Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’

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.


Picking Up Steam

It’s Wednesday – mid-week long run day. I have never, in any training cycle (and this is my third), done very well at getting my mid-week long run in. Today I am supposed to run 8 according to the schedule. Instead, I will run 7 today; 4 on my lunch hour and 3 tonight on the treadmill.

I am at the stage where my legs always feel tired; yes, one indication of overtraining. I think to myself, gee, I just need a little rest, but the time for resting my legs is in the past, and in only 2 and a half weeks, I can in fact rest them to my heart’s content (for a little while, anyway). But there is also a point where you have to overtrain to a degree. That is why we taper in the last week (for a half distance); to recover from overtraining, setting yourself up to be rested and ready to race without having lost any endurance. So I acknowledge my general weariness, my occasional snippy mood, my heavy legs, and my poor sleep, but I reject that it is a reason to stop and rest now.

I did a progression run on the treadmill yesterday – my 3 miles came in at a 10:06 average pace. I am getting closer and closer to a sub-10 minute average pace (on a treadmill), which is completely foreign but incredibly tantalizing territory for me. I deeply resent my slow natural pace and I acknowledge that it comes from an inherent laziness and the desire to avoid pain.

That being said, it is a little bit silly to be training for speed right now when what I need to be training for is more endurance. Being able to run 3 miles in about 30 minutes is all well and good unless you are trying to succeed at running 13.1 miles in hilly terrain. I know the benefits of short, faster distances, but I wonder if by slacking on my longer, slower, distance training (like those mid-week long runs), if that isn’t what is shooting me in the proverbial foot.

I am also surely overthinking all of this. It’s not like I am running Olympic time trials. I don’t care that I am overthinking it; I overthink almost everything.

Something I am happy to report is that my weight is finally starting to come down, thanks to some changes I have made in my life. I have lost 4 pounds so far, and that equates to nothing on my visible frame, but that isn’t why I am happy to have dropped 4 whole pounds. If a 2005 study on osteoarthritis can be trusted, every pound of body weight lost equates to a decrease of 4 pounds of pressure on my knee joint load. So theoretically I have taken 16 pounds of pressure off my knees thus far. Whether that makes a significant difference in my comfort levels or not remains to be seen, but I can guarantee you that weighing even only 4 pounds less won’t make anything worse on race day.

Now, I just need to shake the nerves I am starting to get about this race, along with the weight.

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.


Slogged through 4 slow, irritable miles today in the chilly, damp air. Did a LOT of walk breaks for some reason and even had to stop to help a lost runner from out of town try and find her way along the Canal Loop. I felt frustrated, too hot (wore an unnecessary rain jacket), and fatigued. When I got back and mapped my time and route, my pace was slightly faster than the last couple of times I ran the same route and was faster than the pace I need to make my 2:30 HM goal. I don’t even pretend to know what gives but I will take what I got.

I am starting to think about life after a half marathon. What will I do with all the new found free time? What can I do to avoid the seemingly inevitable weight gain that most runners experience after a race?

I am thinking that since weight gain is almost inevitable due to increased appetite but fewer calories being burned in the first few weeks after the race would be a perfect time to focus on muscle building. To build muscle, you have to eat. To keep all that food from getting used as fat, your best bet is to build muscle.

So that is becoming my plan at least related to my fitness levels. After the race, I will cut back on my mileage but go way up on weight lifting. My next scheduled race isn’t until June, and that is the Henricus Dauber Dash (check the name! I have to run this!!!) where due to the obstacles, extra strength will help a whole lot.

I confess, the idea of not being in training is a little scary. I have been at this a while now, months actually, I like having a daily and weekly plan laid out for me, and I like the results of the work I have put in. When I wake up on Sunday, March 18th, for the first time since December 3rd, I won’t have a schedule to turn to. The day won’t be specific for something, whether it be rest, speed intervals, a long run, or weight training.

So after the first week after the race, I will definitely continue my “training” but not even close to the levels I am working at right now. In fact, I am most looking forward to extra time with Grace and Byram. I hope to find family-friendly active activities for us to do as a group. Walks at the park, swims at the Y, maybe eventually even bike rides together at the state park once we are all able and equipped for such a thing.

I really want my family to be active together and I have this little fantasy of Grace and I running races together when we are both a little older. How amazing would it be to cross a finish line together with my daughter one day? That thought, that visual image stays in my mind on some of those hard, long runs and helps me keep going.

Overtrained and Underfed?

I have been dragging terribly all week; particularly since Saturday’s 10 mile run followed with the afternoon spent moving someone out of their house. No energy. No motivation. Monday’s twanged quadricep made me nervous but that seems to have panned out okay. Tuesday I did an awesome interval run, bumping up the speed a notch this time, but by 23 minutes (2.25 miles) I was out of gas. Period. Nothing left and my gut was cringing and I threw in the towel. Yesterday, I was exhausted but talked myself into dressing out. I did my 5 minute warm up and I was so miserable, I turned around and came back to work, head hanging in shame.

I suspect a little overtraining. I haven’t done the resting heartbeat test, but all of the rest of the symptoms are there. Irritability, decreased performance, decreased energy, lingering mild muscle soreness, and so forth.

So today, I rested. I might do some gentle yoga tonight but that is as far as I would push it today. Tomorrow, I will do my upper body workout, and Saturday, I will go run my 8 miles with the team, but today, I rest.

I have done a lot of reading on overtraining this week; I think a major contributor to my issues has been my diet. My diet is not bad. In fact, since the first of the year when I first started culling the extra junk from my diet, my diet has been pretty awesome. I was so proud because for a few weeks I tracked my calories, and I mean all of them, including liquid ones, and was finding myself taking in 1400-1600 calories a day, which is perfect for my weight, and which, from what I am reading, is not enough to support my high level of activity.

Estimates range, but what I see a lot of is that a 30 year old, 155 pound 5’7″woman, running about 20 miles per week (and not even including the weight lifting I have been doing), needs to be eating 2200-2400 calories per day to maintain energy levels.

Not so proud of those 1400-1600 calories a day now.

This is a conundrum for me. I tightened up my nutrition a bit too much, but at the same time, I am not sure exactly how to get even close to that number of calories in per day with a measuring cup sized pouch rather than a football sized stomach.

God help me, I think I am going to have to go back to Obesity Help’s fitness board and ask others how they manage.

Whatever Dude

I decided to go test my theory about my weight and size, and I confirmed I really can fit into a size 6 pair of pants now. Nice.

Spent much of the week suffering from Monday’s lower body workout. I don’t think the next one will take so long to recover from. I remember having a similar experience each time I start a new routine.

Watching my average pace times slowly decrease and that is making me very happy. I did speed intervals on Tuesday on a treadmill, 4 miles on Wednesday, and 3 miles yesterday. Tomorrow, 10 miles. My first double digit distance. Not particularly nervous or worried about the run but more concerned about my energy levels afterwards. I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow.

Heard a new derisive term to refer to the weight room today while in the women’s locker room. “Manland.” I had thought that the stigma against lifting free weights was lifting in our modern world; I suppose not. But then again, I had a “screamer” in the weight room with me today counting every rep at a good high decibel level and ending each set with a guttural “Jesus Christ!” He wasn’t lifting puny weights, but really?

I admit. I looked him square in the face and rolled my eyes like a slot machine.

“Whatever gets you through your set, dude.”


Some background.

I finally committed to a race. I have wanted to run a race for years and I always sort of figured it would be a Race for the Cure kind of thing or maybe the Richmond Ukrops’ 10K annual race, but each time I would decide “this is the race I am going to run,” I would check the date and it would be up against an SCA event, or I would decide the $35, $40, $70, $99 registration fee was more than we could afford, or I would decide it would be too crowded for my personal comfort (crowds freak me out a bit), or I would just convince myself there was no way my fat ass could run 3.1, 5.2, or however many miles.

Facebook ran ads for the Warrior Dash this week, and because I know of the WD and considered running it last year, (and here comes the excuse: except that the closest one was in Pennsylvania and it was too far to drive) I decided to click on the link. Warrior Dash – in Virginia – in October (best time of year to run) – an hour and a half from my house – only $40. Is it up against an SCA event? Sure, but damnit, running a race is either a priority or it isn’t. I have been to dozen (hundreds?) of SCA events in the past decade. I can skip ONE for something I have wanted to do for years.

Anyway, all my excuses dried up and I signed up.

More background.

One year ago, on January 14, 2010, I underwent gastric bypass, at a weight of 270 pounds and a BMI of 43. On my one year surgery anniversary, last Friday, I weighed 151 pounds. Negative 119 pounds, but let’s just round up and call it 120. My BMI is in the “Normal” range. It is a modern medical miracle, and I am deeply thankful and in awe of my new life.

How does one celebrate losing about 45% of their total body weight? It shouldn’t be with a fancy dinner out; celebrating weight lost by eating is counter-intuitive. It shouldn’t be with a glass (or 2 or 3) of alcohol. I am not interested in new clothes (I have had more new clothes in the past 12 months than in the past decade combined), new shoes, or a new hair style (I love my hair). A manicure/pedicure doesn’t appeal to me in any way. Those things are just not who I am.

Losing 120 pounds has given me my life back. It has given me the ability to move and taken away the pain I used to suffer when I did. So it seems to me that the best way to celebrate losing almost half of my body weight is to use that new found freedom and ability, and do something crazy and fun with it, which is why I have chosen the Warrior Dash.

I have lost a lot of weight, but now I have to rebuild muscle I have lost, build speed and, frankly, endurance on my runs, and find the confidence to “put myself out there.” I am highly competitive to the point of being actually afraid of losing, and the likelihood of winning my age division is poor, so I have to confront some deep rooted personality issues to conquer this race, too.

The purpose of this blog is to track my training, my successes, my failures, and hopefully work out some confidence issues along the way.

1/20/11 Training * Weight – 151
Power Yoga – 25 minutes

Training Notes: I have NO balance whatsoever. I chose power yoga for the stretching aspect of it since the two previous nights I had done strength training workouts and one short run, and thought yoga would help alleviate some soreness. Plus, I need to build some balance to “Walk the Plank.”