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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!

LAST POST – Week 63 – Switzerland – 61 Kilos – LOST WEIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS! – December 29, 2012

122712 alpsA YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A SLEEVER. Today I write my last Sunday post after almost 15 months of blogging about my journey. We just spent Christmas week in Switzerland and despite eating lots of sweets and more cheese and potatoes than I care to admit I lost weight during the holidays. So I am at the lowest weight in my adult life as I write my last weekly post and that feels great.

I started writing this blog a few weeks before my surgery in late October 2011. I was like a car careening out of control—my hip hurt, my feet hurt, my knee went out on me, I had high cholesterol and borderline high blood pressure, my clothes didn’t fit, and I felt like crap.

Worse yet, I was in Europe and even though I looked and looked, there were no other fat, limping people to be found anywhere.

OK, that wasn’t the worst part. The careening car crashed into a wall when my thin, healthy husband of 20 years found the courage to tell me how much he hated the way I looked and he just couldn’t live this way anymore. It wasn’t a gentle suggestion for me to lose a few pounds, it was an explosion of emotions on both sides for what seemed like an eternity. We had rarely talked about my weight issues even though they kept getting worse every year; outside of a few comments with my friends about dieting, I just never talked in any depth to anyone about it because I felt like such a failure. So this was an entirely new ball game without any rules to guide us.

So let me recap: 15 months ago I couldn’t walk, I had some serious health risks, I was on medication, nothing looked good on me, I had a sad case of low self-esteem and a very unhappy husband. Oh, I forgot to mention that I also had taken a bad fall on my bike and I got a really shitty haircut just to keep things really interesting. I was so far into denial about my weight I even thought about leaving my husband because then I wouldn’t have do anything about my weight or face another failed attempt at dieting. After throwing myself one big pity-party and assessing my options, I decided it was time to look into weight loss surgery. For me, it was really the only option—I was 58 years old and after trying every diet on the planet since I was 15 I knew dieting was not going be a solution that would work; at least I knew it wouldn’t work for me. I didn’t know if surgery would, either, but it seemed promising and my husband was willing to help me figure it out.

Week 62 – Amsterdam – 62 kilos AT GOAL – December 23, 2012

Lit-treeThis morning we get on a train and cross the snow-covered Alps bound for Switzerland to spend the holidays the way they should be celebrated—with those you love.

Most likely you are busy getting ready to have family or friends over for the holidays or on your way to visit others. For some, this is a difficult or sad time of year; if you know someone struggling to make it through the holidays, try and reach out to them.

Many of you are about to be sleeved, recently sleeved, or like me, a year or so out at this point. From my vantage point, I think most of us can focus on spending time with loved ones and not worry as much about all the food that’s around, but for others it will be harder with all the temptations. For me and many others, we’re no longer worried about how much weight we will gain this Christmas and how we will lose it when we make that inevitable New Year’s resolution to lose weight! Another reason to be grateful this season!

Week 61 – Amsterdam – 62 Kilos AT GOAL – December 16, 2012

Amsterdam is beautiful in all seasons…

My second week alone was much better than week one. My cold and eye infection cleared up, I went back to the gym, I made an effort to get more protein in my diet, and I got a few projects started at the new house. My husband got our personal possessions in our storage unit in Hawaii loaded in a container and it’s on the way to Amsterdam via Seoul, Korea. With any luck we’ll see our things in about 2 months. The weather has been cold but I’ve gotten out and walked and even rode my new bike—I’m learning how to dress for winter and it’s been fine. I’m actually enjoying experiencing seasons, something new for me.

Some delicious chicken soup and Pretzel Thins that came in a ‘care package’ from my husband in the US!

A reader of this blog made a suggestion that I keep some chicken meat handy to because I wasn’t getting any protein—and I did just that! I bought a cooked chicken and made some chicken salad with some of it, I also cut some up and put it on a green salad and I made some chicken soup. Such a simple thing, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it, but thank you Amy! It made a huge difference and reminded me once again what a great resource the vertical sleeve forum has been for me and how helpful it is to have the support of others.

Week 60 – Amsterdam – 62 kilos AT GOAL – December 9, 2012

No such thing exists here that I can find. Maybe there’s a business opportunity here!

This has been a weird week for me on many levels. My husband left for Hawaii to organize our move here to Amsterdam and I’ve been on my own for the first time since surgery. I’ve learned that eating for one (or less than one person really) isn’t easy. Especially in a place where they don’t have things like Lean Cuisine or any other frozen meals for one person. I’ve been having an egg and 2 pieces of bacon almost every day because it’s the one meal I can be sure to get some protein. For years (even pre-sleeve) we would have a salad every day at lunch, but now, I’m often not home around lunch time so I end up just having an apple or some coffee and a cookie somewhere. I usually just have some soup or a salad and a cookie for dinner. One night I just ate a bag of microwave popcorn for dinner (that I had brought from the US; no such thing exists here). So all in all, my nutrition, especially from a protein standpoint, has been really bad. I need to look for some cookies with protein I guess!

I’ve only made it to the gym twice this week and have gotten very little exercise when I’ve been out because of the weather. I ended up catching a cold, and both of my eyes got infected with conjunctivitis so that put me out of commission for the rest of the week. I even spent one day just laying on the sofa, blowing my nose and watching movies… I didn’t even work on my computer because of my eyes. Very unlike me!

My new bike is very ‘girlie’ looking, complete with leopard prints! I probably should have bought something that wasn’t so loud….

I finally bought a bike but my timing sucked. The day after I bought it, it started snowing. Now I know that’s not earth-shattering news to most people but for me, it was a big deal. Snow is a whole new ball game for this California-born person who’s lived in Hawaii for the last 11 years… looking outside, I didn’t want to leave the house. I did walk the 2 blocks to the store to buy some tissue and cough drops, but I walked like a 90-year old I was so nervous.

Week 59 – Amsterdam – 62 kilos – AT GOAL – December 2, 2012

There were some tough times in the beginning… but the payoff was worth it all.

“WHAT WERE THE WORST PARTS OF THE FIRST YEAR FOR YOU?” What a great question someone on the forum asked me last week. Most of us get so caught up in the excitement of finally being successful at weight loss that we forget about the hard parts.

Thinking back over the past year, here were the hard parts for me: