By Ginger Costen
If I had to sum up the past eighteen months along my journey towards bariatric surgery I guess it would be a frustrating trip of three pounds forward and two pounds back.
During this time I’ve been through a twelve-week program focusing on ways to change eating behaviors while also dealing with trigger foods that can sabotage a commitment to making healthy choices. (I’ve come to realize that having an eating disorder and food addiction is about as much fun as having a free all-day pass to a New England water park in February.)
I’ve had monthly visits to a nutritionist as well as a therapist while also attending at least one or two monthly group meetings. One month I got really clever and made all the appointments on the same day and found by the end of the evening I was so hungry from talking about food all day, I could have stopped at every fast food location on the way home from Worcester. (There are 12 from Plantation Street to Lakeside Ave., if you don’t count all the Honey Dew or Dunkin Donuts.)
The six-week exercise program – often referred to as “Boot Camp” – was my least favorite requirement. I’m not a formal exercise person and much prefer to get out in my yard or the town flower beds and garden for my active lifestyle. (Perhaps I could count all the trips I made to Dunkin Donuts since everyone knows… America runs on Dunkin.)
So what have I learned and where am I in the process? Glad you asked.
I’ve now maintained a 60 pound weight loss for six months. I’m working with the Overeaters Anonymous 12-step program for food addiction. (Hi, my name is Ginger and don’t get too close to me if you’re eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.) I also continue with the nutrition and behavioral visits and group meetings. (There isn’t much time left to eat since there’s no eating at the meetings)
This week I finally started my pre-work for surgery.
It is a requirement that every annual, semi-annual or any other time increment test must be current. So there are physicals, a colonoscopy, endoscopy, mammogram, smears, blood tests, MRIs and CAT scans. By the time I’m done giving, voiding, sampling and perjuring I should be at my ideal weight of 144 pounds.
After all this is done and the results are in, I’ll see the surgeon and a date will be scheduled.
During the next month I need to learn how to eat without having anything to drink. I must also maintain a daily protein intake of 70 grams. Eat six small meals a day and walk at least a mile preferably more. (No, not while eating the six small meals.)
In addition to my monthly meetings I must also give up all carbonated beverages (it might be a good time to sell your stock in the Dr. Pepper Company) and refined sugars (it might be a better time for everyone in Webster to go on vacation).
The surgeon will then consider the best way to modify the size of my stomach while also adding the intestinal bypass. I’ll be in the hospital for three days and then it’s time to walk the walk and talk the talk.
At first I’ll be drinking protein shakes and then after six weeks I’ll graduate to six small (1-2 tablespoons) of soft food items and at the end of three months I should be able to eat small amounts of solid food. I should also be losing about 15-20 pounds a month.
So what’s been the biggest challenge? Trying to find a balance between what my skinny husband likes to eat and what I can eat.
Last night after my husband Mike Costen picked up his brother Bob from bowling, he stopped by Price Chopper and lovingly bought me three packages of Nabisco Nutterbutter cream cookies. Why? (I asked that same question.) Because he didn’t want me to see him eating the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that he’d bought for himself.
It’s not easy being the only fat person in a skinny man’s world.