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

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Does Real Lasting Change Start SMALL?

Enjoy it one small bite at a time!

All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small , Lao Tzu.

We often over look or diminish the small changes in our lives. We wonder why we aren’t able to maintain the massive changes we initiated at the start of the year (i.e NYE resolutions)… We try to change much in a short space of time, not allowing our brains to really fully adjust to the “New” state of play.

In reality there is no new state of play, there is only a radically altered playing field that is foreign to us. I believe that when we try to change things quickly, most of the time our thinking and processing are not able to keep up. We try to do it all at once, many times I have thought and voiced the idea of  “All or Nothing”, and I can think like this, but in reality and upon reflection, it is small consistent changes  that have impacted on my habits the most and have given me the best outcomes.

Here are some examples of small changes I made;

I began walking 5km about 3 times a week, after a few weeks, unwittingly I increased this to every second day, after a few more weeks, I increased it to everyday…. Then over the coming weeks I increased the distance to 10km every day…. I did not start out at 10km every day – I allowed my body and mind to adjust slowly over time… Building the habit, increasing the frequency and the intensity. Had I said at the start, “I will walk 10km everyday” I doubt I would have developed it into a habit….(In fact I know it wouldn’t have because I had tried that before) But I did over time build it up… And it was only on reflection that I realised that this was what I did, originally I didn’t have a plan, I only liked getting out and walking on the beach and because it made me feel good I did it more often. The walking lead to running, short distances lead to long distances – but all of this was over time and done gradually.

Recently I have been moving to a more protein focused diet and reducing my carb intake. I started with the focus on one meal a day, moving from breakfast, to lunch, to dinner…a friend said start small with breakfast,  very smart advice; I am still working on this change in diet – but am making small incremental changes over time that will hopefully add up to healthier habits in the end.

———

Now that I have less weight to lose it doesn’t come off as easily – I now understand the pain of losing that last 5kg – It seems like a small number, and it is hard to move… I used to be able to move 5kg quite easily (but that was when I had a lot to lose). Now I am down to the thin end of the stick 😉 – where it is all about the small changes, the small choices. It is where choice builds on choice. I need to remember that I can divide this number into smaller numbers, look at it as 1 kilo at a time, essentially breaking down the job into smaller jobs – take those first steps and make the small incremental changes.  Because I know that if i am true to myself they will add up to a healthier me.

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Lao Tzu

And while this blog is about losing weight, and reclaiming my life, I think that these principles can be applied to most areas of our life where we want change. Finances, weight, fitness, career progression, study etc.

Someone once said, “take a bite and then chew like crazy!” – I say  “Bite off a little, and enjoy it one mouthful at a time so you don’t go crazy”

It is about taking stock of the situation, being honest with ourselves and not getting overwhelmed by the reality – then – breakdown the problem into SMALL changes that overtime will allow us to enjoy the greater journey of overall impact.

Till next time, Lin xox

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.                                              Henry Ford.

(Dancing) Running in the Dark

They say it changes when the sun goes down!

I loved the song by Bruce Springsteen when I was a kid… But what I love more now is running in the Dark.

I love to get home from shift, and before I can make any excuses throw on my running kit and head out onto the streets.

The brain game to get out of the door and actually run, usually begins at the Hwy turn off about 1km from home. This is how it plays out…

Fit Lin – Mmm I should go for a run now.

Lazy Lin – Nah you had a hard shift  (is there any other kind?) don’t worry about it!

Fit Lin – Comon, You know you love a run, It’s that old attitude that helped keep you fat.

Lazy Lin – Oh yeah, your right thanks for the reminder.

Fit Lin – No worries..

Somedays It is harder than that – I get home and am still back and forth – Friday morning after a Thursday night shift was one of those mornings. I walked to the fridge to get some cold water and saw a Post It note that I put on there a few weeks ago – the quote was something I picked up off a TV show – the football coach said “All it takes is all you got” It stuck a chord with me at the time –  and again when I read it this morning.

What is All I Got? – Well if i am breathing and healthy enough to go for a run I should damn well be out there. So I put on my gear and walked out the door… As soon as I started to turn the legs over, I felt happy and remembered that I LOVE TO RUN….

One Big Plus is that I really love to run in the dark..  I came across an article on Nike a few days ago that talks about how we think we run faster in the dark. (see link below)   It is all about how our brains perceive the world around us, depth perception and the difference the dark makes to that. I don’t really care why, but I always prefer to run in the dark. And on Friday morning I ran the quickest back half that I have ever done over 6km. My back end (the last 3km of my run not my butt 😉 )  was all run in sub 7min k’s… A goal I have been working towards cracking by the end of this year. Whoo Hoo!

Till next time – Lin xox

Nike Running – News Blog – Night Speed Ahead: Why We Run Faster in the Dark.