Monday, July 25, 2011

The Power of Protein

I'm going to start off with saying that this is not the Atkins diet nor in MY OPINION should you follow the Atkins perscription. I believe a body in balance is more important. But protein is a powerful weapon in the fight against obesity! And in most of the cases, those who have had WLS are told that the key to your weight loss is PROTEIN! There's a reason one of the biggest rules to follow is: PROTEIN FIRST!

Top reasons you should be enjoying protein include:
  1. Protein provides greater satisfaction
  2. Less hunger after a protein rich meal
  3. Combined with exercise it will enhance fat loss & helps to maintain lean muscle tissue
  4. Diets in which 60% is lean protein show a reduction in Blood Pressure, LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and Triglycerides
So before you go out gnawing on a T-bone steak, remember that not all protein is created equal. You will still want to look for lean cuts of meats. Always chose nutrient rich foods that are lower in fats & calories.

So how many grams of protein should you be eating? Some experts recommend you should eat between 0.5-1.0 grams per body weight. And some of you just said *&%# I can't eat that much! Well, they (not me) say to eat toward the high end if you are heavily active and on the lower end if you are trying to lose weight. For me at my current weight and multiplying by the lower number, it is perfect. But most of you SHOULD have received guidelines from your surgeons on the optimal amount of protein to consume. My nutritionist gave me the guidelines of minimum 50-65 for women and 60-75 for men. Of course to lose weight you will need to consume a little more than the minimum requirements.

So where do we get our proteins from? And how do you take in that much? It really isn't as complicated as most think it is. PROMISE! What foods will help you whittle your waist while providing a high protein punch?
  1. Skinless white chicken breast (3oz-25g)
  2. Turkey (3oz-25g)
  3. Seafood (between 30-30g depending on your choice of fish)
  4. Low fat Dairy (8-22g depending on your choices)
  5. Lean Beef (3oz-25g)
  6. Lean Bison (3oz-40g)
  7. Lean Pork Tenderloin (3oz-24g)
Look for foods that provide 1-3 grams of fat per 50 calories when choosing your protein source.

So how should you break it down daily to maximize the benefits? Donald Layman, PhD, a professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois states that you should aim for at least 30 grams at breakfast. After fasting all night your body is running on empty and may start drawing on muscle tissue for fuel if you don't replenish it's protein stores first thing in the morning. Other studies have found that a protein rich breakfast can regulate your appetite for the remainder of the day! I'm hearing the groans from many of you and seeing the thought bubbles above your head! I know many of us can't eat first thing in the morning. I say to you-where there's a will, there's a way! Here is how I make is happen in the morning. I drink a 16oz cup of tea on the way to work and sometimes when I get to work I need another cup of it. Then I'm ready for breakfast. My choices range from scrambled eggs with cheese mixed with ground turkey w/taco seasoning (33g protein) or Greek yogurt w/ teaspoon of Peanut Butter (or 2 tbsp Peanut Flour 25g protein). Lunches run along the lines of salads w/ either chicken, salmon or shrimp in them. Or I make taco salad w/ ground turkey. My salads always have about 25-30 grams of protein. Other favorites are Chili or if I go out to lunch with friends it is a Chicken Burrito Bowl from Chipotle. Again all around 25-30 grams of protein. Dinner for me usually is FISH! I love fish and Barramundi is my favorite. Halibut is another favorite! I enjoy my fish with different salsas on top! Delicious! Or I make a mean stir fry with shrimp & scallops too! For sides I usually have quinoa or risotto and veggies. Eat your quinoa and you'll get even more protein.

So what about protein on the go or for snacking?  Most of us like veggies and dip right? How about making that dip with plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream? I mix Lipton Vegetable soup mix with plain Oikos Greek Yogurt and I'm satisfied and it's a protein boost! Friends of mine mix the dry ranch dressing mix with their Greek yogurt and enjoy it as a dip also. So what else is there?
  1. Turkey Jerky (most are 80 cals/11-13 protein)
  2. Light String cheese (60 cals/8 protein
  3. Turkey Sticks (45 cals/ 4 protein -eat two!)
  4. Roasted Soy Nuts (1/4 cup 17 grams of protein-nice change from almonds)
So basically you should break up your day into :
  • Breakfast 20-30 grams
  • Lunch 20-30 grams
  • Dinner 15-25
  • Snacks 5-10
And what about those protein bars and drinks? The advice given to me by my nutritionist was always to make sure that they are 200 calories or less, 15 grams of protein or more and less than 12 grams of sugar. She suggested we stay away from protein drinks (accept for post banding beginning stages and preop) unless you are having difficulty getting protein thru solid foods. I try to stick to this rule unless I need a drink to refuel me after a workout and I won't be having a meal for awhile or if Banderella is tight as can be and no solids are going down.

So remember, the moment you eat that protein it starts working on your waistline. It takes your body more time to digest, metabolize and use it which means your body burns more calories processing it! It also takes longer to leave your stomach (not pouch) so you feel fuller longer. So enjoy protein at every meal and watch the pounds drop off!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What motivates you?

So many times I people say to me, "gosh I wish I had your motivation" or they ask where I get my motivation! Well my motivation comes from the strong desire to stay alive. Having been diagnosed with ovarian cancer 15 yrs ago and going thru many recurrences and struggling to stay alive. In 2007 my doctors told me that I only 12-18 months to live and right then and there I decided to choose life! Can I say to you that immediately I jumped on the bandwagon of weight loss. NO! But I started making small changes and finding out what I could do differently to impact my cancer journey. Not only my own health motivated me to get healthy but that of my family members. I watched my brother have numerous heart attacks and had watched my grandparents and parents suffer from all the comorbidities of being obese. Yet I followed their paths! Wake up call peeps! I didn't have to suffer the same fate as them! We all have choices!

So this weekend take a moment and sit with your thoughts and ask, why did I set our on this journey? What prompted me to make a change? Odds are it was more than simple poundage! Dig deep! Get in touch with the feelings that you are afraid to let see the light of day. Believe me, once they are out, they can no longer control you. Write a list of reasons you want to continue to get healthy. Then next to the same list, write the excuses you give yourself daily. Now which list do you think will help your goals come to fruition!? After that is said and done, write yourself a list of ways you are going to help yourself get to the end of the rainbow. Remember people, this is not a race but a journey of self discovery. It has been 27 months since I turned towards a more healthy lifestyle and on that journey I've discovered many things about myself. Some good, some not so good! But the fact is, I'm continuing to grow as an individual and I finally like who I am!

Enjoying a Jilly's Cupcake for my 15 yr cancerversary
 So you want to know what motivated my morning run? This...........

Now it's time for you to decide what's going to motivate you to move forward and grab your goals!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Are you journaling your food?

No matter what kind of diet or other form of weight loss you choose, statistics show that having and using a food journal is one of THE MOST important tools to success! Studies show that those who keep a record of what food goes into their mouth on a daily basis lose twice as much as those that do not! Twice as much! Things that make you go hmmmmmmm......................

So why is that?
  1. When tracking your food, you never underestimate the amount of food you are eating!
  2. It can help you to pinpoint a trigger food or if there is a time of day that you are most susceptible for snacking. This can help you to adjust your meal plans to ward off those times.
  3. Journaling can also help balance the nutrients you are taking in. Whether you are tracking your carbs, trying to stay under a certain gram of sugars or have to up your iron. If you are writing it down, you will be more successful in keeping track of those types of things.
  4. It can help you see where those added calories are creeping into your diet! Could it be the salad dressing you are eating? Those crackers you had with your tuna?
  5. Most importantly, it keeps your accountable for your choices!
So by journaling your food what do I mean? Journaling your food can be as simple as writing down what you eat on a post it daily; writing it in your day planner; carrying around an actual food journal or using one of the many online food journals available. What you use is a personal choice and one you must be comfortable with.

So what have I used? Or rather, what haven't I used. Being 2 1/2 yrs out almost, I've moved around and used many different things! In the beginning it was the post it or writing it in my actual journal. Then I started using What is nice about an online site is that you can meet new people who have a shared goal and compare notes! And boy does that keep you accountable!

So these days, I've started using I love this site. My nutrionist recommended we use it. My favorite part of this site is at the end of the day when you are finished you click a button and it says, "if everyday was like today, you would weigh XXX" Oh the joy in seeing a smaller number! And I've now got lots of support group friends and others to help me stay accountable!

So my questions isn't "what are you using?" but rather, "why are you not journaling?"

Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's all about the RULES

Remember as kids when we thought, "the hell with rules" or "rules were made to be broken"? Well in the land of WLS rules are given to us for a reason.

  1. They Work
  2. They Work
  3. They Work
I received a nice booklet from Allergan at my preop appointment and there in those pages were Allergan's Rules for Success! Now I know each doctor's office may or may not tweak these rules to their own specifications, but the rules were created for a reason. And that reason is easy, SUCCESS!
  1. Eat three small meals a day
  2. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. As my nutrionist told me, cut it up as small as the tip of your pinky and chew it til it is paste like consistency. After you swallow that food, count to fifty before the next bite goes in your mouth. Remember, it takes your brain 20 minutes before it gets the signal from your stomach that you are full. Put your fork down between bites and enjoy the flavors of your meal.
  3. Stop eating as soon as you feel full. Do you know your soft stop? If you are eating and being mindful while you eat you will notice that your body responds in certain ways to let you know-NO MORE! Be it a hiccup, watery eyes, sneeze, runny nose or even something simple as a sigh. It's there, pay attention. Mine has changed in the two yrs since being banded. In the beginning it was a hiccup, that progressed to watery eyes and today it is a big sigh!
  4. DO NOT drink while eating. Most surgeons recommend you stop drinking 30 minutes prior and don't begin again until 30 minutes after. Set a timer! The timer on my cell phone is one of the most used things on there! Those closest to me all know what the timer means and often yell at me to start drinking up when the little song chimes.
  5. Do not eat between meals. Oh how I wish I could report that I follow this rule but it isn't always the case. Mine you, there are days when I can and do, but not often. We are works in progress!
  6. Only good quality foods. The most important, PROTEIN FIRST! For each of us I guess this rule can be interrupted a number of other ways too. For me personally it means organic whole foods with little chemical ingrediants. And I try to really watch my sugar intake.
  7. Avoid fiberous food. Most fiberous foods are difficult for me. When my band is looser I can eat asparagus. Most of the time no. Sometimes I have issues with certain fruits also. It is just a matter of how well I follow rule #2 I guess.
  8. Drink plenty of fluids. And by fluids a big part of that should be WATER. I try to make half of my intake a day strictly water with nothing added. 64 ounces or 8-8oz. glasses is the golden rule. Me, I am between 96-128 a day. I feel better when I'm closer to the 128 and especially in the summer. My intake includes, water, decaffeinated green tea, diet snapple iced tea and vitaminwater zero.
  9. Drink only low calorie liquids. Often when we are tight we opt for liquids and most often those liquids are higher in calorie and offer no nutrional value. Be careful of drinking regular vitaminwater or FUZE. Often these drink labels might look acceptable, but if you read serving sizes there are 2 servings in each bottle and what you thought was only 120 calories turns into 240. And for me 240 calories is breakfast!
  10. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. I'm throwing in or 210 minutes a week. Break it up however you need to. For those of you that hit it hard in the gym like myself and many others I know 210 minutes is 2 or 3 days worth. I think the 30 minutes a day rule is to get those who previous led a sedentary lifestyle to get into a routine with exercise. My routine is 5 days a week, usually 60-90 minutes and cardio 3 days and strength training 2 days. Usually I do cardio on my strength days too. It varies!
So why did I choose to write about the rules. Well I belong to various support groups on facebook and throughout the internet and just in the last two weeks I've been reading all these post about people struggling and I always reply with "are you following the rules"? Sometimes I hear a hemming and hawing and sometimes I get a reply of "what rules"? That is the reply that blows my mind! I sit staring at the screen and wondering if they really did the research before they had their surgery and what kind of a surgeon they have. And then I thank my lucky stars for being blessed with the most amazing surgeon and bariatric team at MyNewSelf Bariatrics in St. Louis. There was nothing that wasn't gone over with me prior to my surgery. Sites were suggested to me to read thru and I was encouraged to ask questions. Low and behold a the pre op appointment with my surgeon I was handed the Allergan book called the Lap band system information for patients. It explaines how the surgery would be performed and there were the lovely little rules on page 11. And of course, my nutrionist Jessie sent me home with my surgeon's rules that were the same as Allergans, just expanded upon some.

But let me say this, for all outward appearances, I have been on program and doing great. Here is the truth, I hadn't lost weight in a very long time. Inches yes, but my scale wasn't moving. Well at least in the down direction. I saw it move up poundage too many days to count. In January I was ready to break through and be at my lowest weight ever and then life happened. Slowly but surely the pounds started to creep back on. Those smaller size pants that I enjoyed buying were getting tight in the waist. I told myself I was retaining water. The only thing I was retaining was ice cream and Peanut M&M's. Oh and those new Cadbury chocolate covered cookies I discovered. Whatever you do, don't try them! 11 cookies are 160 calories and 2 protien. But gaurenteed you won't stop at 11! Well, maybe you will, but I'm a binge eater and once I start, there is no stopping til the bag is empty. I justify it by telling myself that I have to eat it all so they aren't in the house to tempt me the next day! Logical? Nope, not in the least! But remember I justify Peanut M&M's by telling myself they aren't so bad because they have 5 protein in that bag! Logical? Again, nope! On the days I wasn't binging on Ben & Jerry's Americone Ice Cream and Peanut M&M's I was on plan and exercising. But soon Ben & Jerry were visiting too often! So what did I do~besides reach out to friends and ask for help? I started following those 10 little rules right up top! You bet and you will never guess what happend!

5 lbs in one week!

I could not even believe the scale myself. I think I got on and off of it 3 or 4 times. I got ready for work and I got on it again just to make sure I wasn't half asleep the first time. It has now been 10 days of being strick with the rules and I'm happy to say down 7.5 lbs. The last time I dropped 5 lbs in a week was probably week 12 of banded life. Certainly not in the last year! So what am I doing? It started with upping my water intake and making more of my fluid intake pure water and less Diet Snapple. Then I kicked the sugar to the curb. And of course when you kick the sugar cravings, your carbs automatically go down. Now I'm not telling you I'm extreme low carbing, but when I eat on plan, my carbs tend to be lower than 100. My carbs mostly come from fruits and vegetables and whole grains. And I'm trying to keep my protein between 75-85 grams a day. Often people ask me how I do that and it really isn't difficult. You need to break it down by meal. I usually take in around 25 for breakfast, 30 for lunch and another 25 or so for dinner. And if I'm eating a snack, it has to have around 10 grams of protein to really be worth it and satisfying.

So if you are struggling, remember THE RULES! They are meant to help you succeed and not to torture you. Follow them and reap the benefits. And as a friend asked one day, "what grade would you give yourself each day on each of the rules?" If you aren't giving yourself an A+, remember that you have the next day and the one after that to improve. Try it, what have you got to lose except pounds : )

Monday, May 30, 2011

Recipe Madnesssssssssss

A lot of people ask me for recipes for the things I make. And let me be honest here, I either get recipes from various sites, or I've taken my mom's old recipes and tweaked them to be wls friendly or frankly, I make a lot of shit up myself! Years of watching my grandma and my mom cook has taught me all about trial and error. Heck if it turns out crappy, feed it to the dog or the men in your house. They'll eat anything! That being said, here are a few of the recipes for items I love to make.

Portabella Pizza

1 large 3oz portabella mushroom cap
1/4 cup of your favorite marinara or pizza sauce
1/4 cup of your favorite cheese (I use an Italian cheese blend)
Fresh garlic or garlic powder
Italian seasoning
Optional ingredients:
Turkey pepperoni
Italian sausage (turkey or other)
Black olives

Wipe cap off all dirt and clean out the gills inside. Depending on the thickness of the mushroom cap, I sometimes cook the cap for 5-7 prior to adding toppings. If you do this pre toppings, after taking cap out of the oven, pat dry to remove excess moisture.

Once cap is cleaned and precooked, add your toppings into the hallowed out portion I begin with my favorite marinara. Don't laugh, but mine is a garlic-mushroom blend sauce. Then I add garlic powder and my Italian seasoning and whatever other items I'm going to add. Then on top of all of that is the cheese and it is ready to bake.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees. If you haven't precooked the cap, do so for 10-12 minutes. If precooked only until your cheese is melted and browned.

When done, enjoy!

This mushroom cap includes ground turkey sausage!

Cheesy Eggs & Turkey

2 eggs or 1/2 cup of liquid eggs
2 oz of ground turkey
Taco seasoning
Laughing cow cheese of choice (or other favorite cheese)
Non stick cooking spray

In a non stick pan sprayed with cooking spray, scrambled your eggs and set aside in a bowl. Next take your ground turkey and crumble and cook up adding taco seasoning while cooking. During this process add your cheese. Transfer to the egg mixture in bowl and stir together. If adding laughing cow cheese wedges, I wait until mixture is together in bowl and throw them in and they melt quickly enough. This breakfast meal is packed with protein. For a full southwestern feel, top with your favorite salsa.

Buffalo Chicken Burgers

2 lbs ground chicken
1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt or Mrs. Dash
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Mix ground chicken, buffalo wing , salt/Mrs. Dash and blue cheese into patties and grill. Yes, it will be a little bit messy. I make mine on the George Foreman grill so the juices flow into the grease container. When finished grilling enjoy on your favorite bagel thins or if you are able, buns. Me, I cut the burgers up in small pieces and mix my buffalo sauce with some Bolthouse Farms blue cheese dressing and dip my chicken in. These are sooo damn good that I made them every damn weekend for a month.

White Chicken Chili
4 skinless chicken breasts (been using canned lately)
2 15oz cans of Great Northern Beans (undrained)
1 onion cut up in small pieces
1 Pkg McCormick White Chicken Chili seasoning Mix
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1 tbls minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 whole cloves
I first browned the garlic and onion while I cooked up the chicken breasts. After the breasts were through cooking I diced the chicken. I added the chicken broth to the onion and garlic mixture and added the spices, undrained cans of beans and cooked chicken and let it simmer.

Can leave out the chili powder and substitute 1/2 teaspoon of paprika instead if needed to not be soo darn hot!

This time I used Brooks Great Northern/Pinto beans mix. It is low sodium too. Trying to take all the sodium out. As I said, I used canned chicken this time, because I didn't get to Aldi today for chicken breasts and its what I had in the house. Works just as well. I usually use two cans and crumble it up and it looks like shredded chicken in there!

I hope you have enjoyed the recipes I've shared I hope to share more in the future as I go along! I did not share calories and protein for each recipe because if you are like me, you are going to tweak this recipe(s) to fit your own need and likes and your numbers what be the same as mine. Rest assured all that I've shared is low in calories and high in protein, because frankly, that's how I roll!

Monday, May 23, 2011

All about Trader Joe's

I absolutely love shopping at Trader Joe's. I can always find new and interesting foods to eat and everything I find is band friendly!

In the store I frequent, which is 1/2 block from my office, as I walk in there is the cheese. Sweet glorious cheese! One of my downfalls. Yes, cheese is high in protein, but you can overdose on too much of a good thing! My new favorite is Blue Cheese. I usually just buy the Trader Joe brand. It is 100 calories for one ounce and 6 protein. I usually eat it in most salads I eat!

Another favorite that I found during lent was Saucy Scallops with mushrooms (150 cals/13 protein). I usually eat this over Trader Joe's Quinoa Duo w/ Vegetable Melange( 110 cals/3 protein - 1/2 cup) 

And when I'm in the mood for chicken, or rather should point out, when banderella let's me enjoy chicken, I've found this to be exceptional. I can get three meals out of this and each serving is 213 cals/21 protein.

Another two favorite chicken dishes are Greek Chicken with Orzo, Spinach & Feta yields 3 servings per container ( 310 cals/ 22 protein) 

Chicken Satay is 190 calories/23 protein for half a package. I use Trader Joe's Spicy Asian Peanut Dressing to dip my chicken satay in. Delicious. 2 Tbsp of dressing is 70 cals/1 protein.

Some other favorites from Trader Joe's include:
Turkey Bolognese
Trader Joe's Cranberry Walnut Gorgonzola Vinaigrette
Potato and Mushroom Medley
Riata dip
Trader Joe's brand Greek Yogurt with Honey
Peanut Flour (which many stores stopped carrying-my local store explained that they are shopping for a new vendor to supply this for them since it is a popular item in St. Louis. For now they have replaced it with Almond for now. But no need to worry, I cleared off the shelves in my local stores and have many bags to tide me over)

These are just a few items that tide me over on a monthly basis! Let me know what yours are!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What are you Eating?

So many times I get asked the question as to what I'm eating or what I ate in the beginning. The beginning is simple! I ate mostly the same things. I don't know if it was fear to try other things or if it was just that those foods worked for me.

Since banderella is tight in the morning and diet coke for breakfast ws no longer an option, I usually started out with a large cup of hot tea. That would be followed by either a protein shake, protein bar or sometimes scrambled eggs & some bacon. Scrambled eggs didn't always go down well so that was only on a good day.

Lunch was always something simple. Since I was working in a hospital the first 9 months I was banded, it was usually something from the cafeteria. And the choices were, turkey burger, black bean burger, tuna fish and soup. Low and behold that is pretty much what I lived on for 9 months. It worked for me!

Dinner was usually the same thing. I lived on fish for the first year of banded life. Chicken and I were not friends during that time period and most other meats stuck big time.So dinner was usually Gorton's tilapia fillets w/ Old El Paso salsa on top and Green Giant Healthy Vision veggies! They were my staples! Oh and Campbell's Healthy Request Chicken Teriyaki soup (which you can't find anymore).

But being two years out, my horizons have expanded far and wide and I'm not afraid to try new food anymore! In fact, I love new foods. Always changing it up!So what are my favorites now? Let me show you in pictures!
I love cheese! And I love most flavors of the laughing cow cheese, but Blue Cheese if my favorite! 35 calories & 2 protein. I put cheese in everything!

White Chicken Chili! I love this stuff! It is so quick to make and filling as can be! I'll share the my favorite recipes in the next blog~promise!

Here is what I snack on! 45 cals/4 protein

My absolute favorite fish! 100 cals-40z/20 protien

160 calories/30 protein. I love these! Dip in your favorite dressing

216 calories/43 protein~less fat than ground beef & better for you!

Here are some of my favorites & staples in my diet! Tomorrow I'll share my favorite finds from Trader Joe's and some recipes from the food I eat!

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

How important is it to preplan your meals and exercise? In my opinion it should be a priority for you! Statistics show that those who plan what they will eat and schedule exercise into their daily routine are more successful in their journey!

On a weekly basis I decide what I will eat for the coming week and plan my grocery shopping accordingly. On Sunday I will cook up breakfast and lunch items to take with me to work for the week. This way I won't be tempted to eat things that are not on plan.

For breakfast I will scramble some eggs and separate them in 1/2 cup containers for the week. Sometimes I mix the scrambled eggs with ground turkey and plan a protein packed breakfast.

For lunch, I mix up some tuna fish, grill some turkey burgers, mix up some salad or mix up some chicken. My favorite chicken recipe is canned chicken, Budweiser wing sauce, laughing cow blue cheese and throw it in the microwave for a minute. After heated up, I pour a little Bolthouse Farms Blue cheese dressing or Bolthouse Farms Ranch. As always, I usually have a few cans of a protein drink in the frig or a can of soup in my desk drawer. Always be prepared for those moments when you are tight and can't enjoy dense protein.

When it comes to dinner, I plan on paper what I'm going to have and know what back up items are in the frig or freezer in case I don't feel like eating the first item chosen.

As far as exercise goes, I know what time classes are at several gyms in my area. I go where my schedule dictates. And if I'm not feeling a class, I go to the park to run or workout at home or just hit the gym and enjoy some cardio on the treadmill or elliptical.

So are you planning ahead? If not, why not?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Regaining your mojo

Have you ever felt like giving up? Have you ever felt like nothing you ever did was good enough? Have you ever felt like this was just too damn hard?

I've been living in a self induced funk lately with not knowing how to pull myself out. Or rather sitting around waiting for someone else to pull me out I guess. There I was yesterday, sick again! Curled up in bed with my laptop, books, enough movies to last all day and my thoughts! And let me be perfectly honest, yesterday I ate like banderella was never placed around my stomach two years ago! Yesterday's go foods included, ice cream, almonds, jelly beans, chocolate & some popcorn. In between the grazing I squeezed in two actual meals. Not that I needed them. And today I woke up feeling nothing but guilt.

In my early twenties I went thru a bout with bulimia and yesterday was a perfect replica of a binge day. Only difference from then and today, A) no purging and B) quantities are much smaller. This morning many revelations showed up! As I sat with my journal writing out all that I was feeling, I started to list all the reasons I had lapband surgery in the first place. Then I listed all that I had learned. Then I listed all the things I still wanted to accomplish and then I needed to list an action plan of how I'd get there!

So where does it begin? Straight back to square one and the bandster rules we are all given in the beginning!
  1. No drinking with meals. Stop 30 minutes before you eat and begin again 30 minutes after you finish eating. This will keep your stomach fuller longer and help you not to graze so soon after eating, I set the timer on my phone to signal when I can start drinking again after a meal.
  2. 3 small meals a day. Protein first! And if needed 2 balanced snacks. But remember, if you find yourself eating snacks and your meals aren't keeping you full then you may need a fill.
  3. Small bites, eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Remember to chew your food until it is of a paste consistency. Once you swallow your food, put your fork down, count to 50 and then take another bite. Most stuck episodes are caused by too big of bites that are not chewed up enough before being swallowed and then followed by another bite in the same consistency! If you find yourself eating too big of bites, use a toddler spoon & fork. You'd be surprised how much it helps! WalMart has packages or disposable ones!
  4. Eat only good nutritious foods. Don't load up on sugar, fat & carb heavy foods. Make sure you are eating a balanced diet.
  5. Drink enough fluids throughout the day. 64oz minimum, more if you can. I try to drink a liter on the way to work, a liter at work and a liter on the way home or while I'm at the gym. If you are working out, you need to consume more to replace what you lose during sweating.
  6. EXERCISE~30 minutes a day 210/week. If you can't get 30 minutes in at once, break it up into three 10 minute session or two 15 minutes sessions. As you go on, you will be able to increase what you do. Set a goal and stick with it! Rule of thumb, always have your gym bag packed and ready to go and any time.
It felt good to type all that out and remind myself all the steps I need to take to get back to where I belong. Today I did a jog/walk for 30 minutes. Getting ready to go do some strength training for 30 minutes.

The best part of living banded life is that you can start over every time you fall because we have the rules of success at our finger tips. We just need to follow them! To those of you struggling, you are not alone! Each day is a new beginning and never be afraid to start again!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Are you getting your zzzzzzzz's

In this fast paced world today so many of us walk around sleep deprived. But what does that have to do with losing weight? Oh you would be surprised! Little did you know that how much sleep you get and even the quality of the sleep that it is, plays a significant part of your weight loss journey.  Ask yourself, have you ever had a day that no matter what you ate, you never felt full? Then ask yourself how many hours of sleep you had the night before and whether it was restorative sleep (i.e., sleep like a baby) or it was a restless night!

There are two pesky little hormones that create all the havoc. Leptin and Gherlin! Leptin is produced by the fat cells and sends a message to your brain signaling that you are full and thereby helping you loss weight. Gherlin on the other hand is a hormone secreted in your gastrointestinal tract that stimulates your appetite. These two hormones work together to balance your feelings of hunger and fullness. Studies have shown that when you are sleep deprived your levels of leptin decrease and your gherlin levels increase. And if you continually are not getting enough sleep for a longer period of time, you may find yourself craving more high carbohydrate rich foods. Just think, when you are feeling sluggish at work, what do you grab? Most people I know grab a cup of coffee (or several) or soda and what always comes with that? COMFORT FOOD! What is in that comfort food? CARBS & SUGAR! Those things may help you fight sleep, but they will not help you lose weight or keep the pounds off. And the cycle goes round and round!

So what can you do about it?
  1. Don't go to bed hungry! But at the same time, don't eat a big meal before going to bed.
  2. Exercise regularly! Most WLS patients know the rule, 30 minutes a day, 210 a week! But remember that some people are sensitive to working out too close to bedtime. Try to space your workout at least 2 hours prior to bed or it may disrupt your sleep. Always remember, no two people are alike so what works for one person doesn't work for the other. If it doesn't bother you working out close to bed, keep doing it. Those having issues, evaluate!
  3. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening. I know, ha ha ha right. Try switching to decaf at around 2pm in the afternoon, it may help! 
  4. Create a relaxing environment in your bedroom! Make it as dark & quiet as possible. My sleep specialist says no TVs in the bedroom. He says it robs you of restorative sleep~but that is your call!
  5. And if you go to bed and can't sleep for 30 minutes or more, get up and leave the bedroom and involve yourself in an activity until you feel sleepy.
So why do I bring this up? In my quest to figure out why I'm stalled I started researching the correlation of sleep and weight gain. And there is all was in black and white for me! I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy in 2007 and put on medication to control things and initially it helped me start to lose weight because I was getting better sleep. But lately, I've been lucky if I get 4 hours a night and then it is waking up every hour. As a Narcoleptic, I am constantly in REM sleep and very seldom go in NREM which is the restorative phase of sleep. And that little monster gherlin has been wreaking havoc in my life lately! Today was an especially hard day where you wouldn't know that I even had a lapband around my stomach. You name it, I ate it with no issues! So tonight I am making it a point to get 8 hours of sleep and I'm going to see if there is a difference in my day tomorrow!

To those of you struggling in your journey, ask yourself, Am I getting more than 6 hours of sleep a night? And if so, is it a peaceful nights sleep?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

~Emotional Eating~

At yesterday's seminar, held at Des Peres hospital in conjunction with the My New Self Bariatric program, therapist Stephanie Timko led a seminar regarding this topic! Needless to say it was a packed house because I think it is something many of us deal with and part of the reason we put on the weight in the first place!

First off, here's a power statement for you: YOU CAN NOT CHANGE THE WAY YOU FEEL UNTIL YOU CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK!

Broken down, what does that mean; basically it means when you make one bad choice, don't think to yourself, screw it, the entire day is f'd up, I can just go ahead and eat whatever I want now! Come on admit it, that's exactly what goes thru your head! If not yours, that is my exact thought when I do it! Instead you need to remind yourself that it was one misstep and correct it next time.As Stephanie stated, it is not the event that brings on the negative emotions, it is your interpretation of the event itself!

So all that being said, how do you fix it? COGNITIVE RESTRUCTURING! You first have to change your thoughts before it becomes a negative behavior. I will tell you that this is an area I am struggling with and why I was excited about Stephanie's seminar. Beyond the fact that she has helped me tremendously and is an amazing behavioral therapist, she knows her stuff! My problem is what I stated above, I slip up once and I let the entire day go to pot! Anything from work stress, physical ailments, bad weather, you name it can trigger it in me! So here is what Stephanie recommended:
  1. Interpret the event
  2. Analyze your attitude towards the event
  3. Reframe the event (find the silver lining)
Example: You or someone else tells you that you are fill in the blank. Ask yourself where the proof of that is? The go about disproving the negativity of the statement. Then reframe the belief.

Remember that a negative emotion is a cute to stop & think! Stop & think before you react to the situation! If I did that, I wouldn't be running to find Peanut M&M's!

The number one reason for a relapse and weight gain is NEGATIVE EMOTIONS! Those negative emotional lead to negative behaviors which lead to the snowball effect and before we know it, the number on your scale goes up and your clothes get tighter! I'm over here with my hand high in the air saying "yep, I'm right there!" With starting a new job and trying to find my niche in a new environment and new industry the negative emotions have creeped back up! Who thought that after two years this would be an issue, but sorry to say I think until we learn to change the way we think, this could continue to be a problem for many of us ongoing!

So there are two words that need to come out of your vocabulary permanently: SHOULD & ONLY!  Should is a word that brings on negative connotations always. We use it toward others and ourselves and always in a negative way. It also brings on feelings of guilt when spoken! For instance: I should have gotten up and exercised this morning, I should have eaten breakfast at a decent time.  One of my favorite things Stephanie quips in support group is "Should, should, should! So how's that working for yah?" Instead of telling yourself what you should be doing it is time to tell yourself what you are going to do to fix it!

And on to my biggest pet peeve-the word ONLY! So many times I hear people say, "Well, I've only lost 40 pounds." Do you know what putting the word only in front of that did? It negated the fact that you lost 40 pounds. Or I hear I was only able to run 2 miles today. In my world that is reason to celebrate! Instead of putting that word in front of things when you are describing them, try celebrating all that you do! Keeping track of your NSVs (non-scale victories) will help you stay positive when you feel you've reached a plateau or you haven't seen your scale move in a long time! Sit and make a list of all the things that you are able to accomplish now that weren't possible before you started your journey! I guarantee that list will put a smile on your face! And make sure you are constantly adding to that list too! As you are continuing and growing so should that list!

I hope that the above is able to help those of you beginning your journey or struggling in your journey. I enjoyed our discussions around this topic very much and know that this is an area that I continue to work on! Share your thoughts and how you cope!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Why Now.........

So I'm two years post op and most people start their blogs at the beginning of their journey, not toward the end. I have toyed with the idea and even suggested it to others. I didn't think I needed it since I am the woman who has always carried around a journal and wrote out her feelings. But lately, God has put people and situations in my path that led me here.

Today I attended a seminar at the bariatric center where I had my surgery. There was an alumni meet & greet and I was asked to be on an alumni panel with three other individuals and answer questions from other patients who had questions about we handled things or were struggling in their journey. After the alumni panel we also went and answered questions for pre-op patients after their initial surgical seminar. When answering their questions and sharing my experience it made me realize a few things:

  • I'm enjoying paying it forward to others as it was paid forward to me by many individuals I came in contact with on OH. Many of these woman who have become close friends and confidants!
  • OMG! I need to be following my own damn advice! I'm sitting on this stool telling this poor woman why she hasn't lost any weight in months and I'm listing the bandster rules to her and I'm asking myself if I've followed them more than one day this week myself!
  • WOW! This is an empowering feeling to be sitting up here and having others look at me as successful because some days I sure as hell don't feel it!
  • And lastly, how can I continue to feel that empowered rush and keep myself focused on the goal~Why I'll start a blog & share my experiences with Banderella!
And yes, my band really does have a name! About 4 months into my journey I named her! She became Banderella very quickly and many friends know what I'm referring to when I say she's being a diva bitch today! And well, I had to make her a living part of me since I plan for us to be together for a very long time to come!

So here it is, my beginning quest to pay it forward to those just starting out their banded life, those recommitting, those who just need a place to come to know they aren't alone & most of all a place for me to keep myself accountable & get back on track.

Day One of beginning this journey anew~will you join me? Tomorrow I will share some tidbits from today's seminar regarding Emotional Eating! Are you an emotional eater? I most certainly am for sure!

Let's Start at the Beginning

2 yrs ago, April 6th, 2009 I had gastric lapband surgery. Depending on who's numbers you go by and what we use as my starting weight, I've lost well over 100lbs in this journey.

But let's back up even further, I guess it would be important to explain what drove me to turn to surgical intervention to help me lose weight. First off, I've been chubby, fluffy, roly poly, chunky, obese, and downright morbidly obese since I was in elementary school.

Did I start out that way? Nope! I was a normal sized baby, normal sized toddler, normal sized until I was about 8/9 years old. Can I pinpoint the exact life experience that helped me pack on the pounds? HELL YES! But it wasn't one thing, it was a series of them, and well, I'm just not ready to share that part of things just yet! I'll save that one to still be between me & my therapist!

Thru my teens I steadily packed more pounds on. Feeling like I finally had a handle on things in my early twenties I started to feel good about things until...........Ovarian Cancer entered my life! Welcome to menopause and all the fun things that come with it. I can tell you that since that day, July 15, 1996 to April 6th, 2009, I gained 115 lbs. Granted in the years between I yo yo'd all over the place, but there is your final statistic. 13 years, 3 recurrances, the loss of two parents & my beloved godmother, All those events crushed my spirit and I reached rock bottom! My oncologists had sat me down and told me that my ovarian cancer would take me within 12-18 months. That didn't sit well with me and in my obsolute stubborness I declared that I would die when I was damn good and ready to die! They told me I'd never see my 40th birthday and with it quickly approaching I was determined to prove a bunch of people wrong! I had gone to my first seminar about lapband surgery in January 2009 after speaking to a fellow coworker who had just had the surgery. She explained what she was going thru and I thought, I can handle that, no problem! In waiting to convince my several doctors & oncologists to let me do this, my brother suffered his 8th heart attack. He is only ten years older than me and he had her first one in his early 40's. This was a major eye opener for me and made me re-examine my family history of comorbidities! Oh the list goes on forever! I have a running joke with my doctors office that there isn't a box that I can't check on the family history disease listing. You name it, someone had it on one side of the family or another. The scariest being diabetes & heart disease. Heck I already had high blood pressure and pre diabetes and was heading toward the same fate!

Once all of my doctors signed off, I did all my preop testing, went for my preop appointment with my surgeon and then we waited! As a cancer survivor I was used to the hurry up and wait procedures! I had no doubt they would approve because of the amazing letters 3 of my doctors wrote in favor of this procedure. My therapist declared me more than ready to take on the world and then came that phone call from my bariatric surgeon. "You've been approved, start your two week liquid diet today." And thus the journey began.......................................
3 yrs old - not fat yet!

No pics available prior to surgery!