Sunday, May 30, 2010

Diet Coke: The Root of all Evil?

Okay, maybe not all evil. That's going a bit far, all for the sake of a title I suppose. Maybe the root of all plateaus?

My greatest success dieting started with simply giving up soda. I had started off just deciding to give up pop - at the time I was a big drinker of regular soda - I'd call it the sugary kind but I'm not sure I want to call the corn syrup laden stuff sugar. Now THAT stuff is deadly, I will say this much. It was a bit later that I decided to go a step further with the Atkins diet.

And I rocked it! For awhile. Then things kind of leveled out, and that was about the time I had started drinking diet sodas. After giving up pop for so long suddenly the diet stuff didn't taste so awful. There were several months that I was still pretty good about the diet and didn't start lapsing into the foods that I shouldn't lapse into, but at the same time I still stalled out.

I remember before the diet formulating my own theories that diet soda was evil (though at the time it was still more a justification for my drinking the regular sodas, be it still by the gallon or so it seemed) - I grabbed bits and pieces of information I heard from doctors and formed this notion that diet soda ends up being so sweet that it creates this expectation in the body of the sugar that goes with it, and when that sugar doesn't get there it starts craving other things.

Now of course I have other opinions about the evilness of Diet Coke in particular. It has to do with the fact that Diet Coke was formulated to taste like Pepsi, not Coke, and that it was the basis of "New" Coke (of which the scars from its introduction and subsequent removal of "Real" Coke have never really healed). Not that I ever thought Pepsi was all that bad, I drink plenty of it as well. But still, I felt Coke finally got it right when they came out with Coke Zero, being as it tastes more like the real thing.

But when it's all said and done, I find myself realizing that there's still a sense of addiction to the stuff. Whether it be diet coke, diet mountain dew, diet dr. pepper.. just soda in general there are times I find myself really needing to get a soda. And while I don't drink it nearly as much now as I used to, it's still a pretty real thing - meaning craving can be pretty powerful.

And my schedule tells me it's time to go and do things... I guess what I'm coming to is with the surgery coming up that's one thing I'll have to give up anyway.... maybe now's the time?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eating through a straw

My wife thinks a good title would be "drinking my life away". There's probably a lot of good titles to be had on this one. Maybe I should hold a contest. All... what? 2 readers? 3? Chime in with a good title. The winner gets... the honor of winning?

This morning was my nutritional class in preparation for surgery. I got to find out some of the realities of life right after surgery. I knew already that I'd be on a liquid diet for a bit afterwards, but I learned more today. Not sure I want to know what I know now.

What caught my attention was what they called a grocery list - things you want to have before you do the surgery. Big on the list was chewable vitamins. Emphasis on chewable. For the first week after surgery the opening into my stomach will be approximately the diameter of a drinking straw. One good look at a typical multivitamin tells you why it's gotta be chewable -- there's no way it's fitting through otherwise. So for a good week or so, if you can't fit it through a straw, it's not going down the pipe.

Maybe that would make a good diet plan without surgery huh? If the food can't fit through a straw you can't eat it. It would be pretty effective. Of course, no one would stick with it either.

The area of my stomach that will hold food will, for that first week, hold about an ounce. Much of that (and the straw size opening) comes from the swelling that occurs after the poor guy's been manipulated around and banded. Once that goes down then I'm essentially working with about 4 ounces of stomach, so even then... that's not much food. Get out your measuring cups and look at a half cup -- and that will be as much as I can put down at a time. Believe me, I've already been staring at one of those and asking myself... what am i thinking???

Well, here's what I'm thinking. I want to be able to play basketball again someday without worrying about what all that's doing to my knees and ankles. I want to get on the floor and get up again without a major production. I want to not have to avoid booths at restaurants. I want to walk by kids without them looking at me wide eyed. I want to walk into places for a sales call or job interview or whatever without being self conscious about my size.

I did go through this thought process of, couldn't you do all the same things that would happen without going through surgery? I'm thinking that's a vague looking question -- what I mean is, the end result of the surgery is that it keeps the portions smaller, so couldn't I do that without surgery and just eat smaller portions? Yes. For a few weeks maybe. Or a few months. Been there done that got the yoyo. The difference being, now (now being then as in after surgery) if I eat too much or fall off course, I'm either puking or just feeling rotten. It restores a sense of self regulation that's gone right now. There's a real sense of being full again. There's a limit to how much food you can eat overall, and if you're not making good choices on what foods those ARE that you eat, you feel it because you're not getting the nutrients you need.

Remember the whole Seize the Day thing? You only have so much time, so make the best of it. It's a similar kind of thing in that you can only fit so much food through this tiny little opening -- if you choose to eat crappy foods -- bread, sugary stuff and such -- you don't get enough protein and nutrients that you really need and you start to feel it. So now you have to start thinking in terms of what are good food choices.

I used to look at this as the easy way out. I look at this one ounce thing and the kind of life long commitment you have to make to a whole new way of life and this is by far NOT the easy way out. It's going to be hard work. It's going to be tough at times.

So I just look at all those things I said I want. Right now that's what I'm thinking. All of a suddent eating through a straw seems pretty okay.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


So I spilled the beans last post about deciding to do the lapband surgery. Right now, I don't know when it's going to be. I'm hoping it's not too far away, but a lot depends on insurance and when they get approval.

You get to go through a whole plethora of tests when preparing for something like this. Be prepared to be poked and prodded and stuffed into things. I've spent more time in doctors offices the past couple months than I probably have in my life. I've had more blood taken out for this that and the other thing. The only thing that hasn't been required is a cardio workup, my other consultations have cleared me on that fortunately. But it's quite a process.

Basically they want you to get psychological clearance and then a pulmonary workup. Thank goodness for good insurance eh? In some ways I'm glad I'm doing this now instead of when some of the new health care policies kick in because I wonder in a few years if I'd be able to get in to everyone as quickly as I could. Anyway, the psychological clearance was pretty easy. The pulmonary -- wow what a work up. I'm not sure I can remember all the tests - I got stuffed into a glass cube for a breathing test, had x rays and sonograms and electro cardiograms and some other tests that I can't quite remember all of them. It's been an interesting experience -- all of the pulmonary stuff was done at Jewish National Health, which is the top rated pulmonary hospital in the country so I'm guessing they know what they're doing eh?

I learned a couple new things. I found out I have pulmonary hypertenstion -- a slightly enlarged pulmonary valve that is pretty normal with obesity and/or with severe sleep apnea. I have both, so... surprise! The XRays also showed I have a hiatal hernia where my stomach is trying to escape out my esophogus or something like that... after all the abuse I put that thing through over the years I can't blame it for trying to escape. So then they have me do an upper GI exam where you drink this nasty chalky stuff and they take pictures of it as it goes through you. Really fun stuff. It's been fascinating, I'll say that much.

The thing about this is that it has helped me understand even more that this is the right course of action for me. Not so long ago I though okay, I'm healthy but overweight. Now I find out I've got diabetes, arthritis, pulmonary hypertension and a hiatal hernia. Fortunately none of these are to the point where I'm needing severe intervention, but.... maybe it's time to give my body a break and take some steps to help me get there?

And oh yes... I'm going to start training for a half marathon.

What??? Haven't I learned my lesson from the October jogging fiasco that's still giving my knees fits? Okay, it's not that crazy... just partially so. My wife's the crazy one. In October there's a group in our church putting together a team to run in a marathon and half marathon -- not sure if it's the actual Denver Marathon? Might be. Anyway, my wife's done a couple of half marathons but hasn't for a bit and has been thinking of getting back into one soon so she mentioned maybe training for that one. So I foolishly spout out... if you do the half marathon then, I'll walk a half marathon then, how's that?

She's holding me to it.

What was I thinking?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Do I need to rename this blog?

So I've been somewhat officially informed that I should be shooting for about 235 instead of 200. So I suppose this should be 158 at 5420.

I do have to say, 158 sounds so much better than 193. Or, with my last weigh in being 365, that would make it 130, yes? It definitely sounds less intimidating than 393.

I'm not sure how easy it would be to change the name, so I'll stick with with the current name. But going forward, the blog will be taking a different direction. It's still going to be reflections and bits about my journey and getting rid of the weight, but... it will be different.

At my last physical my doctor just pointed out that I've done all this up and down for so many years. She pointed out all the other things related to it, now including diabetes, sleep apnea and arthritis and said maybe it's time to consider surgery.

This is not something that I take lightly. I've always looked at surgery as taking the easy way out, that it's a sort of admission of failure. But the part that maybe got through to me was finding out what the actual success rates are for someone in my position - pretty much zero percent. Yes, people lose weight all the time through diet and exercise. The number of people that actually keep off the weight in significant numbers for very long, no matter what diet or program, is extremely low. Like close to zero percent.

It's like you hit a point of no return or something. There's something reassuring in that, to find out that in some ways there's something normal.

I've finally come to a point where I realize it's not a copout to do the surgery. As one doctor explained it, it sort of levels the playing field so that diet and exercise actually can have the affect that they do for other people. It's a pretty major change, but one I can now accept.

I'm still probably a couple months or so out from having a surgery date set, just depending on insurance and all. I'll be getting lapband surgery, which places a band around the upper part of the stomach. The way it works is that as you eat, the band makes it so your food is kept in the upper part of your stomach, and so you get the full sensation early on. It's different than something like the gastric bypass that actually alters your stomach. The band is adjustable, where you can increase or decrease the restriction, and can also easily be removed if need be.

So that's the direction the blog will take -- yes, diet and exercise are still very key, but this will be something to track the journey as I go forward, prepare for the surgery, and what goes on afterwards.

It's scary, and exciting.

So hopefully I start doing better than these current montly posts eh?