for me. I don't want to "assemble" meals all week long -- I actually enjoy cooking every night. So instead of meal prep, I'm simply planning out dinners for the week, writing them down in my planner. I'll also throw in some preplanned lunches and breakfasts, but I usually have a solid handle on those.
  • Speaking of breakfasts, I tried Fit Men Cook's Cottage Cheese Pancakes and they're super good. I topped them with a half-cup container of unsweetened applesauce and a bunch of cinnamon. The recipe makes two servings, and they reheat really well.