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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Hair today…gone tomorrow?

Now that I’ve hit the three-month mark since I had my gastric sleeve operation, I’ve started to notice a few things:

  • I always seem to go through a weight loss stall the week before my period starts
  • My stomach does not like fried eggs so much, it prefers omelettes and scrambled eggs
  • My hair is starting to shed…a lot

I’ve learned to accept the weight loss stalls. Now that I’ve noticed they always seem to be in conjunction with the oncoming start of my period, I don’t bother to panic. I met with my surgeon and nutritionist last week and was assured that my weight loss was right on track and to keep on doing what I am doing, so yay me. 🙂

My stomach not liking fried eggs right now is also something I can deal with, even though I do appreciate perfectly fried eggs. At least it likes scrambled eggs and omelettes–which happen to be my favorite sort of eggs.

My hair though…well, this is not the first time I’ve gone through hair loss.

Back when I was around 27 or 28 and my PCOS problems were at their worst, clumps of hair fell out. I woke up one morning to a big clump of hair on my pillow. I also went through a period of hair loss when I had an allergic reaction to birth control pills. It took several years for my hair to regain anything close to its original thickness and coverage. Luckily, a nurse at my local health clinic recommended some hair vitamins that helped when things were at their worst.

But now, due to losing so much weight, I am going through it again. I haven’t bothered to get into a panic about it, though it did take me by surprise yesterday morning when I washed my hair and I saw just how much hair I was shedding.

It was a lot more than normal.

It was enough that it made me realize that it’s time to start taking hair vitamins again.  Luckily, I’ve already been using a shampoo and conditioner for fragile hair, so I think that will help a bit too.

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I just started using the Coriander Strength Source range from L’Oréal Botanicals Fresh Care. I like how it makes my hair feel.

 

 

In the meantime, I am looking into how I should cut my hair so that I won’t think so much about how much hair I am shedding. I know it’s only temporary, but still…

Maybe one of these styles will be perfect for me?

Have you experienced hair loss or excessive hair shedding since losing weight? Which products are you using to help with slowing it down? And which hairstyle do you think I should try?

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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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Back to Work: All around me is…stress

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I think a lot of people felt like screaming today. (Photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash)

After four weeks of sick leave, I returned to work today. I’ve been both looking forward to and dreading returning to the office. I’ve missed my team. I work with some of the nicest, most talented people–but we are too few, and we have too much to do. But that’s a discussion for another day.

I was greeted with lots of hugs and had a chance to catch up with my team. I was very happy to hear that part of the never-ending project that has been driving me and my art director bonkers due to other people’s indecisiveness (among other things) is finally done. It was a relief to hear that a chunk of it is now off our shoulders. This project has been so frustrating and I’ve had symptoms of stress stomach from it, as has my colleague.

We both agreed that we must find ways to shield ourselves from this stress.

Things I noticed:

  • From now on, I will prep my lunch before going to bed so I’ll have more time in the morning for my writing
  • Trying to eat slowly in a canteen where everyone is so stressed feels almost impossible; will have to figure this out
  • Commuting felt fine until I reached T-Centralen and was surrounded by everyone who seemed to be in a crappy mood or in a rush to get nowhere fast

When I last spoke with my doctor, his advice to me was to put ME and MY HEALTH first. He’s aware of how chaotic my day-to-day situation has been and he recommended that I have a slow start before jumping back into work full-time. I am following his advice.

This week, I work part-time. Next week, I ease myself back into full-time, but for now I will try to hold onto this sense of calm I’ve had since just before my operation. It will probably be close to impossible, but I will do my damnedest. Stress was part of what led to some of my health problems. I don’t want it to stall my journey.

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How Am I Doing? – My Progress Report

How am I doing?

It’s now officially two weeks since I had my gastric sleeve surgery. It’s hard to believe that it has already been fourteen days since I went under the knife. I’d heard so many horror stories of being in pain worse than childbirth, etc or of horrible complications.

I think I have been pretty lucky:

  • I’ve had no infections around my incisions
  • I don’t have the awful gas pain a lot of sleeve patients seem to complain about
  • I haven’t had any problems staying hydrated, so no dehydration issues
  • I haven’t had hair loss (yet) so I must be eating enough protein, vitamins and minerals
  • I haven’t been troubled with constipation (probably because I stay hydrated?)
  • I haven’t puked or had acid reflux or anything like that
  • I haven’t experienced dumping syndrome (yet) even though I have tried things that others have said brought it on for them

I have been pretty good at not comparing my weight loss progress to others. I know we’re all different. So far, since the 23rd, I’ve lost around 6 kilos (approx. 13 pounds). It’s not a huge amount, by I am glad the weight is coming off a little slower. I know it will speed up once I have clearance to start working out again. Right now, I am only allowed to take walks.

All that matters is that I am following my surgeon and nutritionist’s guidelines.

Have you been sleeved? Share your progress too. Let’s cheer each other on! 🙂

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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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Home from the hospital

Yes, I am back! On Monday, I went for my weigh-in with the nurse at Capio St. Görans Sjukus in Stockholm. I weighed 102 kilos, which meant I’d lost enough weight to go through the operation. Then I went home and packed my hospital bag to be ready for the next morning. I had to purchase one extra item for my hospital bag, per request from nurse, compression socks to help prevent blood clots. These had to be worn during the operation and the entire time I was at the hospital.

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Me checking in at 6:45AM at the hospital. I look strangely alert for someone still sleepy. 🙂 (Photo: me)

I had to be at the hospital by 6:45AM. I took an Uber to make sure I arrived on time and I was checked in, changed and waiting to be operated on by 7:15AM.

When I compare this hospital experience to what I had in Greece back in the 1990s….yeah, this was like staying in a five-star resort compared to that experience. Honestly, I still have nightmares about the Greek public hospital experience. I am sure not all Greek public hospitals are like the one I experienced in Volos but the whole thing made me happy I live in Sweden, that’s for sure.

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Me, post-operation. Sleepy, a little sore and in my stylish hospital PJs. It was actually easier with theirs than changing to mine. (Photo: me)

One of the first things that struck me was how calm the doctors and nurses were. They came to meet me in the waiting room and then escorted me to the operating room. Once there, they talked me through each stage of the operation and made sure I was comfortable on the operating table. I was covered with a weighted, warming blanket and then they began inserting the IVs to be used to administer anaesthesia, etc. I was out pretty quickly. Unlike the horrible Greece incident, I did NOT wake up on the operating table. I didn’t wake up until I was in the recovery room. The doctor spoke to me very calmly and made sure I was feeling okay. Then I was moved to my room in the gastric ward on the 8th floor.

One of the first things  I did was sip a few spoonfuls of water. My throat was parched, as were my lips. Good thing I had my Carmex with me. I spent a lot of time sleeping, but I also did a lot of walking in the corridors to help with the gas pain and general surgical pain. Actually, I didn’t feel a lot of pain. I was sore, sure. But it was manageable. I’ve got five incisions from the surgery–they look pretty good. I thought they’d use surgical glue to close the incisions, but I instead I’ve got sutures that look almost like staples. In two weeks, I’ll need to go to my local doctor to get them removed.

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Breakfast of champions? Maybe so. Tastes good anyway.  And it’s rich in iron and calcium.

I spent the next few hours (when I wasn’t sleeping or walking) having blood drawn, getting temperature checked, having doctors or nurses listening to my stomach, checking my breathing, checking my blood pressure, checking that even my urinary tract was functioning as it should.

All the while, I was being fed glucose intravenously. That went on until the next day, when I was told that I could have breakfast: 2 dl of gruel, yoghurt or sour milk (it’s similar to yoghurt and Swedes love it). I had lactose-free Greek yoghurt. It took me 45 minutes to eat all of it.

For lunch, I had mild tomato soup (also 2 dl). And then later I had a snack of 2 dl of rose hip soup. Mind you, the recipe in the link has sugar in it, but the one at the hospital was unsweetened.

Since I had no fever, my incisions looked good and my pain levels were pretty low, I was discharged from the hospital at 3PM on the 24th. Now I am at home recuperating. I will be on sick leave for a month, which is good. I need the time to get adjusted.

So far, I’ve had breakfast + a snack + lunch. I’ve taken one walk and will take another in a few minutes. I actually feel pretty good. Sure, I am still sore, but I expected the pain to be worse.

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Walking in my neighbourhood in Solna, Sweden.

I probably need a nap soon too.