I'm on a new journey to pay-it-forward & with the support of my Groupies/friends...

I'm writing a LAP BAND BOOK!!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

1/27/12 Dear (l) BG...The Sweet Spot?

Hi peeps!  We all got the flu shot, but of course Bronchitis found us instead (I'm just happy it was after the holidays).  Poor DS2 missed almost a week of school and is still having issues...has asthma so he's still coughing his lungs up (the Allergist turned him away from his allergy shots yesterday for the second week in a row as he's still having wheezing issues). 

Anyway, since I haven't had time to post, I've decided to occasionally start sharing some of the recent email questions I've had...the ones I think may help others (don't worry, no personal info. from you will be revealed).  So here's my little 'Dear BG' (or now that I'm Lap Band Groupie, I guess there's a small 'l' there...I know, I'll always be BG to you!) advice column (OK, who am I, the self-proclaimed non-perfect Bander to give advice...maybe it's more like an 'opinion' column LOL). 

Oh, and I switched to a new email/GMail account (in sidebar, or HERE)
Hi there,

Love your blog! I know you have pretty much found your sweet spot and have managed your FAB weight loss for some time now. I received a fill about two weeks ago and am having a difficult time determining if I’m too full or still adjusting to my new fill.

I can now only consume approximately ½ to 1 cup of food and it takes me about 45 minutes to eat. I also find that I have to sip my water now – before I was able to sometimes chug it. I find that if I’m not paying attention I can get stuck pretty quickly.

You thoughts and time are greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Hi, and thanks!

As long as you're not PBing/vomiting, or have any other red flags of being too tight (bad uncontrolled reflux, eating only sliders, etc.) I would give it another two weeks and assess things then. It can take up to four weeks or so for a fill to 'settle' in for some, meaning some don't get the full effect of their fill until then (some get tighter, some loosen up, mine was pretty much the same as the fill day). Between now and then, really focus on meeting nutrition needs and eating without getting stuck (after each fill I've had to 'relearn' how to eat...chew, chew, chew...and you're already taking it slow, which is good, like you said 'adjusting to your fill'...don't worry, I've gotten faster at it over time). Every time you get stuck you're inflaming your Band area/new stoma and this will increase your need to end the stuck episodes so that you can get a true assessment of your restriction (it takes up to a few days for the swelling to go down). At the four week point the questions to ask yourself is simple; am I able to get in all my nutrition needs (count your protein and water, and calories if you need to) and follow the eating rules without getting stuck or PBing, and am I hungry between meals? And let me point out that means the ability to eat solid proteins, not sliders.

I'm tightest in the mornings and I can only sip my coffee in the morning for a few hours (gurgling following a fill is my signal that restriction is there). Breakfast is a very thick slider (oatmeal w/protein powder), which I have to eat slowly (I think a slider for breakfast, even a protein shake is fine as long as you're not starving by lunch). By lunch I'm able to get in the 1/2-1C meal with solid protein, but some days I really have to take it slowly and pay attention to my chewing. By dinner, like most Banders, I'm looser and can get in about 1C (of solids) pretty easily, but I have days I can still get stuck if I'm not paying attention or going too fast. Most days I couldn't chug water, even by dinner (although I can drink pretty normally by then). All that sounds like a huge pain, but it's now just about second nature to new 'normal' (and when I say 'pay attention', I'll tell you that I really don't have to think about it much anymore).

The Sweet Spot/Green Zone can be a tightrope and the advice I'd give is to really take this restriction you have and treat it like a fragile gift...appreciate it (work on that 'head hunger' so you can tell and appreciate if the real hunger is gone), and really try to work things the way you're supposed to so that you don't get stuck (take your time, relearn to eat). Not paying enough attention got me stuck, and not taking the right actions after a PB got me a major unfill and a long wait for a refill (and weight gain). Also, how tight you want to keep your Band is totally a matter of choice...something they don't tell us...there's some 'wiggle room' in that Green Zone, and sometimes the tiniest fill or unfill can make all the difference (.1cc even).

Keep asking questions and let me know how you're doing (and most importantly, how the Weight Loss is going LOL)!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

1/17/12 Food Addiction

If you didn't see 'Dr. Oz' the other day, the topic was 'Can you really have an addiction to food?'  I know, you're all screaming 'YES!' right along with me.  It was interesting as the polls of people were pretty split as were the expert's opinions.  The Nutritionist's view was that over-eating is behavioral...driven by emotions, learned behavior, and will power.  OK, umm, as a yo-yo dieter now skinny b*tch, I can personally tell you that anyone who has ever lost big weight dieting has WAY more will power than the average skinny b*tch...When did they ever white knuckle off 50 pounds, let alone 5, while starving and shaking waiting for the next meal (I still wonder why I don't get the shakes now on this teeny amount of food).  Anyway, the Doctor's view was that there are certain foods (four of least at this point) that trigger the release of natural opiates in our brain that make us feel good and want to come back for more.  I think it's a combination of both addiction and emotions.

One study used a medicine that is used to help heroin addicts from overdosing by blocking receptors in the brain that the heroin attaches to.  They gave it to chocolate addicts and found that 'chocolate hijacks your brain chemistry, triggering the same receptors that heroin affects'.  Great...I'm officially an addict.  Apparently those around me knew this before I did...Here's a present I got from my SIL for Christmas this year:

You can read the Doctor's article and see the three other foods that are addictive on the Oz site HERE.

Friday, January 13, 2012

1/13/12 Blogger/Comment Issues? It's Your Lucky Day!

Today, Friday the's your lucky day!

If you are having issues with Blogger (embedded comments), I'm solving it for you. 

Pick your chin up off the floor.  Hell hath not frozen over.  Lil' Ole Me is giving techy advice.

I haven't been able to access my comments (or leave them for lots of you) for several days now and it was driving me crazy (I needed to know if anyone else ever had an addiction to Ho-Ho's?!).  I decided to take matters into my own hands and found a solution online.

It seems that the problem stems from a Blogger update (threading comments; now we can leave comments to comments on posts, or just general comments...woo...and I think this is only if they're embedded).  When they updated things, it 'messed it up'...yes, that's 'techy' language there...I'm an instant expert.

If you have embedded comments on your Blogger page (you can leave/read comments on the same page as your post), then you may be having the same problem.  When I'd try to look at my comments it would open the screen and then it would immediately go blank.  It does the same thing when I try to leave comments on anyone's sites that have embedded comments (so fix it, so I can comment!).  Here's how:

Dashboard>Name of your blog>Settings (on left)>Posts & Comments>(Comment Location-Change from Embedded to:) Pop Up Window (or Full Page)> Save Settings (Upper Rt)

Notes: I tried changing it back to 'embedded' and the problem came back immediately. I also switched from 'pop up window' to 'full page' and back again and now the 'pop up window' won't work. Went back to 'full page' and it's fine.

Another blogger on Blogger Help suggested I try deleting history/cookies, and I tried this first, it  didn't work (but it may for you). 

Alrighty then, I'm off to read my comments:)

- BG, Blogger Technical Expert Extraordinaire

Thursday, January 12, 2012

1/12/12 Headline News!

Did you watch the Today Show today?

No, I'm going to gloss right over the fact that Hostess has filed for bankruptcy.

OK, Yes, I know what just flashed in your mind…How quickly can I get to my local grocery store before the run on the Hostess section leaves the shelves completely bare? Quickly followed by…What did they say the shelf-life of a Twinkie is?  OK, My third thought was...I haven't even experience the Deep Fried Twinkie yet!!!

Personally, in my early obesity years, I had a decade of addiction to these:

Followed by these:

Which one is your fav?

OK, I know…Enough of the food porn! There are hungry people out here!

All right, let me fix this…

I'm not even sure Hostess makes food, do they?  It doesn't look like food, does it?  Would your great-grandma think so?

Does a Twinkie even have a real food products in the ingredients?

I once saw a science museum experiment where they placed a piece of homemade cake under a sealed glass dome, and under a second dome was a Twinkie. You could barely see the slimy remains of the cake through the mold covering the inside of the first glass dome. The Twinkie? Looked as good as the day it was born. Hey, I wonder if all those preservatives I ate will keep me 'well preserved'.

Don't believe it? Here's an NPR story about a teacher who has a 30 year old Twinkie: "The Shelf Life of a Vintage Twinkie"

And if you still don't believe that calorie restriction is the best way to control your weight, have you heard of the Twinkie Diet? A (not obese) nutrition professor lost 27 pounds in two months by eating a Hostess treat every three hours instead of meals and restricting his caloric intake from 2,600 to 1,800. He (and I) are not recommending this (you know how I feel about diets)!

*shhh…and I didn't tell you this…Hostess promises that no matter who acquires the company, the Twinkie will live on*

Now, back to the REAL headline segment.

Today Show; Today's Consumer Segment, Elizabeth Mayhew, Editor-In-Chief, "Woman's Day Magazine"

My overview:

Due to consumer confidence last year was at an all time low, many items are coming down in price this year. 3D TV's, Tablet Computers, E-Readers, GPS Units, Sports Tickets, Cameras, Furniture, and one more item…

Wine experts are calling this 'The year of the buyer.' People were not spending money on the $30+ last year bottles, so those prices are coming down. You'll see sales at merchants everywhere here. Look for Rhone wines/France, Tuscan wines/Italy, and Rioja wines/Spain. The only exception is Bordeaux (because there haven't been good vintages lately). In general, European wines (because of the Euro), and S. American wines as well.

You can watch the segment here:
Reminder...Everything in moderation.

Stock up girls (no, not on Twinkies!)! 

Unless they're these...

You're welcome.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

1/11/12 It's All How You Look At It

First I'm Replying to Krisz's question from yesterday (and if you're not following her yet, get thee over there and give my new friend some support!):

Can I have "stupid" question?
If you do exercise a lot while losing weight, is it certain that later on if you stop/slow down exercising it will affect your further loss/maintenance? I know it's a silly question, but being bang in the middle of my WL I'd like to establish some long term way of life, but also not want to sacrifice on the weight loss. Do I make any sense here? I hope...

Let me say my last post was NOT to encourage anyone to stop/not start exercising…it's SO very important for your health (and that's why I'm now doing it). We should all be exercising.

- It's only 'certain' that stopping/slowing down exercise will effect your weight if you keep everything else the same. It's still calories in/calories out for us and if there are less calories out, then it effects your weight. It's fairly easy to calculate approximate calories you're burning from exercise (lots of calculators online) and you can do that for a week and average it…that will give you an idea how many calories you'd have to eliminate from your diet or burn through another form of exercise (maybe you can't do spinning anymore, but you can walk).

Krisz, I'm going to email you my working copy of my chapter on exercise and you'll see that it mainly speaks to the benefits of exercise, but also focuses on (like all my other topics) awareness, choices and having an exercise plan that encompasses both exercising and what to do if you have to/want to slow down/stop (whether you're in WL mode or maintenance). If you've got the time/effort now to be a gym rat and lose weight faster with it, go for it (it works, I've done it!)! That doesn't mean that your plan can't easily include a change in the level of your exercise program in your future that won't include weight regain (that plan was the part that was always missing from my exercise/diet programs so I got derailed…oh and my LB was the other part)…it's all about being prepared and making sure you're looking at both the exercise AND the calories in/LB part. My main point was that we can't use exercise/lack of it as an excuse for why we're not losing weight…I've already proved that for you…so no more 'testers' needed…keep moving and get that plan together!

Now, onto today…

I was updating my WL/Maintenance spreadsheet/chart and not for the first time noticed that it looks like the Himalayas…it might scare more than a few people about maintenance, not to mention unfills. I was thinking about how regular slow and steady beginners ski jump my WL phase chart looks compared to it (well, not the 6 mo. Pre-op, but the post-surgery). Then I got curious as to how many weeks both of these spanned? How many weeks has it been since the first time I reached goal (my Maintenance Chart starts there)? I was surprised to see that my WL Chart covered 81 weeks, and My Maintenance Chart covered 83...interesting! I wonder what the Maintenance Chart would look like if I gave it the same horizontal/vertical axis range as my WL Chart?

So, to compare them equally, I chopped the last two weeks off my Maintenance Chart and both horizontal axis are now 81 weeks. I then expanded the Maintenance vertical axis to cover a 105 pounds range, with gridline intervals every 5 pounds (the same as my WL Chart). Wow…now Maintenance isn't anything to fear!

You can clearly see that I had a partial unfill just a few weeks after reaching goal…but after the long awaited refill and making my way back down…well, things are pretty darn steady! Maintenance is nothing to be afraid of!

Losing the Band…yep, we can all be afraid of that, because it means not having the help we all desperately need to finally get/keep the weight off (just look at my instant march upward and then white knuckling the wait)…but another thing this shows me is that unfills are nothing to be totally afraid of either. Yeah, gaining and losing it again isn't any fun, but as long as a refill is coming and I'll have the help of the Band again, I'll now know I'll be fine (remind me I said that at the next unfill)!

I wish that I'd expected to have unfills along the way…maybe it wouldn't have seemed so traumatic. I think the Doc's should actually tell us to expect them! Unfills are a result of our personal learning process with the Band/operator error (dry meat and not enough chewing in my case), the complicated process of getting to just the right level of restriction at the same time we're losing internal fat, our Doc's approach to fill levels, and let’s face it…a little luck, and a dose of 'fickle' factor thrown in.

Maintenance, unfills,…it's all how you look at it!


Monday, January 9, 2012

1/9/12 Exercise and Weight Loss

OK, I'm back, and I missed all of you!  I made a conscious decision to really tune out and enjoy the family over the holidays, and that's just what I did. I thought I'd have more time to post before Christmas, but we got busier than ever before (mostly self-inflicted as I put extra pressure on myself this year to have an extra special holiday, and I think it was…and DH took the longest work vacation he's ever had…that man can never retire or I won't get a thing done), so I'll apologize for going dark, but I was thinking of all of you! We took DS back to school this weekend, so now, everything is back to 'normal' around here…or at least as 'normal' as I get. More about my life/pics later.

I've been stewing on this subject for awhile. It's not something that I "haven't" talked about; so much as, it's something I haven't shared all my "personal thoughts" about. As I started writing this morning, over 3,000 words quickly spilled out. Generally, I don't like to share cliff notes as I think something gets lost in the translation (and why I am in serious need of an editor). But I'm taking a risk that you'll understand the abbreviated (still long) version without judgment. If you've been following, you already know that I'm all about the fact that this journey is different for everyone and we each have to figure out what works best for US…there's no one 'right way'…it's all about learning about choices so you can make the best ones for you.

I've spent a little time reading blogs (wow, no way I can totally catch up) and I've noticed some trends…it's the start of a New Year and that means rededication to weight loss for most of us (geez, how many diets have started every January, me included).

- Weight gain: Weight put on over the holidays (personally, I gained 3-4 lbs., but still under goal), lots of talk about getting it off, new scales bought (I love you, my Scale Whores), I'm shocked at the number of bloggers coming back to blogging after a long time away having gained a big chunk of weight back (or ones that have now disappeared after this happened), and lots of self-deprecation from everyone with a little 'stop beating myself up' sprinkled in here and there.

- Exercise: The gym rats are trying to help others with information on their love of exercise or hate of it but do it anyway, many are joining gyms, some have started programs like CT5K, others are buying new equipment and electronic monitors, and many are beating themselves up with how they can't stick with it with a little 'stop beating myself up' sprinkled in here and there.

If there's one 'choice' I haven't explored in depth here, it's this…

Here the thing, and I realize that this is going to be controversial…

You don't need to exercise to lose weight.

The cliff notes are: it's true…I'm living proof…period. Other than some short lived sessions and gardening in the summer, I haven't done any regular exercise.

There's a whole chapter about why…nope, I'm making no apologies, or excuses, so don't roll your eyes just yet…but the bottom line is that NOT exercising didn't leave me with excuses to fail. With past diet/exercise programs, I did just that….I couldn't sustain the diet or the intense exercise (usually an injury) and that was my excuse to start gaining. This time was different…no strict diet…nothing off limits…and no regular exercise program…just me…and LOTS of headband work…if the Lap Band did it's part, then I was my only barrier to success.

I'm not sure how to state this in the way it's intended…I'll have to say that although I don't 'generalize' this journey, sometimes I read blogs and I worry about those who have suddenly become gym rats once they got the Lap Band. I worry that they'll have an injury, or they'll start having kids/or kids/life get busier and put themselves last on the list (all things I did), and that once they can't sustain this level of exercise that they'll start gaining the weight back (me again)…because they'll think that the exercise is the only way to lose/keep the weight off.

Learn from me…it isn't.

Exercise, or lack of it can't be your excuse…you may have to adjust your intake if your level of exercise reduces for any reason, but you can still lose/maintain your weight…I have…for seven months now.  No, I'm not recommending everyone do what I did, we each make our choices.

If you've been following, you know I'm no stranger to exercise (taught up to eight aerobics classes a week in my younger life). So here's the other thing:

You need to exercise to be healthy.

Let me quell some of the comments by agreeing with what you're furiously typing right now:

- You can lose faster with exercise.

- The more muscle you build the more calories you can eat.

- You can be skinny and not healthy.

- There are many other benefits to exercise, like increased energy.

- But sorry, no, my body would NOT look noticeably better with exercise (age, genetics, and amount of excess skin).

I'm believing that I can maintain and I've done everything else to get healthy. It's winter here…no gardening to do…time to find another way to get moving. Just like I promised not to be the perfect Bander, I'm swearing right here that I'm NOT going to be the perfect fitness example (Lord knows I'm the antithesis of it now). Just like my WL, it's going to be a tough journey and I'll have setbacks along the way and times I fall off the wagon…that, I can promise. I have no intentions of even wanting to become a gym rat again (been there....and good for those of you that do...I know, never say never)…but, I DO want to continue my quest to get healthy…and that means a little regular exercise…time to put together some goals. I'm starting the same way I'm going to end…slowly…in a way that I can continue and maintain forever…one step at a time…a few minutes at a time.

Now, who wants to join me?
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