I had weight loss surgery on May 28, 2004. That is 12 ½ years ago. I had Lap Band Surgery so I was required to learn from Day 1 what I needed to do in order to get the weight off, improve my health and stay that way long term.
There are some things that I do most of the time (not all the time for I too am a human being and not perfect) that serve my health, my weight loss and help me use my weight loss surgery “tool” to the best advantage that I can. These things that I do with some consistency are no secret; I heard them all from my doctor at the informational seminar I went to in March of 2004, and he still speaks them all today in his informational seminars. I have written about them numerous times while blogging my journey from 424 lbs then, to today, – between 154 and 165 pounds. Over the years I have been listening for the most frequent “whys” as to how these things that I do fall out of the daily life of so many. I have a few observations to make on why folks stop practicing the weight loss surgery rules:
- They reached goal weight in a flash and became complacent
- They never reached goal weight and perceive themselves as a failure
- No matter how tiny the surgeon makes their stomach they are still addicted to sugar
- They have eating disorders that need psychological intervention
- They are tired of having to do “it” (whatever that means) every day
- Their lives are too busy
- They don’t have the time
- They do not honor, respect and love themselves and they do not celebrate their successes.
- They suffer from depression
Several of these require medical/psychological intervention that I am not qualified to provide. If you need help, please go get it. Start with your bariatric surgeon.
Food addiction, and sugar addiction in fact are real. I am a food addict and once I begin with sweet things I quickly become a sugar addict. I quit smoking cold turkey 25 years ago and that’s the same way I approach sugar every single time I let it back into my life. I stop it HARD and fast and deal with a little bit of withdrawal.
The conundrum with food addicts is that we have to eat to live, so no matter what, food is a part of our life before and after surgery. What I failed to learn at a young age was that food is fuel for my body not comfort, not a way to stuff my feelings, not a reward for good behavior, good grades, or something that heals those hurts when I fell and scraped my knee. It’s not something you celebrate with. It is fuel.
Food is the fuel that nourishes my body; food provides the essentials necessary for me to wake up each day, stretch, think, exercise, love, cry, sing, dance, hug, work and everything else I do. Food doesn’t make me happy or sad or right or wrong. It keeps my motor running at optimum speed when the fuel I provide for it is of the highest quality.
As a weight loss surgery patient I have found that the high quality fuel begins for me with firm protein. That means chicken, eggs, fish, turkey, shrimp, lobster, steak, pork and any of this ground as well. It then goes on to vegetables. My mainstay food choices are simple- Protein and fresh produce. I like a colorful plate (small though it may be) loaded with pretty colors and delicious food. I can manage this with some forethought and planning, whether it be an entire week’s worth of meal plans, or a few solid ideas to get through the week. Either way, my refrigerator and freezer are full of these choices so I can make them with confidence and ease.
It takes less time to plan a few easy meals or have some ideas in mind before grocery shopping then it does to stand in front of the refrigerator and freezer day after day wondering what’s for dinner. For me, opening the refrigerator when I am hungry and have no plan = disaster. I will start picking at food and get grandiose ideas about what I need for dinner like high calorie/high fat/high sodium take out or I will run to the market and come home with a meal planned plus chips or cookies or ……
But that’s me, it may not be you. Planning has been my savior so you will always find fish, chicken, beef, shrimp and turkey in my freezer than can be quick thawed as well as spinach, cauliflower “rice”, peas, garlic, chopped onions, chopped peppers, green beans and corn. In the frig there is typically fresh spinach or kale, cucumber, jicama root, mini bell peppers, cheeses, eggs, yogurts, salsa and nut milk as well as other fresh veggies like zucchini, carrots or whatever is in season. In my cupboards there is always protein powder, whole oats, black beans, pasta sauce, thai green curry sauce, lots of spices and other sauces/marinades that I use. On my counter you’ll find a lemon, a lime, some sweet onions, the squash of the week (spaghetti squash, acorn squash, yams). I can put together something pretty tasty in less than 30 minutes on a typical day.
Besides the planning comes the portion control. Okay I have great protein sources in my freezer. Does that mean I’m eating enough of them or maybe too much? The ONLY way I can truly know what I eat and what it takes for me to either lose or maintain my weight is to weigh and measure my food, and I do, 90% of the time. Without this information I am living in a world of maybe’s – maybe I got my 60 – 80 grams of protein today or maybe I didn’t. Maybe I had a reasonable number of calories, or maybe I didn’t. I think I did, or not. It really doesn’t take that much time or energy to be in full awareness of what you are eating. It is something I can control in my life when so many other things are not in my realm of control.
With the holidays coming this becomes more important to me since sugary treats, high carbohydrate foods and lots of fats abound in much of the traditional holiday foods. I personally take a challenge to create delicious holiday meals that are protein first and healthy. It can be done and I can enjoy the company MORE than the food. After all, holidays are about friends and family, right?
Regular exercise and enough water are two of the other weight loss surgery rules that get tossed aside with time. I will talk about these in another article. Today I wanted to focus on knowing what we are eating to fuel our bodies. I challenge each and every one of you to track your calories and protein for 1 week and tell me what you’ve learned about yourself. For me I know that if I want to lose weight I need to restrict my calories to 1200 maximum and my protein to 80 grams minimum and the weight drops off. I can do this eating REAL food that is delicious and fulfills my need for flavor, texture and high quality fuel. Tracking, journaling, weighing and measuring are some of the tools of weight loss surgery that continue to serve me 12 ½ years later. When I know what I am eating before it even reaches my fork I can make the choices that keep me in the best of health. It really only takes a moment and you are worth that moment. Show yourself some love and caring and see what’s possible.