Posts Tagged ‘calories’

The Quest Begins

So it begins. The Quest for 26.2 miles has started. It began yesterday in the bright sun and blessedly cool Sunday morning at SportsBackers Stadium. I am on Team Cocoa, which the coach, Ellie, joked about us looking like UPS drivers if we actually try to wear cocoa colored clothing. It is the slower team of the two intermediate teams. The faster team intermediate team looks like it is made up of human cheetahs. My team, not so much.

The intermediate teams were scheduled to run 7 miles, the novice team was running 4.

Gory details to follow:

Since I had poisoned myself the previous day with too many delicious but wildly greasy carbs at an awesome restaurant called My Noodle, my GI system was completely uncooperative. At the best of times, my pouch and small intestine (minus about 7 feet of it) are unpredictable, but yesterday’s reaction was completely predictable in the worst sort of way. It is the main hazard of being a Gastric Bypass patient and an athlete (dehydration being a close second).

Within the first 10 minutes of the run, despite my best efforts, I knew I was in trouble and I knew the only bathroom on the route was the bathroom in Bryan Park, which would be about the 3 mile mark (yes, I know almost every single open and available bathroom in the City). I suffered for those three miles, but I made it. While shuttered up in that sketchy little bathroom, I did the math and recognizing that there were no other rest stops along the rest of the 7 mile route, I decided to cut off the “Northside neighborhoods” section of the route and went straight back to the Diamond on the Boulevard. That took a little less than 2 miles off the planned route, but it saved me from more misery.

When I hit Brooklyn Park Avenue, where the planned route and my alternate route met back up, I wound up a pack of fast runners from the Green team; those human cheetahs. Most of them were running in the 8:30 minute/mile range and I couldn’t keep up, but running with them and being a half mile from the end, I knew I could damn well speed up. My insides cooperated long enough and I think I ran that last half mile in the 9:45 min/mile range. I was grinning like a hooligan in spite of everything. I could feel a change in my brain. I am really, truly, officially, and finally training for a Marathon.

You would think I would be unhappy or upset that I didn’t make the full distance on my first week of training, but I’m not. I know my body. I know its limits. I know I could have run those two miles if my system had cooperated. It was a beautiful morning and a familiar route. But I also know myself well enough to know that I would have ended up walking, with severe cramping and doing the “two-cheek-squeak” for the last miserable mile, and I would have felt horrible.

Two extra miles was not worth that kind of suffering.

So aside from all the miles I am going to log in the next 5 months, there are a bunch of other considerations to make to keep myself healthy and uninjured.

Diet: I want to limit repeats of Sunday morning’s gastro-intestinal festival, and that means being careful with carbs, avoiding dehydration, and seeking high quality calories. I need the most bang for my nutritional buck that I can get. No 3pm dashes to the vending machine for a rice krispy treat. I am trying to keep my desk stocked with nutritious options for when the mid-afternoon munchies hit. Whole wheat crackers and natural peanut butter (my variety has added flax seeds, for what that’s worth), mandarin orange pieces in no sugar added liquid, and high quality dark chocolates for those moments when chocolate is a must (it happens). Lunches will be lean protein and vegetables. Breakfasts will not devolve into an egg and cheese bagel from Cupertinos; hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurts, and occasionally things like steel cut oatmeal (have to be careful with oatmeal though; I need extra protein or my blood sugar gets a little wonky).

We regularly plan dinners that are pretty healthy, and they are usually planned on a weekly basis, with an emphasis on balancing Byram’s low-purine food requirement, my lowish-carb requirement, and my Mom’s need for variety.

I am making it a point to really focus on getting all my daily supplements in. I know what the FDA says about vitamin supplements, but their recommendations are for the general populace, not someone who has 7 feet of missing intestine and absorbs only about 2/3rds of everything she consumes. For me, vitamin supplementation is a must.

Cross Training: I know from my history that because I sit all day, my mid-section is kinda soft like a gummy bear, while at the same time, my hip flexors are tight as piano wire. The perfect recipe for injury. Mondays on the schedule are x-training days and I am going to focus most of those days on core strengthening and stretching. In fact, I am going to bring a yoga mat to work. There is a section of the 2nd floor where no one ever comes and I can do a full core workout without any gym equipment and never have to leave my building. Over the summer, when time allows, I might add in some evening swims with Grace at the Y. Being in the water will take my weight off what are sure to be sore muscles, while at the same time, you get some resistance training and cardiovascular benefits. Also, Grace time is Good Time.

Yoga: This goes hand in hand with X-training, but needs to become a regular act. At least on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I need to get up and do a yoga routine in the morning or before I go to bed if I run in the early a.m. during the hottest part of the summer. Again, injury prevention is my main goal; I can’t cross a finish line if I am too hurt to get to the starting line.

Sleep: it’s nature’s Reboot Button. It’s a key element of a good immune system (distance athletes are not famous for their abilities to fight off a cold). It’s when your body builds muscle. It’s when your whole system slows down and recovers from the strain of hard core training. I am going to start aiming to be in bed between 9-10 pm every night because many mornings are going to see me up and at them for early a.m. runs by 4:30 and 5 a.m. A morning glory I am not, but I am going to work on it.

Finally, and probably oddest…

Positive thinking: My mind is my greatest enemy. It is crueler to me than 100% humidity, 90 degree temps, and double digit distances. I have the power to make it my greatest ally. And so I shall work to that end. Stop the self-mutilating mental talks. “I am the slowest person on the team!” needs to become “I am lucky to be running with such amazing folks. I bet I can catch up to them just a little if I push just a little harder.” “Oh my god, 20 miles will feel like forever.” needs to become “I really cherish ‘my time’ and I am lucky to have the next several hours all to myself.” I can work on it, but the mind is the hardest thing to train. Wish me luck.


4 Year Anniversary

Happy Surgiversary to me. 4 years ago today, I went under the knife to undergo RnY Gastric Bypass, willingly undergoing a life altering surgery with the hopes of getting a new grip on my weight and my overall health and well-being.

Since then, I have run over a thousand miles, 4 half marathons, a handful of 5ks, one 10k, and a few adventure/mud runs. I am training for my 5th half marathon, and so far, that is going fairly well. I logged 7 miles on Saturday morning, which was my longest run since the AmFam Half Marathon (at least I think it was). My IT band did not give me any trouble. My GI tract did unfortunately, but that isn’t unusual given that 7 feet of my intestines are not in use and at the best of times, things can be unpredictable.

Since my surgery, I have cut certain foods out of my life for good. Fast food hamburgers and fries? I don’t think I have had such a meal even once in 4 years. Anything that has to be consumed through a straw (e.g., smoothies, frosties, frappachinos, etc.) has been stricken from my diet. I have not consumed a single ounce of a soda, diet or otherwise, in 4 years.

Then there are things that I know I simply cannot eat or I will find myself shaking, sweating, heart racing, nauseated, and all around miserable. Cake. Pancakes or waffles. Commercially made biscuits (I can get away with a really tiny homemade one on very rare occasions). Ice cream in any serving larger than maybe a tablespoon or two. Fried chicken in anything larger than a kid’s size portion (Chik-fil-A’s 6 piece nuggets are the limit for me; I refuse to eat those fake nuggets anyone else serves). Honestly, deep-fried anything is a high risk for making myself ill; I just don’t go there except on the rarest of occasions (usually while traveling and there simply aren’t any good options). I can have one or two pieces of bacon, at most. I prefer to use it for cooking with these days.

Then there are foods that surprise me that I cannot eat very well. Salads are not easily digestible and tend to fill me up too quickly leaving no room for protein. That really doesn’t work for me, so they tend to be rare and almost like a treat.

Chicken breast is another surprising one. When I cook with chicken breast, I do best if it is cut against the grain, shortening those long muscle fibers, and then cooked with lots of veggies or a sauce to try and put some moisture into the meat. Otherwise, swallowing plain chicken breast is akin to chewing and swallowing a cotton ball, only it sits in my pouch, painfully holding up anything else that wants to go down.

Hard boiled eggs. They feel like I am digesting a blown up rubber glove. Scrambled is okay, but I get off-put by the texture these days. And frying an egg tends to leave me feeling not awesome, but I eat them anyway. I have to eat something on weekend mornings.

Nuts. Well, it isn’t that I cannot eat nuts, but if I do, the aforementioned “unpredictability” of my GI tract suddenly becomes VERY predictable, but not in a good way. I only eat nuts when I know I am not doing anything very active within the next 24 hours.

Pulled pork BBQ. Byram makes amazing smoked BBQ and every time I eat it, I feel sick no matter how small my portion is. I suspect the combination of the sugar in the rub with the higher fat content of the meat come together to make me miserable.

Oddest of all things I think is oatmeal. I love a bowl of oatmeal, though I prefer mine savory with a touch of butter and salt. That said, if the only thing I eat for breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal, within 2 hours my blood sugar crashes to the floor and I become a shaky mess. If I have it with something else, like string cheese or yogurt, it is normally fine, but I don’t usually have room for oatmeal AND anything else. It is perhaps the one thing I miss eating most regularly.

Dining out is a completely different experience post-gastric bypass. Everyone knows that by and large, restaurant meals are vastly oversized, heavy on oils and fats, salt and sugar. Most chain restaurants do not serve very high quality meals, as well. So for me, dining out just anywhere has lost much of its allure. Visiting any buffet is a rare thing anymore, but if we do, we usually go to Chinese buffets. I aim for sashimi and sushi, maybe some soup, and a small amount of any dishes that don’t look too oily. If I am forced to darken the door of a Golden Corral, I go for a rare cut of steak, any veggies that don’t look drowned in oil, and a cup of their chili. Pro-tip: chili at most restaurants is a great fall back for gastric bypass patients. It typically isn’t horribly fatty, it is full of protein, fiber, and lots of flavor (most of the time). I used to go for New England Clam Chowder, but now I know better that the fat to protein ratio is really not in my favor.

I check appetizer lists in menus a lot of the time. It is very rare to find much that is decent in appetizers, but seared ahi tuna has become very popular and in a typically sized appetizer, it is a perfect meal for me. Some places are featuring “Hummus platters” or “Mediterranean Plates” which work very well for me too, and are often large enough that I can share with the table and still go home full. Hummus, some feta cheese, olives, tomatoes and onions, some pita bread (which I eat very little of), and I am good to go.

I love tacos. There is no getting around it. But not tacos like Taco Bell; I like the awesome taquerias that have begun to pop up all over Richmond. An order of three tacos, with fillings like al pastor, carne asada, and even lengua (ooh, scary!), are all delicious and in small enough portions that their fat content doesn’t tend to bother me. These authentic style tacos are not like American tacos that are loaded with sour cream and cheese. These just have their meat, cilantro, salsa, and typically some pico de gallo or just diced onion. And I usually tear off some of the tortilla, or don’t eat all of the tortillas, just the filling in one or two of them.

Pho is a recent culinary discovery for me. Delicious broth, fairly lean meats, and yes, lots and lots of noodles, but I can eat as much or as little of the noodles as I want. Yes, the serving is typically massive (like measurable in gallons, right?), but something everyone should remember is that while we were all taught how bad it is to waste food, it is FAR worse clean your plate and then find all that food on your waist.

Four years on and I am far from perfect. I do eat and drink the wrong things, I slack off of my work out routines, I screw up. All. The. Time. But that doesn’t mean I quit. That I say “Well, I’ve gained back some weight, time to throw in the towel.” I fight. I am fighting right now. I consider my surgery a gift and it is not one I am willing to relinquish.

I write about my surgery to remind myself where I came from, why I do the seemingly crazy things I do (like go run in the pouring rain at lunch today?), and why it is so very important that I don’t stop. I write because I know a lot of people think about this kind of life-style change, they have questions, they wonder if bariatric surgery is right for them, they wonder what life is like on the other side. There are tons of bari-bloggers out there, I am just out here offering just another perspective.

So here is to 2014. I have big plans so stay tuned to see what comes next.

Eating Well at Our House

The experiment is over and I really can’t add anything more to yesterday’s wrap-up except that it was lovely to eat real food for breakfast and lunch. I might have dropped some water weight, but because I have developed an aversion to stepping on a scale, I cannot base my success or failure rate on my actual weight. In fact, I prefer not to. I base my success or failure rate on how I feel and how I am doing back (so far) on a solid food diet. And as I said yesterday, I feel this was a success based on my higher energy levels and the lack of carb cravings. Even my sweet tooth has relented. I have several varieties of high quality chocolate hanging out in my cabinet here at work and I am content to let them lie until a moment I have earned them or to soothe over ragged nerves on a bad work day.

Even with the low caloric intake (I was getting less than 800 per day), I was not energy deprived. I survived a tough 1 hour spin class last night where the instructor took us up and down a lot of hills. I felt like I worked hard but was not destroyed by the end.

In an effort to get all of us back on track, but especially Byram, who has struggled with weight gain due to injury and medications, we have gone back to a low-carb lifestyle. I find it can be tricky to balance the needs of the non-low carb family members (my mom and Grace) with those of Byram and me, but we’re working on it.

I almost never rely on recipes. I primarily cook with a “formula” that rarely goes wrong and changes with whatever I happen to have in the fridge.

The formula almost always starts out the same way: dice an onion and heat it in olive oil in my big skillet on medium heat. I almost always add garlic and some salt while that is happening, and frequently mushrooms because they are a cheap, low carb, and family-friendly way to boost the bulk of the meal without adding much in the way of calories. Usually after that, I add whatever meat I am cooking with, be it chicken breast or thighs, pork loin, or whatever cut of beef I pull out of the freezer — cube steak, flank, skirt, eye of round, etc. With our cow share dwindling, it is getting spotty for beef cuts these days. I let the meat start cooking, add seasonings of my choice (with props to Penzey’s for helping open my eyes to what it means to season food), and then usually frozen veggies like broccoli or green beans, or sometimes fresh ones like sweet peppers, zucchini, or summer squash. Sometimes I throw in a jar of our canned tomatoes from the CSA.

Yes, it is formulaic, but it is fun, easy, usually cooks in less than 30 minutes, and it is infinitely interchangeable. Some of the formula meals can be served over pasta or rice if you aren’t bent towards low carb, and if you have an eater in the house who cannot abide their food touching (we do), you can usually pick the meat and veggies out and separate them on the plate pretty easily (I don’t *always* succeed in this; particularly if tomatoes went in and it is more “saucy” looking).

So when I plan a menu for the month, it is pretty hard to specify what nights I know I am just going to make formula meals; maybe I should just put “Formula Meal w/ Chicken” (or whatever) on those days rather than try and name a specific plan? I don’t know. Planning our menu a month in advance surely does help keep us nutritionally on track, out of restaurants, and helps my Mom know what to expect each day, whether she or I am doing the cooking, but it is hard to know 3 weeks from now what will be on sale at the store or what veggies might suddenly be 10 for $10, like sweet peppers were last week. Suddenly, I am cooking with sweet peppers!

Tonight will be a formula meal out of the skillet though. Tomorrow, I want to make a stuffed pork tenderloin. Sunday, for the upcoming birthdays we are celebrating, I am making the most terrifying cut of beef I have in my freezer – a standing rib roast — prime rib. I did a mediocre job on the last one, overcooking it to medium; a sin against an amazing cut of meat. With this being the last one in the freezer until we get a new chunk of a Bessie Cow, this is my last chance to get it right.

It feels really good and like a genuine accomplishment to plan for and get back on the nutritional bandwagon. While we were talking about our weight this morning, I told Byram that I estimate, based on the fit of my clothes, that I am back to around 160 pounds, or about 15 pounds higher than I want to be. Now, it is all relative, and given that I had lost 125 pounds (at my lowest point last March), 15 pounds doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is for me now. I have learned that it was much easier to drop 15 pounds when I was 270 pounds pretty fast. Not so at 160. Back in the bad old days, it wasn’t uncommon for me to lose 15-25 pounds in the space of 6 weeks. Of course, it would creep back up, and I would have to do it all over again…but that was the normal.

Now, I avoid the scale and base my feeling about my weight based on what clothes fit or don’t. My size 6 pants I wore last spring do NOT fit. My 10s that I couldn’t wear last spring because they would slide off me, fit just fine though not snuggly, fortunately. My 8s still fit as much as they did last year, but without the slack I used to have in them. I will be happy when I can get back into my size 6 pants and when my small sized t-shirts are no longer too tight to wear. But I don’t think I am ready to bring the scale back into my life. Maybe when those 6s do fit, and then just to congratulate myself on whatever number it is I find that put me back in my size 6s. But in general, I don’t want to fight that emotional battle with numbers on a daily or weekly basis ever again.

Have a great weekend and I hope you are having a great start to 2013.

A Little Ironic and Ass Backwards

So yeah, rest works.

I felt a thousand times better today than I had all week. I was psyched to hit the weight room at lunch and I am looking forward to my 8 miles tomorrow (though I do wish it would be a tad bit warmer).

Felt like committing attempted homicide on my entire upper body so I upped my weights across the board in general and hit it. I will write it out in the order I have my lifts listed on my sheet but that was not necessarily the order I lifted in.

Dumbbell Bench Press: 2 sets x10 reps w/ 20 pound dumbbells.
Dumbbell Military Press: 2 sets x10 reps w/ 15 lb dumbbells
Shoulder Shrugs: 2 x10 w/25 pound dumbbells
Lateral Raises: 1 x5 w/ 10 lbs dbs, 1 x10 w/ 7.5 dbs (holy crap these are hard)
Bent Over 1 Arm Rows (both arms) 2 x10 w/ 20 lb db
Standing Rows: 1 x9 w/20 lbs and 1 x7 w/ 20 lb dbs (failed both times)
Lying Pec Decks: 2 x10 w/ 12.5 lb dbs
Lat Pulldown: 2×10 w/ 27.5 lbs
Cable Row: 2×10 w/ 5 plates (no clue about the actual weight; the plates were just number 1 though however many there are; I am guessing somewhere between 30 and 50 pounds?).
Back Extensions: 2 x10 while holding an 8lb medicine ball
Crunches: 1 x10
Reverse Crunches: 1 x10
Plank: 1 for 1 minute (New record!!!)

This workout left me feeling amazing. My hands were trembling as I unlocked my locker. My pencil marks on my sheet were barely legible from my shaking arms. I left the Y with one of those true highs where I couldn’t stop grinning, felt amazing, and was warm all over so that I didn’t need a coat over my short sleeves.

Created a MyFitnessPal account to track my calories since I forgot the old system I used to use. Yesterday, even with fully trying to consume more calories, and with one regular beer and one unusually dark beer (Southern Tier Chocklat Stout; so good!), I came in at less than 1800 (which is where MFP wants to see me at based on weight and height, but it does not factor in my activity level). Today, I have already mapped out much of the days calories including our planned dinner, and I am almost 700 calories short for the day currently. I don’t want to up my calories with pure junk, though that would be easy to do, but I need a calorie boost in small packages. I already eat nuts, I got some 70% dark chocolate squares (had one today in fact for an added 55 calories), I drink milk (nutrient dense and calorie dense without being especially filling), and I am drinking protein shakes.

I think for now I am going to aim for 1800 calories or there about per day and see if the 200-400 calorie increase helps my energy problems; if not, I will have to go to even higher calorie foods at meals to get myself above the 2000 calorie threshold.

When I underwent gastric bypass, at the time, it never occurred to me that there might come a time when I was counting calories again just to make sure I was getting enough energy.

Yes, it does feel a little ironic and ass backwards.