Friday, September 28, 2012

Week three

During week three of the Bariatric class, I decided to change things up and sit in a new spot.  Honestly, I wanted to sit somewhere other than near Amber, so I moved to the other side of the classroom. It’s not that I don’t like Amber, but she’s annoying.  So. Annoying.

So I move to the other side of class, and guess who decides to move with me? AMBER! She sits down right next to me, because apparently, we are now best friends! Yay, me! (Just in case it’s not obvious, that’s sarcasm).  I don’t want to be friends with her, because then I will feel guilty about making fun of her…well, not so guilty that I’ll stop, but I might not be as snarky.  And then what would be the point of this?

Will the real Dundalk please stand up?

During week two class, about 7 people didn’t show up, including *drum roll please* DUNDALK! The girl that I THOUGHT was Dundalk was NOT Dundalk. (I thought she looked cleaner and more nicely dressed than what I thought Dundalk actually looked like.)  The REAL Dundalk has a side neck tattoo of her name? Maybe—it’s someone’s name. She also seems to have a lot of other oddly placed tattoos. Her uniform of choice runs to grungy T-shirts for things like Nascar, beer, and other white trashy “likes”, leggings,  and plastic flip-flops.  At least Amber rocked her Pajama Jeans for class this week!

Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of ‘funny’ anecdotes this week, but this is the best of the bunch.

On making milk substitutions:
Blondie:  So continuing from where we left off last week, how many people decided to make a simple change, like going from whole milk to 1% or even skim? Anyone?
HnH:  What if we use half-n-half?
Blondie: We talked about this last week. You really should try changing your half-n-half to at least 1%. Half-n-half is really a waste of calories.  
Dundalk:  What if I already use 1%?
Blondie:  That’s fine.  You weren’t here last week, but that was a simple change that I thought everyone would be able to make.
Dundalk: Oh, well, I didn’t need to be here. My husband already had this done, and I already have all of his books, so I just looked at them.
Blondie: It’s good that you read some of the materials, but you are required to complete every section of this class in order to be approved for your surgery. Everyone who missed last week will need to schedule to make up that one class when the next session starts.
(it should be noted that at least 10 people didn't show up for week three. Did they quit?)

On high triglyceride diet (again):
Amber: So, I don’t understand why you want me to eat all of these foods that are bad for my high triglycerides. You should know that I can’t eat bread, and I can’t have fruit…those are all bad for my triglycerides. So is milk. Milk has sugar, and you want me to drink milk!
Blondie: What I suggest is that instead of going over this each week in class and taking away time from the teaching, you should call and schedule an appointment with a nutritionist in our office.  Then you can come in and spend an hour with her to learn what you can and cannot eat to help you meet your nutritional goals.
Amber: But I’m already eating ONLY triglyceride lowering foods. I only eat 90% lean ground beef. I only eat wheat bread. I only eat turkey breast. I eat olive oil. I eat….
Blondie:  Call the office tomorrow and schedule an appointment with a nutrition…
Amber:  I can’t eat what you want me to eat! This has to be modified.
Blondie: (sigh)

In the parking lot after class (because my new best friend wants to walk with me):
Amber: You know, Blondie is trying to kill me. She doesn’t understand that I can’t eat a lot of this food. It’s bad for my triglycerides!
Me: I don’t know, Amber. I think you should schedule an appointment to go in and meet with the nutritionist. She did say that some modification might need to be made for you.
Amber:  I don’t trust her. What kind of person tells someone with high triglycerides that it’s okay to eat carbs? Carbs  cause triglycerides. And fruit! Fruit is horrible for you. It’s nothing but carbs! And she wants us to eat fruit every day!
Me: Well, I really need to get going now….
Amber: I think she’s trying to kill me!
Me:  I don’t think Blondie is trying to kill you.  If she killed off everyone in her classes she wouldn’t have a job. She’s not going to do anything to jeopardize your health.  She’s a professional. 
Amber:  Do you think she hates me?
Me: Okay, bye! (walking to car)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekends are the worst!

I know that this is supossed to be all fun and laughs, but I think that I might actually post some serious stuff about the trials leading up to the surgery.

Just so you know, dieting during the week is SO EASY.  Work provides structure. Yes, nights are a little harder to handle, but really, it's just dinner and bed.  Now weekends, on the other hand, have no structure at all. My sleep hours are disjointed. I don't eat at regular normal times. I am lazy about writing down anything I eat. I snack from boredom. I don't exercise. Basically, I turn into a blob.

I need to figure out how to get weekend eating under control. I ate an entire bag of potato chips over the course of Saturday and Sunday. A. Whole. Bag. I did make SOME healthy choices by eating alot of homemade turkey chili, and turkey and avacado sandwiches--but that's not enough to offset the entire bag of chips...and the cookies. I forgot all about the cookies.

So, if anyone has some tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments.  No suggestion is stupid.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I forgot something about last meeting

As I was walking out, talking with a classmate about becoming "accountability buddies", or as I like to call it, BBF, or bariatric best friends, Amber latched on and walked with us.  We came to the first door exit to outside, but since our meetings are held in a hospital, the entrance is key card controlled, so to get in OR out, you need to be an employee. 

Amber gets angry, and is like, "That's stupid. Why can't we get out of this door?". So I explained the key card thing, and said, "Well, we just need to walk back to the door we came in. C'mon, it's exercise....that's why we're here, right? Right!"

So, as me and BBF and Amber continue to walk down the hall, Amber is like, "I don't need any more exercise. I do Zumba five times a week, and that burns like 1,000 calories every time!".  Really?  You're motivated to do Zumba? You wore PAJAMAS to the first class--and it was at 6pm! I seriously doubt you see the light of day before noon most weeks.

Another Amberism from the last class came during the nutrition discussion.  After we get started into the green book, and talking about calories, etc, Amber sticks her hand in the air, and says, "But what if I'm already doing EVERYTHING in this book? Do I have to take the rest of the class?".

You know what, Amber, most of us are already doing the simple changes like eating lean protien, eating alot of veggies, reducing carb intake, etc.  Obviously, if you were restricting your calorie intake and exercising as much as you say you are, YOU wouldn't need to be here!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Week # 2

Week #2 wasn’t QUITE as entertaining as week #1, but it did have its moments of greatness.  Just for the record, on week #1, our regular instructor was not able to make it to class, so we had the instructor from the other session step in to get us started.  No worries, except that she was like, 11 months pregnant and ready to drop her kid at any time (which she did earlier this week).  Good news is, I lost 1.5 lbs! Yay me!
The new instructor (who I will call Blondie) was very nice. She was very upbeat and positive, and personable.  Even though she was one of those skinny girls who is probably a runner (even though she’s also pregnant and due in January) and super athletic, she didn’t seem to judge, and it felt like she loved helping people to be healthier.  I digress.
Week #2 actually started the nutrition portion of the class.  There is a lot of information about what is a calorie, how many calories are in fat/carbs/proteins, and how many calories you need to eliminate to lose 1lb. (One girl in the class already knew all this because she had been in Weight Watchers, so she was totally the teachers’ pet for this session.  From this point forward, she will be known as WW when she is referenced).  
Just to reiterate, here is a cast of characters so far:
Amber (white trashy and looks like Amber from Teen Mom—probably in mid 20’s. She wore pajamas to the first class!)
Dundalk (white trash and probably from Dundalk—probably in mid 20’s—but seems nice enough)
WW (chick that was in Weight Watchers and knows everything—probably in mid 40’s)
HnH (older black woman who is probably in her late 60’s)
Blondie (class leader—probably in mid 30’s)
Trudy (young black girl—probably around age 20—reference to the ‘Facts of Life’—probably the smallest person in the class and the least in need of this procedure)
Later (white girl—probably in mid 20’s but stuck with a hair style from 1975—called ‘later’ because she joined the class late)
Tennessee (white guy—probably late 30’s—always wears a t-shirt in Tennessee Orange. He’s also approximately the same size as the state of Tennessee. The largest person in the class—but I’m not judging).
Some selected conversations from last night for your reading pleasure:
On the use of artificial sweeteners:
Blondie: There are a lot of healthy beverage choices on the market that will make losing weight easier.  This will prevent you from drinking your calories.  Diet and reduced calorie drinks are great substitutes for sugar sweetened products, and help you to keep your calorie consumption low.
Amber: That’s not true. Artificial sweeteners are bad for you.
Blondie: That’s incorrect.  Artificial sweeteners are a necessary part of helping you to reduce your calories and experience weight loss.  For those of you who are diabetic, it will help you to reduce spikes in blood sugar.
Amber: It’s IS true.  Aspartame causes cancer
Blondie: No it doesn’t.
Amber: Yes, it does. I saw it on TV.  They also said that eating artificial sweeteners makes you GAIN weight.
Blondie (visibly agitated at Amber): You’re wrong.  I’m not going to stand here and argue with you all night.  Artificial sweeteners are perfectly healthy to consume.

On meal plans:
Blondie: I’m going to hand out a green booklet.  This booklet contains your meal plan guidelines for you to follow for the next six months to help you reach your 10% weight loss goal for the course.
Amber (waving hand in the air): I have high tri-glycerides.  Will this meal plan be okay for me, or will I have to modify it to account for that.
Blondie:  The meal plan is fine for your tri-glycerides.  You shouldn’t have to modify anything because this will limit your intake of foods that you shouldn’t be eating anyways.
Amber: Are you sure?
Blondie: Yes, I’m sure.

On making healthy choices:
Blondie:  On page two of your green book, you’ll see a page for dairy products.  If you drink whole milk, you are consuming 150 calories and 9 grams of fat per 8oz glass. By changing to 1% or skim, you will be eliminating a lot of the useless calories and especially fat.  By a show of hands, who currently drinks whole milk? Okay, 2%? And 1%? And skim? I noticed you didn’t raise your hand, ma’am. Do you not drink milk?
HnH:  I drink milk, just not any of those.
Blondie: Oh, do you drink soy milk or almond milk instead?
HnH: No, I use Half-and-Half.
Blondie: Half of what and what? Whole milk and skim?
HnH: No, half-n-half like for coffee.
Blondie: You DRINK half-and-half? Half-and-Half is half cream and half whole milk.  That’s really not the healthiest choice when you’re trying to lose weight.
HnH: Well, I really only use it in my coffee.
Blondie: Oh, well that’s not too bad, I guess, especially if you’re only drinking a few cups of coffee a week.
HnH: Yeah, I use 3 or 4 Tablespoons per mug.  And sometimes I eat it on my cereal, too. 
Blondie (obviously shocked): You use half-and-half in your cereal? And you use at least 3-4 Tablespoons per cup of coffee? (see her mentally calculating calories in her head) How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?
HnH: Only about two or three cups a day. When I use it on my cereal, I dilute it with some water. That makes it healthier, right?
Blondie:  Well, that’s something we’re going to go over.

On vegetables being a ‘free’ food:
Blondie:  As you can see, you can have one ‘free’ vegetable serving a day.  A serving is either 1.5 cups cooked, or 3 cups raw.  These refer to the non-starchy vegetables.  Potatoes, peas, and corn are not on this list. 
Amber:  Does ‘free’ mean that they burn more calories than they have in them?
Blondie: No, ‘free’ means that you get them as a ‘free’ option that doesn’t count towards your meal plan.
Amber: But some vegetables are negative calories!
Blondie: That’s a myth. There is no such thing as a food with a negative calorie count. Moving on…

On being Vegan:  
Trudy: So my family, I mean, my mom and my brother, and our whole family is transitioning to being Vegan. So we’ve been drinking organic milk. Is organic milk lower in calories and fat?
Blondie: Although organic milk is a good choice, the fat and calorie content will be equivalent to the same level of milk in the non-organic side. So whole milk, generally, will have the same calories and fat regardless of whether the cows were given hormones.
Vegan: But organic milk is good for you. It says so.
Later: What about acidophilus milk? Is that healthier? Because there’s no lactose?
Blondie: Again, milk is milk and all levels of milk will be equivalent across the board. Whole milk, 2 %, 1% and skim will all have equivalent calories and fat, even if its organic, or its Lactaid.
(it should be noted that no one chose to tell Trudy that to be a VEGAN means NO products from animals—including milk. I guess she forgot about that!)

On drinking juice:
Blondie: Juices can be good for you, but juices can also be very high calorie and sugar products. I know a lot of people are hard-core juicers, but remember that juice can be drank very quickly, and leave lacking.  Eating a piece of fruit instead will give your body fiber, which makes you feel full, and it takes longer than drinking just juice.
Tennessee:  I love orange juice, but I haven’t had any since I was diagnosed diabetic.
Blondie: That’s probably a good idea, but there are other options available to you, for example, Trop50 has less sugar and calories than regular orange juice.
Tennessee:  It’s nasty. I tried it once and it was disgusting.
Amber: Yeah, and it’s probably got artificial sweetener in it, doesn’t it? It has to have artificial sweetener in it!
Blondie:  Give me a minute, I’m reading the label. Yes, it has sucralose, or splenda, in it. But it’s still an option if you can’t give up your morning juice.  Of course, it’s not going to taste Exactly the same, but it might help satisfy that juice habit. You can also look like the Morning Sunrise Crystal Light…
Tennessee (shouts): Crystal Light is AWESOME!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 1--the drama begins

Seriously, I can't make this stuff up!

In discussion about the importance of eating breakfast:
Amber: what if it’s psychologically impossible to eat breakfast, because it makes me vomit. What do I do then?
Nutritionist: well, we really encourage you to try to eat something within two hours of getting up
Dundalk (to amber): you can have your therapist write you a prescription for a drug that you can use to take when you get up so that you can eat.
Amber: I’ll ask for that!
Nutritionist: we really don’t encourage you to use drugs. This is a lifestyle change. We don’t suggest taking more drugs. Just try to eat something within two hours of getting up.

In discussion about class rules and use of phones:
Class leader:  we request that all cell phones be turned off during the class. However, we understand that emergencies arise, so we ask that you please leave the room to take any phone calls.  If you have a situation that you may need to leave for, please sit towards the back of the room, but try to limit the amount of time that you are out of the classroom.
Dundalk: I have two kids with autism. I have to take phone calls if they have issues. So, now that I told you that, I can take phone calls, right? You said as long as the staff was informed…
Class leader: We don’t want you to miss class, if possible, so yes, if you need to take a call….
Dundalk (interrupting): But I have TWO KIDS WITH AUTISM!

On scheduling the psych eval:
Class leader: as part of the course, you are required to schedule one psych eval within the next six months.  This is done on your own, and is billed to your insurance. If you are under medical assistance, you are required to complete six evals, once per month during the duration of the course.
Amber (on medical assistance):  I already see a psychologist AND a psychiatrist twice a week. Do I need to schedule additional appointments?
Class leader: No, as long as your eval forms are completed once a month by either doctor, you are covered.
Me: (in stage whisper) JESUS CHRIST!
Dundalk (not to be outdone by amber): I also see a psychologist and a psychiatrist.  Do I need to schedule additional appointments for these evals, too?
Class leader (becoming clearly frustrated at this point): No, as I just said, as long as your regular provider completes the form once a month, you are covered.

On quitting smoking 90 days prior to pre-surgical visit:
Class leader: you are required to be nicotine free for 90 days prior to your presurgical visit after the class ends.  If you are currently a smoker, you will want to begin the process now to start quitting, since nicotine doesn’t refer only to smoking—it also refers to the patches and gum used to quit smoking.
Dundalk: are there any programs to help you quit?
Class leader ( surprised about good question): yes, XXXXXXXXX county offers free smoking cessation and provides Chantix at no charge. Call this number to sign up.
Amber: Ive tried to quit smoking but I can’t do it. If I take the gum or patch, my throat swells closed. I need something different.
Class leader: Call the number to sign up for free Chantix and support from XXXXXXXXX county.
Amber: but how will you know if we are smoking or not?
Nutritionist: We test you for nicotine. We will know.  You can’t hide it, so don’t try.  You can’t be approved for surgery until you’re free of nicotine for 90 days.
Amber: oh….

On the meal plans that will be provided next session:
Amber: I have high triglycerides. Will this diet accommodate my special medical condition?
Nutritionist: if you have hi triglycerides, you should already be aware of what foods you can and cannot eat. 
Amber: yeah, but what about the foods I CAN eat?
Nutritionist: Well, if you have been diagnosed with high triglycerides, you shouldn’t be eating carbohydrates, refined sugar, fried foods... 
Amber (interrupting) : but what about the foods that are good for lowering them?
Nutritionist: don’t worry—we aren’t going to make you eat fried foods and sugar.
Dundalk: Well, I won’t eat sugar free things. I think that artificial sweetner is the devil, and its bad for you. so I have to eat regular sugar.
Nutritionist (agitated at this point): Everyone will get a customized meal plan. Please follow it to the best of your ability.

Why am I doing this?

I have recently started the Bariatric surgery process.  In order to get from point A (me fat) to B (me not so fat), it's required that I complete six months of nutritional and surgical education classes.  Essentially, this involves a 60 minute class once a week for 26 weeks. I also have to meet once with a psychiatrist, two times with a nutritionist, and with an exercise physiologist.

In this class, there are a variety of characters, personalities, and lifestyles represented.  There are (relatively) young working professionals like myself, an assortment of senior citizens (because apparently, at the age of 70, it's never too late to start living your life--especially if Medicare will pay for it!), and alot of white trashy on people that I refer to as 'dundalkians'. I don't know if white trashy is an acceptable moniker, but it will do.

In my specific group session, I have two 'dundalkians'.  Henceforth, most of the things that I post here will be about them.  For your convenience, I have named them Amber (because she looks like Amber from Teen Mom), and Dundalk (because I couldn't come up with anything better). They. Are. Stupid. 

I will be posting conversations that occur between the dunalkians and the class leaders that I find funny.  I might also post about other things, like the class itself, and things that I learn...but really, this is supossed to be a fun way for me to tell people about the stupid things that happen.  Since noone knows that I'm doing this procedure, I can't go to work and share my observations about the dundalkians and get I will leave that up to you.