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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back From Budapest

K and I are trying to make the most of our time living abroad and do our best to travel whenever we have an excuse (frequently a bank holiday).  We had never been to Hungary before, and I wasn't really sure what to expect in Budapest.  This city has dealt with Ottoman occupation, when Christians fled and the Turks turned Budapest into a Muslim town; German occupation during WWII, in which the city's Jews were systematically murdered, and the resulting Soviet occupation to get rid of the Germans.  It has survived US/UK air raids and has had its bridges destroyed by the Germans.  I'd heard that Budapest was beautiful but was still worried that it would look too post-Soviet... ugly square buildings with way-too-small windows.
I was really surprised by how picturesque the city is!  The buildings are ornate, and parts of the city look a lot like Paris (with the exception of Parliament, which was designed to look like that of London). 
One of the more interesting buildings was the Great Synagogue.  It is the largest synagogue in Europe, and its history was clearly shaped by WWII. 
Inside of the synagogue

Mass grave next to synagogue.  Jewish tradition does not allow cemeteries next to houses of prayer.  An exception was made here due to tragic events.
Holocaust Memorial resembles a weeping willow.  The tree has 600,000 leaves, which bear the names of the Hungarian Jews who died during the Holocaust.
The city is very walkable, now a plus in my book.  We stayed in Pest, on the east side of the Danube, and crossed the Chain Bridge to visit Buda.  The only form of transportation we took once in Budapest was the funicular that brought us from the base of Buda up the hill to Buda Castle.  Trips like this really validate my decision to have WLS.  I am so much more active and able to do what I want.  I would have hated all of the walking last year and would have done everything in my power to take taxis, find excuses not to go to the sights that required climbing, walking. etc.  Now K asks me if I want to grab a taxi, and I always prefer to walk.  What a change!
Chain Bridge
While the food in Budapest was much better than I had expected, it was way too heavy.  With the exception of local river fish (pike perch and trout), these people eat meat.  Think steak, duck, goose, foie gras, and pork (all eaten with potato of course).  I ate fish for lunch, but some of our dinner restaurants didn't even offer fish.  I had filet mignon with foie gras and croquettes on the first night, fried pork on the second (the menu didn't say it was fried, promise) and a grilled sirloin on the last night.  After three nights of meat, all I want is a piece of cod and some nice veggies.  Vegetables are almost unheard of, unless one considers a few slices of carrot to be sufficient in the veg department.  I do wonder how the residents', um, how do I say, internal plumbing withstands life without vegetables.  
On the weight front, I am down to 258.4... only .6 up from last week's low. 
Happy short week:)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Awww, hello all!

First of all, thanks to everyone who has stopped by, decided to follow me, post comments, etc.  I plan to respond as much as I can, but I am leaving for Budapest in an hour and still haven't packed.  Still, I wanted to say a quick hello!  Second, Catherine, as you already know, you ROCK!  I would still be writing (only) for myself if you hadn't linked to me.  Muchas Gracias
Yesterday was a very English day.  I went here with a girlfriend of mine:
This show takes place very close to my home, and I figured it was something I should see.  It was AMAZING.  In addition to designed outdoor gardens (one looked like Monaco, another was quite Asian), there is a huge tented area with vendors showing their prized roses, daffodils, etc.  It was such a sight.  The only downfall was that it rained.  After six weeks of dry sunny weather, the heavens decided it was time to punish us and remind us that we do live in London after all.  This was not just rain, it was a deluge, and it seemed to go on forever.  No worries though, it have us more time to look at the beautiful flowers in the tent.

This was so strange that I just had to share...
I am doing much more walking around town, but the Underground is still a necessity for me.  I took it twice yesterday, and something wonderful happened... (drumroll, please)... people sat next to me!  I typically only sit in an end seat so that I can lean towards the glass partition, but none was available.  So I sat in a middle seat, and I fit in it quite comfortably.  Even better, people willingly sat next to me.  I'm used to people seeing an empty seat, getting their hopes up and smiling, then bam, seeing me next to the open seat and deciding that balancing on 6 inch heels is safer than an encounter with me.  Not any more... very exciting! 
In weight news, I have lost 1.4 of the dreaded 3.4 overnight weight gain.  I doubt I will shed more over this weekend, but I will be back with a vengeance come Tuesday. 
Enjoy the long weekend! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Say it Ain't So

I went through my normal morning routine today.  I woke up, used the bathroom and got on the scale.  Boy was that a mistake.  Up 3.4 pounds... in one day!  I know most of this is not real weight.  I have not consumed an extra 10,000 calories in the last couple of days.  Still, how demoralizing! 
So what have I been eating?  Yesterday I had grilled swordfish and grilled veggies for lunch with a bit of hummus.  I was out to lunch in Knightsbridge with a girlfriend, and the food was very yummy.  For dinner I had hummus with cucumbers, some tomatoes with about 80 calories of crumbled feta and a packet of soup.  I overdid on the hummus a bit, but it was the only thing I ate with any nutritional value.  I typically eat fish for dinner, but K was at a wine tasting and cooking didn't sound so appealing.  My bad day was Monday.  My girlfriend and her husband threw a little dinner party.  Her Italian mother was in town and made us fresh gnocchi for a starter.  We then had grilled sausage, rib eyes and salad... we are in England after all.  While I had the gnocchi- no seconds- and half a sausage, I only had two bites (really two bites, not like I ate half the cow and claimed it as two bites) of the steak.  My downfall was wine.  Our friends love good wine and served some bottles that paired well with our food.  Still, 3.4 pounds! 
Today I am meeting my husband for a quick sushi lunch in the city and will cook cod for dinner.  I have a decent amount of free time today, and I nice long walk is mandatory.  Be gone extra pounds... I have no room for you here!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I am really happy with my weight loss.  I have been doing my best to work with my still nameless band, and the band has, in turn, been working with me.  It is easy for me to get bogged down with the reality that I still have 100+ pounds to lose, but I do my best to remind myself of how far I've come in under six months.  One of the easiest ways to do this is through NSVs.  The numbers are always important, but the reality is that NSVs drive us.  What is the point of losing all this weight if the weight loss does not positively impact our lives?
My first two NSVs relate to airplanes.  A couple of months ago I was able to fasten my seat belt, regardless of the size of the plane.  Prior to surgery, I could JUST fasten my belt on CO 777s and would actually break into a sweat doing so.  I'd have to recline my seat to give me a bit more room, pull both ends of the belt as much as possible, suck in my gut, and hope for the best.  I had absolutely no chance of doing so on CO 757s or on 737s and stopped trying.  Lucky for me, flight attendants are not that observant, so I never had to use an extender.  Now I can fasten my seat belt without any problem.  That was NSV #1.  NSV #2 is pretty similar.  Now I can actually fit into my seat when I fly.  Before surgery my legs and butt would expand under the armrest and invade the seat of the person next to me, frequently my poor husband.  It was SO embarrassing.  I always hated what I refer to as 'butt ooze' and had little patience for people whose butts invaded the seat that I paid for.  One day I became butt oozer- so not acceptable, but nothing I could fix immediately.  Well, my butt ooze no longer encroaches upon the poor soul seated next to me.  I still might ooze a bit, but said ooze is limited to my seat!  These things sound trivial, but for me they are gigantic.  I fly most weeks, and it is so nice to have less anxiety when doing so. 
I'm having so much fun documenting my NSVs that I will post one more.  Walking was really becoming a chore once I surpassed the 300 pound mark.  I don't mean that I couldn't walk, but I could not maintain any decent pace when walking.  Walking also fatigued me to no end.  When K and I would travel, I'd try to find the most direct route to every sight to reduce the amount I'd have to walk and do everything in my power to avoid stairs.  Even with these methods, I would be exhausted by the end of the day.  Those days are behind me.  K and I were recently in Italy, and boy did we walk.  We walked and walked like we hadn't walked in years.  When we didn't walk, we climbed.  We climbed San Marco, we climbed the Doge's Palace, we climbed the Rialto Bridge more times than I care to remember, and that was just in Venice.  My most exciting victory (NSV #3) was that we climbed Pisa- all 294 (or 296, not sure which staircase we used) steps!  I did stop a couple of times on my way up, but my breaks were no longer than 30 seconds.  Other than that, it was pure climbing.  I was a bit hot and sweaty when I reached the top, but I couldn't have cared less.  I had done it- I CLIMBED PISA!  K was very excited for me as well.  He is experiencing the benefits of this surgery and is liking the results! 

Yup, that's me... on the top of the Leaning Tower! 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spilling the Beans

I am a private person- always have been.  I don't share my life story with random women queueing for the bathroom at a restaurant, and I haven't shared my decision to have WLS with many people.  I first discussed my decision with my mom over dinner. This was in April 2010, when I was a VAV (Volcanic Ash Victim) and had to extend my time in NY/NJ by a week. I casually brought up the band a long time ago, before I was married, and she was 100% opposed to it. So... I figured I would try again. My mom has battled her weight for decades and understands what being overweight is like. I decided that if she thought I was nuts, I would probably drop the idea. If, however, she was on board, the next discussion would be with my husband.
During dinner we were discussing health, hers and mine, so it was the perfect opportunity. I told her that I was clearly losing the weight battle and that my health was very much in jeopardy. Then I waited. She thought that the Lap-Band was a great idea and even offered to help me pay for it (as my super premium insurance requires me to jump through hoops of fire and pull myself up by my bootstraps before it will even considering financing WLS... if only I were a man with erectile issues- then I would get treatment without an issue). I was shocked that she was so supportive. 
The more difficult discussion was with my husband.  My husband is slim and cute.  He weighs maybe 7 pounds more than he did when we met in 1997.  When he decides that he needs to lose 5 pounds, he squeezes his eyes shut, whispers to himself "I must lose 5 pounds" and does just that.  Picture Dorothy tapping her heels together three times and repeating "There's no place like home" before miraculously awakening in her bedroom in Kansas.  This is how my wonderful K loses weight.  I know that he has viewed my inability to successfully lose weight as a failure and feels (or at least felt prior to my WLS) that if I just TRIED hard enough, I would OVERCOME and WIN the battle of the bulge.  Ha!  Anyone who has struggled with his or her weight knows this is not the case.  Try telling this to a naturally thin person though.  After months of procrastinating, I finally spoke with him.  He wasn't happy.  He wanted me to go on a 6 month intense diet/work out regimen to prove that the surgery was necessary and (more importantly I think) prove TO HIM that I was committed to the whole process.  He felt that his way couldn't hurt.  While he was correct, I don't like being challenged when I am pretty certain of what is correct for me.  More importantly, I really felt that he was demeaning me by determining what was right for me.  Finally, I did what any smart woman would do- I enlisted my mother to convince him.  On one of our trips back home last year, my mom spoke with K when I was showering.  She expressed her feelings and told K that she would gladly pay for the surgery because she felt it was that important for me.  For some reason this really made a difference.  He still didn't LIKE the idea of WLS, but from that point forward he was at least willing to accept that it was right for me. 
I thought that only my mom and K would know, but I wound up telling a close girlfriend of mine (matron of honor in my wedding close) when she came to visit us in London last October.  My primary care physician had ordered a ridiculous number of tests before signing off on my surgery, and something was kind of funky on my ECG.  I wound up having a stress test while my friend was here, which led her to ask why I needed a stress test.  I figured that telling her was easier than lying (and it would be nice for my closest girlfriend to know), so I did just that.  Since October 2010, I have told nobody else... in the interest of full disclosure, two blogging bandsters know a well.  This was fine until I found out that my girlfriend told her husband, who nearly outed me to a mutual friend.  Even though he knew this was a private matter, he referred to my 'surgery', asked the mutual friend if she had seen me since my 'surgery' and then made what I found to be a underhanded comment about how only time would tell if the surgery would be a success or not... not supportive and not nice!  Our mutual girlfriend was really confused and wound up telling me what he said.  Lucky for me, I'd had surgery in January for a non-band issue, so she assumed that the odd surgical references were to my January procedure.  Still, this has made me less willing to spill the beans about my WLS.  
Now I come to my current issue- a close childhood friend (bridesmaid in my wedding) mentioned last week that she might be considering Lap-Band surgery.  She knows nothing of my surgery and hasn't mentioned anything about my weight loss (even though it is hard not to notice that I have lost 60+ pounds).  I am torn.  Part of me wants to tell her that I had the surgery.  If she is really interested in going through this, I highly recommend my doctor/practice.  I can also speak with her about life post-surgery, healing, diet, etc.  At the same time, I like my privacy.  I have learned that some people don't value privacy the way I do and that confidences are easily broken.  Do I want to risk her spilling the beans after I confide in her with the intention of helping her?  I don't think I want to take that chance.  The downside risk is just too high for me.  So for now I will sit back and watch to see what she decides.  I can always tell her at a later date if I decide it is prudent, but I cannot take my information back once it is out there.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pictorial Proof of Progress

I am a bit late to the blogging game, and I feel it is only fair to show some pre/post surgery pictures...
Wimbledon- June 2010
Elounda, Crete- August 2010
Rome, Italy- October 2010
Dublin, Ireland- January 2011 (3 weeks post-surgery- sorry, but I can't refer to myself as being post-op.  It sounds too much like a transgendered person experiencing her own breasts for the first time.)
Sevilla, Spain- February 2011
Greve, Italy- April 2011
That is more than enough pictures for one day!

Little Band, Lots of Miles

One of my main concerns when weighing the pros and cons of surgery came down to travel.  The obvious pros are more easily fitting into airplane seats, having more energy to see and climb the sights I visit and not being the fat American everywhere I go.  I was really concerned about the cons though.  Would I be able to fly easily, or would the band tighten up and make me really uncomfortable?  What if I couldn't sample local cuisine due to the band?  My husband and I love good food and wine, and I didn't want to risk losing one of our more enjoyable activities because of the band. 
Lucky for me, this has not been an issue.  My band has flown approximately 49,478 miles in under six months.  In addition to my monthly trip back to NY/NJ to see my family and go to Dr. K, my band (I should really name it) has been to Dublin, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sevilla (Spain), Venice, Chianti, Florence, and Positano.  My band is very well-behaved and has not acted up during any of my travels.
We spent NYE in Dublin, so I pretty much re-introduced my stomach to solid foods over a fabulous NYE dinner at One Pico.  I probably had one other solid meal the day before, but it wasn't memorable.  I was completely scared that I would get stuck, choke or cause a scene, but nothing of the sort happened.  I ordered the filet mignon and was able to eat some of it... I was full after only a few bites but was SO excited that I could handle steak.  This might have been a bit adventurous right out of the gate, but it was a success!  We spent two more days in Dublin, and I stuck with fish for the remainder of the trip. 
I have been able to eat everything from steak to sushi, octopus to oranges.  The key for me is really small bites and a lot of chewing.  Because Dr. K knows of my travel schedule, she tries to fill me as little as possible while still giving me adequate restriction.  I have heard that a lot of bandsters like a super tight feeling, but that's not me.  I want to eat my Greek salads and lamb chops.  So far, I have continued to do so (albeit in smaller quantities) without a problem.     

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I have never blogged before. Actually, I have probably never written down my thoughts in any meaningful way before. I was never a Dear Diary kind of girl, and I am not a Dear Diary kind of woman. So this will be interesting. I might wind up stopping this whole blogging adventure in days, but it is worth a try.  For those of you who read what I write, let me know.  Good, bad, indifferent- it is all good to me.
I guess a good starting point is to discuss why I decided to undergo lap-band surgery. I have been fat, very fat, for years.  I am 5'6.5" (I always thought I was 5'7", but NYU tells me this is not the case).  Before I had surgery, I weighed over 320 pounds. At 31, I was unable to control my life. If this were just a weight issue I probably would have dealt with it, but it was not. I was unable to control my health, my future and my family. My excess weight made (and still makes) me more likely to die young (cancer, heart attack?), less likely to have a family during my short life and less likely to be able to enjoy so much of life due to my physical limitations. Don't get me wrong, my life is good. I have a fabulous husband (K), an amazing family and really awesome friends. I go out a ton, travel regularly and really live it up. But I knew that time was running out and these things that I so enjoy would, unquestionably, end. Travel became stressful, as cramming my ever expanding tush into an economy seat was all but impossible. K is always a good sport and takes the middle seat so I can hug the window, but he shouldn't have to.  Given that I fly several times a month, this was a real problem for me (and for us).  I had visions of us growing old together, but unless I made some serious changes to my life, K would be growing old with someone else... because I would die, not because he would leave me for a thinner model.
I was a really skinny child until I got my tonsils out at age 4. Before that I looked like a child who really needed to bite into a burger. After the surgery I was clearly the child who ate the burger, the cheese, the bacon, and the side of fries. I successfully dieted in part of my 20s, assuming success is measured by one's ability to simply lose weight. I lost about 70 pounds by taking copious amounts of Adipex while low-carbing over a year or two. I was certainly not skinny, but I looked and felt good, except for the headaches, the jitters, and all of the other fun and exciting side effects of speed and protein. And once I stopped my speed-induced diet, I gained the 70 pounds back plus an additional 70.
I always ate too much and was well aware of this fact. I ate too much of the good foods, and I did so because I was hungry. You would have been more likely to find me pigging out on sushi than on angel food cake with icing. The 'wrong' foods are really not my weakness. The only time I'd like that angel food cake is to squish it in Joy B@uer's face (on the Tod@y Show). What a PITA (pain in the @$$) that woman is- stop drinking soda and lose 50 pounds in a year, cut 3 eggs out of your 8 egg omelet in the morning to lose inches by bathing suit season. What about the rest of us Joy? What about the people who simply eat way too much of the 'good' foods and do so because our bodies tell us to keep eating. This is why I chose lap-band surgery: because a smaller stomach feels full faster. Once I am full, I stop. Getting full WAS the problem.