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19 Months Post Op – Amsterdam – 60 kilos (134 lbs) – May 2013

Queen in flowersHallo everyone! I’m baaaaaccccck! I said I would post when I had something really juicy to write about after my first year of weekly posts was up. And now I do have something I think would be of interest so I’m here to share!

Just to recap quickly since it’s been several months since I stopped writing weekly. At 58 years old I had the vertical sleeve surgery; this was the end of October 2011 and I wrote each Sunday until the end of 2012. My highest weight was 223 lbs when we lived in Hawaii; when we retired in 2011 and started traveling for a year, I managed to lose almost 20 lbs but at 5’3″ I was still seriously overweight and my knees, feet and hip were all going haywire on me. If you want to know more, take a look at my ABOUT ME page.

The first year after my surgery was truly an adventure of the mind, the soul, the body and many countries! How many people have this surgery in a foreign country (for me it was Germany) then travel for the next six months? As the weight came off, I logged many miles through many different countries and states in the US as we made our way back to Hawaii to get organized for our move to Amsterdam!

In front of our new home in Amsterdam... yes, that is my bike!

In front of our new home in Amsterdam… yes, that is my bike!

Most of you who have followed my posts from the beginning know that my weight loss journey (as well as my traveling journey) was a positive one and that I told very few people about my surgery. The summary of that first year was that I lost over 85 lbs, reaching my goal weight of the mid-130s at about one year after surgery, and I have maintained that weight for the last nine months. Right about that time, we moved from Hawaii to Europe, bought a house in Amsterdam, and spent the winter moving in and getting settled in our new home. The best parts, though, were that not only did I drop the weight, my health issues went away and my husband and I became closer than we had ever been. Life indeed has been great and we love living here and enjoying our retirement and each other!

15 months Post-Op – Amsterdam – 61 kilos – January 2013

Beautiful Vondelpark in the snow.

Beautiful Vondelpark in the snow.

HELLO EVERYONE! I wrote my last weekly post at the end of 2012 and then was amazed at how many new readers signed up for my blog when I announced I was no longer going to write weekly. So I thought I would pop in at the end of each month with an update on post-op sleeve life, which is a lot different than life the first year after surgery. I’ve really enjoyed the first real winter here in Amsterdam (and first real winter in all my 59 years!)… the snow has been beautiful and I’ve managed to learn how to dress to stay warm.

But as I start the new year in a new country and a new climate, this is how I’m affected by my post-surgery life:

  • My ‘New’ Normal
  • Breast lift is on the horizon
  • Looking for interesting stories
Our lunch every day is a salad...this is lunch in our new house with no furniture yet...note the cut out on the floor where the baby grand piano will go!

Our lunch every day is a salad… this is lunch in our new house with very little furniture yet!

MY NEW NORMAL: I have to say that, for me anyway, it really took a year, maybe even 14 months, to feel fully healed from the surgery. I can’t say that I truly enjoyed eating much for the first year, but it didn’t bother me, either, because the trade-off was so huge. Now, 15 months post-op, I have a pretty good routine down. There isn’t anything I can’t eat; even pasta and rice are fine. When I do have either, it’s just a few bites and I’m satisfied. I never thought I would ‘crave’ protein, but I can tell when I need it. I eat an egg for breakfast 2-3 times a week, often with a piece of toast and a couple pieces of bacon. Other days, I just have some yogurt with a little granola on top or some cheese and a cracker. I always eat a half an apple on my way home from the gym. But of course every morning starts off with coffee and cream!

Week 49 – Honolulu – September 23, 2012 – 141 lbs AT GOAL!!

Two Important Things Happened This Morning.

First, I stepped on the scale and it said 141 lbs, a number that says to the world I am no longer Morbidly Obese, Obese, or even Overweight! I am officially a Normal weight for the first time since I was born! Because I was unsuccessful at any and every diet I tried throughout my lifetime, this is monumental for me.

Second, I logged onto my computer and got a Happy Anniversary message from Alex, founder of the Gastric Sleeve Surgery Forum on bariatricpal.com, noting that it was exactly a year ago today that I signed up. That began one of the most interesting and transformational years of my life. It was almost as if I had planned this: reaching goal weight one year from the day I signed up for the forum.

The view of the River Amstel was much calmer than what was going on inside!

The view of the River Amstel was much calmer than what was going on inside!

Even though this past year has been exciting, wonderful, introspective, and a true life-changing experience, this time last year sucked – big time! My feet hurt, my hip hurt, my knees went out on me, and then my normally strong self-confidence got beat to a pulp and then stomped on by my normally loving and supportive husband.

This is the story I mentioned in my first entry about my final moment of truth. No I didn’t sit on a chair that broke in a room full of friends, no I didn’t get asked, “When are you due?” by a stranger; mine was much more personal.

I say final, because how many red flags do you see before you say once and for all “Enough Already!” But it wasn’t me saying it – I was too embarrassed to talk about it because I felt like such a failure. It was my husband who finally said he couldn’t take it any more. We fell in love in 1987 when I weighed in the 160s (which was more than he weighs) but he had hopes that I would lose some of that weight. Hah! Not only did I not lose it, over the next 24 years I gained 60 more pounds. Difficult for me, sure, but for him it was like “a thousand paper cuts” until he was finally screaming in pain.

Week 26 – Hilo, Hawaii – April 15, 2012 – 155 lbs

Most states on the mainland have their sports and teams that they cherish – football, basketball, baseball, NASCAR – the banners and logos and hats and t-shirts are everywhere when the teams play. In Hawaii, once a year at this time, our little Hilo town comes alive with the Merrie Monarch Festival.

This is the Super Bowl and Olympics of hula rolled into one week, an internationally acclaimed competition that brings out the most dedicated hula dancers in the state – men, women, old, young, large, small, mostly of Hawaiian descent, who have studied the art, the traditions, and the culture – and have spent thousands of hours preparing for this revered event.

This year, the most coveted honor, Miss Aloha Hula, went to Rebecca Lilinoekekapahauomaunakea Sterling. Yes, people here often have long Hawaiian names like that! What I love is that women don’t have to be slim and drop-dead gorgeous to earn this title; it’s based on skill, dedication to the art, and pure performance. Many of the dancers are large, some are old, some are incredibly beautiful, but no matter what size you are, if this is what is in your heart, the hula community will welcome you.

Week 16 – San Francisco – Feb 7, 2012 – 164 lbs

Seems I’m on the 1–2 pound a week weight loss plan, which is just fine with me. I’m feeling pretty good, and until I get to a place where I can have some consistency in my life in terms of eating and exercising, I think the slow weight loss is a good thing.

This week marks exactly one year since we left Hawaii on our “year of being homeless,” and it seems fitting that we ended up in San Francisco, where we lived before moving to Hawaii. It’s been a magical year, and when we left I had hoped I would lose weight over the course of the year, but I never planned on having surgery and losing almost 60 lbs!

I opted to only tell a few people. I am very happy with this decision, but there are times I feel like a bit of a fake. So many people comment on good I look – and then ask how I did it. I usually say I eat mostly protein and very few carbs (which is true), and then I also tell them I had to do something because my weight was causing so many problems with my hips, knees, and feet. (The mirror and shopping for clothes were pretty bad for my self-esteem as well!) But I have to say I feel a little twinge of guilt that I also had some major help (and support from my husband) to get me to this point.

The most interesting part about this is that I feel good at the weight I am now, even though I am still 25 lbs overweight. I can’t picture myself 25 lbs lighter. I think I will look gaunt and wrinkly, even though I am still heavier than my husband (but I’m closing in!) and heavier than many of my friends. So I’ll just take it slow and see what happens.