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. 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 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 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