Life Change: Sleeve Gastrectomy 9.2013 - 89 lbs. lost

Post-Op: 254 lbs. 5'7.5" 43 years old female I...

Post-Op:
254 lbs.
5'7.5"
43 years old
female

I decided to have the Sleeve Gastrectomy in February of 2013, after attending an information seminar on Bariatric Surgery. I didn't even know the Sleeve was an option. I didn't want the Bypass and figured I'd have to have the Lap Band even though I wasn't thrilled about the idea of having that done either. I was pleasantly surprised when the surgeon discussed the Sleeve. I thought "Why wouldn't I have that?!?"

So I started the process right away. My insurance company required six months of weigh-ins and nutrition classes. In February my BMI was 40. I wasn't aware that I had any co-morbid conditions. I didn't have any of the obvious ones, but as it turned out I do have sleep apnea. My general practitioner has labeled me as a "healthy, big person." :) My insurance company approved me for the surgery and it is scheduled for September 30.

I had my pre-op visit today. It took about 2 hours. I met with the surgeon who asked if I had any questions and went over lab work that I had had completed a few months ago: EKG, Upper GI, etc. Then his assistant met with me to go over the pre-op diet and what to expect from my stay in the hospital. I had to sign all sorts of paperwork too. One thing that I feel is important to mention is that when I received my approval letter from the insurance company it specifically stated that it was for one night at the hospital. The doctor said I'd be there for 2 nights and that they would take care of informing my insurance company. Afterwards, I met with a nurse who talked with me about what to expect after the surgery. She also gave me some sample protein shakes and I watched a video about what to expect before and after the surgery. It was fairly repetitive -- they had given me the same information in paper form, but I didn't mind the repetition. I was able to ask a lot of questions, which mostly centered around my being nervous about how to manage my diet afterwards.

The nurse told me today that I should expect to miss 2 - 4 weeks of work with the Sleeve surgery. I, fortunately, am able to work from home so by week two I'm hoping I'll feel good enough to work. She said that it's important to get used to the new way of doing things and adding work to the mix can sometimes take your mind off of things you should be concentrating on while recovering: drinking enough, eating enough, etc. This made total sense and I'll be careful to not push myself.

I only have to do a five day pre-op diet, which will start on September 25. I'm not feeling all that nervous about having the surgery. My nervousness comes in when I consider life afterwards and the changes that will ensue. But I'm also excited about finally having some help in my weight loss struggles and efforts.

The only people that know about my surgery are people that are close to me (family, friends) and even then it's a short list. I have told my boss because I knew I'd have a ton of appointments and such and it would be easier if she was informed, but none of my co-workers know. I'm not sure if I'll end up telling others about it, but for now I'm content with who I've told.

Here's to a positive experience and life changing event!

Start of 5 day pre-op diet

"Ugh" is about what sums it up. Donuts and tacos and yummy things like that were all whispering "Eat me!" I had one bite of a donut and that's it. I stuck to the protein drinks (Atkins Chocolate pre-mixed) and Crystal Light and a fruit bar popsicle. It wasn't horrible but I would imagine that tomorrow will be more difficult. The count down is on until Monday.

Just Got Home from Surgery

I had my surgery on Monday (it's Wednesday evening) at 1030 AM. All went as good as could be expected. I arrived at the hospital at 830 AM to get checked in. The surgery took about 2.5 hours and I was in recovery for about that long too.

For the first day they had me on a pain killer drip and then on Tuesday afternoon switched me to a liquid. Monday went pretty good, and Tuesday morning I felt great, but Tuesday evening the pressure in my abdomen got really bad. I had dry heaves a few times which was terrible with the incisions. The nurses were pretty accommodating with nausea meds but they could only do so much. There was a lot of grinning and bearing on my end. This morning was a lot of the same the the doctor came in and told me the more I walked and the more I drank the better I'd feel. I figured I'd give that a try since I really wanted to come home today. I walked a lot, around the halls, and was able to drink 30cc's every 15-30 minutes. I drank water, had a little bit of sugar free jello and some diluted apple juice. The water felt and tasted the best to me.

I feel much better than I did last night. There's a lot of movement going on in my abdomen but it's not causing too much discomfort (thank goodness). I'm hoping that will subside in the next day or so.

My incisions are sore and are all very high -- right under my breasts -- which is helpful with standing and sitting. There are 5 of them. I have to hold them even still, when I sit down or stand up. I had my gallbladder out a few months ago and the incisions were similar and the discomfort lasted for about a week with them, so I'm expecting the same.

For the next week I'm only allowed to have clear fluids: sugar free popsicles, diluted juice (apple, grape, cranberry), sugar free jello, broths, water. I have a follow up appointment next Wednesday and after that, if the doctor says it's okay, I can start some foods like scrambled eggs.

I'm not hungry at all, but have been thirsty today which is good since I need to get 64 oz. in. As long as I drink a cup an hour I"ll be all set.

I haven't weighted myself and probably won't for a few days, only because I've read from other people how they've not lost weight when they first come home from the hospital.

I was 244 on Monday.

Day 5 post op

Current weight: 238

Today was SO much easier than yesterday. I'm supposed to have a minimum of 48 oz. of clear fluids with a goal of 64 oz. Yesterday (day 4) I only reached 44. Today I am almost at 56. What worked for me was to buy a 16 oz. bottle and I fill it with 1/2 water/1/2 juice (I've been using apple & grape). I figure I'm up from about 9 AM to 10 PM, with an hour for napping. If I drink 1 bottle every 3 hours then I will reach my goal of 64 oz. It's an easy way to make sure I'm on track. I also had 2 popsicles but they are very low ounce wise so I'm just using them as a break from the juice/water. I have to take sips and no big swallows or I experience discomfort in my abdomen. My pain level is decreasing every hour it seems but I still need the roxicet every 4 hours. I took a shower today. That wiped me out but it felt good to be clean.
I've been taking short walks around the outside of my house, which I'm sure looks funny to my neighbors, but it's been beautiful outside and it at least gets me up and moving around. I have helped a little today with doing the dishes but that's about it. I get tired fairly quickly so am trying to take it easy.

Week 2 | 10 days after Sleeve G.

Weight: 234
I had my 10 day follow up appointment today. I'm down 20 lbs. since my surgery. It's shocking really. We talked a lot about what my diet will be in the next 2 months. I was able to start with soft/pureed foods today but the Dr. told me to take it slowly. It takes about 4-6 weeks for the swelling of your stomach to go down, so even though I'm able to eat a little bit I will still feel some pressure from the swelling. After that it should be a little easier to eat. I was so happy to be able to eat something, but the outing to the Dr. made me so tired that I came home and took a 2 hour nap! I did have some Greek yogurt, about 1-2 tablespoons of it at dinner time. It took me about 20 minutes to eat it. I didn't want to get sick so I just took very small (very small!) amounts over that time period. It didn't bother me at all. I'm really afraid of overdoing it -- the last thing I want to do is to throw up -- so I will be very careful. He told me to start with yogurt, protein shakes and creamed soups and if by Saturday I'm doing okay with those things then I can progress into eggs and some fish. My incision pain is so much better today. I'm thankful for that because I'm tired of sleeping on my back. I really do feel a lot better today except for the tired factor. I'm returning to work on Monday. I was going to try to go back tomorrow, even if for 1/2 a day, but decided to just wait.

Day 15 post-op Sleeve

The soft foods are coming along. At this point, everything that I eat or drink causes a little bit of unrest in my abdomen but it's tolerable. Today is the first day I felt a little like throwing up but I think it was due to taking the vitamins on an empty stomach so I'll not do that again. I was told that it takes about 4 weeks to feel like my old self so I'm looking forward to that. I can't say that I'm thrilled yet with my decision to have the surgery but I'm more on the positive side than the negative. Things on my food list so far: cottage cheese, greek yogurt, tomato soup (I decided to wait on this after it didn't agree with me), eggs, potato soup, cream of mushroom soup. I'm eating about 1/8th to 1/4 cup of food at a sitting. I'm drinking iced tea (very easy to get down), watered down juice and protein shakes. It's all been very gradual. I find that iced tea is the easiest thing for me to drink. Good news is that I can take regular swallows now. That's a welcome relief. Sipping was exhausting! It's been 15 days since my surgery and I'm down 27 lbs.

End of week 3: post-op

The good news is that I've lost 31 lbs. since my surgery on 9.30. The bad news is that the nausea is getting worse. I called the Dr. this past Friday and was told that it might be sinus/allergy related (mucus draining into my stomach) and to start taking my allergy meds again. I usually only take them when I'm not feeling good. They did prescribe me an anti-nausea medication but it's not helped at all. I'm making sure to drink and am trying to at least get broth and clear liquids down. I haven't felt like throwing up, just a lot of unrest going on. I'm hoping that once the 4-6 week recovery period is over with that I feel a lot better.

End of week 4: post-op

This week was much better than last. I ended up going to the ER on Monday (Oct. 21) because my nausea was only getting worse and I wasn't able to even drink anything, though I was able to eat (strange huh?). The Dr. said I was only mildly dehydrated, but he wanted to help with the nausea so he gave me a bag of IV fluid and Zofran also. He sent me home with a Zofran prescription which is a miracle drug. Within a day of taking it I was feeling much better. I'm able to eat and drink again. I'm battling allergies so the drainage isn't helping my efforts, but I'm still fighting through to make sure I'm getting enough fluids and eating small meals. This has been a long month -- quite a journey. There's a lot of mental and emotional things that I've been dealing with surrounding food and how important it is/was to my life. That's probably the biggest hurdle that I've faced. I'm really looking forward to the next couple of weeks because I should be feeling back to my normal self at that point. I still get a little bit of pain from my one incision (the big one), but it's not external, it's internal. A bit of pinching here and there reminds me that I'm still in healing mode. I've lost 32 lbs. to date. I did have a stall this past week, but the nausea really messed up the processes that are going on. Thank goodness that is past.

8.5 weeks since Sleeve

Starting weight: 254 Current weight: 207

It's been a while since I've written an update but wanted to let everyone know how I was doing.

My recovery was not easy. I had A LOT of nausea. It lasted for about 7 weeks. I was given an anti-nausea medicine which I had to refill once. It really helped to take the edge off but didn't take the nausea away completely. It seems to have gone away on it's own. Thank goodness!!!

I feel great now. The nausea is gone and I'm able to eat 'normal' food and have tried many things. I do not tolerate any high sugar desserts/food or caffeine. It took me a while to be able to drink Crystal Light (a lifesaver). I would definitely say my taste buds have changed. They are really sensitive. If I can even remotely taste artificial sweetener then I can't eat/drink whatever it is.

I'm really careful about eating slowly and chewing things completely. I've learned the hard way (threw up twice) that you can't take a bite of something without really chewing it. Also, the rule about not drinking while eating is something I have to follow as well, but it's all getting easier and I don't have to concentrate as much anymore with those two things -- or to remember those two things.

I'm able to to quite a few things, but I stick to some regulars: eggs, cheese (yay!), ham, turkey, chicken, yogurt, cottage cheese, soups, etc. I am making sure to eat protein first and that usually doesn't leave me much room for anything else. I eat anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of food at one sitting. One thing that I do enjoy each night is a 1/2 english muffin with peanut butter. My dog appreciates it too -- I can't ever eat the entire 1/2 so she gets the leftover. It is like a big treat for me to have that. That's really the only 'bread' type substance that I'm eating.

Eat is really easy. Not being able to eat a lot has really simplified my life. What is not simple is my mind where it's all concerned. I know, now even more, why I was so heavy before. I'm still amazed at the value that I put on food: how is makes me feel, comfort, boredom, etc. I still struggle mentally with all of it, but fortunately I can't eat much and because my taste buds have changed and because I'm not craving sugar anymore, so it's helping me to wake up and realize and understand my actions.

This has not been any easy rode. I'm still not 100% happy that I had the surgery, but I do feel it was a last resort for me and I'm determined to not fail. It feels really good to be able to get rid of clothes that are too big for me. It also feels good when people comment on my weight loss. I physically feel great. My struggles are all mental and emotional, which is not surprising.

Having this surgery is truly an aide. Fighting the demons that I've fought for years is still a war, it's just now I have controls that I can't easily overcome, so I'm thankful for that.

So that's the scoop. Please let me know if you have any questions. I'd be happy to answer any that you may have. Thanks! I'll add a full body shot soon.

10 Weeks Since Sleeve

Current weight: 201

Happy New Year -- 3 1/2 Months Later...

Start: 254 Current: 194 Total Lost: 60

It's been 3.5 months since my gastric sleeve surgery. I can confidently say at this point that I'm very happy that I went through with the surgery. Everything has evened out and I'm able to eat what I want (more about that in a bit). People notice all the time that I've lost weight. I get a lot of "Have you lost weight?" "Wow! You are looking skinny!" It's nice to get validation and it feels good that people notice. I've also had to get rid of tons of clothes, especially pants. I haven't spent money on new ones yet (I had quite a bit of jeans stored up in varying sizes) and am wearing jeans to work until my weight loss evens out. Fortunately no one has a problem with me wearing them.

It's SO easy to follow the protein first rule. My body wants protein. It doesn't want sugar which is strange to say since I was a sugar addict. I find that I can have one cookie (opposed to 5 or 6) and that even then the thought of it is much better than the taste of it. Christmas had its difficult moments and I felt a little envious of everyone else who was eating treats but in the end I didn't miss it all that much.

I've gotten used to eating small amounts and when I overdo it my stomach is not shy about saying "I'm going to hurt for a little while because you ate too much!" So it's really easy to stop eating. The feeling of being full isn't one that I enjoy now because of the discomfort that soon follows.

I'm eating many, many things just not large amounts of them. I eat often too. Small meals throughout the day works best for me. I'm also not counting calories. I hate doing that because it feels like a chore. I'm aware of what I'm eating and if it's 'good' or 'bad' for me. I know enough about food and what it does to my body to be smart about my choices. And again, as I said above, my sugar cravings are gone and I feel that has been the biggest help.

I love how I look and feel and that is motivation for me to continue on.

Here is a list of what I usually eat throughout the day:

Greek Yogurt, cheese (I LOVE cheese), sandwich meat, chicken, fish, sushi, veggies, rice, potatoes, peanut butter on 1/2 english muffin.

That's the norm for me, though it does vary depending on my day. I'm not able to eat an entire 1/2 english muffin but I have that almost every night and it's a great treat for me. The carb's listed above I might have a bit or two of. I find in the afternoons that I want something crunchy so I will eat a handful of Goldfish crackers or cheeze its, or something like that. But again, I don't overindulge on any of it. I stop when my body is satisfied or little bit before.

I drink water, Crystal Light and also protein shakes. I put the shakes on ice and drink them like I would water. They are also more like a treat since they are usually chocolate or vanilla.

I just joined a gym and am trying to go 3 times a week, plus walk on the off days for about 20 minutes.

My weight loss has definitely slowed down, but I'm still losing about a pound every 4-5 days or so.

Good luck to everyone who is starting or continuing their journey. It is worthwhile but does take work. Lots of mental, emotional and physical work but totally worth it!

4 Months Since Sleeve

Start weight: 254 | Current weight: 188 | Total lost: 66

It's hard to believe that it's only been 4 months since my surgery. It feels like so much longer than that. I'll cover a few things today and try not to be too repetitive of my last posts.

The first thing I want to talk about is hair loss. I've not talked about it before. I thought that I might be one of the few that didn't experience it but unfortunately, I'm not. My hair is definitely thinner and though it's been getting thinner as I've gotten older, I've definitely lost a lot of hair over the past month. I read (and was told) that it would happen around the 3-4 month time frame and it certainly has. Every time I shower I get quite a bit of it in my hands (when I'm shampooing). It's not totally horrible but I don't want to lose anymore for sure. No one else can tell but I can. I'm hoping it slows down soon.

Next: taking vitamins. I've never had to take a pill (regardless of what kind) for a long period of time. I've definitely struggled with taking the few vitamins that I'm supposed to be taking. At first, I avoided the multi-vitamin because I struggled with nausea for so long after the surgery and was told to slowly get into taking it. So my resolve this month is to start taking all of them (I think there are three) and to not miss any doses. I do understand the value of taking them and know that it is important for my body. This is more of a life-style change since it's a habit and I need to create the habit within myself.

Food: So far, so good with eating and drinking. I could always drink more, but I've created some new habits to ensure I am drinking enough. "Enough" means at least 40 oz. a day, and I really mean "at least" because I know I drink more than that but it's hard to measure swallows here and there that I take. I still do not crave sugar. There is about 2% of me that wants it now and then which is a DRASTIC change from 4 months ago. I consider myself a recovering sugarholic and am amazed that I no longer crave it. I can have one cookie or 1 bite of a dessert and that's all I want/need. I'm totally satisfied with that. I find that my body WANTS protein so it is very easy for me to eat that first, above anything else. I've very good about that. When I first had the surgery and was able to eat food I could eat about 1/4 of a cup on a good day. I'm up to about 1/2 - 3/4 of a cup. It really depends on the time of day and how long it's been since I've had a drink. If I know that I'm going out to eat then I'm careful about what I eat/drink before hand. It actually is fairly easy for me to think about things like that ahead of time. It's really about planning and knowing that in order for me to enjoy myself when I go out that I need to pay attention to what I'm doing. There are still times that I crave 3 slices of pizza or a meal that is going to give me the secure feelings that I used to get from food, but it's just impossible for me to eat that much. I'm thankful for that, even through my feelings of want.

Alcohol intake: I had my first drink a couple of weeks ago when I went out to dinner. I told the waiter that I wanted something sweet and small in quantity (knowing I'd not drink a lot). He suggested a brandy type drink that was only 2oz. I only took one swallow of it (about 1 oz.). It was strong and hit me fairly quickly. I was happy to know that I could get a 'buzz' off of that much liquor. I've never been much of a drinker, but it was a good science experiment! I was curious to know what affect alcohol would have on me because of what I've read about it and bariatric surgery.

So 66 pounds later. I'm now able to fit into a size 14. I was pushing a size 20W. It's now exciting (though exhausting) to go shopping because my clothing options have tripled. I've had to shop for pants finally. I had quite a bit of jeans stockpiled from years past that I'd saved, but most of them are 16's and they are all loose. I've not bought too many clothes yet because I wear a lot of layered type tops that work for multiple sizes, but once the warm weather hits (I live in the Northeast) I will have nothing to wear. So I will be shopping for multiple items in the coming months.

I joined a local gym and have been slowly getting into going. The biggest difference in my body is my ass (hopefully no one minds that word). My son says "It doesn't stick out as far as it used to" so I did some research on the best exercises to do for your backend and am doing those. I'm thankful that it's smaller but I don't want it to be flat! My stomach was pouchy to begin with and no amount of exercise will take away the excess skin, so unless I have surgery for that it won't be going away. It looks good with clothes on, but naked is another story. My boobs have definitely lost some fat but I'm not overly concerned about them either. I have an attitude of "it is what it is". The only other area that bothers me is my upper-inner thighs which have some loose skin too.

My weight loss hasn't slowed down since my last post (which was 16 days ago). I'm still losing about a pound every 4 days. I have my yearly physical this week so I'm looking forward to that -- which is an odd thing to say! The last time I saw my doctor was in mid-September, when he approved my surgery.

Physically I feel great. There is nothing about the surgery that has had a negative on how I feel physically. I have tons of energy and feel amazing. Mentally I feel great, most times. I will probably always struggle with my addiction to food. During those stressful times of life I do miss going into the kitchen and eating until I'm full enough to feel 'good'. I'm learning to redirect that stress to something else. Eating to that degree is just not an option anymore so I have to find other ways to handle my stress.

I will post a picture later on today of how my body looks now -- have to take a couple.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks everyone!

Four Months since Sleeve - 66 lbs. lost

Five Months Since Sleeve - 72 lbs. lost

Starting weight: 254 Current Weight: 182

It's been five months since I had the Sleeve. I'm so thankful that I went through with it. Everyday I am reminded of how thankful I am. Almost everyday I get some type of comment from someone who takes notice of my weight loss. It's very encouraging to know that people can see the changes in me. More importantly, I can see the changes both mentally and physically.

I had my yearly physical recently. My doctor said I was doing great but that I should "really lose 20 more pounds." Ha. I said "Really?" My BMI is 27.5 which is in the overweight category. I have a few issues with the BMI, one being that it doesn't take in to account a persons body frame. I am SO happy with how I look right at this moment. I still have some shape and I don't look skinny -- both things I was afraid of either losing or being when I started this process. I told him that and he said that one of the biggest things with having bariatric surgery is not gaining the weight back and the farther away I am from a BMI Obese the better. I agree to a certain point with him, but I also know myself and know that I will be successful with keeping the weight off, weather I'm in the normal BMI range or half-way in the overweight BMI range. Anyway, I'm not stressing about losing anymore. At this point I am concentrating on being healthy and exercising and trying to remember to take my vitamins everyday!

With that being said, in the beginning of last month I was still losing a pound every 3 - 4 days. That totally stalled a week and a half ago. I went for 9 days without losing anything (or gaining anything either). I was really amazed but had been saying that at some point my body was going to slow down with the weight loss. This past week I did drop another 2 lbs. I've noticed that when I get constipated (sorry for the TMI) that my weight loss seems to slow a little. I also threw a party for my daughter and ate things that I wasn't used to eating: fruit, a little bit of chocolate. So I'm not sure if that had something to do with it. But it's probably a mixture of things going on and I do believe that my body is reaching a weight range that is considered normal for myself.

One SUPER exciting thing that happened last month was that I was able to buy a size 12 jeans! I've not been in a size 12 in 25 years. It made me feel like I've accomplished something so grand. I started this process as a size 20. I'm now able to fit into size Large tops too.

I have had to buy clothes. I waited as long as I could but couldn't wait any longer. I've especially had to buy pants. Tops are a bit more forgiving and since I live in the Northeast (USA) wearing sweaters and layers is a necessity.

I'm still sticking with my diet but I have added a few things to it. Here is a list of what I eat on any given day:

greek yogurt
cheese sticks
eggs
cheese of any kind
chicken (grilled, baked, chicken salad)
tuna (usually in salad form: mayo, pickles, etc.)
fish (grilled, baked, sushi)
rice/potatoes (very little of)
english muffin/bread (very, VERY little of)
chips (just a few to satisfy my crunch cravings at times)
peanut butter
veggies
soups

beverages:
water
Crystal Light (aka sugar-free flavored water)
Diet Pepsi (also another VERY little of)
milk (only a swallow here and there)
protein shakes

I have had a few desserts but I can only stand and only WANT a bite or two. I used to eat a meal of just cookies and milk and I have no desire to do that anymore. My cravings for sweets are almost 100% gone. With everything that I've experienced over the past 5 months, that is the most amazing to me. The satisfaction that I used to feel from eating sugar just isn't there any longer.

Going out to eat is still interesting. I take home most of what I order or I try to order small plates of food or off of the 'kids' menu. Most restaurants are willing to give 1/2 portions too. It's just a matter of remembering to ask.

I can eat about 1/2 to 3/4th's of a cup of food at one sitting. I also eat small meals throughout the day and I am very aware of NOT drinking if I know I'm going to be eating soon. I've tried to keep that one rule ever present in my mind. It does make a difference in how much I can eat if I've not drank something beforehand. I ALWAYS, always, always eat my protein first and I ALWAYS have a protein with anything that I eat. If I take a bite of something sweet I'll also take a bite of some cheese, or a piece of sandwich meat. The protein offsets the carbs. It's a good rule to follow.

I also make sure that I take the time to grab food that I can eat at work when/if I get hungry. I always grab a greek yogurt, cheese sticks, and things like that. I take a 32 oz. drink with me every day and finish it before I get home. It's good to be prepared!

I'm excited to see the doctor who performed the Sleeve surgery. I have my 6 month appointment with him this month. I'm curious to see his reaction to how much I've lost and if he feels I've done a good job or went beyond the expectations, etc. It's something to look forward too. As with my regular doctor (above) I'm expecting him to give me the warnings and precautions about gaining the weight back.

That's the scoop at five months! Thanks for reading. If you have any questions please ask away!

6 Months Since Sleeve - 78 lbs. lost

Starting weight: 254 Current weight: 176

It seems like so much longer than 6 months since I had my Sleeve surgery. I had my 6 month follow up appointment this past week. I was excited to go and see what the doctor had to say about my progress. She came into the room and said "Wow!" That felt good.

One question I had was what the expectation of weight loss was. She said that the general rule they follow is that with the Sleeve they expect a 40-50 lb. weight loss and with Gastric Bypass they expect about a 60-90 lb. weight loss. So I've obviously bypassed their expectations.

She asked if I had any concerns and I said my biggest concern was how to stop losing weight. She laughed and said she'd never heard that before (at a Bariatric hospital). I am down to a size 12 and I do not want to lose anymore. I love how I look and I do not want to be stick thin. I feel I am at a good weight for my height and I feel great. She said she doesn't think I'll lose a lot more, maybe 10 lbs, but no more than that. Other than that she said to keep up with four things: protein first, vitamins, exercise and drinking.

She really cautioned me to not fall back into old habits like drinking carbonated beverages and eating sweets on a normal basis. And one other thing is she said the surgery will allow for weight loss for up to a year and after that is when I will have to be really careful about staying with my diet and new way of life -- that my body is still reacting to the surgery but gaining weight back can happen if I'm not careful. I appreciated her warnings and the knowledge of how my body is working.

My weight loss has been sporadic in the past month. I've gone 10 days without losing and then 4 days with a 2 lb. loss. So I know I'm reaching the 'end', so to speak. I do not want to get below 170, so I've decided that the 170's will be where I settle and stay within those 10 lbs. I weight myself every morning. I know people warn against that, but I need that for myself -- to keep myself accountable and aware of where I am. I really recommend every one do what they are comfortable with.

I'm in a strange place that I've not been at in over 20 years -- I'm not looking to lose weight. For as long as I've been an adult I've been struggling and fighting the weight loss war and I now find myself in a new place: maintaining my weight. It's causing some fear and uncertainty. Though I am confident that I will not gain it back, I have an underlying fear that I will. I don't know if I will ever feel differently.

Because I don't want to lose anymore, I've made some small changes and will continue to do so to try and find a balance with keeping my weight where it is. I'm still sticking with the main diet of eating 60-80 grams of protein a day and keeping up with drinking and exercising like my doctor said, but I've spent the past few days adding one bottle of sugar sweetened iced tea, switching from non-fat Greek yogurt to regular Greek yogurt and making choices like that -- just once a day. I'm not going overboard but am in a mode of trying to figure out how to stay where I am. So just one thing a day at this point. My weight hasn't moved since doing so. I'll keep a very close eye on it.

My appetite hasn't changed. I am still only able to eat about 1/2 a cup of food at a sitting and I eat frequently throughout the day. I have no desire to over-eat. I still struggle with keeping track of when I'm going to be eating and when to stop drinking beforehand. It's more of a hassle than anything, but I definitely see a decrease in what I'm able to eat if I have had something to drink too close to eating. Thankfully I have a job that allows me to be flexible with lunch time. That does help.

With spring and summer coming up soon I will have to do lots of shopping. I have absolutely no clothes for those seasons. It's been nice to be losing in the winter -- winter clothes are much more forgiving and adaptable. So I have that to look forward too.

That's it for my 6-month update. I hope it helps those of you who are reading. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can help at all. Good luck everyone. (I'll post some new pics tomorrow)

6 Month Pics - 78 lbs. lost

6.5 Months Since Sleeve

Starting weight: 254 Current weight: 175-76

I wanted to write an update about how my efforts at keeping my weight at the same place have been going.

I reached my goal weight at my 6 month point. Since then I've had to make some changes to my diet to ensure that I don't lose anymore. I've made small changes such as buying both non-fat yogurt and regular (fat) yogurt. I switch between them each day, but I'm not obsessing over it. I've had about 4 'sugar' type drinks in the past couple of weeks. Again, I'm not obsessing over how many I have but am just incorporating traditionally 'non-diet' items into my diet every now and then. It seems to be working since I've not gained or lost in almost 3 weeks -- the longest I've gone with a loss.

At work, my boss brought in donuts the other day. I cut one in half and ate it. In the past I'd not have done that, but I knew that I'd stop at a half and was fine eating it. No guilt. I'm not doing that everyday, but I'm not afraid to have something sweet every now and then. I am still weighing myself everyday, so I know if my choices are too aggressive. I certainly do not want to gain anything back.

I'm still following the basic sleeve diet: protein first at every meal and drinking lots. But I'm confident that I am able to stay on top of what I'm doing.

Mentally I'm in a weird place. I almost feel like something is missing and that is the fact that I'm not trying to lose weight with every choice I make. It feels very unnatural to me, almost like going to school unprepared for a test would feel. Every time that I step on the scale and see that same number I almost feel a bit of disappointment that I've not lost anything but then I remember where I was and have to remind myself how far I've come and I'm finally where I want to be. I know it will get easier but it's still something that I'm ever aware of.

For those of you who are just starting out with your journey or are in the middle of it, hang it there! Your life will never be the same but if you stick to the changes then you'll be happy that you did.

At my next post I'll include some photos of before and after meals. Hopefully it will help others to see what to expect with how much I've been eating.

If anyone has any questions, or suggestions as to what would/could help then please let me know! I'm happy to help in anyway.

7 Months Since Sleeve : 80 lbs. lost

Starting weight: 254 | Current weight: 173-174

I just finished my first month of trying to stay at my current weight. I only lost 1 pound and I'm thrilled with that! I've made some adjustments to my diet (details in 6.5 month post) to ensure that I don't lose more. So far, so good.

I'm keeping with protein being the main component at every meal. I do not have protein shakes any more. My doctor told me that protein shakes are really just to get you back on your feet (so to speak) while you are in healing mode. I would still drink them if I wanted to but I don't have any desire to have them. I'd rather have real food. I'm able to eat almost anything (have to still be careful with 'rich' desserts such as anything with chocolate in it) so I'm being VERY careful about my choices.

I've included a picture for an example of how much I'm able to eat. I took that at lunch time last week. You can plainly see how much of the sandwich I was able to eat -- a few bites. I've gotten used to eating leftovers from lunch. I usually will have a few more bites, of whatever it is that I had for lunch, in the afternoon. Or I will take it home with me. I'll try to remember to get more food photos this month. I always remember afterwards!

I am still NOT drinking with meals or before meals. And it's still not an easy thing. Not drinking with meals might be the hardest thing of this entire process. Scheduling around fluids is a hassle at times but there is no way to drink and eat together.

If I overeat I feel like garbage. The feeling of fullness is not pleasant. "Dumping" is a reality. If I eat too much I get hot, I don't feel well, my stomach hurts -- like it wants to stretch to accommodate what I've eaten but it can't. So I usually end up laying down and grinning and bearing the discomfort for 30 minutes. That's about how long it takes to settle down. Judging when to stop eating is a talent, and not an easy one to figure out. Mentally I always want more, but physically I just can't eat more.

As an example, I had chicken wings yesterday. I ordered the smallest order -- 6 wings -- and was able to eat 3 comfortably. I didn't push myself past that. I felt proud of myself for stopping. Plus, I brought the other 3 home and ate them later.

Much of my struggles now are struggling with my old way of thinking where food is concerned. Because I feel great, I find that I want to eat like I used too -- quantity wise -- but I can't. This is truly a life-long process and one that is going to always kick my butt in one way or another. I'm not regretting the surgery -- don't get me wrong -- it's just I feel that I am always going to have to be aware and careful with what I'm eating and how much I'm eating, which isn't a bad thing.

Shopping is AWESOME! I am in a size 12/large which is still amazing to me! In fact, when I go shopping I find that I tend to grab bigger sizes, try them on and then have to get smaller. It's a good feeling but I am still not mentally accepting my size. I've finally started stocking my wardrobe again since my weight is holding steady.

Some fun facts: sitting in an airplane after losing 80 lbs. is awesome, I can cross my legs with ease, my energy level is high, I don't feel like my weight is a burden any longer.

Thanks for reading, everyone. As always, let me know if you have any specific questions.

8 Months Since Sleeve: 84 lbs. lost

Starting weight: 254 | Current weight: 170

I'm a little late with my 8 month review but here it finally is!

It's been an interesting month. To my dismay, I've lost a few more pounds but am holding steady at 170. I saw 169 for a day but am bound and determined to NOT lose more. I really do feel that my body has adjusted, finally, and is going to stay where I am currently. I am able to fit into size 10 pants (sometimes) and large tops. I'm still wearing my size 12's but they could be a tad smaller for my comfort.

I've noticed that I want to slide into my old habits. I've found myself wishing I could eat more -- am still at about 1/2 cup per meal. I had a turkey burger the other day and could only eat 1/2 of it. It tasted so yummy and I sat there wanting to eat the rest but knew I'd be sorry if I did. That is happening a lot lately -- the wanting to eat more. I've also noticed that I'm wanting something in my mouth all of the time, especially at work. I tend to want to snack all of the time which isn't necessarily a bad thing if I am making the right choices, but what it does is makes me not hungry for an actual meal. I'm positive that the snacking is due to work stress.

I keep Cheeze-Its, peanut butter & crackers, cheese, yogurt -- things like that at work that I will snack on. But it seems like I'm snacking more and more often. It's just one of those things that I need to get a hold of and be VERY careful of if I see my weight starting to rise.

I'm also trying to control how fast I'm eating. That's another bad habit that is coming back to haunt me. It's really not good to eat quickly. Chewing slowly and taking my time works so much better than hurrying through a meal.

The excitement of losing 80+ pounds has somewhat diminished. I'm still happy that I did -- don't get me wrong, but I think now I'm used to the way I look and it's not so shocking anymore when I look in a mirror. I recently went 'home' to see family and friends who haven't seen me since I had my surgery last year. I received a lot of "Hi Skinny!" and "Wow! You look amazing!" That felt good. I had to answer a million questions (which I didn't mind) and everyone was unbelievably positive and encouraging. It felt really good but I'm glad that's over with. Sometimes I get anxiety when I know I'm going to see people that haven't seen me in a while. It really is shocking to people when they see me.

I'm still following the 'rules'. Lots of protein and am incorporating more veggies into my diet, finally. My body lately is craving fresh foods -- veggies mostly but fruit as well. So I've started keeping salad on hand and I'll add grilled chicken to it or tuna or proteins like that.

Bread definitely is a killer. If I have a sandwich and keep both the bottom and top pieces of bread/bun on then I find that I can't eat as much. So I usually take the top off and eat it that way. It makes more sense to do that. I do love bread but I'd rather not fill up on it and put myself in jeopardy.

My stomach still has issues with beef. I'm not sure why that is but I'm able to eat very little of it. It might have to do with the fat content or how rich it is compared to poultry or fish. I also am sensitive to milk -- drinking milk that is. Maybe for the same reasons? I don't know. But it gives me an instant stomach ache. So I don't drink it.

One thing I was worried about was how my body would look after losing weight. I'm happy to say that for the most part I'm fine with it. I do have loose skin on my belly (but had that before) and it's not attractive but I can live with it. Also the insides of my upper thighs have skin that is saggy. I know that exercise can help with that, maybe not all of the way but it will help tighten everything up. But overall, it's not bad. I have an appointment with a trainer next week. I'd like to get some advice on what type of exercises I can do to build muscle in my arm, butt, and thighs and to generally tighten up my body overall. I don't have a lot of time to devote to exercising so whatever program I do has to be time efficient and easy for me to work into my day.

I'm glad that the summer is finally here and that I'm not dreading it! That does feel VERY good. It feels amazing to be able to go outside and walk for 20 minutes and not feel like I'm dying. Plus the heat isn't bothering me like it used to either.

Remembering to take pics of food is seemingly impossible. But I will try, try, try to do that this month.

This post doesn't sound all that positive, but I want to assure everyone that I am still thrilled with my weight loss. I'm at the point, though, where I'm having to really choose between the old way of thinking and the new way of living. It's inevitable that this point would come. Being unaware of my choices was what got me into trouble years ago, so being AWARE is what I need to keep in the forefront of my mind. It's so, so easy to slip back into old habits that are damaging.

Keeping it real!

10 Months Since Sleeve: 89 lbs. lost

Starting weight: 254 | Current weight: 165-166

It's been 2 months since my last update. Better late than never!

I'm down another 5 lbs. since my last entry. Ugh. I'm definitely NOT trying to lose more but it seems to still be happening. I find that whenever I'm upset or have had a bad day or stressed out, I'm not able to eat or I don't want to. I've had a particularly stressful past few weeks so I know that's why I've lost a few more pounds.

Other than that, my diet is more or less the same. I'm eating a Greek yogurt for breakfast everyday and I find that yogurt is a GREAT and easy way to get protein in. It goes down easy and it's a whopping 10 grams (on average) AND many brands now incorporate crunchy 'things' like nuts or granola, even chocolate, which makes it like a dessert -- killing two birds with one stone. I am not counting calories but try and make sure that I'm getting enough protein in everyday.

One reason that I stick with yogurt in the morning is because anything else seems to be too much for me first thing in the morning. I've had eggs or an english muffin sandwich and it all seems to give me a stomach ache. So yogurt it is.

I am able to eat about 1/2 to 3/4 of food at one sitting. I still struggle with overeating -- not all of the time but it has happened. When it does happen I get a stomach ache and get very tired. It affects my entire body for about 30 minutes. I suppose that's my 'dumping' syndrome. All of the times that I've had it are a result of eating too quickly. It is really difficult to tell yourself to stop eating before you feel full. Once I feel full then I know I've over done it. This is a work in progress for sure.

I've quit drinking anything with artificial sweeteners. If I want an iced tea then I have one with some sugar (or not). I also do not drink carbonated beverages anymore. I've not had many of them since my surgery, and when I do have them they don't sit well with me. It's interesting to see how different my stomach feels about foods that I once lived on. But it's not a loss for me. I don't mind not drinking Coke or Pepsi. I stick with water or iced tea now which I enjoy.

So once again, I'm in learning mode. I think I always will be.

I often feel as if I'm in a honeymoon phase with eating and adjusting to my "new" life. I keep waiting for my weight to regulate or for the scale to start climbing. I was told that it takes about 2 years for my body to adjust. I recently had blood work taken and my vitamin levels were great. I've been a little worried but that made me feel better. I've been remembering to take my vitamins almost everyday.

That's a quick update for you.

11 Months Since Sleeve: 88 lbs. lost

Starting weight: 254 | Current weight: 167
It was a rough month. I came down with a stomach bug that lasted for about 3 weeks. I wasn't able to eat much and my weight went down to 161 lbs!!!! I was really worried because I've been trying SO hard to stay at 170 and that weight loss felt detrimental to me.

I've been able to get back to 167 lbs. which I'm thankful for and feel like I'm back to normal. Thank goodness. This does bring up a subject that doesn't seem to be talked about in the WLS circles much and that is STRESS. What do 'we' do with the stress or anxiety that we used to handle or deal with by eating to make ourselves feel better? The eating that made us gain weight or that helped us to maintain our weight?

I know that part of my stomach bug was due to anxiety. I was super stressed about some things at work and some things at home and instead of once being able to eat I now can't eat when I feel that way. My insides scream "No!" even if mentally I am wanting to run to that sweet thing to make myself feel better. I'm just not able to stress eat any longer. I'm not sure if it's a blessing in disguise or not. On top of not feeling well I was also losing weight which added more stress to what I was feeling. It wasn't pretty.

I considered calling my doctor but was bound and determined to work through the things that were bothering me and to make myself face them head on. It was not pleasant. I felt nervous and depressed and was having a hard time finding a way to feel better. Fortunately I was able to work through everything and have been able to put most of the weight back on.

I've still considered calling my general practitioner to talk with him about it. It's probably better to do it when I'm feeling good then when I'm feeling bad. But I do want to bring an awareness to the reality of stress/anxiety/depression and the effect those things have on people who use food to handle those things.

On another note, I bought my first bathing suit since losing all of my excess weight. It was actually exciting to go to the store and to be able to have so many option at my fingertips! I just got back from a short vacation and wore the suit for a couple of days. I wasn't embarrassed or self-conscious at all. It was a wonderful feeling to not feel like a beached whale. It felt good.

While on vacation I did have a couple of drinks. I am not a big drinker -- can't stand the taste of most alcohol, but I did have a little bit. Alcohol 100% affects me 100% differently since my surgery. It hits me almost immediately and one shot can make me feel loopy, but the feeling doesn't last for very long. It's the most interesting thing. I would recommend that everyone be very careful when drinking after WLS surgery. Just take your time. You won't be able to handle what you used to drink before.

It's almost been a year since my sleeve surgery. September 30th marks one entire year. It's amazing to look back and to see how far I've come and how far I have yet to go. I'm looking forward to going to my 1 year appointment. I've not been to see my WLS doctor in 6 months and so I'm anxious to hear his opinion on how he feels I've done.

I know I didn't get into too many particulars this time, but not much has changed with my diet or with how I'm managing my day-to-day goings on. I'm concentrating on maintaining my weight, building up my muscle tone and still learning about myself in the process. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks to everyone who has commented. I do appreciate it.

1 Year Sleeve Anniversary: 86 lbs. lost

Starting weight: 254 | Current weight: 168

Yesterday I celebrated one year since having the sleeve surgery. It feels like so much longer than that. I was thinking about how miserable I was last year at this time! I sometimes reread my updates from then and I can remember how I felt right after the surgery and how it was a difficult recovery road, but the 7 or 8 weeks of uncomfortableness were 100% worth it.

I had my one year appointment last week too. The nurse was thrilled with my progress and then the doctor told me that I should try to lose another 10 lbs. to give myself a buffer. I truly think he's crazy though I do understand his concern. When I go to the doctor, now, I am given warning after warning about being careful about my diet, and watching everything I eat, and to be very aware of how much I'm weighing, and how a one pound gain can easily turn into five pounds and so on. I get why they give so many warnings but I don't like the negativity. I'm scared enough for myself that I'll gain weight back that I don't want anyone else adding to that fear.

There were a few positives at the appointment -- don't get me wrong. It was awesome getting ready to go to the appointment and to not have to worry about how much I was weighing. I didn't pick "light weight" clothes for fear of being too heavy. That's a new thing. I used to starve myself and try and pick out the lightest clothes I had before going to the doctor. I didn't worry about that this time. That was nice. All of my blood work came back with flying colors. The nurse was very impressed with my protein levels and said she'd never seen a number that high which meant to her that I was following the rules of eating protein like I should be. That felt good to hear.

It was a good appointment and they said they'd see me back in a year. I am anxious about where I'll be in a year -- weight wise -- but I'm going to do my best to keep on track and keep my awareness up.

With that being said, some things I am struggling with are:

1. I can't stand the taste of artificial sweetener anymore. This creates a problem for me since I LOVE sweet things and I especially LOVE to drink sweet things, so I'm going to have to get really creative or learn to love unsweetened drinks. Talk about being aware -- be very aware of sugar. That is my new motto.

2. I can tell that I am starting to be able to eat more at one time. It's not a huge amount more than before but I am definitely able to eat about 1/3 of a cup (or so) more than I have been able to eat. I was holding steady at about 1/2 cup at a sitting. So this is another thing that I will need to be very careful of -- making sure that I don't start to overeat and to be good about stopping myself before I feel full. An example would be that I used to struggle to eat an entire 1/2 of an English muffin but most times now I can eat the entire 1/2 without a problem. A 1/2 is plenty, but it is an increase.

3. I find that I'm not as obsessive about weighing myself as I used to be. I'm weighing myself about twice a week now. I do feel this could come back to haunt me and that I need to stay aware (there's that word again) so that I can see if I'm gaining at all.

4. I'm struggling to eat any yogurt now. Yikes! This has been a protein staple in my life for the past year. It "was" easy to eat but I've had so much of it that it's now very difficult to get down. So I'm going to have to find other ways to get my protein in besides that. This isn't truly a struggle but I loved how the yogurt was so convenient and packaged perfectly for easy measuring.

I've been comfortable staying between 165 and 168 lbs. That's my goal -- to stay in that area. Let's hope that on my next update that that's right where I am!

13 Months Post Sleeve: 87 lbs. lost; holding steady

Starting weight: 254 | Current weight: 167

A quick update for everyone. My weight is holding steady. I'm still staying around 167. The past month has been crazy busy so I'm happy that I've not put any weight on due to stress!

I put a skirt on this morning that I've not worn since the Spring and it was too big. Now that the cooler weather is back I'm going to have to do some more clothes shopping. Last year at this time I was in major weight loss mode and was still wearing my bigger sized clothes. But clothes shopping (now) is a pleasant experience and one that I do not mind at all.

I gave Greek yogurt a break for a few weeks and I found that I am able to eat it again. I'm just not having it everyday anymore. I really enjoy the Chobani brand that has the mix-in's. It's a nice treat that doubles for a lot of protein.

My food intake hasn't increased at all. I'm still at about 1/3 of a cup at a sitting and I've been stopping myself from taking 'just one more bite' due to the fact that that usually gets me into trouble with stomach aches and such. Making a conscience effort to pay attention really does pay off.

I suppose that could be my new motto in life! :)
Dr. Ramanathan, McGee Women's Hospital

So far, so good. One name the hospital has is The Center for Minimally Evasive Bariatric Center... A center of excellence. They specialize in Bariatric surgery and I can tell. Everything they have done so far is excellent in that I don't have to worry about making appointments or worrying about lab work and such. They take care of all of it. Everyone is friendly and on top of their game. I appreciate how effortless my experience(s) has been thus far.

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