This post is not for you. This post is for me - well, actually a future me. A potential, possible future me that has fallen off the "band"wagon, who is struggling, who is watching the scale go up. I want to be able to come back to this moment & remember how good this place feels, to remember that I have been successful at losing weight and that I can be successful again (if need be).
The lapband is just a tool - if you work the band, it'll work for you. Sick of hearing that??? Me, too. But, sigh, it is the the truth. The band is not a magic bullet that suddenly killed my appetite, controlled my hunger, banded my head, banded my lips or made me make 100% perfect food choices. Yes, the band is an important tool for me but it is not the only one. Here is a list (in no particular order) of the other tools that have worked for me this year....
1. Make a commitment - honestly, this surgery scared the shit out of me. The fact that my weight was quickly becoming a problem & I was so helpless that I needed surgical intervention was a low point for me. The fact that we were going to drain our bank account for *me* was daunting. I knew I needed to make a lot of changes along with lapband - but could I really do it? Last year at this time, I didn't know the answer to that. But I decided to commit to doing everything I needed to do to be successful for one year. Just one year. May sound like a lot of time but in the grand scheme of things, it passes in a flash. So, give yourself over completely to the journey for a week, a month, a year, whatever and see what can be accomplished if you truly commit. You will be truly amazed.
2. Exercise - in the very beginning, I thought I could do this just by calorie restriction alone. But then I had some early losses & wanted to keep the ball rolling. Luckily, a good friend dragged me to her gym & I loved it. Great facilities, great classes, great schedule. I now spend 8-10 hrs per week there. You need to move. Quit your bitchin'. No more excuses.
3. Tracking my food - as of this morning, I have logged into myfitnesspal for 366 days in a row. Even though I travel a lot & spend a lot of time overseas with spotty internet access, I've still been able to keep it up. I am very proud of that!!! I have never kept a food journal before but it is so freakin' easy on my iphone. In the beginning, it was a huge eye-opener to see calorie counts for what I normally ate. yikes! It made me very sensitive to making better choices. It made me aware of the impact of portion sizes. I could intelligently made food trade-offs knowing my daily calorie & protein counts. In the last few months when I've plateaued, the journaling has kept me accountable. I can look back through the weeks & see when carbs started sneaking back in or protein started dropping. Simple mantra: if you bite it, you must write it.
4. Do sweaty cardio: I see these people at the gym just moseying along on the treadmill. really?? what's the point? if you managed to get your ass to the gym plus squeeze into your workout gear and you're just going to go for a stroll? I guess I want to make every minute matter but I believe you need to get actually break a sweat. For me, sweaty cardio means kickbox & spinning. I leave both of these classes just drenched. downright stinky. Per my Polar heart rate monitor, I burn 550-600 calories during that hour. That feels like an hour well spent. Find something you love & get your sweat on.
5. Visual cues - small plates, glasses, silverware, etc. This one I stole straight from LapBandGal. Proud of that. I don't do the small baby-sized gear she does but I do use the smallest plates. When I eat at home, I eat off a small bread plate rather than the big dinner plate. I use the small forks & spoons. I use the small juice glasses. Early on, I bought a bunch of 1/2 cup & 1 cup sized gladware. This is what I use for leftovers. I know it may sound odd but I do believe it helps keep my serving sizes in check. Out with the super-sized dishes.
6. Make it easy - I go to the gym most nights during the week. As soon as I get home, I unload my gym bag & then immediately repack for the next day. Then I put the bag right next to my purse by the front door. Easy to grab as I'm running out the door in the morning. Break down any barriers that get in your path to success.
7. Lift weights - I have never lifted weights until now. I like it. To be honest, I find all those weight machines & free weights quite intimidating. And I have no idea how to create a good lifting routine. So, I make this simple & just go to a Chisel/body pump type class (low weights/lots of reps) at my gym 3-4 a week. All I have to do is whatever the instructor says. easy. I like the results I'm getting. I never wanted to be "skinny." I don't think the flat, anorexic bodies in Vogue or other high fashion mags are all that attractive. I aspire to look more like the tone & fit bodies in Shape. I'm only going to get there with some weights. Plus, weights help increase muscle mass which increases metabolic rate. sweet! Pump some iron, sister.
8. Blog - this blog was always intended as an anonymous place where I could record my highs & lows of this journey. the good, the bad, the ugly. I've never kept a diary before so this was a new experience. My goal wasn't a lot of followers but I am totally tickled that anybody would bother to read this on a regular basis. I love comments even more!!! Better yet, I learn so much by reading fellow bandster blogs. I've found people ahead of me in the journey and who've laid down a path I can follow, I've found people at the same point & going through the same struggles as me and, finally, I found newbies who are full of hope, worry and determination like I was back in the beginning. Seeing the journey through their fresh eyes helps rejuvenates my own mojo. I love this blog community! Plus, posting my weekly weigh-ins keeps me accountable. Share your journey - I promise you'll get back more than you give.
9. Purge your closet often - when I wear clothes that are too big & baggy, I feel dumpy & depressed. When I'm depressed, it saps my motivation. On the flip side, when I wear great clothes that fit, I stand up straighter & walk taller. That confidence fuels my mojo. I've purged my closet several times this past year. No matter what size I'm at, I need to look good, polished & professional for work. I've always enjoyed nice clothes but now its starting to get really fun! Yes, its been expensive but this has probably been my most stylish year in a long time. I've always been on trend because I'm shopping every few weeks. My husband certainly glares at me every time I walk in with another bag from the mall. I just tell him to suck it up & deal.....and then I go model the sexy lingerie I just bought. Works everytime ;) Dress yourself well.
10. Bring others along with you - My husband has lost about 20lbs in the last year & he's now close to his high school weight, too. Hell, even the dog lost about 10% of her weight. ha! Having his support on this journey has been critical for me. He was not particularly supportive of the surgery itself but he was definitely supportive of me getting healthy. His support materializes in a million different ways that all add up. It also means that he is not working against me or secretly sabotaging me. It means that as I change, he changes with me. We eat better - together, we are active - together, we are planning our future - together. Remember, you are better together.
11. Cook at home - This one has had a huge impact for me. When I eat better, I feel better. It is that simple. The best way to control what I put into my body is to plan the weekly menu, go shopping & then cook at home. I don't think this really saves any money over eating out since we buy high-priced organics & fresh foods. But I also don't think it takes anymore time than going out. I tend to choose recipes that are fairly simple and only take about 30minutes to prepare. About the same time for pizza delivery. By cooking at home, I can better regulate the quality & quantity of food I consume. Get your butt in your own kitchen.
12. Clear the clutter/distractions/ temptations - a year ago, I was a major carb addict. Part of the problem was I'd get home from work all stressed out & starving. We used to keep bread & rolls out on the countertop. As soon as I'd see it, I'd eat it. One of the first things my hubs did for me was add a new shelf to one of the cabinets that was high enough to be out of my line of sight & that is where we keep all the bread items now. He also cleared out a couple of kitchen shelves just for me. Now, when I feel snacky that is where I browse. His snacky items are in a different cabinet in a different part of the kitchen - again, out of my view. I guess I really am that simple - out of sight, out of mind.
13. Pics & measurements regularly - Like everyone else, I hated having my pic taken when I was a fatty but I did take pre-op pics & measurements. I'm so glad I did. When I'm feeling down, I can go back and see where I started. We were flipping through some pics earlier this week & hubs said he didn't even recognize that girl...even though I was a serious fatty for almost 10 years. Measurements matter, too. When the scale isn't budging, I can still see changes in inches. For me, I've regularly taken new pics & new measurements every other month. Another way to keep accountable.
14. Fills/dr appts regularly - I've been back to my dr's office every 6-12weeks for the last year. Looking back now, I can see that my longest plateaus coincided with longest period between drs visits. Thankfully, my doc has a pretty aggressive fill approach in the beginning but also does small tweaks. If in doubt, go see your doc. He's a good guy & is available to help you.
15. Supplements as needed - I never used to take vitamins or supplements but its a part of my daily routine now. I take a daily multi-vitamin for bandsters. Like many others, I also have issues with constipation. ugh. after a lot of trial & error, I now take probiotic pearls plus flaxseed oil several times a week. this combo works ok for me. If things aren't going well, I'll take Miralax for a few days. Complete your nutrition.
16. Find a protein you like - I have a protein shake most every morning. I'm not really a morning person & not much for breakfast. A protein shake fits easily into my morning routine & I know its a good start even if the day gets crazy. There are a lot of bad protein powders out there but there are also some good ones. I suggest checking out vitalady. She sells single servings of all her protein powders. Early on, I just printed out that page & started ordering bunches of different samples & made notes about each one. I quickly discovered what I liked and, more importantly, what I did not like. Cheaper & lower risk than buying big vats of something you've never tasted. Personally, my favorite is BSN Syntha-6 Chocolate. At 200 calories, it's more that most other protein powders but it doesn't need any add-ins like milk, fruit or yogurt. A couple of ice cubes, 1-2T of flaxseed oil, a little bit of water in my magic bullet is a great way to start the day. This brand also travels well for me - a ziploc baggy with a couple days of protein & shaker glass fit easily into my suitcase. Don't fear the protein.
17. Set an exercise/sport goal - sensing a theme? exercise has been key for me but setting a scary, stretch goal helps keep me motivated. I did my first ever organized bike ride (67 miles!) over the summer. When I signed up for it, I really did not think I could complete it but it gave me something to focus on, train for and strive for. When I started the race, I still wasn't sure I would finish it. When I crossed the finish line, I was so amazed with myself. I loved the challenge and am looking forward to doing several more distance rides next year. Last year, 67 miles was a total stretch goal. Now I'm shooting for full 100mile races....up in the mountains. Challenge yourself.
18. Discover the new 30- I once read that a typical family has about 30 recipes in their standard meal rotation. When I started cooking at home, I knew I'd need to completely change our "30." Chicken fried steak wasn't going to cut it anymore. Again, the hubs was supportive - he said he'd eat anything I cooked & would try anything at least once. I love that man. This has actually turned into a fun project for us. We create the weekly menus together, shop together & split cooking duties. After trying a new recipe, we rate it. Good? Make again? Thirty worthy? I've found Eating Well to be a reliable source of yummy, healthy recipes. Other good sources are Gina's Skinny Recipes and Susan Maria Leach's "Before & After" book. Wake up your tastebuds - go try a new recipe tonight.
19. Pack your lunch - One of the benefits of cooking at home is the leftovers. By packing my lunch, I stay away from the company cafeteria or vending machines. Eat better to feel better.
20. Small meals throughout the day - I eat 3 meals & two snacks most days. So, I'm eating about 200 calories about every three hours. Controls my hunger & keeps me energy level even throughout the day. Manage your intake.
21. Schedule an appointment - I'm a busy girl. I'm a mid-level executive at a large IT company with a sizable staff and running a $600M+ global business plus I'm a wife and a mother. My day is as full as yours. To make sure I got to the gym consistently, I scheduled regular appointments on my calendar. In the beginning, it was hard to leave the office to go to the gym when I had unread emails & unreturned phone calls. In the beginning, it felt odd to leave the office at 5pm when I was used to working til late into the night. In the end, it was so worth it. I did have to make some adjustments and occasionally get back to work after the gym.....but actually a lot less than I expected. I think this has helped me find better balance in my life. Make an appointment for yourself - you are worth it.
22. Enjoy the compliments. what else do I need to add to this? Enjoy it all!!!
BUT! don't think for a second everything is perfect & sunshiny here in Chloe-land. uh, its not. There is still plenty of room for improvement. I think I PB too much. My restriction is all over the map - mostly because I am all over the map. literally. Altitude seriously affects my band. In the last two weeks alone, I've been to Sao Paulo (sea level), back to Denver, San Francisco (sea level), Boston (sea level) and then back to Denver. This much travel tends to do a number on my restriction. Sometimes I can eat, sometimes I can't. Oftentimes I find out after the first couple of bites.
Other bandster sins include not enough water, first bite syndrome, don't chew well enough, gone from carb addict to sugar addict, too many sliders, I eat when I'm not hungry, I haven't dealt with all the emotional drama. blah blah blah. I'm still working out all the kinks, my friends. The struggle isn't over yet. I'm certainly not cured - and I probably never will be. Which is I why I wrote this note to a possible future self. I hope I never have to read it.