Trouble Written All Over It


Brown Rice. Brussels Sprouts.  Broccoli.  Just a little squirt of sauce.  Yes sir, that dish had trouble written all over it.

On the surface, it looked like a good selection, and most that probably are looking to lose a few pounds would have been proud of such a selection.  It was called “The Griller” at a healthy eating ‘bowls, salads, wraps’ kind of place.  No sauted kale, no oily onions & mushrooms, none of the sticky steak slices and sauce that looks more like an grease trap than a dish.  No, this bowl had the organic, unbleached, unprocessed goodness that screams “I’m in California”.  Yet by ordering it, I was going to break new ground, and watching the dish come together, I was already taking stock of where I kept my antacids and how close the nearest bathroom was.

Next week will mark the two month mark since my Mini Gastric Bypass surgery.  On the surface, things are going really well.  Under that surface things aren’t too bad, but they sure are complicated.  For starters – and this is what everyone usually wants to know first – the number:

As of 1/15, I lost 62.7 lbs since the surgery. That’s about 7-1/2 lbs per week.  Which, of course, is doing pretty good.

That number is really really good knowing that I haven’t really started an exercise program.  From roughing it up the last couple months in Alaska and not having the weight to let them heal, the are only starting to be decent for anything longer than 15 minutes on my feet.  I had intended to get into the pool when I got out to California but it’s been cold (no seriously, cold .. like in the 50s; which yeah, isn’t like Minnesota, but y’all don’t have January outdoor pools either).  But that will come, and likely sooner rather than later.

Most of my weight loss, then, has been by diet.   And the ‘diet’ is the real story here.  If you asked the doc, he would probably call the stage I am in as “Phase 3” though, this is probably way too early for that … but more on that later.  Phase 1 was the immediate healing process – broth, crackers, yogurt, Gatorade.  The intent was to keep things as soft and nonreactive as possible as my stomach realizes that things aren’t what it used to be.  That lasted for a quick 2 weeks.  Phase 2 is a combination of gentle caring of the new digestive system and the careful guidance of the system to normal foods.

In those early months after the surgery, the system is still all out of wack, but it is no longer in threat of breaking open and calling it quits.  There isn’t balance yet in digestive track, but more importantly the rerouting has caused certain things to become undigestable in the current state.    Remember, this surgery just doesn’t make the stomach smaller, it basically restricts and shortens the path – sort of like saying the DMV just shifted to a smaller waiting room and only a single line to let you through.  Drier foods like bread move slower through and causes log jobs that feel like cramps or can cause reflux.  Gassy drinks and foods that cause gas is like filling a balloon down there, right in the way of everything.  Higher fatty foods normally take more time to digest, which can cause the already tight areas to get overly hard to process.  The result is that certain foods will cause cramps, nausea, or other fun facts of the plumbing.  Also, it will make foods that cause problems to have the taste of that result early on — bacon tastes that metallic taste of reflux.  So does heavy acidic or tannin food and drink.

For a while, that literally meant that I hated: Bacon, Cheese, Ice Cream, Wine, and I avoided Beer.   I am told that this is temporary – and thank goodness, I mean … what kind of world is that?  I could have castrated myself and had more fun.

Which of course leads me to the other big question I get:  “What do I get to eat?”

The trouble with that bowl was for me came down to that specific idea:  Do I get to eat any of this.  While on the surface, that bowl of rice sounded good – it would be dry and fight it’s way down.  Once it got there, those Brussels sprouts and broccoli would be ready to make a whole lot of noise.  Sure, I could eat it, but did I want to put up with all of that trouble?

Well, there is a list, but what is on that list and how the list is made is not how many think.  It’s not a doctor’s list – It’s not even a list I made (kinda).  It’s a list that Mr. Belly made.  This is what is generally thought of as “Phase 3” – where you eat something, you see if it works, and if it does you can keep eating it.  But that’s simplifying the process.  In some cases (like the bacon and wine example) you know exactly when it goes in your mouth that you are in for trouble.  Others, you won’t know for a while.  Typically, if I am not ready for something – about 20 to 30 minutes later, I start getting stomach cramps.  Sometimes it is just a little uncomfortable, and sometimes it shuts me down.  If I am lucky, it will lead shortly to the famously coined “Rapid and Fluid Departure from Door #2” – because at least then, there is an end in site (not literally, because you’d have to be a yoga guru to bend down enough to watch it happen).  Others get the “Reversal of Fortunes” in those cases.  While I have had a couple of close calls, nothing has “Gone the wrong direction up a one-way street”.  The less severe cases are the more uncomfortable, that standing around and hoping everything moves somewhere – which can take 20 -30 minutes to pass.  When those times happen, I feel miserable for an hour or two, and want to just curl up into a ball and let it all go by — which is usually the time that the pup wants to jump up on the bed (and a few times to my agony, on top of Mr Belly) making the agony return quick.

Honestly, I am probably rushing the road to Phase 3.  It’s meant for those who are not looking for the aggressive weight-loss anymore, to allow the freedom to the patient to experience life.  Yes I have had good success so far with weightloss, but I am far from a health long-term weight, and we all know it is easier to lose weight at the start than the finish.  In truth, I allowed myself to think Phase 3 because the main excuse is that I need to change the way I approach weightloss based on the tools I have in front of me.  Being overweight, and trying to lose weight, was always a battle of my mind over my body.  I go through swings because of emotional needs to eat or emotional needs to not feel bad.

Emotions controlled when I ate.  Emotions controlled how much I ate.

It used to be my subconscious allowed me to have that second soft taco because I liked the way it made me felt afterwords.

My emotions still control my need to eat – but guess what, Mr. Belly get’s to have a vote now too.  Mr. Belly says: “Oh you want that second soft taco?  Well okay, just schedule some time on the toilet for a while later on.”

Okay, that conversation doesn’t go on, but that does play into my decision making – consciously and subconsciously.  That bowl I ate, it remains half eaten in my hotel room – ready for when I am hungry later on .. if I want it.  The old me would have scarfed it in one sitting, even if I knew it was too much.  If I had left overs like that, it would have called my name by now, begging me to open it up and finish it.  And while the ‘trouble’I thought was going to have isn’t  happening, that’s okay – I’m not hungry, not wanting to eat, and all that trouble is left for later.