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Sunday, December 29, 2013

My 1-year "Surgiversary"

On this day last year was my band-to-sleeve revision surgery.  It seems so strange that it's been a year...a whole year, and yet only a year.  My revision experience has been very interesting and not exactly what I would have expected.  I knew that I would lose weight slower than first-time sleeve patients.  I didn't realize that I would have a 7 month plateau...or that losing just a few more pounds would change so much.

I am now at -50 lbs, and within 5-15 lbs of my goal weight, depending on what I want my goal to be.  I've set a short-term goal of 175 which is only 3 lbs away.  That is the BMI-30 point, which is where my surgeon says he is happy for me to stop.  He says he won't need to see me at all after that point, unless I have issues or problems.  I would be happy at 165-170, personally.  Most people who see me think I shouldn't lose anymore, which is nice to hear, but I am not quite ready to be done.

The December running challenge made a huge difference and helped me restart my weight loss.  It's funny that all the training I did over the summer changed my body shape but not my weight.  I don't think the running was all of it but I do think that it affected my appetite and my sense of well-being, which overall helped with jump-starting things again.  After December, I intend to continue running at least a mile most days--not necessarily every day, but close.  I don't love running, especially, but I enjoy it well enough once I get started, and I love how efficient an exercise it is. It also really helps with stress relief.  I've started running with a friend lately too.  I have never run with anyone else before--too self-conscious about how slow I am, mainly.  But it's been great.  I'm running with a gal I used to work with who I don't get to see much anymore.  Our pace is well-matched and we run a route on the river that I don't otherwise run.  It's been a lot of fun.

I think I have finally made peace with my sleeve.  I spent most of this year overeating by 1-2 bites nearly every meal.  Predictably, I would barf up at least a little of my meal each time, which is gross and embarrassing and always made me wonder why it was so hard to stop eating before that happened.  The last few months I have finally started to do better.  I can eat about 6 regular size bites of food, or up to 1/2 cup.  I can eat most foods, although really doughy bread can get stuck at times (not stuck like with a lap band, just not wanting to go down quickly).  With the band, it never mattered if I drank during a meal or not--I know it does for most people but it didn't for me.  With the sleeve, I can either eat or drink, but not both.  If I drink during a meal, I can be sure I will be seeing part of my meal again.  It isn't a huge deal for me--I am not super attached to drinking during meals like a lot of people are.  The only time it bothers me is when I am out for dinner with friends and I want to enjoy a glass of wine or something with my meal.  In fact, I can drink very little wine just because it sort of sits in my stomach.  I don't drink beer at all, between the volume and the fizz and the calories it just doesn't seem worth it.  I am a very occasional drinker anyway--a couple times a year at most--so this isn't a huge deal for me.  

Meals at home have been hard to get used to.  I don't have a lot of attachment to what we eat for dinner, because I know I'm only going to eat a few bites of it.  In fact, it's better if it isn't one of my favorite foods because I'm less likely to try to overeat.  I haven't gotten to the point where I view food strictly as fuel--I will probably never be at that point, and that is fine.  But it is less important than it used to be, and less of a coping mechanism for sure.  I still try to sit with my family while they are eating-which can be hard because I still tend to pick at food after I am full.  If I am mindful and I clear food away from my place, I do okay.  I want to keep meals as normal as I can for my daughter.  It's weird enough having a mother that eats less than the toddler does.  

One thing that I never had with the band that I have with the sleeve is a false hunger.  I find that I am frequently feeling hungry about an hour after I ate.  Nearly every time, if I drink some water that will go away quickly.  

Spending the night in the hospital after my surgery last year was the first, and still the only, night I've spent away from my daughter.  It was really hard to be away from her, and taking care of her without picking her up afterward was tough.  She's so much older and more mature now--a lot of fun to be with, very funny and clever.  I'm glad I am a lot healthier and in better shape now to keep up with her.  I hope we can teach her healthy habits and skills so she doesn't find herself eventually in my position, looking at surgery like this.  I would do it again--if I had it to do all over again, I would skip the band entirely and just go with the sleeve, but I did learn from both experiences.  I find it hard to believe that surgeons are still performing lap band surgery, but I keep hearing about people who are getting banded.  I think it's negligent to do this when there is so much evidence that it doesn't work and does harm to a lot of people.  But people still ask for the band, so there are still surgeons who will do it.  The sleeve isn't perfect by any means, and it's not hard to defeat it if you are motivated enough.  But I am pleased with how simple it has been once I have relearned a few simple things and become more mindful of how I eat.  I don't really think about dieting at all.  I generally eat protein first, then veggies.  I do eat treats, sweets, etc.  I try not to eat them everyday or too much.  If I was more regimented about what I eat, I would probably be at my goal by now.  But if I can get there a little slower without having to worry so much, I'm fine with that.

Clothing-wise, I am wearing mostly mediums, some smalls, and usually a size 10.  I was recently refitted for bras and am now 34DD.  I'd like to get back into my 6s and 8s--last time I wore those I was 165-170.  

There you have it, the good, the bad and the ugly.  If you are looking at a band to sleeve revision, don't be surprised if your weight loss looks nothing like anyone else's.  It probably won't.  I find that the sleeve works the way the band was supposed to work, without all the hassles.  I do still get heartburn if I'm not careful and I overeat or eat too close to bedtime.  Be patient with yourself in learning necessary new habits for success.  It doesn't happen overnight, at least it sure didn't for me.  Stick with it.  Try something new.  Challenge yourself.  These are the things that helped me.  Good luck!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Icy December

It looks like most of the country is experiencing this same cold snap.  It has consistently been in the 20s here in Portland, which is extremely unusual.  The bright side is that the sky has been cloudless and sunny; that is the only way we ever get such low temps here.  But I cannot stand cold weather, really anything below 45 degrees.  I'm a warm weather girl.  I am layering like crazy and avoiding being outside whenever possible.

But...I did join a December running challenge.  Run every day of December, at least 1 mile.  Given the state of my schedule, I decided to give myself 4 days as a "pass" if needed, and I took one.  But I've done 7/8 days now.  My runs are getting stronger, so it's been good.  Most of the time I can only go late at night, after Lucy is in bed, and that is less than ideal.  I wear a head lamp and lots of layers.  I'm only running a couple miles at this point.  I've been back running for at least 6 months now, but I've done it so sporadically that I can't ever make any gains in my distance or speed.  But now I am noticing quick improvements, which is very encouraging.  I love this challenge because it is so easy to not run, or exercise at all, in the chilly month of December, and I know with this cold snap I would have avoided it at all costs.

Run on a treadmill, right? No, that is an absolute last resort.

I went to see my surgeon in October.  I told him about my stall and my frustration with trying to lose any more weight. I told him I had tried calorie ranges between 800-1500 per day, protein ranges of 60-120g/day, and changing everything else I could think of.  At that point, I couldn't decide how to proceed because I was simply confused.  Nothing was working.  He told me first that I had lost a couple pounds since my previous visit, so all was not lost.  Then he told me to just stick to 1200 calories, very simple, and come back in 1 month.  My surgeon's approach to a lot of things is very simple and no-nonsense.  He's within a few years of retiring (although he is well past standard retirement age) but still operates 3 days a week and maintains a full schedule.  He told me not to worry so much about protein because my sleeve is not malabsorptive.  I know that the mantra of our time is protein, protein, protein, but I needed something simple.  So I went with it, came back in a month, and I had lost about 1.5 lbs.  He was happy and told me to come back in 3 months and continue this plan. He also told me that as far as he is concerned, I only needed to lose about 10 pounds more and then he was pretty much satisfied.  So I've adjusted my goals a little bit, but I still hope to lose a little more than that.

I do still emphasize protein foods, but I'm not trying for large amounts now.  In fact, I am not trying for large amounts of anything. I think I am getting better about keeping my portion sizes lower and stopping early enough.  And this week for some reason I've been stricken by insomnia...and I've lost 5 lbs.  I am finally at my prepregnancy weight at last... only 3 years later.  :)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Giving in to fall

I'm giving in to fall.  I am still not over summer being over.  A typical Portland summer doesn't really start until late July, and lasts until mid-October.  This year we got all our heat in May and June--very unusual--had a slightly warmer July, and then a cool August and crappy rainy September.  I want a refund.  It didn't help that I didn't get enough of my requested vacation time off to actually go on vacation this summer.  But, it's been raining for a while, and thoughts are turning to tea and quilting and cozying up.  The fireplace is on.  It's not so bad.  But I do still hope for some sunny fall days before the winter gray settles in.

Last Saturday I went to my usual trainer appointment at the gym, but my trainer did not show up. This was unusual for him to just not be there or respond to my text.  I did my workout and went home, and later texted him to see what was up.  Turns out that the gym fired him, and didn't notify me.  He said he was late and the new manager just fired him, like that.  Now, of course, I don't know how much more of the story there is.  All I do know is that my dealings with him were very professional and he was a fantastic trainer.  I've written all about what a great trainer he is before.  Not only am I pissed that I lost my trainer, but I'm pissed that the gym didn't bother to tell me.  So I am supposed to be hearing from the manager on Sunday.  It's a hard situation.  I have 3 or 4 sessions left that I paid for, but I don't want to work with a new trainer.  I want my trainer. I don't really even want to go to that gym anymore, but it is about 1/10 of a mile from my house, so it really eliminates a lot of excuses. And it's a nice gym, and affordable. I'm just pissed about this situation.  It feels like from what I know of the guy, it cannot be a justified firing, but again, who knows.  He is going to tell me what gym he ends up at, but the odds that it will be a practical fit for me are low.

So this left me in this week-long funk about working out, which goes well with my weeks-long funk about my plateau.  I finally ran today after about 4 days of no workouts.  I just didn't have the heart for it, frankly.  It did feel good to run.  I'm sure I will get back to the gym.  But the weight funk persists.  I have finally lost a couple pounds again, but they are pounds I've lost before.  Food journaling at this point is useless for me, because I have tried everything I can think of: anywhere between 60-120g protein per day, 800-1500 kcal per day, more water, more fiber, more carbs, less carbs.  Seriously.  I average 1000 cal when I don't journal (that is, when I have just eaten and added it all up at the end of the day).  My body is just not gonna budge right now.  So, fine.  Body, do your thing.  I guess as long as I'm not gaining and I'm still doing the right things, it's going to have to be okay.  I have an appointment with the surgeon in about a month, maybe we can come up with something.

Lucy's birthday is tomorrow--she will be 3.  It's really amazing how quickly the time goes by.  At this very time 3 years ago, I was only a few hours into my home labor, and unbeknownst to me, just 2 hours from suddenly needing to race to the hospital before she appeared.  I had a fast labor, especially for a first-time mom, and a pretty precipitous delivery.  It sounds a bit foolish that I was still at home when I was ready to deliver (and no, I didn't plan a home birth) but everyone tells you over and over that the first labor takes much longer than you think it will, you should stay home as long as possible if you don't want "interventions", etc. I never intended to wait until the last second.  I had exactly one contraction that felt like what was described as "transition" (from 7 cm to 10 cm dilation) and decided to get some clothes on to go to the hospital, because I was wearing a night shirt.  I went upstairs to get clothes on, and by the time I got up there I was having very hard, very fast contractions and could no longer walk. By the time my doula helped me down all my stairs (I had to crawl down them because I couldn't stand up), half an hour had elapsed and it was time to deliver, which I knew because my body started pushing and I had to try not to push, with the help of my fabulous doula.  I still had to get myself into the car, though, which was very hard.  We did make it to the hospital--with my hubby driving and my doula coaching me on not pushing--and Lucy was born 15 minutes later.  It all went perfectly, in retrospect, but we did cause quite a fuss when we got there, and the whole hospital knew about it by morning.

My mother did the same kind of reminiscing every year on each of our birthdays (yours probably did too), and I didn't quite understand why as a kid, or even really as an adult.  But childbirth does change you forever; you become a different person, and I'm sure with each subsequent pregnancy and delivery you change yet again.  The first time reveals to you what you are capable of, and it doesn't matter what kind of birth you had or what you did or did not do--it's yours, in the end.  The birth of my daughter definitely did change me forever and let me know what I could do physically and emotionally.  It has served as a reservoir of strength for me since then.  And of course, all of the changes that have come with becoming Lucy's mother have revealed much more to me.  It's been so fun getting to know the person she is and is becoming.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I had a good night.  Today was hot, after a week of fall weather--gray and rainy--last week.  This week is hot, 96 degrees today, and I am happy.  I need the heat.  I got off work a little early, picked up my daughter and husband and took Lucy to the Jamison Square fountain, a tidal fountain in "the Pearl" neighborhood of NW Portland that she (and every other kid in Portland) loves to play in on hot summer days.  There is a place to buy a slice of pizza and an ice cream shop on the same block.  She played in the fountain with all the other kids, until a fire engine showed up and drew half the kids over to check it out.

I wanted to post a little update about it on Facebook, but instead saw an update from some good friends who have a son about Lucy's age who has been very sick.  He was born with a birth defect that they thought would be the worst of his problems, but he sailed through Pierre Robin syndrome without needing a trach or any interventions.  He was fine until his 1 year check-up, when his mom pointed out some pinpoint red spots on his body (called petechiae) to his pediatrician, and his slightly more frequent bruising.  By that evening he was in the PICU being treated for a severe and rare form of infant ALL (leukemia).  He has endured 2 years of brutal chemo that did put him into remission.  But now the chemo that cured his cancer has destroyed his immune system.  He has been in the hospital for much of the last 6 months with infections and systemic reactions to drugs meant to keep him from getting pneumonia, and he's now caught in a catch-22 that it has become apparent he won't survive.  So his parents posted to their friends, bravely, that they have decided to maximize the time he has, do the things that allow him to be a 3 year old boy for as long as possible, and keep him out of hospitals and stop treatment.  At this time, he has energy and is playing and laughing, although he needs IV nutrition because he isn't eating.  They are continuing those kinds of things that add to his life without subtracting a measure of misery.

It takes my breath away to imagine what his family is going through now, and has been for this entire time, contemplating losing him, desperately trying not to lose him, and then seeing that the trying isn't working and the best thing for him is to stop subjecting him to painful treatments that don't seem to be helping him.  It has to be especially painful that they wanted so badly to cure his cancer and they did, but the treatment is killing him anyway.  His parents are both nurses--I used to work with his dad in the ICU before I continued my training--and have been incredible in their ability to roll with this journey, and keep things as normal as possible for this little boy and his older brother.  They have both helped countless families through end-of-life decisions, and now have to make these decisions all to soon for their baby.

As I savor a lovely evening with my healthy and happy only child, my heart is also with my friends, who are savoring a late summer evening with their little family, trying to make the time slow down.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Lets try this again...

Well. I have been training with my personal trainer for about 3 months now. He is awesome, I am stronger and leaner, and it's been good. But I still am not losing weight. This whole time, no weight lost. Yes, I have lost a lot of fat and look and feel better, and I'm not losing sight of how huge that is or how much work I have put into this. But I do actually need to lose weight still. 

The last two weeks, fatigue and disappointment have really set in. Especially fatigue. Today's workout was terrible. I bonked almost immediately and had to be dragged through it. Finally, I asked my trainer to sit down with me and tell me what he would tell anyone about nutrition with no surgery or restrictions. He was very basic: more calories, more good quality carbs, more protein. I need fuel. I'm scared to do this, knowing that my metabolism has been so poor. But with more muscle to work with and more to do, I do need the fuel. So I decided to just follow it, and not weigh for one whole week.  Keep my food logs, but wait on weights and measurements. 

I am working a lot more. I'm tired mentally and emotionally when I get home, never mind physically. And I miss my daughter. Being a working mom often sucks. Finding the time for myself is difficult, as it is for everyone. Sleep is usually adequate, but stress and exhaustion take their toll. Yet there has to be a way to make this work. I'm reminded that sleeve-after-band is often a slow road, slower than it is for those who only have the sleeve. The loss of muscle mass from the first weight loss has made things slower this time. I'm trying to stay motivated, but I need to see some progress for this to work. 

Just 20 lbs, that's all I ask...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

And now for something completely different.

I love Pinterest.  Seriously.

But damn, some people and their blogs.  I love and hate all the home improvement and decorating pins on there.  I was fantasizing last night about artfully photographing my home last night and featuring it on my own blog.  All perfect lighting and Instagrammed just so...to show off my living room with the one mismatched cabinet next to the fireplace in the hole where the built-in bookcases should have been (but a previous owner ripped them out)...the built-ins that someday I plan to have rebuilt when I can afford it but not going to DIY because really? I have 2 jobs and a toddler.  My dining room which looks reasonably nice when it is picked up, but almost always is covered in stacks of mail and things that haven't found a home yet.  The walls that are all still painted in the previous owners' colors, and mostly blank walls that we haven't chosen photos or artwork to frame and decorate yet.  And yes, we have lived here for over 3 years now.  Our couches that we have had for 8 years, bought second-hand, with the tear in the leather, that don't fit the house and need replacing.  The basement "bar" that got ripped out, and the half-completed half wall built to cover the hole in the sink cabinet where the bar was removed...still in need of tiling and drywall on the outside, and painting.  The original (?) linoleum on the stair landing where we had to rip out the carpet and padding because the cat randomly decided to pee on it for a MONTH (despite my desperate efforts during that whole time to dissuade her and clean up the stench). The basement bathroom tub that needs a new faucet set because the handle came off last year and can't be replaced except with an entirely new set, so we've been using a Vice-Grips as a handle.  For a year.

So much in our home is half-baked plans and vague ideas and budget constraints.  Overall, it is really a lovely house, and it is usually mostly picked up and presentable, despite the expected smattering of toddler toys in each room.  But as I curate my favorite DIY home improvement projects, most of which I know I will never, ever do, it makes me see my home differently: not the sweet older home in an old neighborhood that I love, but as a list of projects and budget shortfalls that seem like they will never get done.  I think my home is a lot more typical for a working family than the ones I see on Pinterest.  And a lot of people talk about their home being like this, but who photographs it and publishes it?  Really?  Actually I think that would be a pretty fun project.  This is real, yo.  Who has time to rubber-stamp cute phrases on matching wooden hangers for their perfect closet makeover?  Or my personal favorite, a roll-out "emergency sidewalk" made of pallets and old fire hoses so you can walk in your yard after a flood.  Really, old fire hoses?  I was wondering what to do with all of those.  I actually left a comment on that one: Where do you get old fire hoses? The replies were "An old fire house!" and "At an auction!"  Which is basically like saying, "When you don't have toddlers anymore, lady!"  Or for me, never, since I can't see myself at an auction bidding on an old fire hose.  Ever.

I know backlash against Pinterest is nothing new, and I honestly think it is a great site and I use a lot of the things I pin, especially recipes and sewing ideas.  But some days I really do just shake my head at some of the stuff, and then I step away to get some perspective.  We do enough.  We have enough. We are enough.  Repeat.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Math is easy

Doing the math: Going from 35% body fat to 26% body fat, and staying 186 pounds, means that I have lost about 17 pounds of fat and replaced it with 17 pounds of muscle.  Is that right?  Apparently it is.

It's hard to add calories, especially if I want them to be useful ones.  I could eat junk food easily.  But eat more good protein sources--that's harder.  Yesterday I managed 900 calories.  And still went over my carbs.  And only got 55g protein.  Yeah, not my best day.  Most days I get enough protein, and go over slightly on carbs.  Still working on that.

My arms are so sore today--yesterday's "shock workout" definitely was a shock.  I'm recovering quickly, I guess.  But it was hard!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

It works!

I am about 5 weeks into my personal training contract, and still I have not lost weight.  My scale is also showing the same body fat--down about 1%.  This seemed impossible.  My measurements are consistently dropping, especially my waist.  Something has to give.

But last week my trainer switched from a 4-point caliper measurement of my body fat to a 7 point with a more comprehensive equation to see if we could capture what is obviously happening with my body.  Every single day someone comments on how much weight I am losing and how good I look.  I feel like I can't really accept that compliment, in my head, if I have no evidence to back it up--yet it is obviously true that my body is leaner.

Today, he presented me with the evidence at my training session.  My body fat percentage has dropped 9%!*  Zoinks!  So, that's what happened.  He said he re-ran the numbers 3 times to make sure it was right.  Now that's motivating!

We had a "shock" workout today--endurance and strength, high reps.  I am jelly, and heading to the shower next.  But I feel good.  My clothes are fitting much better.  I feel better.  Things are good.

The next phase will be to get some more weight loss.  I think if I can increase my calories a little and drop the carbs a little more I might get some improved results.  I'm right around 900-1000 cal/day right now, but maybe 1200-1400 with more protein would help a bit (I am between 60-90g protein now).  Let's see.

*ETA: I previously reported 12% drop.  This was from what my Aria scale reported to what my trainer reported.  Actually, his initial body fat calculation was 35%, not 38%, like my scale said.  So the drop to 26% is actually a 9% drop when comparing apples to apples, so to speak. Or pears to pears.  :)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Week 4

I'm 4 weeks into training. I'm stronger for sure. I'm maybe a pound down overall. But my jeans are now too big, so something is happening. My measurements are down--my waist by almost 3" since June. My body fat is down about 1.5% by my fitbit scale. I don't know what to make of all of this exactly, but I'm just going to say it's good. 

I finally tackled Lucy's potty training, after dithering for months because nothing was ever "stable" enough here for me to feel like it would be successful. Frankly, I probably was less ready than Lucy. I planned a toilet-training boot camp weekend--talk it up to her for a few days, then roll up the living room rug, put her in panties and sit the potty in front of the TV. She was fine. She has had a couple accidents where she didn't make it in time, and one with her dad where she didn't try to make it, but that's it. She is wearing undies for nap, her diaper is usually dry when she gets up in the morning, and we have switched to pull ups tonight. So, hooray! She sits on the regular toilet when we are out just fine, too, and no problems with #2 on the potty either. Pretty much awesome. 

Tonight, therefore, I took all the diapers out of her room and sorted and boxed them. I'll get rid of the disposables somehow--give away or sell. I guess I will keep the cloth diapers for a few years in case I have 1 more. How I do want one more--but at this point it looks unlikely. It was a bit sad to box them up. I loved cloth diapering, and although I can find something else to do with all the time I spent doing diaper laundry, I didn't mind it. My baby is not a baby anymore. 

I'm going to do more canning this weekend... Got some fancy Weck canning jars, I'm excited about them! What a nerd. :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Working It

It's been 2 weeks with Jaylen, my new trainer.  The day after my first session was very painful.  I could barely get down my stairs, and I live in a 3 floor house!  It was hard, but it has been good.  He's very positive and encouraging, and each workout with him is different.  I can't get bored, because I never do the same thing twice.  And with the pace of the circuits, I sweat like crazy and leave everything out there on the floor.

Is it working? My body fat percentage is finally creeping downward again.  I'm down 1% in the past 2 weeks, which is very good for me.  My weight stayed the same (not surprisingly) at first but now is down about 2 lbs by my scale.  And he wants me food journaling, so I'm getting back to MFP, reluctantly.  But when I have to be accountable for what goes in my mouth, it makes it a little easier to stay on track.  So I am feeling positive about this.

Lucy and I are having a nice relaxing summer.  We've gotten to spend a lot of time together, and she is a lot of fun.  She will be 3 in September (!) and I'm aware that she is just at the age when her long-term memories will start to be formed.  So I'm trying to do the things with her that I loved about summer when I was a child.  This is mostly spending time outside, walking around, going to the park, playing in the back yard.  I work in the garden a lot.  She has fun playing in water and her sand box in our yard, and helping me with garden tasks.  We go to the pool, or to one of the public fountains that kids play in when it's hot outside.  We have yet to get to the beach since May, but hopefully sometime soon.  We go out walking and get ice cream.

I am still a bit (a lot) resentful that we can't go on vacation this year--we usually go to the coast at least, for a week in the summer.  I plan on next year being much calmer, no matter what, and we will go on a vacation.

Yesterday I started doing some small-batch canning.  I had a small crop of patio cucumbers that ripened at once, and decided to pickle them.  I've never made pickles before.  I made 4 pint jars of dill pickles, which have to wait at least a week before we can try them.  I used to can with my grandmother when I was at her farm in the summers.  I actually resented being the only girl and therefore having to be stuck inside canning while the boys played outside.  But I also loved the time with my grandmother in her cool concrete basement doing the steamy work of pressure-canning green beans.  And I learned to do something that still helps me today, while my brothers and cousins just got into various kinds of trouble together.

So, today I made some sweet and sour onions with half a bag of Walla Walla Sweet onions that I bought at Costco, and a batch of Vanilla Bean Apricot and Nectarine jam.  I canned 3 pints of the onions and 6 half pints of jam (the latter are cooling on the counter now).  It's very satisfying, especially hearing the jars "ping" as they successfully seal while cooling.

To walk me through this again, since it has been a long time since I've done any canning, I bought a copy of "Food In Jars" by Marissa McClellan from Amazon (I probably could have gotten all the info from her blog, Food In Jars, but I didn't know that, and the book is really lovely, definitely worth the purchase.)  This was a really great guide, because of the abundant beautiful photos, and also because my experience of canning in the past was always massive quantities of produce that has to be processed immediately, making it a very involved and time-consuming process.  Her book is all about "small batches" of canning, which is perfect for a home gardener with a modestly-sized backyard garden.  My grandparents had a 500-acre farm, with a kitchen garden the size of my entire backyard, and thus just the green bean crop alone produced probably ten 5-gallon buckets of green beans.  Marissa's way is more manageable.  I didn't buy a big water-bath canner (you know, the black ones with the white speckles you see at the stores), I just used my regular stock pot, and made a rack for the bottom by wiring 5 canning rings together.  I prefer not to have kitchen stuff that serves only one purpose and usually ends up being stored somewhere and only occasionally used, so I was very happy to be able to use something I had already.

I'm also excited that I don't have to plan a big excursion to go pick fruit somewhere to do a batch of jam.  I love to go pick berries, but I rarely have the time during the window that the berries are ready to be picked, and it's kind of pricey these days, and what do I do with Lucy while I pick berries? She wouldn't really be able to participate and at the stage she is at right now, she would just need to be managed.  Making small batches means that I can get the fruit I love at Costco, use what I can use before it goes bad (between my sleeve and the toddler tummy, we don't eat very much) and make a batch of something and can it.  Love!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Phase 2: Operation #Last30Lbs

I'm done sitting around waiting for my pseudo-plateau to end.  I've been at roughly the same spot for about 6 weeks or so, and I know why: I need muscle.  I've lost a little over 40 pounds but only about 5% of my body fat.  So today I got myself to the gym and signed up with a personal trainer.

I'm not gonna lie, I wasn't too excited about it.  I have never enjoyed strength training.  I've done it, but I get bored easily with it, and eventually quit.  And I really need someone to walk me through a gym's weight equipment, even if I've used it before at another gym.  I have this mental block about it.  I've been a member of this gym for a few years now (24 Hour Fitness) but have never taken this step with the weights.  Also, I haven't gone at all in about 9 months....

So my appointment was with Jaylen, who looks to be in his mid-20s. He's just what you want in a personal trainer: fit but not intimidating, very friendly, and very confident that he can help you achieve your goals.  We went through where I've been and where I want to go, he did weight and measurements (my body fat measured about 5% less than my scale has been measuring me...which was nice) and we did an assessment.  He taught me the beginnings of a circuit training routine, gave me homework, and I paid for some sessions.  I go back on Tuesday.  I am to do an hour of activity every day, and do my circuit 4 days a week.  He promises to change it up so I don't get bored and so I see regular improvement.  And that's that.

After my initial workout, I definitely felt it in my legs.  Going down stairs is a challenge, and I'm sure it will be even more so tomorrow.  (And my house is 3 stories...oy)  But I feel like this can actually help me get things back in gear.  I'm glad I did it.  And I'm glad I finally followed through with what I knew I needed to do.

Meanwhile, the second summer heat wave has passed, and we had a lovely afternoon of 75 degrees today.  My garden is doing phenomenally well: I have baby cukes and pumpkins on the vines, I've harvested peas and greens and even some of my carrots, and I've found almost every square inch of potential gardening space in my backyard and used it.  Lots of planters, new raised beds, improvised planters, using all the sunny spots.  My poppies and cosmos are blooming, as well as my dahlias and hydrangeas--I planted about 5 new ones this year--and my sunflowers are getting tall.  My herb garden is bursting and my new rhubarb seems to be surviving after a pretty rocky start.  I have green tomatoes on all my plants, so I hope to have ripe ones in a few weeks.  That pumpkin patch has me singing "Feed me, Seymour!" every time I go in the backyard: it's taking off across the yard, spilling into the bed next door and all over the lawn.  Maybe I'll scale the pumpkins back next year.

There is something very satisfying to me about going into the backyard and seeing everything I've planted, growing.  When I feel down about life, I feel better watching my daughter play in the garden, all the things I've taken part in creating, growing together.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


This makes intuitive sense, but it's a well-written article about why eating high-glycemic foods might drive food cravings.  Thank you NY Times.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

6 months

So I am about 6 months post op.  My weight loss hovers between 40 and 43 lbs.  I feel like I should have lost a bit more by now, even though this is how I have always lost weight, and it is more than I had lost by this time with the band...It's hard to let go of this idea.  I think I am doing okay.  Sometimes it is easier to realize this than others.

So where do I stand? How am I doing with the rules of WLS? Let's see.  These might not all be "official" rules but they are what I try to stick to.

No drinking with meals: I usually adhere to this.  Eating out is when this is hardest, because I usually have a beverage in front of me, whereas at home I just don't have one there.  The other exception is if I am trying to eat and get some coffee into me in a short time, or if I eat but I also need to take medication, which doesn't happen too often.  This one I do pretty well with.

Eat protein first:  Yes, I am good with this one.  I still mostly eat protein, mainly because of this rule.

Eat only when hungry: This is much harder than it used to be, for two reasons.  First, when I am working I have no control over when my meals occur.  In the operating room, I obviously have to remain with my anesthetized patient at all times, unless someone comes to relieve me for a break.  Most of the time, you take a break when one is offered, because there are a lot of people who need breaks, and you may not get another chance if you turn one down.  So even if I am not hungry, I need to eat or risk not getting another chance and getting too hungry.  Second, my child.  I am frequently preparing her dinner when I am not at all hungry.  I feel badly not eating dinner when she eats; our family meals are weird enough as is.  So sometimes I eat a bit when she is eating, but I often regret it.

No grazing: This one is hard, especially when eating with my family.  I am the worst at picking at food in front of me after I am full but my family is still eating.  This is especially bad when we are at a restaurant.  If I (or my hubby) am thinking about it, I'll move the food out from in front of me, or pack up the remains in a box.  But many a time I have stopped eating when full, then sabotaged myself with one or two bites too many after I had already decided I was full.  This is probably the hardest.

Plan what you eat: I do this well when I am working and I pack all my food for the day.  On the weekends I have a harder time.  I don't routinely track all my food anymore.  I did for 5 months, but didn't think I need to do it forever.  There are differing opinions on this.  Some believe you always have to track, forever.  Others use it as a tool to stay or get back on track.  I think the latter makes sense.

Those are the ones I can think of right now.  There is room for improvement, but overall I am doing okay.

I think the biggest thing for me, overall, is eating slowly and not eating one bite too many.  The two go together.  I am a very fast eater, which has always worked against me.  It takes a lot of effort to eat more slowly.  I am noticing something interesting about satiety for me now that has changed since I was sleeved.  If I pay attention, I can stop eating after a small portion of food and feel comfortably full.  After about 10 minutes, I frequently feel quite full (assuming I haven't eaten anything more).  In another 10 minutes I feel HUNGRY.  Like stomach-growling, gnawing hunger.  Not the worst hunger feeling, but a feeling that I have always made go away by eating.  It seems like a hunger feeling, but if I eat anything at this point I will regret it.  If, instead, I wait...the hungry feeling goes away fairly quickly, and I feel satiety.  I didn't have this experience with the band, or before.  And it's a trap!  I can't even tell you how many times I have fallen into the trap, eaten something, and regretted it--either throwing something up, or feeling very uncomfortably full.  It has taken an embarrassingly long time to realize this.

So there it is, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I can still reach my goal in the next 6 months.  It will have to involve more exercise, though.  Right now I am sticking to walks because I can easily fit them in with my daughter.  I might try adding body-weight strength training at home for toning.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


So maybe it goes without saying, but mostly protein diet + iron supplementation = unhappy intestines.  Ugh.  This wreaks havoc with the scale as well as the belly.  I am actually playing around with the iron supplementation.  I don't want to end up with IV iron again, because it is expensive and inconvenient.  I was taking daily iron after the IV supplementation, then about a month ago I took a week off from the oral iron (lovely!).  Now I am trying every  other day.  My ferratin levels are fine and my hematocrit is 40 (and feels much better than 30 did last summer), so maybe every other day will be easier on my intestines.  Plus fiber.

Weight loss still happens in fits and starts.  I'm still loving my Fitbit Flex (although it doesn't have an altimeter so doesn't track stairs, which I miss) and when I get lots of steps I still lose weight.  It's time to add resistance training, as my body fat has not gone down very much, which means I am losing too much lean mass (story of my life).  I've started my gym membership again but it just doesn't fit my crazy life like walking with Lucy in the stroller does.  So I should experiment with body-weight training at home.  Note I said "should".  Ha ha.

Hubby is gone again...going to treatment for hopefully the recommended length of time this time, instead of being cut short like in previous attempts.  Spring is the time for meltdowns.  It's exhausting.

So it's just Lucy and I...but it is really much easier now that she is older.  I still have the daycare shuffle in the mornings (plus the expense of that, which is huge) but otherwise, she's such an easygoing child.  She does miss Daddy a lot, but she can talk with him on the phone and can understand simple explanations about where he is.

Summer is here early in Portland.  We usually can't count on summer weather until after July 4, but we had a pretty hot May (as high as 90s) and it's been 60-80 degrees for most of June so far.  I'm very excited about my garden this year.  I'm doing a lot more on my patio this year, since it's generally the warmest part of the yard.  I have half-whisky barrel planters with strawberries and cukes (first time growing either), another with lettuce, and my 3 tomato planters are doing well.  I have a willow stump on the side of my patio that I had cut down when we first bought the house.  That is covered with potted flowers: we can't dig it or grind it out because it will wreck the patio (and possibly the foundation), and the only way I could kill it, regretfully, was with Round Up; nothing else worked to keep it from sprouting the way willows do.  So I can't plant anything there for at least a few years.  I replanted the shady side of the yard this spring, and love my hostas, bleeding hearts and hellebores (my new hydrangeas will hopefully bloom this summer too).  And I put in new raised beds in the back part of the yard, with carrots, pumpkins and sunflowers.  The ugly retaining wall of doom has some peas and beans planted in front of it, hopefully those will take off and cover it.  And finally, my herb garden is bursting, and I have put in some hardy fucshias, some rhubarb, lavender, and will plant zucchini in the last square feet left.  (Zucchini grow like weeds in the NW, I am fairly confident they will do fine there.)  Oh, and watermelons!  I found a variety that was developed in northern Idaho that is supposed to be good in cooler, shorter growing seasons like ours.  I think it will be a hot summer, so it should do fine in its hot corner.  I made a new planter for it, out of a plastic Rubbermaid wheelbarrow whose axle broke.  I think that will stay pretty warm.

I'm so pleased to finally have a space to garden in.  This is our third summer in this house, and I am still learning what does well in different parts of the yard.  We have a big, beautiful covered brick patio that is the centerpiece of the house, and we spend the whole summer out there, so it is really great to have so much gardening space to play with.  And!  My wonderful neighbor (the one who was our realtor for the purchase of the house) took the fence between our two back yards and made a fence out of old doors that she collected.  She just did it at the end of the summer last year.  It is just fantastic, very Pinterest.  One of the doors slides open between our yards so our girls can play together (they are a little less than 2 years apart, and Lucy adores their daughter).  I need to put up some planters and hangers on my side and grow stuff on it.  It is fantastic!  I just wish the other side was like that too, but I saw how much work it took her to do that, and I am pretty sure I don't have that in me.  It's all I can do to keep up with my family and my garden.

I love summertime best of all.  :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sushi time

This is about 2 months old, but I look about the same today, I guess about 10 lbs lighter.

It's Offiical

-40 lbs today!  And officially at the weight I was when I met hubby.

It's funny how certain weights have significance, especially for people who have struggled with obesity and weight loss.  Of course, there are the major milestones, like getting under 200 lbs (or 300 lbs, or more).  And there are the nice round numbers of weight lost: 25 lbs, 50 lbs, 100 lbs.  But the ones that really stick with me are weights that remind me of particular times in my life.  This is one.  I had just lost about 40 lbs on Weight Watchers when I met hubby, and it was the lowest my weight got before it started to go back up, on its inexorable path toward my lap band 2 1/2 years later.  My next "significant" weight will be my pre-pregnancy weight: that's 7 lbs away.  Then there is my lowest weight with the band, 15 more lbs.  Anything lower than that is uncharted territory.  My lowest band weight was 165, which was also my weight when I was 19, the first time  that my weight really shocked me in my life.  (Oh, if only I could tell my 19 year old self a thing or two...like how I would look back at that time and see a much more beautiful teenager than I ever thought at the time.)  It wasn't that low again for another 17 years, nearly another lifetime for me then.

Losing 40 lbs in about 22 weeks is totally in reach for most people, without bariatric surgery.  But for me it is pretty much right on track, proving that bariatric endocrinologist I saw right.  He tested my metabolism and told me if I wanted to lose about 1 lb per week I would have to eat about 1000 cal a day.  I have lost slightly more than that eating 900-1000 cal per day.  I really need to do some resistance training to improve my fat loss, but it has been so difficult to even contemplate getting to the gym ever, much less on a regular basis.  I could look into a self-resistance workout: pushups and dips and other things with nothing but my own body.  Wouldn't that be a good idea?

But not right now.  My hubby is back in the hospital, still struggling with the same issues of trauma, PTSD, debilitating depression and substance abuse.  It's heartbreaking.  He has been sinking for over a month, and has been asking for help the whole time, and trying to arrange treatment himself with appropriate facilities and our insurance company.  Living with this disease is so much harder than anyone can imagine.  He did really well for over 6 months, but then rather abruptly slid back into despair.  It really is a matter of life and death.  Without adequate treatment, he will be dead in just a few short years, without a doubt.

So for now it's me and Lucy time.  Luckily, she's a good kid, and an easy kid.  The single parent thing is not easy by any means.  I still work 2 jobs (but rarely more than 40 hrs a week) and have to clean the house and feed us and take care of her, and take care of myself as well.  But it's going fine for the most part.  I'm just trying to lower my expectations of myself, not try to do everything perfectly all the time.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday.  It's raining like crazy here in Portland.  But we had an early summer a few weeks ago, so I'm not complaining.  I think it will be a hot summer.  Be safe, all.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Moving again

Okay...unstalled, but still not moving super quickly.  April wasn't great for weight loss.  I'm guessing that is mainly due to stress.

I am really really thatclose to 40 lbs lost.  Any day now!

Today I got my new Fitbit Flex in the mail, at last.  I preordered it, so I guess I'm one of the first to get it.  It's pretty cool, but it doesn't track stairs climbed like the One does.  I guess that's fine...it's just another thing to compete with myself over...but it was motivating.  It looks very sleek, and I don't have to take it off my wrist to wash dishes or take a shower, which is nice.  The silicone wrist band becomes body temp pretty quickly so I don't really notice it is there.  I did like having the info right there on my tracker with the One.  But I kept it clipped in my bra (easiest place not to lose it) and reaching in to look at it...is awkward.  So, instead, I can look on my iPhone app at current info, which is something I'll get used to.  It seems like there should be a watch feature or something...tell the time, maybe a HR monitor.  But I think the point was just to have a very unobtrusive device that didn't have a lot of stuff displayed, esp since most of us carry a phone with us all the time that can give us that info.  So far, I like it, but I am surprised that it does lose some of the functionality that the One has.

I am definitely fitting into smaller clothes and looking like I have lost weight.  I have a long way to go, but most often if I get 10K steps a day and eat about 1000 kcal, I lose weight.  So that's what I focus on.

I'm finding at this point that I don't have to run to stay active, which is good because finding kid-free, job-free time to run is quite difficult.  Walking has been sufficient so far.  We live in an area with a "high walk score", so we usually go for a walk in the evening somewhere in our neighborhood and that takes care of my exercise needs, plus keeps my mood tuned up.

Time for bed!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


I was losing well, then stall...for a few weeks now.  A stall always feels like forever, like it has always been this way and I will never lose weight again.  Silly, I know.  But no one wants to see a stall.  They suck, but they are part of weight loss.

I do well when I make sure I keep my daily steps high (>10,000) and generally the way to do that for me is a walk around the neighborhood in addition to my daily activity.  That isn't hard to do, but doesn't always happen.  I was planning on a walk this evening, but my hip has been hurting today so I didn't do it.

This weekend was lovely here, though, warm and sunny.  I got a lot of gardening done this weekend.  I've been almost manic about the yard in the past few weeks, actually.  It started with just wanting to fix up the west side yard.  It had been planted by the previous owners with sun-loving plants, but it is partial to full shade.  The result was a few scraggly looking sticks that were supposed to be shrubs, and some leftover primroses that keep coming back.  I ripped everything out and bought as many bleeding hearts, hostas and hellebores as I could afford, backed them up with a few new hydrangeas, and put them all in.  Then I started to see everything else I could do...and so, many trips to the nursery later, it's looking good.  I had to get new fuschia baskets for the patio because mine did not overwinter this year.  I got some new patio planters, and I'm putting in new raised beds for veggies.  It's fun, and we spend so much of the summer and early fall out on the patio that we really do want it as nice as possible out there.

So anyway, we've got some stressful stuff going on that I'd rather not air on here, and I'm trying to keep my mind on the moment by gardening and crafting and playing with my daughter rather than eating.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, and that probably explains at least some of my weight loss stall.

But you know, things can always be worse.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Great News

I try not to share personal stuff about anyone but myself, as much as possible, but I do want to call out how proud I am of my hubby, without revealing too much. Yesterday my hubby had to travel to deal with some acrimonious legal dealings that have been stressing us out for a long time.  The good news is that he handled himself perfectly, the other party showed their true (crazy) colors for everyone to see, and the result was the best news for him and our family that we have had in a long time.

The bad news is that as he was checking into his hotel the night before, he slipped on a loose piece of carpet and fell down a flight of stairs.

So after he got home from the trip (knowing the whole time that he had broken his arm, but not wanting to miss the hearing he was there for) I took him to the ER, where we found out he broke his wrist and will need surgery.

Sigh.  Luckily I am recovered, but he is our daughter's primary caregiver while I am working, so this complicates things for us all.  Poor guy.  He's handling it all with a lot of grace, but it's difficult.

As for life with the sleeve, my weight loss is going great.  I'm still losing a couple pounds a week, which I am super happy about.  Right now I am at -32 lbs which is just over 10 lbs per month.  I am finding that I am less hungry than I was a couple months ago, which seems opposite of a lot of people's experience with the sleeve.  I am getting better at gauging how much to eat, but I still occasionally misjudge.  The hardest thing for me is not nibbling as I sit with my family after I know I am done eating.  I know the best thing would be to just get up, but I feel like our meals are abnormal enough, I want to be with my family when they eat.  But my habit is to keep "picking" and those extra 1 or 2 bites are almost always my downfall.

I feel really good, and really hopeful about the future, which is something that is a long time in coming.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Everything went fine, cyst is out, ovary intact.  I'm a bit sore but nothing that ibuprofen hasn't been able to handle.  I've just been taking it easy this weekend.  It's strange that this is the only sort of "excuse" I give myself for slowing down and taking it easy...why can't I just relax without it involving something like surgery?

It went very smoothly and I was in and out pretty quickly.  I was very happy to have an excellent team working with me.  And no nausea post op, thanks to my CRNA friend and coworker.

Now I'm trying not to pick up my 2 1/2 year old, but that is nearly impossible.  She is too young to understand any of my explanations.  I try to keep it minimal, but it was the same when I had my sleeve surgery.

I'm holding off weighing for a few days, until the fluid from the swelling dissipates.  I know most WLS people insist we shouldn't weigh daily, or even weekly.  But I have always found that daily weighing keeps me in a rhythm, and keeps me on top of any potential gains.  I've read that it is one thing that people who are successful long-term with weight loss do.  So I do it...but not when I KNOW it is going to be a temporary gain that will only demoralize me, and will go away on its own.

I did a lot of projects in front of the TV last night and today...finished a baby quilt, cut out blocks for another, finished a dish towel with snaps for the oven, etc.  Paid the bills.  Stayed at home on the couch as much as possible, although I did get out in the back yard during a sunny spell, and when I did I couldn't avoid finishing planting my summer dahlias and peonies (and the spring bulbs that I never planted last fall, and are sending up shoots already...dunno if those will bloom or not).  I just have to work in the garden if I have a chance.  I just finished replanting the shady side of the yard with shade-loving perennials.  The previous owners had "re-landscaped" the yard for an attempt at selling the house before we rented it, and had planted that side with things that were not appropriate for shade, and as a result there were a few straggly sticks with a few leaves hanging onto them, scattered around.  Now there are hellebores, bleeding hearts, hostas, bear's breeches, primroses, and a backdrop of 3 hydrangeas to fill in the shady side.  I'm excited to see them fill in over the next few years.   (I'm not normally a big fan of primroses, but they were the only thing that survived from the previous planting, and they have been there for at least 3 years, so I added some more to keep them company.)

I guess it's obvious that I don't sit still very well.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Weight loss has been going well recently.  I'm losing slowly but steadily, finally down 30 lbs--yay!  I should take some more pictures.  It's almost time for measurements as well--I do them at the beginning of the month.

I still have my moments when I wish I could eat more than 1/4 cup of food.  But they are just moments.  Mostly I am just grateful for my sleeve, which is helping me realize my health goals.  

Today I don't have to worry about that for a while--I'm having my surgery on my ovary today.  I have a friend and colleague providing my anesthesia, for which I am grateful.  I'm happy to work in a department in which I would really trust anyone in it to provide anesthesia for me or my family.  But it is nice to be able to choose, especially when I didn't really want any of my male coworkers in there.  We are heading out as soon as hubby gets dressed.  Lucy will spend the day at school, and I'll go home this afternoon.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Keeping it Real

I guess my bikini modelling days are behind me...I'll have my third laproscopic surgery next Friday, to remove that cyst.  I could have taken a wait-and-watch approach, but the idea of ovarian torsion is kind of scary to me, and some days the thing hurts quite a bit.  I will feel better when it is just gone.  Of course, there is that vain part of me that doesn't want to see any inevitable weight gain post op, even if it is just temporary water retention.... But beyond that, I'm not really concerned about it.  The cyst is likely to be an adenoma, which is a benign tumor.

Weight loss is plugging along.  I try not to compare myself to others, which is hard.  My appointment with my surgeon a few weeks ago was fine, and he was pleased with my success so far.  I have heard that being a lap band revision often means a slower weight loss.  I don't know how often that is true, but it makes sense to me that I lost a lot of lean body mass in the process of weight loss, graduate school and pregnancy, and losing weight now is a little harder because of the resulting slower metabolism.  Plus I am older now.  So, I'm trying to take it in stride and be happy for my 1.5-2 lb per week loss, which is still better than I ever did with the band.

I am starting to see a difference in the mirror and in photos.  I'll post one sometime.  I definitely have more energy.  I still have a hard time consistently finding time to run, but the FitBit is encouraging me to go for a walk if I haven't gotten my goal for steps yet, and getting more stairs in as well.  I do think those kinds of incidental activities do help as well.

I read an article today about the queens of mommy blogging.  Actually, I first read a link my hubby sent me about dad blogging, something I've been encouraging him to do since he is the full-time caregiver for our daughter now.  And the article linked to a NY Times article about those power mommy bloggers, particularly Dooce and Pioneer Woman.  I didn't realize just how lucrative Dooce.com is for that family--seriously lucrative, in excess of $1 million a year.  But it got me thinking about the kinds of narratives that have made certain blogs relatable and thus, popular.  You just have to be willing to share everything about yourself, or seem like you are sharing everything.  There is a cost.  If I was willing to do it, I could probably sell our family's daily life story and have a more compelling blog, perhaps even one that made some money.  Weight loss surgery is almost an afterthought around here.  There's my career, there's our family experience with addiction, our nontraditional family approach with me working outside the home and my husband caring for our daughter and our home.  My hubby's life alone was interesting before he even met me.  And two-year-olds are actually pretty interesting.  Ours is hilarious.  But at what cost?  There is a lot of stuff that goes on around here that I'm sure people could relate to and might even find compelling.  But there are costs to losing that privacy, and they are too high for me (not that I am such a fantastic writer anyway...I don't think I have that kind of "voice").  It is very interesting to consider though.  I think most of the blogs out there are kind of like this one: they mainly exist for ourselves, a few people find them because they have similar interests, or they are friends or family who are interested for personal reasons, and they are just out there.  I am careful not to overshare, especially about hubby or my little girl.  The internets are forever, yo.

But I can share about one of the most intimately personal parts of life, my struggles with my weight.  So here I am, keeping it real about trying to lose weight and get healthier.  It's funny, in a way.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Under the knife

It's looking like I'm having more surgery, but nothing weight related.  I've had this big ovarian cyst that was first noted when I was pregnant.  After Lucy was born, with one thing or another always going on, I didn't follow up on it until last month.  Long story short, it's pretty big now, quite big actually, and it will need to come out.  I haven't spoken to the gyn guy yet since my follow up ultrasound earlier this week, but the thing is starting to hurt more often now, and I'm afraid if it gets much bigger I'll end up with a torsion (the cyst gets so heavy it falls down, twisting the ovary, cutting off its circulation and requiring immediate surgery).  It isn't a cancer risk, but the gyn did say that they do need to be removed (I can't remember exactly what he said the concern is other than torsion, gyn isn't exactly my area of expertise).  So anyway, will need that sometime in the next few months I am guessing.

I still haven't gotten the bill for my sleeve yet...

My weight is doing its annoying bounce-around thing.  I've finally realized that when my body fat % goes up while my weight goes down, it's water weight, and vice versa.  Today the scale finally went down along with the body fat %...fat loss! Yeah baby.  I mean, I knew if I lose 3 pounds in 24 hours, it's not fat (or if I gain it, it's also not fat).  But it's always good to be sure.

I'm running when I can and working on my incidental activity a la Fit Bit.  I don't always get 10,000 steps a day but usually pretty close.  My eating is okay, 800 cal and 60g protein on most days.  Slow weight loss continues...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gone Forever

I cringe when I read the party lines about weight loss surgery: weight loss is portrayed as "forever". These 20 pounds are "gone forever!"  Get rid of your big clothes, you will never need them again!  Guess what: at some point, most of us regain.  If we follow our new plan closely, and are a bit lucky, we will just bounce up a little bit from our lowest weight (goal or below, hopefully).  That is the most common pattern.  But stuff happens--pregnancy, injuries, your lap band breaks--you know, stuff.  It's so easy for us to pile on the shame and guilt.  That's part of how we got here to begin with.  And it doesn't help any with weight loss.

I cringe at this complacency.  Obesity is a chronic illness.  If we are not diligent, we will relapse.  I have all kinds of eating issues.  I overeat in response to emotions.  I eat too fast.  I eat too much despite my small stomach--it still isn't much, but two bites too many means those two bites are coming back up, and that is both uncomfortable and not healthy for my esophagus.  I am working on getting ahead of these issues, but I know this is how I have behaved for most of my life, and if I don't stay diligent, I can easily sabotage this surgery and regain.  So I don't talk about pounds being "gone forever" and I don't get rid of big clothes anymore.  Getting rid of clothes hasn't prevented me from gaining in the past--it just emptied my closet and my wallet.

I just broke down my weight loss week by week, and I can't say I'm thrilled about it.  I lost 17 lbs in the first 2 weeks and I have lost about .75-1.0 lb per week since then.  It is a little faster than with the band, but not much (except that there was no initial quick loss with the band, so that's nice).  I have some other victories: several inches lost, one size smaller pants, one size smaller scrubs, and I'm down about 3% body fat.  But I eat an average of 800 calories a day, and always get at least 60g protein, usually more.  My carbs aren't super low, but they aren't high either.  I'm more active than before.  My Fitness Pal always tells me that if I keep my calories where they are, in 5 weeks I'll be some much smaller weight.  I actually marked this in my calendar 5 weeks ago.  Yesterday I was "supposed" to weigh 15 lbs less than I do.  Yeah, right.

So, maybe a few more calories will spur weight loss, maybe fewer calories...or maybe this is just how I am going to lose, and as long as I keep losing, it's okay.  I don't know.  But I won't say the weight is "gone forever."  I know better than to get that comfortable.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A few more pounds

Down a couple today, finally...let's hope I don't see them again tomorrow!  I did some measurements, though, compared them to January, and I've lost inches everywhere, so there are definitely changes happening even if they don't show on the scale.  And I'm solidly down one size.

I do still browse the forums fairly often, but now I am trying to watch the "veterans" or those in maintenance more than those at my point post op.  When I read posts from people at my point, I mostly see people who are losing weight better than I am.  Of course, more people post who are losing like crazy than those who are slower like me.  And those who are losing less dramatically do post that they must be doing something wrong.  On the other hand, those who have been doing this a year or more and are successful mostly seem to recall long stalls or at least times when they doubted whether things were going the way they were supposed to go, and yet when they look back it is easy for them, and anyone else, to see that they lost plenty of weight over the expected time period.  So, in other words, I take that to mean that it is very easy to lose sight of the big picture when you are in the trenches of early post-op days.  It might seem like not much is happening but I'm sure that a year from now I will be where I want to be.

No one who doesn't know I had surgery has yet commented that I have lost weight.  But that's not too surprising.  I've only lost about 25% of my excess weight.  And I think people who know me know that I am a fairly private person, so they might not comment to me for that reason.  To be honest, with most people I prefer not to talk about it anyway.

I ran a bit yesterday and felt pretty good.  Not a lot of running, but I'm trying to listen to my body and not push it too much.  I did injure my left Achilles tendon last November, so I want to be careful not to overdo it.  I try to walk as much as I can, and gradually work my activity up to a higher level.

I still work on eating slowly and stopping soon enough.  I didn't do great this morning at brunch, ate a couple bites too many.  But I am slowly learning.  I'm not concerned about what I eat (my diet is pretty good) or how many calories I am eating.  I think I am on track as far as what I eat, but at any given meal I just need to learn when to stop a tad earlier.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

7 weeks...

Up, down, up, down...same few pounds. I saw 200 for a very brief moment, then back up to this range.  So weird. I am patiently waiting.  There's no way to eat this way without losing weight.

I'm starting to get better about eating the right amount and not overeating.  It's hard to eat slowly enough and not eat those 2 extra bites, which end up coming back up if I eat them.  But I'm getting better at it.

Not much to update right now.  I think the weight loss is showing in my face.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Protein Roundup 2.0

I am back in the protein shake game for the first time since I was first banded 6 years ago.  Things have changed!  I'm happy to report that they are generally better than they used to be.  I got a lot of samples and tried some things out.  Here are some of my opinions about some shakes:

  • Lean Dessert--way too thick and sweet.  Halfway between a shake and pudding, yuck.
  • Syntrax Nectar--so far have only found one that was good and that was Nectar Sweet in Vanilla Whipped Cream.  The fruit flavored ones sound good, but I haven't found a good one yet.
  • Unjury--a lot better now than it was 6 years ago.  I really liked Vanilla and Chocolate Splendor.  Excellent.  The Chocolate Splendor tastes exactly like hot cocoa, and when I heat it up I treat it like that.  It's a nice snack for evening.  Vanilla tastes just like vanilla ice cream, quite good.  Strawberry Sorbet is okay, would probably be good in the summer, especially added to lemonade.  Okay, that sounds really good. I was NOT a fan of Chicken Soup flavor.  Something about a warm, salty protein drink just messed with my head too much.  I couldn't get over expecting it to be sweet and instead tasting salt.  Especially since you can't get it hotter than 140 degrees or the protein clumps (this is true of all protein drinks)...no thank you.
  • People rave about Premier RTD (that's ready to drink), sold at Costco and Sam's Club.  I bought chocolate and vanilla, and they are okay, but definitely not the best I have tried. They are better mixed with something else, even just some milk.
  • Atkins RTD--do not like the Cafe Caramel, really like the Strawberry.  I have a couple more flavors I haven't tried yet.
  • Trutein--this is very good.  The only downside is the texture; it is a little bit gritty, but not too thick.  I have learned that I like thin protein drinks, not the thicker "shake" ones.  Milk Chocolate and Vanilla are excellent, Banana Creme was pretty good.
  • Oh Yeah! makes RTD drinks that are pretty good.  I think all the RTD drinks (all the brands I have tried anyway) have an extra chemical taste to them versus the powder versions, and they generally are better mixed into something else, but these are fairly good.
  • I got SF Torani syrups to add some variety, and some PB2 powdered peanut butter.  I haven't gotten a lot of use out of the PB2 yet, but SF peppermint and almond are very good in lots of the shakes.

I got samples from Trunutrition (Trutein), Unjury, and VitaLady.com.  There are lots of other companies that offer samples...BJ's Bariatrics, for one, and I think Netrition might (I've ordered a bunch of stuff from them).  This was plenty for me to try and find some that I can use daily.  I'm drinking at least one shake a day, and treating solid food as "training" right now, since I'm still not great at figuring out how much to eat.  I usually drink two shakes, and sometimes another half in the evening, which is a very tempting time to snack or graze for me.  Protein shakes are filling for me and keep me from grazing, so I feel safe with them so far.  I know this is an evolving process, but it is working for now.

Disclosure: I have no affiliation with any of the above companies and have not been compensated for any of these opinions.  These are just my thoughts about the research I did.  I would have been happy to get free samples and review them, but you know those blogs that are kind of a big deal?  This isn't one of them.

I do still use Click, but its nutrition profile isn't that fantastic...not quite enough protein for my morning shake for the calories.  I do add it to other shakes though, and it's pretty good and I get my coffee fix.  I am out now, but might get some more.  My next experiment is adding Starbucks Via to morning shakes.  I'll let you know how that goes.


I had a 2 week stall, around which there were some hormonal fluctuations...I weigh every day because it is an easy habit for me to stay in and it generally doesn't make me crazy.  So after two weeks of the same weight, today it dropped 8 lbs.  So weird!  I'm about 5 weeks out now and have a 28 lb loss, which is better than I ever did with my band.  The weight loss pattern does fit what I did with the band, just at a different rate: about 2 1/2 weeks out of 4, I lose normally, a bit slower than many others, then it stalls for 1 1/2 weeks, then drops again.  It's disconcerting but easier to see the pattern over the long term.  This is why I find daily weighing to be helpful, to see these trends.

And speaking of making me crazy.  This adventure can definitely make you feel crazy sometimes.  I have found myself being bitchy when I normally am almost never like that.  Not all the time, just on occasion and when I am back to normal I marvel that I ever behaved like that.  I suppose between the low calorie intake, hormonal swings with weight loss, and loss of food as a mood regulator, it's bound to happen to everyone.  I was spending some time on a gastric sleeve-specific forum, mainly because there aren't a whole lot of people to get support from in real life.  One day I just up and called out a poster's story as BS when I really didn't know if it was...and normally would never post something so inflammatory to people I don't know.  I honestly don't know what got into me.  Well, the "s" hit the fan, so to speak.  The thread blew up the internets on that forum.  It's sort of interesting how crazy we all can be.  I came back the next day, realized what an a-hole thing that was to do, and issued apologies, which were accepted by some people and others just assumed I am....I don't know what, dramatic or a rabble-rouser, or whatever.  It was embarrassing.  But in hindsight, not terribly surprising, everyone does something dumb sometimes, and this kind of life change can bring about some big personality changes, permanent or temporary.  I spend a lot less time on there now.  It's so dramatic, and I don't have time for that.  Plus, I feel much more normal now than I did even a few weeks ago, and less like I am having this totally foreign experience.

I now look at certain foods and just know that I can't eat them... not that I "shouldn't" eat them, but I just know they would not go down my stomach well, if at all.  Bread doesn't tempt me because I just can't physically eat it.  A big steak or a hamburger might look good but I know I can't eat it right now.  I probably will be able to eventually, but it doesn't really enter my mind as good or bad, just not an option.  Not so with the usual slider foods....chocolate goes down fine, I could do some damage if I'm not careful about that.  Chips too.  So it's certainly no magic bullet, but unlike the band, my behavior is really changed by what I know to be my physical limitations with certain foods.  What hasn't changed is my perception of what I can eat.  I still am having a hard time eating slowly and stopping before I am over-full.  Not once, several times.  It comes back.  That is a regular thing for a lot of banded people, but it never was for me, so it is strange to experience it now.  I'm trying to figure out a way to force myself to slow down.  I don't really pay attention when I am eating.  I'm either focusing on feeding my daughter or talking to someone, or doing something to distract myself if I am by myself eating.  I think I am going to try entering my food on My Fitness Pal while I am eating...to slow myself down before the next bite.  I still only eat about 7 or 8 bites before I am full.

I also noticed some changes with the "full" feeling vs. the "hungry" feeling.  I have noticed that I often feel MORE hungry right after I have eaten, but that in about 30 min it goes away and I feel full.  I don't know if that is the concept that they are referring to when experts say that it takes 30 min for the brain to register that your stomach is full.  It's oddly specific.  I really feel more hungry...and now I know when I feel that, not to eat more but to wait a little while.  If I still feel hungry after 30 min, I can eat something more.  I never do, though.  I never felt this either banded or before surgery.  In fact, I can feel very hungry after eating, and then after 30 min feel full enough that I am overfull.  It is odd.

I'm not doing more exercise than walking yet.  But I do want to start running again soon.  Just a little, start easy, don't injure myself.  I signed up for Bloomsday this year, in early May, but I think I am going to walk it with my hubby and Lucy in the stroller.  It's too soon to be ready to run it, even only partly, and it would be nice to do it all together.  Maybe Bloomsday this soon is crazy...I don't know.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sushi time

Yesterday we went out for sushi. It's the first time in a long time. I had a little bit of miso and some salmon sashimi. It was wonderful. I had a nibble of udon soup and that was too much after the sashimi. I regretted those last two nibbles. But the sushi was great. Lucy didn't eat as much as usual. She loved the salmon (yes, we let her eat sushi) and had a lot of miso and a little udon.

I've still been drinking a lot of protein shakes and probably will for a while. They actually keep me satisfied for longer than solid (mushy) food does. I'm doing great with protein, and better with water than before. I must say that protein shakes have gotten better than they were in 2007. There are still plenty of yucky ones, bug some are quite good. I've been experimenting with added flavors too: Torani syrups (SF of course), flavored creamers, and flavor extracts. So far Unjury is still good (better than before actually) and I like Oh Yeah RTD, Premier RTD, and Trutein.

My weight is slowly dropping. I'm not cleared to exercise yet, beyond walking, but I should be soon. I've lost 20 now, which I am pleased with.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I think I posted somewhere about my new Fitbit One.  Did I?  I got it about 2 weeks ago.  I wear it inside my bra, every day.  It tracks steps, flights of stairs, calories expended, and sleep time and times awakened.  It updates via bluetooth (although not on my iPhone 4, only the 4S, 5, and iPad 3 or newer...but I update either by iPad or my PC) and tracks it all nicely on their dashboard.  I think it is pretty motivating for increasing activity, and I like the sleep tracker as well.  It also can sync with My Fitness Pal (my name: gkeyt), which is handy.  The little gadget is about the size of a Bit o Honey candy (remember those?) and slips into a silicone clip for day wear.  You put it in a neoprene wrist band for sleep.  They will have a new one, the Flex, coming out in April.  It is more similar to the Nike Fuel band, you wear it on your wrist like jewelry and you can shower with it, so you don't have to take it off.  I am kind of exited to see if it works even better than the One.

I decide I liked this setup enough that I splurged for a Fitbit Aria scale.  It wirelessly transfers weight and body comp to Fitbit, and can automatically detect up to 8 individual users in a household (on the same wireless network).  Only trouble is, I weighed myself this evening and my weight read 4 lbs higher than this morning on my old scale.  Doh!  I knew my old scale was probably a bit falsely low, since it is always somewhat lower than any other scale I use.  (And thus, the only scale I would use, of course.)  The weight on the Aria was almost exactly the same as at my doctor's office about 2 hours before, so I think it is pretty accurate.  I'm not going to adjust my ticker widget to match, I'm just going to wait until they match before I start changing it.  I need that mental boost of seeing that lower weight, even if I know my new scale is tracking differently.  Weird, I know.  They will match soon!

It does seem like a nifty scale.  I don't know how accurate the body comp is, but I get the sense that it isn't that far off.  It is more important to track the trend than to have it exactly accurate.  It was very easy to set up, and it's really beautiful.  I got the white one, but there is also black.  It is pricey, for sure.  Is it worth it? To me, I think it is.  I don't have to do anything to update the info in my profile. It gives a lot of good information, and everyone in the family can use it. And it motivates me a little more.  You get little badges on your account with each 5 lb lost, and you can set goals etc. Simple stuff, but motivating.  I find the One does help me be more active, because I'll do more stairs at night just to get in my 10 minimum for the day.  Our house is 3 floors so it isn't hard to do.  (I just went and did 3 more floors.  :)

One really great thing about these products is that at least for me, they worked right out of the gate.  No complex or painful setup. Their analytics are still pretty rudimentary, but I think as they get more users and more feedback it will get more complex.  I'm pretty impressed with the products now, though. And I love that they have teamed up with My Fitness Pal, which was just rated the #1 fitness app for weight loss.  (I have received zero compensation for this, I bought my own gadgets, I just happen to like them.)

Anyone out there using Fitbit? What do you think? Or are you using some other tracker out there?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Drink yer water

I saw the NP for my 2 week post op followup on Thurs.  According to their scale I had lost 14 lbs (I personally use my own scale for my own tracking) and she was happy about that.  I had to admit that it is very hard for me to get in my water now that I am back at work.  It's always been hard--I'm just not good about drinking water ever (I think it's years of developing my "nurse bladder"--never let your bladder get full, because you never know when you will get to pee again) and now that I have a tiny stomach, I can't drink water quickly.  Add to that spending all but about 1 hour of my 10+ hour shift in a room where everything is sterile and I can't have water, and it is really hard to get the water in.  The NP wasn't happy about this, and told me she would write a note for me to take another day off work to stay home and drink water.  But I just don't want to use any more benefit time than absolutely necessary.  So I told her I only had one more day to work, and then I had 4 days off, so I would work on getting in the water on my own.

We talked about IV fluids...I'm definitely not going to the ED for them if I need them.  I'm willing to go to the clinic if needed, but I am going to try to get it in on my own, of course.  I could do it myself, but that gets into dicey territory of stealing from my employer (IV fluid and angiocath stuff) which sounds minor but can be a big problem.  Many a healthcare employee has done similar, at different hospitals I have worked at, and gotten into lots of trouble.  I'd rather avoid that.  It's just best to stay home and drink water.

But, last night was the "Christmas" party for my other employer.  (They scheduled it well after the holidays)  Everyone was there--about 25 CRNAs and their spouses and partners, plus management and owners from the East Coast.  Everyone came because they do a gift exchange and last year they gave someone a trip to Kona, HI.  (Accommodations only, but still.)  This year the gifts ranged from NBA tickets and gift certificates to local restaurants, to local getaways, to 2 separate trips to HI.  We got a "Wine Country Tour" and overnight Romance Package stay at a local hotel (McMenamins Hotel Oregon in McMinnville, OR).  Nice trip...the Wine Country tour isn't much use to us, since hubby doesn't drink and I have a tiny stomach...but we should be able to trade it in for another night or something.

Eating and drinking at the party was interesting.  I had one glass of white wine (local Pinot Gris, didn't want purple teeth) and nursed it most of the night.  Drank a couple tall glasses of water as well.  I drink about twice a year these days, and one glass was plenty for me.  I had a couple bites of appetizer, and had salmon, which was very good but I gave 80% of it to my husband, who also had filet mignon.  I thought I might feel awkward eating next to nothing, but as it turned out, no one really seemed to notice.  There was plenty of drinking going on, so no one paid much attention to what I was or was not eating...which is a good general rule in life, other people notice what we are doing a lot less than we think they do.  It was a nice party, but since I only knew maybe 20% of the people there, and my hubby knew next to no one, it was still a work function.

Life is turning out to be surprisingly normal with the sleeve.  I work on eating protein first (and usually only that) and not drinking with meals, and things are pretty normal.  I am down another 1.4 lbs.  I can probably attribute that to getting my water in...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Shake It Up

I dropped another pound...yay!

When I was discharged from the hospital, the surgery fellow told me to focus on getting my fluids in, and stick with the prescribed diet, but not worry about exercise yet, beyond walking, or protein. I'm getting close to 3 weeks, so I'm working on the protein now.  Today I got a lot: 80 g.  I am supposed to get 60-80 per day, so that is good.

With the band, I was supposed to get all my protein without shakes, because the band doesn't work with liquids, only solid foods.  But this is a new thing, and shakes are important, especially at this stage.  It takes me half an hour to drink a 4 oz shake.  I'm trying lots of samples--there are so many new products since the last time I was doing this.  Some of them are even pretty good, and I'm experimenting with the SF Torani syrups (almond is good) and PB2.  Anything to mask that protein powder taste.

I read my post-op diet more closely, and learned something good: I can have coffee! They tell me to limit it to 16 oz a day.  I am back to my old Click! shake in the morning, which I do like.  And today I had a little time in the middle of my day before I had to relieve someone in another part of the hospital, so I treated myself to a 12 oz Americano with cream...sooo good.  It took about an hour to drink it.  It was wonderful.

I am looking at going back to the gym soon...I prefer to exercise outdoors but it has been so cold the last few weeks, I can't stand it.  Our gym is less than a 5 min walk away, and they have childcare...it's a total no-brainer.  Sheesh.

Tomorrow is my 2 week post op visit!  I'm kind of excited, is that weird?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2 weeks

I went back to work on Tuesday, 5 days ago, and haven't had a chance to blog since then. This weekend we went up to Seattle for our belated Christmas with my family and we got home this evening. Whew. It was fun,though. My brother's youngest is a daughter who is 10 months older than Lucy, and after they get over their shyness they always have fun playing together.

Going back to work was tiring the first day, but I got back in the swing pretty quickly. I forget often that I had surgery at all. But it is very challenging to get my fluids in at work. At the GI clinic it is a little easier because I can keep a water bottle outside the treatment room and sip between cases. At the hospital it is much harder. I only have 2 breaks and a lunch, and rarely have much time between cases. When I eat lunch I can't drink, so it doesn't leave much time for the fluids.

I still find that I am having a hard time stopping eating before I am full. "Full" is now much more like other people described the band. When I am full, that's it, period. One more teaspoon, and I will be regurgitating at least some food. Gross, I know. But my stomach and brain aren't in sync, so I have to learn to be more careful about my portion and not overdo it and feel over-full.

The scale has stayed exactly the same for over a week, to the 1/10th of a pound. Weird. I know a "stall" at this point is common, but it still sucks. I'm ready to see some progress.

I'm starting to move to purées now, because it's still a week before my post op check up and I'm in week 3 now. I'm not fully into them, though, because I'm really not hungry and no one has told me I'm supposed to advance yet. I rarely have the sensation I recognize as hunger, and when I do it is often when I wouldn't expect it, like now, just 15 min after eating a snack of 1 slice of lunch meat (which took over 30 min to finish). This morning we had breakfast at the restaurant of our hotel. Hubby had taken our daughter back to our room to get her blanket, and the food arrived while they were gone. I looked at it all--breakfast, my favorite-- and realized I had no real desire to eat any of it. It was quite nice actually.

I'm doing other stuff besides waiting for the scale to budge. I am planning this year's garden, and hand-quilting a quilt. I've made many quilts but this is my first attempt at hand-quilting a large one. It is going to take forever...but it is fun, nonetheless. I did all the piecing by machine. That took forever, too. But I think it will be nice in the end.

Monday, January 7, 2013

POD #8

I am really getting the urge to chew something now.  I'm not very hungry--less than the first few days for sure.  But I want to chew something.  The liquids stage gets very boring.

I got my fancy new teas a couple days ago and I'm enjoying the variety and the help getting in my fluids.  It's easier with tea.  I haven't had coffee in about 4 days, I guess, and it's going fine.  Although I think I will need some tomorrow when I go back to work.  We'll see.

I also got my FitBit in the mail on Saturday.  So far I am still kind of getting used to it.  I'm not taking a lot of steps right now, I think about 2500 yesterday.  Not surprising since I am still recovering a bit.  It tells you steps, flights of stairs, calories expended, and gives sleep data if you remember to put it on your wrist.  I did remember last night, but I haven't looked at the uploaded data yet.  I can see how you can easily lose it.  It's about the size of a Bit o'Honey candy.  (Remember those?)

I'm going to need more exercise this week.  It's rainy outside now, but maybe we can go for a puddle walk today.

Our big excitement this weekend was buying a freezer.  Let me explain.  When we first moved into this house, it was lovely in almost all areas, but the laundry room was hideous.  And there was no obvious place in the house for a big freezer, so the little half freezer in the fridge was super packed.  I like to be able to freeze leftovers, and buy packages of frozen stuff at Costco to have on hand.  We don't have a garage.  Years ago the garage was opened into the basement and the basement was finished, so the driveway opens via sliding glass doors into the carpeted, finished basement.  Anyway.  I decided I wanted a freezer when we bought the house.  The laundry room was the only logical place for one.  It is fairly small, and it had salvaged cabinets all around (I presume they were salvaged from the kitchen remodel).  They were those prefab "oak" cabinets, circa 1985 or so.  And the laundry room was painted a horrible butter yellow.  It was really depressing.  So the plan was, rip out two cabinets on one wall, paint the whole thing, and put a freezer in.  We've been working on this since last spring, when we first ripped out the cabinets and sent them to the dump.  Hubby painted the walls a periwinkle color, and we (he) primed the cabinets and painted them white.  The cabinets alone took about a month.  I got black rubber "puzzle" mat flooring, like you sometimes see at a gym, because the floor occasionally gets wet if it rains a lot outside (or the water heater or washing machine leak) and I didn't want to put something permanent down.  (It is a concrete floor that had been painted over with latex paint; the paint is peeling up, and to repaint it with a proper, epoxy-type concrete paint would be a huge job, and there is no ventilation in that room. So, no.)  We finally got the freezer on Friday, and it was delivered on Saturday.  Yay! The project is nearly done!  Just need the rest of the flooring to arrive and it will be a nice place to do the laundry in, plus we have all the freezer space we need, we've relocated our dry pantry in there, and it's all (fairly) organized.  Whew.