Year Three of the Sleeve

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Before and after passport photos

Two passport photos, the one on the left was taken in Oct 2011, the one on the right, Oct 2012!

There are not a lot of us veterans of the sleeve gastrectomy—as far as I can tell, it started being performed on a small number of patients as a solution to weight loss on its own (instead of a first step to the gastric bypass)  in 2005. The success rate was relatively high for these patients so this option became a better solution for patients with a BMI of 40 or less, with the gastric bypass reserved for those who had a BMI of over 40.

YEAR ONE: I am now 3 years and 4 months out from my sleeve and I can tell you, Year One is truly the honeymoon period for weight loss. Of course you don’t enjoy food very much, you are healing from a major surgery, and your new tummy is pretty damn picky about what you put into it. You’re tired in the beginning and you throw up a bit, but you’re not hungry (if you are, it’s most likely head hunger) and you are living in a new world of how you look at food. But the trade-off is that for the first time in your (most likely many) weight loss attempts, this one is working! The pounds start melting off, a lot at first and then it goes into a slow but steady path, then you might hit a stall for a bit, but by that time you’re like “Woohoo!!! Look at me!!!” You’re wearing skinny jeans and going to the gym, and shopping for new clothes and getting complimented all the time. Looking back on that first year it was such a weird but fantastic time! And for me, at least, I never felt like it was a diet. I never felt deprived. I felt joy.

I was looking back at my first-year blog and at one point I wrote the top ten things that I did not like about the sleeve. Here they are with an update next to each one:

  1. I miss pasta, garlic bread, and wine. I can eat all of these now; I choose not to eat much pasta anymore, but I could if I wanted. I just don’t. Nice.
  2. Cooking isn’t as satisfying as it used to be and I throw more food away, which I feel bad about. My only problem with cooking now (which I enjoy) is that I sometimes nibble while I’m cooking. Must stop that. And I don’t throw much away at all anymore. So this one is also not a problem at Year 3.
  3. Feeling sick or even throwing up if I have OBTM (one bite too many) or if I eat something my stomach doesn’t like, as in one teeny grain of rice! I now know what I can tolerate and what I cannot. But there is very little I can’t and if I do feel a little sick, it’s my own damn fault for eating too much or too fast!
  4. My boobs are pitiful. Not any more!!! I have nicer breasts now than I did when I was 22! (My breast reduction in Year 2 was great!)
  5. My scars are still there so no bikinis for me! No more scars! Gone!
  6. My knees and hip still hurt (not as much, but the pain is not gone). No more knee pain, but I have arthritis in my hip so nothing I can do about that one.
  7. I don’t like it when people ask me how much weight I’ve lost. No one asks any more. First, I live in another country, but seriously, at three years out, it’s old news.
  8. I feel a little funny when I tell people how I lost the weight. Never comes up anymore.
  9. Taking my vitamins every day is tricky. Easy now.
  10. Going out to eat and seeing so much good food on other people’s plates, knowing I will eat just a few bites of something much less exciting and I won’t enjoy my meal as much as others do. A complete non-issue at this point. We enjoy going out to a nice meal, we often share or sometimes we just have appetizers. It truly is not about the food any more, but the enjoyment of going out.

So as you can see, even the worst parts of YEAR ONE were not so bad and they all essentially don’t even exist anymore!

My Perfect 5:2 Fast Day

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Called Flat Tummy Water, tastes great and looks nice too!

Called Flat Tummy Water, tastes great and looks nice too!

I’m so excited! I am finally back on track with my 5:2 Fast Days and today was a Perfect 5:2 coming in at a very decent 501 calories! It feels great to accomplish this since I have been on the “FFA” eating plan since Christmas. You all know that one—it’s the one we were all on (in between all the actual diets we tried and failed at) before we were sleeved. FFA? Free For All! Meaning we just ate what we wanted when we wanted. Some of us had real issues with food, others (like me) always felt I was eating somewhat “normally.” But what’s normal for one person isn’t normal for others—pity it took me so long to learn that one.

So, what does a Perfect 5:2 Fast Day look like? Here it is:

7 am: Fixed a cup of tea instead of coffee so I didn’t have to count the milk. It was just fine even though I love my coffee.

Calories: 0

9 am: Went to the gym. Didn’t want to go but made myself, and like always, once I get there I like it. When I don’t want to go I tell myself I will just go for 20 minutes, because I know I will stay once I get my butt in the door. Right now I am doing 20 minutes on the rowing machine, then strength training on various machines or the floor for about 30 minutes, then 20 minutes on the bike, all the time listening to music on my iPhone.

Genepro protein powder.

Genepro protein powder.

11 am: Fixed a protein smoothie and drank half of it. From a recommendation on the forum, I am now using Genepro. It is completely (and I mean completely) tasteless and has 30 grams of protein in each tablespoon. I use fresh (but I freeze them) raspberries, blackberries, grapes (about 15 each), half a banana, and some drinkable yogurt. The protein powder itself has 90 calories.

Calories: 123

Lunch!  Miso soup, corn crackers, and a soft-boiled egg.

Lunch! Miso soup, corn crackers, and a soft-boiled egg.

 

 

 

1:30 pm: Lunch. I had a bowl of miso soup, two corn crackers (love those guys!), and a soft-boiled egg.

Calories: 120

 

The Erotic Masked Ball

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My beautiful mask!

My beautiful mask!

As promised, now that Christmas week is fading behind us and we are all looking forward to the new year, I will finally tell you about my experience at the Erotic Masked Ball in Berlin last month. I wrote about it immediately after I got back because writing helps me process the experiences and emotions I have had.

As the readers of this blog know, my husband and I began attending Tantra workshops and opening our lives up to new sensual and sexual adventures a few years ago. We have a very secure relationship and are mature enough to handle each other being with other partners. I was happy to explore this after I lost weight, since I was more comfortable with my body. Unconventional? Yes, but as I have mentioned many times, everyone has to find what works for them and gives them pleasure and satisfaction, and this lifestyle appeals to us. We don’t have children, we don’t plan on running for public office back in the U.S., and we are not hurting anyone. We have found it not only fun and exciting but also emotionally enriching and life-affirming, and as odd as this might seem, something that strengthens the bond between us.

Having said all that, the Masked Ball was a bit much even for me. But although I was outside my comfort zone, I decided that I was going to have a full experience, and that’s what I did! And I also believe that every once in a while it’s probably a good idea to have a little madness in your life. I have not had that many crazy moments in my past, so I was way overdue for an experience that you would not tell your mother about!

Caution: Read the Following Story Only If You Have an Open Mind
(although nothing in here is any more x-rated than current “mommy porn” like Fifty Shades of Grey)

This is the story of my weekend at the Masked Ball, something different, out of the box, and for many people, pretty weird! I had an extra element of anticipation for this event. I was going not with my husband, but with a lover — I will call him Barcelona Man. I learned long ago that anticipating an exciting event can be as much fun as the actual experience, and that held true (in part) for this weekend.

Merry Christmas 2014!

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An unconventional Christmas tree for an unconventional life!

An unconventional Christmas tree for an unconventional life!

How do you like our Christmas tree? We live such an unconventional life that I decided to have an unconventional tree! In honor of beautiful women everywhere (including the readers of this blog!) we have a beautiful woman Christmas tree with a little slinky dress that actually fits me! Never in my life did I ever think I would wear something this clingy or sexy, but I have! (Although the honest truth is that it really looks better on the mannequin!) Why not have a little fun in life?

This will be my fourth Christmas after being sleeved, and even though I have to watch what I eat so I don’t gain weight, I now feel like a “normal weight” person. The sleeve has allowed me to figure out how to do that, even during the holidays. I say “normal weight” because according to the powers that be, I am not morbidly obese, obese, or even overweight any more, but I’m not thin either. I’m just a normal-weight person trying to stay healthy every day without obsessing about calories or carbs, or exercising like a crazy person, or worse, letting it dominate my thoughts and energy. I do consider calories and carbs, and I exercise regularly, but it’s not controlling my life anymore. I don’t feel guilty when I don’t eat perfectly and that works for me.

Having said that, my hip hurts, dammit! I don’t know exactly what the problem is but it has bothered me for years — pre-sleeve in fact. I probably did so much damage to it when I was 200+ lbs that I’m still suffering from it. It’s hard to diagnose and I really don’t know what brings on the pain, but at the moment I am not able to exercise and it is really painful when I go to bed. So for those of you who are young and considering this surgery, do it now before you screw up your joints. How I wish weight loss surgery had been available when I was younger, but then I probably would have lived a much different life, and as I said, at this time in my life I have no complaints. OK, my hip is a complaint, but I’ll get that figured out.

I don't ice skate, but this rink is right around the corner from our house. Very festive!

I don’t ice skate, but this rink is right around the corner from our house. Very festive!

Three years after being sleeved I finally cleaned out my closet completely the other day and disposed of the last few big clothes I had — there were a few really nice pieces and I had a hard time getting rid of them. But after seeing them taking up space and realizing that I would never wear them, I decided it was time. Living here in Europe, I have no fat friends to give them to, so off they went to the Netherlands version of the Salvation Army! I now know I am not going back to those large sizes no matter what.

The Magic of Touch

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IMG_3695

New paths can take you to many interesting places… physically and emotionally.

I love life, I love living in this day and age, I like being surprised at where the twists and turns of life may take you. And then, when a path leads you to a new place and that place lights up your life, I love the fact that it can re-energize your soul and spirit because you didn’t even know what was down that road before!

Becoming open to the possibilities of what might be down a brand new road is exactly what happened to me a year after my vertical sleeve surgery, and I was 59 years old! I am now 61 and never dreamed my life would be an explosion of new experiences: living in a new country, traveling to all sorts of interesting places, getting around by bikes instead of cars, meeting lots of fascinating new people from many different cultures, and exploring the new world and people we have met through Tantra.

My husband and I have always been sexual with each other. Like many couples we have gone through our own ups and downs in that complicated area; after all, we have been together over 25 years. But also like many couples (whether or not they would openly admit it) we were curious, and occasionally we wondered what it might be like to be with someone else, or at least to have the excitement of another person’s touch that can only happen at the beginning of a flirtation or relationship. Neither one of us had any interest or desire to have an affair — too much drama, too much secrecy — and we loved each other, we didn’t want to fall in love with someone else! Plus, personally, I could never get away with anything; I am a terrible liar and he would know something was up in less than 24 hours. Or maybe 2 minutes. So forget that idea!

Even though we have a very healthy attitude towards sex and sensuality, we had two big barriers in our way: my weight and living in the United States. In the U.S., it seems to us anyway, most people think that if you are interested in intimacy outside of your marriage then you are surely going to HELL! And even if you can get beyond that, so many options related to sex in the U.S. are either pretty sleazy or downright illegal. So my weight and the U.S. culture kept us from going down that road untilTADA!!! — I had weight loss surgery and we moved to Europe. Add to those key changes our discovery of Tantra, and it was full speed ahead! Little did we know what amazing adventures awaited us!

I wrote about the Tantra massage that I had in Berlin in my November 2012 blog. That evening changed our life! We immediately signed up for a 4-day seminar called Magic of Touch offered by Spiritual Tantra Lounge in Berlin, the same place that offered the massage. Turns out, the name of this seminar would become a mantra for our lives. We rediscovered just how important touch is to our hearts, our souls, our health, and our over all well-being. Now over two years later, we have learned that what we were looking for was not sex with other people, we have learned a new way to touch each other as well as other people with our bodies, our minds, and our emotions.

A beautiful place to explore the senses.

A beautiful place to explore the senses.

We started learning all of this in spring 2013. The interior of Spiritual Tantra Lounge is beautiful — tastefully decorated, lots of wood, soft lighting, Balinese décor, intoxicating scents — everything offers a natural sense of order, love, and sensual pleasures to be discovered. The moment we walked through the door all of our senses were in high gear.

Now, imagine spending four days with 24 other people you have never met, and although you don’t know exactly what will happen, you do know there will be many intimate moments in the time you are together. It was all a bit scary but we congratulated ourselves for being adventurous enough to try something new, different, and hopefully exciting.