How do you feel now?

I am loving how the IIN Integrative Nutrition Health Coach program aligns perfectly with my own personal journey. I would imagine that’s the case for a lot of people. So many of the exercises and assignments are introspective and focused around personal goals and intentions, as you’ve heard. 

This week, there was a section called Simple Ways to Optimize Your Life. So many of them have become ingrained in my life already since I started making changes around this time last year in anticipation of my gastric bypass surgery. My gratitude practice is likely the one that has made the most impact. For this program, I have increased my daily gratitude acknowledgments from 3 to 5. And I’ve begun to articulate them to others, as well as in my journal. I have been particularly grateful to the coaches at Kaia Fit for helping me stay active and making modifications to workouts for my current knee situation. Just spent 20 minutes in a magnetic tube today and hope to have some answers soon about next steps for my knee. I am so fortunate to have people who look out for me. 

Another part of this section has to do with being in tune to how your body feels after eating a certain way or specific foods. This is something that came up in our weight loss surgery support group a few months back, aiming to help people connect with their emotional attachments to food. 

I feel like I have worked through my emotional eating issues since my primary cause of emotional eating was triggered by my dad. I have come to terms with so much of that since he passed, coming up on 2 years as of June 9. Heavy sigh. The fact that my appetite and cravings have been well controlled with gastric bypass is a big part of having this urge under control. But I have also practiced mindfulness in this area too. I took to heart the instructions about focusing on the taste and texture of food and listening to fullness signals after my surgery. I really do try to focus when I am eating. I enjoy my food and don’t pick anything that is just okay since I get so little of it. 

This week I have two things going on. One, I am experimenting with going more plant based in my diet. I have met some very passionate vegans who have been very helpful in identifying plant based sources of protein. I need to find a way to ensure I am absorbing sufficient nutrients because of my altered digestive system. I even asked my surgeon about it. I’m curious in general because there’s very little literature about vegan RNY patients and if I plan to be a health coach for WLS patients, I feel like I need more data. My surgeon said there is a medical grade plant based protein made by Unjury, but since the vegan diet is missing several essential amino acids, supplementation is also required in addition. 

I have been doing research about the inflammation caused by dairy and animal products and am seriously thinking I need to make some changes to see if they help with my arthritis and digestion in general.

So I signed up for Peel’d this week at Kaia, and will get soups, salads, juices, smoothies and quinoa bowls for next week. I will need to add whey protein shakes on top of that to get my recommended supplementation in, but otherwise will be trying to stick to plant based all week. I’ll be journaling throughout the process to document how I am feeling, whether inflammation and bloat are decreased, and my overall energy levels. It’s a great experiment and it ties in with my school assignments. I’ll be adding tempeh, fruits and veggies if I get too hungry. 

I am really starting to believe in the body’s capacity to heal itself if given the chance and using food as medicine. What better way to learn than through your own experience. 

So stay tuned for my food and mood report. 

Setting intentions

Visualization is one of those concepts that seems very hokey to me. Visualizing yourself in a certain job, at a certain size or fitness level, or achieving other goals is widely recommended in the self-help world. I remember in a training class for work having to create a vision board using cut out clips from magazines I wouldn’t be caught dead reading in the bathroom. I’ve always kept my cynicism alive when it comes to things like that.

Until now.

I have written here about all of the steps I have made towards making permanent lifestyle changes over the past year or so. And I have discovered that keeping my eye on the prize — thinking positively and setting a series of goals — has gotten me closer to where I want to be than ever before.

I sat down a few weeks back to look at all of the things I have changed in my life as part of this journey.

  • Took a pay cut to move to a much less stressful, non-management job 
  • Have achieved my goal of getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night
  • Have focused on a number of stress reduction techniques, including daily gratitude journaling, declaration of a daily affirmation, and focused breathing moments interspersed throughout the day
  • Crowding out negativity, or as I call it, crowding out the crazy. This includes people, and at times, family.
  • Focusing on the positive
  • Journaling to help process the emotional side of things
  • Being authentic. Telling my story in hopes it may help inspire someone else to make changes.
  • Reading and researching everything and anything I can about bariatric surgery and strategies to achieve long term success
  • Tracking everything and anything from food journaling and fitness. Embracing my Apple Watch as a tool for success.
  • Consistency with exercise and food
  • Focusing on whole, unprocessed foods and how they make me feel
  • Finding other ways to measure success besides the scale, meaning setting non-weight goals
  • Identifying non-food rewards for achieving goals
  • Learning that self care is not selfish
  • Finding that the more I practice Yoga, the more I like it. Really, I love it when it’s over. Such an amazing and powerful feeling of both strength and relaxation.
  • Moving every day, no matter what

That’s a lot of things to change in such a short period of time. But it’s real change. The biggest thing I noticed is that by focusing on the positive, more good things happen around me.  Is that the law of attraction? Something like that.

    Anyhow, recently, I’ve been feeling like I have a lot to share and would love to move in a direction where I could help other people going through the bariatric surgery journey too. It’s amazing how many people don’t have the resources through their programs, or get the support they need. I have been lucky to have an amazing surgeon and program, but I also did a lot of work myself. Not everyone will take that kind of initiative.

    So I have made the decision to become a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. Starting May 15, I officially begin my program through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. How I came to this decision is through a series of events where everything just lined up and suddenly it all made sense.  So I am setting my intentions. My goal is to work with other people to help support their own journey and goals as they go through the process of life after weight loss surgery.  So there it is. I’m setting my intentions and throwing all right out there to the universe.

    Now…I wrote this post a few weeks ago and when I went to publish, I lost it.  And I felt like it was the absolutely perfect post. It was impossible to recreate something where the words just flowed out. So let me know what you think. For my other WLS followers, I’m curious to know if you think this would be something of value. 

    Allow for Learning

    img_6175To be a rule follower, you have to know all the rules. But when you think you are a rule follower and you find out that you didn’t have the right rules — that’s a little unsettling.

    So I am 8 months out from my gastric bypass and I’ve had some great successes. On Friday, I attended a Stage IV Nutrition class taught by my surgeon. The people in the class were generally pretty far along, probably ranging from a 4-5 months to a year plus out from surgery. She just started this class up and I guess it’s in high demand. It was scheduled for me for March back in December.

    The doctor talked about hunger at 6 months out, and exercise, and how at this point if we aren’t losing as fast as we want to it has to be something in our diets.  She said you had to take a hard look at what you are eating. I consider myself to be rule following, so I figured I had the food part all dialed in: 60-80 grams of protein from supplement, 3 small meals and a snack. I have typically been doing a protein shake (or coffee) before Kaia, one afterwards, breakfast between 9:30-10, lunch around 1 or 2; an afternoon snack most days, and then dinner, followed by a shake  or protein bar at night.

    The class was pretty interactive so I explained how since I started working out more intensely, I haven’t lost any weight. I acknowledged some of that has to be muscle, but my doctor knows my history and my sluggish metabolism.  She asked me how many calories I was eating, and I responded 900-1100. And she asked me about carbs, and I said I basically don’t eat any.  She told me to keep doing what I am doing and eventually my body will adjust.  Considering I really only have 7-9 more pounds to lose (depending on the day since I am bouncing around in a 3 pound range), I try not to let it bother me.

    Another patient commented that she wasn’t losing as fast as she wanted to (which I am sure I rolled my eyes at her 2 week stall since I’ve been stalled since December). The response that I heard was overwhelmingly shocking.

    My doctor recommended for people who were stuck to follow some different rules.

    Protein Shake Quality

    First, breakfast should be a big, dense shake. She recommended using Bariatric Advantage shakes because they have added fiber and are pretty thick. She made a comment about commercial protein not being good enough for us and asked what kind of protein everyone was using. Now—there’s a list of recommended protein in the materials that she give out.  She really recommends Unjury protein since it’s medical grade and it’s recommended especially for gastric bypass patients.  I bought some in the beginning, but when I discovered other flavors by Bariatric Eating, Cafe Bella in particular, I gave up on that plain jane stuff.  When I said Inspire, she said, that’s not that good I was surprised! I have been having monthly meetings with the nutritionist and she made it sound like that was a great choice. The doctor said that we can’t expect good results with protein from Walmart or Costco (referring to Premier protein most likely, which it seems like the majority of bariatric patients favor.  The other one I use a lot is Nectar, which she said was fine.

    I was in a state of disbelief though because I have a cabinet full of Inspire protein. I even went on a monthly delivery cycle to make sure I didn’t run out of Cafe Bella — my go to protein for coffee. I kept thinking how am I going to use up all that protein!  She suggested adding unflavored Unjury to it and I’d be okay.

    She also suggested adding more fiber to the first shake of the day to make it more satisfying. She recommended adding flaxseed (which I have done) or chia seeds to bulk it up, as well as using extra protein.

    She brought out some samples of Bariatric Advantage chocolate which was so thick — made in almond milk.  Their protein has a weird aftertaste, which somehow I have become accustomed to, as I also have a bag of Bariatric Advantage cookies & cream which I actually really like, even though it tastes nothing like an Oreo.

    So my head is turning thinking about whether I needed to buy some more protein while I was there or just wait until I used the rest of the other stuff up.

    Beware of Bars

    She talked about the protein bars she approves of, since they are whey protein and good for gastric bypass patients. Quest Bars, Think Thin (which I have several boxes of in the protein cabinet) and Pure Protein (the ones you can get from Costc0). She warned for those of us with slowing weight loss, that bars have a lot of other stuff in them besides the protein and are a lot more calories than the bariatric shakes, which typically have about 100-150. So since starting Kaia, I have been using bars as a protein supplement, particularly during the day because of their convenience. My takeaway from the class — stop this.

    Limit to 2 Meals a Day

    Next earth shattering recommendation: 2 meals a day, and only one of them should have complex carbs. And by complex carbs, she is talking low glycemic fruit and vegetables.  Not potatoes, rice, bread, etc. Which is fine, since I don’t eat any of that stuff.

    Next shocker: you can have as much lettuce, spinach, or kale as we can hold. I miss big salads and I had no idea I didn’t need to count greens in my food portion sizes.  So as long as protein is going in first, I can get my fill afterwards with greens. This is helpful as I am getting hungrier, especially after working out.

    So lunch and dinner should be protein focused. Got it.

    End the Day with a Protein Shake

    About an hour before bedtime, have another shake to keep the metabolism fed at night. I kind of knew about that, although was probably having other snacks more often at night, so this is a big deal too.

    I need rules — and it’s uncomfortable when the rules aren’t cut and dry. So after hearing loud and clearly, 2 shakes, 2 meals — she added that if we’re working out we can have snacks. Like string cheese or almonds. So to me, that’s outside of 2 shakes and 2 meals. Now I am confused again.

    So today was my first day trying this approach. I think I need to have 3 shakes to get enough protein to fuel my workouts, particularly since I am going from basically 3 meals and a snackish meal plus 2-3 shakes. I’m going to double up on protein in my morning shake and added chia seeds this morning.  Nice and thick. I was still a little hungry, and I didn’t have a strenuous workout today, but it was manageable.

    Let’s see if this will be the thing to kick my weight loss into high gear.

    Food Prepping

    In an effort to get ready for this new way of life, here’s my food prep activities for the week.

    1. Cooked a few pounds of chicken thighs, portioned out into 3 oz. portions
    2. Cooked a batch of farro. I’ll be added 2 tablespoons to salads once a day to add some more bulk, protein and fiber. This is an experiment. I usually don’t do well with these types of carbs, but I want to see if adding a little will help with my workouts and hunger.
    3. Prepped a bunch of kale so it’s clean, torn into little bits, and ready to be thrown into salads or smoothies.
    4. Made some home made lemon-tahini dressing. I couldn’t find the official recipe, but did this and it came out okay. Whisk all ingredients together in a mason jar and refrigerate.
      • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
      • 3 tablespoons tahini paste
      • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
      • 3 tablespoons warm water
      • 3 tablespoons olive oil
      • 6 tablespoons of bragg’s liquid aminos
      • fresh ground black pepper
      • sea salt
    5. Made a salad from kale, red cabbage, sliced peppers, diced chicken, 2 tablespoons of farro, and 2 tablespoons of the dressing.  Yum! And filling.

    So we’ll see how this goes. If nothing else, I know what I will be eating all week!

    But What is This Post About Really?

    This will never be easy. Even though I had surgery, genetics, metabolism, and my own history with obesity are playing against me. I have to work harder than most of the weight loss surgery patients I have gotten to know. According to the doctor, my metabolism may not ever even improve, although my best bet is to continue to build muscle. And sharing this information may be helpful to someone in the same boat, which is why I started sharing my story in the first place.

    I promise to report back on how well this pays off!

     

    Another piece of the puzzle

    Being a rule follower, I have been diligent about exercise since my surgery. I use my Apple Watch as a gauge for activity, but up until the new year, I’d only been walking. Granted I was walking a lot, and running a bit with my Nike+ app, but as I was getting closer to goal and the weight loss was slowing down, I knew I needed to mix it up.

    I’ve mentioned that I joined Kaia Fit at the beginning of the year. Three weeks in and I can feel myself getting stronger, pushing myself harder, and having fun.  The workouts can be hard and you definitely feel them afterward, but I think this push is what I need to get me the rest of the way.

    And the rest of the way has gotten a little shorter. My goal changed from 120 to 130, per my primary care doctor. I went to see her to check in about my medications since I was getting close to goal. I wanted to make sure the doses were still right for my weight and see if I moved any of my lab results to come off some meds. I ended up reducing 2 meds, and coming straight off of 2 others. I still will need to take medication for my pituitary tumor and thyroid, but I’m more than ecstatic of making other improvements in my health besides weight. Weight is just one piece of the puzzle; it’s a metric like my body measurements, body fat, and other health indicators.  When I first met with my surgeon, we set 120 as a goal, which sort of seemed like it was out of my reach at the time. At 135, I feel amazing. My clothes fit, it’s so much easier to buy clothes (I need to stop!), and I’ve made some big moves in my health. I asked my PCP for her advice about goal and she thought 120 was too low, and even though 130 wouldn’t get me to a normal BMI, that’s the number we picked. I would love to get lower — 126 would make 100 pounds total lost. I’m just going to keep working my program, pushing myself, and enjoying my new life.

    I am grateful to all the Kaia coaches who aren’t judging my journey (or if they are, I’m not feeling that way) and are supporting me in this next chapter. Today I did burpees without dying.  It was an awesome feeling.

    I leave you with this though, to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Seemed fitting for where I am, and where I am going.

    martin-luther-king-quotes-6

    Transformation from within

    Let’s start with this Instagram Post:

    Old Marilyn would never say this, but I am so proud of myself. I have made a lot of sacrifices to be where I am today. Cutting negativity from my life. Focusing on what is positive and in my control. This is my new size 6 dress from the Loft. My wonderful husband encouraged me to order a 6 instead of an 8. When I took it out of the package I was sure it wouldn't fit, but it did. Along with a pair of size 4 jeans. I can honestly say I am happy where I am. I'm not done, but if I didn't lose another pound I would be perfectly happy here. Loose skin, saggy boobs and all. But I'm on fire, so no stopping me yet! #progressnotperfection #rnylife #gastricbypass #rnycommunity #happiness #hardworkpaysoffs #rulefollower #almostnormal

    A post shared by Marilyn (@marilyn_unraveled) on

    Friday night I came home from work, excited about the weekend and excited to see what goodies arrived from the post office. Since I am starting to run short on clothes, I took advantage of post-holiday deep discounts and bought myself that dress. I’m continuing to be surprised when things fit me. I still struggle with thinking of myself as being as small as I am, which is why pictures are so helpful.

    After writing that post, I realized that’s the most positive I have felt in a long time. I have worked hard to get there. I journal daily. I find a daily affirmation every day. I write down 3 things I am grateful for every day. I am more aware of my negative thoughts and I try to catch myself before I say anything that’s not constructive. I am working hard to avoid drama at work (not 100% successfully, but making the effort) but making the move from management to being a worker bee has contributed to this improved state of being.

    I have made so many changes in such a short period of time, but still more work to be done.

    Next topic: Kaia Fit. Last week, I completed my first full week of Kaia Fit in probably over a year. I started in May 2014 and was consistent until things in my life started to fall apart around me.  My dad was sick and in and out of the hospital starting in September. Somewhere in there, I stopped going, stopped caring about myself, and gained 40 pounds. In a really short period of time. I just gave up.  And I was sick for months with whatever cold, flu or other crap was going around. It was horrible.

    Fast-forward to now. I am smaller than ever and still getting used to moving with this body. I managed to get through my 4 workouts pretty successfully. I couldn’t do everything full force, like burpees — I forgot how much I hate burpees. But I did it, and the thing I love about Kaia the most is you get really strong, really fast. And it’s fun. The hour goes by fast and I know that by 7:00 am, I’ve gotten my workout in. It is a very satisfying feeling. Plus, this gem came from our Flow class on Friday and it stayed with me.

    Then there’s the food part. I have such a routine around food. Since I can only eat so much at a time, I need to make sure I am getting good nutrition in. I had to come up with a good routine to make sure I can take my vitamins, medication, get a protein shake into me, put my lunch together — all before getting to my 6 am class. Food prep is critical.

    I think I actually thrive on the routine. So it’s Sunday. Got a bunch of food prep done (it’s actually pretty easy with teeny tiny meals).

    Since I started Kaia, the scale stopped moving.  I think my body thinks I am trying to starve it again. I just need to stay with it while my body keeps transforming.  Looking forward to my weekly measurements to see the progress.

     

    Mirror, mirror…in the backyard

    img_4950

    I have spent many years avoiding mirrors. And even when I am not avoiding them, I’m not very kind to myself. So, we don’t have a full length mirror in our house.

    As I get closer to my goal, I find myself doing a double take when I catch my reflection in a storefront or see myself in a full length mirror. I don’t recognize myself. That’s why I’m taking weekly pictures — it allows me to let my mind catch up with the changes that are happening with my body. So much of this journey is mental, and my mind is a trickster.

    Yesterday, while out with the dogs in the backyard, I caught myself in the reflection of our woodshed and decided I needed a picture to see what I was really seeing. I still don’t think this is me.

    Going mirror shopping today. I have to learn to like that person.