Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reflections on the Band

A few posts over the last month have me thinking about living with the band. I think the biggest revelation was that we no longer should be thinking about "restriction" but actually limiting how much we eat.

Now I will admit, Christmas hasn't been a stellar month for me. There have been cookies and squares and sweets. But I barely baked like in previous years. And whereas I would have demolished an entire box of Turtles on Christmas Eve, I barely had any chocolate that day. The Turtles were still around for hubby and son. Christmas was quiet and relaxing. I did get an iPad and can actually see the screen without my glasses. I realized I enjoyed the company of others even more than the food. I've made a lot of mental progress since getting the band and this is just one more revelation. Food will not make me happy. Or take away stress. Or be my friend.

I guess when I first got my band, I thought that the upper pouch would fill with food, I'd feel full and then it would gradually flow into my lower stomach. I'd lose weight. For the past 20 months, I've lived through a bunch of fills-unfills-defills-refills. I've come to realize that the pouch does not "store" any food. If you chew the dickens out of what goes in the mouth, it always flows into the lower stomach. Only if the band is too tight does food get stuck in the upper pouch. It wasn't designed to be a second stomach. It was designed to slow the flow of food into the stomach. That is why we chew our food to pulp. That is why it takes so long to eat and causes the brain to register that the stomach is full. And that is also why slider foods are not good for us.

I've been told that I need to monitor and tell my clinic how long 1 cup of food keeps me satisfied. So now I limit my meals to only 1 cup of food and time how long it takes me before I'm hungry. Right now, it is about 4 hours which means, I am probably at a good fill level (even though I am still 0.5 cc below my maximum fill level of 4.5 cc). But I can still eat at any time. I haven't yet reached that point again where I "forget to eat". It will come again.

So why have I been stuck at the same weight since September 2010. My weight fluctuates between 169-175. Yesterday, I was 172. Is this my set-point? For the past few months, I was beginning to accept that this will be my goal weight. Does my body want to stay here or can I actually reach my original goal weight of 154 lbs? Statistically I've lost ~70% of my excess weight which is supposed to be what we can expect from the band.

But wait. Others have lost 100% or more of their excess weight. Others have lost nothing. So in the whole scheme of things the average lies somewhere in between. I don't want the average. I want the most I can get from the band. For me.

I have better plans. So I reflect on the past year.

When I first planned my meals post band, I could eat very little. A few bites here, a few bites there. This led to high calorie creations. No longer was I worried about slathering a piece of toast with gobs of butter or eating a chocolate bar. I could only eat one or two bites anyway. And I don't enjoy plain meat, chicken or fish. So cream sauces (made with real cream, not skim milk) were created. And garlic mashed potatoes to go with them because I couldn't eat vegetables or salads. Cheddar cheese was my go to food, full of fat and calories.

Then my year of unfills and refills. I could eat again. No more PB'ing. No more stucks. No more heartburn. In fact I could easily eat more than 1 cup of food, but I kept to that measured amount. I would almost have a panic attack when someone served me with a big plate. My little salad plates were my friend, making sure I stuck to the 1 cup portion. I could eat whatever I wanted. But I had grown accustomed to making these calorie rich foods but instead of a bite or two, I was eating the whole enchilada!

I also have a tough time getting in my protein. When I do eat about 20 g of protein at each meal, I am "full" for 3-4 hours. I need to make sure there is a bit of fat too. Cutting back on carbs is my goal, although I'd never go low-carb. Never, ever ever. I'd be in the mental hospital with severe depression if you took away my serotonin maker.

I've also been told more than once to give up alcohol. And to really exercise hard.

Funny how all these "advice" givers "know" how I should lose weight. It's not in the knowing. It's in the doing.

So as we move into 2012, I have a lot to think about. I do want to move down on the scale. Since being banded, I've always created a bunch of little lunches stacked in the freezer. Not those unappealing Lean Cuisine frozen blobs (LapBand Gal compares them to dog dishes). Real food, that I've made from scratch. Because I am a fantastic cook. I have to readjust to lower the calorie count but they are quick and easyI grab one each day for work.
My handy label maker is my friend. Sorry for any spelling mistakes!

In reflecting on what has changed with the band, I realize now that I have cut out fast food almost entirely. I have the occasional happy meal at McD's but I've almost eliminated processed junk food and meals. I take my own coffee in a thermos because it taste better than what I can buy. I will sometimes get a protein shake at Starbucks but I can also make the exact tasting one at home. Another benefit is that I have saved tons of money by not buying lunches, coffee or breakfast at work anymore. Yeah me!

There will be no resolutions this years. I will continue to lose weight. I have my gallbladder surgery on January 24th and will work to get the last 15 lbs off. My daughter is getting married in October and I have a bit of a desire to look svelte. I've ordered 3 exercise DVD's (they were on sale) and hope they keep me motivated until the winter is over. From there I can go back to Nordic walking with my great collapsible poles I got for Christmas.

I've decided I need to continue to blog, if only to check in with ME every once in a while. I get inspiration from reading how all of you are doing. I've resurrected the Superstars Blog and will post a new inspiration at least once a month. I hope a few who have taken a break from posting will reconsider and come back on line.

2012 will be a great year. I have lots of plans.

10 comments:

Justawallflower said...

Oh my, I know I have to cut out, or at least limit, alcohol in order to reach goal. It's just so hard!!!! You'll get there though. In the mean time, you look awesome!

Beth Ann said...

Love this post!

"When I first planned my meals post band, I could eat very little. A few bites here, a few bites there. This led to high calorie creations. No longer was I worried about slathering a piece of toast with gobs of butter or eating a chocolate bar. I could only eat one or two bites anyway. And I don't enjoy plain meat, chicken or fish. So cream sauces (made with real cream, not skim milk) were created. And garlic mashed potatoes to go with them because I couldn't eat vegetables or salads. Cheddar cheese was my go to food, full of fat and calories."

This hit me hard. It is EXACTLY what I went through this year and it took me a long time to figure it out. I don't even think I figured out WHY until I read your post. Thank you!

Lonicera said...

The questions you get in gastric band forums all demand magic formulas for making the band work - and you demonstrate the most important thing you can do for yourself is to sit down and think. What works, what doesn't, how does the body react to one food or another, how to be organised... because it's your organisation that's helping you through this. That picture of your plastic containers gave me a pang of shame, because I know that it's what I should be doing to make this work, and not just run over to the shop for a snack while I'm at work...
You're my guilty conscience Sandy...
A really good post for new years and new beginnings.
Caroline

Dawnya said...

This is a great post iMom!!! Thank you. It is so on point. The band is a tool that we each have to learn...we are all so different.

You are going to be one hot mother of the bride.

♫ Drazil ♪ said...

My iMom..who I love dearly. I love the thought behind this post. I have no doubt you'll get to your goals and I cannot wait for pics of the wedding. I love you.

Stephanie said...

This is such a perfect post with ideal timing for the coming year. With all the stress I've been under my weight has gone up to a high of 165 and has been keeping tight at 157, which is 3 lbs over my goal. I know what I need to do to refocus and get back on track and I know you will be too. We love you iMom and I can't wait to see you in the Spring.

You're going to dazzle at the wedding!

Gilly said...

I've been thinking a lot of the same things you've been thinking. I hate to use the words "time to refocus" but it's time to refocus. Ugh. Love you, Sandy! xo

Jacquie said...

GREAT POST Sandy!

Dinnerland said...

I agree with everyone, wonderful post-- and I could have written your paragraph about getting into habits of eating high calorie, creamy foods b/c I could eat very little.
So: how to back up from all of this comes, perhaps in year 3.
I know you've probably begun to do some of this work, as I have -- and it is the journey, my friend, not the destination.
Shine in 2012!!
xo

Ronnie said...

Refocusing needs to happen on my end, too. This a difficult few months!

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