Tuesday, March 08, 2011
This is a note I posted on Facebook a couple of nights ago, in response to a friend's request. I think the information contained is great for here too....
A friend asked me how I've lost so much weight (145 pounds and counting in just over a year). And the first answer is that I had surgery (a vertical sleeve gastrectomy that involved removing over 70% of my stomach). But I've learned a lot that may be helpful to folks without having to go through the surgery. And for those of us who observe Lent, now seems like a good time to talk about ways to try to practice a certain amount of self-denial without going postal. You'll note that I don't talk a lot about exercise here -- although I *should* do more than I do, I've not been successful in incorporating much exercise into my life. That is MY Lenten challenge!
As for the dietary things that have helped:
1. PROTEIN. I aim for 60-80 grams of protein a day. I start each morning with an Atkins Advantage Shake, mixed with 8 oz skim milk. That gives me a base of 23 grams of protein to start my morning (15 for the shake and 8 for milk). It also includes enough fat (about 10 gr.) that I usually don't get hungry before noon. I've done this virtually every day since surgery, and what it lacks in variety, it more than makes up for in success. These would also be great mixed with coffee, I think, but I don't drink coffee.
2. WATER (or water-based drinks). I drink 64 oz (8 8-oz glasses) of liquids a day. I have a problem with plain water, but decaf iced tea works well for me. So does crystal light. Give up all things carbonated (sodas, beer, champagne) -- the carbonation leeches phosphorus from your bones.
3. EAT LESS. Easy to say, not so easy to do. So what are some tips?
a. Do not drink 30 mins. before, during, or after meals. (Rationale: drinking right before meals makes your stomach lining "slippery", causing food to move through your stomach quickly. Drinking with or immediately after a meal turns the food into a slurry, causing it to move through your stomach quickly. Bottom line, the longer the food stays in the stomach, the less it takes for you to feel full, and the longer you will feel that way.)
b. I bought some small plastic dishes (appetizer plates and bowls) from Target -- under a buck apiece. I then bought some appetizer size silverware from Crate and Barrel. I carry one plate and bowl and a set of silverware with me in my purse, and have sets at home and even at a friends house, where I eat a lot of meals. I use them when I eat out, or when I'm with clients. It helps immensely with both portion control and the size of bites and the speed at which I can eat.
c. Try (and I'm BAD at this, another Lenten opportunity) to wait a full minute between each bite of food. I find that I do best with this when I'm in front of my TV -- and take a bite each time the clock on the tivo machine changes. Experts (read as "my bariatric nurse Tammy") say that it takes 20 minutes after you have had enough for your brain to register "fullness." So eating more slowly means that your brain registers "fullness" without your having eaten as much.
d. Find some snacks that you can enjoy that don't blow your progress. My current favorite is Greek yogurt (plain, fat free), mixed with a tablespoon of Simply Fruit or some other jam or preserve, and 1/3 c of Bran Buds. It totals up to about 150 calories, with 1/4 of my minimum protein and 1/2 of my daily fiber. If I need something more portable, I frequently carry a small bag of apple slices (found in the pre-packaged fruit section of my local store) and a string cheese.
4. WRITE IT DOWN. I have documented my starting weight, and my weight loss goals that my doctor and I agreed on. The good news? I've blown through two of those goals already, and keep setting new, lower goals. I also joined a site that allows me to track the food I eat, the liquids I drink, etc. This helps keep me conscious of what I'm eating, and accountable to myself. The site I use is called sparkpeople.com, and it is free. There are other sites, both free and paid, that do the same thing.
5. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN HAVE, RATHER THAN WHAT YOU CAN'T. The only thing I absolutely never ever have is carbonated beverages -- but if someone shows up with a good bottle of champagne, I'm having a glass. I work diligently to avoid those foods that expand when wet -- pasta, rice, and squishy white bread, primarily -- but if I'm craving pasta, I'll ask a friend for a spoon of theirs. I drink two glasses of wine a month -- one at my book club, and another one at another time and place I choose (because of my limited stomach, I don't dare drink them both at the same time and place!). Same thing with dessert. I could STILL sit down and eat a whole chocolate cake. So I've become a dessert mooch. I don't buy it, try not to have it around, but if I'm somewhere and there IS dessert, I ask a friend for bite of theirs. (And really -- doesn't the first bite taste better than the others, anyway?)
Hope that you find these tips useful. After about 15 months of doing this, it has become largely second nature, and it IS possible.
Good luck achieving your goals!