WLS Cooking without Sacrifice

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I’ve been doing a lot more cooking for myself lately, as after surgery, going out to eat isn’t very cost-effective because I don’t eat much, so dinner usually ends up as leftovers, and then the leftovers usually go bad–although I am getting better at the whole concept of bringing lunch to work.

Luckily, there’s a lot of great ways to get protein in these days–shakes, powders, bars, and regular old food that I never used to eat anymore (yogurt anyone?). That said, there’s a lot of foods that I can’t eat anymore–namely pastas and breads…or do I thought!! Bread is still an only sometimes food, and usually, I end up taking the bread off of whatever it is I’m eating (ie burger, sandwich) and eat the inside. Pasta, however….

As much as I hate Barilla for their homophobic comments of a few years ago, they make a fantastic product called Barilla ProteinPlus. At 17 grams of protein per 3.5 oz serving is awesome for pasta. Now, I’m not eating it every day of the week, but if Anthony and I are in the mood for pasta, you can have some with your main meal and not feel guilty.

Another way to not feel guilty is to find where you can cut corners without sacrificing taste. For instance, tonight for dinner, I made creamy garlic Parmesan pasta with chicken. The recipe calls for 1.5 cups of whole milk. Instead of using whole milk, I used 1 cup fat-free Lactaid and 1/2 cup fat free Half and Half. It’s just as creamy and delicious as it would’ve been with whole milk, but with significantly less fat. Thanks to the addition of chicken, protein pasta, and milk I was able to get around 35oz of protein in for dinner–that’s almost half of my recommended daily intake of protein (80-100oz).

One of the most important things you can do as a WLS patient (or someone who is trying to cut out fat/carbs/whatever) is experiment. There are PLENTY of websites out there for low fat/low carb recipes (Pinterest anyone?) that even if you don’t follow a recipe from one of those websites, you can still take the basic ideas and modify your own favorite recipes.

Do you have any favorite ways of modding recipes to make them a bit more healthy? Let me know–I’m always looking for suggestions!!!

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A Letter to My Last-Year Self

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Dear Amy,

You are on the precipice of greatness.

There you sit, 292 pounds of sass, contemplating your next move.  You know big changes are afoot, but trust me when I tell you that you have no idea how big. In the next year, you’re going to experience some amazing highs, but also some major lows. You’re going to become intimately familiar with the feelings of worry and self-doubt. You’re going to spend many sleepless nights wondering where this crazy roller coaster  is going to take you and whether the on-ride picture is going to be worth purchasing at the end.

It’s worth it–trust me on this one.

You aren’t going to believe me when I say it, but it’s true. In one year, you’re going to lose 70 pounds, but you’re going to gain so much more. You’re going to gain whole new levels of self respect, determination, and confidence. You’re going to amaze your friends and family, who are going to sing your praises. They’re going to tell you countless times how amazing you look. They’re going to be more supportive than you ever could have hoped or dreamed. They’re going to build you up every step of the way.

You’re going to have a friendly competition with your father over who weighs less. You’re going to hear your mother tell you how you’ve surprised her with your ability to stick to your diet plan and continue to shed the pounds week after week. You’re going to shock your sister by bringing her a pair of pants that are just too big to take in. You’re going to hear your husband lament the fact that your ass is getting smaller one minute, then turn around and marvel about his ability to actually feel your hip bones the next. You’re going to relish telling people how much you weigh because they’re going to be so happy for you. You’re going to have to say goodbye to some favorite outfits, but you’re going to find a whole new sense of style that’s been hiding beneath layers of fat and self-consciousness.

But most importantly, you’re going to amaze yourself. You’re going to wake up one morning, realize you haven’t weighed yourself in a while, and find that you dropped 15 pounds in two weeks without even trying. You’re going to be excited about protein powder and protein bars. You’re going to fall into the routine of eating leftovers–and actually enjoying them! You’re going to live a life without bread and pasta, and you know what? You’re going to realize that you don’t miss them all that much (and you can totally have a Junior turkey hoagie from Wawa once in a while, since you won’t be able to eat the whole thing anyway). You’re going to run out of pants that fit, but you know what? You’re going to be ecstatic about it.

2015 is going to be the year that everything changes. You’re going to become determined, you’re going to become healthy, and most importantly, you’re going to become happy.

Keep your chin up, sunshine–you’re getting brighter and brighter every day.

Love always,

Amy

 

Life

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Ugh, work has been kicking my ass lately. I’ve been so busy that it’s been hard to even THINK about my surgery, let alone dwell on it!

Right now my biggest challenge has been getting adequate hydration and getting in my 4-5 meals per day. I thought I couldn’t eat for 30 minutes before/30-45 minutes after, but I was told that I can drink up to the time I start eating, which has definitely helped. I was pretty dehydrated earlier in the week, which was contributing to the exhaustion I was feeling, but I hydrated yesterday, which gave my energy levels a HUGE boost!!

My other challenge is learning to chew and eat slowly. I’ve taken to putting down my fork between bites, but even then, I still go too fast–about 15 minutes for a 2-oz meal. I’m sure this will get better once I can move on to soft foods and more dense proteins–I’m currently still in the pureed stage, and am only allowed to eat 2oz per meal. It’s hard to make 2oz last 20 minutes, as I’m sure you all know.

Other than that, I really haven’t been doing much other than going to work, coming home, and resting on the couch before going to bed. Last weekend, my friend Shiera came up from Tennessee and we spent Saturday in NYC–did a little shopping, and saw a Broadway show. I was SO SORE the next day–my left side incision (with the muscle sutures) is still giving me pain that my doctor says will last for 4-6 weeks. Wearing dress pants to work is also a contributing factor to the pain. For the time being, I’m trying to wear my looser pants in addition to skirts and dresses, and if I need to, I resort to 5ml of Tylenol with codeine at night (my doctor gave a script for two bottles after surgery–one big and one small; I didn’t even use up all of the SMALL bottle, so the big one is still untouched).

I think that’s all there is to say for now…hope everyone is having an awesome day!

Back to Work!

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I’m finally back at work. As much as I loved being able to sleep in and snuggle with my kitties, sitting at home doing nothing all day is absolutely exhausting. It’s great to be back in the office–although I don’t really have much to do today. I’m probably going to nap in my car on my lunch break, since I am feeling a bit tired.

I’m still grumpy about being on the liquid diet for the next two days. I’m so ready to freakin’ chew something. Anyone have any recommendations or recipes for the pureed stage? I can’t wait to have eggs–I saw someone suggest melting a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese into some scrambled eggs to keep them creamy which sounds heavenly right now. I also want egg salad something awful–I make my egg salad really finely chopped, so it will be the perfect thing for the pureed stage (thanks to my father-in-law for introducing me to that style of egg salad!).

Other than some pain on my large incision on my left side, I’m feeling good–I sneezed 4 times in a row last night which is now causing that pain. I took some Tylenol to help and as long as I don’t move around too much, I’m not in huge amounts of pain.

I hope everyone had a lovely day!

Angry

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After the day of surgery (and the nausea that followed), I think today has been the hardest of this whole process for me. I’m at my breaking point with this liquid diet thing. I’ve been eating the same “food” for almost two weeks and I’m going insane. When you add in the pre-op diet, I haven’t been able to choose what I want to eat for a month…outside of the WLS journey, I don’t know anyone who has eaten the same food every day for a month. I just want a friggin’ cheeseburger or some popcorn or something. I wish the diet weren’t “2 weeks of this, then 2 weeks of this, then 2 weeks of this,” but “1 week of this and then try the next stage and if it doesn’t work, then stick with it for another week.” I feel like if I took it slow, listened to my body, I could eat a lot more than what I eat now and do it without hurting myself. It’s just very frustrating.

Day 3

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I’m slowly getting better. I haven’t had any nausea or issues since I got home, which I’m super grateful for. I spent a lot of yesterday legitimately hungry, which was a good sign. I had broth, Jello, water, and diet apple juice yesterday, and I’ve discovered that diet apple juice is my favorite. Water is my least favorite, ironically–it gives me has pain even if I’m just taking small sips of it (which is how I’m supposed to drink from now on).

Sleeping has been a bit of a challenge–I have to sleep on my back because of my incisions. I tried sleeping upright the first night home, but that hurt my back pretty badly, so I slept flat last night, but that makes it difficult to get out of bed and also makes me a bit congested. My doctor encourages walking, so I’ve gone out to Bed, Bath, & Beyond to do that, and while we were there today, I picked up my new favorite thing–Mr. Wedge.

As you can see, Mr. Wedge is exactly what he sounds like–a giant foam wedge for me to sleep on. He’s wonderful and I was able to sleep for a solid 3 hours today. He is also Stitchy approved:

The cats got the bum end of the stick in this whole thing, I must say–they can’t walk on my belly at all, which is especially hard for Stitchy, since that’s her favorite place to curl up. She somehow snuck onto my chest without my noticing while I was asleep, which didn’t hurt, but then when Anthony shoo’d her off me, she stepped on my stomach, which hurt a little (but nothing awful). I’ve taken to sleeping with a pillow on my stomach so that, should one of them try to step on me, it won’t hurt (or they won’t try because the pillow is there; either solution works for me).

I feel a little better with every day’s passing. Gravity isn’t my friend right now, just because it pulls the muscular suture in my belly, but once I get up and moving, it doesn’t hurt so bad. I’ve been practicing taking deep breaths, which also helps. There’s also been a lot of burping to get the excess gas out of my system, which is completely normal. I go back to see my surgeon on Tuesday for my first follow-up appointment; hopefully he’ll tell me I can move on from the clear liquid diet to a semi-soft food diet. Semi-soft consists of anything that has the consistency of applesauce–blended soups, mashed potatoes, applesauce, pudding, etc.

Not much more to say today, other than to once again thank everyone for all of the well wishes–you’re reaffirming that this was a great decision and you’re making my recovery that much smoother. Love to all!!

I’m all sleeved!

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Good morning, all! I had my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy on Wednesday, so I figured now would be a good time to update everyone.

First off, thank you to everyone who has been showering me with love and encouragement on Facebook–you’ve made this entire process that much easier.

We went to the hospital at 6:30 on Wednesday, checked in, and were sent up to the surgery floor. They got me all dressed for surgery and gave me a little bit of something that made me a bit loopy. I remember being wheeled into the operating room and moving myself from the bed I was in onto the operating table. I also remember them putting an oxygen mask on me, which had anesthesia in it, and then I don’t remember anything else but waking up in the recovery room. I scared the crap out of Anthony because I woke up extremely nauseous, so I was in recovery for about 3 hours before they were able to move me to a room.

I don’t remember much about the rest of Wednesday. My friend Amanda (who had the same surgery done by the same doctor in December) came by to check on me, and I feel bad because I passed out mid-sentence. She kept Anthony comfy for a bit. One of the ladies from my support group came by and brought all sorts of sample protein powders, which was super sweet of her. She works in the hospital, so she didn’t have to go out of her way to see me, but it was so nice of her to bring the samples.

The rest of Wednesday passed by in a cloud of extreme nausea and sleeping. I got up to walk once or twice, but that only seemed to make the nausea worse, so we didn’t do too much of that. I wasn’t allowed to have anything to drink, but they did give me a little sponge on a stick to moisten my lips and mouth, which was a godsend. I thought I was going to have an upper GI in the morning, but I didn’t end up needing one, which was great.  I didn’t use the pain pump very often because the medicine in it, dilaudid, was making me really, really nauseous–the last thing I wanted to do was hurt myself throwing up.

Thursday was much better. I woke up well rested at about 10:30 and spent the day awake, sipping water, eating Jello (which was diet “Red” flavor, according to the hospital), and walking. I walked a lot. They changed my pain medicine from dilaudid to a liquid version of Advil/Motrin/anti-inflammatory stuff that didn’t make me nauseous at all (thank god). My mom got to the hospital around 3, and I was released at about 4:30. PROTIP: Getting a drain pulled out of your stomach sucks. It hurt and felt weird and I think it rubbed up against my liver, which freaked me out a bit.

The next few days will be spent with Anthony and my mom, making sure I don’t get dehydrated, burping a lot (getting all the gas out that they used to inflate my absomen), and learning my physical limitations. I have a follow up with my doctor on Tuesday, where he’ll hopefully tell me I can move on from a clear liquid diet to purees–I’ve got a butt-ton of soup in my freezer that I made a few weeks ago specifically for the pureed stage.

To be completely honest, Wednesday was a bad day and I regretted deciding to do this to myself. However, now that my nausea is gone, as the minutes and hours go by, I’m feeling much better and don’t regret the opportunity of life that this surgery is going to give me.

If anyone has any questions you want to ask, please feel free to either ask below or shoot me an email at shortfatandsassyblog[at]gmail[dot]com

Love you all!!