Surgery, the next step…

Hey there lovely readers…It has been a while between drinks or blog posts, my apologies.  I caught up with a dear friend tonight; dinner, dessert and a DVD – perfect! He did chastise me a little for not having updated the blog in a while – and he was right… I then came home and checked Facebook to have another friend PM me to ask if everything was OK and that they hadn’t seen a blog in a while – Universe I hear you… So I will just get to it.

So readers the update is I am in the throws of preparing for some more plastic surgery. Round two 9 months after the first round and I am feeling only a little nervous this time. This surgery is a small revision on the tummy tuck, and the bigger role of having the excess skin removed from my thighs. This is all set to go down on the 19th of November – 3 weeks and 3 days away…

Honestly this time I am far less anxious about the surgery. I know what to expect afterwards, I feel ready to face it – and have organised the 8 weeks off work that it will take to recover. It seems like a long time, but it is major surgery and will take some time to be able to walk far enough given my job requires me to be fit and active (not to mention not doped out on pain killers)

So in the next 3 weeks I will be organising my life to make sure my time in hospital and when I am home recovering is as stress free as possible. I am still struggling with shift work, being tired and run down… I aim to take every day off between now and then to organise, rest and sleep… I do not want to get infections after surgery because I am run down (like after the tonsil surgery 2 months ago)

I feel that this is the next step in reclaiming my body. I hope that having the thigh reduction will help with the running and the  pain and discomfort that the excess skin creates at times. I am honestly very happy with how I am looking now. I am at a stable healthy weight, my doctor is very happy with that aspect.. However these processes and surgeries are also about helping heal the psychological impact that obesity has had on my life, it is not just about the aesthetic.

For all of you still losing weight, dreaming of the day you get to goal, feel alive and possible plan your own plastic surgery, know it can happen – There were many times I never thought I would get this far. I remember plenty of times that I felt at the bottom of the barrel ready to end it all. The lap band was the tool that allowed me to have the space and time to address the food addiction, the cycle of obesity… But it also meant hard work, exercise and not cheating the system. It happened for me slowly, sustainably, there were many plateau’s… But it did happen, my life is no longer one lived out in a fat coma – but one that is vibrant and I am content and very happy… I continue to learn more about myself everyday. Don’t give up – reach out to supports – and if you feel that you have no one else that you can reach out to – please leave me a message or email me at lin.k@me.com – you are not alone.

I would like to thank all my friends and family for your continued support this year. I have probably been a pain in the arse and a complaining git for some of it… You guys are my rocks…

I will keep you all updated, till next time – Love Lin xox

P.S; So – For those of you who have asked if I need anything, these is something you can do to help  – here is what I need – good book suggestions…The kindle needs some more books downloaded on it, basically I need some more reading material for the long nights in hospital. Feel free to leave your suggestions here on the blog, or on my FB page or emailed as per the address above……  Thanks 🙂

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Carnie Wilson & Lap Band Surgery – Options

Carnie, front & centre in Wilson Phillips.

“If you Hold on for one more day, things will go your way”…I am not sure if you remember Wilson Phillips, the 3 daughters of two of the Beach Boys who had the hit “Hold On”… Well I remember them, mostly because I identified with Carnie who was overweight.  Carnie, has an amazing voice, unfortunately received more notoriety for her size rather than her ability to belt out a tune. I remember when she under went gastric by-pass surgery in 1999 and the press that she received.

Carnie did great with the by-pass surgery, and I remember thinking after she lost her weight that surgery might be an option for me… However I just could not get my head around this type of surgery,where the stomach is basically bypassed and the food you eat doesn’t get absorbed properly. You do eat smaller portions, but the permanent change by chopping up and rearranging the digestive system scared the crap out of me…

I knew that Carnie put on some weight after the birth of her children, and now I read that she has recently had lap band surgery in January (see link below). After having a lap band put in 4 years ago (and losing over 175 pounds in the process) I know the change it has made for me, and, I am glad that it is helping Carnie get her weight down again, but this leads me to a sticking point I have with weight loss surgery…

Why is the least invasive option not explored first? I know for some people’s life style Lap Band won’t work, they will try to cheat the band… But why is there such a propensity especially in the USA to go down the path of organ altering permanent surgery first? Lap Band does take a little longer to get the weight off, it is not easy, but it can be reversed and removed and with no damage to the stomach or digestive system (barring complications). The other reason lap band should be a well-considered 1st option is that it is adjustable and can be tightened and loosened depending on life circumstances and need to lose weight or maintain. Therefore if you get pregnant and need calories, it can be adjusted, If you hit goal, it can be adjusted… If you are not feeling restricted it can be tightened a little…

I feel for Carnie, honestly one of my biggest fears (apart from birds) is putting weight back on…  But I am scared when the weight loss industry and surgeons take the most drastic surgery option as a first step, and sell this options to desperate people as the quickest and easiest way forward. Lap Banding has its issues too, but cutting the stomach out, bypassing it and taking food straight to the intestines should surely not the very first surgical option given to patients today.  I do understand that Lap Band has come a long way since 1999, and that maybe for Carnie it was rightly not a first option… But why do the stats in the States still show that gastric bypass is still the top choice?

Are we providing people with all the options first… The truth is no. It seems that it is up to the obese “consumer” to do all the research and surgeons offer their “service”, like picking a product off a shelf. I have an issue with this. I did my research, that is the type of woman I am, but desperate people are often “sold” a solution rather than their HEALTH treated with CARE…

I am lucky, I got a great Surgeon who did go over all the options with me, listened to me, I was, and, still am cared for by him, but not everyone is as lucky… I would like to see the weight loss industry, whether diet, exercise or surgery overhauled. I would like the industry to stop selling to people, and start caring for people, But honestly, I don’t expect to see it in my lifetime – there are too many desperate people and too much money at stake.

Till next time, Lin

Carnie Wilson Undergoes Lap-Band Surgery – E! Online.

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

Plastic Surgery; Preparation

Trusting your Surgeon - you need to feel comfortable with them!

I first saw my Plastic Surgeon in November last year (2011) ,and, prior to going, I had done all the obligatory preparation that the modern woman does;  primarily  I Googled the heck out of the topic.  😉

But seriously apart from the google self research, I got a referral from my lap band surgeon, spoke to my GP and gotten another referral for the plastic surgeon, and begun to meet with a psychologist  to talk about the changes ahead.

During all my research there did not seem to be a lot to find about people’s personal journey’s with this type of surgery. There was a lot of info from American sources, mainly plastic surgeons who were explaining their services and methods of surgery. Overall I did not find much of this information to be either relevant or helpful.

What I did find helpful was a list of questions to ask your plastic surgeon about their qualifications, the procedures you are considering, what they would suggest, recovery etc. I went to the Plastic surgeon with the idea of what occurs in America as being the norm. This would be what most of us have seen on USA TV shows; where people who were once morbidly obese and after losing their weight, have multiple procedures at once – including a belt lipectomy (tummy tuck all the way around the middle), arm lift, thigh lift and breast lift.

So I spoke to my Surgeon (lets call him House) who has consulting rooms at a very reputable Private Hospital in Malvern. On our first meeting he listened to my story of weight loss, running and wanting to deal with the skin that was holding me back both physically and emotionally. He listened well, answered all my questions on my list and explained what he thought would be the best plan forward for my personal situation and case.

House explained that I would likely get better results in the long term by breaking all the procedures that I would need up over 3 different surgeries. This would allow my body to recover better, allow the skin to be stretched in one direction for one procedure and then tightened the opposite direction on the next procedure. House also explained that in the USA they tend to have to do all the procedures at once to get their health insurance to cover it as they often won’t cover and pay for multiple procedures despite this providing better results over time (Yet another reason to be thankful for Australian Health Cover).

House was great in the initial consultation, he showed me pics of his work and I felt at ease with him. I scheduled the 1st surgery for tummy tuck including a lateral thigh lift (this means it goes a bit wider than a tummy tuck over to the sides) and a Brachioplasty (arm lift) for Feb 14th 2012…We agreed that these were the two main areas that were affecting my health, exercise progress and self esteem the most, and to start there and work on the other areas progressively over the next 18 months.

From this point it was a matter of working out the logistics such as; time off work, money, and staying fit and healthy… What I found out in the lead up to surgery was that despite wanting the surgery I was very scared and fearful of what was ahead.

Some days I was fine with the idea of surgery, but mostly I spent most of my time trying not to think about it. Part of the reason (apart from not liking hospitals) was that I was scared more this time than the last time I had surgery (which was the lap band surgery). I was scared because I love life now; and actually have a life to lose… Last time I didn’t have any quality of life, nothing to lose and the prospect of something going wrong didn’t seems like it could be worse than the life I lived then.

I spoke to friends and colleagues, and my Psychologist about this… Their feedback was it is OK to be scared (it is normal) but they also reminded me that my surgeon and all the people involved in the surgery are professionals and do this type of surgery all the time!

This was what I needed to hear and allowed me to think about the surgery in a new way…

So in the lead up to surgery; I used a variety of strategies to get through and deal with the anxiety –

*Being informed & trusting that House is a professional who knows his stuff and practices at a great hospital.

*Staying busy and speaking to my friends, family and Psych. A Big thanks to my all friends and family for listening to me and a special thanks to SM who told me her personal story of plastic surgery and what she went through with a tummy tuck!

*Continuing to live a very social life – Meeting up with friends, going out, working out and having a few drinks; still living and enjoying life.

*Knowing that at the end of it all, I am strong and can get through this (They have drugs for the pain right!)

So in the next installment I will talk about the day before surgery and the big day itself!

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

Trigger Happy! – Planning, Success and Resolutions…

The Loaded Gun!

Emotional eating and figuring out triggers for this has long been an issue for me.

I got to a point in life that I was basically eating for any reason, happy, sad, frustrated, lonely, tired, guilty, anxious, rejected, bored… you get the picture..

But what I have learnt is that  it is not just the trigger and my food drug of choice at that time that is the problem. It was also opportunity and situation.

I had set up my life (over many years of reinforcing poor choices) to have a constant supply of food, situations and opportunities to allow these triggered food reactions to occur. I had allowed my lifestyle to revolve around food – buying food, storing food, preparing food, eating food, blah blah blah..

The lap band took out the ability (for most of my eating) for me to binge eat and stuff my feelings down… The barrier that it put in place allowed me to slowly address the emotional eating and break them down. The opportunities and situations decreased. I began to make smart choices and re-frame my relationship with food and my feelings.

Now that I have had the lap band and it is adjusted to be a bit more open, and I can eat a little more, I have noticed that I need to work on this area a little more and revisit it again.

Earlier in the week I had a situation where I was feeling tired, anxious, worried and a little guilty. I was at work and near the “social club shop” where tempting treats of chocolate, chips and soft drink lay in wait. The chocolate did not survive…

I analyzed my behaviour a little later, figured out what was going on emotionally, and what else was a threat that day – why didn’t I stick to my plans… It was because I hadn’t prepared for work that day properly. I hadn’t packed the foods I knew I would need to have at my desk and avoid going into the “shop”. I didn’t drink enough water and my sleep pattern was more whacked than usual.

I have good, strong plans and work at them (really well) most days!                                        I do not buy junk food for my house anymore, I have a supply of hummus and vegies to snack on, some sugar free 85% dark chocolate, and I have changed my habits.                       I now rarely watch TV (TV and eating used to go hand in hand for me –  I watched (and ate) more hours away than I care to remember) I now prefer to exercise, read, go out, live an actual life.

But the point here is for me to keep acknowledging that successful people plan; they then work their plan, learn from their mistakes, reflect – adjust and move forward…

The Lesson learnt from today;

*Plan and follow through with the plan and have a back up plan in place.

* Work out and write down what is going on and bothering me before I reach mindlessly for the junk food… (If I can see it at the time) If I don’t see it till after, acknowledge what is going on and figure out a way to constructively deal with it.

*If I fall down – don’t kick myself while I am down there! – Help myself get up take stock and reflect;                                                                                                                          What didn’t work, why? who is involved?                                                                         What can I control? (i.e my reaction, behaviour, attitude)                                                   What can’t I control? (other people? their actions and reactions, work load etc)                   What will I change and adjust? What is a realistic new and modified plan? How do I keep moving forward.

And while I think that all this writing and reflecting about it is good, the proof as they say is in the Pudding…. (Did someone say pudding 🙂 )

This type of thinking and reflecting can apply to more areas of life than just food, diet and exercise.  With the craziness of “New Years Resolutions” just weeks away, It may help to think about the cycle of planning, working the plan, reflecting and readjusting plans, rather than, off the cuff resolutions that make you feel crap when you have forgotten about them in a matter of days, weeks or months.

2012 is shaping up to be tough year… It will be tough to maintain the fitness and weight loss that I have built this year… That is the challenge though and one I aim to meet!

Thanks for stopping by, till next time

Lin xox

Where’s your head at?

Escaping from negative thought patterns is hard work.

Recently someone introduced me to the concept of gentleness. Now I can hear some of you now say What the??, Yes, I know what being gentle means, and as a social worker, friend and family member, I know I can be gentle to others,

But gentle to myself – well that is where it gets hard.

………………………………………………..

When this concept was floated, it kind of stuck a chord with me. I have beaten myself down for years, told myself that because I was fat, I didn’t deserve to be “happy”, I didn’t deserve good things in life, I was a failure, blah, blah, blah – you get the idea. Bascially I spent the majority of my day mentally beating myself up on every aspect of my life.         And let me say this is not the mindset of someone who will succeed at anything.

Body acceptance and being gentle to yourself is sooo important when it comes to changing in the long term…. I found this article that explains it a little.

“We may balk at the idea of body acceptance. If we accept our bodies, won’t we become complacent? If we embrace our imperfections, won’t we lose our motivation to exercise or eat right? Actually, the opposite is true. Some studies have shown that a healthy body acceptance actually encourages us to exercise and eat right. The reason? People who are comfortable with their bodies emphasize function over appearance, so they eat more intuitively, eating foods that make them feel good when they’re hungry. Meanwhile, people who diet because of body dissatisfaction are more likely to fail.via The Perfect Body – How to Accept Your Body Through Exercise.”

Looking back (Ahh don’t we love hindsight) I can now see that by hating myself, I was not allowing myself the space to build on any positive changes. Changing and Escaping from this mental game was part of what allowed me to change and keep changing.

It started with me believing that this time – with the Lap Band, I would have a tool that would help me succeed. In fact I think the Lap Band allowed me some mental space, it gave me a physical barrier to stop eating too much. This assisted me in looking at the weight that slowly came off, and over time (months and years) realising that I could win at this as it was not coming back on. I started to really believe that the weight was coming off for good. That I could accept the fact that I was changing, and that I might get to a place I was OK with. It also stopped the daily ritual I had of mentally abusing myself for eating too much or not doing enough exercise.

It is important to note here that I don’t think that being gentle of myself is the same as making excuses for eating poorly or not exercising, that to me (now) is not negotiable…         Being gentle means I will not abuse my mind, call myself names etc. I will speak positively to myself and say “anti up girl you can do it”, “stay strong” and “Yes I can”

I still struggle with being gentle with myself, it is a new concept to think about… But I now realise it has been something that I have been practicing unconsciously over the past few years. I am not skilled at it yet… I am still scared of putting weight on, and I am still incredibly driven and feel bad when I don’t exercise or eat something I perhaps could have said no to. But I now know that mentally abusing myself was part of the cycle that kept me obese. While I am gentle to clients, friends and family, Now I need to practice being accepting and gentle to the person I will spend the rest of my life with… Me.

I hope that after reading this you will think about being more gentle to yourself too and rephrase old negative thoughts to a new positive framework… I can change, I will succeed, I have strength, I am enough.

Till next time, Lin xox