Happy Halloween!

The “How To Host A Murder” Party. A wretched collection of scum and villainy.

The day has arrived! The house is decorated, the creepy music soundtrack all queued up, and Stranger Things is ready to roll on the TV in the living room. Halloween is here!

Honestly, though this is by far and away Lor’s favorite holiday, it has not been one of my favorites for a very long time. Normally, I prefer to just stay at home, spend some time on Facebook, check out everyone else’s costumes as they attend their Halloween functions, and tell myself that I don’t really like these kinds of events anyway.
But, the real problem is that I have always hated how I look in costume. Lor loves playing dress-up and can carry any costume with style and panache. I always felt like an over-inflated balloon that someone had stuffed a costume on. Lor was forever getting after me to participate more fully with her, and last year I told her, if I lost a few pounds by next Halloween, I would participate.
A little bariatric surgery and 88 pounds later, it was time to pay up.
To my surprise, I had a really good time. While Lor put up our giant spider web on the side of the house, I designed our spider-infested front door. (Which has made many visitors very uncomfortable.) We carved pumpkins. We worked together to pick treats for our trick-or-treaters. (Toys and eyeball bubblegum, no candy this year.) Instead of letting Lor do all the work while I grumbled like the Halloween version of the Grinch, I threw myself into the holiday and found out I had been missing an awful lot of fun over the years.
As for our costumes – we were invited to a “How To Host A Murder” party last weekend, set in the 1940s. We got to dress up in period costume, which was awesome. And we looked really great, if I do say so myself:
You handsome devil, you. And Lor looks good too!
Who knew that Halloween was so much fun? Normally I would just sit on the couch with my hand in the candy basket – one for the kiddos, one for me. Not anymore! Now I am out there wearing suspenders and doing…stuff. Yeah, That’s me! I am officially converted to holiday participation.
Come Christmastime, No More Threats Of Santa Costumes For Me!
– Hawkwind

The 90-day Post-Surgery Review

Technically, it is more like a 93-day review, since I managed to miss my 90-day follow-up appointment back on Tuesday. I blame Google Calendar. At least ABQ Health Partners were quite gracious about getting me rescheduled for today.
So, what kind of results can I expect from my 90-day follow-up?
Well, my blood pressure is still normal. I am 20 pounds down from my last visit back in August and 32 pounds down total since surgery, checking in at 216 this morning. (I always check at home before visits to the doctor, since their scale will inevitably weigh me in at 5 – 10 pounds heavier than my home one.) My diet is still greater than 60 grams of protein and less than 60 grams of carbs a day.
In all, I think it is going to be a short visit.
Quite honestly, it is tough to believe that it has only been 3 months since my surgery. It feels so long ago and far away, almost like it happened to someone else. I have more vivid recollections of last Christmas than I do of the whole surgical process and hospital stay.
But, every day when I look at the amount of food I am taking in for any given meal, I am reminded – yup, that really did happen. 80% of my stomach got lopped off. No matter what happens from here, I am never going to be the same person that I was.
Sorry for the short post today, nothing is really on my mind except the upcoming visit. I may edit this evening to let everyone know if anything weird comes up during my visit to the doctor’s office. Enjoy your Halloween weekend!
Must Remember To Wear Lightweight Clothing Today,

– Hawkwind

The Expertise of Experience

I finally made time to get my hair cut yesterday, something I do every 2 – 3 months and really should do every 4 weeks. At my local hair salon, my normal hairdresser was off for the day, so I got placed in the care of someone new – a friendly, chatty mother of four who wanted to know what the inkpot-and-quill tattoo on my forearm represented.
“Oh, I am a writer,” I said as modestly as possible.
“Really? What do you write about?” was her interested query.
“Health issues, mainly.”
And, with that, we were off to the races. She wanted to know about high-protein diets. (Yes, with appropriate nutritional supplementation.) About avoiding kidney and liver damage. (Drink more water, and try to cut out soft drinks.) About which was the truth: fish is good for you because of fish oil, or fish is bad for you because of mercury. (Both, really, but if you really want just the oil and not the taste of fish, just take a fish oil supplement.) I talked more during that half an hour than I probably had in the 8 hours preceding it. (Sorry, Lor!)
It was very interesting to discover how much confusing information is out there in the general public pertaining to dietary health. This intelligent woman, trying to look out for the health of her family, had so much conflicting data that her dietary planning was at a standstill. All of the hard-won experience Lor and I have earned in the past few months, involving radical surgery, major lifestyle changes, and thousands of dollars in medical bills should be available to normal people without having to suffer through the costs of morbid obesity, right? So, how do we go about getting this info into the hands of our friends and neighbors?
Talking about it seems to be a good starting point. Most people, when they hear about my surgery, want to focus on the procedure. But most people I talk to don’t need bariatric surgery. They could get positive results from making a few of the changes that Lor and I have made, without having to go through all of the “other” stuff that went along with our treatments for morbid obesity and diabetes. It is entirely possible that I need to begin shifting my focus when interacting with people on the subject. Like, “Yes, I had to have surgery, but you can have positive results by exercising, avoiding processed foods, and focusing on hydration.” It is an interesting focus shift that I hadn’t really considered previously.
As my haircut wrapped up, my hairdresser commented that, instead of being a writer, I really ought to be a nutritionist or dietitian. I laughed and thanked her, then mentioned that I had a dietitian, and that it was a very technical position requiring many years of education and training.
My hair artist looked me over, and said: “You? What do you need a dietitian for?”
If I Wasn’t Married, I Would’ve Kissed Her,
– Hawkwind

The Fear of Tofu Casserole

Image of Tofu Broccoli Casserole courtesy of kirstenskitchen.blogspot.com.
As we get ever closer to the holiday season, the phone calls are starting to come in. Well-meaning family members, working on their holiday meal planning, dial us up, wanting to know what exactly we can eat.
Them: “Do you need anything special?”
Us: “Any high-protein items are usually fine, so are fresh veggies.”
Them: What kind of protein? Anything special?”
Us: “Oh, you know – turkey, ham, beef are all fine.”
Them: “And what kind of veggies?”
Us: “Anything not white is probably safe.”
This is followed by a short pause as they digest (Ha!) this information. I can actually hear the disappointment in their voices when they say “Oh – so the same things we make every year?”
I just know my family was hoping to prepare quinoa cakes and tofu surprise in order to show their support.
Now, I am just teasing here – Lor and I are extremely lucky that both sides of the family are so supportive of our surgeries that they care enough to ask – many bariatric patients do not enjoy this kind of help from their families. But, the fact of the matter is, bariatric surgery does not prevent you from eating most things (carbonated beverages aside.) It just forces you to eat really small amounts.
At the end of the day, it will be Lor and I who have to monitor and control our intake over the food-filled holiday season. The rest of the time as well, of course, but the holidays will be tricky, just like any event where there is a whole lot of calorie-rich and nutrient-poor food waiting to be sampled. We’ve been getting in some practice with all the social gatherings we’ve been attending recently, so I am thinking the holidays shouldn’t be too bad.
I am already planning on falling off the wagon in a few spots, admittedly. I will not go through the holidays without at least one tamale, for example – I do not care that they are 90% corn meal. If a pecan pie puts in an appearance, I will likely have to have a (very) small piece. Same for the infamous Chile Relleno Wontons at the Superbowl party – I will have one, and that will have to do. The watchwords will be Sensible Eating.
As much as I love holiday food, I love the idea of being down 100 pounds by January 1, 2017, even more.
So, let’s skip the Tofu Casserole, and let me at those Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas instead!
Err…in moderation, of course.
Because A Life Without Tamales Is Not Worth Living,
– Hawkwind

Failure to Resist

This morning, after 2 breathtaking hours of writer’s block, I gave in and went to find Lor, to ask her for some input.
“Talk about your struggles between activity and inactivity” was her immediate response.
Funny, I didn’t realize I was even experiencing that struggle.
But, it is true that for every day I walk a couple of miles, there is a day when I only walk around the block. My resistance training is still happening three days a week, but I am getting zero results out of it – my forearms are now developing the same “droop” that my upper arms and legs have been suffering from for months. 
And, yes, the truth is I would rather watch football, play WoW, or work on my novel than go out for a multiple-mile hike.
So, yeah, I suppose you could call that a struggle between motion and inertia, if you wanted to get technical.
The thing is, most everyone I know who has begun a workout program eventually experiences that moment when they began to enjoy it so much that they crave it. Heck, I once experienced it, about two decades ago – I wanted to get back to the gym. Nowadays, I look at my workout days with an overwhelming sense of “Meh.” It is something I am doing because I have to, not because I want to. I am not even getting any kind of positive body-shaping reinforcement out of it, so there is very little to get excited about.
Thank goodness for Vixen and her daily walks. Here, I have no choice – if the dog is not walked, she holds her bodily functions, despite having a doggie door and a backyard of her own. If she hangs on too long, she gets very, very ill – which makes us feel very, very bad. So, every day, I am forced out of the house to haul her around to sniff bushes, attack larger dogs, and, finally, take care of business.
We have experimented with taking her on a preliminary walk around the block, then doing a “real” 2.5-mile walk. While it certainly sped up our walking pace, Lor hated walking around without Vixen, so we abandoned the concept. We may just revert to throwing the dog in a backpack as soon as she has taken care of her bodily functions, to combine the two ideas. That or just resign ourselves to moving at the snail-like pace of 2 miles an hour that walking with a sniff-machine results in.
So, to add it up: disinterest, boredom with routine, failure to see positive results…yeah, I guess my activity:inactivity index is tilting heavily to the right. I am going to have to bear down a little harder, or find some other outlets to try – we know that the surest way to fail at long-term weight loss is to quit exercising. And failure is not an option.
I Refuse To Have Given Up Beer Only To Remain Obese,
– Hawkwind