Tuesday, October 23, 2012

22 Week Update

I'm back!

Surgery day: 250.4
One month 226.1 (24.3 lbs month/24.3 lbs total)
Two month: 211.8 (14.3 lbs month/38.6 lbs total)
Three month: 201.3 (10.5 lbs month/49.1 total)
Four month: 189.5 (11.8 lbs month/60.9 total)
Five month: 178.9 (10.6 lbs month/71.5 total)
Week 21: 175.3
Week 22: 173.8

1 week weight loss: 1.5 lbs
Total weight loss: 76.6 lbs

My video was long enough to need to split it into two (18 minutes or so)...oops! But you'll get the joy of some loose skin and a body shot...enjoy!

Monday, September 24, 2012

18 Week Update

It's been a crazy week "home". I arrived back in the country on Sunday, after being gone for three weeks. I enjoyed a few nights home, only to leave again on Wednesday for a quick work trip to Chicago. That led pretty quickly into a great weekend away at the Jersey Shore. I was glad to see that, through all the chaos, I managed to have a good week in terms of weight loss (though not so much with my eating!):

Surgery day: 250.4
One month 226.1 (24.3 lbs month/24.3 lbs total)
Two month: 211.8 (14.3 lbs month/38.6 lbs total)
Three month: 201.3 (10.5 lbs month/49.1 total)
Four month: 189.5 (11.8 lbs month/60.9 total)
Week 17: 187.5
Week 18: 183

1 week weight loss: 4.5 lbs
Total weight loss: 67.4 lbs

So, a good week. In my video you'll hear a bit about my crappy eating, lack of working out, and concerns about the 6 month honeymoon phase nearing an end soon. Yikes! I mention a couple of articles in the video. Here's the links. Enjoy!

The First Six Months: Your Honeymoon Period
Benefits of Dry Skin Brushing
How to Dry Skin Brush

Monday, September 17, 2012

17 Week Update

Holy cow, I sped past the four month mark! Crazy. I've been on the road traveling for work (and fun!) for three weeks to Brazil, Australia, and India and it's been a crazy ride. Let me start with the stats:

Surgery day: 250.4
One month 226.1
Two month: 211.8
Three month: 201.3
Four month: 189.5 (estimate based on hotel scale)
Week 17: 187.5

1 week weight loss: 2.0 lbs
Total weight loss: 62.9 lbs

Made it to size 14s this week! Wow, that's crazy. Haven't been this size since high school. You can check out the video to hear more about what I've been up to. Enjoy! Nice to be home.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Travel & Eating

Hi there! Thought I'd write a quick post on what I ate today while traveling/vacationing. Yesterday I noticed that I didn't quite keep up with eating throughout the day and was having some real "cravings" for food that night. I opted for a cheese plate from the dessert menu, which was fine and fit with my food for the day, but I was battling wanting things that I wouldn't normally crave (ice cream, bread, etc.). A reminder not to let it go too long without eating. So, today, I refocused and was back on track. Thought I'd share what it looked like.

Today was a travel day from Sao Paulo to Iguazu Falls. Not a long flight, but it involved me getting up at 4:30 AM to make the trip. Here's a breakdown of what happened food-wise.

4:30 AM: Woke up and took pills/vitamins with water (normally a protein shake)
5:00 - 5:45 AM: Cab ride, drank about 8 oz of water
6:45 AM: Ate half a protein bar waiting for the flight (Power Crunch French Vanilla - yum!)
7:30 - 9:00 AM: Flight, drank another 12 oz of water
10:00: Arrived at hotel, checked in, and made a protein shake with Syntrax Kiwi Strawberry (8 oz of water)
11:00 - 12:00: Drive from Brazil to Argentina to see the falls, drank 8 oz of water
12:00 - 1:00: About 1/8 cup of pistachios I'd brought and half a stick of beef jerky while walking around
1:00 - 4:00: Water, water, water. Think I drank another 20 oz or so.
4:00: "Just the Cheese" snacks that I'm traveling with
6:00: Took a dip by the pool and decided to eat dinner there. Wanted everything on the menu, but ultimately went with ceviche as a healthy choice
7:00 - 8:00: 8 oz of water
8:00: Protein shake (Isopure Zero Carb Vanilla) made with 8 oz of water

So, what did this require? PLANNING. I didn't need to plan out all the meals, but I needed to have food and water with me. If I hadn't, it's likely I could have tracked down water, but my meal options would have been empanadas at the market at the falls, and I would have gone most of the day without eating. Wouldn't have been pretty, particularly on a day where it was hot and I was doing a LOT of walking. I was conscious of having things in my bag, even far from home, and noshing every few hours. If I can do this, I clearly have no excuse for a crappy eating day due to unpreparedness at home. Enjoy the ceviche below!

Monday, August 27, 2012

14 Week Update

Hello from Sao Paulo with my 14 week update! As you'll hear in the video, I'm going by the hotel scale so who knows what my weight really is. But at least I've got a scale for this week so I can see if the scale is going up for any reason! Alright, let's get to it:

Surgery day: 250.4
One month 226.1
Two month: 211.8
Three month: 201.3
Week 13: 198
Week 14: 195.4

1 week weight loss: 2.6 lbs

Total weight loss: 55 lbs

Really happy. Weight loss is right on track. I've said a number of times that I was really aiming for 10lbs a month and I'm so excited to say that 14 weeks out I'm right on track; a little ahead but not by so much that I feel like I'm losing too fast. It is worth nothing the month to month progression. 25 first month, 15 second, and about 10 the third. Will be interested to see if I stayed on track with a 10 lb loss when I get to month four. If i don't it will be time to kick up the exercise. I've been letting myself completely slack.

I'm almost afraid to write it...but I'm also quite pleased that I haven't hit a stall yet, and no hair loss. I frankly expect both to rear their ugly WLS heads, but I'll take the avoidance of both as nice for now! Enjoy the video...I'm trying to keep them shorter in length (5 mins or so) so we'll see how long that lasts!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Answering reader questions

Hey there! I got the following questions from a blog reader and made a video to respond. Hope this helps, Ashley - best of luck with your surgery with Dr. Aceves! Can't want to hear how it turns out.
  1. In regard to medications... Do they all have to be of a chewable or liquid nature? Can you not take any tiny liquigels? Also, what about OTC pain relievers...do you crush them up or do you take the children's liquid kind? 
  2. Were you fearful about a US surgeon refusing you if a complication were to arise down the road? I have a friend who is a general surgeon and, in my best interest, was explaining to me that there is a culture among surgeons where they want you to always go back to your bariatric surgeon if any surgery was needed....that they never want to touch a bariatric patient. I've seen on other blogs/forums, however, that there are SOME surgeons who would take a bariatric patient on if their surgeon was overseas, etc. I was just curious of your thoughts on this.
  3. What size bougie did Dr. Aceves use on you? I couldn't remember the bougie size when I did the video but Dr. Aceves uses a 36 bougie and then sutures over the staple line making the sleeve smaller. You can read about the details on bougie size on the Surgeon Questions page on this site.
  4. Even after all of the literature I've come across and was sent to me, I'm still unsure of portion size. As in, when you say that you drink a protein shake each day (especially in those first few weeks), how much do you think you drink in one sitting? And how does the quantity in those first few weeks compare to how much you are able to drink now?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Out of office: Brazil

Well, it's time for another trip. Hoping for the same level of success I had with my trip to South Africa earlier this month. First stop: Sao Paulo, Brazil. Internet speeds should be much improved over Africa, so hoping to not completely fall off the radar. 14 week update is due soon, so watch for more...Jo

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Turkey Chili

Pre-surgery, turkey chili was one of my favorite things to make. Frankly, it was about the only thing I did make. Everything else was takeout. My how things have changed! During my last Sunday cooking fiasco, I decided to make a batch, albeit smaller than I normally would (and I still gave half of it away to new guy...he's clearly benefiting from my small portion size). When I plugged in the nutritional info into myfitnesspal, I was pleasantly surprised. It's definitely one of the highest calorie per serving foods I've made. But I'm trying to be on the higher end of my 600-800 calorie range, not the bottom, so my current diet tolerates it well. I can eat a decent portion size of it (my serving size if about 3/4 of a cup), and it really fills me up and stays with me. You can definitely tweak any of this for what you prefer - particularly recommend trying out different beans and spices. You may also want more chunky tomatoes (I'm not a fan) or veggies like onions, etc. Enjoy!

Crockpot Turkey Chili
I'm sure you could make on the stovetop if you were so inclined. This recipe yielded about 9 cups of chili. It freezes GREAT.
  • Half package of ground turkey
  • Can of kidney or black beans
  • Can of pinto beans
  • Half-can of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce (I used to use a full can of both, but decided to cut it down to a minimum just for some slight tomato flavor)
  • Can of fat free low-sodium beef broth
  • Can of fat free refried beans
  • Chili powder
  • Minced garlic
  • Kosher salt
Brown the ground turkey. Throw it in the crockpot it with all ingredients above, except for refried beans. Put crockpot on low for 8 hours, medium for 6, or high for 4. One hour before it's done, taste and adjust seasonings as necessary and add the can of refried beans. This will give it a yummy thickness.

Spice tips: I like SPICY chili. Seriously, for this recipe I use over half a thing of chili powder (e.g., the normal spice size you get at the market) and could easily add more for my taste. But chili powder can intensify over cooking, so start with a tablespoon or less and check an hour before chili is done. Same thing with garlic. I use a huge heaping tablespoon, but you'll have to play with it. I probably don't do more than a teaspoon of salt, and I only add it towards the end if I think I need it.

I topped with Shelly's Spicy Yogurt Dip from theworldaccordingtoeggface.com. For the new guy, when he was over the other night, I put some of the chili on a toasted onion roll topped with cheddar cheese and yogurt dip and he was in heaven.

Serving size = about 3/4 of a cup, not including yogurt topping

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Travel NSVs

Throughout my 12 days in Africa I experienced a number of "non sleeve victories" (NSVs) that I thought I'd share. They remind me how impactful my weight was on just about every facet of my life!
  • Being stuck in a middle or aisle seat on a small plane flying between cities didn't cause complete panic and wasn't entirely uncomfortable
  • I didn't sweat through my pants while sleeping/sitting on the 15-hour flight over, thus rendering them completely gross and unwearable for the rest of the trip
  • When I forgot to pack clothes that were warm enough I could walk into a regular store and by a North Face fleece, sweatshirt, and long sleeve shirt - this is a serious one for me as it's nearly impossible to find fat clothes overseas
  • When getting a massage, I could wear the normal-person robe and actually tie it around myself, thus avoiding the embarrassing step of asking for a bigger one, or having to wear clothes underneath so I don't flash anyone
  • When it got crowded in the jeep on safari, not only did I not feel cramped and like I was invading the space of others, I actually crossed my legs!
  • While I'm not excited to wear a bathing suit, I was comfortable wearing just a one piece without some big "swim skirt"
  • I wasn't worried about working my day around food. I had my protein shakes, bars, and would simply pick a protein option when the day called for having a meal
  • I saved money by doing a safari where the food was average (I didn't care since my trip wasn't about the food) and alcohol wasn't included (since I don't drink much anymore)
  • Lugging a heavy backpack and suitcase through eight airport trips in 12 days was a non-event
  • I felt more confident in my work meetings since I didn't feel like I was, by far, the largest person in the room (aka the fat american)
Thanks, sleeve. Couldn't have done it without 'ya.

Monday, August 20, 2012

13 Week Update (50 lbs and ONEDERLAND!)

Big, big week folks. You may recall that my 12-week update I was 201.3 and down 49.1 lbs. I could taste the 50 lb and onederland milestones they were so close. I'm very pleased to say that I achieved both this week!! Here's the details:

Surgery day: 250.4
One month 226.1
Two month: 211.8
Three month: 201.3
Week 13: 198

1 week weight loss: 3.3 lbs
Total weight loss: 52.4 lbs

WOO-HOO!! The last time I weighed under 200? For about a day in 2005. Before that? Geez, maybe college. You can imagine that I'm very, very excited by all of this. So much so that I finally decide to clean out the closet and dump the clothes that were too big, or that frankly I always hated but wore because they fit. From here on out I'm wearing things I enjoy. Period. With these milestones I've found that I'm comfortably in a size 16, which is phenomenal. I have a few 16s and 14s in the closet that I'm not quite fitting in to, but that's okay since it means I still probably have another month or two before I really need to go out and buy new clothes. I've been thanking my inner-organizer for boxing up all these clothes for years and years since they're really coming in handy these days.

This doesn't include a third large pile I'd already taken downstairs. Goodbye 18s and 20s. I won't miss you.
Been home from the Africa trip for a week, and quite pleased with how I've been eating. Exercise has been completely nil, so I need to work on that. But, back to getting my calories and protein in. Took me a couple days to get back into tracking everything, but I went back retroactively and I've been on track. And yesterday I even resurrected Sunday cooking day (e.g., the day I cook a bunch of stuff to have things all week), so I was pleased with myself. You can check out the recipe for pizza bites I made, as well as my crockpot turkey chili. Yum, yum, yum. This week's video is a little long to make up for the fact that it'd been a few weeks since I made one. Watch till the end for body shot, stomach scars, and loose arm skin...yay! Later, Jo

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pizza Bites

I discovered my love of "bites" (aka crustless quiches) early on. My first experiment was buffalo chicken bites and they've stayed one of my favorite things. I can't take credit for the bites - that goes to Eggface's famous bites - but the great thing is that you can put pretty much anything in them. I'm a huge fan of recipes that involve minimal ingredients, and these hit the mark. I'd previously bought ingredients for pepperoni flatout bread pizza and had leftover cheese and pepperoni. I'm leaving town this weekend again and don't want to have a lot of food left in the fridge, so decided to make pizza bites. As usual, quite yummy and reheat great. I had one for dinner last night, and another for a mid-afternoon snack at work today. I even dropped a few off at the new guy's house and received a "delicious" text, so they're guy and non-WLS approved! I'm a pretty simple cook, so my recipe is equally simple. If you want something with more flare (and ingredients), you can check out Eggface's pizza bite recipe as well.

Pizza Bites (recipe yielded 10 "bites")

24 pieces of turkey pepperoni
3 eggs (If I used 4 eggs I probably would have had an even dozen bites)
1/4 cup pre-made pizza sauce (I like Prego)
1-2 cloves minced garlic
Italian seasoning
1/4 shredded cheese (I used pre-shredded 4 cheese pizza blend)

Crucial first step: grease the mini-muffin tin well...otherwise they will stick! Set aside one piece of pepperoni per bite. Chop the rest into small pieces. Whisk chopped pepperoni with remaining ingredients, except for the cheese. Fill mini-muffin tins half way. Put in shredded cheese and fill muffin tins to top. Bake for 20 minutes at 350. After 20 minutes, place one slice of pepperoni on each bite and cook for 5 more minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Flatout Bread Pizza

If you haven't tried flatout bread yet, you've got to read my post from last month about it. Nutritionally, I've found it to be better than a whole wheat or low-carb tortilla for pizza-making purposes. Previously I could only eat about 1/6 of one in a sitting. Now I can do about 1/4, but nutritionally still pretty good.

Following on the success of taco pizza, I made two new ones this week. Normally I just cook for myself, but I made these on date night with the new guy, to rave reviews. Today I got a text saying he'd gone home and repeated the recipe himself he liked it so much. So, at least I'm not the only one that things they're super-yummy! I've included nutritional info for the pepperoni, but didn't get around to the buffalo chicken. It's probably pretty close. I used one flatbread, cut it in half, and made a different kind of pizza on each half. Enjoy.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza
  • Buffalo wing sauce (I love Archer Farms from Target)
  • Canned chicken
  • Ranch dressing powder mix
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (or other cheese if you prefer)
  • Flatout bread (or tortilla)
Spray bottom of flatout bread with cooking spray. Coat flatout bread (or tortilla) with wing sauce. In a bowl, mix canned chicken with a bit of wing sauce and ranch dressing mix to taste (1/2 - 1 tsp). Cover the flatout bread with the chicken mixture. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes.

Pepperoni Pizza
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup pizza sauce (I like Prego)
  • Turkey pepperoni (I also threw on some leftover sausage)
  • Shredded four-cheese pizza blend or mozzarella
  • Italian seasoning
  • Flatout bread (or tortilla)
Spray bottom of flatout bread with cooking spray. Coat flatout bread (or tortilla) with pizza sauce. Top with pepperoni or other meat/toppings. Top with cheese. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes.

Nutritional info is for 1/4 of a flatout bread (e.g., 1/2 of the pepperoni one picture above)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

African Safari

Thought I'd post some favorite pictures from my african safari. I tacked it on to the end of a work trip in Johannesburg, and it was AMAZING. What a great experience. And so happy that, even with 12 days of eating out throughout South Africa, I came up 4.6 lbs lighter than when I left. Fabulous!

You'd think it would be warm, right? Not in the morning!
No safari would be complete without at least one spa treatment, right? Spa @ the main lodge.
Catching some African rays at the pool at my game lodge

Monday, August 13, 2012

12 Week Update

Just a quick post - I made it home. And, after twelve or so days in South Africa, I didn't gain weight. Even better...I lost!! I was scared there for a while. Here's the stats:

Surgery day: 250.4
Week 2: 232.1
Week 3: 228.7
Week 4: 226.1
Week 5.5: 219.7
Week 6: 218.5
Week 7: 215
Week 8: 211.8
Week 9: 208.9
Week 10: 206
Week 11: Unknown...no scale in South Africa!
Week 12: 201.3
2 week weight loss: 4.7 lbs
Total weight loss: 49.1 lbs

Some trip stats. I left town on a Thursday weighing 205.9. I came back a week and a half later on a Monday to 201.3. Losing 4.6 lbs on the trip was super exciting! I've got two weeks before leaving town on another trip. 50 lbs and onederland....I'M COMING FOR YOU.

Shrinking me enjoying Camps Bay near Cape Town, South Africa (it's winter there, hence the scarf ;)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Out of Africa

Made it to Africa yesterday and enjoying the sites. Managed to remember all my vitamins, except for calcium. Oops. Lots of eating out, but so far, so good. Maybe a little more quantity than normal, but since I'm currently in Cape Town, there's tons of seafood options. Lots of salmon sashimi! Blog posts may slow down a bit, but will try to post some of my food choices when I can. Best, gastricsleeve4me

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Creamy Guacamole

I always enjoyed avocados, but have been eating more of them post-sleeve. I wanted to try out guacamole and modified a recipe I'd found on another blog. I went a little less fancy, but the result was easy and delish. Enjoy.

Creamy Guacamole
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2-3 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
  • .5 - 1 teaspoons guacamole seasoning (usually found in produce section near avocados)
  • Minced garlic
  • Hot sauce (I love Cholula)
  • Lime juice
  • Kosher salt
Mash 1/2 an avocado. Mix in greek yogurt and remaining ingredients/seasonings. Chill for 30-60 minutes before serving to allow flavors to mix. Serve with brown rice crackers, pita chips, or as a topping for taco pizza, enchiladas, and more!

Experiment with the seasonings. I like the pre-made guacamole seasoning and could probably get away without anything else - or use the other seasonings and skip the mix, but I like to experiment with the flavors. I'm not a cilantro fan, but that would be another one to try.

Monday, July 30, 2012

10 Week Update

10 weeks...holy smokes! Stats:

Surgery day: 250.4
Week 2: 232.1
Week 3: 228.7
Week 4: 226.1
Week 5.5: 219.7
Week 6: 218.5
Week 7: 215
Week 8: 211.8
Week 9: 208.9
Today: 206.0
1 week weight loss: 2.9 lbs
Total weight loss: 44.4 lbs

That 50 lb mark is in my reach! Check out this week's video about improvements in my emotional eating, constipation, and dating...quite the potpourri ;)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Taco Pizza

After finding flatout bread, I couldn't wait to try it out. If you haven't figured it out yet, I love mexican food. I grew up in San Diego, and it was pretty much a staple growing up. You had BBQs with burgers and hot dogs? We had BBQs with marinated carne asada steak and grilled chicken, tortillas, refried beans, fresh guacamole (with avocados from our yard), and salsa. And those of you on the east coast are seriously missing out on the opportunity to party on Cinco de Mayo (literally translated "the fifth of May"). Anyway, my mom used to make taco pizza using those Boboli crusts. I decided to have a go at using the flatout bread to do the same and YUMMY! Recipe, photos, and nutritional info below. Enjoy, Jo (aka gastricsleeve4me)

Taco Pizza
  • Flatout bread
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • Taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup fat free refried beans
  • Shredded cheese (I'm migrating back to full fat cheese...the fat is worth the flavor for me)
  • Plain greek yogurt and/or avocado for garnish
Brown ground turkey with taco seasoning per the seasoning's directions (make sure to check seasoning serving size...most are made for 1 LB of ground meat, and I use half of that). Set aside.

Spray bottom of flatout bread and put on baking sheet. Coat with refried beans. Sprinkle browned/cooked ground beef. Add additional seasonings (I added chipotle spice and Cholula Hot Sauce). Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 15 minutes at 375 degrees

Slice flatout bread into 6 "squares" and serve with plain greek yougrt and avocado. Or mix the two using my creamy guacamole recipe. For me, one square is a serving and all I can eat at nine weeks out. Pop the rest in the fridge for leftovers!

Fave alert: Flatout Bread

Wanted to share a potential new "fave" food item. I went to the beach this weekend and stopped at Surf Taco on the way home. I looked online beforehand to find a healthy option and went for the grilled garlic shrimp taco. When I ordered, I forgot to ask for a corn tortilla and so it came out with flour. I hadn't tried tortillas (or bread) yet, but at nine weeks out I was curious. I'm not interested in flour tortillas becoming a diet staple, so I ate half the shrimp out of the taco but took one bite with tortilla to see how it would sit. No problems (still haven't found anything sleevie doesn't like). So, upon grocery shopping this weekend I looked for low carb wheat tortillas since I'd seen others using them for a variety of things. I found them - but when I was searching I also found flatout bread. Comparing the nutritional info with the tortillas, it was close, but I found the flatout bread to be better and you got more in a serving.

Now, not ALL of the flatout breads were better. I lined up all eight varieties on the shelf and compared until I found what I thought was best...flatout light original. Based on the names of the varieties, I actually thought that the 100% whole wheat with flax was going to come out best. The labels were sneakily similar...but you get 10 more grams of flat bread in the light original, along with 2 extra grams of fiber and protein. Other "Healthy Grain" flatout bread tended to be higher in calories and carbs. Finally, don't be fooled by the "Kidz" size. You're better off getting the light original and cutting it rather than buying the smaller Kidz version, which doesn't have as good nutritional stats. So "light original" it is!

The nutritional info is below. I've now tried them out for a couple things, including Taco Pizza, and I can only eat about 1/6 of one currently. So divide the nutritional info below by 6 and it seems like a great add to my staples!

Monday, July 23, 2012

9 Week Update

Missed my 8 week update, so here's the 9! Stats:

Surgery day: 250.4
Week 2: 232.1
Week 3: 228.7
Week 4: 226.1
Week 5.5: 219.7
Week 6: 218.5
Week 7: 215
Week 8: 211.8
Today: 208.9
1 week weight loss: 2.9 lbs
Total weight loss: 41.5 lbs

It's been a very emotional couple of weeks. Which means food struggles. I'm not going to say much else here, since I think the video pretty much covers it. Sorry for the mild emotional breakdown in advance. Best, Jo

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I recently posted a thread on a VSG message board entitled "Why are/were you fat". I began with my own story...

At 11 years old I was living with my mother and step father. My father was no where to be found. My step dad worked nights from about 3pm to midnight, leaving my mom with their 4 year old and a newborn. My mother, diagnosed only a few years ago, is bipolar. Two young children and a husband away in the evenings was too much for her to bear. But, at 11, after spending much of my time caring for their first child, I was well equipped.

There were diapers to be changed, and dinners to be made, and someone to watch the kids while my mother needed "alone time", pursued a variety of different careers to keep her occupied and out of the house, or disappeared for days on end when life was too overwhelming. At that age, "normal" is whatever your life is. So, I did what I believed I was supposed to. But there was not much time to be a kid. No one to scream at to when my brother stuffed yet another box of crayons in the VCR or my sister decided to "puffy paint" the bathroom towels. No one to cry to when I was home taking care of two kids when everyone else was playing sports or meeting boys. So I ate. I used food to comfort me for the adult stressors I was incapable of handling at such a young age (and had been primed for over years before). Who do you cry to when your step dad says he needs to pick up your mom at the suicide clinic so make sure the kids get to bed on time? I became an expert at being capable. At being resilient. At relying on no one. But food. Food was my best friend and a constant.

For years later during high school my parents would "scold" me for sitting on the couch to catch an hour of tv after working one of my two jobs (by 15), presumably because they noticed my growing waistline and assumed it to be lack of exercise (as a varsity gymnast holding down two jobs and "babysitting" every day you'd think they would have figured out it wasn't my ability to commit to hard work or the result of laziness).

I left home at 17 and, by now the consummate overachiever, graduated with my bachelors at 20 and began a career I'm continuing 12 years later, becoming the youngest manger in my region, then the most quickly promoted sr manager, and so on. But always heavy. Always. The stress of two young kids was replaced by stress at work, the need to succeed, anger/grief/etc at my parents when I realized later how different my childhood was...but I never learned how to cope with thes emotions. Being dumped 5 weeks before your wedding, losing a best friend to sudden death at 28, funerals for 16 yr old cousins, and uncles who died too early, friends and family with brain cancer. I was ill-equipped to do anything but make it to therapy, and eat.

So, at 32, I needed a catalyst. A push. A drastic change. Enter the sleeve. At nine weeks out my journey is an emotional one. One that I'm conquering. Slowly. But surely. With the guidance of a therpist who specializes in food and has picked up where other therapists began (but without the weight connection). It's not easy, and it's not about protein or water intake. It's about becoming more emotionally mature. And I'm committed. And I'm nothing if not resilient.

Everyone has a story. Want to read others' stories in response to my message board thread? Read them on Vertical Sleeve Talk.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Eating @ 9 weeks

I finally updated the solid food stage page (found at the top of my blog). At 9 weeks out, it represents a list of my go-to foods, spices, sauces, and recipes. Honestly, 90% of what I eat is on that list...and it's only 13 food items (not including my fave spices and sauces). With those items, I can make endless recipes!

You may want to also check out the video below about a recent grocery trip. With just five new ingredients from the grocery store, mixed with a few of my staples leftover in the fridge (cheese, buffalo sauce, refried beans, and a few others), I'll easily make a week's worth of meals including:
  • Buffalo shrimp pizza with yogurt ranch dip
  • Pepperoni pizza flatbread
  • Taco pizza flatbread with beans and seasoned ground turkey, with yogurt dip
  • Lasagna "cupcakes"
  • Baked ricotta
  • Refried bean cupcakes
Links to the recipes with photos will be posted for these items once I make them this week...enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Parmesan Cheese Crackers

I love crackers. I've been enjoying a limited amount of brown rice crackers from Archer Farms (Target brand) but ran across a recipe for parmesan cheese crackers and couldn't resist, seeing as how I had fresh cheese in the fridge. There are several recipes out there, but I used this one from Sunset. It couldn't be easier. Seriously. Grate cheese. Put on pan. Bake. Eat. And they were gooooooood. By the way, I thoguht I could cheat and use wax paper instead of parchment or a silicone baking sheet. Ummmm....no. They stuck horribly. So, heed my advice and follow the instructions! Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Protein Doughnuts

I was at JC Penney the other day on my way into the mall and browsed through the kitchen section. I ran across a $6 mini-doughnut pan (and I mean, really mini...like 2.5 inches in diameter). Now, I'm not a big sweets person, and I frankly don't really enjoy cake that much, but the pan was just so cute! I remembered seeing protein doughnuts on The World According to Eggface and couldn't help myself. $6 and 1 hour later, protein doughnuts were born.

They're alright. Not the best thing since sliced bread (a little dry), but I have found them to be awfully handy when I need to grab something on the go that doesn't need to be refridgerated. How would I do it differently next time?
  • I wonder if as much almond meal is necessary. It packed a whole lot of calories
  • I would make a quarter of the batch!
  • I would frost them. Eggface does, but I couldn't be bothered. But they did need a little somthing else

I didn't take a photo of the nutritional info, but here's the details I got from plugging in my ingredients into MyFitnessPal:
  • 18 servings/mini doughnuts
  • 74 calories
  • 4 carbs
  • 5g of fat
  • 4g of protein

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Buffalo chicken cupcakes

After all the fun with the buffalo chicken bites, I finally wanted to give the buffalo chicken cupcakes from emilybites.com a go. I modified the recipe slightly, and I've posted what I did and the related nutritional info below. Enjoy!

Buffalo chicken cupcakes
1 can chunk white chicken in water
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce
1 tsp ranch dressing mix powder
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I don't like blue cheese, but if you do, try that? Also, want a lighter nutritional value? Do light/low fat cheese)
Wonton wrappers

Mix chicken, wing sauce, and ranch mix. Spoon into wonton wrappers pressed into a mini muffin pan. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake for 12 mins at 375 or until edges of wonton wrappers brown. Serve with greek yogurt ranch dipping sauce (below)

Ranch dipping sauce
Mix 1/2 tsp ranch mix per every tablespoon of Greek yogurt

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Work travel FAIL

Well, it finally came. My first business trip 7.5 weeks after surgery. It was from NJ to TX just for Wed-Fri. I'd been on an emotional roller coaster lately (as you know), and finding myself wanting food for comfort - mostly resisting, but some days with higher-than-average calories (700s instead of 500s). On top of that, this week I'm dealing with the eviction of my tenants in a rental property (who are $6000 behind on rent), and I decided to end a friendship with a man who I love dearly (after two two-hour conversations, some tears, and the confirmation that this man loves me and thinks about a relationship with me - but isn't ready when I am, I decided it wasn't healthy for me to stay in the friendship).

Needless to say, I'm having a bit of a tough time. Nothing melt-down-ish, but just not really myself. I got more hesitant about the trip in the days leading up, but decided it was something I needed to try out since I have a 12-day international trip (a mix of business and pleasure) coming up in three weeks.

I'm at my company's conference center with tons of free food available everywhere. The upside is that there are plenty of healthy appropriate options. I haven't gone off the rails with my options, but the quantity is definitely more than normal. I'm also withdrawn - not really interested in connecting with people, eating by myself, eating back in my room, etc. Not good.

Today was morning protein shake, half greek yogurt snack, turkey chili for lunch, 1 oz of sharp cheddar for snack, protein shake, then dinner which was basically one or two bites of cheese, hummus, fish, bacon, shrimp, and pistachios. At no point did I feel sick or did I eat too fast, but an hour after dinner I still have that full feeling that I'm so familiar with from pre-surgery.

I'm getting used to not being hungry, and trying to learn to use my eyes to measure what I really need (and MFP to confirm), and so it's been a while since I've really had that full feeling...because THERE'S NO REASON I NEED TO BE THAT FULL. It makes me mad at myself that I can't just enjoy a couple bites and let it go. And scares me that in this two days of weakness my sleeve seems to be allowing additional quantity.

Tonight I decided that I'm not in enough control to be here yet. I've changed my flight to leave in the morning and miss the 2nd day of the training to get back home to my comfort zone. That equally scares me since I've got a big trip coming up in a few weeks.

I do have confidence that when I'm back in my element I will revert back to my good habits. But my lifestyle and my job involves frequent travel, and I'm worried that I'm going back to my pre-surgery ways where travel = "vacation mindset" = no regard for what I'm eating. That really helped get me into a bad spot before.

So, while I've been doing lots of work at home about trying to seek things other than food to soothe me, to keep me busy, etc. (and having mis-steps, but doing well on the hole), it appears this is a new fronteir that I haven't conquered yet. I made an attempt, learned some things, but I'm going to get myself out of this environment to regain control...and try again another day.

Interested to see what this looks like on the scale when I get home. Hate to think I lost an opportunity for weight loss this week for 24 hours of bad behavior.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

7 Week Update

7 weeks. Here's the stats:

Surgery day: 250.4
Week 2: 232.1
Week 3: 228.7
Week 4: 226.1
Week 5.5: 219.7
Week 6: 218.5
Today: 215
1 week weight loss: 3.5 lbs
Total weight loss: 35.4 lbs

I'm on the emotional roller-coaster and hanging on for dear life :) Most days are good. But every few days I seem to be having a mini-meltdown. Down-in-the-dumps crying stuff. And I'm a lot less patient at work than I normally am (which probably isn't that patient either). To make matters worse, I'm dealing with some pretty deep feelings and emotions for someone that isn't interested in progressing into a relationship (and I am). Which is made more tough because of the deep friendship connection we have, and I'm reluctant to let go. Multiple 2-hour conversations about how we feel about each other, how he's not ready but doesn't want me to take the idea of us together off the table, etc. have not driven my emotional meltdowns, but have mixed with estrogen rushes from fat loss, emotions about the surgery, lack of personal support network, lack of food as a coping skill, calorie deficiency, and god-knows-what-else to create quite a cocktail of depressed moments.

After discussing at length with my therapist yesterday, she commented that she was really impressed with my ability to recognize those moments and take action rather than letting it pull me down too far. That made me feel better about things, but isn't necessarily much consolation when you're in the thick of it :) At any rate, all in all, I am doing well. Physically, I'm great. Emotionally, I'm on a roller-coaster but I can look from the outside and know (a) why and (b) change my behavior to address it - which makes it all a little easier to deal with. I also know it's not forever, and that it's only serving to remind me why this step was so important. To release me from the binds of food as a coping mechanism and force me to look harder at the life I'm living. Replacing food with working out, connecting with friends, and finding new hobbies looks awfully healthy to me...even if I'm looking at it with teary eyes now and again. Best, gastricsleeve4me

Saturday, July 7, 2012


My mexican food cravings have not subsided. After the fun of making mini cheese enchiladas and refried bean cupcakes, I decided I wanted to try little bean burritos. I gave them a go in the oven, but felt they were really missing something...they needed to be crisped up in a pan to make them really yummy - at which point they became a little more like chimichangas. Anyway, below is the recipe, with some modifications that I made after trying them once.

Bean Chimichangas
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Fat-free refried beans (recommend you get some that are a little on the runnier side. Ortega or Rosarita work well. Trader Joe's do NOT)
  • Low-fat mexican cheese blend
  • Olive oil
  • Greek yogurt and/or avocado as garnish
  • Heat refried beans in the microwave
  • Place wonton wrappers on a plate
  • Put 1 tbsp of heated refried beans on wrapper (the wrappers won't be in the pan long enough to heat cold beans)
  • Top with cheese
  • Add any desired spices (I used chipotle spice and some Tapatio hot sauce)
  • Fold wonton wrapper in half and "seal" by dipping your fingers in water and getting the area of the fold a little wet so it sticks
  • Heat a skillet with olive oil - just enough that the wonton wrappers can soak some up and crisp up
  • Place wontons in the pan and for 1-2 mins each side or until they get crisp and lightly brown
  • Serve with greek yogurt and avocado

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gone Camping

Just a quick one to (a) wish you Happy 4th of July!! and (b) let you know I'm off to camp again. I'll be back Sunday in time for my 7-week update. Hopefully I'll return with a nice loss like last time! In the meantime, if you get bored, watch a couple of my favorite videos:
Later, gastricsleeve4me

Monday, July 2, 2012

6 week update

6 weeks and 32 lbs, baby! Love it. Lost another 1.2 lbs since my 5.5 week update, and I'll take it. The stats:

Surgery day: 250.4
Week 2: 232.1
Week 3: 228.7
Week 4: 226.1
Week 5.5: 219.7
Today: 218.5
.5 week weight loss: 1.2 lbs
Total weight loss: 32.2 lbs

Been playing a lot with the wonton wrappers. Check out my recipes for enchiladas and tuna melts. Also saw turkey/cheese/avocado roll-ups on theworldaccordingtoeggface and have been noshing on those. About as simple as it gets! I also did a wonton wrapper crisped in a frying pan with non-stick spray, and spread with hummus the other day as well. Had been trying to figure out what I could put hummus on top of other than a cracker. Pics of the turkey roll-up and hummus wonton below.

So, emotionally, I had an interesting few days. Got pretty down, actually. And, man, that little head hunger gremlin resurrected itself pretty easy. Like it's been hiding just under the surface. I wallowed with him for a day, but didn't let him get the best of me via food...then worked to get constructive with what I was feeling. Figure if I do this enough times, food won't play into my "bummed out" days which crop up now and again - and often unexpectedly! Want to hear more? Check out this week's video. Later, gastricsleeve4me

Applegate organic turkey and 1/2 a Sargento colby cheesestick. Added some avocado, but not in the picture.

Roll 'em up and heat with some non-stick olive oil spray

mmm...gooey. On the side is a wonton cracker I threw in the pan, then spread with hummus. This was three meals :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wonton Enchiladas

I was craving enchiladas today and couldn't get it off my mind, so decided to see what I could come up with. I had leftover enchilada sauce from Trader Joe's (soooo yummy/spicy!) from making the enchilada bites a couple weeks back. And all my experimenting with wonton wrappers gave me an idea. And voila...wonton enchiladas were born! I didn't have any chicken handy, but can see that being quite a tasty addition.

After I made them, I was perusing theworldaccordingtoeggface and came across her recipe for tortilla-less turkey enchiladas, which I'll also definitely have to try.

Wonton Enchiladas
  • Enchilada sauce
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Shredded cheese
  • Shredded chicken or ground beef (optional)
  • Olives, onions, etc. (optional)
  • Greek yogurt to garnish
  • Spoon a small amount of enchilada sauce in the bottom of each mini-loaf square. Just enough to coat the bottom. 
  • Place a wonton wrapper into each mini-loaf square.
  • Spoon more enchilada sauce into the bottom of the wonton wrapper, add additional fillings (chicken/beef, olives, onions, etc.) and top with cheese. 
  • Loosely seal the top of the wonton wrapper (it's okay if it's not all the way closed). The easiest way to do this is to dip your fingers in water and use them to coat one side of the wonton wrapper with water, and stick the other side to it. Perfection doesn't matter here. 
  • Coat with additional enchilada sauce and cheese
  • Bake 10 minutes at 375 degrees
  • Serve topped with dab of greek yogurt
I did just enchilada sauce, wonton wrapper, and low-fat shredded mexican cheese and they came out at about 60 calories each (5 carbs/4 protein) not including greek yogurt. Adding chicken would have been a great protein add. Next time!
Bit of sauce in the bottom, and wonton wraper placed on top

Layer of sauce, then cheese (and other fillings), and the wonton closed up (far right)

Once sealed, top with additional sauce and cheese

Finished product

Topped with greek yogurt