Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's been a loooooong time...

It's been a good while since I took the time since I took the time to do this. LOTS have happened!

Today a good friend of mine said to me that I'm really looking thin - that my face is oval now. LOL!  I certainly wasn't thinkin' that I had lost any more weight.  Heck, just two weeks ago I had gained 8 pounds because I was eating poorly due to obligations at work that cause me to work LOTS of hours each day for nearly 2 weeks.   After I heard what she said, I stepped on the scale.  WHOA! I lost all of that weight I had gained and THEN SOME!  I'm now at 289 pounds! I haven't weighed this since 2003 when I was doing Weight Watchers.  It definitely feels good.

I just think it's odd that I am losing weight but not really following the "plan". I mean, I totally don't drink the protein shakes anymore. More on that later.

With the lap band, I eat pretty much whatever I want aside from fried foods. Although I do have a weakness for onion rings.  My portions are smaller.. but definitely not the portion amount I was told that I needed to eat.  I had never had an "incident" until about 3 fills ago. Those, my friend, are NOT FUN!!!! So now I avoid those foods like the plague! The culprit is beef and chicken cooked at restaurants or cafeterias.  Imagine having an 'incident" in a dining hall on campus. NOT TOO CUTE!!! The last "incident" occurred about 3 weeks ago. I had just gotten a fill and quickly learned to CHEW, CHEW, CHEW!!   I had my last fill on August 20 and since that fill, I have lost another 5 pounds of so.

One of the things I think makes my situation different is that I'm a male. A TALL male. I know the Doctor placed a "larger" band on me - so maybe that allows me some advantages. Another thing is that I have been training to run my first 5K.  I have been using a great program called, Couch 2 5K. It's a great Application for the iPhone or iPod Touch.  It was really easy to get going.  You start with running for a minute then walking a bit. You repeat this pattern each week while adding more time to the running. Eventually you will only run. I NEVER thought I'd be running, let alone running for 3 miles!  I do credit this with kicking the weight loss into high gear. I've now added weight training to the mix. I tend to work out 3 days per week for about an hour or more at a time. When I complete a strenuous work out is pretty much the only time I have a protein shake these days. However, I make sure a lot of the foods I eat have plenty of protein.  Maybe it's because I'm a male and doing strenuous workouts that I haven't lost muscle mass. Who knows - I just know that the muscles are still intact and I can still lift as much as I could before in the gym (and hopefully more soon).

There is one piece of the lap band program that I definitely maintain. I take my multivitamin, vitamin D and calcium daily.  I noticed that since surgery and the lifestyle change, I have not been sick with a cold.  That's definitely a plus!

In all, I've lost close to 60 pounds. AMAZING! I still have about 40 pounds to go - at least in my head I do. If I could shake my sweet tooth, I'd probably be much closer to my goal of 100 pounds. Oh well, such is life. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ain't No Easy Whey!

It'll be 3 weeks since surgery on Tuesday.  I started exercising again now that my little issue with the bunion on my right foot has gone away.  That hurt worse than surgery!

With the time that has passed, I can't say that I've been the star pupil of post-op.  I did eat a small bag of M&Ms the other day and aside from the Starbust Jellybeans I encountered... I'm doing pretty well with watching the sugars. Unfortunately, getting all of the  protein in has been a thorn in my side.

I ordered a sample pack of protein things prior to surgery.  I figured this would give me a lot of choices and make drinking the protein a piece of cake.  When I was in the hey day of working out and had a personal trainer back in 2002, I was drinking protein shakes. It wasn't too bad - but I only had to have a small shake each day.   Now that it's important for me to get 65 grams of protein in a day I thought I'd switch it up and get some varieties that I might like.  Not all wheys are good wheys. 

So let me start with the horribly awful:

New Why Liquid Protein - Grape Flavor, 42 grams
I bought this one as an individual tube at GNC. I figured, hey.. let's try this because it's fruit flavored - so that will break up the whole chocolate, vanilla thing - AND it's 42 grams in one tube and it's such a small tube.   Well, I drank it and almost gagged!  It was sour and has a horrible after taste.  I finished drinking it and I could smell the concoction for days it seemed like. 
Recommend:  HELL NO!

Liquid Morph+ - Fruit Punch Flavor, 45 grams
I bought a six-pack of this flavor during the same time I bought the New Whey one.  So needless to say that I was hesitant on trying it. I was on the go and needed to get some protein in.  I cracked open the tube and smelled it.  It wasn't as repugnant as New Whey but I still held my breath as I took the first sip.  Not as bad as I thought.  Okay flavor, considered the protein really throws it off - but it's tolerable.  I don't mind it but I definitely have to wash my mouth out after drinking and it encourages me to drink water!
Recommend: If you need to get in your protein, it's not a bad option.

Believe Mocha Latte, 20 grams
I like coffee.  Correction, I used to like coffee.  Prior to surgery, for three weeks I switched to decaf. They say this is a smart move because you don't want to be in caffeine withdrawal while in recovery.  I thought it would a good thing to buy the coffee flavored protein drinks from There was a bottle in my sample bag that I ordered but i figured I LOVED coffee so it can't be bad.  Well... I was fooled.  With a case of this in my fridge I was at a loss for what to do.  Then one day I thought to add one packet of Splenda to  the bottle and VIOLA!!! It was pretty good.  Not fantastic like a Caramel Frappucinno from Starbucks.. but it works. Today was the 4th time I tried to drink brewed coffee and I just wasn't interested in it.  Looks like my taste buds have changed.  It doesn't even seem appealing to me anymore. Once this case is finished, I won't be buying this anymore.  Besides, for the bottle, you only get 20grams of protein.  Totally not worth my money.
Recommend:  If you like coffee - go for it. I just don't think you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Zero Carb Isopure, 40 grams
Here's another bright idea I had.  Fruit flavored drinks sound DELICIOUS.. but they're not.  Not to me anyway. There's that weird after taste from the protein that messes me up.   Of the flavors that come in the case, Apple Melon is the most tolerable.  I may try adding some Splenda to the bottle and seeing if that improves the taste.  However, I am disappointed with how large the bottle is for the amount of protein you're getting.  That's 20 ounces of so-so flavor to get 40 grams when I can drink 8 ounces of a chocolate protein powder and get 30grams or suffer through a tube of Liquid Morph+ at 3.1 ounces and get 45 grams of protein! 
Recommend: Well the website says many bariatric surgeons recommend this. Maybe so because of the liquid consumption. I'm not completely sold on it - but I will try it with a little Splenda and see if that changes my tune.

I was also experimenting with the powders.  I ordered a large bag from Here's my run down of the flavors I've tried. Keep in mind, each serving gives you 30grams of protein.

The flavor was just off. I like fruit flavors but this just wasn't working for me.  I had to trash it.
Recommend: It might taste good blended with real fruit. 

This tastes very good.  I blend it with skim milk and actually enjoy drinking it.  Sometimes I give myself a little extra. :0)  This way I don't have to have to drink much later unless it's between meals and I'm feeling hungry.  I bought a big bag of this and each week I bring 7 ziplock bags of portioned out powder with me to work.
Recommend: Highly! 

Another fantastic flavor.  I really like this one as well. My plan is to buy a large bag of the Peanut Butter Cookie flavor and mix it with the Dutch Chocolate Cake.  This way I will have three flavors to enjoy.  By the way, the powders do mix up really well.
Recommend: Yes!

I've never drank this one alone, but I would imagine I would.  I mixed it with Dutch Chocolate Cake and it was very good.
Recommend: Yes!

Very nice flavor. Smooth and creamy. I plan to order a bag of this one as well.
Recommend: Yes!

Clearly, we all have different tastes in what's good and what's not, but hopefully my information will give you an idea of what you should purchase and/or expect.  For me, I'd much rather have a smaller amount of protein to drink and get it out of the way as opposed to having to sip/drink on something all afternoon.  That's not my idea of a good time. hahaha

Happy taste testing!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Week Ago Today, Everything Changed...

Today was my one week post-op follow-up. It was pretty easy breezy.  I arrived and met with the LPN and the Dietician. It was uneventful but the news of being able to finally eat mushy food was like doing a "happy dance" in my mind!  Two weeks of liquids! Whether it was Optifast or the strict liquid diet of the "Week One of Post-Op"- I don't want to see a Jell-O cup for a while.

Today was the day I also got my first "officially logged" weight loss.  Fifteen pounds! However, the "unofficial log" (i.e. my scale when I'm wearing nothing but a t-shirt and underwear) says 25 pounds. Hmmm... I'll take the "unofficial". HA HA HA HA

My starting weight was 352 pounds. For a man my height (6'4"), I should be in the ballpark of 225 - 235 (at least, that's what I would call a "sexy" weight for me). Doctors might suggest 15 pounds less that that. Just reaching 250 would be phenomenal considering I haven't weighed that since junior high!

Moving onto "mushies" was very nice. For lunch, I had the small chili from Wendy's.  I also need to mention that I was only able to eat half.  I'll see you tomorrow my tasty chili cup! Today I also had to work the 30/30 rule into structured existence.  Drinking plenty of water is a must! Having to get my protein is vital.  Helps to keep the energy level up. I'm going to do an entry on just protein mixes because NOT ALL ARE CREATED EQUAL! BLAH...  So far, I'm finding that the powdered, taste-like-pastries ones are better - but rest assured, this week I'll post more details.

I also wanted to talk about my meal tonight.  It was FAAAAANTASTIC! OH. MY. GOD! I went to Trader Joe's and bought the marinated frozen chicken breast and some marinated eggplant and zucchini.  We are only supposed to eat 4oz and that was the BEST 4 ozs! Just had to microwave the chicken for a minute and a half - let it sit after cooking and it's just as MOIST as can be.  The veggies - soft and flavorful. I didn't finish the chicken - My dog, Big Mac did.  I think he'll be benefiting from my changing life just as much as I will.  :0)  As I discover more delectable meal options, I'll share those along with the proper information so that you can locate it as well.

Hasta luego!


Saturday, February 27, 2010


Today I felt fine.  I even slept on my stomach last night.  Not too sure if that's something I should have done - but it certainly didn't cause me any pain to do it.  The only incision that is still sore is the 2 inch cut on the top of my belly where the port is located.

I've definitely noticed my hunger increase.   Having a Jell-O cup or two just doesn't cut it anymore.  Thank God I move to mushy foods in three days.  I already have in mind what I want.  A "Wendy's Chili". Mmm Mmm, Good!

I wanted to talk a little about negativity from friends.  I don't think they intend to be negative with their comments or questions, but they certainly come across that way. Tonight I had an online chat with someone who had also thought about having this surgery.

Friend: so how do they tighten and untighten the ring

Me: there's a port just under the muscle of my stomach
and they just inject saline into it
Friend: and how long will you keep this in?

Me: for liiiiiiiiife
you remove it and you go back to your old ways
and gain all the weight back

Friend: not if you learn why you turn to food and switch to a healthier lifestyle

Me: um.. it's recommended that you don't remove it
it CAN be removed but if it's helping you to keep the weight off, why do you want to have it removed? So I can eat a whole plate of food?

Friend: i get it now. you have no control. you've tried but without this you won't be able to control what you eat

Me: that's why people get gastric surgeries, right?

Friend: sure
It felt as though I was being called a "failure" because I decided to have surgery instead of trying to lose the weight on my own.  It also seems as if I should be mourning the food that I will no longer be able to eat.  It's amazing how others act like you've never considered these things.   Will I miss eating popcorn? Pizza with all the crust? Thanksgiving dinner and eating until I can't move? Yeah.. a little.. but not NEARLY as much as I'll miss wearing a smaller pair of pants,  not having to take this blood pressure medicine, and a lack of a high level of self-confidence that I'll lose if I did continue to eat all of those things and thing some.
Just something that caused me to pause and consider the intention behind the words.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Day After

I've completed surgery!  You might be wondering how I feel.  I have to say that I'm in pretty good spirits.  It's now been 24 hours since I've awaken from the anesthesia. Let me give you a run down of the day of surgery.

Tuesday, February 23
11:30am - arrived for surgery and completed paperwork
12:00pm - I go back into the room where I strip down and get into my gown. Met a ton of nurses and doctors who will all have a hand in my surgery. They were super nice. This is where whomever is there with you for support can be with you.  Lauren was great to have around. She kept my mind off of what was about to happen. The nurses all do their spiel about their role in the surgery and to give me info for what to expect once I wake up from the anesthesia.
1:30pm - I head into surgery.  There were a ton of people in that room!  They were all talking to me. By this time I had gotten an injection in my IV to relax my nerves. The last thing I remember is getting the gas mask.
4:00pm - I wake up from the anesthesia and a nurse at my side.  I was trying to speak but it was like I had the words in my brain but I couldn't get the words out.
6:00pm - I made it to my room. Met all of my nurses who would be with me during the night. They were all very nice!  Denise is a spitfire nurse that loved to laugh and make me laugh no matter how much it hurt to do so.  I really enjoyed our chuckles. Pam was with me overnight and she was very caring and helped me walk the halls.  You see, you have to walk in order to work out the gas that's inside of you.  During laproscopic surgery they fill you up with gas so that they can maneuver inside of you. So you have to burp and pass gas A LOT to get it all out. Fun times! hahaha

One of the things I noticed is that I hadn't been peeing since I got to surgery. This was a good 8 hours that had passed.  Once I got a couple of bags of fluids in me, I was up and down all night going to the bathroom. It was definitely good practice in moving around.

Now that I'm on day two post-op, I'm actually feeling pretty good. I don't have much of an appetite but I am moving around a lot more. Sipping my water and my protein. Trying to get in some broth, sugar-free pudding and sugar-free popsicles.  You'd think it wouldn't be an issue - but honestly, to eat/sip is a lot tougher when you're not really wanting to because you're not really hungry.

Each day it gets better.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Big Day

Tomorrow by the time - I will be the recipient of a lap-band.  Tonight... I'm excited and nervous. I don't think I'll have a hard time sleeping considering I'm really tired tonight. I just remembered how I needed to get a post in on the eve of surgery. 

Today I ate something that I probably shouldn't have and now I'm a little worried about the outcome of that choice tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have enough time that passes for the food to have worked through my system. I don't show up for surgery until 11:30am and the surgery doesn't take place until 1pm.  This gives me a fair amount of time - considering I can't eat or drink anything from midnight tonight until after surgery.

My main worry right now is managing post-op.  It'll be nearly 8 weeks of liquids and mushy. I finished a week of Optifast and lost 10 pounds in a week! WOW! I definitely felt like I had. The pants felt less snug. Just imagine what it'll feel like after another week!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

OptiFast is NOT Fast Enough...

Today is day three of the OptiFast Weight Loss Plan to get my fatty liver in shape.  Let me tell you this... I AM HUUUUUNGRY!  Oh. My. God!

The first day I cheated a little.  I was doing great until I had visions of the leftover chicken alfredo in my refrigerator.  Surely enough, I ate it.  I mean... how could I NOT?  I'm only having 960 calories a day.  The leftovers added about 700 more calories.

Yesterday I went the entire day without cheating.  What a success!  However, today I woke up hungry as hell and with a headache that's pretty much lasted all day.  Enough of the complaining though.  I'm looking at this like a test.  If I can make it through this, I can make it through anything.  As much as I love the chicken noodle soup OptiFast packet (and yes.. it is REALLY TASTY), I am not satisfied and just want a little more of something else.   I'm sure I'm not the only one who's cheated on this diet prior to surgery.  I'm also sure I'm not the most flagrant. 

To make it through the days I drink LOTS of decaf tea.  Might I add, lots of Jell-O too.  You're allowed that during this time.  They say no more than three servings of sugar-free Jell-O but they're only 10 calories each - or some nonsense like that.  So, what if I have 4?

I stepped on the scale today and I have lost 4.4 pounds in just a day and a half. Is that right? That's a lot I thought, even considering that I had that chicken alfredo.  What if I didn't have the alfredo? Would it have been a 6 pound loss?  We'll never know. All I know is that this week of OptiFast is not going by fast enough.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Coming Out as a Lap-Bander

When I chose to have the lap band procedure I was pretty sure that I was going to keep it a secret. I would tell a few people here and there but for the most part - it would just be a pact with myself. You know.. the whole, "ain't nobody's business but my own" type of thing. As I progressed through my scheduled nutrition classes and a meeting with a doctor for the psychological evaluation, I've come to realize that I can't do this on my own. If I'm going to be successful, it's going to take a village (to quote Hillary).

Living in a state separated from your family isn't exactly a situation you'd want to have as you're embarking on this life changing procedure. I was given approval by my insurance company and given a surgery date (both were told to me during the same phone call) well before I decided to tell anyone what I was intending to do. I included a couple of friends who already knew my struggle with weight and they were supportive - but now comes the next step.

Who knew that telling people that you're having lap band surgery could cause so much anxiety?

Outside of telling two of my friends, I told my boss the week I found out about the insurance approval and surgery date. She would have to know because I'm taking off a full week to have surgery. She was supportive, just as I knew she'd be. So supportive that she is the one driving me to the hospital on February 23 and is planning to stay with me until I'm out of surgery. That shows you just how supportive she really is! Next, I told my father. This was a little nerve racking. It totally brought me back to being 24 and coming out as a gay man. You get anxious, nervous, a little frantic even. What will they say in response to what I just told them? Would they think I was taking the easy way out? Do I think I am taking the easy way out? Would they try to convince me that "I'm not big enough" to warrant such a serious surgery? Then when I told him, he simply said, "Do what's best for you - this will just stay between you and me." It almost felt like it was like I just came out to him and he's "protecting me" - or was it because he preferred that I tell my brothers and my sister on my own? I've yet to tell my siblings. I guess I'll tackle that this weekend. I came really close to telling my older sister last weekend but chickened out.

I had a conversation with my boss that centered around my telling the staff. My reasoning was to have the information out there so that they can support me the best way they could. Her initial idea was that it's no one's business other than my own and those I share it with. In a way she's right - However, I wanted to share it with everyone. It makes talking about things a LOT easier. It's very similar to owning and accepting your sexual orientation as being gay. I'm owning and accepting that I am having this surgery. There's nothing to be ashamed of. I've tried well over 20 diets in my lifetime. I've taken several types of appetite suppressants and "fat burning" pills. I've once hired a personal trainer and I've bought over a half dozen diet books. The only weight-loss strategy I've successfully mastered is the art of the Yo-Yo Diet.

Coming out as a lap-bander has given me strength. As I tell each person, I realize that they all just want me to be happy and healthy. It makes the process a lot easier. Today at work, I told 5 people about the surgery. Each time it became easier and easier. Tomorrow I have one last person to tell. It's a lesson I learned at 24 - The more people you tell, the more power you give yourself to be the most successful YOU that you can be and the less power you give to the secret you're hiding.

Today, I've decided to live in my own truth.

Friday, February 12, 2010

And the Countdown Begins

Today marks 10 days before I take the leap into better managing my health. As I sit here, ankles hurting (from what I'm not sure), I have been reflecting on my journey to have lap-band surgery that will take place on Tuesday, February 23, 2010.

I remember how I went to a weight loss seminar early last spring. The presentation left me less than excited. I thought, "Okay. This is clearly not the thing for me." I mean, geez! They expect me to make all of these changes? Don't eat this.. eat this instead. You can't have that! By the way, you know you will not be allowed to drink alcohol, EVER again? I left the seminar disheartened and thinking, "I think I can do this..." However, I wasn't extremely confident.

A couple of weeks later I made the call to set up an appointment to meet with the doctor who offered this seminar. I ended up canceling the appointment because I learned that my insurance wasn't going to cover any of the surgery. I soon dropped the idea. At least for a while.

About eight months later, I investigated the options my insurance did allow. It led me to another doctor's office and another weight loss seminar. This time around it ALL felt right. I felt better informed and there was a rapport with the speakers this morning. They had an entire system in place to guide you through the process.

Now, as I look toward the days closing in on my surgery, I stepped out on faith that I am making the best decision for myself. I want to be healthier. Slimmer. More fit. Have less pains. Be in the best shape mentally and physically that I can be.