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I know as you get older time passes a whole lot faster but yikes! A month has gone by since I had my surgery and I can remember waking up from it like it was yesterday.
Rather than just write a summary of my week, I thought I would use a couple of emails I’ve received this week to give you a bit more information on what bariatric surgery, or rather post bariatric surgery. is like.
A friend asked me a few questions this week – he’s asking for a friend who is considering it – and I thought the last question he asked me might make a pretty good One Month Post.
She says she can’t enjoy life as much as she wants to currently (like you she’s FULL of energy for the world). Her friend had it done a few years ago and says she wishes she did it years earlier. You had the bypass not the sleeve? Are there any pros and cons vs the sleeve? And how have you found the whole experience so far? Update in your Health Journal please!
So why a bypass and not a sleeve? I was pretty set on a bypass because of the amount of weight I needed to lose to be even close to healthy. You may have seen the figures on earlier posts and I still have over 50kgs to go. I basically need to lose half my body weight. Yup, an entire healthy person – not a bloody supermodel, more like an athlete. Shit a brick.
And then during my consultation, my surgeon looked at my notes and he agreed, yes, let’s do a bypass. In terms of pros and cons, a very weird pro for me of the bypass is that if I eat too much fat or sugar, it will make me sick (hence the title of my blog and Instagram – Allergic to Sugar).
The whole experience has been quite overwhelming, its been humbling and its been a wake up to the rest of my life as well.
I count myself very very lucky to have an extremely supportive family – both my Mom and Dad have been here and came to the hospital after surgery (neither of them live closer than 3 hours) and my partner does everything I need … and some of the stuff that I don’t! All three of them told me off any time I tried to reach for something in the first week, they gave me the rest I needed and a chance to heal. And so I did, quite quickly. And that let me focus on all the other stuff that I needed to do (sip water, walk a bit, eat food, try and poop). I stopped taking painkillers after about 5 days and once my patches came off my incisions and started to dry out, I could have almost believed that my new racing stripes were merely cat scratches.
Mom made up a couple of dishes – soup and casserole so the freezer is full. Thinking about what to eat hasn’t been a problem but actually getting to the eating is. I have alarms set on my phone for breakfast, lunch and dinner however an hour can pass after they go off and then I tell myself “You really have to eat now” – otherwise I can affect my metabolism, and we want that shit to rise, not to fall.
It’s easy to forget that you need to stop drinking 15-20 mins before a meal so when I decide to eat, I usually have to wait 10 mins or so. I’ve only been out for a meal with a friend once so far and I ordered a tea with my food. Bloody stuff went cold before I got to drink it!
The last couple of weeks I have been able to add in new textures – mince and eggs and a few vegetables. I’m enjoying the preparing of meals a lot, probably too much as the fridge has all manner of leftovers! Today I made one of my favourite ever meals … an perfect little round egg fried in 1/2 tsp coconut oil with a tablespoon of my homemade tomato ketchup and a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Oh yum!
But there is so much more to this than the physical event of surgery.
Much much much more. And the mental stuff is the really hard stuff. The biggest thing for me is overthinking EVERYTHING. To the point I feel I’m being obsessive. And changing my relationship with food, even though I am not hungry, I think about eating things. Or rather I remember eating things – like when I am bored, or when I am supermarket shopping. My brain tells me there’s no point though as that stuff I used to eat would just make me sick now. But I know this is just a short term thing and as my new lifestyle becomes more habit than management, things will get better.
I got an email from my dietician Georgie last night – checking in on how the month has gone.
What are you currently eating?
Breakfast: Depending on my day, either a Protein Shake (trim milk, Celebrate chocolate, Collective runny yoghurt) or a 1 egg omelette or smashed egg with either ham, avocado or feta cheese.
Lunch: Slice of chicken with 2 tsp cottage cheese or hummus and cottage cheese mixed or 4 tsp tuna
Dinner: Made the Beef Casserole and Chicken and Vege soup from the folder. Made a Black Bean Burrito mix with lean mince and capsicums and zucchini, also a Mince Tomato Sauce with onions, zucchini and carrot slow cooked and a Tex Mex Chicken with chicken thighs in the slow cooker.
Are you starting to increase the variety of foods in your diet and trying different textures? Very slowly. I have zero interest in food so I look at what I have had for the day and just throw something together or heat up something that I’ve already made (my freezer is full!)
Are there any foods you have found you struggled with in particular? Cruskits.
How long do you generally take to eat a meal? Around 20-30 minutes
Are you remembering the 20/20/20 rule? Yes! I’m petrified of something getting stuck!
Is you hunger/appetite switched off? Yes. I have three alarms set on my phone as I just get stuck into my day and forget about eating.
Are you snacking during the day or just sticking to three structured meals? Three meals – only once or twice have I added a snack when I know my calories/protein has been very low for the day.
Have you tried any of the following carbohydrate foods – potato/kumara/pumpkin/corn, bread, pasta, couscous, rice, chips, scones, or continuing to stay clear of these? I went to a wedding and they made me a special meal – there was some pureed potato and I had a teaspoon of that. Today I ate out for the first time today and I chose a vegetable frittata. I ate 3-4 pieces of pumpkin and dipped into my bag for my emergency stash when they weren’t looking.
Have you been eating any sweet foods or fruit? No.
Are you drinking plenty of fluids (2L/d)? What type of drinks are you going for? Getting very close to every day now. Mostly water – sometimes I add OVi as a bit of a flavour.
Have you tried any alcohol? No.
Supplements: Are you taking your multivitamin and B12 daily and ensuring that you B12 dissolves under the tongue? Yes.
How are your energy levels? Do you need berocca to help with this? Energy is very low in the morning. So yes – every few days I have a Berocca.
Have any foods caused you to experience diarrhea, nausea, hot flushes, extreme tiredness, or dizzy spells? No – I’ve been very careful with my food labels and I try and avoid packet/processed foods.
Have any foods got stuck that have resulted in pain or vomiting? If so what were these foods and do you think it was related to the speed of eating, not chewing enough, or for other reasons like stress, tiredness, or anxiety? No.
There was another question about bowel movements and poop – but we might skip that and just put it straight in to the Too Much Information bucket!
I’m now really looking forward to the next month.
To spending time with family and friends, to summer finally showing up, to road trips and photographs – and new foods.
So to answer the question – how have I found the whole experience so far?
Yesterday I walked into the gym for the first time in …. let’s not even go there. And I’ve spent time in the gym before, I know a few moves, how the machines work – but fuck me, I was nervous as all hell!
I actually played dumb. I let her guide me around and show me how to use the treadmill, leg press, chest press, seated row – even how to do a bloody crunch! If you know me, you’ll know thats not normal me behaviour. But how I went in doesn’t matter, its how I came out that does.
Next week I have my six week post-op appointments. I’ll be seeing my surgeon, Dietician, Therapist and I also have a Physiotherapy appointment. During the physio appointment they will work with me to come up with a training plan however I couldn’t wait til then.
I’ve been walking a bit, trying to get up to a consistent 7,000 steps a day and I’ve been swimming too. It actually blows my mind how much extra zing I have (only after about 9 o’clock though – don’t even talk to me before then).
Getting the steps up isn’t hard because of my racing stripes (the surgery scars) or anything. In fact 26 days later, they have retreated into little cat scratches. My energy levels seem to still be wavering around a bit. My nurse suggested a Berocca (dissolvable tablet with additional Vitamin B12) and that helps quite a lot.
I still have my lazy moments. Today is one of them. I’m putting it down to having worked my butt off at my job for the last 3-4 years and suddenly my body has gone ‘woah, we’ve got a break time, let’s use it’.
Its quite windy and Nix is home from daycare and I’ve just lazed around in my pjs reading and snuggling up to her. 7,000 steps today, hah! I laugh!
But I know exercise will be a part of who I am in the coming days, it has to be otherwise what was the fucking point?! I just can’t properly explain what its like to try and heft around 150kgs and be happy about it even though you are gritting your teeth so people around you don’t think of you as the sweaty grumbly fat chick.
So you wanna know how I came out of the gym yesterday?
Shattered. Sweaty. Proud.
So last weekend we went to a wedding and this weekend we had a birthday – mine!!! All year I had been thinking about how I wanted to celebrate but when it came down to it, I just wanted a simple cruisy and quite relaxing day.
My beautiful friends drove down from Auckland in the morning for brunch. Prior to surgery I thought occasions and get togethers would be tough. But you know, I’m learning they are not. I need to think about them a bit and plan a little more, and not get embarrassed over my plates and serving size however having the support of my amazing friends certainly helps, but most of how I deal with it happens in my head. “I can’t eat that, so I will have this”. And my favourite … “It’s not all about the food”.
What I really enjoyed, aside from the visit of course, was cooking for them! I found a breakfast skillet recipe that I would love to try later – kumara (sweet potato), zucchini, red peppers, onions and bacon with a few eggs baked on top. I tried a wee piece of the kumara – oh yes, we’ll be adding that to the kitchen recipe book!
That afternoon himself and I went to the movies. We saw the new James Bond film – Spectre. And I loved it!
Also a perfect chance to just relax and sip away, upping my fluids for the day. I’m still having a bloody hard time reaching those 1.5 – 2l goals. I took one of my favourite drinks, OVi Peach, and bought an extra bottle of water. Finished the OVi and only just started on the water, sloshed my way out of the theatre and peed like a racehorse when I got home.
These come in Peach, Citrus and Berry. Peach is my absolute fav but I tried the Berry last night and it ain’t bad either. They also work great as a flavour to a bottle of water. Ugh, so hating that furry mouth feeling from chugging water all day.
And then to top my day off … I created something delicious for my birthday dinner. Its bloody hard to get excited about eating when you don’t feel hungry – I’m trying to fix that by having an alarm set on my phone for each meal and using strong flavours in my food. Week Three is all soft foods right (so just a wee step up from Week 1/2 pureed foods – basically baby foods), its nice to be able to have an egg in the morning and OH MY GOD I MISSED CHEWING but I wasn’t really up for an omelette for my birthday dinner. Then I looked at the menu again and hello wee prawns!!
I marinated my 3 prawns (6 for $0.80 at New World) in lime juice for a couple of hours and then popped them in a pan with 1tsp extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 tsp garlic. And the lime juice – don’t forget that delicious juice. Right at the end of cooking I threw in a pinch of baby spinach leaves and let them wither up. PERFECT!
Now if I can work out how to flavour my morning 1 egg omelette and cheese (perhaps with a homemade pesto) then I’d be even happier! I’m enjoying garlic and lemon hummus and cottage cheese for lunch however I know I’ll eventually get bored – anyone else got any great suggestions for me??
Strength. A river cuts through rock not because of its power,
but because of its persistence.
Yesterday was Day 12 (so today’s Day 13) – hard to believe that it is 2 weeks since I had my gastric bypass, in fact most days I could quite easily assume that they just made some nicks on my belly and let me have a 5 hour sleep. This time 2 weeks ago I was totally out to it and my surgery was complete. Recovery has gone really well, I haven’t pushed myself too hard and so my body is responding nicely to this new lifestyle.
I know I said I wouldn’t talk about the numbers on the scales … but I’m going to. First I’ll tell you why though – its because I can’t SEE it yet. When I look in the mirror I still see super round moon face and when I see my body in a reflection, it looks the same. But the numbers on the scales don’t lie baby!!
My starting weight was 154.5 kgs and todays weight is 136.2 kgs.
Total loss – 18.3kgs
So whilst I can’t see it yet, boy can I feel it. I feel lighter, its easier to move.
We’ve been out for a quick paced walk the last two evenings and I don’t hate it. My knees still hurt a wee bit walking up the hills but I know that will get better and at least I am not wincing in pain every step. As a super super awesome early Birthday and Christmas present, my gorgeous guy bought me a new Fitbit – the top of the range model! I’m a bit of a tech lover and I love all the new details I get from this; heartbeat, sleep, GPS maps – eeeeeee!!!
As the weather is supposed to pack up and its predicted to piss down this afternoon, I took my swimsuit and towel down to our local swimming pool and did some lengths. A whole kilometre! I do so love swimming!
I could quite easily sit on my butt and read all afternoon, I mean there’s nothing like a comfy spot, rain on the roof and a book that takes you away to another place is there?? However, theres no time like the present to start creating great habits and I know that once I am in the water, thats the battle won. Plus it didn’t rain. I came home and sunbathed on the deck instead.
“You have more to do than be weighed down by pretty or beautiful. You are a fiery heart and a wicked brain. Do not let your soul be defined by its shell”
Sorry Food, it’s not you, it’s me. I just don’t care about you anymore. I want to, but … yeah, nah.
Me and Food, our relationship has changed drastically. Pre surgery (even pre surgery diet), I used to think about food ALL THE TIME.
Now its him who asks if I am hungry (No) and what time I want to have dinner (oh, in a bit). Still, Mom and I have gone to a wee bit of effort to ensure that I have something nice and tasty for when I am ready to eat.
When I met my dietician Georgie in our pre-surgery meeting, she (and the notes in my post-op care pack) say that people experience a switching off when it comes to eating. I read that and thought “Shit, thats pretty cool” cos honestly, I said above that I thought about food all the time and believe me, I was not kidding!
Georgie has given me a plan that saw me started pureed foods once I was released from hospital. On the day I got home Mom made up a delicious Beef Casserole and then a few days later she made a Chicken and Vegetable soup. We pumped up the protein in the soup by adding Naked (No flavour) egg white protein powder from The Honest Food Co. Both of these meals are absolutely scrummy.
Meals right now are every 3-5 hours and are 4 teaspoons or 1/4 cup in size.
As a totally personal preference, I really don’t want to rely on packet/processed food. I’d much prefer to eat whole foods except the addition of extra protein of course however even then the Honest Food Co pack that I have chosen is paleo. Eventually I will get in to making my own baked beans and I’ve planted a vegetable garden that should keep giving us all the vegetables that we will need.
Grow, grow, grow you little buggers!
So with that in mind, I thought I would share with you my favourite selections for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I’ll pop up a couple of the recipes that we have adapted.
Mega Protein Shake – Chocolate Protein Shake Mix, unsweetened natural yoghurt, trim milk, egg white protein powder (makes enough for days!)
Creamy Beans – Lite baked beans, lite cream cheese, paprika, coriander – blend until super creamy
Lemon and Chive Chicken – canned smoked chicken, lite cream cheese, lemon juice, chives – blend into a paste, lemon juice to taste
Chicken and Vegetable Soup – click here for a link to the recipe including the extra protein I added
Beef and Tomato Casserole – click here for a link to the recipe
Black Bean Burrito Cream – click here for a link to the recipe – I skipped the Nacho Cheese Sauce and added lite cream cheese at the pureeing stage for me (small wholemeal wraps for him)
Even if I have to force myself to eat, or set a reminder on my phone, it may as well be super tasty (and presented nice!). Tell you what though – I am SO looking forward to being able to chew my meals. I am moving on to soft foods on Friday, scrambled egg and tuna for breakfast – HELL YEA!
Check out my Pinterest board “Allergic to Sugar” for more recipes and ideas. Do you have any favourite meals that you’d like to share?
“A healthy outside starts from the inside”
This has been adapted slightly from a Cuisine Magazine recipe.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- 1 carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
- 1 stick celery, thinly sliced
- 1.5 litres chicken stock
- 4 skinless boneless chicken thighs
- 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
- 2 tablespoons chopped flatleaf parsley
Heat the oil in a saucepan over a low heat then add the leek, carrot and celery and fry gently until the leek is soft. Add the stock and simmer until the carrot is soft.
Add the chicken thighs and poach over a low heat for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the chicken from the soup and set aside for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Shred the chicken and reserve.
Meanwhile add the corn and the spinach to the soup and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the shredded chicken back into the pot along with the parsley.
—> at this stage I added extra protein. I added 1/2 cup of The Honest Food Co NAKED Egg White Protein Powder
Transfer to the soup to a food processor or blender and blend in batches until completely smooth.
Freeze in ice cubes or small containers.
This has been adapted slightly from the original: http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/food-wine/cuisine/70896855/recipe-beef-and-cherry-tomato-casserole-with-pumpkin–potato-gratin
The wine has been removed – and so has the gratin!
- 800g gravy, blade or chuck steak
- Flour for dusting
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled
- A few sprigs thyme
- 500ml beef stock
- 400g can cherry tomatoes (no added sugar)
- 1⁄2 cup flat-leafed parsley, coarsely chopped
Cut the beef into large pieces. Season the flour with salt and freshly ground black pepper then use to coat the beef.
Heat the oil in a casserole dish and brown the beef well, in batches, removing it to a plate as you go.
If necessary, add a little more oil to the casserole, then add the onion and carrot. Fry gently until very soft but uncoloured. Add the whole peeled garlic cloves and thyme sprigs then return the beef to the casserole. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and add the stock and tomatoes.
Cook, with a lid slightly ajar, for 1 1⁄2 -2 hours or until the meat is tender (alternatively, cook in the oven at 180°C). Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Top with parsley then puree until smooth
Freeze 1/4 cup portions in ice cube trays
My family are doing this funny thing … where they seem to be a little nervous to eat around me or apologise throughout the meal. Honestly, its not even a thing to me! I don’t feel hungry at all and even push myself to have my three meals. Sure food smells nice, I just don’t want to eat it.
I learned a big lesson the other day, I pushed myself too far to eat whats on the recommended menu and I felt so uncomfortable all day. So I’m now choosing the most liquid of meals. Yesterday was much much better.
So I went and bought a wee Food and Exercise notebook (me and stationary, I can’t help myself!) and I’m hoping, based on past experiences, that this will help me know what and when.
I’d fully expected to be MISSING things. Like ice-cream – or cheese. But with not feeling hungry at all, its actually pretty bloody easy. But I’ll tell you what I really miss, you know what I really miss right? Yes, coffee, shit I miss you!!! But you’ll just have to wait until I can get my fluid intake up and keep it up. You’ll dehydrate me – and make me pee lots. Naughty coffee.
I still love you though.
Today is Day Four – Post Op.
I’m back at home and Mom and I are about to go out for a walk. Its actually pissing with rain so we’re headed to the mall and I feel good enough to get out of my palazzo pants and into something nicer – and to have dried my hair and flicked on some mascara.
The last three or four days have been a bit of a blur but I’ve made a few notes and I might come back to a post about surgery and the hospital stay but right now I’m concentrating on three things;
- water – 1.5l is my target for each day but I’ll tell you what, 750mls is hard and 1.5l is a bitch!
- walking – yesterday I didn’t even manage a kilometre, today I did 2.5km
- food – my goal is to eat three meals a day. Yesterday I felt uncomfortable and perhaps pushed the limits a wee bit. I’ve pared it back today and I feel a lot better.
I’m very aware that I need to give the anaesthetic time to work its way out of my system (and it can take 3-6 months) and I also know that I won’t be getting the best sleeps however the healing is happening pretty okay. I’ve got 6 tiny incisions on my belly – I call them my ‘racing stripes’ – and they are sealed with plasters which I should be able to take off in a few more days. I’m quite lucky that my Mom is/was a registered nurse and she’s here with my checking them each day.
I’m still a little tender however I wouldn’t register my pain level – I guess from here its all about adjusting and finding out what works for me. As well as trying to drink all this bloody water!