I spent some time with a family friend last week talking about my surgery and the process of preparing for it, insurance requirements, and all that. I shared my weight loss with her, 160 lbs to date. And I explained I’ve lost 100 since surgery and lost 60 beforehand. And she was so surprised that I’d lost so much weight before surgery. My first response was somewhat jumbled and wasn’t very specific. I remember it was hard and took a lot of effort and will power and I struggled and fucked up along the way. But I figured maybe I’d write down my plan cause it could be helpful to others and stand as a reminder of my hard work so to keep me from going back.
When I started my 6 month supervised diet, we were encouraged to start making healthy changes to work towards our post surgery life style. But they didn’t really give us many specifics except stop drinking soda.
We had to write down these goals for eating and exercise every month, so my first goal was to cut down sodas to only 2xs/week and cut down on fast food to only 4 meals/week. And so that’s what I did. I started to reduce the number of times we ate out and I just pretty much cut out soda all together. This was hard, because at the time I started this endeavor, I was eating fast food for either lunch or dinner or both almost every day, and at least 3-4 of our meals on the weekend came from fast food. It was a staple in my diet. Over the next few months, I weened myself off of fast food, and got to where I only ate fast food 1 or 2 times/week, and if I did eat it – no fries, and no bun. either lettuce wrapped sandwich or salad and that was it. And that worked for me for the first few months of this process. I lost weight just by cutting out fast food and soda.
Then I started to get more detailed and strict with my diet. I went and looked up what post op diets would look like (obersitycoverage.com and bariatriceating.com were two of my favorite places for guidelines) and I joined facebook surgery support groups where I learned a lot. What I was hearing and reading was that those who are most successful stay away from all processed carbs and sugars after surgery. So I started to phase those out. I stopped eating bread with my dinner and cut out some sweets.
Now sweets are my downfall. I am heavily addicted to sugar. So this was a hard process for me, and I never cut it out completely, because I was addicted to mcdonalds ice cream, and ate that months after I had given up every other kind of sweet and processed carb.
Here is an example of what I was eating (and I ate about the same thing every day).
- Breakfast: 1 cup of cottage cheese and 1 cup of watermelon or 2-3 cuties.
- Lunch: salad with 1-2 cups of kale/spinach, 6-8 oz of rotisserie chicken, 1/3 of avocado, handful of black berries, and olive oil/vinegar.
- Snack: cheese stick or fruit.
- Dinner: 8-10 oz of protein (either chicken, ground beef, or steak) and 2 cups of roasted veggies with a little parmesan cheese on top. Possibly with a huge bowl of fruit.
- Dessert/Snack: 1 cup of plain yogurt with berries and a nut/granola mix.
I did this everyday and I drank a lot of unsweetened black tea. I wasn’t “tracking” my food or anything, so I have no real idea how many calories I was getting or how much protein or anything, but I knew it worked for me.
I let myself get a salad from El Pollo Loco once a week which was great, and I still had my mcdonalds ice cream or a churro from el pollo loco every couple of days, but it was still pretty good.
As I got closer to surgery, I think I started adding in protein shakes for breakfast or a snack, but didn’t do it a ton (honestly, I can’t remember!).
During the summer months I was also swimming for at least an hour 4-5 times/week.
My food goals were really focused on eliminating processed carbs and sugars, and focusing on not having sweets like cake, cookies, ice cream on a daily basis. It was much easier for me to give up bread and chips and fries then it was to give up sweet things. But that was part of what I knew I was signing up for, so I really wanted to make sure I could do it. Also, I knew that every time I added sugar back into my diet, it made me want more sugar. It’s a vicious cycle and it sucks.
I would recommend for anyone trying to get started to just make small focused changes that can easily be accomplished and to set time limits on them. I am really into SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Based), so that is what I did. Each month I lowered my fast food intake or my sweets intake and upped my intake of water or veggies. For me, making small steps was easier because it wasn’t this huge drastic change that I had to do perfectly or else the world would end.
Focus on removing fast foods and soda first, then work on removing processed carbs/flours and sugars. The end goal is that after surgery your focus is always going to be quality protein first, then veggies, with a small sprinkling of healthy fats and fresh fruit.