Weight loss surgery candidacy

I received a letter in the mail today from a major medical center in Seattle that my bariatric physician contacted for a Sleeve Gastrectonomy if I choose that route, and they prompted me to meet all of the criteria I need to in order to be approved for the weight loss surgery. If I so choose, I need to do the following, or have the following:

-A BMI >40 (check)

-Participate in my insurance companie’s weight loss program (check)

-Lose a certain amount of weight (which has not been disclosed to me, I am not sure why, but seeing as I am working on losing the weight on my own, that could be why)

-Letter of medical necessity and signature that I will follow through on pre and post-operative procedures (will be done if I choose this route)

-Visit a weight loss physician and nutritionist (doing both)

-Psych evaluation (that’s standard, will be done with my therapist who is a psychiatrist)

Right now I am more focused on learning how to live my life with these changes and how to lose weight without a surgery or pills. I really want to try to do this on my own. I don’t have high blood pressure, cholesterol, Type 2 Diabetes or heart problems. My biggest culprit is Sleep Apnea, which has actually improved over the course of the past 5 years with CPAP therapy. They actually had to bump me down 2 levels as it was set too high.

The thought of surgery does tend to frighten me as I have had two major abdominal surgeries in the past, and would like to avoid surgery in the future as much as possible. Plus I recently had my colonoscopy (high risk for colon cancer due to family history, killed an aunt at age 28) and it took me a while to come out of the anesthesia. I have never had that problem before so it scares me a bit to think that maybe I won’t do well with anesthesia the next time. When I had my total hysterectomy four years ago I was scared I would not come out of anesthesia as I had never been put completely under before. I came out with no problems whatsoever, but I was unable to speak well due to having a tube down my throat (it was removed by that point) during the surgery itself.

I guess we will see what happens in this next year. The doctor knows I want to try to do this on my own and supports my decision. 

Happy New Year!

I don’t do resolutions, because resolutions are meant to be broken…instead I want to continue on the path I have chosen for myself. The past week or two have been an absolute nightmare, as you can imagine, from the holidays. I have been so far off of my nutrition plan and not logging in MFP that it isn’t even funny. Yet here I am, worrying that I have gained some of my weight back. I know it isn’t overnight, but let’s hope that I didn’t. Starting tomorrow I will be back on my high protein, low carb plan. 

I recently met with my health coach, who helped me devise a plan to not overwhelm myself. When I was discussing with her about my carb intake and trying to stay within the perimeters of that perfect 45 grams of carbs a day, I told her that it is impossible. I’m laying my plan for the day out and I have to cut out or add more carbs because it is either too high or too low. There is no in between. She said I need to stop putting this harsh goal on myself and to make it something that is doable. I decided to make it so I am under 60 grams of carbs a day, which is more doable and adds more flexibility. And if I land under 45 grams of carbs a day and I am not hungry, I won’t push the issue and overwhelm myself any further. If I am under, that is great! When I have found myself under it is usually around 30 grams of carbs and I feel it is too low, so I put some carbs in my diet and sometimes I am not necessarily hungry, so that seems a bit unnecessary. Another thing I struggle with sometimes I am not hitting my goal of at least 135 grams of protein a day, and have to add more protein even though I cannot fit anymore food in my stomach. It seems to just be unnecessary, so it will be something I discuss with my doctor next time I see him. I am doing well with keeping under 2,500 calories a day (except for the holidays!) so that is the best thing I can say for this nutrition plan.

Something great that has been happening despite being off of my plan is that I am waking up hungry and it gnaws at me. This is excellent news, my metabolism has finally kicked in. I am still dealing with muscle cramps even though I have been off of my plan, though…that is something I wish would go away…

Let’s do this in 2014. I am hoping for a safe 100 lb loss this year. We shall see. I want to avoid weight loss surgery.

Merry Christmas

As I just sat here and was griping over listening to my daughter get frustrated with my father (who thinks he knows it all) over the past two hours trying to set her iPod Nano up with him in CA and remoting into my computer, I became frustrated as well. I even had a drink to calm my nerves, which isn’t something I do often. Between that and other issues going on with other people, a knee-jerk reaction of mine is to become overwhelmed and to either write off those people or just shut them out at the time being. Now that this little storm has passed, I am left wondering why I allowed myself to get all worked up over nothing.

Then it dawned on me…recently I saw a homeless man sitting out in the cold during some of our coldest days here, sitting out on a bench outside. Sun was shining but it was about 15°F with a wind chill making it in the single digits. The man’s face was ruddy and red from the elements and he was holding onto a cup of coffee. He looked worn down and beaten down, like life had taken a toll on him. My heart ached horribly for him, but what could I as a citizen with her own problems, do to help him? As it stands, due to rising crime in my town and county, I am leery of anyone and everyone I don’t know. People lurking in shadows. People staring at me as I drive in my car getting ready to get out of it. It’s gotten to the point where I am so paranoid I am ready to take shooting lessons and apply for my concealed weapons permit once I feel safe enough with a gun and learn gun safety. But I digress… This man could be my father. This man could be someone I love. Hell, this man could be me. How fortunate am I to live the life I do, to have what I have.

Prior to this I had been saying I wanted to downgrade, that we do not need as much as we have. We could ditch the satellite television subscription once my contract is up (which I am likely doing) next year. We could stop spending excess money on things we do not need. My hopes are for that in the next year, to cut down on frivolous, unnecessary things and to start saving more money and pay off debts faster. My biggest fear is and has always been a loss of income, a loss of a job. I have been in that position before and it was very scary. I do all I can to maintain and keep my job, even if that meant I needed to take a paycut to ensure I stay employed, I would certainly do that. 

But in the end, right now we have a roof over our heads, we have more than enough food to keep us full and healthy. We have a lot to be thankful for. I won’t lie when I say that I do tend to pass judgment fast on those who are hard on their luck – mostly the ones I know who choose drugs over living a sober life. Yes, it is true I do not understand what a massive addiction entails. For me it is easy to say what I feel, which is that it is a choice. It is a choice to do the drugs, to get addicted to them and destroy lives in the process. I’ve said before that I do not have sympathy for the addict, only sympathy for those they leave behind in their paths of destruction. It is heartless of me to say, but after I have been screwed over by people who I thought I could trust, or family, in the past because they needed their fix, I have a hard time feeling sorry for any addict. We have addicts in my family – former addicts. Alcohol, no drugs from what I do know. My point is, I thought about this man, what if he was an addict and was struggling to survive and couldn’t detox off of drugs? It is a very common problem I see here. 

Then I think, there but for the grace of God, I go. I don’t believe in God, but a little compassion won’t hurt either. Something in that man’s eyes made me ache horribly for him. And while I wanted to pull over and offer him something to eat, something at all, I knew I couldn’t. Truthfully speaking, right now I know we are in a season where people prey upon others sympathies for personal gain, and that is hard for me. This is where it becomes a double edged sword for me.

Typically, I am a giving person. I have even been a chump in the past. I have given to those less fortunate than myself who showed no signs of being grateful, not even a thank you, who went on to gain more sympathy and more money from others. This is why I have to shut my heart down during the holidays. Otherwise I would be broke by trying to help out those less fortunate than myself.

I realize I am all over the place today as my mind is in about, oh, a million places today, but this is what I wanted to get off my chest. While I have other goals in my life for better health, I have other things I don’t typically blog about – such as my life, or beliefs, etc. What it truly boils down to is, there are ways to help those less fortunate than us – donating to your local food bank is a great place to start. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.

Freedom

What is freedom to you? Is it freedom of speech? Freedom to do as you please? Freedom in a political sense? Freedom to me is the ability to be me and do things for me that I was unable to do when I was married. The constraints of my marriage that held me down and didn’t allow me to better myself, financially, emotionally, physically, and mentally. The freedom comes with costs, just like any other freedoms in this life. 

I left a marriage void of warmth, happiness, joy, trust, and security. The marriage was one of convenience, hurt, abuse, and feeling restrained (on BOTH ends, I will admit I was part of it). I met my ex-husband when I was 19 years old. I got pregnant with our daughter only 6 months after moving in with him, when I was 20 years old. We had our daughter when we were 21 years old. I was scared of marriage for many reasons, mostly due to my parents failed marriage and the abuse and neglect I endured at their hands. My ex-husband originally asked me to marry him in February 1999, well before I became pregnant with our daughter in June 1999. I accepted…but it wasn’t until after she was born that we started making plans. 2001 was our date, but I backed out. After 9/11, and many other things that happened in our life (including a “break up” that lead to me almost getting involved with someone else), I chose to finally marry him in 2002. My ex-husband was the one who wanted to get married, I was not. After years of problems, from my infertility to my obsession with my career, it hit an all-time low when I had my total hysterectomy in August 2009. 

After having the hysterectomy I realized how fragile life was, mostly due to the fact that they removed my uterus, ovaries, cervix, and fallopian tubes due to suspected uterine and ovarian cancer (luckily I did NOT have any cancer). I tried to rekindle what I could with my ex-husband, but that did not go over well and between my jealousy and his refusal to attempt to make us work as a family, things escalated fast. Without going into details (because quite frankly, I am tired of repeating the story), after a few times of physical abuse at his hands, I finally had it, called the police, had him arrested for assaulting me, and then proceeded to move forward with my life, filing for divorce on July 14, 2010. After court for a restraining order, dealing with co-parenting with a restraining order, the fears I had during that time, and moving into my first place on my own without any help, expensive (incompetent) lawyers, and mediation, our divorce was finally granted on August 29, 2011. 

So now comes freedom into the picture. When I was married, I was not free to buy clothes as I wished, or I had to scour to find deals. I never had a nice car. I had vehicles that were old, used and needed a lot of repairs. My ex refused to buy a new car because they were “too hard to work on” (like he ever worked on them, pfft). Here I am now. I just bought my first new vehicle. I buy my clothes when I need them, and whatever I want to wear. I don’t have hand me downs. I have nicer things. I don’t live in squalor or garbage like I did when I was married to him. To have that freedom is beyond what I can even say. 

The freedom to buy myself healthy foods is another huge plus for me. When I was married, we had a diet of highly processed foods, stuff I refuse to even touch these days. I will be fair to my ex- he supported me in some aspects of my quest to become healthier (I worked out regularly when I had a free gym membership from my last employer), but there were times when I KNEW he wasn’t happy when I was losing a lot of weight. Why? Perhaps the insecurity and fear of losing me as I was losing the weight. Now I have a partner who completely supports me and does not show or share those fears. He’s always promoted healthier eating from day one. 

With this in mind, I KNOW I can achieve what I set to achieve. I have the freedom to do so. I have bettered myself in so many different ways. Not just with other things – but also with my career. I am in a better position now than I was when I was married. Cheers.

Cravings

The cravings for starchy foods is killing me. I woke up this morning craving a Filipino dish I make called Bibingka. It is made with Mochiko rice flour, brown sugar, butter, milk, and shredded coconut and is baked into a cake. The buttery ooey gooey goodness is enough to tempt anyone, but if you have texture issues, it might be something you would avoid as it’s a different texture. Spongy isn’t quite the way to describe. Mushy either. Rice flour is a different beast. That being said, I am craving it so bad it’s ridiculous. I am definitely a weak one when it comes to cake, but when it comes to this, I am ridiculous. I could eat the whole damn pan in a day or two if I wanted to. I don’t even want to think about it.

Right now things are not going so well for me on the food front. No matter how hard I try I seem to fail at keeping myself below 60 grams, hell, even 80 grams of carbs a day. I feel bloated, puffy and like I have gained weight. The holidays are not easy when it comes to weight loss, or trying to stick to a nutrition plan, and I am not throwing it out the door completely, but at the same time, I am trying to be realistic in my expectations of keeping up with eating low-carb during this time. My first holiday on a low-carb, high-protein plan and it is not going well. I mean, we had Thanksgiving and I did fairly well, but this is for the birds.

Part of the problem is I think that my metabolism has finally kicked in, because I am CONSTANTLY hungry. I am even waking up hungry sometimes. That is a definite good sign. I have got to try to keep up with what I am doing because I don’t want to fall too far back.

I can tell you one thing – being on this plan I have switched to all white meats (I hate fish so I don’t eat it), and yesterday and Saturday I consumed red meat. Two days of red meat really put my tummy to the test and I now realize WHY I don’t eat it often. I am trying to boost my iron levels. Yeah I know leafy greens and liver, gizzards are good for that, but those are two things I can’t stand. I am a VERY picky eater. I’d like to see some improvement in not bruising so often. I wake up and find myself bruised up and wondering where it came from, and all I can think of is The Conjuring and wonder if we have a demon in our home. 

Speaking of supplements, I picked up some Biotin (5000 mcg?) as my nails and hair are a hot ass mess right now. Hopefully that will help as well. The Magnesium is doing nothing for the leg cramps. I think it’s time to switch to Potassium…

Fat girl keeping it real

For the past several days (almost a week), I have been off my nutrition plan, not logging my food intake in my MFP, and pretty much not paying mind to what I have been putting in my body. The major reason was due to a lack of finances and dwindling stock of protein choices. Last night I shopped and stocked up on the things I needed, so today I am back at it, doing what needs to be done, logging my food intake and watching my carb, calorie and protein intake.

I’ve noticed I am swollen again and my stomach is bloated and poochy (what I call it). I’m a big girl to begin with, but my stomach is my worst part on my body. After years of infertility, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, and insulin resistance, the gut is what suffered the most, storing the most fat, and my stomach definitely shows it. Like other women with this problem, I am incredibly self-conscious of the size of my stomach and try to cover it as much as possible, but let’s be real – no matter how you dice it, you cannot hide it. I hope with the continued nutrition plan and exercise, I can get that part of my body slimmed down to where I can forget it. However, I won’t lie – no matter how much weight I lose, I know that I will always see my stomach and see myself as a fat girl. 

As a fat person, you realize what your limitations are, what you can and cannot fit in, and your fear of it. For example, getting into what seems to be a small, compact car. If you are a fat person, you immediately fear it. You sit there thinking, oh my god, am I going to even fit? Sometimes you misjudge it and then get into the car and find out that you have more room than you thought you did. I can’t tell you how many times I have been there, or worried that a seat belt wasn’t going to fit, or having to hold a seat belt to make it look like I had it on because that seat belt didn’t fit. These are real problems when you are bigger.

I wish people would stop with their judgment over it, try carrying that excess weight on your body and the shame and embarrassment that goes along with it.

In the end, I’m not just looking for a “quick fix” to lose this weight. I’m looking to lose that weight, keep it off, and maintain a different type of lifestyle. I know what happened this week will happen again. What I did to counter-balance the heavy carb intake was eat carbs that were healthier, such as beans. Let’s be real, when money is tight, you do what you have to do to make sure you have enough food in your body to give you what you need for fuel. However, if you have healthier alternatives, by all means, use them.

Again, I move forward and try to persevere through the adversity. 

Total weight loss for the past 5 weeks is…

21 pounds and counting. On Friday I was weighed and to my surprise, the scale reflected a 9 pound loss. If I want to get technical and deduct my clothing (multiple layers due to the cold) and my heavy Nikes, it could be at 10 lbs.

To think that I lost about 10 lbs in the past 3 weeks with a yo yo pattern and even after Thanksgiving made me feel relief, shock and like I could conquer the world. I am amazed. My doctor is very pleased as well, and we are now discussing adding Amino Acids to my repertoire of supplements. Amino Acids help with the neurotransmitters in the brain, and can also help with the craving issues I have been dealing with. The reason I am not on Phentermine is because I don’t have an issue with overeating. My issue at this point is the cravings for carbs, specifically sweet stuff. I will be starting that sometime next week.

Something else that has been troubling me since I started going super low carb is that my hair is not growing like it typically does. I am not having problems with hair loss, which is common during a low-carb/high protein diet, but my hair just will not grow. I had my last hair cut right after I bought the car which was around the time I started my diet…5 weeks ago…and it has barely grown, if any at all. By now it should be at least 1-2 inches longer than it is currently. I am also dealing with very brittle nails. I brought up the nail problems to my doctor who thinks that my iron levels are too low again. I have this problem a lot, but I cannot take iron supplements due to my sensitive stomach, so I try to cover it with food. What I should be doing is eating iron-rich foods and taking Vitamin C while eating them, it helps absorb the iron better. Another thing I am thinking I should pick up is Fish Oil, which I hate because of the aftertaste, but there’s a local company who makes them without that nasty aftertaste.

Getting back to the weight loss, I know I will hit plateaus and not budge on the scale, but for now, I am celebrating this 21 lb loss. This is a huge step for me. A lot of my clothes are falling off of me. It feels great.

Weigh-in day & winter musings

Today is weigh-in day. Also, my last visit for the year and on the program I am on as it is being discontinued next year (my insurance’s medical weight loss management program is being discontinued). So next year I will be paying out of pocket for my visits and they have expressed that they want to see me at least twice a month. Ha. With a car payment and a potential life-changing expense that might be happening (more to come later if that is decided down the road), there is absolutely no way I can spare $200+/mo on doctor visits. I will reiterate to my physician that I will be able to see them every 3 months and explain why. At $100/visit, there is no way. My body compositions are also necessary as we progress (every 3-6 months?) and that’s another $45 expense.

With that being said, I would not be surprised if I gained weight, but I am hoping for the best. I am going to try very hard to remember to not feel let down if I gained weight. I just hope I didn’t gain more than 3 lbs…but we will see. 

Weigh in days always have me so nervous…I guess getting on that scale to see my progress is a huge deal for me and it is quite scary to think “but what if I fail?”. The point of this is, you learn from your mistakes, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start over again. It’s like with my job. If I don’t do well on something, I am coached on how to not make that mistake again…then I pick myself up and move forward. Yes, I am do beat myself up over it, but I don’t make that mistake again. Now I need to apply that to my weight loss goals and plan.

Onto my winter musings. It is COLD with a capital C. I live about an hour south of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, near Bellingham, Washington State, and we have been dealing with below freezing temperatures, gale force winds that are creating the wind chill to be in the single digits. As I type this, we are sitting at 21ºF, with a wind chill making it feel like 0ºF. For a girl who was born and bred in Monterey, California, that is incredibly cold. I have lived up here in WA state for over ten years now, however, I still have NOT acclimated to the cold. It is typically not this cold. Even with it being winter. The saving grace is that it is not snowing (yet) so we are not dealing with ice outright. However, if there are wet spots, yes, there is ice. Then there’s black ice. Then there are the idiot drivers out here who are flying down the highway. Yesterday it was 27ºF windchill 8ºF and these fools were pushing 80mph on the freeway. Slow down, people! Can’t it be summer already? 

Winter isn’t even my most hated season…Spring is. My allergies and asthma flare up to the point where I am beyond miserable. Summer is the only season where my asthma is almost non-existent and my allergies are to a bare minimum, unless there are wildfires.

Hell Hath No Fury like a Pissed off Consumer

This is going to be a random post and I will do my update on the holidays and how I fared with that.

First off, let me just start this post with a warning: I tend to have absolutely ZERO filter. My opinions are my own. If you think it’s too foul, then don’t read it. I won’t apologize for who I am or what I believe in.

About two weeks ago I had issues with my cable modem through Comcast, I couldn’t stay connected and do my work, so like anyone else, I called Comcast to find out what was going on. I was told that my modem was no longer compatible with their Internet services. Mind you, I RENT my modem out, because Comcast won’t allow you to buy it outright. I assume this is because they constantly change their damn modems. Well, I never received a head’s up or a warning that I was going to need to take my modem in to swap it for a newer, updated modem. I was livid about that. It was only 7 am and the Comcast customer service center in town did not open until 10 am. I lost 3 hours of work that day due to Comcast’s incompetence. So I go pick up my modem, hook it up, activate it, and the damn thing stops working. I call them back, livid, furious, and while dealing with this, I realize that the person I am speaking with has an accent. So I ask, “Are you in America?” And the rep says, “No, we are in India”. Pissed off, I said, “Yeah, that figures.” I demanded to speak with a supervisor and the supervisor was also in India and hard to understand. After explaining my story for the fourth time, she offered to send a technician out to see what the problem was, and offered to credit me for that day since I lost many hours of work. The tech came out and fixed the problem.

Fast forward to today, I go to check my bill online and it states I have a $50 service call fee and no credit for that day I lost service (and work hours). So, once again, I call Comcast, because 1, I never ordered or asked for this, 2, it was ordered by a “supervisor”, and 3, I refuse to pay for something that is not my fault. So again, I speak with someone in India, who advises me there are no supervisors to speak with. So I ask him what he can do for me and why is this on my bill. I get the same scripted bullshit: “Unfortunately because you had a technician come out, we have to charge for the service”. For the 10th time I tell him, “I NEVER ordered this – a ‘supervisor’ did. I WILL not pay for this”. Shouting match ensues and I have gotten so damn riled up that I start cussing this guy out and threatening to contact the Better Business Bureau to lodge a complaint. In the end I now have to wait for a “supervisor” to contact me back tomorrow. Hell hath no fury like a pissed off consumer!

I have worked in two call centers before, and do I feel bad for cussing and shouting at the guy? No. He was shouting at me and was completely incompetent. Not to mention the thought of outsourcing American jobs to India is something that truly crawls under my skin and pisses me off more than I can say. I have seen colleagues laid off because our company decided to outsource. Is it other country’s faults? No. But when it boils down to it, my anger is directed at them, because my job could be next. And if you can’t do your job correctly, then you don’t deserve to have a job that someone like me could do a HELL of a lot better!

Alright…breathing now…

I did well on Thanksgiving. I managed my carb intake by watching what I ate. However, I did not measure my food out. Instead, I trusted myself and put less on my plate. I also did NOT overindulge and that is something I am very proud of.

That being said…

This past weekend I was horrible. I didn’t log in MFP at all. Not once. I knew my carbs were off the chart. I got it together on Monday, but yesterday I blew it big time, consuming 88 grams of carbs in one day. Today I am at about 50 grams for the day. The fact that I am yo-yoing is concerning, but I am dealing with some nasty carb cravings, yet again. I’m trying to be mindful, but it just isn’t enough. It doesn’t help that I have weigh-in on Friday. I would NOT be surprised if I show a weight gain. If I do, I just hope like hell that it is no more than 3 pounds.

Something that did perk me up was when I rode vanpool on Monday, I noticed that my belt in the front was no longer snug and cutting off my circulation. Instead, it was loose and had slack to it. I hope this means it is working!