Category Archives: Success!

Moving Sidewalk

I started back on the UAMS program in May.  Cinco de Mayo, actually.  I’ve been as successful this time as I was last time; I’ve lost nearly 60 pounds since May, people have mentioned how much better I’m looking, and one even said, “You were doing well, and then I got worried that you were going to put it all back on.”  The state of the union, so to speak, is optimistic progress.

Photo Credit: riffsyphon1024 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: riffsyphon1024 via Compfight cc

I spend a lot of time reflecting on where I’m going and where I’ve been.  I think about the choices I made that led me back to weight gain.  Having reached my goal and then lost it again, I have a clearer view of the process than I did last time, including the end-game where I have to actively maintain my weight loss.

Losing weight on the UAMS program is a little bit like this moving sidewalk.  It’s an easy way to speed your progress toward your goal.  Are you the kind of person who gets on the moving sidewalk and stands or are you the type who gets on there and walks?

I’m a walker.  In addition to eating my meal replacements and drinking my water, I exercise.  I minimize my sodium intake not because I need to, but because I want to.  I minimize use of additives in my meal replacements because they’re unnecessary calories.  I don’t drink alcohol.  As a result, I’m quickly approaching the end of my moving sidewalk.

Whether walking or running, the transition from sidewalk to floor can be a tricky one.  If you’re standing around talking or checking your smart phone while riding one of these it can lead to an abrupt encounter with the floor.  You have to pay attention and have a little coordination to do it gracefully.  And we’re all carrying baggage.

I’m about 30 pounds away from the end of my moving sidewalk, and I’ll still have about a 15 pound “walk” to my “gate.”  I’m paying attention, I’ve done it before, and I’m confident this transition, while maybe not graceful, will be successful.

What steps can you take today to ensure your next steps will land on solid ground?

Choosing My Own Adventure

When I was a kid, I really wasn’t very interested in reading.  It took more effort than watching a movie or listening to a story.  As well, it required that I concentrate for longer than my hyper-active attention span could muster.  The one exception to that was “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.  In those, you’d read a page or two and then make a decision.  Do you explore the dark cave or go back the way you came to investigate the noise you just heard?

CYOA18

Since starting at my new school, I’ve been faced with an avalanche of decisions.  

  • Do I go home and grade the open-response items I put on the Chapter 1 test so the kids will have feedback before they move on to the next big thing, or do I go to the gym and spend some quality time with the elliptical machine?
  • Do I stay up an extra hour preparing healthy meals for the coming days, or do I go to bed at a reasonable hour so I’ll have the energy and patience needed to make it through a full day of problem-based learning facilitation with 60 9th graders and 60 10th-12th graders?  
  • Do I take the much-needed 3-day weekend retreat that has become a tradition, or do I stay within the confines of civilization where there’s access to the Internet so I can grade online writing assignments (360 of them)?
  • Do I take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime, week-long professional development opportunity out of state requiring me to prepare an entire week of lesson plans and substitute-friendly learning activities, or do I stay here and do things myself?

Most of these decisions are interwoven.  If I go to the gym, I’ll have a higher energy level and a better attitude for the problem-based learning activity.  If I go on the weekend retreat, I’ll be relaxed, but I’ll probably also make poor food choices.  If I prep my meals, it means I’ll have more time to do work at school during my 30 minute lunch break, so I can at least print off the seating charts for the substitute folder for that week I’ll be out.

“Make Good Choices.”

Kristen, the registered dietitian who has been my source of knowledge, inspiration, and, when needed, consolation, has always told me to make good choices.  When I tell her that I’ve taken an action or made a choice that turned out not to be in my favor, she always asks, “what would have been a better choice?”

The difference between “then” and “now” is not that I didn’t want to make good choices “then.”  It’s not that I lacked the analytical capacity to make good choices “then.”  It’s simply that I was nutritionally-illiterate then.  I wasn’t equipped to make good choices about what to eat, what not to eat, and what the role of physical activity (and inactivity) played in weight control.

You haven’t heard much from me in the last month because I’ve been covered up with work and life.  I haven’t been to the gym since September 5th.  I had to log into my gym account to look that up!  My work obligations, for better or worse, often take precedence over my life obligations.  As a professional educator, I cannot bring myself to let the intellectual well-being of 180 young people fall to the wayside because I haven’t done “leg day” this week.

So how am I doing?  Surprisingly well.

My last weigh-in was 193.0 pounds.  The last time I updated you on my progress I weighed 191.8 pounds.  I lost my weight by making good choices.  I’ve kept it off by continuing to make the best choices I can.  In the real world, we have to deal the hand we’re dealt.  Sometimes the best choice is the least-worst choice.  When those days come, I learn from them, taking steps to not get myself in those types of situations going forward.

If you’re trying to control your own weight, make good choices.  Learn how food works.  Learn how to balance your caloric intake with your caloric expenditures.  When I can’t get to the gym, I eat less.  When I’m eating less, I I make sure that the foods I do eat are whole grains, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and the “good fats.”  When I do have time to get to the gym, that gives me a bit more flexibility in my food choices and my “discretionary calories” (Fun-size Twix, I’m talking to you).

A good friend recently told me that he and his wife had decided that they were going to focus on losing weight.  As badly as I know they both want and need to lose weight, success all comes down to how well you play “Choose Your Own Adventure.”  In my previous life, I wanted to lose weight.  In my previous life I needed to lose weight.  The difference between then and now is that I have equipped myself with the knowledge and nutrition literacy resources necessary to make good decisions.  I know how to look things up.  I know who to ask if I can’t make sense of what I find.  I use my brain to decide what I put in my mouth.

What do you need to help you make better choices?

 

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Here’s to the Ladies who Lunch

I am loving my new school.  Today was my first day with students.  They are the most polite, respectful, promising group of young people I have had the pleasure to work with in years.  It could be that, or it could be that I have on rose-colored glasses because this week is so much brighter in contrast to last week’s endless inservice workshops.  Maybe it’s both.

inservice

I jest.  A little.  My students are seriously wonderful, and the professional development I’ve received in the past week has already contributed to my increased abilities as an educator.

TESS Training

Now.  About these ladies who lunch.  Between training sessions and meetings last week, my colleagues welcomed me to go with them to various restaurants and eateries in town.  While I always have my “bucket of food” in tow, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to get to know my new coworkers better. 

In a single week, I ate lunch at Zaxby’s, Paula Lynn’s Really Homemade Sandwich & Sweet Shop, and a local Mexican restaurant.  Additionally, I ate a catered lunch of BBQ with all the trimmings.  Have I lost my mind?  Have I gone off my rocker?  Should someone call the food police?  Nah.  I forgot to mention about going to the pizza buffet.  Seriously.  I even ate a piece of dessert pizza.  Shouldn’t someone stop this guy?

Here’s the deal.  Whereas my early days on “real food” were unsustainably rigid and portioned, that’s what it took for me to learn how to handle conventional food.  I had to learn how much a portion of rice was on my plate.  I had to get used to eating the right amount of chicken to meet my dietary needs.  Planning, weighing, packaging, and strict adherence were what I needed then.

A few months ago, I started eating out very infrequently.  I would go to places that made things that were just like things I would make for myself.  Panera Bread’s turkey sandwich and salad were similar enough to my home-made sandwich and salad that I could easily account for them in the exchange system.  Where I used to eat only lettuce and salsa at Mexican restaurants, I grew more comfortable eating grilled chicken salads, croutons and all.

Lately, I’ve been able to eat restaurant foods while still managing my weight.  It’s all in making good choices and exercising portion control.  When we went to the Mexican restaurant last week, I ordered fajitas.  I ate the amount I knew was right for me, and I left the rest.  I left the high-fat sour cream alone.  I had chips and salsa, but only 3-4.  The remainder of my carbohydrate allocation went as rice and beans (no, not the whole amount on the plate).  It’s not about being in control of every aspect of food preparation as much it is about taking charge of what you decide to put in your mouth.  Much of this ability came from my time this summer on the campus at UALR, where the catering staff and kitchen folks were so gracious to accommodate my dietary needs.  I learned to let go of a bit of control while remaining in charge of my actions.

What did I have at the pizza buffet?  A big salad, two slices of pizza, and a tiny wedge of dessert pizza.  It’s not so much about what you eat, but how much of it.  If you’re familiar with Larry’s Pizza (an Arkansas landmark), they want their customers to be fed.  They have young people roaming with pizzas fresh from the oven calling out the various pizza names.  You don’t even have to get out of your chair.  If you hear, “Fat Larry’s?  Fat Larry’s?”  you just raise your hand (or your fork) and lean back.  In my former life, I once tried to eat a 30″ pizza.  Last week, I was surprisingly satiated by just two slices.

Zaxby’s was a bit of a challenge.  Just about everything was deep fried.  I was able to order a blackened chicken salad, although the portion of chicken provided was more than I needed.  At the catered BBQ lunch, I chose beef rather than pork, used the sauce sparingly, avoided the cole slaw, had only a taste of the potato salad, skipped the potato chips, and only ate the bottom of my bun.

Two months ago, I would have curled up in the fetal position, clutching my food scale had I been put in these situations.  Now, it’s no sweat to hop in the passenger seat of a coworker’s SUV and ride off to any restaurant they pick.

I’ve come so far.  At each stage of the journey, I’ve had to constantly ask myself, “Can you live like this for the rest of your life?  Is this sustainable?”  I lived on meal replacements for over a year.  It was an amazing tool for weight loss, but not the right tool for weight maintenance.  I spent half a year obsessing over meal plans, calorie counts, and perfect portions.  It was a lot of work, and it was something I needed to have done to get where I am today.

“Daniel is going to make it.”  It’s a phrase I heard spoken at the weight loss clinic several months ago.  Daniel is not only going to make it, he is making it.  He has made it.  He will continue making it.

How are you making it?

I’m a Hornet? I’m a Hornet!

I’ve been a Dolphin, a Reddie, a Red Wolf, a Dolphin again, an Eagle, and now I’m a Hornet.  I’m not sure if I mentioned this on Facebook or in a previous post, but I was offered a position at a new school district teaching a course that I helped them develop.  How could I turn that down!?  Right?  So, I’m now a new teacher at a new school about to start a new year.  Life.  Is.  Hectic.

hornet-logo-medium

 

In addition to teaching students in grades 9-12 how to create mobile apps, I’ll also be teaching business management and accounting.  Although the students don’t return until August 19, I’ve already been busy (as a hornet?) readying my new classroom and developing lesson plans.  Tomorrow will be my official orientation to the district.  I’m so fortunate to have a swarm of very helpful colleagues who have already made life wonderful.  

Getting back into a routine is a very welcome thing.  Although I’ve had success maintaining my weight this summer, I haven’t really gotten back into the swing of things at the gym like I should have since my doctor pronounced me ready several weeks ago.  “I’ll start back on Monday.”  “I’ll start back when it’s cooler.”  “I’ll start back after weigh-in.”  I turned into one of “those” people.

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Fear not!  I’m back in a “good rut,” as you can see my gym activity.  July wasn’t a smashing success, but I’ve gotten things together in August.  In addition to gym exercises, I’ve also recommitted to working on those push-ups I wrote about a few months ago.

Too weak to do more than two or three “big boy” push-ups, I decided that I wanted to eventually be able to do 100 of them.  I downloaded a mobile app, set up an area just for push-ups, and then promptly avoided that app and that area… for months.

The approach that I’m using now, which I saw somewhere on YouTube (but I’m unable to find again), works with a series of levels.  You start out by doing 3 sets of 15 wall push-ups.  Once you can do all of those, you do as many knee push-ups as you can, filling out the rest of the set with wall push-ups.  Once you can do 3 sets of 15 knee push-ups, you start doing full push-ups.  Any push-ups that you can’t complete fully you supplement with knee push-ups, always doing 45 of “something.”  Between sets, I found myself getting bored, so I added 30 second wall sits.

To summarize this rambling mess, I’m teaching at a new school which presents a number of great opportunities and challenges.  I’ll figure them all out.  I already know I’m going to love it.  Being back on a regular schedule has also bolstered my dedication to physical fitness in terms of regular gym attendance and exercise at home.

Gotta go do some push-ups!

 

Holding My Own

Ladies and Gentlemen, I haven’t posted in quite a while, but I want you to know that, as the song lyrics would have it, “I’m alive and doin’ fine!”  Each summer I spend 5 or 6 weeks on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s campus teaching and chaperoning middle school and high school summer camps as a part of the college of Engineering and Information Technology’s outreach efforts.  I’m on a one-week break from the programs, so I have a moment to breathe, blog, and recover from the non-stop goings on.

I wrote several posts anticipating my time on campus this summer and my anxiety about how to stay on track with my healthy eating patterns while there.  Previous summer camp meals looked like this:

Typical Meal Summer 2011 at UALR

Typical Meal Summer 2011 at UALR

As a nutritionally-literate adult, I look back at meals like this and literally feel sick to my stomach.  My meals today consist of 3 ounces of lean protein such as fish or chicken, one serving of whole grain, such as 1/3 cup brown rice, and a serving of vegetables — either 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked.  This meal is loaded with simple carbohydrates which bring a sugar rush and then vanish, tons of saturated fats, no lean proteins, and vegetables which offer little to no nutrient value other than fiber (and which are all slathered with fat).

Thinking back on meals like this one, I packed my bags accordingly when I set out for this summer’s first session.  I bought peanut butter for a high-protein source of fat, cans of tuna and chicken for a source of protein that I could throw into my go-bag and eat without heat or cooking, whole wheat bread and crackers for low-fat carb options, and baby carrots and green beans for my vegetables.  I’ve learned that it’s best to come prepared than to be left with nothing to eat but bad options.

In the cafeteria, I surveyed the scene, and this was all I could come out with:

UALR Sodexo Veggies

 

I chose chose broccoli and a salad, which was just iceberg lettuce.  When I took the first bite of broccoli, I nearly spit it out.  Butter.  Grease.  Fat.  Something was coating it, and it wasn’t as healthy as it looked.  What’s a guy have to do to get a clean vegetable on this campus?

For a couple of days, I ate my canned tuna and crackers, remaining on the lookout at each meal for something in the cafeteria that was compatible with my needs.  One evening there was a pork roast, but it was covered in gravy.  I ate it anyway, eager to have some variety.

Meals for summer programs at this campus are pre-purchased.  That plate of lettuce and greasy broccoli cost my camp director somewhere in the neighborhood of $10.00.  As my personal supplies of groceries were running low, I grew frustrated knowing that there was “food” already paid for that I was having to re-buy with my own money.  I had a visit with the catering manager in a tone that I’m not particularly proud of.  She asked me to send her an email with my specific needs in writing, so I did. 

 

Ms. R:

It is so good to see you again this summer. I appreciate you taking time to print off a copy of the upcoming meals this week. I was able to locate the nutrition facts calculator on your website, which is very helpful in keeping within my caloric budget for the day.

As you know, I have lost over 250 pounds through diet and exercise, and I have a following of over 1,000 people on Facebook in addition to my blog readership at http://needlesspounds.com who keep close tabs on me and my eating decisions. I share my successes and my failures very candidly in both writing and photographs.

I wrote recently on my blog about how my need to stay within my nutritional boundaries will be a challenge while living on UALR’s campus this summer. Here are some relevant links to my blog which reference UALR’s dining services and/or Sodexo:

http://www.needlesspounds.com/2013/06/17/from-rules-to-plans-to-a-framework/
http://www.needlesspounds.com/2013/05/04/summer-meal-uncertainties/
http://www.needlesspounds.com/2012/06/23/camp-meals/

In a less formal way, I also share my day-to-day food experiences with my personal Facebook network, which is about half the size of my blog readership. Most recently, I posted photos of today’s meal at which I only ate iceberg lettuce and broccoli.

(You might have to be logged into Facebook to view that link)

My general meal pattern is 3 ounces of a lean protein such as grilled or baked chicken, fish, or pork; 1/2 – 1 cup of non-starchy vegetables, preferably steamed, roasted, or otherwise prepared with no extra fats; and a complex carbohydrate such as a whole wheat bread, brown or wild rice, or beans. The system I use is referred to as the Diabetic Exchange System. Here’s a link to a page that gives examples of foods and their appropriate portions for the system:

http://www.uaex.edu/Other_Areas/publications/PDF/FSHED-86.pdf

Looking at Friday’s lunch, I’m having difficulty locating a lean protein. I see that there are burger patties, fried fish, and “Buffalo Meltdown,” which your own website shows to contain 57 grams of fat. In an entire day, I only eat 30-40 grams of fat. For a non-starchy vegetable, I see that you have summer squash and carrot medley. Can you verify what type of cooking preparation is used and whether or not oils, butters, or other fats will be added? Finally, I’m looking for a complex carbohydrate. Simple starches like the roasted potatoes, fried potatoes, and white bread which “turn to
sugar” are a concern for me.

In the past two weeks, I have spent over $100 on groceries to supplement the meals at which I didn’t find the nutritious options I require and that I would hope we would be offering to the children while their parents entrust them to us. Although I had great
expectations after our initial meal of pork roast, steamed vegetables, etc., I was let down to find that most days are more like this coming Friday than not. With the exception of next week, I will be with you for the greater part of July.

You and the entire crew have always taken good care of me, and I appreciate that. Please excuse the tone I used this afternoon when venting my frustration about not finding the foods I had hoped to find on the menu. A few days of eating canned tuna can
make a person irritable. I hope this letter better explains the situation that I’m in, the types of foods that I’m allowed, and my frustration today.

Again, I am very glad to be back with you this summer, and I hope you’ll forgive my crankiness.

Regards

The catering manager passed my concerns along to the executive chef who very kindly offered to ensure that my needs were taken care of.  Additionally, he shared with me that he, too, has been on a similar weight loss journey.  I found it very refreshing to be able to discuss dietary needs with someone not only professionally trained in cuisine, but also who has personal experience with the effort and dedication it takes to reach and maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise.

UALR Sodexo Grilled Chicken & Quinoa

Chef P. prepared grilled chicken with quinoa for me which I paired with the salad (which included more greens), and the cauliflower that was part of the regular meal.  The servers warned me that the cauliflower was prepared with butter, but I picked it up anyway.  After one bit, I put it back down.  Unbeknownst to me, the chef had prepared me a unseasoned portion, which he personally brought out to me.  Such a pleasant surprise!

UALR Sodexo Grilled Swai and Barley

 

My next UALR Sodexo meal was Cajun Swai with Barley and Steamed Broccoli.  I had never had swai or barley, but they were both absolutely delicious.  So flavorful and perfectly cooked, in fact, that I went immediately to my computer to write the catering manager another email.

 

Ms. R.,

I wanted to take a moment to thank you so much for putting me in contact with Chef P. He and I have been in frequent contact by email, and he has done a wonderful job identifying and delivering alternatives which are perfectly-suited to my mealtime restrictions. The anxiety and frustration that I voiced to you in my previous email
have been completely rectified through the excellent communication, flexibility, and understanding that you, Chef P., and the entire Sodexo crew have shown me.

I thank the chef daily by email, but if you get a chance, would you pass along in person how grateful I am to him for his willingness to accommodate my needs? Today’s lunch of Cajun Swai was remarkable not only for its perfect fit for my dietary needs, but also for its delightful flavor. I haven’t opened a can of tuna in days!

Thank you so much for helping me stay on track!

Sincerely

The title of this post is “Holding My Own.”  I have managed to hold my own in terms of maintaining my weight loss while being unable to exercise while completing my recovery from surgery.  I have managed to hold my own in terms of getting the healthy meals I need.  I’ve been holding my own in a lot of dimensions. I haven’t, however, been blogging as actively as I would like to.  Sometimes life happens, and things must be prioritized.  My campers are safe.  My meals are arranged.  My bills are paid.  My room is clean.  My blogging will be sporadic, but I’m still here!

How’s your summer?

 

From “Rules” to “Plans” to “a Framework”

This time two years ago, before I embarked on this weight loss journey, I ate whatever I wanted.  I had as much of it, whenever, wherever, and with whomever.  Often, I took on eating as a challenge.  My friend, Carl, and I once did our best to eat a 30″ pepperoni pizza in an hour, failing catastrophically.  On more than one occasion, I’ve consumed alcohol “to excess” for no reason other than “because.”  One year ago, I was “a changed man,” eating very deliberately.  Two servings of fruit, four servings of non-starchy vegetables, six meal replacements, and a jug or two of water each day were all I consumed.  Turning away anything else was easy:  “That’s not on the list.”

More recently, I transitioned to all conventional foods, planning and preparing my meals to very tight caloric and nutrition tolerances.  I. Measured. Everything.  Every portion, every time.  I played portion control games, trying to guess at 3 ounces of chicken or carrots before verifying them with the digital scale.  Everything I ate was something that had been carefully selected days or weeks ahead of time using the Diabetic Exchange System and my meal planning spreadsheets.

Nowadays, I’ve moved more into what I think of as a framework.  I know, generally, when and what I need to eat to maintain, gain, or lose weight.  I know, nutritionally, what proportion of my foods should come from carbohydrates, fat, and protein.  I can look at a food and know how much of it to eat and how it “counts” in my daily food budget without carrying around a measuring cup or a scale.  I still weigh foods when I’m at home, but I don’t panic when I’m out of the house and need to grab something.  I just make good choices.

I’m working summer camps, and many of our meals are traditional cafeteria fare.  Sometimes, the buffet has foods that I choose to eat.  Last night’s dinner was pork loin roast with steamed vegetables.  It was delicious.  Today’s lunch was hamburgers and fries or spaghetti with meat sauce.  I asked for a double helping of green beans and ate a can of tuna.  You win some, you lose some.  Being prepared helped me navigate that meal.  Tonight, we’re going to Subway.  I’ll be having a chicken salad.

Learning to eat, it seems, is a lot like learning to do many other things — cooking, dancing, playing an instrument — you start by learning “the basics” in a somewhat rigorous way.  Nothing exciting whatsoever.  You play scales.  You do a box waltz.  Then, you practice, practice, practice.  Once things “feel” right and you have enough experience under your belt to go with the flow when things don’t turn out according to plan, you’re ready to step out there and “bust a move.”  I’m not saying that every day of my life is executed as an exemplary eater, but I’m holding my own.

What’s my framework?  It’s essentially the Diabetic Exchange meal plans that I’ve already shared with you in The Resources, but without all the planning ahead.  I have a stock of items with me that I can call on in case of a “bad cafeteria day” — tuna, graham crackers, single serving peanut butter tubs, canned vegetables, and whatnot — and faith that I can spot healthy choices “in the wild,” consume them in reasonable portions, and pass on the foods that I don’t need.

Buffet

I have no idea what’s going to be on the hot line tomorrow, but I know that I’ll be having 3-4 exchanges of protein, 1-2 exchanges of vegetables, a carbohydrate exchange, and a fat exchange for lunch.  Today’s fat came in the form the oily coating that I found shimmering on the green beans.  In the words of Margaret, one of UAMS’s dietitians, “When you’re eating out, just assume that the fat is there.”

This has been a long time coming, but it’s a place I’m finally comfortable being.

 

An Hour with Dorothy

I spent an hour on a plane with Dorothy, a self-described “senior,” who has lost 25 pounds.  She and I have one thing in common — we struggle with our midsections.

Dorothy and I started talking when I saw her cup of yogurt.  I asked her if she had ever tried making her own yogurt at home. She had not.  I walked her through the process I use, and she said she’d try it.  She was curious why I knew how to make yogurt, so I explained that it was part of my lifestyle change.  We discussed diet, exercise, and our midsections.

My midsection solution, surgery, is generally only necessary for folks who have lost a dramatic amount of weight in a relatively short period of time.  Dorothy has lost her weight more slowly.  Her solution involves, in her words, “a ton of ab workouts.”

In addition to exercise and recipes, Dorothy listened intently as I shared the basic high points of my story.  I told her about being obese in elementary school, losing weight in college, gaining weight after my mother’s death, and ignoring warning sign after warning sign until that day a couple of summers ago when I was too large to fit behind the steering wheel of a full size van.  Dorothy said, “You should write a book.  People need to hear your story for inspiration.”  I gave Dorothy the address of my blog.  If you’re out there reading Dorothy, let me know if you’ve tried that yogurt recipe.  I hope your mother’s condition has improved.

My visit with Dorothy was so pleasant that we were putting our seat backs and tray tables up and preparing for landing before I even took out my iPod and untangled my headphones.  It was so comforting to find a person on a parallel path and spend time with them.

Who have you met on your journey?

Surgery Scheduled

“This all came together so suddenly.”  If you’ve been with me on this journey for long, you know that I have excess skin that I need to have removed.  I’ve been saving for a Belt Lipectomy, which costs $15,000.  Over 20 generous readers have contributed nearly $400 total toward this surgery fund, and I am grateful.  I’m not to $15,000 yet, but I do have enough to cover “Phase 1,” which is abdominoplasty — a “Tummy Tuck.”

I got an email from the dean of my college late last week letting me know that a course that I was scheduled to teach this summer has to be reassigned to an instructor with more seniority.  This would normally be a very uncomfortable message for a dean to deliver, but it turned out to be key to enabling me to have surgery sooner rather than later.

By removing this summer course from my calendar, I now have a month of unallocated time that I can use for recovery from surgery.  It was also last week that my surgery savings account balance grew large enough for me to afford Phase 1.  At my initial consultation with the surgeon, he provided me with several options.  One was to have all of the procedures done at once.  Other varieties broke the procedures down into phases.  With a month of free time available, some savings in the bank, and the strong desire to have this done, I picked up the phone.

“Is there any chance you could work me in?”  This is a question you might ask for an oil change or a hair appointment.  It’s a little bit more complicated when scheduling surgery.  Anesthesiologists, surgery centers, lab work, and other things have to be addressed.  Vitamin and mineral deficiencies need to be identified and corrected for optimal healing.  “Responsible adults” need to be available for assistance before, during, and following surgery.  So many things have come together in such a short time.  They all have.  Provided my lab work doesn’t reveal any snags, I’ll be going in for surgery this Wednesday.

“Is this going to turn into a surgery blog?”  No.  Needless Pounds is “One man’s weight loss journey.”  It just so happens that my journey is taking another trip through the operating room.  I shared my experience with gallbladder surgery.  This is just another experience.  I’ve lost over 250 pounds.  Most of you have less than half that much to lose.  Many of you have less than 10 percent of that to lose.  Loose skin may never be a problem for you.  It is for me, and surgery is the solution.

“Isn’t this a little sudden?”  I’ve been anticipating this surgery for over a year.  It just so happens that some pieces of the puzzle fell into place suddenly to allow me to have Phase 1 sooner rather than later.  I’ve visited with two cosmetic surgeons, both of whom told me that I was an excellent candidate for abdominoplasty and/or belt lipectomy surgery.  I’ve researched the procedures extensively, watched them performed on YouTube, and talked to patients who have had the surgeries.  I didn’t make this decision lightly.

“You’ll never be perfect.  Why waste your money?”  I’m not going for perfection here.  I have a reasonable expectation of the outcome of this surgery.  I never plan to model for Abercrombie and Fitch.  I just want to be able to sit in an office chair without skin bunching up in my lap.

I’ve tried to answer some questions that you might have.  I’ll be happy to answer any and all questions you actually have.  Just post those questions in the comments section below.  My final meeting with the doctor before the surgery is Tuesday morning.  If you have any questions that you’d like me to ask him during our final meeting, make sure to get those in by tonight.

So Excited.

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