Monday, August 8, 2011

Three years out

I have now gone past three years since my weight loss surgery and I decided to evaluate my status and see how I am doing. Also I needed to think about where I am headed. At 65 years old a lot of physical factors are impinging on you, A lifetime lived for better or worse, leaves you with scars, residual aches and pains and a lot of memories. So I will assess where I am in August 2011 and see where I have been in light of my weight loss, my physical health and where I want to be.

In 2008 on the 4th of June, I checked into California Pacific Hospital in San Francicso, California to have my vertical sleeve gastrectomy performed by Dr. Jossart. I had lost about 8 pound in the month between my initial meeting with him in May and my weight was 292 pounds. I had a BMI of about 45. At about 2PM that afternoon I went into surgery and then next time I knew what time it was, it was 530PM and I was back in my room. On June 5th, a bit after noon, my son picked me up and I returned to my home in Santa Rosa, California. For those first few weeks I took it easy with a liquid protein diet, riding the stationary bike and walking. I followed the “book” I had been given by Dr. Jossart to the letter. I knew I was losing weight because my clothes were starting to get very loose. Elastic pants worked the best.

I lost weight virtually continuously for the next year. On June 4th 2009 I weighed 170 pounds and had dropped 12 inches in my waist and gone from a jacket size of 54 to a 44. I was having no significant problems and could eat almost anything I wished. Tomato sauces and red wine did cause me some pain so I restricted my intake of those items. Ground beef (fast food hamburgers) also created significant pain so they also were avoided. Since I was in Italy and cooking with the AmoreSapore cooking program I could control what and how I ate to some degree. As time went past, I continued to slowly lose a few more pounds and ultimately reached 161 pounds. Dr. Jossart had given me a target weight of 154 when I first visited him and I had laughed at the thought of that. But there I was in 2010 at 96% of that goal. That by itself was actually hard to comprehend. I had not been that weight since I was 15 years old and a sophomore in high school. I was 64 years old with heart disease and I had gone back to the weight I was in high school. I thought that all was well in my life.

I bought new clothes, smaller clothes. I studiously avoided anything that had the insidious label on it of Extra large! I promised myself I would NEVER go back to that excess weight again. And for another year I maintained that weight at 165. I was cooking as part of the AmoreSapore team and a lot of people wanted to know how I could be a cook and still stay thin. I said it was always a matter of taste. Eight Bites were all I needed to satisfy me, from both a nutritional and an emotional level. I tasted things as I prepared them, and I was satisfied with the bits and morsels allowing me to eat a wide variety of foods, satisfy my nutritional demand and still create meals of substance for the guests.

I returned to California at the end of September 2010 and began trying to establish a cooking career. Over time while I cooked fairly frequently, it was not enough work to meet my financial obligations and I began seriously looking for a job back in the environmental industry where I had an almost 40 year career. In those stressful times I noticed that while I didn’t seem to be eating more, my weight began creeping upwards. First to 170, then to 175. My waist increased to 35 inches and my jackets went from 42R to 44R. When I went to the doctor and weighed on their scales, I was heavier than on my scale at home. I began evalating my diet, lifestyle, stressors, etc to see if I could get a clue as to the weight gain. I have written previously about some of the issues and increased calories. My doctor felt that I was reestablishing my satisfactory weight, but that didn’t help me button my jackets that were now 1” too tight.

So here I am in the summer of 2011. I am at 190 pounds, my waist has not increased and my jackets remain where they were at 44R. I feel OK and I am now working full time for a couple of environmental laboratories in the Los Angeles area. Work has been going well and while I am staying in residential hotels, I am able to control my food consumption and stay away from the fast food gauntlet on every thoroughfare in the Los Angeles area.

In the last few months I have had to have a stent put in an blocked artery in my heart  and have learned to live with the realities that I have heart disease from a lifetime of excess weightr and my weight loss, while helping, has not diminished the heart disease. I will be held responsible for that and my life will undoubtedly be shortened by that issue. But I will continue to walk the path that I am on. I can only do what I can do right now to make myself healthier. One of those things is to exercise more and try to drop 4-5 pounds. That will not make me healthier but will make me a bit happier with myself.

The take away lesson here is that if you do this weight loss process do it because it will make you healthier. It will likely make you happier with who you are and how you look. But it will not make you a different person than you were pre-surgery. Pre-existing illnesses, health effects and other issues will still be there. I guess I have done what I could. Now I have to maintain it for as long as I can. Stay tuned. One thing for sure is that I will never go back to the weight I was before the surgery.