By Suzette

Today I have been thinking about the many ways we WLS survivors have of getting into trouble and begin gaining weight.   Yes, I am at goal now but after my first surgery (lap-band) I fell into the bad habit of eating slider foods.  That is food that went down easily and did not cause me issues.  I also bought into the idea that I could eat anything and because I ate small amounts I did not have to watch what I was eating.

Does any of this sound familiar?

This week there have been several articles floating around on bariatric facebook pages and websites again talking about the “pouch test”, resetting your stomachs.

Believe me, re starting low carb, high protein eating plans can be a difficult challenge, especially if you have to feed a family along beside planning your personal menus.  I’m not going to tell you not to do anything that will help you “reset your mindset about carbs and protein”, as long as you realize that you don’t have a pouch and you cannot shrink what you don’t have!!!

We are talking about a MIND RE SET, rather than a stomach reset!

My stomach doesn’t mind what I do or don’t do, but my MIND takes issue with a lot!!

It is not my stomach that says reach for a cookie.  IT is my MIND, that little voice that keeps saying one won’t hurt, two is better and AH Three……Satisfaction!!! NOT!!!

Changing our thinking is the hardest thing we can do.  To change our minds is the biggest thing we can do for our families.  When we change the way we look at food they will follow.  Granted it has taken a while and some health setbacks for my husband to come completely on board.  When he ordered a hamburger without the bun last week I was not only surprised but relieved!

He finally gets it!  April 11, 2005 was my first surgery and his thinking was “OK, it is whatever you want to do, as long as I can eat out, eat whatever and you will still cook what I want?”  Now he did not say this out loud, but after 44 years of marriage, I can read between the lines really well!

When I began gaining weight I was under a lot of stress….yep, that was the big thing, I was taking care of my Dad who was ill and eventually passed away.  I will never forget the day he told me that “no one wants to hear about you losing weight”. Well, I discovered that he was wrong and for me I needed to talk about my weight loss to be able to stay on track.  I think a lot of folks think that “no one wants to hear about their weight loss, or no one is going to be supportive of their weight loss”  these are deep thoughts and feelings that each of us have to handle individually.  I handled it by loving my Dad enough to know he loved me, he was not dissing me in any way, he just did not understand the journey I was on.  He never struggled with his weight, he could eat anything and by leaving off bread and ice cream he could lose 10 pounds in a few days.  IT was OK for him not to understand, but I had to come to terms with my own understanding.  I needed to talk about and think about and work at losing weight or it would not stay the main thing in my life, and to be healthy and enjoy my life I needed to stay focused for the long term.

When the band “quit working” it was not the band, it was the operator!  ME, I was throwing up after every meal and still gaining weight.  I knew I was eating the wrong things but I was hungry and did  not know what to do to stop the gain.

There were also internal issues that had not shown up on test and I had a hiatal hernia that was causing me discomfort and was adding to the issues.  Once the decision to have the band removed and the gastric sleeve performed I realized that my thinking was what was going to have to change.  NO magic bullet for me….I had to find a lifestyle eating plan that was comfortable, yes I said comfortable, if the plan isn’t comfortable we will find a way to find comfort.  IT is a proven fact!

For me the high protein, low carb plan with added concept of portion control was what worked the best.  I can not tolerate protein shakes, I was living off of them when I had to band.  I cannot eat sugar without discomfort, I was eating at least one chocolate bar a day with the band, just to have something that did not make me throw up.  I was taking tablets that were vegetable supplements, I could not eat enough veg without throwing up.  The list goes on.

The thinking changed!!!

I counted my protein grams and then added veg and starch but always, always start with the protein.  When Jen’s surgery was approved the Psychologist she worked with told us that we would forever eat 7-10 bites of food and that the bites over time might get bigger but the numbers would stay the same!!  WE were excited!  WE had a plan.  Yes, there are times when we can eat a little more, many times it is uncomfortable so we don’t make a habit of overeating and grazing is out completely!  If you are a grazer you have a whole lot of issues to overcome but do not be discouraged it can be done.

Jen recently joined a twelve step program, it is an online group as we are so far out in the boonies that is the only way to be consistent.  She is learning to deal with lots of issues that affect her eating habits today.   We both have read the book “Shades of Hope”  By Tennie McCarty and recognized our addiction to food.  We are putting ourselves back together and with God’s help we will continue to be successful.

I know that not everyone is addicted to food, but a good size group of the bariatric surgery patients are indeed addicted to carbohydrates and sugar.  Some of you are recovering diabetics and many of you have multiple other issues that were made worse by bad eating habits.  So don’t just poo poo of the fact that you may have an addiction that you have not addressed.

Now I do occasionally partake of birthday cake which is one of the NO NO’s for me, it is loaded with sugar and simple carbohydrates that if indulged in in large quantities will cause dumping, headache and stomach cramps.  But a small fork size bite will not cause these issues so I make sure I do my “cheating” in moderation and I don’t “cheat” every day, week or month.  It has to be a special occasion and I have to really want a taste and I mean a taste!!!

Learning what moderation means to you is a lesson necessary for success.  Moderation for me may be a totally different amount and the length of time between these “cheats” may be longer or shorter for you.   What I have learned is that making better choices is a learned habit.  I can make new habits in 21 days and I can break old habits in 21 days.  It is my choice which I would rather do.  I chose to break old habits and not let them return.  These are things I do.  Some people have to give up the “birthday cake” for ever.  Just like an alcoholic they can never go back.  That is ok.  Sometimes it  is easier to give up the whole habit rather than modify or limit one’s intake.  Whatever works best is what one should do,  but if you find yourself cheating on a regular basis or planning to cheat on a regular basis may be you too need to evaluate yourself and see if you are hiding your addiction.  At least then you can make a plan of action to control your weight loss and maintain what you have worked so hard for.

Going back is not an option for me and I hope it is not one for ya’ll.  I hope and pray that ya’ll take that first step toward maintaining and continuing your journey.  It breaks my heart when I hear someone say, “it didn’t work for me” because I know, “You didn’t work for it”!  I hope that everyone that reads this knows that I want all of you to be successful, I want ya’ll to know what it means to be happy with your new lifestyle.  I don’t every want anyone to say, it didn’t work for me, I want to hear each and every successful step you take.  This is a lifetime journey, it is not a week, month or year……lifetime….so, have a successful happy life time in your new body!