My Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery was completed by Dr. Louisana Valenzuela on September 1, 2016. I started 2016 with lingering pregnancy weight at 267 lbs. On June 24, 2016, I decided to somehow have VSG surgery and was 257.7 lbs. Today, July 12th of 2017, I weigh 177.4 lbs!
I am 40 years old and 5’5″ tall. My “Monitor Your Weight” app says my goal weight is 141.5 lbs with a BMI of 23.5. I cannot wrap my head around those numbers. What I have committed myself to is a lifestyle of activity and nutrition. My goal is to build muscle and be the parent my rumbustious boys deserve! (View Esther’s first blog post here)
What I’ve Been Up to Recently
Munch & Learns
I started a group at my church called “Munch & Learns”. It is a brainstorm that takes the CREATION Health 8 week course (developed by Florida Hospital) to the next level by providing support and a sense of community.
C – Choice
R – Rest
E – Environment
A – Activity
T – Trust
I – Interpersonal Relationships
O – Outlook
N – Nutrition
That is the overview of the main course. What I am doing is remaining under that umbrella.
Having a 30-minute discussion on a health topic. Then about a 30-minute discussion about the catered food, the recipes, and addressing the confusion about where people are with their search for change.
We then have time for Q & A’s and to obtain biometrics to track their progress (BMI, BP, Measurements, Weight, Mood), and discuss their weight goals. The first one went well. We had 16 participants and I served 5 dishes as nutritious options for breakfast. We are also beginning a walking group that will meet at least once per month all around our town to walk together. The main course was developed by professionals at Florida Hospital. They train and certify instructors in the course. However, after the initial 8 weeks, things just fall to the wayside.
One thing I have learned in these months post-op is that you have to build your tribe to succeed. I have friends on YouTube and Instagram that have kept me from feeling defeated and have inspired me to keep going when I become discouraged. We inspire each other, keep each other accountable, we show up for one another. I want to create that locally with my Munch & Learns.
My YouTube Channel has been working really well. I still vlog almost every week. I show the good, bad, and ugly of this process. Most weeks I am chipper, some weeks I struggle. If I hadn’t researched VSG on YouTube and followed people ahead of me, I would have fallen on my face. I wouldn’t have known what to expect as the weeks and months passed. I do not like to fly blind, and so many other vlogs helped me. I hope mine help others as well! I have over 700 subscribers. Some of them follow me regarding my VSG, and others due to my Ketogenic lifestyle. I adopted Keto on 12/26/2016 and it was a missing piece for me in my weight loss journey. I am one of those people that never lost hunger post-op.
Struggles After Surgery
It was hard. Especially because I still had to provide meals for my family. I feel the biggest issue that a weight loss patient has to be aware of is the MENTAL STRUGGLE. My head wanting ALL THE THINGS, and the tool impeding impulse. Then you are able to eat again, wonderful… but then you struggle with learning how much to eat, when, and what foods are very overwhelming. Pre-op everything is detailed. Post-op we have to find our new normal.
I will say I healed very quickly and I can eat anything. I am one of those people that can have more than the 1/2 cup to a cup of food at a time since very early on. Once I realized I was eating “so much,” I began weighing all my food. That helped, but I still had hunger. What carbs I ate, made me crave more.
Taking on the Ketogenic Lifestyle*
Then I learned about the Ketogenic lifestyle. I thought I would use it later in the game once I faced a real weight loss stall. In researching it, it sounded like my husband would benefit from the lifestyle due to his family’s medical history. We jumped on board after Christmas. I have never had so much mental control over food as I have today. My tummy keeps me in check with the quantity and Keto/Intermittent Fasting keeps me satisfied with my meals with hardly any cravings. We live our lives for so many years having a poor relationship with food. Weight loss surgery is simply a tool. Our mind is what needs to be retrained, and anyone considering weight loss surgery has to do some soul searching as to why and how they got to be obese. What are the triggers that make us run to food? Then be prepared to tackle those triggers. What behaviors do we have that makes us dive into food. Everyone is different, but we are all going to have core issues that lead us to need WLS.
Now eating around 20 net carbs per day has allowed me to have my mind in order. I still have what I call my “inner fatty.” She wants all the food, all the time. Sometimes she is quiet, sometimes she yells. Since I am now eating so few carbs, my body is not craving carby foods as it used to, and I have the control to make the right choice for my goals *almost* every time! It’s amazing and I feel so blessed that I was able to be one of Dr. Valenzuela’s patients!!!
KETO IS NOT FOR EVERYONE!!! There are what seems like a billion lifestyles out there. Everyone has to find the one that works for them. My husband actually came off the lifestyle about 5-6 weeks ago. He is figuring out what he wants to focus on going forward, but I am not planning on changing my lifestyle at this time.
I was around the 240’s the last time we worked on a blog. Today I am 177. I am no longer obese, just overweight!!!! I am amazed! My life has so much more activity, and less pain!!!! I have no words to express how thankful and blessed I feel that I was able to have my VSG on September 1, 2016!
While the ketogenic lifestyle may work for some and can be a good tool for weight loss, Mexico Bariatric Center does not push any particular diet or lifestyle outside of good nutrition and proper stages for preoperative and postoperative diet. Read more about the ketogenic diet (lifestyle) here.
Finding Support After Surgery
I put myself out on YouTube and eventually you develop a following of people who are at some point of the same weight loss journey. You end up connecting with people and eventually communicate one on one. Same is true with the Instagram platform. We celebrate, cry, and motivate each other. I just completed the first fitness challenge I created called #junefitnessfling. I encouraged anyone who wanted to participate to look at one, two, ten things they wanted to improve and just try!!! It was an easy challenge to make us do more without the pressure of failing to reach a measure. Though my weight loss was low for the month of June, I re-established a desire to workout, and have a clearer focus on my hydration needs. Both are major improvements I am so happy to have developed last month. We posted pictures on Instagram of our workouts, thoughts, mood, meals, and just worked together towards whatever we wanted to tackle! Talk about motivation when you have friends on the same bandwagon cheering you along your efforts! Priceless. As part of the community, other people have fun ideas or diet bets that keep things interesting. I’ll say it 1,000 times – FIND YOUR TRIBE! You’ll grow together and have the support that often cannot be replicated by non-WLS friends and your family!
Setting Goals After Surgery
Goals. They are a good thing, but they can also make you CrAzY!
- I am hoping to get into the 160’s sometime in August.
- Complete C25K, I am currently on week 1/day
- Attempt vegetarian keto in September.
- Also to start weight training (I have the biggest mental block about it).
It takes a lifetime to become obese, but then we want the satisfaction of having the scale go down to goal overnight. It doesn’t work that way. Then, you could be doing everything on plan and your body has to pause for a while. Perfect example that could drive someone nuts. I only lost .8 pounds in June. Really, just .8 pounds. July started and I lost 4.6 pounds the first week. We can set so many measures, work really hard, and sometimes your body just needs a moment.
Weight loss surgery is an amazing tool for anyone who is serious about taking control over their portion size. That’s the easy part. The hard frustrating work comes in replacing entrenched bad habits with new health practices. To recognize stressors and triggers as they happen and definitely before coping with food. Then when the weight loss slows down, because it does slow down, learning to just STAY ON PLAN! Never let self-sabotage creep in. Recognizing that we probably tried 1,000 different diets before WLS. We will always face stumbles, setbacks, and LIFE. One day, week, a month does not define your weight loss journey. Be patient, work hard, and this radical step we took to take control over our lives really works!
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