Week 2: Post Bariatric Surgery: Exercise is Fun

What do you do for exercise? Is it fun or a drag? During the pre-operative consults the bariatric team couldn’t stress enough how important exercise is for the healing process of surgery and maintence of you body weight. Lucky for us we had been exercising regularly before bariatric surgery was even an option. Everyday since the surgery has been an adventure and learning process. It’s amazing how this surgery could change a life or even two.

lost eight pounds since last week.   started the week at 245 pounds

May 26th 2016 — Week 2
[237 lbs]

Not only has it changed Kevin’s life by his 50 lb. weight loss since December 2015 but has changed mine. I am even more convinced exercise is key! As a therapist clients come for help with depression, anxiety, and addiction issues (just to name a few). I ask this important question during the assessment phase: “What do you do for exercise and what diet do you follow if any?” Most people look at me like I have a horn growing out of my head when they hear the word exercise. Some will say, “I joined a gym but don’t have time to go, or the real answer is I don’t have time to exercise. Exercise has so many benefits and it can be fun, and you do have time.

Kevin’s recovery time from bariatric surgery, a hernia repair, and liver biopsy has been remarkable. He bounced back in just two to three days. Here we are at week 2 and he has already been out doing yard work (which he really shouldn’t be doing), but he says he feels great! He even looks great. To be honest I’m super proud of him. He’s come a long way. However, his speedy recovery time is because he has been on a consistent exercise program for the past 5 years. The last year has been a bit challenging and he slowed down a lot but he still kept at it.

For the past 5 years we trained for several half marathons, 10k’s, and 5k’s. Last year we ran four half marathons. We always had a goal to work toward and that kept us motivated. We were always on a training program, and it was fun! Having a training buddy makes it even more fun. Sometimes we have the best conversations during our exercise time. I have heard many people say, “Wow, I can’t even walk one mile.” To be honest neither could we when we first started! Heck, we got winded just walking to the mailbox and back. I tell people if you want to do it, you can. Anyone can!

2 Weeks Post Surgery Pineapple 5K, Stuart, FL

2 Weeks Post Surgery
Pineapple 5K,
Stuart, FL

Here we are two and a half weeks post surgery and we ran a 5K yesterday. We had the best run in a long time and Kevin felt and looked fantastic. It was exhilarating. The energy and support of the crowd and the people you meet on the course are all incredible. It makes you want to keep moving! And that’s what it’s all about, to just keep moving. When you move chemicals are released from your brain down to your toes and you feel great! The depression lifts and anxiety decreases. Exercise is all a mindset and disciple. So, get out there move and have fun in the process!



Week 1: Post Bariatric Surgery: Mindful Eating

Last week I gave a short background of how we reached the decision for gastric bypass surgery. There is more to the process than just making the decision for weight loss surgery. This was one of the most major decisions in our life. We both learned lessons on how to take care of our body, mind, and soul through this process. Even though I said the reason behind the surgery in the first place was the “failed liver panel” and the CAT scan that showed a “Fatty liver.” Now those events got his attention to make some serious changes.   The surgery itself was very successful and his energy has returned so much that I have a hard time keeping up with him. So week one has been somewhat uneventful, nonetheless it’s been a huge change and learning curve.

lost five pounds since surgery.   Entered the hospital at 250 pounds

May 19th 2016 — Week 1
[245 lbs]

On Monday Kevin had ditched all the pain medication and was feeling fantastic. He went back to work and looked and felt like he hadn’t skipped a beat. If you saw him you would never know he had surgery a few days ago. He was feeling that well. The changes when he came home were clear it was still going to be an uphill battle with food and the consumption of it. During the past week Kevin needed a few gentle reminders to take it slow…Not to rush drinking his protein drink, or Gatorade, and water. There is a reprogramming that has to happen. The surgery is a tool to begin reprogramming how you eat, how much you consume, and how you feel about food in general. This is where we need to be mindful of our eating habits.

In order to be mindful you must pay close attention to what is put to your lips. Rule of thumb is protein first. The protein will fill you up and satisfy you. You won’t get the cravings of wanting more shortly after finishing a meal that is heavy in carbohydrates. The protein takes a while to digest, where the carbs will leave you hungry and wanting more. To be mindful of what you eat ask yourself, “Did I just ingest protein first? Protein comes in many forms. We get protein from meats, chicken, fish, eggs, tuna, dairy, and other sources. You can also get a great amount of protein by mixing up a protein drink with different flavors. One of my favorites is Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries or raspberries. Plus it’s healthy for you and fills you up without wanting more in less than an hour. I use a cool free app on my phone called “Lose it” that helps me track my protein, carb, fat, and calorie intake daily. This has helped me get on track and stay on track. It is now a habit at every meal time to measure how much I’m eating and what nutritional value I’m receiving. It’s being mindful of what you are ingesting. And I have lost weight and feel good.

As for Kevin he has been on the journey of reprogramming his eating habits and becoming more aware and mindful of not just what he eats but how he eats. After surgery and beyond you have to take every bite very slow. Learn to enjoy ever bite of you food. We haven’t reached the point of “real food” yet as we are still on a liquid diet until Thursday. On Thursday we advance to puree’ food for the next 4 weeks, and that comes with more challenges as we begin to re-introduce food into his new stomach and how much is enough.   The point is not to rush and take the process slow. The good news is he is already down 5 pounds this week and I am down 4 lbs. Being mindful of your eating habits is exciting, and wellness is the key to a rich life.



Wellness is the Key to a Rich Life: Post Bariatric Surgery the Road Back

Living a healthy lifestyle is a choice.  It’s a decision and commitment you make to yourself.  It’s a long road but worth it.  As I sit this morning and reflect over the past many years of my life and my husband’s life the struggle to be fit and healthy is real.  Over the life of this blog I will take pieces of our past and weave them into our present life.  I feel it’s important to look back and see what progress has been made.  And as I sit here this morning and write and reflect, write and reflect there has been much progress.  There have been a lot of setbacks as well.  Don’t be discouraged by your setbacks.  It’s the setbacks that help you move forward and progress.

The purpose of this blog is to teach and inspire others to never give up on your goals.  No matter how long it takes you can and will achieve them.  We are living proof.  Last Thursday was a new beginning for Kevin (my husband) and myself.  You see, Kevin has been over weight for most of his life.  The only time he was at an ideal body weight was when he first went into the U.S. Air Force.  In order for him to even be accepted in the Air Force he had to lose over 70 lbs. When we married in July 1982 he hovered around 250 to 260 lbs.   At 19 years of age he was active and in good health.   I remember he inquired about joining the Air Force in August of 1982 and he was told he had two months to drop from 250 lbs. to 180 lbs. He spent the next two months eating only salad and liquids.  He dropped the weight relatively quick.  He was a new Kevin.  He looked fantastic.

He did what he had to do in order to enlist in the military. But,he spent many years struggling to maintain 180 lbs. throughout his ten-year career with the Air Force.  His commander threatened to put him in what they called, “The fat boy program” if he didn’t drop the weight.  His highest weight while in the Air Force was about 225 lbs. And that was just not going to fly.  He continued to struggle and opted to get out after ten years because he really wasn’t as motivated to lose the weight or maintain it.  I have seen him get motivated to lose the weight, and he did.  But the maintenance of the weight was a huge battle.  He simply wasn’t ready to let go of his old habits.   As the years went by his weight crept up back and forth like a yoyo.  We tried all sorts of diets, Paleo, Atkins, weight watchers, you name it.  He would lose some weight but was never able to keep it off.  About eight years ago he decided he wanted to get lap band surgery.  Together we went to the free seminar where they attempted to sell us lap band surgery.  It was a good seminar, learned a lot of techniques to losing weight on our own. We decided against lap band and so glad we did.  Lap band in the past few years has not been a viable option for some people.  Some lost some weight but never actually reached their goals, plus they were sick all the time.    So, we went home and implemented all the great diet and techniques they taught us.  One was the 30/30 rule, which is no drinking anything before meals and waiting 30 minutes after meals.  This worked great.  He dropped about 40 lbs.  He again looked fantastic.

Fast forward about a year and the weight gain came back.  At this point he was frustrated. Five years ago we decided to run/walk half marathons.  We were averaging 3-4 half marathons a year since.  We were consistent in our daily training regimen, but not our diet.  At this point I had gained about 20 lbs. myself.  I guess if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  Again, we were not on the road to health.  It wasn’t until  December 22, 2015 when Kevin went in for a simple cat scan to see if there was a hernia that had been bothering him for more than 15 years.  The cat scan came back negative to a hernia, instead they found ‘Fatty deposits” on his liver!  Well, needless to say that was a shock, especially two days before Christmas.  At this point because of his weight he was a full blown diabetic, now with a fatty liver.  He had been feeling more and more tired over the course of several years.  This was the deciding factor to once and for all do something about his weight issues.

The diagnosis of fatty liver disease scared the be jeepers out of him!  And me.  This was the wake up call to finally get to the bottom of the overweight problem.  He did research on weight loss surgery again and found a center for excellence in Sebastian, Florida. We arrived for another weight loss seminar at Sebastian River medical center on February 23rd, 2016.  As we listened to the Doctor speak about obesity, the struggles of the great American diet, and how they can help us we left with a renewed faith that this was going to help.  I was still a little leery.  Gastric Bypass surgery is no walk in the park, nor is it a magic bullet, or a cure all.  However, it’s a tool to help get rid of all the comorbidities Kevin was experiencing and starting a new life style.  He had made up his mind this is what he wanted.

One week later we met with the doctor who would perform the surgery and consulted with him for over one and half hours.  We went over every nook and cranny of how this works and how to maintain it way after surgery.  He answered all our questions and we had work to do before our next appointment and before we could schedule surgery.  There is a psychological assessment, nutritional meeting, and lots of lab work.  Kevin’s goal was to have the surgery the middle of May.  He just wanted this over and done with. He was tired of doctor appointments, failed lab work, and just plain being tired of the weight.  He was more than ready this time.  Since March of 2016 he has lost over 30 lbs. himself before surgery.  If was funny because everyone he encounters said, “You look great!  You don’t qualify for bypass surgery.”  I guess being 250 lbs. is the new normal standard.

The events leading up to the surgery were exciting and stressful all at the same time.  We knew what the goal was. The goal is to reach that 180 lbs. or less ideal body weight and keep it off.  Last Thursday Kevin had his gastric bypass surgery and is doing well.  He was released from the hospital on Saturday with a strict diet.  For the past 3 days we have been on a clear liquid diet.  Today we graduated to a full liquid diet which consists of 2 protein drinks, water, water, water, and he can begin to add no fat milk products.  This morning we walked 3.5 miles and feeling great!  In the coming weeks, months, and years we will be updating this blog for lots of teaching and inspiration.  It’s all a mindset.  You too can live a healthy lifestyle.  Wellness is the key to a rich life.