My weight loss journey started the day I attended a weight loss surgery seminar hosted by my soon-to-be doctor. It was the first step in a very long process down the weight loss surgery path. Surgery was just the beginning of a life long commitment to a healthier me.
Over the past year I’ve received so many questions about weight loss surgery and the road that I’ve traveled. I get insurance questions, doctor questions and of course the “what should I expect” questions. I enjoy doling out the information, passing on whatever knowledge I have to help a friend, or stranger, make an informed decision about weight loss surgery.
The majority of the questions I receive, however, usually have to do with my after surgery experiences. Everyone wants to know what my day to day life has been like since going under the knife. What surprises me the most is the preconceived notion that the journey ends as soon as the procedure is complete. If only it was that easy.
Diet After Surgery
The first four weeks after surgery I was gradually reintroduced to food. I spent one week on a liquid diet, two weeks on a pureed food diet, one week on a soft foods diet (anything soft that could be smashed with a fork) and then I was given the clearance to eat “regular” food. No one knows how their new stomach will react to certain foods, so doctors recommend that you introduce new foods one at a time, just in case you get sick.
The first few months after surgery I had to force myself to eat, I’d set timers, because I never felt hungry. The importance of high protein foods was stressed at this point. My average daily caloric intake was usually around 500 total calories and anywhere from 60 to 80 grams of protein. I’d eat 5 or 6 small meals a day, making sure to take small bites and to chew, chew, chew.
As the months passed my appetite grew. At one year post-op my average daily caloric intake is about 1,000 calories and about 60 grams of protein. I feel hungry more often and find that I snack on a lot more fruits and veggies during the day. I occasionally crave some of my favorite foods and when I do I treat myself. I’ve found that my “splurge” moments are not as frequent as they used to be.
Water intake is a major player in my diet now as well. I drink upwards of 64 ounces, usually more, a day. I never drink while I’m eating and as recommended by my doctor I make it a point to wait thirty minutes after eating to drink anything. This trick is supposed to help you feel full longer. Water consumption after eating usually pushes the food through your system faster.
I have had no post-op food issues, but I know that many weight loss surgery patients do. Many people can no longer eat anything with sugar, drink milk, eat eggs and I’ve heard a lot of patients have issues with beef or chicken. The only issue that I have noticed is the way food sits heavier in my stomach pouch if I eat too fast, don’t take a small enough bite or if the food is fried.
Exercise After Surgery
After surgery, while still recovering, it’s suggested that you walk a lot. Walking helps you heal and it helps release the extra gas build up within your stomach cavity. I walked the halls while in the hospital and once home I walked around the neighborhood daily.
For the first month or two, after surgery, I did a lot of walking. It was my main source of fitness. As the months progressed I hired a trainer and began putting my gym membership to use. I go to the gym no less than three days a week, if I can fit in an extra day or two I always do. I train, with my trainer, once or twice a week and have just begun the Couch to 5K Program. I feel more confident in a gym setting now and though I still have to force myself to get to the gym I always feel amazing after a good workout.
Follow-Up Appointments with the Doctor
As is the case with any surgery, follow-up visits with my doctor are a must. My first follow-up was one week post-op. He checked my incisions (all 6 of them), we discussed how I was feeling and he cleared me for the next food stage. My next appointment was scheduled at my two month post-op mark. At this appointment blood was drawn so that labs could be run to be sure that I was getting all the necessary vitamins and nutrients that my body required.
All remaining follow-ups are done at the six month, one year, eighteen month and two year post-op milestones. Blood is drawn at all 4 appointments, to check nutrient levels and any and all concerns are addressed. After the two year post-op mark follow-ups are scheduled once yearly.
Loose skin can be an issue when an excessive amount of weight is lost. Working out can help tone the loose skin areas, but a lot of the time it will not prevent it. My problem areas are my arms (bat wings), my stomach and my inner thighs. My trainer and I work on these problem areas weekly to no avail. My arms are the only part of my body that I’m very self conscious about and when I’m ready I will be seeing a plastic surgeon to discuss my options.
The number one question I asked when looking into my surgery options was, “Knowing what you know now, would you do it again or recommend the surgery to a friend?” and this is also a question I get often. My answer is always yes! I know that surgery is not for everyone, but I also know that surgery is the best decision that I’ve ever made for myself. I have improved my life ten-fold and would do it again in a heart beat.
Do you have any questions for me?
Greis (pronounced Grace) is a single, 30 something, Texas girl with an iPhone addiction. She loves her hometown Houston sports teams, Astros Baseball & Texans Football! When she’s not working as an inside sales analyst for a local manufacturing company, you can usually find her on the internet, watching trashy reality television or snuggling her niece, Audrey. In her spare time she enjoys a good chick flick, reading teenage vampire books (the sparkly kind) and dreaming about what life will be like when she finally wins the lottery. You can read more from Greis on her blog, Amazing Greis.