Earlier last month – July 5th, to be exact – marked the three year anniversary since my weight loss surgery. I remember the days of looking at a one ounce serving and scoffing at the size and then making myself sick just trying to eat that much. Where are those days?! Long gone. Now that I’m three years out, there’s really nothing that’s off limits to me. I have been one of the fortunate ones – if you could call me such a thing – in that I have not had any long-term negative side effects from the surgery. I’ve met and read about people for whom entire food groups are eliminated because they simply can’t eat them. For better or worse, I can tolerate All The Things.
The first year was the easiest. I mean, how can you not lose weight when you’re physically restricted to eating a few ounces at a time? How can you not lose weight when the foods you used to gorge yourself on make you vomit or experience dumping syndrome because of the sugar and/or fat content? I didn’t have to exercise. I just had to remember that sweets weren’t worth the gut pain and nausea and pork was sometimes iffy.
Last year, I started running and that helped me lose another 20 or so pounds over the course of the year. But I wasn’t watching what I ate because again, I didn’t have to. Yes, I was admittedly eating more than in Year One, but I was still having much smaller meals than the people around me. It seemed like a decent gauge.
This year has been The Year of The Regain. I’m not surprised. I never really took the time to change my relationship with food. It went from being my source of comfort and joy to something I had to do to survive and then back to something I could actually enjoy – and enjoy I did! I went from living to eat to eating to live and back again. I started smoking again and stopped running and so, as can be expected, I gained weight.
In the last month, I’ve been hyper-focused on my health. I measure my food again. I track my water intake with an app. I take all of my vitamins every day without fail. This weekend, The Boy and I have committed to quitting smoking (again!) and next week, I”m starting CrossFit. I know the weight will come off so I”m not worried about it. Like millions of other people, I know what I need to do. But it’s not what any of us wants to do.
Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a dear friend of mine and she made a comment about being scared about what she’d be able to eat if she underwent weight loss surgery of any type. I’ll admit that I was pretty defensive throughout the entire conversation because, well, WOMEN + WEIGHT DISCUSSION = NEVER A GOOD OUTCOME. But it got me thinking…what am I actually eating? What does it look like over the course of a day? Because I can weigh and measure to my heart’s content but if other people don’t know what 3 ounces of chicken looks like on their plate, then they’re not going to understand what a day on my plate looks like. So, I did the only other thing I could think of. Much to my chagrin, I am publicly showing you what a day on my plate looks like.
Let’s break down this down, shall we?
Breakfast (446 calories/28g protein/10g fiber)
2 hard boiled eggs (155 calories/13 g protein/0g fiber)
5.3 oz. Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt – Pineapple (80 calories/12g protein/0g fiber)
1 medium banana (105 calories/1g protein/3g fiber)
2 cups sliced strawberries (106 calories/2g protein/7g fiber)
If I had sat down and eaten all of that in a matter of minutes, I would have burst my staples right where I was. I ate this while multi-tasking at my desk and it took me about an hour and a half to eat all of it.
Lunch (456 calories/31g protein/7g fiber)
3 oz. turkey breast (88 calories/15g protein/0g fiber)
2 slices mild provolone cheese (140 calories/10g protein/0g fiber)
2 slices light wheat bread (80 calories/5g protein/5g fiber)
1 Hellman’s mayo packet (86 calories/0g protein/0g fiber)
12 cherries (62 calories/1g protein/2g fiber)
This took me about a half hour to eat. The other half, I was burning off calories by running my mouth.
Snacks (578 calories/28g protein/10g fiber)
1 Cabot sharp cheddar cheese (50 calories/6g protein/0g fiber)
2 oz. raw almonds (328 calories/12g protein/7g fiber)
1 Kind Plus almond walnut macadamia bar (200 calories/10g protein/3g fiber)
Clearly, this is the area that needs the most work in my diet. There’s nothing bad about any of the things in the above list. They’re all billed as ‘healthy’ and everyone I know that diets keeps staples like this around to prevent them from going haywire throughout the day and hitting the vending machine. But you know, it took me sitting down and going through this exercise to realize that my “snacks” throughout the day are more calories than my meals.
With that said, I started gnoshing on these babies around 2:30 PM and did so throughout my commute home.
Dinner (205 calories/15g protein/4g fiber)
1/3 creamed spinach – Boston Market (80 calories/2g protein/1 g fiber)
1/3 steamed veggies – Boston Market m(25 calories/1g protein/1g fiber)
1/2 cup Gardein beef-less “steak tips” (100 calories/12g protein/2g fiber)
So, let me clarify something. A few days ago, I went to Boston Market and brought dinner home. I brought home an individual sized creamed spinach and an individual sized steamed veggie side for myself. I am still eating them. So when I say 1/3, what I mean is 1/3 of the serving you get if you order an individual side.
One of the things I do is try to “load” the majority of my calories in the earlier part of my day. This is why if I were to start making such posts like these on a regular basis, as a general rule you’ll notice that I try to keep my dinner small. Sometimes I even hang onto something I’ve counted as a snack in the earlier part of the day as a dessert. For instance, last night, I ate the Kind bar after dinner.
Daily Totals (1685 calories/102g protein/31g fiber)
This isn’t an example of my “best” or “worst” day. It’s average, by far. Sometimes I order pizza for dinner. Sometimes I go out for Mexican burrito bowls for lunch. Sometimes I really want a greasy burger. But when that happens, I try to adjust elsewhere. Other times, I pack snacks that I don’t bother to eat. Sometimes I skip the burrito bowl or the burger and get a Strawberry Poppyseed salad from Panera.
All of this is to say that there seems to be a misconception that once a person has had weight loss surgery (especially gastric bypass), that they can’t eat as much and so there’s no reason for them to ever gain the weight back. Wrong! I may not be burying myself in Drake’s cakes like I used to, but it is indeed still possible to overeat and to eat the “wrong” things. It’s still necessary for me to count calories, weigh and measure my food and yes, exercise. The myth that weight loss surgery is a quick fix to life’s problems is just that.