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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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.

 

What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

As of today, it’s only nine more days until I go under the knife. I’m a little nervous, but in a good way.

So what do I need to pack for my overnight stay at the hospital? I asked a few people who’ve already undergone the surgery and here are some of their tips for what you should have in your hospital bag.


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I’ll have my trusted fave, Carmex with me. (Photo: mycarmex.com)

Lip balm and lotion

Following the surgery, you won’t be able to drink anything for a certain amount of time and your lips and skin will probably feel parched. Having a lip balm and lotion will take care that uncomfortable dryness until you can finally have some water. And if you’re dark-skinned like me, the last thing you want is to have ashy skin. My favourite lip balm is from Carmex. It goes everywhere with me and keeps my lips from getting too chapped. Most likely, I’ll be packing Eucerin Advanced Repair Lotion since I have problems with very dry skin.


Your medication

If you’re already on medication, bring it with you. You’ll still need to take it until you’ve been given the OK to stop. Make sure you’ve already informed your surgeon and the nurses about which medication you’re currently taking.


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Definitely taking my Kindle with me. (Photo: amazon.com)

Tablet or laptop, books, phone and chargers

You’ll spend a lot of time waiting, so you may as well make sure you have something to keep you occupied. I’ll have my Kindle and my phone with me. I’ll also pack my chargers to make sure I can keep everything juiced up.

If you’re not an e-reader or tablet person, bring a paperback, some magazines or a newspaper with you. Why not bring a notebooks so you write down your thoughts? It’s always good to start a journal to help you keep track of your progress and this could be the perfect opportunity to start.

 


Comfortable clothing

You’ll most likely be in the hospital over night and you’ll need a change of clothes for the next day. Because of the incisions, you’ll probably want to avoid bending too much won’t want anything that’s too tight. Opt for something loose and comfortable. Don’t worry about making a fashion statement. There’ll be time for that once your incisions have healed. Right now, focus on being comfortable and not having anything that will press on your already tender incisions.


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(Photo: thecatspjs.com)

Robe and two-piece pyjamas

After the surgery, you’ll need to walk around to help relieve gas pressure, which will also help with the pain.

You’ll want the robe in case you feel chilly and you’ll want your pyjamas for walking around and feeling a little less exposed than you do in a hospital gown.

Make sure you pack two-piece pyjamas and not a onesie. This will make it easier for your doctor and nurses to check your incisions or listen to your tummy.

I’ve got plenty of pairs of cute PJs , so I think I have this point covered already.

 

 


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My favourite slippers (Photo: mahabis.com)

Slippers or slipper-socks

If you’re like me, your feet are always cold. As much as I like going around in bare feet, it’s winter here in Sweden (which means my feet are definitely cold) and since I’ll be walking the hallways trying to get rid of gas, I’ll want something on my feet. I have a very comfortable pair of slippers from mahabis, but any pair of slippers will do.

If you don’t like slippers, try slipper-socks. They have non-slip soles and should keep your feet nice and toasty.


Toothpaste/Mouthwash/breath spray

Like I said earlier, before and after the surgery, you’ll have a period of time when you won’t be able to drink anything, and you’re probably going to want to get rid of that sticky feeling in your mouth as well as keep your breath from smelling too funky. If you can get up on your own, brush your teeth. Otherwise, use some mouthwash or breath spray to freshen your breath. You’ll feel a little better for it (even if it’s only psychological).


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My favourite hotel-style pillow from Hemtex. (Photo: hemtex.com)

Your favourite pillow

You’ll want something comfortable with you, something that reminds you of home or makes it easier to sleep. Having your favourite pillow can help both at the hospital and in the car/taxi on your way home. Don’t forget to bring your pillow case too, since hospital pillow cases can sometimes be scratchy.

I’ll most likely take my pillow from home. I bought it from a store here in Sweden called Hemtex and it’s a hotel-style pillow, so it’s wider, higher and squishier than most pillows. In the US, you can find hotel-style pillows at any well-stocked department store.


Have you already undergone your gastric sleeve or bypass? What did you pack in your hospital bag? Share your tips with us! 🙂

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5 Things to Remember If You’re Getting a Gastric Sleeve

It’s only 16 days until my sleeve operation, and there are so many thoughts running through my mind. Part of me is super-excited about having the operation; part of me is absolutely terrified. And that’s normal. I’ve been reminding myself of a few things to stay focused.

  1. It’s not going to be easy in the beginning.

    Let’s face it: the pre-op diet and the initial phases are not going to be a walk in the park, but if you’ve already been approved for a gastric sleeve you know that already. This is NOT a quick fix. Don’t treat it that way. See the Pre-Op Liquid Diet as the beginning of resetting your body. And those first months of Post-Op Sleeved Life are when you’re re-learning to eat and putting good habits into practice.

  2. Surround yourself with supportive people.

    I’ve been lucky in having people in my life who totally support me, but not everyone is so lucky. If your family and friends are against your decision, see if you can convince them to go to an information session or have them read information about bariatric surgery on Obesity Coverage, so they’ll have a better understanding of the procedure and why you want to do it. Also, ask your doctor about local support groups, join support groups on Facebook or follow fellow sleeve patients on Instagram. You need to find your tribe and having people who love and support you along the way, as well as fellow patients who’ve already gone through it, or will be going through it at the same time as you, will help. They’ll be your biggest cheerleaders, even when you think you can’t do it. 

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    Get a planner or a journal and use it to track your progress.  (Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

  3. Don’t give up just because you have a setback.

    We all stumble sometimes. There will probably be times when you eat the wrong thing or eat too much as you try to get used to your sleeve. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, consider keeping a journal, chart your journey into the sleeved life–progress and setbacks. Write down what food agrees or disagrees with your sleeve, jot down your new fitness levels. Give yourself a page a week for a To Do list or a weekly goal and add when you’ve achieved that goal. Reward yourself at the end of the week–treat yourself to a massage or a new outfit or something other than food. or That way, you’ll have a way of reminding yourself of all you’ve gone through and Use your journal as tool to keep you motivated–and a way to keep from repeating the same mistakes.

  4. Prepare for the journey.

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    Prep yourself! 🙂 Start planning meal ideas. 

    Even with the classes you attend before your operation, there will be questions you forget to ask (or maybe don’t feel comfortable asking) your surgeon or your nutritionist. Don’t be afraid to ask those questions though. They are there to help you, so ask away! If you’re already in a support group, ask the members. Buy bariatric-friendly cookbooks to help you plan your meals for all the phases of your Post-Op Life. If your surgery date is already set, stock your cupboards and fridge with everything you need for the first phase of your Post-Op Life, the liquid phase. That way, you won’t have to worry about what you should eat (or should I say drink?) as you recuperate from your surgery.

  5. You’re doing this for YOU.

    There are a lot of reasons that we decide to make changes to our lives. We might do things to help our families or friends. We might do things to get ahead at work. But this journey…this is all about YOU. Don’t make it about anyone else. You’re doing this because you want to feel better, you want to take control of your life. Don’t do it if you think it’s going to make people love you. Do it because YOU love YOU.