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Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Holidays! Lots to be happy for!

This year has been quite a change for me and I thought I would share it with everyone. I have made some major discoveries about myself, my needs, my wants and my desires.  I have had two major surgeries and my family is closer than ever.

It started 14 months ago with the loss of my job, I loved my job!  My weight was interfering with my ability to perform my job correctly and do it well.  When you travel up to 70% and your behind can't fit into the airline seats, it is going to have an impact.  I remember boarding flights, with a bead of sweat rolling down my forehead, and the shear look of terror on fellow passengers faces that would form.  You know that look!  It's the, "Oh god, please tell me your in another isle!" look!  The worst is when you are seated with two large men and they where hoping for some small petite tiny woman to sit with.......NOT!

The catalyst for me was when I had an allergic reaction to a medication the doctor put me on for high cholesterol that caused fluid retention and edema.  The fluid appeared to not only give me the worst case of cankles I had ever had, but it also caused fluid to retain on my lungs and I couldn't walk for any amount of distance without feeling like I was in cardiac arrest. Work had sent me to one of the most beautiful  places I had ever visited in Vancouver, BC and my supervisor and I went whale watching.  It was breathtaking in more ways than one!  I wouldn't have missed the experience for anything.

I was laid off shortly after the trip, so I quickly sprang into action.  I had been considering a gastric bypass for 10 years and had previously seen my doctors office give a informational speech 10 years ago.  I quickly reserved myself a seat for the next round of detailed informational segments on the how the procedure(s) is performed and how to get the ball rolling.

Within weeks we had gotten permission from the insurance company to proceed and authorization was obtained for an Roux-en-Y Procedure (  The stomach is reduced to handling the capacity of a golf ball and approximately 18 inches of small intestine is removed to interfere with absorption of food and calories during regular calorie consumption.   I was very excited and thought that this was the best thing that had ever happened to me.

I was a smoker since I was 15.  Not just a smoker, a Marlboro smoker, Reds to be exact.  I was getting chest colds every winter that made me sound like I was dying.  I kept talking about wanting to quit, but never did it.  But, the day the doctor said, "Oh, you have to quit or I won't perform the surgery!"  A little piece in me died.  I thought, "How am I ever gonna do this?"  I cut down each week, but confessions are good for the soul.... right???? I smoked up to the day of the surgery.  And I have never smoked again!  Smoking and RNY is serious business.  Everything I read says that it leads to ulcers and we have enough tummy issues without this too.  I am almost 10 months without a cigarette and I still crave them sometimes, but I like not smelling!  My husband still smokes and he stinks!  Flat out smells!  And I can't stand the smell!  How do you go 15+ years of smoking and not realize how bad you smell, I don't know, but I did. 

My tummy is super sensitive to this day.  In the months following the surgery, they recommend you get 100 grams of protein in your diet a day.  I am 10 months out and I get 60 grams a day now.  I have also become a vegetarian.  I drink my protein and eat my meals in the form of mostly organic vegetables. I have a terrible time digesting meat and have chosen to leave it out of my meals for that reason.

After losing 100 pounds, I had a bout with my gallbladder and had to have it removed.  It is my understanding that with large weight loss, it is fairly common to have to have your gallbladder removed.  That was a mild setback.  I took me about 1.5 months to get back on my feet.

One thing I didn't count on was to have so much time out, now one year later, I am beginning my job search vigorously.  One thing that this new lifestyle has given me is a new perspective on life, I look at the positives now and not the negatives.

I have been on an adventure for the last year.  An adventure of self discovery, when you have the surgery and start to lose the weight, you go through stages, well I did.  The biggest hurdle for me was realizing that my perceptions of myself where not always real.  When I was obese I never saw how big I really was when I looked in the mirror and now that I have lost the weight, I don't see my real size in the mirror still.  I struggle with my perception of myself and work on this everyday. It is an internal struggle that I have heard other weight loss gastric bypass patients speak of, as well.

The most profound realization for me was the day it dawned on my that I had a food addiction.  The day I realized that they had taken my ability to stuff my feelings away and I no longer could eat my way through my emotions.  What an awakening!  The compounding of such rapid weight loss, the inability to use my old coping mechanisms and the rapid changes in my life, left me with no choice but to seek professional help. It was the best choice, I had ever made.  I have made positive steps in the right direction to have a more positive mindset and have a more spiritual mind frame.

But, through it all, I have to say that my family has been wonderful.  I must of drove them nuts.  In the beginning with the pre-op diet, when everything in the house had to be removed or I would of eaten it!  During the surgery, when I later found out that they we're sneaking out to McDonald's and not telling me and now when they just eat their snacks in front of me with glee.....LOL  I do love them and appreciate all the support they gave me!  My hubby brags that I am "half of the woman he married"!  And he means that literally! I love them with all my healthy heart!

Here is to a new me, a new healthy start and to a new lease on life in more than one sense of the word!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Leek and Asparagus Souffles

This recipe is WLS friendly, vegetarian and low-fat. This is perfect for breakfast or for brunch and absolutely yummy!  One of the hardest things for me as a WLS post-op is finding things to eat for breakfast and this just hits the spot. These come out of the oven, silky and velvety and go down quite easy on that first morning pouch.

You will need:

3 Leeks
10 spears of Asparagus
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup of Vegetable Stock
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon Rosemary
2 Eggs, seperated
1 tbsp. Plain Yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp. Goat Cheese

1) Clean asparagus and finely chop.  Chop white section of leeks and wash carefully to remove any dirt that is in the vegetable.  Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add leeks and asparagus, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes.

2) Add the vegetable stock and herbs to the skillet and lower the heat.  Season and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

3) Remove from heat and puree in a mixing bowl.  I prefer to use my Cuisinart Smart Stick for quick and easy assembly.  Add yogurt and goat cheese and give it a quick blend again.

4) Blend the egg yolks to the mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.

5) In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until firm peaks form.

6) Fold the egg whites into the mixture. Spoon the mixture into lightly greased ramekins (I used one cup ramekins) on a warmed baking sheet. Cook in a preheated oven at 350 for 40 minutes or until well risen and golden brown.  This recipe will make 3 servings. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Indulgent Hot Cocoa with Protein

For those of you who are on a weight loss journey, this drink can be used as a meal replacement alternative.

You will need:

1 scoop of BiPro Unflavored Protein
2 tbsp of  Whey Low Granular
1/2 tbsp. of unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tbsp. of instant coffee (optional; however it will bring out the flavor in the cocoa)
2 tbsp. of dry non-fat milk
Hot water
Whipped Cream (if desired)

1) Place all ingredients in a fairly large coffee mug and add 1/4 cup of cool water and whip with whisk or fork to temper the protein before you add the hot water or it will burn.

2) Slowly add hot water and mix with whisk to temper ingredients and incorporate protein, dry milk and cocoa.

3) Top with whip cream and serve.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chickpea Soup with Beet Greens

Chickpeas deliver 8.86 grams of protein for every 3.5 ounces of legumes.  Recent studies also show the chickpea to lower cholesterol in the blood stream.  Chickpeas are a helpful source of zinc and folate. They are also very high in dietary fiber and hence a healthy source of carbohydrates for persons with  insulin sensitivity or diabetes.

You will need:
  • 1 - 14 oz. bag of Chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight
  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 - small Yellow Onion
  • 3 - Leeks (only use the white sections of the leeks)
  • 2 or 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 bunch of beet greens (beets are typically sold in sets of 3 or 4, use the greens from the bunch for soup - this is a great use for these greens and the beets can be roasted with an entree)
  • 2 fresh Rosemary sprigs
  • 1 - 26 ounce carton of Pomi chopped tomatoes (feel free to substitute another product if you choose)
  • 1 - 4 cup container of vegetable stock ( I recommend Kitchen Basics)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
1) Drain the chickpeas and put in a large pot. Cover with vegetable stock and bring to a boil, remove any foam that forms with a slotted spoon.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the chickpeas become tender.  Add more stock if necessary.

2) Drain the chickpeas; however, save the cooking liquid. If you used an unsalted stock, be sure to season your chickpeas with salt and pepper well.  Put 2/3 of your chickpeas in a blender with some of the cooking liquid and puree.  Return to the cooking pot.

3) Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan.  Add onion, leeks and garlic and cook over medium heat stirring often until leeks and onions become translucent. This should take approximately 4-5 minutes.  While this is cooking, prepare beet greens by cutting the purple core out of them and slicing into bite size strips.  Add the beet greens and whole rosemary sprigs to saute pan and cook for another 4 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down to an almost smooth sauce.  Remove the rosemary sprigs.

4) Add the beet greens and tomato mixture to the chickpea puree and simmer.  Add additional vegetable stock to reach the appropriate consistency.  Be sure to taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Simmer on low until ready to serve.

5) Serve in warmed bowls. Enjoy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mushroom Quinoa

Mushroom Quinoa - The Healthier Risotto!

1 - 8 oz. container portobello mushrooms (finely chopped)
1 cup of quinoa
3 - 4 cups of vegetable stock
1 leek
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese - freshly grated
salt and pepper to taste

1) Place the olive oil, leeks and mushrooms in medium pan and saute for 5 minutes until the leeks become translucent.  The mushrooms will absorb the oil, but do not add additional oil, it will eventually release once the mushrooms begin to cook.

2) While leeks and mushrooms are cooking, drain and rinse quinoa thoroughly.

3) Add 2 cups of vegetable stock to mushrooms and leeks and continue to cook mushrooms down to make a mushroom stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, leaving lid off to allow stock to reduce. This will take approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

4) Once mushroom stock is complete, add quinoa and one more cup of vegetable stock.  Bring back to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Quinoa will first open it's "tail" and then when cooked completely the center will become translucent.  This process will take at least 20 minutes.  You may need to add more stock to get to the right consistency.  This is very similar to making risotto.  Quinoa is a complete protein and much healthier for us.

5) Once cooked completely, add parmesan cheese and sprinkle additional cheese over top for desired effect.

6) Enjoy!