Monday, May 9, 2011

The Proof Is In The Pudding (Sugar Free, Of Course!)

We have a Wellness Department at work, which offers programs, classes and information free of charge to help people live healthier lives because healthier employees means lower health costs.  Every year the Wellness Program has a Healthy Challenge where participants go through a few tests and measurements each March.  By taking part in some of the free programs offered through the Wellness Department and making healthy lifestyle choices, you can be compensated with either up to 15 hours of leave time or up to $250.

Here's how I stacked up this year versus last year's figures:
                                                     March 2010                   March 2011
Total Cholesterol (<200mg/dl):             205                                 167
HDL (>34 mg/dl):                                   47                                  52
LDL (<130 mg/dl):                                137                                 106
Triglycerides (<200 mg/dl):                   109                                  77
Glucose (<110 mg/dl):                          104                                  95
BMI:                                            Nunya Business            Nunya Business -7.9

I was excited to get the compensation, but I was equally, if not more, excited to get the results!  Just thought I'd share the stats with you all!  Can't wait to see what next year's numbers hold.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Living 60 pounds less!

Okay, I know it's been a while, but let's not harp on how long it has been since my last post -- what matters is that I'm here now. (grin)

I know you all have been worried about me and the possibility of me falling of the face of the earth.  But as most of you know, life just gets away from you, and that's what's happened over the last 2 months: I was sick and got even sicker when I had a BAD reaction to an antibiotic; Mom was in the hospital for 11 days and 2 surgeries for a bad infection that they now believe was a due to a brown recluse spider bite;  I had a relapse and have been struggling to get over a bad ear/sinus infection -- still can't hear completely out of the ear.  But in all of it, I'm still making headway, and am glad to report their is even less of me typing this post!

I've had my second fill in the band since the last time I posted.  Only 1.5 cc's this time, but I've been able to tell the difference A LOT more than with the first one of 3cc's.  I eat extremely smaller portions because even one bite more than necessary makes me feel absolutely miserable.  I was afraid that I'd constantly feel hungry, but I don't!  I guess I'm still transitioning to trust my body after my mind and emotions have lied to me for so many years.

My biggest failures that I've been working on are:
1) Taking my time when eating.  Eating too fast doesn't allow time for the food to get from my banded pouch into my stomach.  When this happens, it doesn't provide the most pleasant feeling -- it feels like the world's 2 most strongest men are simultaneously punching me in the back and the sternum.

2) Really CHEWING my food well instead of swallowing it whole like a snake.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who is used to eating in a hurry because there's always something to do.  But much like the problem and physical pain I experience from eating to fast, not chewing my food well cause it to get stuck and the strong men to come and punch me, again . . . they aren't very nice men.

I weighed almost two weeks (I don't want to be a slave to the scale), and as the title states, I've now lost a total of 60 pounds since December.  YAY!

Thanks for your patience in my posting delay.  Thanks for several of you email and inquiries about my blogging absence.  I've been very encouraged by so many people following my progress and giving their support!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

To Fill You In

Well, I'd been working on another post for a week or so; thought I'd published it, but turns out I somehow deleted it.  grrrr!

I had my first fill on Friday, January 7, 2011.  The anticipation of the procedure was more painful than the actual procedure, which is always good.  You can watch the procedure for yourself:

The first part of the video talks a little about the difference between banding and other weight loss surgeries.  An animation of the fill procedure starts about 0:42, and an actual video of the process starts about 1:20.

It was a little uncomfortable because they have to wiggle the needle a little to get it into the correct port hole, but I've had paper cuts that have hurt worse.  It's also a strange sensation when the saline went in because I could feel it moving through the tubing up to to the band.  

The worse part was having to drink barium.  YUCK!  I had to drink a couple ounces while they injected me, which allows them to get the correct amount of saline in the band.  There's no set amount of saline for the fill -- each person is different.  They inject more saline than necessary and then plunge it out slowly until the barium starts to trickle through the band.  Once the trickle starts, they know they have enough injected.  This first time I had 3cc's of saline injected.  

After they withdrew the needle and applied a Snoopy band-aid for the little trickle of blood, I went back into the fill area waiting room to drink water.  I had to stay there for a little while and drink (water) to make sure it went through without any problems.  Sometimes, even one drop of saline, can be too much, causing pain nor the ability to swallow liquids or foods.

A fill is kind of a stressor on the stomach/system, so you have to work your way back up to food.  It's kind of like the post-op diet, but in a about three days instead of three weeks. On the day of a fill, I have nothing but liquids (tomato soup, broths, protein drinks, etc.)  The day after a fill it's soft foods (heavier soups, eggs, mushy foods).  On the third day, basically back to normal.

[On a side note, that's an Oklahoma accent my doctor has, there.  We actually graduated from the same high school. . . about 25 years a part.  He's actually a lap band patient himself and has lost over 100 pounds, as has his head nurse.  It's nice knowing they understand and can relate to the process.]

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Story of Me: Part One

[PROLOGUE: As I look forward to my new journey in a new year, I can't help but look back on not only the last year, but all the things that brought me to this point.  I think one's past plays an important role in one's future -- not in the dwelling on it and letting it consume kind of way, but learning from it. Growing from it.

How did I get here?  A point in my life, which seemed so out of control that I needed to take the drastic measure of surgery to regain my life?  The story is long, so I'll give you the Reader's Digest abridged version.  The story has many chapters, housed in about 3 volumes: Volume One -- Body Image Issues.  Volume Two - Health Issues.  Volume Three -- When Volumes One and Two Collide.

As to keep you coming back not to overwhelm you, my gracious reader, I'll share Volume One -- The Body Image Issues in this post.]


I'm not sure if there's one woman who, despite her mother constantly telling her how wonderful and beautiful she is, hasn't experienced body image issues at some point in her life.  I know I wasn't immune.  I'm sure mine started somewhere along first grade when I experienced a growth spurt, forever rocketing me to back row status, so the smaller daintier gals could be seen in class photos and have the best views of the chalkboard.  (I'm not bitter.)

I think I was in the third or fourth grade when I first started dieting.  I don't remember exactly where or how it started, but somewhere along the way, with an older sister in high school and the miseries that come with anyone trying to fit in, our house switched its membership from The Clean Your Plate The Rapture Might Come Tonight Club to The Hilton Head Metabolism Diet Society.  With three girls, I think a lot of times, mom thought it would be better to have all three of us go through the solution at the same time despite whether or not we had developed the problem yet.  (She's always believed in being prepared -- guess that's why she always sent us to church camp with a suitcase full of every possible bandage and medication to treat every possible injury and ailment we might acquire during the week . . . don't think ever used a single thing.  lol)  But trust me, I'm NOT blaming my mother -- she's an amazing woman, who did the best she could or knew to do.  I'm sure she'll make a few modifications with the next three girls she raises.

The yo-yo dieting continued all the way through high school all the while growing taller and trying to figure out where I belonged.  I mean, it was like a episode straight out of Freaks and Geeks (One of the GREATEST t.v. shows every created -- way ahead of its time!  It was The William McKinley High School series handling the awkwardness of high school before Glee was even a twinkle in Ryan Murphy's eye.  Yes, in case Jeopardy! ever asks, same high school name . . . but I digress.)

Fast forward a few years through a couple million,"so how tall are you's" and do "you play basketball's" to starving myself and over exercising in college in order try to look more like my more petite peers.  While others were earning their freshman fifteen, I was convincing myself and everyone else around me that eating only made me feel sick.  Yeah, I know -- years later -- just how absurd that logic was, but back then I was certain, that with enough sacrifice, eventually, a giraffe could look like a Shetland pony.  

At some point, I don't remember when, I realized my absurdity and started backing away from the ledge.  I remember being on a mission trip and finding a workbook on eating disorders.  I figured I'd buy it and if anyone ask just say it was for some research for my major studies in psychology -- I've always said it was a self-help degree.  (I still have the workbook, but couldn't find it tonight to share the title.  If you are interested, let me know, and I'll send you the info when I finally track it down.) 

I guess I found the book at the right time in my life -- when I was emotionally ready.  Going through the workbook, having loving understanding people who I could talk to and help me through the emotional muck and mire, and maturing in age helped me to start realizing, (in Stuart Smalley voice) "I'm good enough.  I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me." That's not to say it I was magically cured and never doubted myself again, but I started moving forward, seeing myself for ME and not comparing myself so much to the 5'3" size 0 standing next to me.

And then, I got sick. . .

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tie a rope to your ankles, so you won't get lost. . .we're divin' in!

I had planned to go in a completely different direction with this post until I came in from work, turned on the t.v. and started watching the first episode of this season's Biggest Loser.  I normally don't watch Biggest Loser, as I'm usually working on Tuesday nights at the library.  I've caught it a few times, but since I hadn't started with the show from the beginning, I really don't know the stories behind the contestants and would forget about it until my next once and month early shift rolled around the next month. However, it's touched me the few times I've watched it (and eventually made me cry), and I'd think, "Man, I wish I could see this every week!"

Being off on medical leave, I saw season finale last year (2010 was, like, SO long ago), and it really encouraged me.  I was really glad to catch this season's premier show, and I think keep up with this season on-line. (Probably should check to make sure they replay it on the website first.)  Seeing the back stories and struggles of the contestants really made me feel connected because I could SO relate. (Good job, t.v. making people!  Your fancy t.v. making skills sucked me in.)  I don't think I'd ever have the courage to be on a show like Biggest Loser.  I'd love the chance to workout with the likes of Bob and Julian, but I couldn't be THAT transparent in front of millions of viewers.  (Especially, ONLY WEARING A SPORTS BRA AND SPANDEX WITH MY WEIGHT FLASHING ON A BILLBOARD FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE!!!!) 

I mean, I have a hard enough time being completely transparent on here because my constant Miranda Right Thinking, "anything I BLOG, can and will be used against me," way of thinking.  But that's not what I want to accomplish by doing this -- blogging about my journey and experience.  I mean, there's only so much "what is Rachael eating today," I can share and only so much "what is Rachael eating today," you care to read about, for that matter.  It's encouraging to see someone else's journey and draw strength from them learning from and overcoming their own struggles.  I guess that's what I hope for this blog -- for it to be my own "Biggest Loser" process (Minus the big paycheck at the end, but I might just have to go ahead and spring for the makeover).

So!  I plan on delving a little deeper into what got me to this point -- where my life got so out of control that it seemed the only viable solution to get it back was to undergo surgery.  My back story.  Me.  What's made me me.  What I have am learned learning from it.  It won't all be pretty, but some of it might just be funny.  (Just don't expect pictures and the admission of how much I weigh for a while 'cause we don't know each other quite well enough just yet.)

Oh, and by the way . . .

Breakfast: Hazelnut coffee protein shake and 3 turkey sausage links (Addicted to Aldi's Healthy and Fit brand, fully cooked, microwaveable, and they're only $0.89 for 10 links!)
Lunch: Chicken salad and a chocolate chip cookie
Dinner: Scrambled eggs with cheese and salsa

You know you wanted to know!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Hiatus and Holiday Eating

I know it's been a few days, but I took a little off to spend and enjoy Christmas with the family.  

The Eldest (my sister Robin) came in from Oklahoma the Tuesday before Christmas, and we enjoyed several days together, mainly getting her addicted to "The Big Bang Theory," before the rest of The Family came in from Waxahachie.  She hadn't seen me since Thanksgiving when I was just starting my pre-op diet, and she could really notice the fact that I was already losing weight -- especially when I almost lost me pants a couple of times when we were out and about.  (haha)

The Eldest helped fulfill my craving for sushi, where I introduced her to, yet another addiction of, as she says, "The best hot and sour soup she's ever tasted."  I had a cup of hot and sour soup and a sushi roll, which had The Eldest not helped me with, I wouldn't have been able to finish.  I'm finding it amazing as to how quickly I get full.  We had a lovely time of running last-minute Christmas errands and viewing Christmas lights.

The Mother, The Father, and The Chihuahua Sister came Christmas Eve Morning after mom got out of the doctor.  [Her lupus is out of remission, so the doctor started on her lupus medications again.  We are slightly disheartened that it's back, but we are rejoicing that her breast cancer scare came back good for the most part -- we'll just have to keep a cautious eye on the future.]   The Eldest and I made a delicious baked potato soup (with low fat sour cream and cream of cheddar soup for the cheese) for our Christmas Eve dinner before taking The Mother, The Father, The Chihuahua Sister out to see the Christmas lights.

My family is great and very supportive of me on this journey -- sometimes a little too supportive.  lol  They've been overly concerned, discussing amongst themselves, as though I'm not even in the room, about what they "think" I can and cannot eat.  Mom even whispers about foods she thinks might "tempt" me.  (lol)  I finally had to sit them all down and put an end to it.  I think I finally got my point across and they finally understand the point of them encouraging and supporting me and not having to be responsible to police and hide food from me.  

I did, however, agree to change our menu from the previously decided brisket and fixin's, since I'm not able to eat beef at the moment, to turkey and all the fixin's.  Besides, The Eldest had a turkey given to her that was burning a whole in her freezer.  For Christmas we had:  turkey, dressing (very moist for my sake), my favorite green beans that I've mentioned in a previous blog, mashed sweet potatoes (with just a little milk and butter, vanilla and spices), broccoli slaw that The Eldest makes, Copper Penny Salad (wonderful marinated carrots with onion and bell pepper -- one of my family's favorites), and deviled eggs. 

I ate my dinner on a 7" salad plate with a few tablespoons of everything I wanted.  Again, I was amazed at how soon I was full.  Funny thing was while the rest of the family was suffering from carb-overload and tryptophan, I wasn't fazed by it at all.  Had I been more on top of things, I could have pulled off some lovely practical jokes on them while they were dozing.  I have plenty of time to prepare for next year!

I did have dessert and savored every bite.  I took up the mantle and made my mom's famous strawberry cake with strawberry butter cream icing.  The Elder (my sister Rebecca), The Eye-talian (The Elder's Italian husband), and The Chihuahua Niece showed up Christmas Morning bearing pecan pie and my absolute favorite . . . BUTTERMILK PIE!  

I waiting a few hours and had my dessert as a snack.  A small slice of each of the three filled me up quickly.  I made the family promise to save me another slice of buttermilk pie.  They happily complied -- after I threatened to make them sleep outside in The Eldest's vehicle if they didn't.  

As always, we had a great time together, and I look forward to the next time we can all get together.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Movin' On Up & Losin' Myself

I graduated!  

There were no caps and gowns or commencement speeches, but there were soft scrambled eggs, a baked potato, and tuna fish salad with green beans (Prepared my favorite way: sauteed in olive oil with garlic and balsamic vinegar.  So delicious!). Yesterday was my post-op visit, where I was given the go ahead to increase my food choices to included: canned vegetables, canned chicken, canned tuna, soft mushy fruits, and overly cooked paste and sauce.  

After a week on this diet, I'll graduate again -- just in time for Christmas when I'll be able to eat almost anything.  However, I still won't be able to eat bread (except for cornbread), rice, pineapple, apples, lettuce, beef, or pork until after my first fill because they don't want my stomach working that hard just yet.  My first fill should be the last Friday of this year, or was it the first Friday of the New Year?  Guess I really should look into that.

The scale found me five pounds lighter.  Yea!   That's 32 pounds from when I started the process.  Yea! Looks like my New Year's Resolution to lose weight will actually be successful this year.  

Today, I ate scrambled eggs, again 'cause I'z likes 'em.  And (drum roll) egg noodles with marinara sauce.  Egg noodles?  (I need to go to the store!)  Spaghetti and angel hair pasta aren't the best choices because they don't really get chewed that well -- we usually just slurp them down.  From now on whenever I have pasta, I need to have something I can bite, chew, and enjoy.  

Oh, here's where I can use your input.  I've started researching different workout possibilities for when I'm given the go ahead to begin participating in more strenuous activities than just walking.  I'm interested in your thoughts, so let me know if you have any suggestions.  Just remember I haven't worked out in years, so I'm not ready for New York Marathon level of workout . . . but someday!