Spring Break

Is Daily Exercise Really Feasible

A common complaint that I receive from readers is that I have an unfair advantage. That is to say, I do not have a “real” job, and I do not have kids, which gives me a leg up on being able to make lifestyle changes that are too difficult for a “normal person”.

Personally, I find the idea that suffering from a brain-bending disability gives me some kind of an advantage a little off-putting. Be that as it may, I am fond of telling people that the time exists in any schedule to make lifestyle changes. It is simply a matter of finding that time and repurposing it.

This week we are enjoying our yearly ritual of our nephew spending his spring break with us. And I am suddenly finding that maybe there is something to these complaints after all.

The Iron Fist Marathon Event

Since our surgeries last year, Lor and I have a pretty fixed schedule. I get up and write for a minimum of two hours every morning. We spend 2 hours at the gym every day. Since I began my Personal Trainer program another few hours a day is spent on coursework. Meanwhile, Lor usually works while I am studying. We fit in meals, television, gaming, and errands around that core of six – eight hours a day. (7 days a week, by the way, no 5-day work weeks for us.)

Yesterday, the three of us spent over eight hours binge-watching the first half of the “Iron Fist” series on Netflix. (Totally recommended if you are a comics geek like the three of us.)

I will grant that at least we managed to make it to the gym yesterday. But that is it. I spent maybe half an hour writing. No time was spent studying. Lor took the day off. And I, predictably, worried.

The Shoe On The Other Foot

Lor was philosophical. We only have a few short years to spend with our nephew while he is young, she pointed out. Soon, he will have no interest in traveling a few hundred miles and hanging out with his aunt and uncle for weeks at a time. We need to take advantage of the opportunity while we have it.

And I completely agree. But my concern was this: if we had our own child at home, would every day be like this? Am I a complete hypocrite for telling people that they have the time to make lifestyle changes? Does my disability really give me some kind of leg up on getting healthier that most do not enjoy?

I spent most of the day grumpy as hell, unable to get out of my own head. I am sure that Lor and my nephew would have been happier if I had just left them to enjoy the marathon while I worked through my crisis.

Be Good To Yourself

But here’s the thing: I am getting more out of this visit than I have in a long time. My increased health has meant that I have been more alert, more engaged, and more interested in my nephew than I have been in past years.

Thanks to surgery and lifestyle changes, I can reasonably expect to be around when he graduates from high school. And from college. I will probably be present at his wedding, and for the births of his kids.

If he was my son, could I afford to have not made these changes, no matter what the daily cost in time was?

Yesterday, and the rest of this week, will be aberrations in my schedule to be sure. But every minute I get to spend with my nieces and nephews is time well spent. If I worked at a “real” job, there is every chance that I would have taken the majority of this week off from work entirely.

We have plans for hikes, for a visit to a trampoline park, to play laser tag during this week. None of which I could have done last year. I would have dropped him off, then waited for him to finish. This year I will participate in all of it.

All because I have invested the time.

Your Personal Challenge

So, no, I do not think I am a hypocrite. I think the time is there in every daily life to get healthy. Maybe you can’t join a gym because of time constraints. But you can skip one tv show a day and work out at home. You can walk while at work. You can make changes to your diet.

An hour out of every day today will mean a whole lot more tomorrows to spend with your loved ones.

Playing Lazer Tag and binge-watching Iron Fist.

On Vacation,

Jeremy

Operation: BFF

Finding Your Support Partner After Bariatric Surgery

Every day, I take a look at various Facebook pages, forums and chat rooms centered on obesity and surgery. And every day I see at least one person making the same request for help. “I’ve fallen back into bad habits. I just need someone to encourage me/kick me in the butt.”

Don’t Go It Alone

We talk a lot about the keys to success for weight loss here. Whether with the assistance of bariatric surgery or the “old-fashioned” way, certain things are required. You need to have made a positive decision to change your life. Exercising regularly needs to enter your life – diet changes alone won’t do the job. You need to make major changes to your diet: exercise alone will not overcome your Extra-Value Meal habit.

And you need some accountability.

The value of having someone to go through this with you can’t be overstated. There are many factors that go into the life changes surrounding reducing obesity. But the #1 tool in promoting adherence to a new, healthier lifestyle is support. You are going to need someone to hold your hand (and kick your butt) when the going gets tough. Humans are social creatures: we need support from the rest of the tribe when attempting major undertakings.

Who Is In Your Corner?

I got lucky – I not only had the support of my friends and family, but I also had a secret weapon: my wife. We have been going through all the phases of bariatric surgery and lifestyle changes together. Our surgeries were even only 6 weeks apart! We got to go to one another’s doctor visits, nutritionist meetings, and support groups. What one of us missed or forgot, the other was able to pick up and remember. As a result, 6 months post surgeries, we have each dropped 100 pounds. We have completely overhauled our diets. We hit the gym every single day. Our lifestyles bear very little resemblance to who we were a year ago.

“But Jeremy,” I can already hear you complaining, “my spouse/partner/roommate doesn’t need surgery.”

Let me tell you a little secret: at the front end of this process, we didn’t know if either of us would qualify. Lor’s BMI was not high enough to automatically qualify for bariatric surgery. I have epilepsy: we had to get clearance from my surgeon and my neurologist before I could be approved. There was every chance that one of us would be going through this alone.

So we decided to not let that happen. We made a commitment to each other that we would both go through the process together, even if one of us was not approved for surgery. Every dietary change, every lifestyle modification, every meeting and doctor’s appointment would be shared. Even if one of us retained the greater curvature of the stomach, we would operate as if both of us had it removed.

The Key Is Lifestyle Changes

Remember: bariatric surgery is only one element in a host of lifestyle changes that lead to conquering obesity.  Most of us decide on the surgery because we have been unable to stick with the changes required without help. But if your primary loved one is willing to go through the changes with you some very profound things can happen.

There will no longer be the temptation of what is on the plate across the dinner table from you. You will automatically have a workout buddy to accompany you as you (re)introduce exercise into your life. You will have accountability when you are tempted to fall off the wagon.  Ask any person who attends AA/NA or other support groups – the social interaction is the most important tool they have in overcoming their addictions.

News flash: most of us going through bariatric surgery are food addicts. Get yourself some support.

Walking On The Sadder Side

Now, I am not blind to the truth. There are those of us who are single. Some have no family support. There are even those whose spouses/partners will try to actively sabotage their weight loss journey. This is a harsh world we live in, and these can be harsh truths to accept.

My solution? Make new friends.

Do not waste your time and emotional energy trying to convert the loved ones who do not support you. Instead, turn to the community of current and former patients who are going through the same changes you are. Find an online group – there a literally hundreds of them on Facebook. Locate a local support group meeting. If you can’t find one, create one and advertise it online. Someone out there is going through exactly what you are.

Your job is to find that person.

No one can really go through this alone without major setbacks. The validation and encouragement you need can really only come from an outside source. Take ownership of your need for social interaction, just like you took ownership of curing your obesity.

Somewhere out there is your BFF: the person who can help you stay the course after bariatric surgery.

They are probably closer than you think.

It Takes A Village To Lose The Weight Of A Child,

Jeremy

The Journey Continues: 6 More Important Posts From Misdirected

Several hundred views later, it is apparent that I should have created an “index” post long before this. I am glad that the 6 Starting Posts article was helpful for so many of you in providing easier access to some important content pertaining to the months before bariatric surgery.

But…what about surgery itself, or the first few months after surgery? Not to fear, I have you covered there as well. Here are some great starting points for articles pertaining to the time around and immediately after surgery:

The Psychology of Obesity

The days immediately preceding surgery are filled with mental activity. Mainly, we ask ourselves “Why the heck am I doing this?” This article breaks down my own personal thoughts on obesity, and surgery as the cure.

There’s Got To Be A Morning After

What surgery day looks like, as an observer.

The Lights Are On, But No One Is Home

The mental effects of switching to the all-liquid diet that bookends surgery. Also known as “brain fog”.

The Little Things

The days at home immediately following bariatric surgery.

A Game Of Inches

The second-most popular article on Misdirected, this post talks about one of the great, hidden side effects of bariatric surgery for male patients. Warning: those uncomfortable with human sexuality should probably just skip this one.

A Day In My Post-Surgery Diet

By far the most popular article on Misdirected, this post gathered over 500 views the first day it was posted. Seems there is quite a bit of interest in what a day’s diet looks like after Gastric Sleeve surgery.

Hopefully, you now have a great starting point of posts to introduce you to Misdirected, and to bariatric surgery. Welcome to Misdirected! We look forward to adding you to the family.

Sincerely,

Jeremy

6 Starting Posts For Misdirected

6 Posts to get started exploring Misdirected

I’ve been diligently visiting websites, blogs, and forums recently, answering questions about bariatric surgery. Along the way, a few folks have asked me how to get here, to Misdirected. I happily hand over the address, pleased that someone is interested in reading my meandering thoughts.

But, recently, I have been getting some feedback that is…not so great. “Jeremy – there are over 200 articles on that blog! Which are the important ones? Where do I start?”

A fair question. Accordingly, I have put together a list of the “highlight” articles. This post will point out the ones I think everyone should look at for pre-surgery. On Thursday, we’ll tackle the most significant articles around and post-surgery.

Here, then are my personal choices for Really Interesting Pre-Surgical Blog Posts:

The Times, They Are A Changin’

This was the very first post pertaining to my decision to investigate bariatric surgery. This is a great place to look at my mindset before I knew anything about anything. It would also be the place to start if you were going to try to read the whole blog sequentially. (You poor, mad, soul.)

Not Living, Just Surviving

My first (but not last) experience with explaining bariatric surgery to less-than-supportive family memebrs.

The Emotional Pain of CostCo

This is where the rubber meets the road: what the restrictions of the pre-surgical diet really mean.

The Slippery Slope

My first major dietary failure during the pre-weight loss phase. (They are going to happen.)

Food Porn

My discovery that I suffer from food addiction.

Top 10 Things I Won’t Miss About Being Obese

One of my most popular articles, describing (in graphic detail) the things I wanted to leave behind me when I escaped from obesity.

And, a note: The transition from the old blog format to the new one at the beginning of the year did leave some weird graphics and text problems in its wake. If you should spot one anywhere, please let me know so I can fix it.

Happy reading!

Experiencing Nostalgia,

Jeremy

Bariatric Surgery Progress: Looking Over My Shoulder

Photo Credit: Kristina Daniels, 2008

Yesterday, January 25, was the 6-month anniversary of my surgery date. 6 months! Yay!

It was also the date of my 6-month follow-up with the folks at ABQ Health Partners Bariatrics, which was not quite as “Yay”.

In December, Lor had her 6-month check in. She was patted on the back for her weight loss, commended on her dropping H1aC numbers, and released into the wild. “Maintenance mode” after bariatric surgery means the patient can stop logging meals, and start eating whatever they want. You have proven your ability to operate within the restrictions of your new diet without having to be watched like a hawk.

So I went into yesterday’s appointment with a mixture of confidence mixed with some nervousness. What if I had missed something in the last 6 months?

Turns out I did.

Not Precisely A Triumph

My blood panel revealed that I am suffering from a B-vitamin deficiency. Normally this would indicate that I need to add some fresh fruits and vegetables to my diet. Since we already hit the salad bar with every single meal we eat, I am instead going to have to add yet another supplement to my already large daily pile of pills.

I am also suffering from a low red blood cell count. Now, these issues are commonly related – B12 is used in the body to make new red blood cells. But I had been suffering from anemia for years before the whole bariatric surgery process began. I am already on a daily iron supplement. The original thought was that my weight loss was going to clear this problem right up. Guess not.

There was no talk about how great I am doing,  no discussion of releasing me to “maintenance mode.” I was scheduled for my one-year follow up in July and left waiting in vain for the brass band.

My Weight Loss Is Better Than Yours

It is critically important for any of us going through the bariatric surgery process to not compare our journey to anyone else’s. Invariably, we only compare ourselves to those that we think are doing “better”, and wonder why we aren’t achieving what they are.

For me, though, it is tough to not compare myself to Lor. We live under the same roof, for goodness’ sake. She is motivated daily. While I am writing or gaming, she spends hours every day counseling and advising other bariatric patients online.  She believes that half an hour of cardio a day is not quite enough and would like to do more.

Whereas I am still having trouble even getting to the gym some days. I still crave bad things – not because I am hungry, just because. I do not keep a hawk’s eye on my health 24/7. Our capacities for food are even different – she is full after 3-4 ounces, I can now manage 6.

And, as a result, she has been released to maintenance 6 months after her surgery. And I get to wait another 6 months.

The Height of our Expectations

Many of you are wondering how in the heck I am disappointed.  Silly, right? I have lost 102 pounds already! Why not celebrate that instead of worrying about a couple of minor health hiccups?

The truth is, I inflated my own expectations. I have been waiting for this blog post for weeks now. My intention was to talk about what a struggle the last six months have been, but how I persevered and overcame. Maybe show off some before and after pics.

Kind of an “I love me” kind of thing, right?

Instead, I find that, in comparison (which I should not be making), I haven’t done as well as others I know. There are still issues to overcome. I am still not there yet.

And, this is really a valuable lesson. Because, the truth is, I will never “get there”. Every day that I do not push forward represents a day that I fall behind. It is as simple as that.

The triumphant photos will have to wait for another post. Instead, I will work on no longer looking behind me and instead concern myself with what I can do today.

Disappointed But Resolute,

Jeremy