Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Scale Never Lies...

I previously mentioned the Thinner Times forum as one of the best places for any question a WLS patient may have. Not everyone there knows what they're talking about, however, so you need to weed out those who have been living the life long term from those who may be pre-op and not as well informed as others. This goes without saying for anything you find on the internet and in forums in general, but some people still need the "dummies" version of the book. Last night I was reading a thread someone posted inquiring help about how many calories a day we should be eating post-op. This is a really really REALLY relevant question...mainly because I had the same one and of course my questions are the most important (even though I had not had the guts yet to ask it myself). There were so many replies my head was reeling. 

The thing is, you are going to get a different answer from each person that has a different doctor, in a different state, who went to a different medical school and heard their info from a different professor or research study. I saw every single answer from 1500! Are you kidding me?! I have asked my nutritionist the SAME question and do you want to know what the NUT said? Really? She said not to even worry about the calorie intake as long as I am getting my protein requirements for the day...which are above 50...which will spark a whole other debate on the forum (more than 50...70...80...1 gram per pound of goal for me that would be 150 grams a day?!). Let's stick with this one for now and when my hair starts falling out (which it better now, damnit) we can discuss protein again. So the forum has numbers all over the spanking place and my doctors are telling me something completely different. This is what I decide to do...

I chart my every single day intake on (it's amazing and awesome and you all should join because it's amazing to see what we do with ourselves daily). I track my calories, fat, protein and carbs. I also track my fitness minutes, fruit/vegetable and water intake. In terms of protein, I strive for at least 60-70 grams, if not more, a day. In way of calories, however, let me break it down. As time goes on in pretty pretty post-op land, one can consume more ounces of food. I was on liquids, then soft foods, then about a week afterwards I was eating about 2oz of food at each meal. Two months out, I can now eat about 3-5 ounces of food (depending on what and how dense it is: ground meat versus stew with lots of soft veggies). When I was about a month out, I was eating between 300-500 calories a day tops. I just couldn't get in more than that and my body was definitely in starvation mode. I was still healing too, so I felt tired all the time from taking in so little and recuperating. Now, I am able to thrive on about anywhere between 600-900 calories daily. I never break 1000 and although many people would say I am too high, many others say I am wayyyy too low. I find that varying my caloric intake helps me more than staying on the low or high side multiple days in a row. Here's why...

Simply put, sometimes you HAVE to eat more to lose more. That doesn't mean go out and hang out with all the police officers at DD on a daily basis. What it means is that if you eat too few calories, no matter who you are, your body will go into starvation mode and hold onto all the fat it can for dear life. Our bodies panic, and instead of losing weight on the scale, we stall out or even gain a pound or so. The stall can be the biggest bitch of all. I looked back at my weigh-ins on spark during the time I would lose about a pound a day and then stall and not really lose the next week. Now, I know that our bodies play catch up with us and the not losing is a sign the body is readjusting. However, I have found that since I have upped my intake and vary the calories I am eating daily ( day 1: 630, Day 2: 800, Day 3: 732 etc.) I have lost weight more consistently without the dreaded stall for more than a day or so. Also, I will eat on the higher end of my numbers on days I work out for more than 30 minutes and also up the fluid intake. The science of it all is too much for me and if I read another post right now about who thinks or has heard what about calorie intake, I may cut a bitch. But in the end, it's not anyone's fault, yet again, that we do not have an accurate picture of what we need to do. We each have an individual body that has very different needs from the next person. What works for you may not work for me and vice versa. All we can do is support the choices of our friends and online community members, and keep asking and answering questions. Sometimes half the battle of not feeling alone is knowing someone else is just as confused as you are. 

I'll have the vitamins with a side of VITAMINS please...

 I was very puzzled today. I am a member of a support forum called Thinner Times and it is mainly for people who are thinking about or have been through Gastric Bypass, Lapband surgery, or Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy.  It is a FABULOUS resource for all things weight loss surgery-related. The people there are as real as it gets. Those who have had wonderful recoveries and results post as well as those who have been through the wringer (not even the proverbial wringer). People post classifieds, questions, concerns, ventings and social/emotional issues as well as the everyday WOW moments. I have definitely posted my fair share of questions as well as my own WOW moments (i.e. losing 60 pounds and two pant sizes and being able to find jeans in a regular department store versus "Shame Bryant."). I can't say enough wonderful things about the forum and about its people. 

So as I am browsing the threads and responding to someone's post about what kinds of vitamins people who are post-op take, I realize my doctors may not have my best interest at heart...or their own professional interest long term, if you know what I mean. The deal-io is that people who have bypass are at serious risk for mal-absorption issues throughout the rest of their lives...our life now. I knew that going in and that's why I had a wonderful multi-vitamin and iron chewable all lined up. It is called Bariatric Fusion and according to my doctor and the effing bottle, all I will need "for life" is two chewables, twice daily in order to get what I need as a baratric patient. WRONG. According to the (American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery), I would need 8 of these little chalky suckers just to help me prevent Osteoporosis, if not neurological problems etc. The bottle says 4, the ASBS says I would need to have 8 (200% daily value doses) and I say WTF?! Why make a product that is called "Bariatric" Fusion if it is not going to follow the guidelines that prestigious researchers put out there. And of top of that, why in the hell doesn't my nutritionist KNOW this about these shit heads and tell me, "Amy, you are either going to chew yourself to death eating 8 of these chalky wonders a day OR find a better vitamin than the one we encourage you (because we are probably getting paid to do so) to take." Isn't is the job of the nutritionist to keep the patients healthy so that research continues to show that they can do their freaking jobs? Just a thought.

Well, now I have to print out the damn ASBS document that says clearly what we need as patients and be one of those annoying broads that brings it IN to my next appointment ALONG with my Fusion vitamin bottle, and says "What in the hell is wrong with this picture?" until someone listens to me. THEN, I am going to need to find a different vitamin regimen. Thank heavens for the forum...they did not tell me what I should do but directed me towards two other acceptable vitamins for bariatric patients and I am getting some free samples in the mail. The "Celebrate" company apparently stands by their word when it comes to their products and does, in fact, supply all the vitamins I will need along the way. I may have to take 2 multis, 2 iron, 1 sublingual, 203 chewable calcium etc. a day but at least I will know that if I fall down at the ripe old age of 30, I may, just MAY not break a hip. Thanks for all the great support "bariatric" center. Way to stay up and current on research and vitamin guidelines so the health of your patients shines in the research of years to come. REALLY?! Thanks.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Meatloaf Heaven

So I have to say that I have always been a "meat person." Given the choice between carbs and   protein...protein wins by a landslide each and every time. I don't really remember a time that I didn't want some kind of protein with my meal and today was no different. My very wonderful bestie from Brooklyn was visiting this weekend. She generally teases me that I don't cook when she visits but she had not yet met...

"Post-op Betty Crocker Barbie" who loves to try new things and then bombard her Facebook friends with recipes and corresponding pictures via her super amazing blog. I cooked three meals for her this weekend and loved every minute of it, even if I could not consume one of the recipes myself. 

When she flew in on Friday night the weather was warm, the moon bright and the promise for bitter cold for the rest of her stay had already been foretold. In preparation for the brick temperatures that have been Syracuse in the past few days, I made my Zucchini Stew recipe from a previous post, and included the meat from a rotisserie chicken. It was delicious, nutritious and the leftovers are sitting safely in my freezer. Saturday morning I made french toast with fresh Challah bread that she brought from Brooklyn (this is the meal I could not partake in but boy did it smell good). Today, to celebrate the sadness of her departure (get out house guest! ;o) I jest), I made a new recipe...Taco Meatloaf. 

Now, I had previously made a turkey meatloaf recipe in a muffin pan but this new recipes was a whole different ball game. JUST as easy to make with only a couple more ingredients (see past blogs for other turkey meatloaf recipe). I do not have the nutritional info for this recipe as I simply do not have the patience to sit and figure it out yet. However, it is very healthy and when paired with steamed carrots and baked potato (I rub a little garlic flavored infused oil on the potato and sprinkle sea salt on them before baking for a yummy baked potato), this meal is great for flavor and to keep you and your family warm on a cold evening.

Taco Turkey Meatloaf:
*2 lbs ground meat.....I use very lean (93/7) turkey
*2 packages of taco seasoning
*2 eggs
*1 onion chopped fine
*1/2 cup of crushed saltines
*1/2 cup of crushed fritos 
*1/2 cup of salsa I use hot
*1/2 cup of taco sauce
*1/2 cup of Mexican cheese

Mix the meat, seasoning, eggs, onion, crackers, fritos, and salsa by hand in a large bowl. Form 2 loaves and place on a non stick cookie sheet....cover with 1/4 cup taco sauce in preheated 350 degree oven....cook 70 minutes and cover with the cheese cook 5 more minutes.....ENJOY!!


After Gastric Bypass surgery, and depending on your doctors and nutritionist, you may hear very different things about coffee and caffeine in general. Many doctors say NO caffeine at all, others do not say a thing...and mine stay somewhere in the middle of the road, saying it is OK to have decaf beverages. The answers vary for these reasons:

  • Caffeine is a diuretic which means in order to get in all the water we need a day, you will then probably have to consume more if you drink coffee (which can already be challenging for some before adding coffee to the equation).
  • Caffeine can cause ulcers in our new stomachs. We are prescribed a generic prilosec to control stomach acid in our new mini-mi pouches and it varies how long they are prescribes for. However, aggravating the stomach acid can cause some serious, if not, bleeding, mega ulcers.
  •  Caffeine tends to make WLS patients very jittery and there is a lot of controversy about whether or not caffeine helps wight loss or hurts weight loss. 
I find that regardless of the research, those who enjoy coffee and who are allowed to integrate it into their daily lives, can and will find a way to do so. I myself, enjoy coffee on a non-daily basis. I find that it is comforting and warm in the winter, and refreshing and fun in the summer. It makes me feel (and I can imagine this being the case for other WLS patients) as though I am still able to be "normal" after surgery. It is a small comfort that I can now enjoy with the help of some friends: decaf coffee, my NEW Keurig, sweet N low and sugar free creamers (or sugar free syrups like Torani...that I have not yet tried). I bought the Keurig yesterday using some rebate cards and gift certificates to pay for an already "on-sale" item in the mall and in celebration of 60 pounds lost forever! These milestone rewards have helped to keep me motivated, and in the case of this winter...much much warmer!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


In honor of it A) Being a weekend, B)Being the weekend before Valentine's Day and C)Being 10 pounds from Two-ville (below 300lbs.), I am going to share a new find with you! I know you are jumping up and down, screaming from the rooftop, crap your pants happy about this but try to contain your excitement until you see the nutritional info gets friggin better! Are you ready...I mean can you really handle the excitement? Here it is...POWDERED PEANUT BUTTER! 

Hmmm doesn't sound great does it? Just keep an open mind, because that is exactly what I had to do when I saw it in the health food store. It is an all natural, no chemicals, powdered peanut butter. They literally remove the oil from the peanut, which in turn removes about 85% of the fat. All you have to do is add water. I feel like an astronaut just saying that you need to "just add water" to get the creamy full effect, but it's true. Bonus...they also make a chocolate version. If you are counting calories or looking for a low calorie, low fat, more natural way to get in some good protein, here you have it. 
It must taste like completely dry doo-doo right? Nooooo, this stuff is for reals for real. Although it sounds like I jest, it is really delicious or I wouldn't be inclined to share. First, let's talk nutritional comparison...

Calories210Sodium140 mg
Total Fat17 gPotassium0 mg
Saturated3 gTotal Carbs6 g
Polyunsaturated2 gDietary Fiber2 g
Monounsaturated2 gSugars2 g
Trans0 gProtein8 g
Cholesterol0 mg


Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2 tbsp (12g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 13

Calories 45
% Daily Values*
Total Fat 1.5g2%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Trans Fat 0.01g
Cholesterol 0.01mg0%
Sodium 94mg4%
Total Carbohydrate 5g2%
Dietary Fiber 2g8%
Sugars 1g
Protein 5g
Hugeeeeee difference! Also, I haven't even mixed it with water to make a creamy PB. I have simply added it to my Valentine's gift from Evan to make a delicious snack/meal replacement:
Use 1 scoop of the chocolate truffle Nectar protein powder and add in 1/2 banana, some milk or light yogurt and 2 TB of the PB2 (I used the chocolate PB2) and you have yourself a yummy tummy approx. 200 calorie, 1 gram of fat and approx. 30 grams of protein snack/meal. Plus it doesn't have a long ingredient list with all the stuff you can't pronounce. It is simply guilt-free, god-damn goodness in a glass! And that's all I got. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More Food!

I know this seems a little redundant and I hope no one is truly bored by this (other than my co-workers), but I promise that as soon as I tire of cooking (which, based on my attention span, shouldn't be long now), we will be back to regularly scheduled programming on the blog. However, in my internet travels, I found this awesome and easy recipe for mini turkey meatloaf in a muffin tin! I think I am in love with muffin tin cooking. It is fun to mold or pour food right in the little nooks and see what comes out. Here is the latest creation...feel free to adapt/change/add anything you want, just be prepared that if you agg more, you will use more than one 12 cup tin.
Mini Turkey Meatloaf in a Muffin Tin:
* 2 pounds or 2 container (mine were 1.3 lbs. a piece) lean ground turkey (93/7)
*1 box any flavor stove top stuffing
*2 egg whites or 1 egg white and 1 whole egg (I used 2 whites and may try the other way next time)
*1 onion, finely chopped (optional)

*Combine everything in a large bowl
*press into lightly sprayed (oil or pam) tin. They will be rounded at the top
*Bake for 35 minutes at 350
*Enjoy and add/change things to make it fun (i.e. 2% cheese etc.)

                                                      Nutritional Info per serving (1):
Calories: 164.5

Total Fat: 5.8 g
Cholesterol: 53.3 mg
Sodium: 277.1 mg
Total Carbs: 10.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.5 g
Protein: 16.7 g

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful!

I have been shoveling a lot since I have been cleared (they said to wait 4-6 weeks) to do so. I may be doing more than I should but I honestly hate that my hubby has had to do all the work alone throughout a long and snowy Winter. So, because I have been spending some quality time outside (cue the violins, I know), I decided to try another new recipe! Aren't you bursting with excitement?! Well, I am so shut up and get cooking, you will not regret this one and neither will your body. This stew warmed me right through to the bone after the wind had its way with me for about an hour. This may not sound like anything to special to those of you that have never had to wait 5 minutes between bites...but for my food to actually STAY warm during my 20-30 minute meal, it takes a special dish. Turkey chili has also worked wonders for my hot food cravings. I stumbled across this stew recipe on a community forum called It is a wonderful forum for anyone researching or in the pre-op or post-op phases of WLS. The forum is a wonderful portal full of super supportive people and there is even a section for recipes. When I saw this one for Zucchini Stew, I was in love. What is better to warm you up than a nice, thick, vegetable laden stew with some chicken for extra protein. It is so low calorie per 1 cup serving, it is almost criminal to tell you but it is like anything else, it is only as good for you as what you put in it. So here is what I put in it and I already know I will add more veggies next time, so feel free to edit as per your tastes:
Zucchini Stew:
*2-3 Zucchini and/or yellow squash, cubed
*1 large onion, chopped
*1-2 minced garlic cloves
*2 large potatoes-skinned and cubed
*2 cans stewed tomatoes (I may use diced tomatoes with chiles next time)
*1 TB olive oil
*Seasonings to taste (I used a veggie seasoning packet, salt/pepper)
**Combine all ingredients in a pot, cook on low (covered) for 30-45 min or until soft to your liking**

***ENJOY with Pj's and a nice warm blanket in front of the fire for extra comfiness :)***

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Day in my Pocketbook (*Pouch*)

I happen to not mind the medical reference to my new stomach as a "pouch" but some of my friends think that I sound like a marsupial getting ready to smuggle my furry baby somewhere illegal. So I have decided to call it my "pocketbook" in hopes that it will sound fancy. Well, I suppose it is designer made. Anyway, so I thought I would bring you a day in the life of my "pocketbook." As it happens, with my new breakfast, lunch and Super Bowl recipes that I tried, it was a high calorie day...a whopping 823 calories total with 26 grams of fat and 67 grams of protein. If I rifle around in there a bit, I may be able to tell you the breakdown. . .

Crustless Quiche: 5-6 eggs (we used egg beater equivalent), any mix ins you would like (we used chopped red pepper, 1-2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 cup 2% shredded cheese, and salt/pepper. Pour over top one tator tot in each muffin slot and bake at 350 for 30 min. You can make mini ones in a mini pan without the tator tots too! Calories: 183, Fat: 6 and Protein:19 in 4 quiche muffins

Lunch: Protein shake: 1 scoop Syntrax Nectar (Fuzzy Navel flavor), 1 container activia light strawberry yogurt, 1/4 cup light cranberry juice and 1 cup frozen strawberries. Blend and enjoy!
Calories: 222, Fat: 0 and Protein: 28
                         Super Bowl:
1. Fage Feta Dip: 1 container (6oz) Fage, 1.5 Tablespoons pesto, 2 green onions chopped, heaping 1/4 cup crumbled sundried tomato and basil feta cheese. Blend in food processor until smooth, Top with chopped fresh red pepper.
Calories(I used 1 oz): 33, Fat: 2 and Protein: 3

2. Zucchini Parmesan Chips:                                  
*sliced zucchini dipped in 1/4 cup egg beaters
and shaken in a bag with 1/4 cup parmesan 
*Bake on cookie sheet at 425 for 15 min.
Calories in 1/2 of recipe: 89
Fat: 1 and Protein: 6                     Chicken Basil Tortilla Pizza
*One Low Carb Tortilla shell (I used Chi Chis 6"), 1/8 cup sauce of choice, 1 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped fresh basil, chopped red peppers, 1 oz shredded chicken. Lightly oil cookie sheet, load up toppings and bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until tortilla looks brown. It will crisp up very nicely!
Calories (roughly because it depends on toppings etc.): 238, Fat: 12 and Protein: 15

So there you have it...Super Bowl Sunday day in my "Pocketbook!" Hope you decide to try some of these recipes. They were fun and I enjoyed all of them a lot. You can make them "fatter" or "skinnier" as you wish given toppings, types of cheese, meat etc. I use to help me track all my info. If you have any questions or need suggestions, feel free to ask. It was a very yummy day!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Gettin my Drink on...

I mentioned in my previous post that I have been told that I should not consume ANY alcohol for at least a year after surgery (and in their opinion...ever). The reason for this is mainly that when you are losing weight quickly, the liver has to work overtime to help de-fat the body and if you are drinking alcoholic beverages, it may have to work too hard and other complications can arise. Also, let's face it...drinking empty calories has never helped anyone. On that note and considering all the advice I have been given, I wanted to share my new drink of choice. Fuzzy Navels!!!!! Are you confused? Are you saying to yourself..."Did they remove part of this chick's brain when they rearranged her insides?" Nooooo, don't be silly! Let me show you what I am talking about.

Syntrax Nectar is a new protein drink I am trying instead of buying the Vitamin Shoppe out of Isopure (which is great too!). They have vanilla bean, chocolate truffle, lemonade, lemon tea (tastes like iced tea) and a couple other flavors. I liked the Fuzzy Navel the best. It honestly makes me feel like I am a little girl sipping on the one drink (seriously) my parents would have 1-2 times a year, if that. It also makes me feel like I can be a social drinker LOL. It really tastes like a fuzzy navel without the protein after taste that comes with a lot of protein drinks. This can be mixed with water or milk (I had it in the store with water) and can also be combined with fruit, juice or yogurt to make smoothies. It has a whopping 23 grams of protein and only 90 calories in one scoop. Zero carbs.

Now, I am, by no means, trying to sell this stuff. What makes me incredibly happy is that people told me my tastes would change after the surgery and they were right. I have two tubs of my old favorite protein shake (Platinum Hydro Whey Turbo Chocolate and Velocity Vanilla) in my cupboard that I no longer like. It also has too many calories in it for me. So finding this was a nice breath of fresh protein air! I love finding new and interesting things post-op that I can enjoy and still get in my more than 50 grams of required protein a day. Soooo, party at the Lipton out, things may get crazyyyyy! Hehe

Looking back...

Recently, some have requested more information as to how I got started with pre-op process for bypass. The first thing you have to do is be really ready for all the information they are going to throw at you. I struggled so much with this decision that when I finally decided to choose me before anyone and any food, I thought it would be easier and much much quicker. However, I was in for a very rude awakening. The entire process takes what we all feel we don't have enough of...time. The first thing I had to do was meet with my doctor and explain my desire to attain more information. Your doctor will refer you out to an informational meeting which is a requirement to move on. Once you have attended the meeting (and internally flipped out and questioned this entire decision again and again) you may pay the cost of the program (which includes pre and post visits to the center) and schedule an appointment with the surgeon. This was the point that I could also get started with a variety of steps I would need to accomplish prior to even receiving a surgery date. They are as follows:
  • Six month requirement for Insurance: In order to have my insurance company cover the cost of my RNY surgery, I had to attend an informational meeting about the different surgeries and then embark on a 6 month weigh in regimen where I have to be weighed in once a month for six months at either the Bariatric Center or at my GP's office. If I missed a month, I would have had to start all over again. I also had to lose 5% of my body weight within that time.
  • Psych Clearance: I had to drag my butt to a crappy waiting room in a crappy office building and wait to be "shrinked." The psychologist who cleared me held all the power as he sat there balding in front of my eyes, eying me with his self-righteous (I can make or break this for you) look, talking my ear off about his "specialty" with drug addiction and substance abuse. It was almost enough to send me into therapy on a continuous basis.
  • Sleep Study: For those people who have had a history with sleep apnea, this would have been MUCH more involved. However, because I have never had any sleep issues, a wonderful woman brought a sleep monitor (goes on your finger) on a Monday and picked it up Tuesday morning. Easy breezy!
  • Tests: EKG (stress test only if my EKG had been abnormal but thank goodness, it wasn't) and blood tests galore to check all my levels and see what vitamins I may have needed before surgery.
  • Attendance at support group meetings: Must attend three meetings...loved this even though I thought I would hate all the Kumbaya singing and hand holding (we really don't do this...really).
  • Lots and lots and lots of patience! All of these steps took time, scheduling and lots of waiting. It was worth it!
Would I do it again? Abso-tively-lutely! Was it a pain in the butt? Yes is surely was! Was it a waste of my time? No it was not. In order to really be ready for something like this, you have to be as informed as possible. I can't even count the number of hours I spent online, in forums like "Thinner Times" and on my SparkPeople page logging my daily dietary intake (which I still do, every single day) and fitness minutes. If I had not done all of the above, I may not have done this for the right reasons...I may not have done it at all. This has been a complete life change. I still stall on the weight loss as it seems to come in waves, so I am experiencing everything others are. It is frustrating not to see the scale move for a week or more, I am never going to be able to relax and just watch it come off...I am going to have to work like everyone else. In the beginning, yes it will come off faster, but those that do not make it an extreme life change and understand that we do this to move forward FOREVER, not forward and then back again (like many of us have done our entire weight watching lives) will have a very rude awakening when they have gained all of their weight back. I have very likely given up sugar permanently as my body may not be able to tolerate it. I cannot drink alcohol for at LEAST a year. There are foods that I may eat along the way that will make me extremely sick anytime I try to eat them (which for me would only be once lol). I may have hernias and vitamin deficiency down the road. Did I know all of this going in? Yes. Would I have my guts rearranged all over again? YES!
~If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading~
-Lao Tzu-