Gastric (Lap) Band – Part 1; What is it?

Gastric Lap Band Illustration (the port at the bottom right of pic is what is stitched to the muscle wall under the skin)

Part of understanding my journey is knowing that I had a Gastric (Lap) Band surgically implanted around 4 years ago. I realized that I haven’t written a lot about the Band, why I had it, what is does, and why I chose that path.

This first post (in this series) will look at what the lap band is, and how it works. I get a many questions about this and hopefully this post will be able to clarify some of the more popular queries.

A Gastric Band is a device that is placed around the top of your stomach. Looking at the picture to the right we can see that there is a plastic ring which on the inside has a silicone tube, this section is adjustable via saline solution being filled into the port.

The inner sections are adjustable with saline solution via the port and when filled contracts more around the opening of the stomach section is adjustable. From the band a tube runs down to a port, this is how the saline solution is injected into your band, essentially filling the silicone up and tightening it around the top of the stomach.

The lap band is inserted into you body via keyhole surgery.  The surgeon places the band around the top section of your stomach, where the stomach meets the esophagus. When adjusted the band creates a small opening into the stomach.

The band works in two ways;

  • It causes the brain to believe that you feel full, with a very small amount of food or sometimes even when you don’t eat. The band stimulates the nerves that sends these messages to the brain.
  • The band also physically creates a small pouch like stomach above your stomach. The food that you must chew well slowly enters the stomach. This makes you feel full and you don’t consume as many calories.

The port of the lap band is stitched to the muscle wall of the abdomen under the skin. After surgery your doctor / surgeon adjusts it with using a needle to inject saline which travels up tubing into the band tightening it. The adjustment is a simple procedure, seeing a doctor at their rooms like a normal consultation, I am usually in and out in 5 – 10 mins after a quick weigh in and chat about my progress.

The lap band can stay implanted indefinitely as long as are no issues. As it is adjustable all the fluid can be removed and you will have no restriction if required.

The Gastric Band is not an easy solution, you can cheat the band, eat all the chocolate, ice-cream, mushy food and anything liquid you like, they slide right on through and the calories on these add up quick. The band does have some issues however, sometimes I can’t keep food down, I can have days where I feel a bit more restriction than others and the band feels tighter and when happens food gets “stuck” and won’t go through the band – it can be painful and results in food coming up (not quite vomiting more like a painful swallow back up).

The Band is an aid in weight loss, it doesn’t do the work for you, I have worked hard to watch my portions, my food choices, and then there is exercise – a lot of exercise. For me the band was the tool I needed to get off the bulk of the weight to allow myself to begin to have success reprogramming my former failure mentality and be able to engage in physical activity.

In my next post I will discuss why the band worked for me, what I have struggled with, and would I recommend it, etc – If you have any questions please feel free to leave it in the comments section and I will do my very best to answer them…

Till next time, Lin xox

Advertisements

The Best Medicine (is half an hour)

23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health? – YouTube

Seriously, Watch the link above, it is a great watch; I love an easy to follow, informative animated presentation – and I am not going to write about the ins and outs of the video – Just watch it, it is better than any summary I can write. Surprisingly  it does touch on a post  I wrote a while ago in relation to TV and health…But If you don’t watch it the premise is that one half hour a day is the best medicine for us, it’s free (ie walking) and will save us our health and hip pocket!

I just got the big thumbs up from my surgeon this week to go ahead with exercise. I had reconstructive plastic surgery of a tummy tuck and arm lift 6 weeks ago. He let me know I can get back into everything: slowly building up my running and weights… I did my first 2.5km run back after 6 weeks off this week – I Loved it, I went without my Garmin running watch which calculates distance, pace, heart rate etc. I went just for the love of running and not looking at numbers allowed me to relax and let my body go at its natural pace whilst I continue to recover and build up.

Exercise for me is not just about losing more weight or weight control. For me exercise just makes me feel really bloody good! I am addicted and get a bit of a high off it 🙂

Exercise has improved my quality of life and improved my overall fitness. It gave me my life back, and I would much prefer to live a 21 -23.5 hour day (giving the balance to exercise) than ask for more hours in a day – Honestly there ARE enough hours in a day; and I am willing to bet that a large majority of people who would ask for more hours would end up giving those hours over to their TV habit anyway. 😦

We cannot change the clock to give us more time (unless you have the DeLorean with a flux capacitor in your garage), but we can change our priorities, our lives, families and communities by becoming healthier. Every minute counts, and it is up to us what we do with them.

Till next time

Lin xox

Food Day Tuesday; You’ve Lost that Focused Feeling.

My Net Diary App - A great tool

This Food Day Tuesday is a bit about what I am struggling with at the moment – FOOD.        Having a Lap Band does not prevent you from consuming too many calories. With the lap band you can cheat it. You can eat ice-cream, chocolate and drink calories and eat mushy food. I feel am close to slipping into this arena…

I have lost that focused feeling… That feeling where I feel in control and the actions of tracking my food intake with my calorie app on my iphone.

That is over.. Starting now – not tomorrow – now… I will be tracking every last morsel that goes into my mouth again. I will re focus and use the tools that I know work… All this being said – I haven’t gone mental and completely lost the plot… I just feel that I am not being true to myself and my new lifestyle and goals. I have been eating a little too frequently things that I should not be.

I have not been looking at my portions and adding up the calories. I know that this can be dangerous. Nothing has really changed on the scale yet… But I know that being mindful and aware of the food that is going into my mouth is important. Saying NO to my own wants and desires where food is concerned is important. One thing that I can do now, that I couldn’t do years ago – is throw food out – so If I do succumb at the supermarket and buy something like a tub of ice-cream and then realize I will eat the whole bloody tub in one sitting, I can throw it out before I get too far into it. Better in the bin than on my butt 😉

I need to learn to say No again – like I just did to a glass of wine offered by my house mate Lynn (who is awesome). I need to remember that feeling of control. I need to plan, implement the plan, measure my actions, review what I am doing – adjust and continue. This also includes measuring my calories burnt from exercise.

So here is the plan of attack;

*Track all my calories on the My Net Diary App.

*Track all my exercise on same App.

*Meditate each day to focus my mind

*Tracking my sleeping patterns and trying to bring them back into some semblance of routine. (This is difficult with shift work)

*Be gentle to myself and not mentally berate myself.

*Eat out less and make better choices when I do.

So I thought that it was important to share my struggles at the moment, I have gotten a bit of feedback from people congratulating me on all my good work – this is always great and always welcome 😉 – but if i didn’t share the tough times this blog would be a sham and I would only be presenting a false front… So if you have any feedback or any other suggestions to improve my plan of attack they are always welcome..

Till next time

Lin xox

The Law of Attraction

What am I choosing to attract in my life?

One of the best things about losing weight is feeling better about yourself; inside and out. It is the journey of feeling better on the outside that has changed dramatically for me, I have  started to make changes in how I view myself; and I have noticed that other people now view me differently too.

When I was walking everyday after I had the lap band in, I walked at night so no one could see me easily. At my heaviest I used to get people (particularly young guys) hang out of cars and yell abuse at me during the day, when I was walking up the shops, crossing the lights – Believe it or not but  near my highest weight I once had an apple thrown at my head when I was out walking at night..                                                                                                                       It was devastating & demoralising – I did not feel good about myself, Inside or Out.

I was speaking to someone the other day about the idea that we (as in individuals) shouldn’t care about what other people think about us. He challenged me when I said this, and suggested that the idea may be flawed in some aspects. He then suggested that we are social beings, we live, work and exist in community and what we say and our actions  impact each other…. Given this he suggested it is logical that we care about what other people think about us, it is a normal part of life. We care about what family and friends think of us and we don’t want people to think poorly of us. He is a well respected Psychologist and I got what he was suggesting, and agreed with it…

The fact is as much as I didn’t want to care about what other people thought about me, I did care that people yelled abuse at me, I did care that apples got thrown at me from cars; I did care and It hurt.

I sometimes still think that people see me as that fat girl, and It is an idea that I have to challenge on an ongoing basis. People don’t treat me like that fat girl anymore and I am starting to train my brain to actually “see” myself as I am now. I have gone from guys throwing insults and apples, to being whistled at on the street, or being flirted with in a bar – A very different experience, and something that is hard to get your head around.

I have noticed that the better I feel about myself, the more confidence I have, the more I smile, flirt and generally have fun with life and people. Confidence is an amazing feeling – and while I don’t have any delusions that I am some sort of super model (I do have curves for a start 😉 ), I feel good about myself and this is nice for a change.

Basically I liken it to the law of attraction – the idea that “like attracts like”… I am more confident, happy and loving life and therefore live a life like this. I now attract people in my life that are confident, happy and loving life.

I am sharing this because I think looking back I was not that person, I was not happy in myself and perceived other people who were successful as a threat to me.

The law of attraction for me back then was “I feel crap, and will attract crap in my life” –  I viewed life and people negatively.  That is no longer the case, I view life more positively now, and will continue to embrace life and understand that confidence begets confidence, it is this cycle and knowledge, that I believe, will help me to keep hold of the gains and progress that I have made.

Till next time,

Lin xox

TV – The Weight is On

TV - Is it all white noise?

Television and Weightloss – No I am not writing about yet another fast track unrealistic reality weight loss show (cue The Biggest Loser!) – Yes this post is about the “idiot box” as my Dad affectionately called it when we were growing up, but I want to explore and look at the link between the screen and the scale, and lets be honest – we have all had that mindless time in front of the screen.

I have said this before; this blog  is about  figuring out what worked for me when losing weight. Not just the exercise and eating side of it, but the other small changes that I perhaps have overlooked. I think TV (or the lack thereof) has had a positive impact on the scale side of things.

Looking back I can now see that (particularly in the last year, and ironically when I brought a new TV) I drastically cut down the time I spent in front of it… When I moved to the beach, I began this little saying to myself, “Is this action going to change your life, is this a good use of your time?” Obviously it was pretty easy to see that going for a walk would change my life and was a better use of my time, than sitting there mindlessly watching yet another re run of some sitcom that I didn’t enjoy the first time! So I got up and would go for a walk rather than sit on the couch and hit the ON button. And as the year progressed I found that  I began to be more discretionary about my TV time.

I would exercise more in the evenings and as I work night shifts, I would record to my hard drive maybe 5 TV shows I enjoyed during the week and watch them (skipping the ads) when I had a chance.  So on average I found that my TV time became more focused, and I had a little store of recorded shows when I wanted to watch them.

I don’t want you to think that this is all about me saying that you must substitute TV for exercise, research shows that subsiting anything for TV is gonig to be better for you… The facts are surprising and scary, and while this is based on American figures, I am guessing that Australians are just as bad if not worse! The following quote is from the linked article.

“On average, American adults watch five hours of television a day, the third most time-consuming activity in our lives — after sleep and work. Watching television expends fewer calories than other leisure activities that take its place, including reading, writing, telephone conversations and desk work. The more time adults spend in front of the television, the more likely they are to suffer from obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, said Otten.”Cutting TV Time Reduces Weight Gain | Psych Central News.

The above article also noted that a study where people dropped their TV time by half but didn’t change their diet, burnt on avg. 150 calories extra a day than the other participants that did not change their TV habits – this would perhaps not be enough to drastically change your weight, but may help with weight management!

I think that there are a few reasons that TV impacts on our weight, and the more I look into it, the more links I see. Here are some reasons that have come up…

  • TV is a sedentary activity that doesn’t burn calories & the time in front of it takes time from other productive activities
  • We are more likely to eat in front of the TV.
  • We are more likely to eat easy, high calorie snack food when watching TV (think chips, chocolate, ice-cream, biscuits etc)
  • TV tends to allow us to disconnect the mind and body, we therefore eat in a somewhat “mindless” manner. We literally “tune out” not connecting what we are putting in our mouths with how we are feeling, this can lead to higher consumption of food and calories without realising, and not linking to that STOP I have had enough feeling.
  • The effects of food advertising on TV, and the impact that this has on perceived hunger.
  • It gives us “something” to do and can become a strong habit to sit down and eat when watching.
  • We watch TV at night after a long day and “reward” ourselves which can become habitual.

TV is part of our lives, and I think the thing I have learnt, is that I really don’t miss watching it that much. If there is a show I like, I can record it, watch it on line and control my access to it, and not allow it to control me. When I do this I am more able to control the other factors above… Skip ads, set up new habits, like have a herbal tea, not eat or watch it after a workout when I am not hungry. At the end of the day life is just more fun to live than watch someone else’s ideas of life on a screen.

I would be interested to hear what you think about the impact of TV in this area, feel free to comment, agree or disagree.

Till next time, Lin xox

Study Shows Why It’s Hard to Keep Weight Off – NYTimes.com

Study Shows Why It’s Hard to Keep Weight Off – NYTimes.com.

Read the article above 1st….It is very interesting.

I read this article and It struck a chord with me… I have lost a lot of weight, and it has been one of the biggest challenges and struggle that I have fought! And boxing or fighting is what I compare it to.

I was speaking to a friend about the weight loss and the struggle that losing weight is. Something that I believe deeply (and that research is starting to show)  It is not simply a matter of willpower, there are other factors going on.

I often felt that I was fighting with my body to get the weight off and keep it off. There were days when I could almost feel that I was in a fight, another round in the ring – another chance of a knock out that I wouldn’t get up from…

I am NOT saying excuses are OK, I am not saying that I was not responsible for the weight I got to, because I was! What I am saying is that when people want to change, and realise that they need to change… It is BLOODY HARD…

I don’t think that giving up is OK, We need to be a fighters & find solutions that work for us on an individual level. Lap Band worked for me (it is not the right choice for everyone), it wasn’t easy, in fact I think that option took more discipline and hard work than almost every diet i tried.

SO Everyday, (like everyone else out there) I watch what I eat and exercise…. It is a lifestyle thing, I can’t stress that enough… and I won’t let my own body and whatever hormones are choosing to float around in there, sabotage my desire and reality of living a real life!

Till next time, Lin xox

Food Day Tuesday; Choices

Which Path To Take? What Outcome Do You Want?

So today’s Food Day Tuesday is a Day Late and a recipe short!

Yes Christmas has come and gone, the hype and spending of too much money is over for yet another year! It was nice spending time with the family, seeing my little nieces, especially with the 2 1/2 year old talking about Santa and opening all the presents (the little poppet was a wee bit overwhelmed!) But back to the post.

As I said There is no recipe today – It is about choices… The hard ones too make   I found that I was still trying to make good choices at our Christmas Family Dinners… It was hard (and I did succumb to the pavalova) but overall I chose well, limited my intake and didn’t feel like I had spent the time mindlessly eating.

Tonight I went out with friends for dinner. Again I tried to make positive choices, low carb, high protein, but did indulge and enjoyed dessert at a friends place afterwards!…

Food choices are a funny thing, it is often a culmination of the small and seemingly insignificant choices we make that add up to real and lasting outcomes for our lives. It is easy to justify the chocolate, wine, cheesecake, beer, cookie at the time, forgetting that it is the culmination of these choices, the everyday, every moment choices that make the difference… The small choice adds onto the choice from the day before and the day before that and it is easy to forget about the overall impact…

My mother saw a saying when we were children and would often quote it when we were growing up in relation to our education and making decisions for ourselves to have the best outcomes. The saying was this

“The Choices we make dictate the Life we Lead”

I got this saying when I was a teenager about the choices around education, drugs, obeying the law etc… What I did not understand (then) was that the food choices I was making was having a very real impact on my quality of life. It was easier to justify the choice each day and not see the overall picture.

Everyday the food choices I make dictate the type of life I can lead. If i fill myself with junk, I will feel sluggish, tired and not perform at my best. If I eat good, “Clean” veg and protein, limit the intake of sugar and carbs then I feel good, avoid the peaks and troughs and can ustilise my body to Live The life I Want to lead 

All that being said – I did eat carbs, sugar and enjoyed my Christmas… I now need to put Christmas behind me (and all the treats that it brings) and make sure my routines and food choices are on track into the new year !

It begins NOW not tomorrow, It begins with the next Choice and then the one after that – because I know that Tomorrow Never Comes..

So Keep making good Choices, till next time

Lin xox