9 Months Post-0p

It’s been nine months since I had bariatric surgery. Time is just flying by!

Things that have changed since surgery:

  • I’m several dress sizes smaller. I have no idea what my pants size is because I no longer wear pants, but I imagine I’ve gone down a few pants sizes as well.
  • my hair is thinner–  this is a side effect of surgery and will hopefully go away, and I’ve been taking biotin to support hair growth. I think it’s working, I’m slowly starting to see some baby hairs growing. Hopefully this continues and I get all my hair back!
  • My shoes are too big. I didn’t really notice until about two weeks ago, but my feet have gotten smaller since surgery. I’m guessing that I’m down at least a half size, but more likely a full size. However, my feet are still wide so they will forever look weird in flats. *cries until the end of time*
  • I’ve eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet (which we’ve already talked about in previous posts).
  • I’m more tired AND I have more energy. I know that doesn’t really make sense but let me explain! Firstly, I get tired very easily doing simple things, like standing too long while taking a shower, or standing on Bart to or from work. I think it’s the combination of dehydration plus heat that makes me very faint (I’m still struggling to get enough water in postop). However, I have more energy to do things like climb flights of stairs to my office or go on hour-long walks with Kourtney or work out at home. So I’m both more tired and I have more energy.

More Letting Go (Diet Edition)

In addition to eliminating gluten and dairy, I’ve begun taking other steps to hopefully lessen/eliminate my PCOS symptoms. I’m going to be eliminating refined sugars from my diet in December, for instance. I’ve been reading a lot about sugar, and although I’m not convinced it’s a complete monster for the world I DO know that it’s a monster for my body, and that I really just need to stop eating it. However, sugar is in EVERYTHING, even fruits and veggies. It’s natural. So what I’m doing is eliminating refined sugars– you know, the little white crystals people pour in their coffee (or cereal, or whatever). I did a sugar detox in October and it did not go so well. It was a shit show. But I think now that I’ve eliminated gluten and dairy I’ve taken out most things with added sugar that I was really hooked on and I’ve been sticking to eating food made from home.  That in and of itself has reduced the amount of sugar I’m taking in! My biggest issue now is dealing with condiments (my beautiful, beloved condiments) and those totally delicious but slightly too high in sugar KIND bars I’ve been devouring over the last few weeks. Condiments are sneaky because you think you’re not using enough to really feel the sugary effects. However, I’ve noticed that as I’ve slowly eliminated foods with added sugar, I’ve come to rely on condiments to give me the sweetness I crave– I’ve been adding hoisin and sweet chili sauce to a lot of my meals recently. I need to cut that habit and start eating foods without sugary coating, ya know?

I’ve also fallen in love with KIND bars and Larabars. Most KIND bars are dairy and gluten free which means they’ve been fair game over the last few weeks. However, they are not exactly low sugar, and if you check their ingredients list you can see that it’s not coming from the natural sugars in fruit, it’s added sugar. Sad day for me. Most of the Larabars I like don’t have added sugar, and the sweetness you taste come from dates. However my favorite bar (peanut butter chocolate chip) has added sugar from the (dairy free) chocolate chips added. That might be the hardest snack to let go of, for me. It’s so delicious! And I love peanuts and chocolate together, it’s one of my favorite chocolate combinations! I’m going to take a harm reduction approach and reduce instead of an elimination approach. I know my limits!

Bariatric Life vs. Recovery

The bariatric team at Kaiser made it clear from the beginning that there are good foods and bad foods, foods that are okay to eat and foods that you should avoid. this is very different from when I was in therapy and we were told that food is neither good nor bad, it’s neutral and all fine in moderation. So you can see how I might struggle with trying to balance these to opposite and mutually exclusive ideas. I find that when I go about trying to stick with the bariatric meal guidelines my day ends up looking really strict, regimented and restrictive. That’s the nature of the plan, and also the nature of the process (I mean, they took out most of my stomach, so it’s obviously a restrictive surgery). However, the plan basically encourages eating disorder behavior. I can only eat 3 meals a day, and those meals are all 3oz (so I’m eating 9oz of food a day, just think about that), I can’t drink anything that is over 20 calories a serving, I eat my meals out of toddler bowls so I can’t over-indulge. If I were a skinny person, this behavior would be bizarre and cause for concern, right? But as a fat person this behavior is not only encouraged by the team, but also celebrated by almost everyone I interact with, whether it’s on instagram, facebook, or in real life.

If I were following this plan while in therapy I would’ve been strongly discouraged, my team would’ve saw it as cause for alarm. So I’m having a really hard time keeping to the baristric diet/lifestyle because I have their voices in the back of my mind, it just feels like giving into behaviors. But on the other hand I really want to stick to the heavy restriction because I think it’s the only way I can lose all the weight. I really don’t know how to just eat like a normal person. The problem (and this is the truly tragic part) is that there is so much pride associated with sustaining life with the least amount of food possible. It’s mind-boggling, being proud of eating only 2 ounces of food instead of three, like that’s some kind of grand accomplishment, like it makes me a better person in some weird twisted way. I have pride in myself when I restrict, and I truly think that people are also proud of me when I restrict, which is why the surgery was so compelling, such an irresistible option for me. It forces me to eat less, encourages me to think small and contained and little just about my food intake but about my body– because eating small means being small, and that is apparently more important to me than I thought. I always knew it was important to some extent to my family– they don’t really care about being thin but they definitely find being fat problematic– and important for society, but I thought that after all these years of therapy and self help books and body positive blogs that I would be somehow above the screwed up idea of fat inferiority. But now I’ve gone and cut out most of my stomach and I give myself a mental gold star when I’m under my calorie goal.

I think this is a problem that the bariatric team at Kaiser certainly didn’t prepare for, a problem that leaves me in a constant cycle of avoidance and overindulgence* of food. The healthy relationship with food I had hoped the surgery would foster has not been realized and I’m honestly not even sure it actually exists. Maybe this life is the one where I am at war with myself (hopefully this war will stay in this life and not cross over into the next).

 

* I can no longer overindulge/binge like I could before surgery but I think it’s important to note that even if it doesn’t have the calories of a binge it has the emotions of a binge and I think that counts for something.

The Only Constant is Change

Things that have changed since I’ve lost weight:

  • I eat less. My stomach can hold about 2, 3 ounces of food at a time. It makes eating out kind of awkward because I order a side or an appetizer and still end up leaving with a doggy bag.
  • The clothes I wore before I lost weight no longer fit– at least not very well. I have a pair of khaki capri pants I bought for my trip to Nola last year and they are now 3 or 4 sizes too big but the fabric is stiff enough that the pants still don’t fall down so I wear them as house pants. A light breeze would leave everyone with a view of my (way too big) underwear.
  • Speaking of clothes– I’m suddenly way into shopping now. I don’t know exactly why, because I shop at the same plus size stores just like before. But I think that the weight loss inspired me to buy new clothes (also, I made a commitment to a no pants lifestyle which meant I needed a new wardrobe).
  • I no longer chew gum. I no longer eat corn (popped, roasted, creamed, on the cob, whatever) or celery. I don’t drink caffeinated beverages or bubbly drinks. All I drink is water and it is depressing. I miss corn so damn much I can’t even really talk about it without getting really bummed out.
  • My digestive system seems so much louder. I can hear/feel my food moving around in my body, leaving my stomach and moving through my intestines. It’s really loud about it. Also gas. And I’m not very regular anymore. Another disappointment.
  • My hair is falling out. This is a side effect of the surgery and I KNEW it was going to happen so I’m not surprised but it’s a bit annoying. I think I’m going to start taking biotin to see if that will help with regrowth– hopefully this won’t be a side effect that lasts forever.
  • I pack all my foods in toddler sized tupperware to keep track of my portions. I get some weird looks at work about it, but no one asks about it which I appreciate.

 

Things that have NOT changed since I’ve lost weight:

  • I’m still depressed
  • I still deal with really bad self esteem and body image, and I have many days where I hate my body. I don’t see much change in how my body looks beyond more sagginess, more excess skin. I don’t find that to be terribly attractive, and I know it’s only going to get worse as I lose more weight.
  • I still have issues with food. I’m not going to diagnose myself with an eating disorder although I have been diagnosed in the past. However, I’m feeling the same feelings and using the same behaviors that I used when I was diagnosed, and I feel pretty out of control. I really wish this issue was simply part of my past but I’m beginning to realize that it’s part of my present and (most likely) my future.
  • I can still eat all the “bad” foods. I’ll feel physically ill, but not enough to learn my lesson. Just enough to make me feel like shit both physically and mentally. When I eat something with a regular amount of sugar I get a headache and feel like I’m going to throw up at any moment. I start to feel shaky and I have to lay down. It’s enough to make me feel regret, but not enough for me to never do it again.
  • I still don’t like people commenting on my body. I didn’t like it 80+ pounds ago, and I don’t like it now. I probably still won’t like it 80+ pounds from now. It’s not cool, stop doing it. There are probably a million cooler things about me than my weight or appearance. My body is not for your consumption. I’m not sure how many different ways I have to say it. JUST STOP.

 

Thoughts On Being Fat

I’m a member of a couple of wls groups on Facebook, I have an Instagram account that’s dedicated to my wls journey (I only follow wls accounts there, so it’s all weight loss pretty much all the time). I spend most of my screen time reading about weight loss stories, looking at before and “after” photos, bombarding my mind with images and narratives around losing weight. Most of the time (I would say probably 99% of the time) people talk about how happy they are being thinner than they were when they were fat. I understand that, I see why people want to put that message out there because there’s this idea that all fat people are (besides lazy and gross) totally miserable because they’re fat. If you’re depressed and fat, it’s not because you have a shitty job, or because you have a chemical imbalance in your brain, or because you’re going  through a rough patch in a relationship. It’s not because you just lost a loved one, or because people treat you like shit (because of aforementioned fatness) or because you’ve suffered trauma of some kind.

It’s because you’re fat, and you know it, and you hate it and hate yourself. So, the solution to that is to be thin. When you get thin, the depression will go away. And sure, some people (probably a small percentage) are depressed specifically about being fat and losing weight helps them feel better. But it’s not a cure all for all your woes. Also, not all fat people are depressed in general or depressed about being fat specifically, and that idea totally oversimplifies depression. I don’t know if you can tell, but the whole thing really grinds my gears. Continue reading

I Won’t.

“You’re shrinking!”

I know.

“What’s your secret? Tell me, what are you doing?”

Well I had surgery. It was a tough decision, but I knew it was time to do something. I had the surgery two months ago.

“Oh. Well good for you. Look at you, you’re shrinking!”

Yeah…

“Just don’t disappear, okay?”

I won’t.