Thursday, March 29, 2012

4 months Post-Op: Pics and Stats

 Today marks 4 months since my surgery. I definitely feel smaller - though looking at the pictures, I still tend to focus on the bits that make me feel uncomfortable - the droopy boobs, the belly hang (though it is smaller), and the horrible back of the arm fat. But - I'm also over half-way to my surgeon's goal for me, and just a couple pounds away from half way to my personal goal. Here's this month's pictures (definitely smaller clothes - the pants are size 18, and the top is a 1x and even these are looking a tad droopy).

I have lost some additional inches - it's funny to see what part of the body lets go of stuff one month vs. the other.

Current Loss Total Loss

Oh! And completely forgot the weight totals:
Beginning weight338
Weight at surgery304
Current weight245.8
Total loss92.2

Next month I'll definitely hit the triple digit mark - won't that be awesome!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Recipe: Beet and Walnut Salad

I'm way overdue for a new recipe, and I succumbed to a veggie craving today: beets. If you think you don't like beets, I'll bet you've only had the offerings from a can or the salad bar. What makes this recipe special is that fresh beets are roasted which brings out an amazing sweetness.

The success of this salad depends on one major thing: letting the simple flavors of quality ingredients shine. I use real extra virgin olive oil in the vinaigrette - it does add to the fat gram count, but the flavor of a true vinaigrette is far superior to a commercial low or no-fat "vinaigrette" dressing. If you feel you must, you can substitute a commercial preparation, but I urge you to try this as written.

Beet and Walnut Salad

  • 1 medium to large or 2 small ruby beets
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp minced shallot
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 3 cups baby spinach/spring mix salad blend
  • 2 oz semi-soft or soft goat cheese (such as montrachet)
  • 2 oz chopped walnut pieces

First we must roast the beets. One medium to large sized beet or two small ones will suffice. Trim off all the greens, and scrub well to remove any remaining dirt. Drizzle sparingly with olive oil - just enough to rub into the skin (a teaspoon at most should do it). Wrap in foil and place in a 375F oven for 60-90 minutes. It will be done when the flesh can be pierced to the center with a fork, without meeting significant resistance. It will come out of the oven looking like this. Let it cool until it's comfortably handled.

While the beets cool, make the vinaigrette. Finely mince 2 tablespoons shallots - about half a medium bulb. Mince 1 clove garlic, or use approx 1/2 teaspoon prepared minced garlic. Combine in a small bowl with 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar. Whisk in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Cover and set aside.

Now traditionally, a vinaigrette has an oil to acid ratio of 3 to 1. I personally find that very heavy on the oil, and I'm not afraid of a tart dressing. In interest of keeping the fat content down, I go for a 1:1 ratio. Modify this to your taste, but keep in mind the nutritional information is based on 1:1. 

Next, the beets need to be peeled. There are several ways to accomplish this, some messier than others. But be careful: beets will stain anything, including your skin. If you don't want pink fingers...

use a pair of surgical gloves or dishwashing gloves when peeling your beets. I don't have anywhere to go in public for a  few days, so I just dug in.

One method is to hold the beet in a paper towel, and use another to gently scrub the skin away. I personally find this method to shred the skin more than I would prefer, so instead I use a standard vegetable peeler. Begin near the top where the greens were growing out, and gently start to peel down toward the root. You'll find the skin will separate easily, and you can peel large strips with your fingers. Once finished, slice off the tip of the root, and enough of the top to clear the greens. Slice the beet in half, then cut into small wedges or cubes, your preference.

Toss the sliced beets with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled. 


When the beets have chilled sufficiently, measure 3 cups of baby spinach/spring mix blend (I used Earthbound Farms Organic 50/50) into a large bowl. Toss with 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Note this will leave 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette - save for another salad.

 Dice or crumble 2 ounces of semi-soft or soft goat cheese. Montrachet works well, or anything rolled in herbs. Divide salad onto 4 plates, then top each with 1/4 of the beet mixture, 1/4 of the cheese, and 1/2 ounce each of chopped walnut pieces.

Nutritional info (compiled using recipe builder at Serving size: 1/4 recipe. 190 calories, total fat 16.5g, saturated fat 3.6g, cholesterol 6mg, sodium 112mg, carbohydrate 8.9g, dietary fiber 3.7g, sugars 3.9g, protein 6.5g

Monday, March 26, 2012

Running (Walking) to Remember

Saturday morning April 14 I will be attending my very first 5K run/walk event. I chose this one because it is to benefit the Hospice and Palliative Care Center here in the Winston-Salem, NC area.

Some of you know that we lost my mother-in-law to metastatic kidney cancer last summer (June 8, 2011). Looking back, she probably went undiagnosed for a good year, but when she began to seriously lose weight around Halloween and Thanksgiving 2010, we got her to the doctors and she was finally admitted to the hospital the week before Christmas where they made the ultimate diagnosis: kidney cancer that had spread to her lungs and brain.

Being that she was 83 and already quite frail, her doctors felt that hospice care was the best option - any aggressive treatments would only delay, not cure, and if they didn't outright kill her, her quality of life would be considerably worse with the treatment than without it.

She did amazingly well for a few months - we had to really work to get her to eat, and she began sleeping 16+ hours in a day, but she held on to her personality even as her memory really started to slip. She finally ran out of energy in May, we transitioned to a hospital bed at home, and tried to make her as comfortable as possible. On that final day, it became clear she was going to pass - I had been working from her kitchen table for about two weeks, and I called the Man to get him to her house as fast as he could so that he could say his last goodbyes.

I'm not a religious person at all - rather agnostic, though I believe it's possible that a higher form of being "kicked things off" with the big bang. However, I spent several hours that afternoon reading to her from her bible. I have no idea if she heard any of it - but I read her some of the Song of Solomon and many of the Psalms. I know if nothing else, it gave some comfort to my brother and sister in law.

About 10 minutes after the Man arrived, she quietly slipped away - as if she were waiting for him to get there. It was devastating for him; he lost his father in April of 1997, and now his mother was gone.

The nurses and staff of the Hospice and Palliative Care Center were amazing. Our nurse had been there daily for the last few weeks, she called the funeral home, arranged for narcotics disposal, and pick-up of all the medical equipment. These people do emotionally draining work - and do it with kindness and compassion. The last few months of her life would not have been near as comfortable and peaceful without them, and for that I am truly thankful.

My participation in this 5k run/walk has two purposes: The primary purpose is to support this wonderful organization, but secondly it is another step in my road to fitness. I ran when I was in school - and loved it. I'm not yet at the stage where I could jog that distance, but I can certainly walk it. Several other members of my wls program's support group will also be walking the course, so I'll have good motivation and support that morning.

Would you please consider sponsoring my participation? I've set a personal fundraising goal of $200 - even a $5 or $10 donation will go a long way toward that goal.

If you can, here is the link to my personal participation page . I thank you in advance for your support, financial or simply "You can do it!"

Monday, March 19, 2012

Vitamin Deficiencies

While I have been faithfully taking all of the vitamins required of my program, my 3-month post-op blood came back, along with a prescription for massive amounts of Vitamin D. Though vitamin D is included in the 3 doses a day of calcium citrate I take, apparently that and any amounts in my 2x a day multi-vitamin weren't enough. Normal range for vitamin D is considered 30-100, and mine came in at 28.1. While that's just a little bit off the bottom of the normal range, they really like to see it solidly in the middle. So for the next 8 weeks I'll be taking a weekly dose of 50,000iu of vitamin D, and afterward, taking 2000iu a day in over the counter form.

On the plus side, this could explain some of the listlessness, muscle fatigue, and overall lack of energy I've been having lately. Looking forward to seeing what changes it will bring!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Recipe: Cauliflower Cakes

Inspired by the recipe at A Good Appetite, this cauliflower cake recipe makes a surprisingly low-calorie side dish with nearly 3g of protein per 3-inch cake.

Recipe makes 12 3-inch cakes.


  • 3 cups cooked cauliflower - mashed (still a little chunky - don't make it into a paste)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • .5 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided

Fresh cauliflower is best here, I found the smallest head I could at the grocer, cut it into florets, and boiled it for 10 minutes (still slightly firm). Let cool, then mash to a slightly chunky consistency.

Dice onion, heat  1 tsp of the olive oil in a pan, then add onion and saute until it just begins to caramelize.

this one's a tad blurry - I'll get a better one soon.

Combine cauliflower, onion, salt, panko, cheese, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Mixture will be moist, but still a bit loose. 

Heat a large skillet, griddle pan, or electric griddle. I set my electric griddle to 375. Lightly coat surface with 1/3 of the remaining olive oil. Working in batches of four cakes, scoop a scant 1/3 cup of mixture and flatten into a cake on the cooking surface. 

Cook 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown. 

These do have a tendency to crumble - turn carefully - and if they do, well then there's little bits of golden brown and delicious goodness to nibble. 

The final product. 

These are particularly good the next day, reheated on the griddle. I like mine with a little light sour cream, the Man prefers his plain. 

Nutritional details - serving size is 1 cake (from recipe builder at  Calories: 53, Total fat: 3.5g, Saturated fat: 1.2, cholesterol 35mg, sodium 348mg, carbohydrate 2.5g, dietary fiber 0.8g, sugars 0.6g, protein 2.9g

Thursday, March 8, 2012


There hasn't been anything hugely exciting going on in the last week - but I have noticed a few things I thought I'd share.

 Much of my day has fallen into a routine that's developed on it's own. I start the day with a protein shake (and as I discovered this morning, a "real breakfast" goes over like lead). I have been primarily exercising on my lunch break. I'm so incredibly lucky to work from home, so all I have to do is go downstairs to my treadmill, and nobody cares if I come back to my desk out of breath and stinky. Well, the cats might, but by the time the Man gets home I'm usually much more presentable.

The exercise is definitely becoming a routine. I have to justify to myself when I consider not doing it, rather than trying to force myself to do it every day. I don't quite truly enjoy it yet - and I used to. When I was (much) younger, I ran for the pleasure of it, and was on an amateur bicycle racing team. I loved the early morning dew and the feeling you got when your lungs were working at full capacity and your nose started to tingle. I'm definitely not back to that yet - my 2.5 minutes of jogging I've included in my treadmill workout make me feel like a lumbering asthmatic water buffalo, not the graceful young woman who used to speed around the neighborhood with a ribbon tied around her pony tail. I want to enjoy it again - though looking at it realistically, still having over 100 pounds to lose is probably why it doesn't feel so great right now. But it's becoming a routine, which is good.

A couple other non-scale victories to report. Tuesday evening we went and looked at a new car - turns out we're not going to buy it, but when it came time to test drive it, I was able to get into the driver's seat without having to adjust the seat position beforehand, and without getting a steering wheel to the gut when sitting down. The seat belt fit with plenty of slack. Yay!

Afterward, we went to a local family restaurant for dinner - the Man remembers going there as a child with his father, so the place has been around for at least 30 years. I ordered the chicken salad "cold plate", and Holy Hannah, was that a lot of food. A giant scoop of chicken salad (had to have been nearly a cup), a similar giant scoop of potato salad, some german-style slaw, tomato slices, a hard boiled egg, cucumber salad, some olives and some radishes. Needless to say, I took a giant box home - I ate about 1/3 of the chicken salad and both the radishes, and even nibbled about 1/3 of the fresh-made corn muffin that came in our bread basket. But the best part? We were seated at a booth - it happened to be one where the table could actually be moved, but I didn't need it to be moved at all! Perfectly centered between the two banquets, and I fit with room to spare. How cool is that?!

Tonight I go out with the Flying Squirrels - I think I've mentioned them before, it's a sub-group of my program's support group that does more social things. We're going to a BBQ place for dinner (protein!) and then bowling. I have to run downstairs and find my bowling bag - I have shoes and a ball that I haven't used since Florida ('04 kids!). I'm going to let that be today's exercise - I was feeling run down yesterday, and decided today I was giving myself a break - but at least that social exercise will still be part of my day.