H2O - does a body good. Are you getting enough?

 

11/10/2014

They tell you before WLS/bariatric surgery about the importance of water in your diet. They tell you this again after surgery when they give you fluids in post-op. They tell you in the support groups. They tell you at the doctor’s office. They tell you every time they get a chance. But, they should as this can impact overall health and hydration - not to mention weight loss. 

Water is important for everyone - not just bariatric surgery patients. However, while they tell you that you need water, what might not be said is “water helps you lose weight”. Also, due to the smaller size of the stomach or due to the size of the pouch created for Roux-en-Y patients, water is not as easy to guzzle as it was before. 

 

Yes, water - good ole H2O can help you lose the weight. WLS (weight loss surgery) patients need just as much water as before (at least 64oz a day) but the only different now is that it requires a conscious effort to fit it in your daily plan. 

After my WLS, I struggled a little with drinking plain water. So I made sure that I put a little flavoring (sugar free of course) in my water. I used powerade flavored water mix, crystal light, true lemon, true lime (with stevia) and other liquid flavored drops. I didn’t like my water too sweet so I would make it very diluted just enough to get a taste but not so much that I would gag from the sweetness. 

This helped me for the first 9 months. After that I started to drink plain water again and did not gag. That was really wonderful! I had missed plain water and the ability to drink it without flavoring. 

Everyone is different and experiences vary. I had to do what was best for me to ensure that I drank my required amount of water every day. In the beginning, I even made sure that I had a timer set every couple hours which really helped - It would say, “Are you thirsty? Time to drink some water!" 

I believe all of us (even those who have not had bariatric/WLS surgery) have trouble with drinking enough water. Therefore making it a priority and a daily habit is a good way to ensure long-term that you are getting in the H2O. 

How much water have you had to drink today?

What habits do you use to ensure you are drinking at least 64oz a day? 

Happy Sipping… 

Love and light,

Kristin 

Hair loss after bariatric surgery - not a myth!

10/31/2014

Hair loss after bariatric surgery - not a myth!

I don’t know why I ignored the possibility of this before surgery, but I did. I saw the “thin” me in my visualizations and ignored all the possible negative things that “could” happen as a result. Maybe this is because I like to think of myself as a positive person and try to avoid the negative self-talk.

Anyway, the thought of hair loss and what that would mean for me just did not enter into my decision whether to have surgery or not and I guess I figured I would take things as they came. I did not really start losing hair until at least 4-6 months after my surgery. Then it was coming out in clumps! It was awful. I contacted my surgical center/physician’s office of course and they suggested I up my protein and make sure that I took my vitamins.

Check and check!

Getting in the protein in the beginning was a process but by today (at about 1 year post-op), I am getting in about 100 grams of protein in a day. I got my labs done which showed I was right where I needed to be with my vitamins and my protein also looked good. So what was/is the issue? I saw my hair stylist next. She suggested biotin and after consulting again with my physician, it turns out I can have up to 10,000 mcg of biotin a day.

Awesome!

So I put that on my daily routine and moved along. The hair was still coming out and my pony tail was beginning to look like a rat tail, no joke! My hairstylist even joked that I might not be able to get my hair highlighted because of the damage it could potentially cause to the rest of my hair (what little left I had!!). I then ended up getting a hair, skin and nails vitamin to help with the hair loss. (Check out my next post on vitamins as well).

My hairstylist then suggested I try Nioxin which is a shampoo/conditioner product used for thinning hair. I have since switched to Bosley Medical products and will submit an update when I can effectively say whether I can tell a difference in the products. Nioxin made my hair super frizzy and I typically looked like I stuck my finger in a light socket. No bueno! I am hoping the Bosley Medical products are more about helping new hair growth instead of making the existing hair frizz (giving it more “body”).

Also, I am switching up proteins. I love my premier protein (ready made) shakes in the morning but have started using more Unjury which claims to have more benefits with regards to hair regrowth and to be a “better quality protein”. I will examine this as well and see if there is much difference since I’ve made the switch. I’m doing anything and all that I can to influence and promote new, healthy hair growth. I never thought about the psychological effects of my changing image especially the aspect of hair loss. My body is looking great and I am continuing to lose at a slow and steady pace.

However, when I see how horrible my hair looks I do get a bit sad that I am not looking a fantastic as I expected. So I have been working on this from within to be patient and gentle with myself about my own thoughts of perfectionism and how things “should” be versus how they are. Also, I recently decided to get a hair cut to chop off the rat’s tail and I welcomed a bob-cut. I have never liked myself with short hair but I welcomed the change to inspire my own self-confidence and to promote new healthy hair growth.

Since having it done, I like it much more than the rat’s tail and feel that I look much better (even with short hair) and am excited for the change. Sometimes we have to see things differently, in order for our perspective to change and to accept what is. So instead of being down and out about the rat’s tail, I cut it off and took control of a new look making myself feel better.

I hope this post inspires you to make positive changes and to see things differently as I have. Also, check out my before and after looks below. Also for those of you who would like to know more about hair loss after bariatric surgery, the causes and other remedies, please check out this article found in the Bariatric Times online magazine.

Happy Reading!

http://bariatrictimes.com/hair-loss-among-bariatric-surgery-patients/ 

With love and light!

Kristin

oh FitBit, how I love thee...

I should be a spokesperson for Fitbit. I am not but I should be. Why, you may ask? It is because I sing the praises of how using Fitbit helped me to reach my weight loss goals and continues to help me reach my weight loss goals. About a year ago I decided it as time to stop wasting time being fat. At 378lbs I was miserable. Moving was difficult. I was always tired to the point of exhaustion. My knees hurt and I despised walking or any type of exercise. Before I had VSG surgery, I had to make some changes. It started with getting a Fitbit. 
 

Following my initial visit with my doctor they notified me that my BMI was too high to have surgery as an outpatient procedure. I could have the procedure done in the hospital for an extra fee which was way over my budget. So in order to get the surgery done in the center I had to lose 35lbs fast to meet the BMI requirement.

I was scared and nervous but I was hopeful. I quickly implemented the pre-VSG diet plan which consisted of 1200 calories a day and no more than 40 grams of carbs per day. I still ate what I liked but I cut out as many carbs as I could and increased my protein intake. But more of those details I’ll save for another post. This post is about how I used my FitBit to my advantage.

My husband told me not to get it and that it would be a waste of money. Over one year later and my FitBit is still by my side and one of the most motivating tools I use to date. He has since taken back that comment and early this year he even bought one for himself and now we compete on how many steps we can do in a day. It has become a family affair!

However, back when I was trying to lose those 35lbs before surgery, I needed to move to burn those calories. My knees hurt and I was in pain, but I walked and I used the Fitbit to help me keep track of my steps. Instead of walking outside on the pavement, I walked inside. I was not ready for the gym so I literally walked in my basement back and forth, back and forth and worked my way from 5,000 steps a day to 7,500 steps a day. Also, I exceeded my goal and by the date of my surgery I had lost 38lbs!!

My point here is to start small and do what you can do for you. I walked inside on the carpet because that was the best way for me to take care of my knees while also getting the walking exercise in. I was not ready for the gym and I was not ready for the pavement. My body at that time was still too heavy and I had to do what worked for me. I had to work past the excuses of not exercising and find a way to get it done. My Fitbit helped me keep track of my daily step goals, how many flights of stairs I climbed, how many calories I burned and helped me keep track of the pounds lost.

Maybe a Fitbit is not for everyone and everyone has their favorite tools, but for me it was about starting simply and finding a way to keep myself accountable to my goals and keeping myself on track. That is what Fitbit has done for me.

Oh Fitbit, how I love thee!!

With love and light,

Kristin

When You Travel Abroad... Don't Forget Your Protein!

9/26/2014

When you travel abroad, don’t forget your protein!

I have been gone for a month. Have you missed me? I planned to write some posts before I left but sadly, I ran out of time. I wanted to make a post about this before I left. I was meaning to, but I didn’t. I just ran out of time because of all the packing. So much packing! Now I’m back, relieved from jet leg and getting pack to posting. Yay!

For me traveling with protein is critical. My family and I went on a trip overseas a few weeks ago and we had a wonderful time. However, now that I am part of the Gastric Sleeve club (and proud of it!), I need to always have protein on hand and take some powders with me to supplement my diet.

Protein for gastric sleevers and all gastric surgery patients is part of life. Some people might disagree and that is okay, but for me, protein powder is for life. I do not see how I could otherwise get in 100g of protein a day unless I chomped on chicken breast all day and that is just not appetizing. So, I choose to use the protein powders for shakes. Sometimes I choose protein bars as well but many of the bars that I have found have too many added sugars and carbohydrates. So when traveling overseas, I generally just pack the powders for easy transport.

On this trip I ended up taking 15 packets of Unjury unflavored protein (20g per packet)  which I would use to sprinkle on my food or to add into yogurt or to transform my ice coffees into a meal.

I also chose to bring along the Celebrate brand (25g of protein per packet) of vanilla cake batter, chocolate milk, and strawberry to make shakes. Of these I took about 30 packets total. I always use milk (my choice), but I have used water as well. The directions say to use water, but if I can find skim milk, I’ll use that for the extra 8g of protein it provides. Both water and milk mix with the powder well. Another point though is that I tend to not use a shaker/blender bottle unless I am in the airport or in a place where I cannot get a blender/mixer. I like the consistency of the shake better when it is well mixed (in a blender). When we were overseas I made sure that my husband found me a mixer/blender to make my shakes and I was set! Hooray!

The blender bottles are okay but do not give me the creaminess that I like and which I get from a mixer or blender. But if all I have is the shaker bottle, it does get the job done!

I chose to take the celebrate vitamins brand with me because when I am traveling, I am horrible at remembering to take my vitamins. These have a multivitamin in the powder and also supplement with calcium -which is awesome! I always take my vitamins in my bag but many times when traveling and on vacation, I just simply forget to take them. Using celebrate vitamins protein powder packets when traveling gives me the added bonus of not having to remember my vitamins because it is built into the protein powder and also ensures I get my vitamins when I do forget to take them.

When traveling, always remember to take your protein to help you stay on track with your weight loss and maintenance. I know that these packets have helped me stay on track and even lose while I was on vacation.

It is important for you to choose powders and proteins that taste good to you and that you will use. I’ve been through many powders and shakes and I frequently switch up my protein powders so I don’t get bored with them. These just happen to be two of my favorites.

For more information about these supplements, please visit:

www.unjury.com

www.celebratevitamins.com

With love and light,

Kristin 

My Super Duper Healthy Low-sugar & Good for you Yogurt Dream Treat!

 

9/26/2014

My Super Duper Healthy Low-sugar & Good for you Yogurt Dream Treat!

I love yogurt. Yogurt is good for you and has many advantages if you buy the right kind. Also, it is loaded with the good for you probiotics and Greek yogurt is loaded with protein. But, when you buy the ready made yogurt with fruit already in it, it is loaded with added sugars that most of us just do not need! Also, after having the gastric sleeve surgery, I was instructed by my surgical team to watch my carbs and increase my protein intake. So I am constantly looking for ways to eat yummy foods while also getting in the protein and also watching those pesky sugars! 

So, I have created a good for you recipe of yogurt and fruit that is high in protein without the added sugar. Fresh fruit is good for the body while processed fruits can give us the added sugars that we just don’t need. Also, finding a yogurt that is high in protein and plain gives all the benefits of a healthy food choice without the guilt. 

For this recipe, you can use almost any fruit you like. I chose fresh raspberries because #1, they were on sale, and #2 they are my fave!

Also, for added sweetness and a little kick I add Truvia and some vanilla extract.

So what is in my awesome yogurt dream treat? 

4 ingredients

Fruit of your choice (I chose raspberries) - use as little or as many as you like.

Fage 0% yogurt -(I used the 17.6 oz container this time) which is packed with 23g of protein per cup! (and only 9 grams of carbs per cup)

Truvia (sugar free/ zero calorie sweetener)

1 tsp vanilla extract

I typically will make the whole container and then scoop out what I want. This also makes it easier to scoop out servings when you want it without waiting.

For this treat, I made the batch of yogurt mixing in the Truvia and the vanilla - mixing it with a spoon and then scooped out ¾ of a cup of the yogurt mixture and topped it with the fresh berries. If you want more Truvia for sweetness on the berries, go for it. It is all about taste and what you like.

For the whole 17.6 oz container, I just used 4 packets of Truvia and this was sweet enough for me. After I made this batch, I gave some to my diabetic father who told me it tasted like whipped cream. How is that for a raving review?!?! 

I hope everyone enjoys this good for you recipe!

With love and light,

Kristin :)

Got a salty/crunchy craving but still need protein? Give these a try.

 

8/26/2014

So every once in a while - (okay, a few times a month), I get a salty/crunchy food craving. Cravings are normal but what we do with them is important. For the psychological side, I tend to ask myself the following: “Does it have protein? Does it have enough protein? Is it going to benefit my goals (protein or otherwise), and is it healthy?"  If these answers are no, I think twice before putting it in my mouth.

I sometimes will go for popcorn but feel guilty because I want to get my protein in. Protein comes first, right? So this is a way to get that crunchy snack while also getting in some protein. I am definitely not advocating this as a "go-to” food or an everyday food. I do think this can be a healthy crunchy snack for those days when you want something crunchy and salty. I would love some other feedback on those who have tried this. I just shared this in my surgery group and have heard positive reviews. Therefore, I think this can be a good supplemental “protein” snack. Also, did I mention it is gluten-free?? Check out the nutritional facts below. They also come in Sea Salt, Sour Cream and Onion, and Barbecue.

http://www.simply7snacks.com/quinoa-chips-sea-salt/?gclid=CO-vkZ6bssACFQQQ7AodumcAbA

Happy Munching!!

With love and light,

Kristin :)

The Beauty within the Body

8/20/2014

I originally had this picture as my temporary avatar. This was shared in my bariatric support group and I could not help but copy it because I felt as it represents my continued work on my mental, physical and emotional transformation. I want to share picture this because this for me represents how I feel my physical and psychological process has been and continues to be. I wonder if this represents how others feel going through this journey as well. I have always felt like a “skinny” person on the inside this big fat suit.

The imagery in this picture really shows the work that continues to go into the journey by illustrating that it is not an overnight weight-loss but a journey of transformation. I am now working on getting out of that fat suit thanks to bariatric surgery. I have also learned that bariatric surgery is not a magic surgery but a tool just like anything else. I am using this tool to the best of my ability to continue to sculpt my body and my mind into the person that I believe myself to be and to be the person I long to become. Transformational change comes from within and can be visible on the outside. I think this picture resonates with me so much because for many bariatric patients including myself, the work is done on the “inside” through behavioral changes, cognitive changes (changing your thoughts), and the result is physical and emotional change. I hope this photo resonates with others as well and is found to be uplifting. I know it has been uplifting for me.

With love and light,

Kristin :)

What I have learned from weight loss.... so far.

8/17/2014

What I have learned from weight loss.... so far.

There isn’t just one thing but many things that I have learned from my weight loss. I am still not yet at my goal, but in this short ten months, I have learned so much about myself (psychologically and physically). This process also taught me about creating new healthy lifestyle habits and it has talk me that others will have opinions about my weight and weight loss. However, instead of entertaining these opinions, I keep on truckin’ and try not to let anyone burst my bubble. Yet, it has given me perspective.


The comments on my weight loss have been - “Wow! You look fantastic! What diet are you on? What are you doing these days to get you so slim and trim?” - and this has morphed into new meaning for me. For me it really means (and what is usually left unsaid) “you were huge before” or “wow, you were a real whale”. I am sure that people never mean any comments towards my weight loss to be negative, but since they never said “Wow, you are so fat!”, when I was well over 400lbs, the idea that looking great should be rewarded has sparked my thinking even more. It makes me wonder about what I might have looked like before in their eyes and the silence about my weight that was never previously a hot topic of discussion. I like whales but never intend to look like one past or present. My weight was always a hot topic among family because they were worried about my health. Being that healthy was unhealthy and would only result in further morbidity. I also realize that the media attention brought to the issue of obesity and weight loss plays a role in how we are perceived as well. It is clear that the weight-loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and this is not lost on me. I realize that being thin is the equivalent of being accepted in some ways but I think it is more a way of how people categorize others and about keeping consistent with social norms. In my situation, I did not have surgery solely based on how I looked.  I did it because I wanted to feel better, get active and have a better future for myself and my family. 

As I’ve learned through life, looks are important, but they are not everything. They make a difference in how you are perceived and how you are judged. I remember that people stared at me when I was at my heaviest, especially at the gym. I has no idea what they were thinking but it did make me uncomfortable. Maybe they wanted to add their opinions about my life or to inform me that I was too fat. Who knows because they never said anything just stared like I was an old time circus attraction. This was difficult and uncomfortable for me. It also stopped me from going to the gym for a while. 
 

Let’s not be fooled to think there isn’t a whole lot of judging going on in the world. Sometimes it is nice to live with the delusion that we are taken for who we are on the inside and yes that matters too, yet looks are part of the first impression and unfortunately have a role in how people judge us at first sight. 
 

I’ve read many articles and blogs about people who pass judgment. Every day we can open any magazine and see the comments about weight, health and fitness of those in Hollywood. 
 

What did this or that celebrity wear today and how awful or glorious it was is also the highlight of entertainment news. The celebrity who gained too much weight is shown as having “lost control” and shunned for the weight gain. They are plastered all over the front pages as some sort of pariah for not “keeping it together”. The reviews pour in along with all the people who have an opinion. We all seem to have opinions about the looks of others. This is the norm for our society.

So I have collected some tidbits about what I have learned in this not so long ten months and I wanted to share. I hope these tips are useful. 
 

#1 - I’ve learned that everyone is being judged, don’t be so sensitive. The fittest and the fattest are going to be judged. Period. 


Out of this I have learned that how I feel and my level of health is much more important than how I look. This does not mean I’m going to stop bathing or using deodorant but it does mean I’m not going to beat myself up over the judgment of others. They will have their opinions and not much I can do about their opinions. Instead, I’m concerned with my own health and well-being. I can do enough criticizing (of myself) of my own, I really do not need help from others. So, my new focus is just to “work on me” and let all else roll off my back. As Wayne Dyer once said “what other people think of me is none of my business”.  To accept judgment is difficult and to wonder about judgement can make a girl crazy! Therefore, by letting go of the perception - letting go of the “what ifs” - this is a practice that I am consistently working on to accept myself unconditionally regardless of my weight. 
 

#2 - I’ve learned that my weight fluctuates over time, plateaus happen and that if I am on track it will go down. 

And I don’t mean 100lbs fluctuate but anywhere from 3-5 lbs on average. I’ve learned not to freak out and that if I’m on my plan I’ll get back to where I need to be in due time - as long as I am sticking to my plan. This is especially relevant to weight training/strength training and during those girly-times of the month. If you are gaining weight (more than a few pounds), and the scale is not budging, you might want to call your nutritionist, doctor’s office or health provider to get an appointment to discuss. For me a few pounds up and down within week is normal - which is why I stopped weighing every day, it drove me nuts (see #3)! If I am not on track, I have to repeat my motto: Protein, Water, Exercise! Protein, Water, Exercise! Protein, Water, Exercise! 
 

#3 - Staying on plan will give consistent results. 

However, if stuck in a rut, stall or plateau be sure to increase protein and water content, and don’t forget your strength training. Exercise is as equally important. Also, maybe it is time to check in with your nutritionist and go over your food journal. What have you been eating lately? This is my go to for when I get stuck. 
 

#4 - Weigh-ins should be consistent but not obsessive.

In other words, I have learned not to weigh myself daily. I used to do this and it drove me nuts. Too much weighing can actually stress you out if you are not careful. (Go back and see #1.) Yes, nuts! I weigh myself weekly and sometimes bi-weekly. This helps with staying on track with goals but also gives me something to look forward to. 

#5 - Sometimes it is not *all* about the weight.

Have you measured yourself lately? Measurements are also a good way to keep track of progress. It is not just about the LBS, but also about how you feel in your clothes, how loose they are getting, etc. How do you feel about yourself? I feel great, moving easier, feel healthy, etc. Also, looking at it from another perspective gives more perspective that it really is more about overall total health and not just about the numbers on a scale.

#6 -My eyes are *still* bigger than my stomach.

I like to “try” it all and I have had to psychologically transition myself to making choices and to making better choices. Before bariatric surgery,  I would order whatever I wanted on a menu, including multiple appetizers (sharing with others of course) to get a ‘taste’ of everything. Now not only can I not do that but I do not have space for even one appetizer let alone an entree or more than one of each. So, when going out I start coaching myself on making one choice and on making healthier choices in general. I have realized that by thinking about it ahead of time and psychologically preparing myself, I am more in control that if I just fly by the seat of my pants. I realize this one choice about what I will eat tomorrow or today is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of my life, but it has been a transition from how I used to think and working on this helps me keep track of what I am eating and gives perspective to my habits especially when eating out. So, I try to think small, stay on track with my plan (protein), and also keep in mind the size of the portion. 

#7 - Just say “NO” to TO-GO boxes and kids meals

Ordering kids meals(at restaurants) sound like a good idea until you see the kids meal menus. They are loaded with chicken fingers, hamburgers/cheeseburgers, french-fries, etc. If I made this surgical change to put good things into my body and to eat less, why would I order the junk off the kids menu? Is it just to get less junk food?  Personally, I say no. I choose to make conscious choices that are healthy and that are fuel for my body. I choose to eat food that is tasty but also healthy. I choose to order the regular portions and although I know it goes to waste, it is better than fried or greasy options. I choose to eat what I want regardless of the portion and I share with family/friends at my table and then I make another staggering choice. I say “NO” to TO-GO boxes as well. I used to get the TO-GO boxes until I realized that my fridge would have to-go boxes lined up for days.  I would not eat the leftovers and neither would anyone else in my house. So I save myself the headache of having to throw away the box later or the added calories of eating takeout leftovers by just saying “NO” to to go boxes. It works for me.

I hope to collect more tips and tidbits as I go through my weight-loss journey so watch out for future posts that may continue what I have learned so far. 

To be continued….

With love and light,

Kristin 

Welcome to Bariatric Mindset Blog

 

(I've moved these posts from my tumblr blog) 

8/11/2014

Hello world, I am finally here!

I’m so excited to be starting a blog and sharing my experiences with the world. I have also been a little apprehensive because sharing makes me feel “raw” and “open”. So I have decided to share why I think sharing my experiences are important and why, in the same breath, they make me feel vulnerable.

I have been a coach and counselor for quite some time now. I love to inspire, encourage, empower and to help people improve their lives. This is a large part of who I am. Yet as a general rule I do my very best to keep my personal life separate from my professional life. This started in part as a result of my training to be a professional counselor. There is this unwritten rule about self-disclosure and in some doctrines to be a “blank slate” for the client. The purpose of this is so that the coach or counselor’s values and experiences do not overshadow the client’s values and experiences. The client should be the center of attention and the focus in all sessions. Therefore for this reason I have been hesitant to start a blog about my own experiences, values and challenges. 

Most recently when discussing this with one of my sage mentors it was brought up that if my experiences were shared that they might help others going through similar experiences or challenges. Additionally, I recognize that I am human first and a counselor second and this would shine through in my blog. So I am stepping out of my comfort zone to share my experiences in hopes that they resonate with others while continuing to encourage and inspire utilizing a different modality. 

I believe in coaching because it pushes the client outside their comfort zone and after WLS surgery there is so much behavior change that needs to occur. As someone who has been through the process, I see how much coaching helps individuals after surgery and while counseling can help, my role has shifted to coaching to help move individuals forward after such a life changing surgery. 

Furthermore, I hope this blog will empower others to step out of their comfort zones as well and to see that we are all human and that our experiences matter and we can transform our lives in a multitude of ways. 
 

Happy Reading!

With love and light,
Kristin