Friday, July 27, 2012

Bariatric Betty embraces "athlete" - new pic

OK, so that was a bit of a tease.  The "athlete" I am embracing is the title, and getting used to using it for myself. 

It should come as no shock that I've never been very athletic before.  How many morbidly obese people are?  When I was on a swim team in elementary school I was quickly labled slow and used to fill slots at meets where we didn't have enough "good" swimmers to compete.  Let me tell you, being told to compete in the 100m butterfly when I couldn't even really DO the butterfly was humiliating.  Heaven forbid they just let the lane be empty.  I was OK on diving team - not great, but at least I could place occasionally.   I played defense on the community league soccer in junior high.  I enjoyed biking to school a lot through high school, and became a lifeguard.  As an overweight adult I spent a year doing Master's Swimming (without going to meets, just working out with the team) and became a pretty good endurance swimmer (1-2 miles).   As an obese mom I spent hours biking to earn points for Weight Watchers. As a morbidly obese mom I finally gave in to encouragement and started doing Tai Kwon Do at the school my sons attended.  That was REALLY fun.  In fact, after about 4 months I competed at a tournament and won the only gold medal/ first place in an athletic event I have ever received.  *Full disclosure - it was only me and a grandfather competing in that round, but I was still proud I beat him, and so were my kids!

I have been walking 1-2.3 miles a day with my dog for the past 3 years.  Most days 2.3 miles since surgery.  In the winter before surgery I picked up an elliptical on Craig's List and used it religously.  Starting at 6 weeks post-op in April through June I was walking an additional 5000 steps a day M-F as a school monitor, and that boosted my average daily steps up to at least 14,000.  When school ended for the summer break I knew I needed a plan, so I started Couch-to-5-K training with my two boys. 

I've talked about that in previous posts, so for those who want to learn more about the awesome program check out for details. 

A few months ago I purchased a body fat percentage monitor to help keep track of progress when it isn't showing up on the scale (I also measure my waist, chest, biceps, and thighs occasionally).  In the user's manual it instructed you to choose between the "normal" and "athlete" setting.  There was a calculation in the manual where you multiplied a factor for the intensity of your workout, times the factor for the frequency of your workout, times the factor for the length of your workout.  If the answer was 60 or higher, you should choose the setting "athlete".  If it was below 60 you should choose the setting "normal".  I was befuddled.  Some days I walked for an hour (medium intensity, long time), some days I did Couch-2-5-k training and walked 30 or 45 or 60 minutes in addition (some medium, some high intensity, variable time).  I worked out everyday, and the frequency maxed out at 5 times a week.  Most ways I calculated it, I came out to 60 or more.  So, I could choose "athlete".  But, I didn't feel right doing that.  When I started using it I was still obese - and while I was working out frequently, how do you reconcile that with "athlete"?

The idea of the "athlete" setting is to indicate that your muscle mass may be higher than that of the average person.  When I started measuring I was obese (no longer "morbidly obese", but still obese).  Regardless of the amount I was exercising that week, or the last few weeks, I didn't think I had the muscle mass they were talking about.  So I decided to watch for an indicator that made me think I could justify the "athlete" setting.

About a month ago I found out that my lower half no longer floats in the swimming pool - weird.  Of all things, floating has always been something that overweight people are generally good at.  I was no longer obese, just overweight, but only my top half liked to float.  If I was vertical in the water I had to really actively tread water to keep my head up.  Huh.  OK, maybe I was getting closer - but I felt that I would find a better indicator.  About a week ago during a stall I realized that I had lost another inch around my chest in the last 6 weeks.  And my body fat percentage on the normal setting has gone from 36 to 33% in the past 3 months.  Good progress!  A little algebra and I figured out that at my heaviest I probably had 54% body fat.  Painful to note, but good inspiration.

Today was V-Day.  I had been looking forward to/ dreading todays couch-2-5-k training all week - instead of alternating jogging for a period with walking for a period, today I was going to jog for 20 minutes straight.  I prepared my family that it was going to be tough, that I was going to be exhausted, but I thought I could do it.  The last training session of week 5.

My first nice surprise was that my almost-12 year old (who was recently struggling with motivation, see prior posts) decided he was going to run the 20 minute jog with me.  The last workout he did a 180 degree turnaround and stuck out jogging for both the 8 minute jogs instead of complaining and wimping out after 1 minute like previously.  This morning he said "I'm doing it, too, Mom."  I was so happy.  So we started the 20 and he chimed in "I think I'm gonna do that 5 k with you, too" (having previously announced for the last couple weeks that he would cheer me on, but he wasn't gonna run it with me).  More grins.  My 9 year old was responding well to his brand new inhaler - so it looks like part of his difficulty was that he has exercise-induced asthma (it kicks in just after 3 minutes of jogging).  More grins.  I passed the 10 minute mark (having already lapped my almost-12 year old once - hah!) and realized I felt good.  Came up on the 15 minute mark and realized I was not feeling like I was dying.   I should trust this program by now - each time I've dreaded something and thought I might not be able to handle it, it hasn't been bad!  As we finished our last lap I was getting ready to lap my almost 12-year old for the third time when he saw me coming and picked up the pace.  Oh-no-he-d'int!?!  So I extended my legs and RAN for the last 1/2 lap,  And passed him by a TINY bit.  Sorry sweetie - but now your Momma has got game.   

So I have decided to proudly switch to the "athlete" setting.  It feels right today.  And on that setting, I was happy to see that I now have 29.9% body fat.  That is considered "normal"!  I'm not going to get hung up on reaching the BMI "normal" - so it is welcome news that some calculation out there already has me at "normal" when I'm not done yet.  I imagine that even if I don't lose a lot more weight, I will lose more fat/ gain more muscle.  In my head I heard Olympic Theme this morning, 8 hours before it will be broadcast from London.  I acknowledge proudly, as of today, I am an athlete.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bariatric Betty has an attitude

It's all in the attitude.  How you interpret what happens around you, when you hear bad news, when you hear about something wonderful that someone has done...  Your personal take on everything is shaped by your attitude.

I'm praying for all the families and friends of the victims in Aurora, Colorado.  I'm praying for the family of the shooter.  And while I cringe in horror at the unspeakable violence, I give thanks that more didn't die.  It seems amazing to me that with 70 people shot, the fact that the deaths were limited to 12 very loved people is close to miraculous.  I think about the girl who wasn't injured but stayed in the theater instead of escaping so she could keep pressure on the neck wound of her friend, or the boy who died shielding his girlfriend and I find inspiration.

Does this mean I find the silver lining in everything?  No.  Am I always positive?  Definitely not.  But I try to make a concious choice to react in a positive way as much as I can. 

This morning I was getting ready for couch-2-5-k training, getting ready to finally start week 5 after delaying it in hopes that my sons would catch up.  The thought of jogging 3 5minute 1/2 miles with 3 minute walks in between was stressing me out a bit, and I was nervous on how I would handle it.  I had told the kids that they should jog as long as they could and then walk for a while.  Before we even left for the rec center, my almost 12 year old was complaining.  "I hate training."  "I REALLY hate training days."  "I don't want to train."  "Training is boring."  "It's too hot and humid to train." This last one was funny given that we train inside on an air conditioned track.

Attitude.  You know - I can handle the kids not being able to jog as much as me.  It's disappointing, and I wanted them to be able to run my first race with me, but I'll get over it.  It's more important that they are being active and healthy.  But the attitude...

I repeatedly said "I understand that's how you're feeling, but we're still going.  Please stop complaining."  When we got there, the complaints turned to "Can I do it on the treadmill?  This is so boring.  At least there I can watch TV."  No, start walking the 5 minute warm up.  Immediately he started walking slower and fell behind my 9 year old and I.  I never saw him jog.  He says he did "for a little" before his leg started to hurt. 

I got so frustrated that after I lapped him three time while he was complaining I just tuned him out for the rest of the workout.  When I finished and was tired and sweaty he started making excuses while simultaneously complaining some more.  I told him I didn't want to hear it.  That I would talk to him later, but that if I talked to him right now I was going to yell at him, and I didn't want to yell at him.

How do kids learn that it is the hardest things that bring the most satisfaction when you accomplish your goal?  How do they learn to stick it out, to push themselves, and to not be afraid to fail?  I can tell them to do stuff, I can show them by example, I can cheer them on and express disappointment or give them consequences if they bail.  But how do you get them to start making that choice to endure, to grow, and to surpass themselves?  Whatever the key is, I haven't found it yet. 

I'm going to try to talk to him about it shortly, now that I've had a shower and lunch.  He has dreams that on various days include the NFL, being a computer game designer, a chef, and a police officer.  No matter what your dreams are, to succeed in life you have to keep going when you're bored, or frustrated, or unhappy.  He did Tai Kwan Do for 5 years and earned his black belt when he was 9.  That was when we could drag him to practices and tell him that he HAD to do his best, and he would.  That last year as he tested and prepared for his black belt I thought he got it.  At least for Tai Kwan Do.  I hoped that would carry over into the rest of his life.

I don't need either of my kids to be gold medalists, millionaires, or elected to an office to feel I've succeeded as a parent.  I need them to be able to take care of themselves, work hard, do their best and be able to feel proud of their accomplishments without needing external rewards.  There's a lot of room to grow here.
Since we left the rec he has been making an effort to be helpful and respectful.  He knows he's in trouble.  I hope I can impart more wisdom than anger.  And then he will be helping me with chores for the rest of the day.  After making my morning harder than it needs to be, he can help make my afternoon and evening easier. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bariatric Betty says "no" to brunch, and rape jokes

This last weekend my parents invited us to join them for brunch at their independent living facility.  They reassured me that scrambled eggs would be available, and that the kitchen staff would be happy to prepare an omlet or a veggie patty for me.  They did everything they could to make sure I would be set as a vegetarian post-WLS person that they love.  And it was not fun.  Beyond not fun, I would say that the morning of going there I realized I felt like I was about to do my taxes.  In front of an audience. 

I got irritable that morning, and it only grew when I got an email from my mom letting the whole extended family know that she was going to have my dad take a family picture while we were all there.  Great.  So now I'm hoping I don't get anything stuck in my pouch and have to puke in front of everyone, don't have dumping that leads to explosive diarrhea in front of everyone, and no matter what happens I should plan on being photographed.  I don't know what I would look like in a photo after dumping, and I don't want to find out. 

Before we left I told my husband "This is going to be the last time I accept an invite to go out there for a meal."  Given that he had been sensing my stress and irritability with the situation all morning, it is understandable that his response was "Thank you!" 

I made it though brunch without having to make a run for the bathroom, although there were a couple minutes when it was willpower (go down, dry eggs, go DOWN).  And I looked fine for the picture.  Then I talked to my parents about it and explained that I don't want to make plans to see them or anyone else around meals when it's avoidable.  If it's a matter of me spending a whole day with someone, then obviously I am going to eat with them.  But if it's about spending a few hours together, let's plan BETWEEN meals if we can.  Meals aren't fun social situations for me anymore.  In the best of circumstances they are a time I'm trying to do something I need to do and hope I do it well and don't make myself sick.  On a poorer mental health days they are a time I might feel judged, anxious, tempted, and/ or self-concious. 

My parents took this very well, and understood I didn't want to avoid them or think their brunch/ dining room was bad.  They even suggested we could try doing something less meal-oriented for Christmas/ Hanukkah (I think we'll probably have a serve-yourself buffet in the kitchen instead of a sit-down dinner this year) and Thanksgiving (that one I don't see myself changing).  I don't want to deny my kids or husband chances to have great experiences with family and friends (or myself, for that matter), but having those experiences with me as a stress case definitely lowers if not wipes out the net gain. 

So now on to a more volatile subject.  Rape jokes.  For the past few days I have been reading on about fallout from a comedian who likes to make vulgar and misogynistic jokes about women.  Apparently he was doing a show and make a joke about someone being raped and when a woman from the audience spoke up and said "That's not funny".  He responded by then making jokes about how funny it would be for multiple men to rape that woman, right then. 

Yesterday I was reading an article written by two women who were talking about why some people are able to find these situations humorous.  They talked about how it is partially because of the perpetuated myth of rape victims "bringing it on themselves" - by how they dressed, by getting drunk, by being in a bad neighborhood, by being alone with someone... That even well-meaning police officers and public officials may inadvertantly contribute to this when they are warning of a serial attacker in a neighborhood and say "Women are advised not to wear tight or revealing clothing, be walking alone..." etc.   That to some men, they twist these words of advice into a judgement that says "if you wear tight or revealing clothing, or walk alone, you are willing to put yourself at risk of being raped".  Never mind that I would be willing to bet that most rape victims aren't wearing tight or revealing clothing at the time of their attack. That some are in fact wearing burqas.  Or onesies.

This concept, of somehow being a willing rape victim, is insane.  Some women will dress in revealing clothing, go out, and look to hook up and have sex.  That is completely UNRELATED to someone wanting to be raped.  Rape is not about sex, it is about violence.  Men who rape are not enjoying sex, they are enjoying hurting someone.  In my opinion, they are less than men because they have lost their humanity.  They are simply violent male mammals.  But people who find rape jokes funny turn this around - they see the women as less than human, as female mammals that can be used to bring them pleasure.  They don't see them as daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers. 

Current statistics say that 1 in 6 women in the United States have been attacked.  So this comic probably knows several.  I don't want to challenge him (or even write his name and give him any more audience than he already has).  I would like to challenge the women around him, and everywhere.  If you have been attacked and you are emotionally able to do this - tell the men in your life what that did to you.  The physical pain.  The shattering of your concept of being safe.  The fear that prevented you from having healthy relationship with men for however long.  The fear that may have caused you to be unhealthy - maybe like me you ate yourself into a cocoon that you felt would keep an attacker from picking you (again).  If enough of us share the reality of being attacked, more men will understand there is no humor in it.  Maybe even that comic.

In this train of thought I made a specific choice today.  I usually wear loose fitting tops, partially because most of my clothes are too big at this point, partially because I don't like my chest being defined most of the time.  And hiding my muffin top as well.  :)  But part of the not liking my chest being defined is because of not wanting to be sexualized, or for some twisted person to identify me as a potential target.  Today I thought "I can wear a top that shows my shape and not be a target, so I will."  When I walked my dog two miles around my neighborhood this morning I didn't have makeup on or look super-attractive, but I wore a top that FIT.  And I wasn't scared.  Here's a picture:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bariatric Betty fights habit & head hunger, stands up for Wendy

Last night I realized that my eating has taken a turn for the worse.  Since I returned from my low-activity vacation I realized that my calorie intake when I'm high-activity has probably been a little low.  So, I've made an effort to make sure that at almost 5 months post op I'm hitting at least 1000 calories every day, some days 1100 - 1200.  That's fine.  What isn't fine is that I was getting in those extra 150 - 200 calories at night (around 8pm).  And that's falling back into a bad habit. 

Last night I had eaten well all day, even having an afternoon snack.  I had a healthy dinner, and then two hours later ate 1/2 cup of low-fat ricotta with truvia, torani sugar free vanilla syrup, and rasberries.  Not a bad choice if I needed a snack.  But I didn't need it.  I WANTED it.  And to reinforce that point, as I ate my last two bites my pouch decided to let me know that it was NOT HAPPY. 

I cuddled with my son and my dog and felt bad over my upset stomach while I realized what I had done.  I had a Quest protein bar for a snack at the pool in the afternoon, so I didn't need more protein or more calories.  I ate something because it tasted good and my head hunger tricked me. 

I announced to my husband and kids that I overate, and resolved to blog about as well for accountability.  Tonight I will not eat again after dinner.  Today will be a better day.

I also had a VERY interesting conversation with my sons this week.  They were watching an ad for Wendy's. OK, I just had to check to see if they have Wendy's in Canada/ outside the U.S. - and while they do have a few, for those of you who aren't familiar with it;  Wendy's is a fast food/ hamburger restaurant that was founded by a funny, persistant, and driven overweight man named Dave Thomas.  He named the restaurant after his young daughter, Wendy and made a picture of her in braids their logo.  Dave passed several years ago, and recently Wendy has started showing up in the newer ads.  Wendy is middle-aged now, and overweight.  So my boys were watching TV and saw an ad come on for Wendy's.  Their commentary went something like this:

"Wow, Wendy doesn't look like Wendy (the logo)"
"Wendy ate too much Wendy's"
"Wendy only looked like Wendy (the logo) before her dad named the restaurant after her"
"Wendy's (the person) Dad shouldn't have made unhealthy food at Wendy's (the restaurant)"
"Wendy has not done it, you know... she hasn't gone to the hospital to take care of it and so now she's stuck like that."

This last comment was from my 9 year old, referring to his belief that Wendy needs to get gastric bypass. 

This was all a little upsetting to me.  As a morbidly obese person, I was judged by others and heard harsh comments and jokes made about me.  My sons are both overweight, and although their activity level has increased and their BMI is going down, they have both had other kids tell them that they're "fat".  While I don't feel like they were trying to make a mean-spirited joke about Wendy's weight, I was very surprised that they would think that a stranger's weight was anything they should be passing judgement on, as well as the fact that my younger son apparently thinks that gastric bypass is a simple fix that anyone overweight should do. 

So I engaged them.  I started by asking them "Why do you think people are overweight?" (Ate too much food, ate unhealthy food, didn't exercise enough... fair enough answers) and then ended up explaining that while those are most of the reasons people become overweight, there are LOTS of reasons why people STAY overweight.  I reminded them that I needed to figure out that part of the reason I had been obese most of my adult life was because I felt safer that way because I thought I was less likely to be attacked (again). I finally realized that my weight wasn't protecting me at all, it was just hurting me.  Until people figure out why they are doing what they are doing, they will have a very hard time trying to change it.  We can not possibly know what anyone else's reasons are for being overweight, but we shouldn't assume that bariatric surgery will work for everyone, because it won't.   They weren't very comfortable during this discussion (neither was I) and I don't have a problem with that.  Because they were judging Wendy, and now that they got called on it, I hope they remember that discomfort the next time they think about judging someone else. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bariatric Betty's mistaken identity and favorite tools

This past week I confused the heck out of three people.  Two of them were friends who hadn't seen me for months.  In addition to my ongoing weight loss, I also had to start wearing glasses for the short term - my extended wear contact were causing some scarring on the inside of my eyelids.  Ouch.  So I'm restricted to wearing glasses (which I hate) for several weeks.  So a slimmer me, with glasses, and my hair looks different with the hair loss catching up with me (plus not styling normally with the glasses).  Understandably I'm giving come friends double takes.

My third person was a bit more amusing/ disturbing.  I was at the community Rec Center doing our Couch 2 5K workout last Friday with my 9 and 11 year old boys.  It was the first workout of week 4, so predictably I was extra sweaty looking at the end.  My boys actually couldn't finish the workout but I did (yay me).  Then I headed over to the free weight area to do some crunches before meeting them downstairs in the lobby.  As I reclined back on an exercise ball, someone tapped on my leg and said "Excuse me, how old are you?"  Huh?  I sat up, saying "I'm 41" while a startled older man on staff stammered "Oh, I'm sorry, you didn't have to tell me your age."  Huh squared?? He did just ask me my age, so I presumed I did need to tell him for some reason... although I didn't know what.  Looking embarrassed he explained that he thought he saw three young boys coming off the track and followed one of them (me) over to the weight area to check to see if I was old enough to work out there. 

I can understand people not recognizing me right away, but thinking I'm a boy?  The 36-DD bra wearing woman, a young boy?  OK, I was wearing an old (over large) t-shirt, and my hair is short, but a boy?!?  The gentleman apologized, and I laughed it off saying I'd rather be mistaken for a young boy than an old woman.  I think.  One of his friends cracked up and said "He sure does have a way with the ladies, doesn't he?"  I do have a confession.  As soon as I got home to shower I put on something that fit better with some earrings and makeup!  My pride can handle it once, but not twice in a day! 

I decided I wanted to share some of my favorite tools that I've found on my journey so far, and hope that they might be ideas some of my readers would like/ could incorporate. 

First I will share my favorite food and beverage storage system: Lock & Lock containers!

This is a link to my 24 ounce water bottles.  I use 3-4 of them daily.  I use a Crystal Light / or a generic sub 2 Qt. mix to make 3 (72 ounces) of them slightly diluted.  I find that the full strength Crystal Light seems too strong nowadays.  If I make 3 of them up at one time, I know that once I've finished my first three bottles I'm on bonus fluids for the day.  The main reasons I like them, however, are the lids and wrist straps.  The lids close tightly, and the actual opening to drink from is on the smaller side.  It's not a straw or sipper, so I don't take extra air into my pouch (note to non-WLS readers - that's painful) and it doesn't come out too fast so I don't gulp it down too quickly (gulping causes reflux - it basically just gushes back up into your mouth because it can't drain through your pouch faster than quick sips).  The wrist strap leaves your hands free to carry everything else other than your water bottle!

Lock & Lock also make great water-tight, air-tight and BPA-free containers that I use daily.  I love my simmered lentils with sauteed onions, and make it up in large batches (about 14 servings at a time).  These containers are great for refrigerating or freezing individual or multiple serving sizes.  You can microwave them, throw them in the dishwasher, and toss them in your purse without worrying about leaks.  I have almost eliminated baggies from my life and use these instead for packing lunches for the rest of the family as well.  The smaller sizes only hold about 5-6 ounces, but that's a decent serving size for bariatric patients.  If my whole meal is in one, I'll use an 11 ounce ( almost 1 1/2 cups) but not fill it all the way.  The larger boxes that come in the sets are great for storing things.  I gave away several filled with cookies last Christmas.  They also make bento boxes, lunch boxes, etc.  These things aren't cheap, but they LAST and if the tabs on the locking lids break, the company will send you free replacements.  I have found that they go on sale periodically on sites like

Second shout out has to be Fitbit! A pedometer on steroids, a digital coach that cheers you on and lets you share your activity levels with friends (only if you want to) to encourage/ compete with each other. It also communicates all of your activity info/ calories burned with if you already log your food there. The $99 price tag is steep, but I can personally testify that not only is it a great motivator, if anything goes wrong with your unit, they send you another one free!!!  In my case, they sent me a free replacement when I LOST my first one.  And no, they didn't know I had a blog or ask me to talk about it.  They were just that NICE.

Third has to be a combination of my Weight Loss Surgery private boards on Facebook and one of my favorite blogs to read:  Next to my local support group, I can't tell you how much the private support groups on facebook have helped me.  They've been sources of encouragement, information, support, warnings, and more.  Yes, we've all seen people get a little too worked up over something someone else has posted (or gotten worked up ourselves) - but so far the pros far outweigh the cons for me.  The World According to Eggface blog is FANTASTIC.  Shelley has a great sense of humor and a wealth of knowledge.  Her "A Day in My Pouch" recipes are top notch, and she shares lots of great ideas.  She also has fun giveaways.  Maybe I should look into doing some of those...

Some of my other favs include Sugar Free Torani Vanilla Syrup (especially getting the "subscription discount" on, my Omron Body Fat Monitor (great for scale stalls), and Quest Protein Bars (but beware a virus on their website - I get them at the Vitamin Shoppe or on Amazon).

If any of my readers have any favorite tools they want to share, please feel free to mention them in the comments, I'm always looking for new ideas.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bariatric Betty goes to Williamsburg Part 2 - Ups and Downs

So when I left off, we had reached hot and muggy Colonial Williamsburg.  I packed a Quest Protein bar to eat at lunch, assuming that finding bariatric friendly vegetarian food would be just about impossible.  We ended up stopping at The Cheese Shoppe, where I did try a sample of a delicious Basil Cheddar (OMG!) and got a cup of fresh fruit salad to go with my protein bar.  I could only eat about 1/2 a cup of the fresh fruit salad, but that was about what I expected and shared the rest with my family. 

Later, after exploring a cool toy store with my boys, the whole group headed over to a Baskin Robbins for a cold treat.  I'm happy to say that this doesn't bother or tempt me in any way - I used to ADORE ice cream, but fear of dumping and even bigger fear of NOT dumping (non-Weight Loss Surgery readers, see note below) means I have no cravings for the stuff so far.  So I was waiting in line to place orders for everyone while the rest of the group found chairs to collapse in (did I mention it was REALLY hot?) when I got an urge to visit the restroom.  Hmm.  I asked my mother to take my place in line and went over to the women's restroom.  1 single stall, currently in use with another woman ahead of me in line.  OK, no prob.  Stronger urge.  Hmm.  Maybe there is another one nearby?  I took four steps away to look out the window to see what other storefronts looked promising and when I turned around, another woman had gotten in line where I used to be.  Problem.  Super strong urge.  I walked to the other side of the store, crossed my fingers, and YES!  The men's room was empty.  And then I comandeered it, because I was NOT going to be able to make it to another store. 

Painful.  Explosive.  Draining.  15 minutes later I made it back out, and needed to go home.  Luckily, everybody else looked almost as tired as I felt, so they were of the same mind (and worried about me).  Catching a bus back to the visitors center took long enough that I had to find another restroom, but it was almost over.  When I got back to the condo I slept for two hours, and woke up feeling normal. 

What the heck was that?  Dumping?  Off my protein bar and 1/2 cup of fruit plus maybe 0.2 ounces of cheese?  I've had all of those things numerous times without problem.  I have no idea.  But if it was, then I literally SHUDDER to think what would happen if I ever ate ice cream. 

***Note to my non-Weight Loss Surgery readers.  Dumping is a post-surgical reaction that bariatric patients can have to eating too many carbs or fat (or both).  It can involve nausea, diarrhea, rapid heart beat, feeling flushed/ feverish, and just generally feeling like something stomped on you.  Dumping is described as an adverse affect of surgery, and is not suffered by everyone.  However, many patients (including me) feel that the threat of dumping is a good negative reinforcer to help you choose healthy choices.   One of my goals is to NOT find out if I dump on high fat/ high sugar/ high carb things because if I find out I don't then that "threat" of possibly dumping goes away and things become more tempting.  What happened to me might have had nothing to do with my pouch and just more to do with the stress of the heat and the trip or a virus.

Back at the condo the family played in the pool (well, not me that day) and then played games and watched TV.  Meeting "Thomas Jefferson" was fun, and I would have loved to talk to more of the colonialists, but the real fun was watching everybody horse around in the pool, or moan because somebody else kicked there butts at a game, and knowing that nobody had to go to work the next day. 

The next day was hotter, so we again enjoyed Colonial Williamsburg briefly before heading back to swim some more.  I enjoyed my protein bar and a little cheese without incident (whew).  The next day was the hottest yet - a heat index of 110 degrees!  Even the fort of Jamestown held little interest for my sons in the face of the heat, but they toughed it out for about an hour - mostly enjoying the air conditioned archeological museum!  I was able to eat a slice of spinach quiche for lunch (without crust or any later problems), and then we settled in for an afternoon of watching rentals from Redbox at the condo.  When it cooled off there were water balloons and more time at the pool - more memories :)

That night a huge storm swept across Ohio, West Virginia, Virgina, and Maryland.  Our area was not in the path of destruction.  I'm a light sleeper, so I was up listening to the storm while the rest of the family slept.  However, it wasn't until the next morning when we starting heading out towards home that the severity of the storm became clear.  As we drove north we started seeing the power outages and hearing about the deaths. 

How blessed we were to not be caught in that!  We might have had trouble finding an open gas station for about 50 miles, been inconvienced a little, but thinking of the millions of people without power during the heat wave?  The hundreds of thousands who had damaged homes and cars?  The dozen families who were mourning the loss of loved ones - and how many people didn't know yet if their families were OK? 

We might not have gotten as many pictures as I wanted, or gotten to see the boys dress up in period clothing, or explored the ships in Jamestown.  But I got to spend a whole week with my extended family, and then we all came home safe.  And thanks to my hyper planning for my pouch and family's needs - we even had enough water and food to eat (and offer to others off the highway) while we searched for gas stations.  I came home feeling lucky and loved by my family.  What more could I ask for from a family vacation.?

P.S. - I did, however, find myself hoping I DIDN'T win the VA Lottery I bought a ticket for while I was there, because I didn't want to have to drive back there to claim a prize.  I guess that is a good sign of road trip exhaustion: when you find yourself saying "I hope I didn't win thousands or millions of dollars because that would meam more driving!" LOL. 

P.P.S - I was also surprised to find that I actually lost weight on the trip while I ate the same calories and had less exercise for a whole week!  Bonus.  I am taking this as an indicator that maybe my intake of calories needs to go up a little now that I'm back on the high activity horse.  And happy to be done with my first stall!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bariatric Betty goes to Colonial Williamsburg part 1 with pics!

Do we ever love home as much as when we have just returned to it?   My family just returned from a one week road trip to Colonial Williamsburg and we are revelling in sleeping in our own beds and getting back into our routine.  I was even looking forward to resuming my training for Couch 2 5K yesterday!

This blog entry is mostly about the challenges and outcomes of my first trip after weight loss surgery, not about family vacation fun - although I'll mention so of that too. :)

I had a lot of anxiety planning for this trip - eating in front of others, what would I eat, having clothes that fit...  things that I have never thought about on a family vacation before.  Add in the normal planning for traveling with kids and I was pretty busy.  I packed enough Quest protein bars that I could eat 2 a day if I needed to.  I also pre-made and froze cooked lentils with sauteed onions (4), and packed lots of crystal light (and the 4 water bottles I use every day), in addition to foods for the rest of my vegetarian family.  We were staying at a Comfort Inn and Suites halfway there, then at the Historic Powhatan Resort (condos with full kitchens) for 4 nights there, and then a Fairfield Inn and Suites on the way back.  My parents generously offered to take all of us (including my brother and nephew) on this trip, or we could never have swung such luxury!

Prior to leaving we found the Summit Diner in Brentwood, PA for our first meal on the road and I was able to eat more-fried egg & cheese-than-omlette without incident.  In a restaurant - with strangers around!  First fear conquered!  Yes, I have eaten out a few times since surgery, but it makes me nervous (what if something gets stuck in the pouch and I get sick?) and most times I have actually packed something from home to eat.  The rest of the family was thrilled with the veggie burgers, mac and cheese, and fried green beans.  I used to LOVE fried green beans - and tried one small bite.  Not even remotely tasty, mostly it just tasted oily.  That must be a change in my taste buds, because my picky son was wolfing them down like they were ambrosia from the gods. 

One good thing about driving 5-6 hours in a day: you have no problem getting your fluids in!  Having my 24 ounce water bottles with diluted crystal light in the cup holders meant that I had already drunk 72 ounces before dinner. That night in Hagarstown we went out to Ruby Tuesday, where I identified myself as a bariatric surgery patient and was allowed to order off the kiddie menu and got the salad bar.  One plate of shredded cheese, shredded hard boild egg, and a little diced apples with yogurt sauce and I was good.  I tried a bite of a mini zucchini patty, but without the condiments, pickles, tomatos, lettuce and bun it just didn't do anything for me.  Which is fine - because I don't want to eat for experience any more, I want to eat to LIVE.

OK - I promise you won't have to listen to a description of EVERY meal on my trip.  Just sayin'. 

One downside of driving all day is that there was little opportunity for exercise.  So while the kids whooped it up in the tiny hotel pool, I hopped on the elliptical and got in twenty minutes.  I hoped that walking around Williamsburg/ Jamestown/ Yorktown would help that not be the situation for the rest of the week.  My Fitbit was disappointed in me this last week, but I wasn't - I did the best I could.

A big shout-out to the folks at the Historic Powhatan Resort - the booking company my parents used MESSED UP our reservations and only 1 of the two condos ended up getting reserved.  They did have other units, but couldn't offer the deal that my parents had been given on the third party site.  While my parents were trying to sort it out with the booking company, the manager decided to override their own prices and give us the second unit for the deal price after all.  We weren't able to be next to each other as planned, but were close.  They could have easily stuck us with double the price and then let us duke it out with the booking company for reimbursement.  The condos were great - spacious and well air-conditioned (this turned out to be critical), two bathrooms in each (wow!), and of course my kid's favorite part - a large flat screen HDTV.  The pools were fantastic!  They had a "eighteen and up" pool (renamed "the serenity pool" by my kids), a "5 and up" pool - rowdy, and an "all ages" pool in addition to a kiddie pool and jacuzzi.  Whew!  That's a lot of poolage - and was honestly where we had most of the fun of our trip.  Here's a picture of my parents and I enjoying a moment while we were watching the kids in the pool.

Yes, I voluntarily had my picture taken while wearing a swimsuit.  Weird.  Even when morbidly obese I went swimming with my kids, so wearing a swimsuit is nothing new.  The new part is wanting to share a picture that includes me wearing a swimsuit!  

Since we were able to cook breakfast and dinner in our condos every night, food/ pouch worries were gone for those times - Yay! 

Our first day into Williamsburg and it was HOT.  90 degrees and humid at 9am .  And that was the coolest weather we experienced for the rest of the week.  This is a picture my father took of all of us in front of the Govenor's Palace right after we got there.  As the day got hotter everyone became less willing to pose for pictures, so there won't be many group shots in my scrapbook ;)

In my next blog entry - more pics, a pouch meltdown, and happy memories...