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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 61 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

My Lap-Band Life: Two Months In

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey

This past month has been a revelation for me, in terms of understanding what my relationship to food has been over my lifetime.
First things first, however.  I feel fine.  There have been no incidents of pain or discomfort.  I’m perfectly happy with the small ration of food I consume, and I feel better than I have for years.
My weight loss has slowed, in fact I’ve been stuck at 258 for two weeks.  The Doctor’s office tells me that this is not unusual and not to get discouraged.  I have to remember how far I’ve come since January.  Before my pre-op diet, I had ballooned to 298, so I’ve lost 40 pounds in a little over two months.  Meanwhile, I’ve picked up my exercise considerably.  I walk for 30 minutes at lunch (1.8 miles) and then do some calisthenics and 50 minutes on a treadmill at 5% grade and 3.7 to 4.0 miles per hour after work.  I have my semi-annual cardiac stress test in April, so I guess you could say I’m studying for that test.  I got a little too ambitious, borrowing my son’s P90X DVD set.  This is a fitness regimen that makes Marine Corps boot camp look easy.  Anyway, three nights into it, I did some damage to my left shoulder.  At some point when I work up the courage (and the pain becomes too much to ignore) I’ll confess to the Doctor.  Hopefully, it’s something that time will heal.  I’ve cut back on the P90X stuff, doing only those things that don’t involve my left shoulder.
Our food bill is way down from what it was.  The amount of food I consume now is responsible for that.  I’m also being very careful about what I do eat.  Not only do I have to make sure I consume my 70 grams of protein each day, but I have to really remember fiber.  Plumbing in 50-ish men tends to run slow anyway.  I’ve had a couple of times when it was downright painful.  I discovered a new thing to replace my previous addiction to diet soda.  Propel Zero comes in several flavors, my favorite is grape.  It keeps me drinking water, and the flavor is an added bonus, so much better than straight H2O.
I do get fast food once in a while, but where I used to get two McDonals’s double cheeseburgers and fries, now I’m only getting a sausage burrito, and not finishing that.  This, of course, saves boatloads of money.  My average lunchtime bill was six to seven dollars.  Now, on those rare occasions I go, it’s one buck.
I guess the remarkable thing is how great I feel.  Before, I had to be careful how vigorously I exercised.  Now, I’m able to push myself as hard as I can.  My heart is behaving itself.  I’ve had no incidents of that dreaded “fluttery” feeling I had from before. 
Blood sugar is fully under control.  I had been testing four times a day, but cut back to once or twice, partially because the numbers are consistently running in the 90s, but mostly because the price of test strips has gone up to $70.  I still have to really monitor my carbohydrates, because they cause a glucose spike up into the 160 range.  I read labels constantly and if my consumption stays below 18 grams of carbs per meal, I’m okay.
You can go through life mired in a comfort zone and not even know you’re there.  In the last month especially, I’ve realized how much I had relied on food for comfort.  Last month, I talked about the moment when I sat down to watch a football game, and really craved a bowl of chips and salsa.  I wasn’t hungry, I just wanted it.  There have been other incidents like those dangerous moments mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and late evening when I crave snacks.  I have been constantly in conversation with myself in these moments, reminding myself that I wasn’t hungry and I didn’t need to eat.  Lately, it’s gotten a little easier; I guess I’m slowly convincing myself.  But this is a trap I must be forever wary of.
Friday nights have been especially difficult.  Before, that was the night when we would go out to eat, or order in a pizza.  Now, my consumption is so small that it almost makes it ridiculous to go to a restaurant knowing that most of what I order will be going home with me.  Food had become the dominant thing in my life, around which revolved my relationships and those “good times.”  Now, my wife and I are slowly discovering other things we can do together.  We used to bowl, but I had to give that up because of my hips and knees.  Now, I’m thinking we might take it back up again.  Once winter finally ends (if it ever does!) we’ll go back to taking walks through the state parks in the area, several of which are within minutes of our home.  We find that there are other things we can do together, now that we’ve taken the time to discover them. 
Two months into my lap-band life, things are good.  But beyond my health, the real value has been in discovering the extent of the prison I had built for myself, and learning how to emotionally divorce myself from my lifetime love affair with food.
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