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Monday, December 31, 2007

New beginnings for a new year


As 2007 winds to a close, I’m looking ahead. This past year was a busy one for me. I started it off with a bowel obstruction that almost missed getting diagnosed, leading to emergency abdominal surgery and a long, arduous recovery. My husband and I separated in June; a very dear childhood friend and her unborn daughter were killed in July; I switched careers in September; and I moved 75 miles southeast of Tracy in October to be closer to my new job.

There is not one event that has occurred over the past year that I would change if given the chance, not even the death of my friend. After all, it was her death that led me reexamine my priorities in life and make the changes required to be where I’m at now.

However, during the course of it all, I’ve succumbed to some old habits that I need to relinquish yet again. In times of stress, I think it’s normal to revert back to old coping mechanisms. My most comfortable coping mechanism has always been eating. More accurately, it’s been the abuse of food or using food to feed my emotions rather than hunger. Feeding has always been easier than feeling for me.

Luckily for me, weight gain hasn’t been an issue. I dropped enough weight while sick from January through March that the weight I’ve put on makes me look healthy not out of control. But for a food addict, “out of control” can be just one bite away. And that’s not a place I want to visit, much less stay. So I will take advantage of the new beginnings associated with a new year and get myself back on track before I veer too far off my desired path.

Getting back on track won’t be easy, but the gift of gastric-bypass surgery and the tool it provides still make it easier for me to adopt healthy habits once again than if I didn’t have surgery at all. The key for me will be to draw some very deep lines in the sand and not let anyone or anything cross them.

Here are my top 5 rules for 2008 that will help me make sure my health goes back to being my top priority:

My house is a junk-free zone
No, I will not become a better housekeeper. Ha! That’ll have to wait until 2010 to make the resolution list, if ever. Instead, I’m referring to junk food. “Junk food” is different for everyone. For a gastric-bypass patient, simple carbohydrates and sugar are our main enemies but junk food can be any trigger food, even ones considered “healthy” (like sugar-free desserts).
I used to believe I had to have these things for those who didn’t have the dietary restrictions I did. Now I realize that as a single woman, there is no reason to have stuff in the house that I should not be eating. I've tossed out all the crackers, rice, pasta and chips that have wormed their way into my pantry, in addition to the sugar and baking ingredients I collected to make holiday treats. I don’t need the temptation. I’ve baked a few things for my end-of-the-year church potluck, and the rest will go out with the trash. Better that it fill the trash bin than my backside.

I will respect my pouch
One of the greatest gifts bariatric surgery offers is the ability to control the amount of food one needs to eat to feel full and/or satisfied. That gift can be abused by non-compliance. Non-compliance comes in a variety of forms but the most common are overfilling the pouch at meal times, grazing throughout the day and consuming liquids with meals. Rather than eat until I’m full, I will focus on eating until I’m no longer hungry. Though it sounds like a minor difference, the difference can add up to quite a few hundred calories by the end of a day. Hypoglycemia requires that I eat more often than most bariatric patients, but I don’t have to eat huge amounts at each sitting.

I will not drink my calories
This one will be tough. I really love mochas and caramel macchiatos from Starbucks and the Acai Super-Antioxidant from Jamba Juice. Even with two scoops of protein powder, Jamba Juice smoothies aren’t good choices for bariatric patients. The sugar content in them outweighs any benefits of the protein. Alcohol also fits into this category. I love a good vodka martini, but calories add up. I spent my first two post-op years drinking nothing more than water and unsweetened tea. I was quite content and am confident I can be equally content doing so yet again.

I will exercise five times a week
I have to stop kidding myself. Parking a half-mile from the office is a nice way to incorporate more movement into my daily routine, but it does not replace the need for honest exercise. Like all gastric-bypass patients, I have the metabolism of a sea cow. Our drastically reduced intake, coupled with nutritional malabsorption, puts our bodies into starvation mode. The only way to kick start the metabolic standstill is by incorporating vigorous exercise each day.

I will say no to sabotage
This one is easier said than done, but it’s high time I put my foot down. I’m tired of well-meaning people encouraging me to “treat” myself and assuring me that “a little bite” or “sip” won’t hurt, as if they had any clue what it’s like to walk in my shoes. The fact is that for some of us, there is really no such thing as “just one bite,” and I’m tired of pretending it’s not an issue. So rather than give in to temptation in a misguided attempt at politeness, I will offer a firm rejection and not lose sleep over potential hurt feelings. After all, I’m the only one who has to live with the consequences of eating foods my body doesn’t tolerate well.

6 comments:

Hyde said...

Thanks so much for posting these! I'm five months post-op and am already slipping in a lot of these areas. I'm printing out your list and pasting it up in my apartment. And thanks for your blog in general... reading through it has really helped me.

Happy New Year!

-h-

Tonya said...

You're welcome! For me, head hunger began rearing its ugly head at about five months post-op. I think it's great that you're working to get a handle on it now. Keep me posted on your progress!

Andrea said...

That sabotage one is a tricky bastard. I plan to return to my vegan diet once this baby is born (10 days left to due date, and I'm hoping I don't have to wait even that long) and I recall from the few weeks I was trying to change my diet before I found out about the baby that the perception my family (mainly in-laws) had about my "rudeness" refusing certain foods was eye opening to me. People have strong feelings about food. And I don't know why they cared so much about what I ate of theirs. It's almost as if the insult of my refraining from their homemade chicken and dumplings was worse than the potential health hazards I faced if I continued eating in the poor manner I'd been eating in before. Weird.

Good luck with these! Especially that drinking the calories thing. Soda is a problem area for me, and I need to get back to the tea.

Tonya said...

Andrea, It's so good to hear from you. I can't believe that baby is just about ready to make its debut in the world. Yes, food saboteurs are an interesting sort. What's most bemusing to me is that nobody accuses an alcoholic of "rudeness" when he turns down a cocktail, but anyone sticking to dietary restrictions is a social pariah.

Anonymous said...

My daughters bowel infraction did go none detected as a resolt she did Pass away at age 38 The Doc. did know she was a Gastric Patient and was constpated but did nothing . So yes Ladies make sure to tell Doc. in ER that you are A Gastic By pass person and constpation can cause to to have a volcus lopped bowel and they are deadly . So gald they found yours

Tonya Kubo said...

Anonymous, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Thank you for your thoughts.