How Weight Loss Surgery Saved My Life

by sandi on October 26, 2010

My friend Gloria and I in my old pants. Can you believe it?

 

I have been fighting the fat war since I was 4 years old. I finally won the war, leaving only small skirmishes that crop up regularly. My friends tell me these little battles are what a “normal” person always deals with. 

 Just five years ago, I was 424 pounds, had arthritis in my right knee, and had trouble walking across a parking lot. My asthma forced me to stop and catch my breath several times across those parking lots. I rented a scooter to be able to take my grandkids to Disneyland. I let my husband go into the market while I waited in the truck. People looked fearfully at me when I was getting on a plane, hoping I wasn’t sitting next to them.  In March 2004 I had a hypertension crisis that got my attention. To this point, my arthritis, asthma, reflux, and sleep apnea had not yet been enough to make me take notice. 

I have succeeded at most everything I have tried in life — I have a wonderful marriage of more than 40 years to my soul mate, a great daughter, four awesome grandchildren, and a successful business I built from scratch over 20 years ago. But I could NEVER get a handle on my weight for longer than five minutes. 

On 5/28/2004, at 55 years old, I had life-changing, and life-saving, Lap-Band® surgery. Within 28 months I had lost 250 pounds. Now, more than five years after surgery, I am holding at 175 pounds and loving it. I am off all my medications and move freely and vigorously through my new life. 

 With the help of this tool and a great support team I have reached a place where it is fun to go anywhere and try new things, and I actually enjoy looking at pictures of myself (well, most of the time). 

 If you are struggling with your weight, you may find some useful information and solutions here. I have created this blog because something like it would have made a big difference to me when I was going through the decisions and the process myself. 

 As the old saying goes, information is power. If you are struggling with your weight, I want you to have the information you need to answer the questions you have so that you can make the best decision possible for you to have a richer life. 

 I hope you find this useful. I look forward to hearing from you.  

Take a look at some of our Gastric Banding Tips —  Here

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Our New Book – Is Lap Band Surgery For Me?

by sandi on October 26, 2010

Our new book is now shipping on amazon!  Read an excerpt here.

Visit us at www.bandedliving.com

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Is It Really Hunger OR Am I Tired?

by sandi on August 9, 2017

Is It Really Hunger Here it is, a few years later and I find myself hungry today.  I stop, apply HALTS and realize I am tired.  I had a bad night of insomnia last night.  Good thing I am following a Kick Start eating plan this week – super low carbs, lots of firm protein, and low carb veggies.  I can add an extra snack of lunch meat, cheese or jerky to get me through.

The first thing I do when this happens is try to figure out what is going on with me.  Because I keep a daily food journal I can review the days before to see if I ate too many carbs, or too much artificial sweetener, or didn’t have enough protein.  Checked this out and my eating was near perfect for the past 4 days, with firm protein at every meal and low carb veggies as well.  So scratched that as a cause off my list- not food choices!

Is It Really Hunger Next I get to review my feelings – Am I stressed, angry, lonely, sad so that I am reaching for food instead of feeling my emotions and just dealing with them?  Hmmm, let me think a moment or two on those.  No more so than any day last week when I wasn’t hungry between meals.

One more to look at- water.  How much water have I been drinking?  Have I been getting in at least 64 ounces.  Went back to my food journal for that info and not only had I got in my 64 ounces of water every day for the past several days, most days over 80 ounces and one day 110 ounces.  It wasn’t thirst disguising itself as hunger, that’s for sure.

So what’s been different?  Has my schedule changed, am I getting in my exercise, what could it be?  Why am I suddenly hungry a couple of hours after eating?

Is It Really Hunger How do you feel?  What’s going on?  I kept asking myself that question repeatedly and finally the light went off and I had my aha moment.  I felt tired.  Why?  The reason was simple.  I had not been sleeping well for the past several days.  I intermittently have periods of time like this for a few days where my sleep is interrupted more than it usually is by the results of 100 ounces of water through the day.  This was one of them. 

Lack of sleep is a known contributor to both increased hunger and obesity.

Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite.

“Ghrelin stimulates hungerand leptin signals satiety to the brainand suppresses appetite” says Siebern.  “Shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin.”

Here it is as stated by another doctor A lack of sleep has also been shown to directly increase appetite and weight gain.”  As researchers at Laval University in Quebec City, Quebec found; if you aren’t getting enough sleep you have a 30 percent higher risk of becoming obese and can expect an average weight gain of five pounds.

Is It Really Hunger Deep sleep regulates growth hormone (the “fountain of youth hormone”), and controls the production of leptin and ghrelin.  Together, these three hormones regulate appetite.  This means if you don’t get enough sleep you’ll want to eat more, especially sugar!  Growth hormone also helps turn fat into muscle.  Increased muscle mass helps you burn calories more efficiently and improves insulin sensitivity-in other words, it stops sugar cravings and makes you thinner.

Lack of sleep can lead to insulin resistance.  This means you cannot get sugar out of the bloodstream and into your cells where it is needed for fuel, so your body cries out for sugar but can’t burn the sugar you eat.  You’re left endlessly craving sugar, overweight, exhausted, and even diabetic.”

Stated by another researcher :  “Studies have shown that when people don’t get enough sleep they:

• Have increased levels of a hunger hormone called ghrelin and decreased levels of the satiety/fullness hormone called leptin, which could lead to overeating and weight gain.

• Consume about 300 calories a day more than when they are well-rested.  Overall, most of the extra calories came from high-fat foods.

• Snack more and do less physical activity.

• Eat more than what is needed to cover the energy cost of staying awake longer, especially at night, which can lead to significant weight gain.

Research has showed that when study participants didn’t get enough sleep for five days, they consumed more carbohydrates and gained nearly 2 pounds in that time.  “When people are sleepy, they make poor food choices and are more likely to eat more than they need, ” says Kenneth Wright, director of sleep and chronobiology laboratory at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Is It Really Hunger Ok, ok – I get it.  I need more sleep.  I try, believe me I do.  I will just have to try harder.  I’ll go up to bed ½ hour earlier and see if that allows me to drift off and stay asleep better.  I am not having trouble getting to sleep.  My issue most of the time is that of staying asleep for longer than 2-3 hours without waking up.

At least I know there is nothing wrong with my food choices, my water intake, my exercise program (which doesn’t change even when I have a bad night).  I am doing everything by the book.  Now just tell that to my pituitary gland and my tummy so that ghrelin, leptin, and other hormone balance can be what it should be.

I am writing this as I consume a few slices of deli turkey wrapped around pickle spears to try to deal with my 4PM hunger.  I am physically satisfied now and also aware that there are “chemical” changes in my body contributing to my hunger.  I will just have to deal with them and NOT reach for the tortilla chips and guacamole which sound so dang good right now.

Before you reach for that high carb snack do you stop and ask yourself the following – AM I:

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired
  • Stressed or Sad

Asking these questions has helped me avoid out of control snacking most of the time.  I am using the tool between my ears to solve the mysteries of hunger and satiety in those areas that my surgery doesn’t, and can’t directly, help me.

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A Positive Attitude Brought Me This FarI was thinking about what I was going to share with you all today and my head went to the place of “I can’t come up with anything new”.  While that may be true, when I look at what I have done to lose my weight, regain my health and life, and be an active 68 years young – it’s about the “rules” for sure – food, fitness, hydration, vitamins, etc.; it doesn’t begin to touch on how I get through my days.

The biggest change that I created for myself back in 2004 when I first had surgery was the attitude change from “I can’t” to “How do I know unless I try?”  Yup, that’s what happened first – I certainly didn’t wake up after surgery with a 100% I CAN attitude.  It was about taking steps, one little one at a time and seeing that there was so much more that I could actually do to help improve my health both physically and mentally.

A Positive Attitude Brought Me This FarI guess it all began when I had to haul 400+ pounds out of bed when I needed to use the restroom while still in the hospital after surgery.  It hurt, I was frightened, I was under the influence of medication and the anesthesia was still in my system.  Sitting up took at least 10 minutes, then those 15-20 steps from my bed to the restroom seemed like miles and miles.  Then back to bed, sitting down, lying back and trying to find a comfortable spot.  I did it!!!  I wasn’t sure I could, but I did it, and later I even walked around the hospital corridor a bit.  My mind was starting to grasp the concept that there was so more I can’s to be had and pushing through and persevering, even if it hurt a bit physically or emotionally would move me to the next phase.

A Positive Attitude Brought Me This FarOh for those first two weeks on liquids I so wanted to chew something, anything, a hand, a fist, a turkey leg – I didn’t care.  I just wanted to chew.  Somehow I survived this “I can not make it through” two weeks and stayed on point and progressed to soft and then solid foods.  I was doing it!  I really could!!  When I weighed myself I was rewarded with the scale moving down, and I was realizing that the hunger I was feeling most often was not in my belly, but rather in my head.  I ranted and raved and stomped my feet and cried and made it through the understanding that if I fed my head hunger (which screamed for processed carbs and junk – delicious junk though, right) my physical hunger increased.  Being a logical Virgo I worked on stopping and thinking before acting.

A Positive Attitude Brought Me This FarSo now I had the food, the water and the vitamins worked out – I knew that I CAN was my mantra and I was able, with the help of my tool to leave the garbage out of my grocery cart, my cupboards, refrigerator and mouth 98% of the time.  I am human, I have never been perfect.  Ok, what’s next you say?  It was exercise.  I was a year out, one hundred plus pounds down and wanting to keep this miracle going.  I knew that “formal” exercise was the next piece of my personal wellness puzzle.  Out came the negative brain…..well, your back hurts, your knee is bone on bone, walking around the grocery store, the mall and the big box stores is all you can do.  You CAN’T do anything more.  So that is what I did while I let this process in my brain.  OK, so no running, no long walks outside, no treadmill for me… enough with the negative!  What COULD I do?  Hmmm, I have always loved the water so let’s find a pool I can use and try swimming again.  I searched the local gyms, the YMCA and felt really uncomfortable and out of place there.  I found a local tennis club, with an indoor Junior Olympic length pool that didn’t appear to be a “meat market” set up like the local gyms.  No, I did not feel comfortable there, only less fearful and less uncomfortable.  It worked.  I CAN swim – one lap at a time until I got up to swimming non stop for an hour at a time and the weight kept coming off which made both my knee and my back feel better.  And, low and behold, I was actually developing muscles.

A Positive Attitude Brought Me This FarI did this for quite a while and my surgeon and my GP were thrilled with my progress.  I no longer caught every cold going around and didn’t suffer from bronchitis multiple times through the year.  I felt better, I looked better and had more confidence in what I could do.  Dare I try something new?  YOU BET!  My vacations were filled with scuba diving, snorkeling, deep sea fishing (catching and cooking), and I was waking up each morning excited to be alive!  Time to try something new in the gym….My next was the treadmill and then the pool.  I soon found that I couldn’t raise my heart rate enough on the treadmill (because incline and speed both hurt my knee) to do a lot of benefit.  Dare I try that weird looking thing they call an elliptical?  YES!  Two minutes almost killed me.  Today it is 45 minutes and at least a 5k each time I hop on it.  The movement doesn’t hurt my knee and I can do some mighty fast short intervals on it.  How do I know?  Because I tried it!

A Positive Attitude Brought Me This FarI had my plastics, my lower body lift, my brachioplasty (arms), my breast lift, and was all healed.  It was time to start trying to further my fitness level.  Zumba, step class, spinning (although I could do some distance at a reasonable pace outside), aerobics were all not in the cards.  I found I did not enjoy group classes of any type.  That’s me, so I hired a personal trainer and started working on weight lifting.  Each time my trainer tried to give me a larger weight or asked me to do something I had never done before I started by saying “I don’t think so”.  I still occasionally find myself looking at my current trainer and saying that.  When my trainers would just stare back at me I began saying, well I guess I’ll never know unless I try.  And that is what I did – I tried.  Sometimes I was successful, other times not, but still I tried.  And today, in the gym, when my trainer asked me to do some things I had never done before – all with weights attached to them, I looked her in the eye and said – “I’ll give it a try”.  And, I did, and today I was successful at all of it.

The moral of this dialogue is simple – You will never know the limits of your abilities unless you push through fear and uncertainty and – GIVE IT A TRY!

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Long Term Success After Weight Loss Surgery“At 211 degrees water is hot.  At 212 degrees it boils.  And with boiling water comes steam, and with steam you can power a train.” Sam Parker

Putting forth that extra effort, being persistent in the continual application of “steam” (extra effort) to whatever we undertake will get us extraordinary results.  Extraordinary results begin with one small change.

These words have empowered me through life in so many areas, including successful dieting to lose 100 pounds multiple times throughout the years, yet when it came to life after losing the 100 pounds I could not continue powering that change.

Long Term Success After Weight Loss SurgeryThen came weight loss surgery.  It not only took the “water” right up to 211 degrees, it kept it simmering there.  All I had to add was the consistent effort to raise that water to 212 degrees to start the water boiling and keep that train going.

All right- enough metaphors for one day.

How can we apply this extra effort to move our journey to a healthy life after weight loss surgery?

Here are just a few of the ways I have chosen that have worked for me:

  • Long Term Success After Weight Loss SurgeryStart every meal with protein and keep it as the cornerstone of the meal
  • Include fresh, low carbohydrate vegetables at each meal
  • Put only on my plate what I know is the right amount of food- weighed and measured whenever possible – no seconds- there will always be a next meal
  • Eat ONLY delicious food and ONLY when I am hungry
  • Find and keep a realistic calorie and protein goal for daily living
  • Plan and prepare my meals in advance
  • Drink 80 ounces of water a day
  • Exercise at least 210 minutes per week – that is only 30 minutes per day (I have 345 minutes scheduled)
  • When working out push for a little bit more than what is comfortable every time.
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Take my vitamins and supplements consistently

Long Term Success After Weight Loss SurgeryThese are some of the habits I have developed after surgery.  These choices, which I have made daily for over 13 years now have helped me achieve and maintain “results not typical”- a weight loss of over 250 pounds with a lab band.  My doctor continues to share my story at his informational seminars, so I guess I must be doing something right.

I am not telling you this to brag.  Yes, I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish.  What I do know is that YOU TOO have it in you to accomplish all of this.  What it takes is putting in that extra effort- that same effort that you put in to make sure you have everyone else’s birthdays acknowledged; that same effort you use to take care of your children or your aging parents or ill spouses or relatives; that same effort that you use to excel and get promoted at work. 

Yes, you already know how to access your power and many of you already power that train with your own steam when it comes to everything except your own health.  Put yourself on the top of that effort list.

Long Term Success After Weight Loss SurgeryWhat might happen if you used that power, that energy, that extra bit of effort to further your own health and wellness?  I challenge you today to find one area, just one where you could put in some extra effort and win.  Who’s with me?  Share your thoughts.

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Success After Lap Band SurgeryBeen thinking about Daily Action Plans today and I went into a detail of what my days will look like this week to achieve my goal for the week which is to lose about 2 lbs.  As I wrote my plan for my meals (all delicious by the way) and my fitness and my water I realized once again that it is in this act- this act of planning my days, knowing what comes next, and having a Plan B somewhere at the bottom of my purse for when things change, that has allowed me to be successful.

Any time I stray from planning I let the days run me, and that is not where I am happy.  My happy place is when I am BOSS of my life.  I have known this for years.  I have practiced it in many areas of my life before I had weight loss surgery.  Since 2004 when I had weight loss surgery I have practiced it around food, water and exercise and guess what folks- IT WORKS!!!  IT REALLY WORKS. 

Success After Lap Band SurgeryTry it, set a goal, create a daily action plan- follow it through – evaluate at the end of each day and tweak it as needed and see what happens…The possibilities are incredible….

What’s your plan for the week?

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As I am embarking on my 14th year after weight loss surgery and maintaining a 250+ pound weight loss people often ask me how I do it.  My answer is really not very complicated – I followed the rules my doctor gave me before surgery and I continue to follow them all these years later.  The typical response to my reply is the glazed eye look and the statement “but it’s so hard to________”.  You can finish it with whichever rule or rules you choose to put in there.

Here’s what I was told I would need to do after surgery:

  • The Rules - Why Do We Resist Them?Eat 1000-1200 calories per day, no more
  • Make at least 70-80% of it firm protein for at least 60-80 grams
  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water per day
  • Stay away from high carb foods that my band probably wouldn’t like anyway such as bread, potatoes, rice, anything fried or breaded, chips, cookies, cakes, ice cream anything highly processed
  • I was told to chew small bites 20-30 times and put my fork down between bites
  • Put on my plate ONLY what I intended to eat and make meals last for 15-20 minutes, no more.  Get up when done.
  • No drinking during or for 30 minutes after a meal
  • Avoid carbonated beverages
  • Don’t drink my meals
  • Move my body on purpose for at least 210 minutes each week (30 minutes a day)
  • Learn to enjoy the art of dining – tasting my food, enjoying tastes and textures
  • Listen to my body and my surgery and STOP when I had enough, not when I was Thanksgiving Day full
  • No grazing, no snacking
  • Take good quality vitamins and supplements

WOW!  Sounds like a diet to me.  Why would these rules work after surgery if I couldn’t stay on a diet long term before surgery? 

The Rules - Why Do We Resist Them?What I learned was that this was a permanent lifestyle change and it was up to me to change my relationship with food.  The surgery, regardless of which surgery I chose, could only do so much.  It would help me eat smaller portions of firm protein at one sitting – I had to choose protein first and make my “sittings” about 20 minutes.

I knew a lot about dieting.  I had been doing it successfully for 54 years after all.  What I had never done was commit to changing permanently.  It had always been about getting off xxx pounds and I did, and then I returned to the same food addict I was before.  I had to work out for myself what the root of the food/sugar addiction was and I was able to do it once I cleaned my body of the sugar/carbs with my post surgical food progression and began focusing on the rules.

The hardest rule for me was giving up sugar and processed foods.  They go down so easily, don’t cause “stuck” episodes and taste so dang good.  I felt better than I had in ages and the weight kept falling off.  Intermittently, over the past 13 years I have let them back into my life again and the result is always the same – feeling crappy and weight gain. 

The next hardest rule for me was getting regular exercise going.  Today, if I skip more than 2 days (some weekends) of formal fitness I start feeling the same crappy as I do when I eat sugar….Now what might happen if I was eating sugar and NOT working out at the same time?  I don’t even want to know.

The rest of the rules became part of my lifestyle habits beginning day 1 after surgery, and they work.  As time progressed I found out what worked best for me within the parameters of the rules:

  • 80 oz of water is my sweet spot
  • 80-100 grams of protein is where I function best
  • I can drink water up until the point my meal is served and still be satisfied with a small portion.  I do still wait 30 minutes after eating to let my brain catch up with the satiety my stomach feels.
  • I have my own fitness program that includes swimming laps, elliptical time and weight lifting which I devote 300+ minutes to Monday – Friday first thing in the morning.  Weekends are my “rest” days and often include hikes, bike rides and beach walks so I am rarely sedentary.
  • If I meal plan and prep my meals and portion them out I do better at staying under 1200 calories per day
  • I have my own regimen for taking my vitamins and supplements throughout the day
  • Sugar and peanut butter and Cheetos are NOT my friends

The Rules - Why Do We Resist Them?The rules work – I eat only delicious food and this has helped tremendously in keeping my weight in check.

As I age (I will be 69 years young in September) these rules become even more critical to follow.

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!

Why do folks think they can do it “their way” and win after weight loss surgery?  I enjoy helping others to let go of their resistance to the rules and watch their journeys take off and take them to places they never in their wildest dreams imagine they could go.

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A trigger food is a specific food that sets off a course of overeating where control is lost.  The most common trigger foods are calorie-dense, highly palatable foods that are often combinations of sugar and fat (e.g.  ice cream, cookies) or fat and salt (e.g.  nuts, potato chips, French fries).

The Trigger Foods Of SummerYale university researchers had both thin and obese women complete a standard food addiction assessment and then used MRI imaging to examine the subject’s brain activity while they were shown and then drank a chocolate milkshake.  They compared these images to seeing then drinking a tasteless beverage.  The results showed the brains of both thin and overweight women who scored higher on the food addiction test exhibited patterns similar to those seen in drug addicts — there was greater activity in region of the brain responsible for cravings, and less activity in the regions that curb urges.

So does this prove that food is addictive?  Well, it certainly shows that the brain seems to react in a similar way, although the trouble is of course that while you can live without alcohol or drugs you can’t live without food.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at my trigger foods and how I have dealt with them most of the time.  They still do win – occasionally.  Now they wouldn’t be triggers if they didn’t, right?  (wink, wink).

The Trigger Foods Of SummerSummertime is difficult for me when it comes to ice cream, frozen yogurt, chips and dips.  All of these meet that fat and sugar combo talked about above.  So, does this mean I never have ice cream or frozen yogurt or a chip again?  There are periods of time when I MUST refuse them, not allow them in my house, or in my grocery cart, and as far as frozen yogurt goes it is my responsibility to not walk into these shops and fool myself into believing I am having only 3-4 oz for 120 calories and a few grams of protein…it doesn’t work that way.  No matter how hard I try there is always more than 4 oz in my cup AND I must have toppings, even if they are “only” a spoonful of healthy almonds.  It just doesn’t work for me.  I doubt that I have ever left a frozen yogurt shop with less than 250 unnecessary calories in my cup, and many days I can assure you it was more than that.  This does not serve my health in any way, shape or form.

The Trigger Foods Of SummerIce cream is yet another story.  My husband loves ice cream.  My husband does not need ice cream.  However, he has much better control than I do.  If it’s in the house I will eat it, and folks there is just no way to hide ice cream in your freezer.  Hubby thinks he is being healthy by buying no sugar added ice cream.  I can avoid this pretty easily since it is a chemical concoction that really doesn’t taste all that good- or, I have convinced myself of that fact.  Whatever the case is, it works for me.

Cookies, cakes, muffins, pies.  Just cannot have them around anymore.  For the first 2-3 years after surgery I had no problem avoiding these foods in my presence, however now, 13 years later they call to me if they are around.  The worst part is, one is just not enough for me.  I know I probably do not even taste them after the first one, but I will continue munching right along.

The Trigger Foods Of SummerChips, Cheetos, dips, spreads are the same.  If I am having family over I will often have guacamole or a dip and some chips and some veggies.  The veggies are for me, but somehow my hand will find its way into the chip bowl at least once.

Cheetos are my crack.  Just walking by them at the supermarket they seem to sprout wings and fly right into my cart.  I often must remove them forcibly as they seem to get stuck until they are ready to be put in my grocery bags to come home.  The worst part is the brilliant marketing folks have them at check stands, not only in grocery stores, but at places like Target, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Loew’s.  Now Cheetos at a building supply and hardware store, THAT is just wrong!  Once I open a bag I rarely put it down until I either throw it in the trash – the big ugly outside can that is disgusting trash, or finish it.

All right then.  I have just confessed to the fact that I am human and a food addict.  So, what do I do, how do I deal with it, how has success happened for me?

For the first 1-4 years after surgery I did not allow myself the privilege of many of my trigger foods.  They just were not on the acceptable food list and they didn’t make their way into my house.  My husband was totally supportive (and still is when I ask) and learned to live without bread, cookies, ice cream, etc. around.  When I was out at a restaurant I ordered foods that would require more handling or chewing so that I was using my tool instead of my addictive nature.  If I was busy cracking crab or eating peel and eat shrimp I had absolutely no time or desire to reach for the bread or the crackers and by dessert time I had no room.  Simple, and by the way it still works.  When at a gathering where the finger foods were all trigger foods I would try to bring my own, allowable food with me.  Who doesn’t want a tray of shrimp with cocktail sauce added to their table full of chips and pretzels and nuts, etc.  I had something delicious to eat.

The bigger problem was people coming to my house, bringing food gifts out of the kindness of their hearts.  (or more likely their own desire to eat them).  They knew I wouldn’t have any ______ (fill in the blank), so they brought it.  Ugh…  it became easier to ask folks to bring a specific dish and 95% of the time it worked.  Please bring a tossed salad, or a fruit salad, or veggies and dip.  The key here is to ask your friends, co-workers, and relatives to agree to a no food gifts policy.  Most of the time folks do this out of caring but when you explain that you can’t resist and it doesn’t serve your long-term health goals, they will usually comply.

Now the flying Cheetos that get stuck to the grocery cart can be a real problem.  Never go grocery shopping hungry.  Bring a bottle of water to sip on while you’re shopping so thirst doesn’t rear its head as hunger and fool you into reaching for a trigger food.  Next make a grocery list and stick to it.  You’ll spend less money in the long run, and have more to go shopping for those new clothes you will need as the weight falls off and stays off.  If possible, go shopping with a spouse, a friend or someone who can help you avoid those end caps full of tempting treats.  My husband and I will separately pick up interesting finds at the market randomly and ask each other what we think of the food.  We take a look at the serving size, protein and calories and make a decision from a place of knowledge rather than that impulse buy.  It’s been working for us pretty well.  When either he or I go shopping alone we often come home with something unintended in the cart “to try”.

The Trigger Foods Of SummerWatching TV can be dangerous on so many levels.  First of all that food porn they call commercials can have us getting up to see what we might have to snack on.  Next, if we do have a snack it is often eaten mindlessly.  We just chomp away without knowing or tasting or measuring how much we have eaten.  Anyone ever have a bowl of popcorn disappear and they wonder when they finished it?  The best suggestion here is to distract yourself from the food ads.  Go fill or empty the dishwasher, start another load of clothes, fold your laundry, groom your dog or cat, write in your journal, or drink some water.

 

The Trigger Foods Of SummerI had a barbecue for family last weekend.  I made ribs, fresh corn (off the cob for me) and fresh green beans.  My guests asked what to bring.  I suggested a fruit salad.  I had a rib, some corn off the cob, and some green beans.  Later I had some fruit salad.  Everyone had theirs topped with a ton of whipped cream, everyone except me.  The little bit of fresh fruit was a treat and didn’t need any whipped cream to be delicious.  Everyone was stuffed at the end of the meal as they consumed huge quantities of everything.  It can work.  It just takes some thought, some planning and some commitment to your goals and your health. 

So do you believe that food can be addictive?  Do you ever feel out of control yourself?  Please share your thoughts.

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WLS And JournalingI am 13 years and 1 month Post-Op.  My weight loss surgery has afforded me a new, healthy life which I am grateful for every single day.  Wouldn’t you think that after 13 years of eating “right”, exercising regularly, staying hydrated and taking my vitamins, I could put my food journal away and just “live” my life like a “normal” person (whatever that is), and quit journaling my food?  For me, the answer is NO! 

I sure do envy those folks who can maintain their weight at goal without paying attention to what they are consuming.  I have a tough time accepting this, but there really are folks who can do this.  Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s my surgery type, maybe it’s my metabolism, maybe it’s just me and my habits.  After all I was living one particular way for 54 years before having surgery and sometimes old habits keep popping their heads up to bite us in the rear.

WLS And JournalingI know some folks think journaling everything that passes these lips might be a bit obsessive at times.  I would consider it so if I brought my food scale and measuring cups and spoons in my purse with me to every dinner out.  I don’t do this.  When out I try to make the best choices available, and perhaps even order a glass of wine or a cocktail.  Out for dinner is where moderation is most important considering most restaurant foods have hidden calories/fats added to them.  That’s what I do when I am out- I use moderation when selecting from the menu.

WLS And JournalingWhen I am home I plan and prep the majority of my meals so I know exactly what has gone into them.  I weigh and measure the ingredients and then determine the appropriate portion size to meet my calorie and protein needs.  This may sound like a lot of work.  It’s not….When I created the habit of weighing and measuring my food what happened automatically was that I began portioning it in “my size” portions.  For example I made chicken burgers last night from ground chicken with lots of other ingredients.  Before I made the patties I added up everything that went into them – one column for calories, one column for protein.  I then saw that 6 burgers would be about right- 161 calories and 19 grams of protein.  That’s how I divided them and how they were cooked.  I had 1, hubby had 2 and the leftovers are lunches.  One burger with some sautéed zucchini and onions was a nice plate for me and satisfied my hunger.  Had I made the burgers larger I would have possibly hung out at the table until I could consume the larger one.  I didn’t.  I got up when I was done eating and wrapped the leftovers and put them away. 

Journaling and meal prep and planning not only has me aware of the calories/protein I have consumed so far each day, it also helps me with portion control and recognizing satiety- when I am done.

I don’t have to wait for the soft stop, or worse yet, the hard stop to tell me enough.

WLS And JournalingJournaling also lets me make adjustments in my day.  For example if I did have a cookie I can look at the calories and decide what to change in my meal plan for the day if that’s possible.  Since I am not obsessed with the numbers, just shooting for around 1200 calories and 80-100 grams of protein daily if the cookie “took me over” I also would not beat myself up about it.  It is what it is and I move on, even on those occasions when 1 cookie (or whatever) became 2 or 3 or even 4.  Guilt only leads me to continued self sabotage.  Stopping and reassessing my day/my choices allows me to see what I did, why I did it and how I might do better.  It allows me the freedom for my next choice to be better with no self-recrimination attached, and no throwing my hands up in the air and surrendering to old habits.

The point is to remain aware and in the present moment when I eat – to be mindful of everything I am putting in my mouth and to do it by choice, not by chance as can happen when I eat instead of feeling an emotion.  That is how I have improved my relationship with food, my relationship with myself and my response to stress.

Journaling keeps me aware and present in the moment.  Do you journal?

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