Catching up: I know…it’s been a while

I know…it’s been a while

It’s been a long time since I updated here, and I am sorry for that. Life got in the way.  After a stressful spring, a somewhat restful summer that inevitably became yet another stressful autumn, I decided I’d had enough. It culminated in me deciding to resign from my position and focus on freelancing and fiction writing again. This is my first week of writing full-time and so far, so good. I am still open to finding another full-time job, but right now I am enjoying being in charge of my own time and being able to choose the projects that I work on and the people I work with.

How am I doing?

How am I doing? Update

I’m getting there… 🙂

My weight loss has been a bit slower than I’d expected, but I expect some of this was due to the stress I was under and not having enough time to exercise as I should. Now that I am freelancing, I have more space in my schedule and I’ve already booked two yoga passes for this week and gone on two long walks. Next week, I’ll be returning to strength training.

Back to meal planning

Another good thing about working from home is that I can focus on planning my meals again. I lost focus of it during the summer and never really got back into it. I started again last weekend and made Skinnytaste’s turkey meatball stroganoff (though I substituted chicken for turkey since my local supermarket was out of ground turkey) in my slow cooker. If you haven’t tried this recipe, you really should! It’s delicious.

I’ve already got a few dishes planned for next week:

Buying winter clothes

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My new winter parka (Photo: lindex.com)

Since I’ve lost quite a lot of weight, most of my winter clothes are now too big. I was hoping I could continue using the same winter coat (which I bought last year at H&M and loved) but it fits like a sack now. I’ve added it to the donation bag, along with an autumn-weather coat I purchased a few years ago from ASOS, and several pairs of jeans that are in excellent condition but that slide off my hips now.

Yesterday I went to H&M to look for another winter coat. I tried on three, but none of them really spoke to me and said they wanted to follow me home. I ended up going to Lindex and found a green parka that looks exactly like the one I’m donating. Plus, it’s got sherpa fleece in the hood and lining. I love it! 🙂

I also stocked up on socks, since you can never have too many pairs of socks.

I’ve already got two pairs of great winter boots, so I don’t need to worry about those. But I need to find some thicker pull-on pants for the weekends and another pair of jeans. That’s a project for next week.

And how are you?

How’s it going for you? Have you reached your next major weight loss goal following surgery? Hit a stall? Or what’s your favourite workout? Drop me a line! 🙂 I am still trying to figure out what mine is (or will be) any tips you have will make me a very happy camper.

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A little update and a little clothes shopping

one pot salsa verde chicken and riceHow am I doing? Update-7

Ever since I started this weight loss journey, one of the things that I hadn’t really thought about much was that sooner or later I would have to buy new clothing. Realistically, I knew that losing weight would mean either going through everything in my closet and seeing if I’d saved anything that was once too small…or daring to go into stores and see if I’d lost enough weight to buy smaller sizes. It was going to happen sooner or later, right?

But…even when the scale doesn’t always seem to be budging much, I’ve begun to notice differences in how my clothes fit. My favourite t-shirts and sweaters are now very loose and all most too big to continue wearing to work. My favourite pairs of skinny jeans now feel a bit too saggy. But…I don’t really want to spend a lot of money on new clothing when I know that I will probably lose more weight very soon.

I’ve made a few purchases so that I can have shirts and pants to wear to work. At the weekends, now that it’s getting warm here in Stockholm, I’ve mostly worn in lightweight pants and t-shirts. The shirts and pants below I found at Lindex. I was able to buy them in an XL — and they’re a little loose.

 

I’ve focused too on finding underwire-free bras since the underwire rubs on my surgery scars and feels uncomfortable. I found some at KappAhl and will buy a few more when I’m in the US in July. I also bought these in XL.

 

And then I bought some pants, two blouses and a spring jacket from H&M. Again, the nice thing was that–even though these were still part of their plus-size range, I was able to buy them two sizes smaller than what I wore pre-surgery.

I’m pretty satisfied with how things are going, even if weight loss in May has been a little slower than expected. I won’t complain. My surgeon and nutritionist say I am right on track, so that’s all that matters.

By the way, my husband and I are trying a new recipe today, one pot salsa verde chicken and rice. It’s from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen. I’ll keep you posted, but I think it’s going to be delicious.

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#mealprepsunday or what I made this week

Now that I am a little over two months into my gastric sleeve life, I’ve had a chance to figure out some truths about myself.

  • I hate having to think too much about what to eat for lunch
  • When I come home from work, I am usually already very hungry and…
  • If I am already very hungry, I don’t want to stand in front of the stove preparing dinner

So that’s when meal prepping has been a lifesaver. I’ve talked about this before, but I think it’s important enough to revisit. The worst thing for me when I am trying to lose weight is trying to figure out what to have for dinner (and then opting to just pick up takeaway instead) or going to the grocery store when I am already hungry. I get “Eyes Bigger than Stomach” syndrome. I buy too much of things I probably already have. I also buy items that I don’t actually want or need because my hunger takes over and convinces me I need them.

This is one of the reasons why I nearly always order home delivery of my groceries from a service available here in Sweden called MatHem. I’ve gotten in the habit of browsing through my cookbooks or checking out the latest recipes from my favorite food bloggers, settling on a few ideas and then ordering whatever I need to prep at least two meals that I can stretch over the week as lunch or dinner. I also make sure I have whatever snacks I need like crisp bread, yoghurt, cottage cheese, etc so that I don’t give in to my donut cravings.

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I’ve managed to withstand any donut cravings. 🙂 (Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash)

If you’re trying to lose weight or you just want to make life a little easier, meal prepping is a great way to stay on track and simplify your life. I admit I am not always the most consistent meal prepper, but when I do I feel so much calmer. I don’t have to worry about whether there’s something in the fridge I can throw together or warm up because I already know what I made. I can easily put together a lunch box, knowing I already have food that I like (and that’s good for me) prepared.

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I made cashew nut curry with halloumi and broccoli for dinner (and lunch). My husband loved it. (Photo credit: Amy at the Cook Report)

So what’s on my menu this week? Cashew Nut Curry with Halloumi and Broccoli from the Cook Report. and a modified version of Slow Cooker Turkey 3-Bean Chili (I made it with ground pork and two type of beans) from Skinnytaste. I’ll probably make one more recipe this week. I’m thinking about Turkey Meatball Stroganoff (also from Skinnytaste).

Looking for meal prep ideas? Check out these blogs and sites:

Or do you already meal prep for the week? I’d love to hear about your favorite meal prep ideas!

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Catching up – life so far

I really should apologise for the radio silence. My ambition has always been to post at least once a week, but since my sick leave has ended and I am back in the office it’s been difficult to find the time and energy to post. Work is work. I don’t see that situation changing very much unless I find a better place to spread my wings. Will try harder though.

So in case you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to (besides writing at work): I’ve been trying to finish two novellas (will tell you more about those on my author website) and following my eating plan (as per nutritionist’s instructions, give or take a few tweaks) and exercising (as per my physiotherapist’s instructions, give or take a few tweaks). The weight is coming off at a slow, easy pace–which is exactly what my surgeon recommended. He said this would ultimately be better for long-term weight loss maintenance and would give my body time to adjust.

A typical day’s eating is something like this:

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This is a typical breakfast for me. (Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash)

Breakfast: a bowl of lactose-free yoghurt with fresh fruit or a bowl of oat milk/almond milk/lactose-free milk with some granola, followed by a cup of tea or a glass of water. Plus, I take my vitamins.

Mid-morning snack: I choose one of these: crisp bread with some cheese, some grapes,  protein peanut butter cookie, or cottage cheese with a dried fruits and nuts mix. A small coffee with a little oat milk or lactose-free milk.

Lunch: a small serving of a Chicken Burrito Bowl from Skinnytaste washed down with a glass of water.

Afternoon snack: a banana or 2 rice cakes, a glass of water and a small coffee with oat milk/lactose-free milk. Or a Barebells protein bar.

Dinner: a small serving of bolognese sauce with rice pasta (Biorì’s gluten-free tortiglioni made with rice is really good) and veggies, plus a glass of water. Sometimes I treat myself to a small glass of wine. This depends on my stomach. Sometimes it likes wine; sometimes it doesn’t.

Evening snack: a small cookie (baked by my gorgeous hubby, who adjusts the recipe to how I have to eat these days) and a cup of coffee with oat milk/almond milk/lactose-free milk.

I don’t drink protein shakes, diet soda or any diet drinks. I stick to water and unsweetened tea or coffee. As I said earlier, sometimes I have a glass of wine, depending on the whims of my stomach. I don’t use artificial sweeteners in anything. Instead, I choose to honey, maple syrup or a little brown sugar.

I haven’t had any problems with dumping syndrome other than when I ate a small piece of chocolate mousse cake during fika. I’ve tried other sweet things and my stomach seems okay with them–as long as I only have a small piece. But most of the time I don’t have cravings for sweets.

As for exercising, I have an exercise plan recommended by my physiotherapist, which includes doing 3 sets of tricep presses, crunches, leg lifts and planks. I do these every weekday morning as soon as I wake up. I’ve also added an at-home kettlebell workout to it, which I do twice a week.

So how am I doing, weight wise? According to my surgeon, I am right on track. 🙂

How am I doing?

Have you had bariatric surgery? How’s it going for you?

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Catching up: #mealprepsunday

Sorry that I have been so terribly lame at posting lately. My sick leave ended on 19 February, and being back at work has not been very conducive to my writing. I am not very happy with the current situation nor with the solutions being bandied around to “fix” the problem. But that’s another story. Let’s just say that I come home from the office and the desire to blog or write fiction is low.

But one thing that I have been doing is sticking to my diet plan as prescribed by my surgeon and dietician.

I’ve started doing meal prep at the weekends to help me stay on track with getting the right amount of nutrients every day.

To get ideas for meal prepping, I’ve been consulting Ambitious Kitchen, Jamie Oliver, Skinnytaste and Pinch of Yum.

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My egg muffin cups–yummy!

Last week, I focused on prepping an alternative breakfast to my usual yoghurt with muesli. I ended up making Ambitious Kitchen’s Healthy Breakfast Egg Muffin Cups–super easy to make and you can easily customise the recipe. I added ham, kale, mushrooms, plum tomatoes and mozzarella to my muffins. Two or three mornings, I’ve had my egg muffin cups instead pf yoghurt and been very happy. The only thing I’ll do differently next time is use cupcake liners next time since my nonstick muffin tin decided it didn’t want to behave like a nonstick tin and I spent a tad bit too much time having to scrub away egg residue (despite brushing oil on the tin).

My husband made a lamb ragù sauce for us, which we had for dinner a few times last week. I ate it with 30 grams of whole grain pasta, which worked with my still sometimes sensitive stomach. I found some gluten-free pasta from Biorì which I am going to try this week. It’s based on rice, buckwheat and corn, so will see if it’s to my liking.

The Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowl recipe is a definite repeat for us. 

Today, to prepare for the upcoming work week, I decided to try a recipe from Skinnytaste’s Skinnytaste Fast and Slow cookbook for Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls. I recently bought an Electrolux slow cooker and decided this would be the first recipe to try out in it.

My husband seemed a little skeptical at first but when the aroma began to tickles his nose, he couldn’t wait to try it. I am notoriously impatient in the kitchen, but this burrito bowl recipe is super-easy to follow and it takes care of itself. Just put everything in the slow cooker and let it cook. In the meantime, I was able to get some writing done and then take a walk and go to the grocery store to pick up items I’d forgotten to add to our grocery delivery list. When I came home, the slow cooker was counting down the last 3 or 4 minutes and it smelled divine. Once it was done, I shredded the chicken, added back to the slow cooker and stirred everything together. And the taste? YUMMY! It will make a great lunch (or dinner) with some brown rice or cauliflower rice to it.

I’m already looking at recipes to try for next week’s meal prep. Here are a few of them:

What about you? Are you a #mealprepper and what have you got planned for the upcoming week’s menu?

P.S. I use affiliate links to help offset the cost of the website. If you click on any of the links and purchase anything I recommend, you’re helping me keep the site going. 🙂

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Post-op Day #7: Ode to homemade soup

This time last week, I was in my hospital pyjamas at Capio St. Göran’s Hospital in the Kungsholmen section of Stockholm, walking up and down the hallways to get rid of any residual gas from my operation. I was still a little groggy, but I wasn’t in much pain. In fact, I only remember a little twinging, no full-fledged pain. I had an IV feeding me glucose and, whenever I was back in my hospital room, I was trying to remember to sip water.

One thing that still sticks in my mind: all of the water I drank at the hospital tasted sweet, like someone had added sugar. I don’t know if this was from the anaesthesia or the glucose. Even when I first came home, the water from the tap tasted weird. Now everything tastes normal again (thank God for that). I didn’t like sweet water. It made me grimace.

Since I came home last Wednesday, the thing I have been craving most has been homemade soup. After thirty days of diet soup that was grainy and not very tasty and left me hating life, it felt so good to get the clearance from my surgeon and nutritionist to have homemade food for Stage One: the Liquid Food Stage.

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The first homemade soup: creamy sweet potato. Yes, I know you’ve seen it already. (Photo: me)

My gorgeous hubby has been taking very good care of me and has so far made three delicious soups for me: creamy sweet potato soup, potato and leek soup and cream of chicken soup. All three have made me and my tummy very happy. They’re filling and they haven’t irritated my stomach.

Whenever he’s in the kitchen making a new batch of soup, my appetite returns and I feel the Foodie in my kicking her heels in glee. Yes, she knows life will be in moderation now, but as long as she doesn’t have to survive on only diet soups made from powder that feel like goo in her mouth, she is happy.

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PhotoCredit: Elise Bauer/simplyrecipes.com

Why homemade soup instead of store-bought? It tastes better. You know what’s going into it–no weird E-numbers, no MSG, nothing artificial. It doesn’t take that long to make. And I’ll say it again: IT TASTES BETTER.

Just because you had a gastric sleeve doesn’t mean you don’t want your food to taste good. So make some soup, eat it and feel your tastebuds and your tummy say thank you.

Are you post-op and your doctor has given you the okay to have homemade soup? Here are some recipes I can definitely recommend trying.

Remember to make sure that you use a blender to get a nice, smooth texture. You don’t want any small bits irritating your still-sensitive stomach. Once you refrigerate any leftovers, they’ll thicken up, so add some milk when reheating.

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup from Greatist (Note: if it’s too thick, add a little more milk to thin it out a bit).

Potato Leek Soup from Skinnytaste (Note: if it’s too thick, add a little more milk to thin it out a bit).

Creamy Cauliflower Soup from Skinnytaste (Note: if your surgeon has put celery on your “avoid” list, use onions instead. Also, if the soup is too thick, add a little more milk to thin it out a bit).

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup from Pinch of Yum (Note: since I was seven days post-op, we added 40 grams of puréed turkey for even more flavour and it was delicious. We also used homemade chicken broth as our base.)

That’s it for now! I’m off to read a good book. 🙂

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Post-Op Day #3: How much am I supposed to eat?

You wouldn’t think it, but following weight loss surgery, you spend a lot of time eating. The portions are smaller, but you eat… a lot.

Here’s what my eating schedule is like for the next two weeks:

Breakfast: 2 dl porridge, sour milk (it’s a Swedish thing, similar to yoghurt), yoghurt or milk

Morning Snack: 2 dl of a diet shake

Mid-Morning Snack: 2 dl porridge, sour milk (it’s a Swedish thing, similar to yoghurt), yoghurt or milk

Lunch: 2 dl of smooth, warm soup

Afternoon Snack: 2 dl of a diet shake

Dinner: 2 dl of smooth, warm soup

Evening Snack: 2 dl porridge, sour milk (it’s a Swedish thing, similar to yoghurt), yoghurt or milk

All of this comes out to around two litres of liquid meals. On top of this, I also need to drink 4 dl of water, coffee or tea.

I’m trying to stick to it as much as possible, but sometimes I am supposed to eat a snack and I am still full from lunch or dinner. I know I need the nutrients, but I also need to pay attention to how much + how fast I eat.

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Last night’s dinner, lovingly prepared by Tord. (Photo: me)

Last night, I had homemade sweet potato soup, prepared for me by my gorgeous hubby. He has been so supportive of this, even if initially he was skeptical. I don’t blame him. I was skeptical too. But now when I feel the difference when I take my daily walks, I understand that this was a good thing for me.

I still haven’t had the gas pains that other sleeve patients have mentioned. I think this is because I keep moving around a lot. I try not to sit still too long. I get up, walk around the apartment, I take walks during the day. I’ve even done a few loads of laundry (not lifting anything heavy). I take one painkiller in the morning just because sometimes I feel a twinging. But otherwise, I feel okay.

I notice that two nights in a row my stomach has woken me at 3AM, so that’s how I know I need to eat more. Today, I have managed to have all the snacks I am supposed to have, but I swear it’s not easy.

Anyone who thinks that getting a gastric sleeve is the easy way has no idea what they’re talking about. It’s not easy and it’s not a short cut. It’s a tool and you have to learn the right way to use it.

Well, it’s dinner time and I know because my tummy is poking me and reminding me that we still have yummy sweet potato soup left. Going to warm some up now and enjoy.

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Happy Birthday to Me

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No, I did NOT have cake.

Today is my birthday and, instead of doing as I would normally do–that is drink far too much champagne, consume lots of cheese and bread and essentially splurge all day long–I’ve tried to stay within my 900-calorie limit. I probably went over it a tad bit, but the rest of the week is back to the usual meal plan.

You see, it’s Day 8 of my Pre-Op Liquid Diet, but I was granted a cheat day for my birthday. As much as I wanted to eat a slice of Budapest cake, I didn’t. My husband asked me what I wanted for breakfast. I just couldn’t have yet another boiled egg or a powder smoothie, so I asked for half of a waffle, a small piece of sausage and a fried egg. I washed it down with coffee and oat milk. That kept me full until well past 2PM. I probably should have had a shake or a smoothie, but I wasn’t hungry. I had some tea instead.

Later, I walked to my local café and had a cup of coffee and read a few chapters of Halsey Street by Naima Coster. If you are a bookworm like me, then I wholeheartedly recommend that you add this novel to your TBR list. It’s a fantastic story of family, loss and gentrification set in Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn. While I was reading, I was reminded of observing the good and bad of gentrification in my own old neighbourhood in Philadelphia, but that’s another discussion for another day. When I came home, my husband and I toasted to my day with one glass of sparkling wine.

So now the day is slowly creeping towards dinnertime and for the first time since this morning I am beginning to feel hungry. I initially thought I wanted soup for dinner. I’d picked out a great recipe from Pinch of Yum for spicy peanut soup with sweet potato and kale, but then I found another recipe that sounded more like what I was in the mood for: spicy chicken sweet potato magic bowl, so that is what my gorgeous husband is making for me.

There will be no cake today. I’ll content myself with a cup of coffee. I have to keep reminding myself that I am making good progress. Got to keep my eyes on the prize: January 23 – surgery day.

If you’ve already undergone a sleeve, how do you usually celebrate your birthday?

 

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3 cookbooks for my soon-to-be sleeved life

All of my life, I’ve loved food. I grew up surrounded by family members who knew how to throw down in the kitchen. My great-aunt Francis, my grandmother Gertrude, my great-uncle John, my cousin Yuhnis, my great-aunt Louise, Aunt Florence…the list could go on. Every holiday meant good food and plenty of it.

My appreciation for good food started early.

So now, when I have made the decision to get a gastric sleeve, I wanted make sure that I could still enjoy good food without feeling like everything post-op would have to be bland. I needed inspiration and advice beyond what my nutritionist has said. I needed to know that I could have good food again, without stinting on flavour. I spoke to my friend, Pernilla, who assured me that I could live the sleeved life and enjoy a glass of wine and flavourful food again.

Yes, I breathed a sigh of relief.

I also wanted to make sure that my husband (who is not getting sleeved) and I would be able to eat together and enjoy what we eat. So I started doing research and found a few cookbooks that will hopefully ensure that I will not go through life grimacing at bland food.

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FRESH START Bariatric Cookbook

by Sarah Kent, MS RDN CD

I ended up ordering the FRESH START Bariatric Cookbook from Amazon UK since neither of the Swedish online bookstores I usually use had it in stock.

I used Look Inside and was pleasantly surprised that this cookbook contained more than just recipes; it also included advice on things to consider and what to order when eating out at restaurants, judging portion sizes, etc.

This particular cookbook rated high with many readers. The fact that this cookbook was written by a registered dietician and nutritionist also helped tipped the scales in favour of ordering it.

Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 19.20.59Eating Well After Weight Loss Surgery

by Patt Levine and Michele-Bontempo-Saray

I’m not one who can settle for just one cookbook. When I read the reviews Eating Well After Weight Loss Surgery received (and it was recommended to me by someone who’d already undergone a gastric sleeve) I decided to order it.

A Look Inside revealed some very tasty sounding recipes as well as advice for post-surgery life. The sample recipes seemed easy to follow and the slew of good reviews convinced me that this was a cookbook worth having.

Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 19.29.52Weight-Loss Surgery Cookbook

by Shasta Press

Another cookbook highly recommended by someone who has already undergone the operation. I have just ordered Weight-Loss Surgery Cookbook, so hope to receive it in the coming days.

From a Look Inside, I found a list of recommended pantry staples and a selection of recipes that sounded right up my alley.

Once I have all three cookbooks, I will ask my husband to test prepare a few dishes. I want us both to be able to enjoy eating together so that we don’t have to feel like we always have to prepare two separate meals.  Based on the reviews all three books have received, we should be okay, but I will definitely keep you posted. We are both picky about food, so if we don’t like it, we’re kind of vocal. 🙂

If you’ve already gone through weight loss surgery and have recommendations for good cookbooks, drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.