Food Files

This is a reoccurring theme in the WLS community and honestly it seems to greatly divide many us post op. What Should I Be Eating?!?! Why the hell isnt there a standardised plan? What do I do now that 60-90% of my stomach is gone??

Anyway these are my personal thoughts, I would love to hear yours also. For ME personally, I do not believe in eating smaller portions of the same stuff that made me fat. How can I hope to believe that I could eat the same kind of things and stay slim in the long term? At 17 months post op I am well over 90 kilos down from my highest ever recorded weight and I know what works for me. It’s taken time but this is my way of life now. It was not easy! It was a rude awakening! I felt like my best friend was ripped out of my life – I had an unhealthy relationship with food. That’s how I knew that I needed to change my ways.

My rude awakening came at 4 weeks post op when I was lying literally on the floor crying because I couldn’t eat something that I wanted 😳 ….. overreaction much? But at that time I was just so fricken salty over it all! That’s when I realised yep, Gastric Bypass alone isn’t going to fix this. I have to change. That change was slow. It took time and re-learning things but I knew that I was worth it! We all are.

So now I count calories, and I know the nutritional information on everything that I regularly eat. It’s not to be obsessed – my lack of education about my poor eating habits pre op got me to were I was. At 143+ kilos I had no idea about portion control or what I should have been eating or I would not have been that way to begin with. I can be honest and own it because it’s true. It makes me sad to remember back to that, because I honestly didn’t think my eating was that bad! I do not want to be there again. It doesn’t mean that I never exceed my calories for any given day, but it does mean that I don’t believe that food is a reward – I don’t treat myself with food. I am not a pet to be trained.

Yesterday I went out with my husbo and I had a few drinks and a bit of “hardly ever” food. Lemme loose in Lindt ♥️ And gingerbread balls are just a little bit too amazing 🤣 We had fun, it was great but the time with him is what meant the most. To me food is a fuel – it’s not good or bad – it’s the choices I make consistently around it and what I choose that will make it either good or bad for me. This is what I chose for my dinner.

The reality of this for me is that at my highest weight – when I could hardly wipe my own arse, couldn’t walk for more than 2 minutes without feeling sweaty and breathless and had constant body aches and pains – I NEVER WOULD HAVE gone to Melbourne for a half a day and legged it around with hubby or gone to a concert! I would have been too scared That I wouldn’t fit into the seats, too afraid of having to walk up and down stairs, to embarrassed that my body would make it difficult for other people to walk past me in the aisles and too ashamed to eat in front of others – my life is now full of rewards that I can enjoy every day. Things like seeing U2 live 💗

Since RNY, I’m not trapped in my self made prison and I won’t put myself back in it. But hey I am just one person and this is just my point of view – so let’s talk about it. There isn’t right and wrong with this – it’s about our lives long term. That’s why we do this right? For the long term benefits – so how do you achieve your success long term? That’s really what we all want to know …… Can this work for me in the long term. So let’s talk about that – it’s a conversation that we really need to have. So awesome ones, much weight have you lost, how far post op are you and what do you do to stay on track … on your track not anyone else’s 💗💗💗

Cats, Pigeons and Brutal Honesty

I was not always one to just say it like it is. I would think it, I might whisper it quietly to my partner and to my close family …. but I rarely said it and if I did, it would come out in an explosion of zingers that were both cutting and, at times, extreme. Isn’t it good that age, life, and a genuine desire to be a better human being can cause us to change. And there is the word that I want to highlight today – CHANGE! Sometimes loving ourselves means that we have to acknowledge that change is needed and we should seize the opportunity to do it!

The last 2 years of my life have been full of that word. I have changed and realise that I have to say things sometimes, even if it is hard to hear. We walked away from toxic situations, I decided that I was absolutely fricken worth the heartache and struggle to take a big risk on myself and finally get my weight and life under control and I CHANGED. I stopped looking for all of the reasons that I shouldn’t improve my life and started to focus on all of the reasons that I needed to do something different. The definition of insanity ” doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. For years I tried all of the diets, all of the fad eating ‘lifestyle changes’ I exercised and thought that I was just destined to be big for always. But there was something that I didn’t do.

What I didn’t do was take full responsibility for my obesity. I don’t mean that the reasons that I ate were all my own fault! Seriously tragic things have happened in my life but allowing myself to stay bound to them gives those things the power over my future!! I mean that by not taking my life in hand and realising that only I could change it, I was staying stuck in an unhealthy, disempowering cycle. I was fat, I was miserable and I wanted to unstick myself from the crappy situation that I felt trapped in. Weight loss surgery was not THE ANSWER, weight loss surgery is A WINDOW IN TIME – ME CHANGING IS THE ANSWER. Weight loss surgery will be as effective in the long term as you are educated and disciplined – I didn’t want to hear that but my surgeon told me that and when he did he put the cat well and truly amongst my pigeons! I wanted to believe it was going to be simple. But life has taught me that NOTHING worth having is ever simple. It isn’t as simple as having surgery and waking up and you will then just magically be skinny. Success is found in the details. It is in our daily routines.

Weight loss surgery removed a part of my stomach and in my case a part of my intestines (RNY) but without using the incredible gift that WLS is to its maximum advantage, it would be possible to gain weight. It is possible to sabotage yourself. For years I convinced myself that I was eating really well. After all, my kids and hubby aren’t big people. I knew what a healthy diet looked like right? After all I had been on enough of them!! The fact is that NO, I did NOT know what a healthy diet looked like. I did not understand moderation ….. How could I think that I did? I did not become an 163cm tall 140 Plus Kilo woman by eating in moderation – I ate like someone who weighed 140 plus kilos!

When I had WLS, brain surgery was not performed at the same time. I wasn’t suddenly endowed from ‘On High’ with the ability to know what “normal” was in terms of my eating. And I didn’t understand what moderation was either. I knew that I had restriction and I knew that dumping syndrome, which in my case is terrible, would condition me to avoid certain foods, BUT I had to educate myself. I sat down and cried and cried because I realised that I had been completely deceiving myself for years about my understanding of food. And so began the process of educating myself.

For me, I wanted to maximise the 12 months after my bypass. I wanted to make the most of that period of time when weight loss is supposed to be the easiest. I had to learn what a serving size actually was. I had to learn to read the labels on the food that I was eating. I had to understand how much protein I needed to consume a day and how many grams of carbs. I wanted to understand the best way to give my body nutrients and how many calories I should aim to consume. I found that while I had a fairly good understanding of the types of foods I should be eating, I had NO IDEA about serving sizes. That had to change and it has! It may have taken 6 months for me to wrap my head around it all. But those were months well spent. Weight loss surgery opened up a transformative window in time for me. I choose every day to take advantage of it.

Self love and self care in my life looks like this – giving myself grace to learn, grow and change. Love Tash x

Every time I think of me believing I ate well I think of this line 🤣🤣

When it’s 1:21 AM

Infection is burning through my body tonight. Sleep is elusive and I am reminded of all of the reasons that I am supposed to be resting. I have been though a lot and my body needs to recover. I need to be kind to myself and give myself what I need – sleep, antibiotics, probiotics, vitamins and some much needed escapes to beautiful destinations. And yet here I am – lying in bed, unable to sleep or consume much of anything, feeling positively miserable. I want to force myself to action but there is the knowledge that my body will rebel if I try, and that fact grinds me to a halt every single time!!

Inspiration and finding things we weren’t looking for

This morning I woke up thinking about all the things that I have found on this little walk I have taken towards health. Most of the things that mean the most to me now, I wasn’t even looking for, and I certainly didn’t expect to find. I was reading something today – a story I have read a lot of times before and I was struck by the fact that the Hero in the story, the person who did not give up, even in the face of horrific circumstances, was actually motivated to a very large extent, by anxiety. Suddenly I could relate to this story in a whole new way! I had one of those light bulb moments because I saw myself in the story – I have viewed much of my life through the anxiety filter also.

I could tell you lots of tales about all of the reasons why I ate. I have a good many sad and truly devastating things that have gone on in my life. No one that knows my past hurts and pains would think the worse of me for becoming a very large person. Except that fact that I refuse to allow myself to be the product of my hurts! All of those stories begin with the actions of others – but guess what – others don’t live my life, I do. Others didn’t open my mouth and put the food in it, I did. Others don’t determine the trajectory of my life, I determine that. It’s only really in the last few months that I have started to understand the very great power that we give “others” when anxiety runs unchecked.

My life was a product of continually making choices that empowered my dysfunctional coping strategies. Anxiety was and is a horrible task master and my “go to” response was EAT!! I, by no means profess to have mastered this old enemy of mine, however, I am working on it because I refuse to allow myself to be a watered down version of what I could be. I don’t want to hold myself back because of fear or disqualify myself before I even start. What would we dream for ourselves if we truly believed we were worthy and deserving? I have asked myself this over and over in my grateful moments and oh how that story has changed over the last 2 years.

When anxiety started to lose its grip on me I booked in with an incredible surgeon. I also started to make small changes in my daily life to give myself room to grow and change. I am that proverbial “old dog” and I needed to learn new tricks! The first thing that I did, and still do now, is practice being grateful. Every day I used to wake up thinking of food and how I would fill the empty feeling in my heart that day with whatever I was planning to eat. Now, I wake up and I don’t move until I remind myself of at least 10 things I am grateful for. Repetitively practicing this caused a shift to happen in my thinking and by the time I was about 8 weeks post op, I realised that I had other things in my life besides food.

From when I booked in with my surgeon until my op, I had 6 months. For 6 months I had no idea that arguing with myself in my bed every morning and being grateful – not looking at recipes and planning menus, feeling anxious and out of control, was going to change my whole outlook on life. Learning to feed my anxiety monkey a banana has been a revelation! I found a tiny little answer in my gratefulness exercises. I hope you celebrate your little answers too xx

From the start to the middle
January 2019 – September 2019

Part 2

We live with ourselves right? Like, I know things about me that NO ONE else knows. There are things about me, secrets that no one will ever know, things that I will take to my grave.

Things like – how many times I sucked Ice Magic directly from the bottle or ate peanut butter out of the jar, how many times I rubbed one out over Patrick in Dirty Dancing, the amount of times I thought about a beautiful girl back when I wasn’t sure if I liked guys, girls or both in equal measure, how often I escaped to the beach to sit and be alone because sometimes a girl just needs to hear the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks 🌊🌊 okay okay sooooooooooo it was more to do with my booty call and his proximity to the beach, but I did like that whole wave crashing thing too ….. I just like the rock hard surfer abs more 🤤😍

Do you remember those days? The care free days? The days when the worst thing that happened was that your best friend didn’t like you at that moment or the person you adored didn’t know you were alive? The days when you felt everything! The teen years!! Heightened hormones and everything that went along with it. Well I have found that the weight loss journey feels a whole hell of a lot like that! Still interested? Then read on my friend, read on.

I remember the day that I decided I was actually going to do this. I was going to turn my life around and have WLS. And just quietly – I didn’t really think that weight loss surgery would work. I had been the unfortunately recipient of a failed lap band that had been removed. I was TERRIFIED of going under the knife again! And things like that worked for other people but they didn’t work for me. The ‘genetic predisposition towards fatness gods’ had not smiled upon me! I was doomed to look like a beach ball with arms, legs and a head for the RESSSST OF ETERNITY!!!!! I was a bit like Pooh Bear …. I was “short, fat and proud of that” constantly “rumbly in my tumbly” and looking for something sweet ……. or savoury …… OKAY OKAY ….. I just LOVED food. But a little idea was brewing on the inside of me. I wondered what I would look like without all of the excess me.

In my adult life I have been fat for 95% of it. And in all honesty it was hard for me to imagine what it would be like to be a non plus size. I didn’t even know what that would feel like! So to help myself focus on all of the good reasons to move forward with the surgery I wrote a list of the things that I would do when I was thin. I was also a little bit intentional about writing things on that list that were for me and me alone. I know that may sound selfish but if you can remember what I was talking about last time – I knew that I had to make this change for me. Yes everyone around us benefits from our lifestyle change but this time it wasn’t about everyone. It was about me.

So I wrote a title for my list MY WHY and I sat and stared at the blank piece of paper and couldn’t think of anything!! WTF!!! It took a couple of days of staring at that blank piece of paper on my desk before I got brave enough to write my first WHY on it – To look gloriously hot in a pair of high waisted skinny jeans! I sat at my desk smirking and laughed to myself but in that moment HOPE bubbled up inside me, the dam broke and out poured all of the things that I secretly dreamed for myself. It’s not selfish to want a better health outcome for your life, it is NOT selfish to prioritise good health, it is not wrong to dream of being unhindered by excess self, of running a marathon, of going on a holiday to a tropical destination without fear of being sweaty and chaffed the whole time, it isn’t selfish to want to see your own genitals or dream of having hot sex up against the wall – but all of those things are just a dream when trapped in a morbidly obese body. So on and on and I wrote! By the time I finished my WHY list it was pages long. I can write a compelling argument – I even convinced myself that this was probably my last chance to ever have my WHY list.

My WHY list helped me overcome my first hurdle, the YOU BAD AND SELFISH WOMAN HOW CAN YOU DO THIS!! My WHY list was more compelling than the thought of WLS being 150% selfish. “Oh but its just so selfish to remove my income from the family for 6 weeks while I recover, and how can I consider doing this to the kids? What kind of monster am I to do something like this for myself? We could use that money for so many other things!” Armed with my WHY list, ever the voice of reason, the one and only Stevie J (hubster and bangable best friend) said “What will the future look like if you don’t do this?” He handed me my list and he smiled at me, kissed me on the nose and left for work! Ummmm what the fuck was that? How does he disarm EVERY single one of my arguments with a sentence? Can I encourage you to write down your WHY’s – Keep them with you. Let them motivate you both before and after surgery. Make sure that they are compelling enough to keep your focus.

So there began my determination to actually do something this time. It wasn’t going to be like every other time I had backed out of something, changed my mind, or just found it all too hard and put it in the “fuck it bucket” and ran screaming the other way. This time I was going to relearn what it felt like to look after myself, I was going to take my health back, I was going to be the me that I was on the inside – on the outside! I was so pumped for about 2 hours!! And then reality came crashing in around me. HOW THE HELL was I going to do this!! Why would it be any different this time? So, armed with the tiny little bubble of self love that was brewing in my heart, kept my WHY list with me at all times and read it a few times a day! That list became fuel to the genuine desire that I had to make steps away from my beach bally self – so I formulated my BE GONE FAT PLAN.

Step one of my BE GONE FAT PLAN was as far as I could go to start with. I had made an awful mistake with my Lap Band Surgeon years prior. This was the part that frightened me beyond words!! I didn’t want to make a terrible mistake again soooooooo. I set myself some Goals. I am good with that kind of thing – business background blah blah. I knew that I needed to be really specific about what I wanted. I needed to give myself a time frame in which to achieve my first goal which was “FIND GOD OR GODESS OF GASTRIC SURGERY” that I can trust to get this right for me. And so the challenge was set. FIND THE SURGEON AND I gave myself 4 weeks to do it!

The things I do

I am super humbled to be part of an incredible team of inspiring individuals who moderate the largest Weight Loss Surgery Facebook page in Australia. I am constantly inspired, motivated and totally moved by the stories of the fabulous people that I have met on the page. One thing that becomes overwhelmingly obvious as you read thousands of posts and tens of thousands of comments, is that when we loose weight it isn’t just a physical thing.

As our page is in a phase of rapid growth and change, I was asked by our fearless leader to write a new regular piece around the topic of self love. The following is the first instalment in that series. Much Love Tash xx

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to love and care for others. I think it is hard wired into my DNA. I became a mother for the first time when I was just 19 years old and she was and still is the best and most life changing thing that has ever happened to me and it would happen 4 more times. My God – I never knew that kind of love existed until I saw her little face for the very first time. I loved my husband – adored him actually but her, oh my heart – she was a dream. He was my High School Sweetheart, of sorts. Meaning I wanted him to notice me and he was busy being adored by many LOL! Eventually, at length, he noticed me! Lets face it, how could he not haha! We married young and when I fell pregnant I was delighted. I had always wanted to be a mother and I immersed myself in my role, I loved everything about nurturing her, caring for her, being there for her and did everything within my power to give her all of the things that she wanted.

Nearly 6 years later the first of our 4 sons was born – and I’ll be damned – all those nights that I cried myself to sleep because I was filled with legitimate fear that I wouldn’t be able to love anyone as much as I loved our little girl were proven to be a baseless fear. I adored everything about him and loved being his Mumma too. I gave my everything, every single thing, into being there for them and doing all that I felt that they needed and deserved. I know that I did not do things as well as I would have wished, and I have not been a perfect Mother but I tried so very hard.

Fast forward through the years and our girl married and the day that she left home my heart broke in ways that no one ever told me it would. I was so incredibly happy for her and remain that way to this day. However that day changed me, I looked down at myself and saw myself for exactly what I was. A middle aged woman who had let herself go completely, giving everything to everyone else 100% of the time. There was no spark left, nothing that resembled the me that I hoped was still in there somewhere. In that moment I imagined what my life would look like if I continued to travel the same path for another 10 or 15 years and I realised that I was in trouble. I didn’t want to continue to get larger and larger, I didn’t want to lose even more myself under increasing layers of fat and I wanted out of the prison I had build for me to live in.

This is how terribly bad things had become for me – I didn’t own a single pair of underwear that didn’t have frayed elastic or holes, I didn’t own a single bra that wasn’t tattered and worn. I had given up on myself – forgotten my value and it still breaks my heart to think of it. My clothes reflected my feelings about myself, they were just whatever was cheapest so that my kids could have every brand name. I looked into my make up bag and realised that all of it was years old. I had nothing new, nothing that I even liked, nothing that reflected anything but self loathing and when I looked in the mirror I was gutted by what I saw. Skin that was stuffed to bursting with every single dream that I had willingly pushed aside, skin that stuffed full of every hurtful judgement that had been passed at me over the years, skin that was marred with my own unwillingness to acknowledge my deep trauma that I had survived, skin that wore the marks of carrying and giving birth to amazing humans, skin that was marked by surgical interventions for all kinds of health problems……… and I cried. I cried and cried because the last time that I looked at myself, really truly looked, I was in my teens. I had been full of so many dreams, plans and ambitions and even though a good many of them had come to pass, I was looking at a morbidly obese, middle aged woman. And I knew that I had totally forgotten the things that I loved about myself. Not how I loved my children or my husband or their wonderful traits – myself, the things that I loved about me.

That was the day that it all changed. That was the day that I decided that I couldn’t keep living like I had and that I had to give myself a chance. I had to remember what it was like to love me and if I couldn’t remember that, then I had to find out how to love myself and value myself again. That was the day that I saw a tiny spark of the hope filled teenager looking back at me in the mirror. From that day forward I had to make a plan because I REFUSED to accept that my future was going to be filled with the results of my morbid obesity. I refused to allow myself to become a memory to any of my kids, especially my 8 year old son. On that day I decided that I was worth it, I deserved to be able to do the things that I had dreamed of and that my future was not over – it hadn’t even begun yet. I had no idea how to love myself, I didn’t feel like there was a path back from where I was at, but I knew that I had to try. That was the day that I spoke to my husband and we upped our health insurance. That was the day that I decided that I was going to have RNY Gastric Bypass surgery – I was 40 years old.

It’s Quiet

We are at day 23 in the recovery process after the tummy tuck and I am going to confess that this week has been a huge jumble of emotions. I have found the quietness of the house to be disturbing. Being alone all day has it’s advantages but it is also lonely at times. I find myself torn between the instructions to “not do too much” and the need to do things like make lunches, cook meals, clean up and just generally be me.

As far as recovery goes – well really I couldn’t ask for better. I am healing beautifully, swelling is going down and all of that is going well BUT I am profoundly unhappy with the amount of loose skin that is left behind. My side boob is the most distressing part of this process. It is something that I am still tucking in on a daily basis and I was not expecting to still be doing that so that is disappointing. My tummy has loose skin too – going through what I have been through and still having excess skin to deal with seems like a really cruel joke that is just not funny. BUT …… I don’t have to tuck my tummy in to anything anymore. That is a weird feeling! Weird in a good way. And my mons has been lifted – WOW. Its there – like front and centre. Mine was covered by a skin flap for the last 23 years so it’s VERY strange to be able to see it there staring at me. I don’t recognise my body at all at this point and even though I am living in it, it is covered by a compression suit for 23 hours and 45 minutes every day so I haven’t really had a chance to get used to it yet.

I am now just using this brown tape to cover my incisions. Everything is all healed – I just have to keep them covered for 3 months. THREE MONTHS – why did no one say this!!! It seems a very long time but I am sure that it will be worth it in the long run!! ……… okay actually that last statement is a lie – I am probably going to have to have revision surgery to fix the things that are not right so it seems to me like I will be wearing tape on my body for half a year when it could have only been 3 months which I am now resenting in advance …. hey at least I can be honest about it!!

Anyway folks – until next time xx

This was me about 4 months after I had weight loss surgery and me during the week when my new swimsuit arrived

This morning when I was naughty and took my compression suit off for 2 minutes just to see how much my panties will cover of my gigantic scar

Day 17 Post Op

It has taken me so much longer to sit down and write this than I thought it would. The trauma of what happened after my plastic surgery is not something that I am going to forget in a hurry and I am still filled with fear and dread when I think about it. Yesterday was a great day. Yesterday I was feeling brave and confident and full of awesomeness over this process and beyond but today I feel very weepy. Its been a huge head game going through this process. I think it has been an even bigger head game than my initial weight loss surgery was. How that is even possible is beyond me but there it is.

Over the last 2 and a bit weeks I have been struggling to work out how I feel about all that happened with my surgery. About the fear that I felt and about how I am still feeling now. Bleeding internally is NO FUN. Fainting and peeing myself was no fun, being covered in blood from where my drain got pulled out was no fun. And watching my blood collecting in the other drainage bag on the other side of my body was not much fun either. In short I think I have been left feeling fairly traumatised by what has happened. So I do apologise for my lack of writing. I am still processing everything and will get back to things really soon xx

Monday – 12 Days Post Op.

Today I am feeling better than I thought I would be. Yes I am sore still but that soreness is becoming less and less. There is some pressure in the middle of my tummy that I am wondering about? Perhaps a seroma or perhaps something else. Anyway I am going to mention it to the nurse when I see them today.

All of my positive vibes and happy feelings seem to be pouring into healing at the moment and I am tending to find it a little bit of a challenge to write to you all. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I don’t just want to spew forth a whole jumble of unhelpful paragraphs that show the extent to which I have been affected by this surgery. I have however, been very affected.

I find myself jolting awake in the middle of the night with that feeling like I need to fight away the feeling of floating off. I find myself seeing my blood soaked nighty in the bin and the bin overflowing with other blood soaked items. Their presence in the bin and in my room made my experience all the more real. Perhaps I didn’t really pass out in the hospital, perhaps I didn’t really fall to the floor, perhaps my blood wasn’t really everywhere and perhaps my nightgown wasn’t really a blood soaked mess that couldn’t be saved? But unfortunately that is exactly what it was. I try not to let my mind repeat these things on a loop but it is and interrupting that loop is hard. I do it, daily I force myself to think about the wonderful things, but my brain keeps going back there, trying to make sense of it and forcing me to relive it.

I guess it is safe to say that my PTSD has come back again. We met before, a long time ago. I don’t talk about that time in my life but suffice it to say that I walked through it changed profoundly, and forever. I didn’t want to define myself in that way again but at the moment it fits. At the moment I have to avoid stressful situations, at the moment I have to focus on happy things. At the moment I can’t watch the news. At the moment some questions trigger really black thoughts and I know that I am fighting much harder than I should be to keep my mind positive. At the moment I guess I am fragile. I hate admitting that but it is the honest truth of the matter. So I am doing the be kind to myself thing.

I will write more after my appointment with the nurse this afternoon.

Lots of love Tash