Why You Can Lose Too Much Weight Too Fast?

rapid weight lossMany bariatric patients are of the mindset that the faster you lose weight, the better it is. Part of this stems from the fact that surgeons and nutritionists seem to be numbers oriented. We do lose a lot of weight initially; however, that can be harmful to the body. Many of us end up with vitamin deficiencies even if we’re religiously taking our supplements. Some of us start to lose hair. Others have even worse problems like the appearance of gall stones and the need for bladder surgery.

What’s the problem with extreme weight loss?

Extreme weight loss is not healthy or sustainable. The caloric levels that our bodies need to function optimally are higher than the ones nutritionists and surgeons recommend for bariatric patients. True, we can’t eat as much and yes, we want to get rid of this weight quickly.

However, did we put it on overnight?

What’s a healthy rate at which to lose weight?

No. I’m not saying that you can’t lose weight rapidly, but try to be realistic. A healthy weight loss goal is between 1-2 lbs a week. Most of us lose 3-4 per week or more. That’s okay, but make sure you get your protein and your liquids in. Increase calories when you work out. 700-900 calories a day is too low to maintain bodily functions long-term.

What does starvation mode do to your body?

What surgeons won’t tell you is that the longer you starve yourself, the more difficult it is to keep weight off and to even lose it. Be smart and eat as healthy as possible. I suggest a whole foods approach. Fresh fruit and veggies.

And carbs are not the enemy. Just eat healthy, complex carbs. You can and will lose the weight if you use your tool properly, but you don’t want to lose it at an excessively fast rate. This can lead to so many more advanced problems including heart disease. Remember your why! It was probably not to look cute in a bikini but rather to be healthy and happy.

Also, the faster you lose, the more loose skin you will have. Then, you will need plastics. That’s for another time, though.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or nutritionist. The opinions expressed in this post are mine and come from my experience as a two-time bariatric survivor and my work with a nutritional counselor. Do your own research and do what’s right for you. 

Food Funerals – Should You Have Them or Not?

Food Funerals – I love this topic. My bariatric surgeon’s nutritionist hates it, but I’m not a big fan of him. He loves Quinoa and Kale and has never had a weight problem in his life. Basically, food funerals were my way to say good-bye to foods that I wouldn’t really need in my new bariatric life. They were sort of my ‘last meals’. I prepped for a while before my surgery. I worked with my own nutritional counselor, therapist, psychiatrist and life coach.

I knew what was going to happen post-surgery in part because I had the lap band before. Certain foods were just not going to work in the bariatric lifestyle. I decided to bid farewell to things like pizza and lasagna and tres leches cake. You can decide which foods you need to say good-bye to. I made it into a mini-ceremony.

I found them very effective. They gave me closure on the fact that I couldn’t or wouldn’t eat those foods again. I know that why the bariatric surgeon’s nutritionist didn’t like them. I get it. However, I was emotionally attached to food. This was my way of de-taching emotionally from it. I will tell you the truth – I have had pizza and lasagna since surgery. I just eat gluten-free pizza and lasagna is more of a noodleless kind. I still get the flavor, but it’s not entirely the same.

Frankly, a food funeral is a good way to prepare yourself for life after surgery. It will help you be less emotional about food. Food is fuel. We need to stop having a relationship with it and learn how to live with it as part of our lives, but not the most important part of our lives. By saying farewell to it and sending it off on its way, I made my peace with food and prepared myself for life post-surgery.

I think it has helped me be more successful as a result. Should you have food funerals? That’s up to you. I can’t make that decision for you nor would I. If you think it makes sense, do it. If you don’t, no one will fault you for it.

What is fat mind? Why you need to be aware of it?

Fat mind is something all bariatric patients need to be aware of. It’s basically thinking like a fat person. Your former self had a certain mindset when it came to food. That mindset may not be the best mindset to help you succeed as a WLS patient. You may want to eat things that are not healthy for you. You may want to eat at times you are not hungry. You may want to eat more than your body can comfortably hold.

What is fat mind

Fat mind is a way of thinking and being that keeps you stuck in the old you and the old habits. It’s difficult to counterract it, but not impossible. The first thing to do is to be aware that those thoughts are there. You can overcome them. It’s difficult, but it can be done.

How being aware of fat mind can help you overcome it?

Awareness is turning your attention to something. In order to be aware of fat mind, you need to understand when you’re starting to think that way. It could be when you see a trigger food like candy or a cookie. Maybe those items don’t need to be in your home anymore. It’s not going to harm your family to eat those items away from you. You can and should make your home a safe and healthy environment for you. You’ve got to take care of yourself and knowing what you can and cannot tolerate is important.

Some people can have the items around them and it doesn’t bother them. That’s fine for them. You are the only you in the world. Get to know yourself post-surgery. You will find that you are a bit different than you were pre-surgery. It’s okay. Don’t be alarmed. Weight loss surgery is life-changing. You will find out that things shift. Attitudes shift. Needs shift. It’s alright.

Relaxing is a way to let fat mind go

Relax and let it happen. Watch it unfold and you will see that your life is going to get so much better. As for fat mind, the only way to beat it is to recognize it. You need to know when it rears its ugly head so you can say no to it. You are stronger than fat mind. I guarantee you that you are.

 

What kinds of professionals are available to me?

As a bariatric patient, you may already be sick of the doctor and nutritionist visits. I’m not going to tell you that I like them at all. However, I know I need to see my professionals to be successful as a WLS patient. In many cases, bariatric patients are left too much to their own devices and don’t make the necessary behavioral changes needed to remain successful, long-term. Did you know that you can still gain back the weight even though you’ve had a large portion of your stomach removed?

Many of us do. It’s far too common. That’s why I am going to strongly suggest that you get professional help during this process. You need to get your mind in gear as well as your body or you won’t succeed long-term.

There are different professionals I work with and I suggest you consider working with at least one of them yourself. They are:

  • psychiatrist
  • therapist
  • nutitional counselor
  • and life coach.

Psychiatrist 

My psychiatrist is a great man. He’s gentle, kind and compassionate. He’s one of a kind. I searched years for him and hope he doesn’t retire anytime soon. I’ve made him promise. His name is J. Bernard Cordoba, MD. He’s in the Austin, TX area and is well worth the money. He does not take health insurance, but he provides me with support and structure. I am not only a bariatric patient, but I am bipolar. In the year since I’ve had my surgery, I have had a deep depression and some manic episodes as well as a period of rapid cycling we both didn’t understand. We’ve adjusted medications – I’ve come down a bit on my antidepressant and slightly increased my mood stabilizer. Dr. Cordoba has saved my life and my marriage as a result.

Therapist

Because I am bipolar, I have been working with a therapist for years. Laura McDowell-Salcedo is my therapist. She has been for over seven years and she will be for as long as she remains in practice. We’ve been through a lot together. She has helped me realize that I did need the gastric sleeve and was there for me during the depression and manic episodes. She would open up her schedule to let me come twice a week when I needed it. I’m sorry to say that I did need it sometimes. She has taught me to stop with the negative talk. I feel much better as a person since I’ve lost weight although I need to come to terms with the new body. That’s next up on our list. Success.

Nutritional Counselor

Alexa Sparkman is a registered dietician, but she’s not a food pyramid robot. She thinks of food differently and has taught me to as well. She runs support groups called “Overcoming Mind Hunger.” I plan to offer support groups for my clients as well. They will deal specifically with emotional eating, a problem I feel plagues many bariatric patients. Truthfully, Alexa has helped me navigate my new eating plan. My body is very sensitive to foods. I am currently a gluten-free vegan. She helps me get as much nutrition as I can with my limitations. I did not expect to never be able to eat animal protein or drink milk again, but that happened as a result of the surgery. If I did not have a professional like Alexa in my corner, I could have become severely malnourished.

Life Coach

I hold a special place in my heat for life coaches because I am one. I can work with emotional overeaters, bariatric patients and their loved ones to help support them through the process. It is a process. You don’t just have the surgery and it’s all over. I also have a life coach who helped me decide to have the surgery. I year and a half ago, I was dead set against it. I still have moments where I wish I could undo it. Clay Blacker keeps me grounded. He keeps me in the moment and reminds me of my successes, not just my weight loss.

I am a different person today because I got professional help. Food is not my problem anymore. I don’t think of it as my friend or cohort. I don’t really think about it. I just eat it when I’m hungry. I’d love to see you have a non-relationship with food. The mind can overcome so much. Let me help you do it because they helped me. Call me today at 512-484-7634. I’m here for you.

What are the effects of extreme weight loss on the body?

Many bariatric patients lose weight rapidly, especially during the post-operative progression diet. The truth is that the body is not meant to lose weight so rapidly. Extreme weight loss can cause some serious side effects. We will look at some of those side effects and how you can work to derail them in your own weight loss efforts.

Personally, I’ve had to deal with some of the negative, as well as the positive, effects of extreme weight loss. The positive include the fact that I don’t need knee surgery. My pain levels are lower because I’m not so obese. I’ve been able to reduce my thyroid medication because my TSH is now within normal range. I also got rid of blood pressure meds. I was borderline hypertensive before the surgery and I am now in the normal range all the time.

I did not lose hair as a result of my extreme weight loss. Some people report that problem and I will go into it in more detail in another post. However, I have noticed some issues that I’d like to address:

  • loose skin,
  • muscle loss,
  • fatigue,
  • vitamin deficiencies,
  • and gall stones.

Loose Skin

I’ve lost over 130 lbs in about a year. I have tons of loose skin. It’s a bit uncomfortable and causes issues. I feel unattractive and am more uncomfortable in a swimsuit this year than I was last year. I have bat wings, loose skin on my hips and thighs and a bit of a skin shelf hanging over where my stomach used to be. I feel if I lost weight slower, I could’ve reduced some of this problem. I will need skin surgery when all is said and done. I’m not sure insurance will cover it.

Muscle loss

I go to a nutritional counselor every couple of months. She does body monitoring which tells me what my BMI is and my lean muscle mass is for example. My BMI has gone down, but so too has my lean muscle mass. I’ve lost muscle as well as fat. This is not the ideal situation. I’m trying to rectify it by working out more, but I don’t know how successful I will be.

Fatigue

The body goes through some stress when you lose weight quickly. I have struggled with the feeling of being tired all the time. I also have Fibromyalgia so I can’t blame it all on the extreme weight loss. I do notice it’s worse since I had the surgery. Some days I feel like I could sleep the whole day away. I just don’t give into it.

Vitamin Deficiencies

I get my blood drawn every three months. I will move to every six months after my next surgeon appointment, which is coming up next week. During that time, I have seen my numbers drop significantly. I am now deficieint in Vitamin D, which is very common for women. I take a D3 supplement suggested by my surgeon’s office. I do this every day along with the other vitamins and supplements I have to take as a result of the surgery.  I have friends who have had near-life-threatening symptoms from lack of Thiamine (B1) and other vitamin problems. Take your vitamins and supplements. Please. You need them.

Gall Stones

This one is relatively new and I may need gall bladder surgery as a result. Extreme weight loss can cause gall stones. It did for me. My gall bladder was fine a year ago. Some surgeons remove the gall bladder as a matter of course when they do the sleeve or bypass since it’s so common. Kinda scary. I know the gall bladder surgery is not a big deal and will give me loads of relief, but I’m sort of annoyed that I need more surgery because of weight loss surgery.

So, there you have it – some of the effects of extreme weight loss on the body. I hope your body handles the extreme weight loss of bariatric surgery better than mine has. I’ve been working with my nutritionist to eat more and lose less quickly. I am fine taking my time getting to goal. At some point, I think you should slow it down too, but that’s up to you.

 

 

 

 

Keep CALM with the CALM Plan

calm

The CALM plan is something I learned during the course of my support group workings with Alexa Sparkman. Alexa is a nutrtitionist in the Austin, TX area. She has a wonderful program called “Overcoming Mind Hunger.” You can visit her website at http://www.sparkmannutrition.com if you are interested in learning more about it.

What is the CALM plan

In her support groups, which I have taken multiple times, Alexa talks about the CALM plan for handling cravings.  There are four steps or actions to take with the CALM Plan. They are:

  1. Connect to consciousness – This is where your previous training comes in. Connecting to consciousness means that you are present in your mind and you know what’s going on. You are aware that you are having a craving.
  2. Alleviate anxiety – As an aware individual, you understand that you are having some difficulty overcoming this craving. You are able to regulate your emotional mind and get back into a calmer place. You can do this. You can overcome your craving.
  3. Logical liabilities. These are the lies you tell yourself to make it okay to emotionally overeat. For example, “I had a rough day, so I deserve that ice cream sundae.” As you go through the process, you will figure out what your logical liabilities are. Access them and let them have free reign. Tell them you know what they’re trying to do and they will go away.
  4. Mobilize and move on. Your craving, by this time, has probably passed. You can now go back to your life, craving free. Cravings don’t last and we don’t have to give into them just because we have them. You have a choice.

How can you use the CALM Plan to help you

The important thing for you to remember is that the CALM plan takes time to work. It is not a tool you can put in your toolbox overnight. Like anything worth having, it requires skill and practice. I cannow use the CALM plan when I have a craving. I know it will pass, usually in less than 5 minutes. I used to be scared of cravings. I am not anymore.

You can use the CALM plan. It will work. I promise. I will be offering my own support groups. They are six weeks long and free to the public. They begin the first full week in August (we skip Labor Day week) and then finish up around the 15th. I will have more information here and at my Facebook site.

I hope I can provide help for people the same way Alexa did for me. Good luck and keep ‘CALM.’

 

Hunger and Hormones

hungerHunger is something we feel when we need to eat. When you emotionally overeat, you may be ‘hungry’ before your body is physically ready to be. You can increase your hunger hormones by overuse. In this article, we’ll talk a little bit about hunger and hormones so you can learn a bit about the science behind hunger and hopefully, how to make it work for you.

What is hunger?

Hunger, for our purpose of definition, is a physical sensation in the stomach. It is our body’s way of saying that we need to eat in order to stay alive. Hunger is a primal human need and one we should not ignore.

What hormones drive hunger?

There are two hormones that drive hunger in the human body, they are leptin and ghrelin. Leptin, for its part, is a hormone, that is made by the fat cells. It is supposed to decrease your appetite. Ghrelin is a hormone that increases appetite. It also plays a significant role in the body’s weight.

What’s weird is that leptin, the appetite suppressant hormone, is more prevalent in a body that is heavier. It’s just that obese people tend to ignore the signals that leptin brings. That’s where emotional hunger and emotional eating (overeating) come into play.

Can hunger be psychological?

Absolutely. People can get hungry for reasons that are not physical. Many overeaters are emotional overeaters. Cues other than physical hunger pains and pangs can lead them to eat. Have you ever eaten because you were bored, sad, mad or glad? Then, you’ve engaged in emotional eating.

Want to know more about ghrelin?

Ghrelin, which increases your appetite, is released primarily in the stomach. It’s a thought signal that tells your brain you are hungry. You would expect it to increase if someone is undereating and decrease if a person is overeating. When children do those things, ghrelin seems to work this way. However, something seems to change as we grow up. We seem to control ghrelin more than it controls us.

Some German researchers have discovered that ghrelin levels play a role in determining how quickly hunger comes back after we eat. Normally, the levels skyrocket before you eat. They then go down for about three hours after so you shouldn’t be physically hungry for at least three hours after eating.

What do we know about leptin?

Leptin, however, seems to be the bigger player in the body’s quest for energy balance. This is the appetite suppressor. Some researchers think that leptin may regulate ghrelin. Leptin tells the body it has enough fat to survive. The more fat you have, the more leptin is in your blood. However, the amount of sleep you get and the time you last ate can have a significant effect on leptin. Studies have shown that rats can develop an insensitivity to leptin. It seems that this may be transferred to humans and is why obese people can ‘ignore’ leptin’s cues.

What happens to hunger hormones after sleeve surgery?

Well, it seems that ghrelin is reduced after sleeve surgery. Because it’s produced in the stomach and about 70% of the stomach goes away with this surgery, there is less ghrelin being produced. This may explain why people who have the sleeve surgery report less hunger. Sleeve patients also report feeling more satiety between meals.

So, do you now understand hunger and hormones better? If not, there are lots of articles on the internet that can help. Remember, I am not a medical doctor or a nutritionist. I am a life coach specializing in emotional overeating and bariatric surgery. This is for informational purposes only.

 

Why you should take a pre-surgery pic and pics along the way?

deanna100lbslostOkay. This should be a no-brainer for you all. This is my 100 lbs lost picture. It was taken at Christmastime 2017, about 6 months after my sleeve surgery. A year before that, I weighed 387 lbs. I felt like I had come a long way. The pictures show that I had.

To be honest, I did take a pre-surgery pic. I had several. Looking at them is difficult for me. In fact, I hated having my picture taken at all. Still not a huge fan. I’m kind of un-photogenic. I think I look better in person to be honest.

However, I want you to take a  few pre-surgery pictures if not for your sake then that of your family and friends. Despite whether or not you love yourself, they love and and want images of you. These pictures will also be great reminders of the person you were before surgery and how far you’ve come since surgery.

Take pictures along the way. I should’ve taken one every month, but I didn’t. I’m doing them every six months. It works for me. I know – I’m not taking my own advice, but…well, maybe I’ll start a monthly picture from now on. How’s that for compromise – and I’ll even post it here.

I took a picture yesterday on my one-year sleeve-a-versary. I have lost a total of 133 lbs. Wow. I’m thrilled. I have intentionally stalled my weight loss to a more healthy 1-2 lbs a week with the help of my nutritionist because we believe that extreme weight loss is not healthy for the body.

Okay, I know this sounds advicey, but I’m not telling you what to do. Not at all. I’m just sharing what works for me. My goal weight is about 70 lbs away, but I think about 30 of that will be skin from the skin removal surgery.

I do plan to get that about a year after I reach my goal weight which is about 40 lbs away per my calculations. Not bad. I hope to reach it by June of 2019. Maybe sooner. I’m in no rush. I believe that the images we take can help us to celebrate more than what the numbers on the scale say.

Pictures show us in a real way how far we’ve come. I don’t look like the person I was last June. I sure don’t feel like her. I am happy with my progress and I want you to have that joy so take those pics and post them. Celebrate yourself. You are worth it and you are working this tool to the max.

Love and light to you.

Is keto right for me?

ketoSo many bariatric patients are asking if the keto diet is the proper diet for them. Note that I am not a nutritionist or a doctor. I am not an expert. For me, this diet does not work. I honestly feel that it’s a fad and, as bariatric patients, we should concentrate on eating the healthiest, best food possible since we’re so limited. Having said that, there are many good things about keto that you can apply to a bariatric life. If you want to do this diet, I’m not here to judge or stop you. I want you to educate yourself further and be informed. I would also suggest that you don’t follow the normal keto diet, but one that has been adapted specifically for bariatric patients.

So, what is a keto diet?

A keto, or ketogenic diet, is basically a low-carb, moderate protein and high fat diet that is supposed to put your body into ketosis.

What is ketosis?

Ketosis occurs when you’re body is using fat as energy (ketones) and not carbs. Your liver will create ketones instead. Acetoacetate is the most common ketone. It’s created from the breakdown of fatty acids. Acetoacetate is then broken down into BHB or Acetone. The Acetone can account for the bad breath and smelly waste during your beginning phase of the keto diet.

 What can you eat on a keto diet?

You are encouraged to eat low-carb foods like:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Greens like kale, arugula, swiss chard, etc.
  • and Broccoli.

You can also eat high-fat foods like:

  • Avocado
  • Sour  Cream
  • Olive Oil,
  • and  Marrow.

What about water?

You should drink plenty of water (between 40 – 68 oz a day at least) especially when you are in the early stages of ketosis. Alcohol and soda, including diet, is not encouraged, which should be fine for most bariatric patients. We’re not supposed to have carbonation. It can stretch the stomach. Some coffees and teas are okay, but sweeteners are not.

Now, bariatric keto plans are even more restrictive. You generally have to limit your calories to around 1,000 per day. You should get your 60 – 75g of protein and avoid really high-fat foods so you don’t dump. If you do decide to follow the this plan, please get some assistance from a bariatric keto professional or support group.

Don’t attempt to go it alone.

What’s the best bariatric diet to follow?

Man, oh man, are y’all going to hate this answer. The best bariatric diet to follow is the one that works for you. Yes, there’s a lot of debate on the internet about bariatric diets. After the post-op progression, you pretty much can eat whatever. Many people go keto, which I don’t recommend. I will talk more about keto in another post.

However, you will have to re-learn to eat. You will want to avoid over-processed foods with lots of chemicals. Eat fresh whenever you can. If you can also eat organic, that would be great, but it’s not necessary. Produce like fruits and veggies are great. Lean proteins like chicken and fish are fantastic.

Now, having said that, I can NOT eat animal protein. It makes me physically ill. It’s something that happens to about 20% of us according to my surgeon, Stephen Fass, MD. They didn’t tell me that ahead of time.

I found out rather by accident. Right now, I eat a gluten free, vegan diet. I have found that cheese and other animal products don’t like me. This is not going to be the case for most people. As a general rule, you should avoid simple carbs like white rice, semolina pastas and so forth.

You should also avoid high sugar, high fat foods that could cause dumping. If you have questions on what bariatric diet to follow, you should probably check with a nutritionist. You will need to learn to eat for your new tummy. It takes time to re-learn how to eat as a bariatric patient. Your findings will most likely be different from mine and from everybody else. You are unique and foods that like you back are the foods you should stick to.

It takes a lot of mental toughness to figure out how to eat as a bariatric patient. You certainly can do it. I did it. Many other people have done it. Try to steer clear of fads and just eat good, healthy food. That’s the best advice I can give you. Eat for your new tummy and celebrate you.

You’re worth it.