I appreciate all of the kind words you all had for my photo comparison post. It's shocking to look at. And also funny, because my before pictures were taken the day we got back from a beach vacation and I love how I'm tan everywhere except for my neck-- apparently, the sun couldn't get there :)
A couple of people have asked what I do, or how I've been successful. I find myself reluctant to share it, because I honestly think that it isn't any different than what most people do. One thing I've realized through the last 6 months is how HARD I had to work to get and stay that obese, because my body seems more than happy to give up the pounds with what feels like minimal effort on my part.
I was talking with my husband about this last night, though, and he thinks I'm crazy about the minimal effort part. And I had an "aha" moment about how I'm doing things anyone needs to do to lose weight (cutting calories and for me, cutting carbs), but the band makes that seem so freaking easy compared to what it's like without the band.
So here is what I do (feel free to skip):
First, the band. I have a fill of 2.5cc's in a 10 cc band. It is working perfectly at this level. It provides me with a feeling of satiation after much smaller portions of food. And if I eat two bites over that satiation point, then it makes me feel uncomfortably full. However, I have never gotten fully stuck, vomitted, or had reflux issues. It does not truly prevent me from eating anything, though french fries and flaxseed crackers go down so slow that I have stopped eating them for fear they might get stuck one day.
Because of the help of the band, I find it easy to restrict what I'm eating without FEELING like I'm dieting. But, I am. I do not count or journal or otherwise engage in behaviors that mentally feel like dieting to me. But, on the occasions that I get curious about my calories, they count up to be around 1000 on average. Yesterday I was "snacky" and I thought I was having a bad day, only to actually count and realize that I was at 900 calories at the end of the day (apparently, getting snacky with a 35 calorie cheese wedge and 35 calories of crackers isn't a big deal). The day before, I had a chilli relleno for lunch so I know I was probably on the 1200 calorie side of things. But it seems to even out to a fairly low calorie average.
I also limit my carbs. On the typical day, I do not eat starches, breads, pastas, rices, or sugars. But, again, because it's important for me to have some balance in my life, I'm not crazy about it. I have pizza about once or twice a month (thin crust), I have pasta once every two months or so, and I do shrimp quesadillas, umm. . . more often--maybe once a week (one medium wrap folded in half with cheese, jalapenos, and shrimp). When I make those choices, I limit the portion and I try to go for whole grain tortillas and pastas, unless I'm having it at a restaurant. I practically never eat bread and I very rarely do sweets, though again, I have had them-- just not regularly enough for them to impact my weight loss.
This was what I ate yesterday: a banana, a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese with those low-carb whole wheat crisps, a beef bratwurst with mustard (no bun), 4 cubes of cheese, a serving of summer sausage and some hummus for dinner. It was sort of a weird day because of the processed meat and no vegetables, but I'm cleaning out the freezer and just eating the protein we have. The day before I had a protein bar for breakfast, a chili relleno and some chips/salsa for lunch, 3-4 olives for a snack, a salad and about 4 slices of summer sausage for dinner.
As you can see, because I limit carbs, I don't limit fats. Before you worry about me, let me tell you that I went OFF of my cholesterol meds within two months of starting to eat this way (before surgery) and this diet is 100% doctor encouraged and approved.
In terms of exercise, I don't have a very cardio-intensive exercise plan. I really have just started adding exercise in over the past two months and it's heavier on toning and stretching muscle (yoga, and belly dancing) than cardio (Zumba twice a week). I do expect I will have to pick this up more in the future, but cutting calories and carbs has been doing the work for me so far.
Finally, I think what's key for me is keeping my head engaged. I question myself a lot when I want to be snacky, or when I want to go eat at a restaurant instead of eating at home/work (restaurant eating was a BIG part of my former life). If I don't let myself mindlessly follow my former habits, I find that I can cut out a lot of eating-for-eating sake. I substitute decaf coffee with sugar-free hazlenut creamer for food a LOT in the late afternoon/evening danger zone, for instance.
Ugh. Part of the reason I don't like talking about all of this is that now as I read it, it sounds like a diet and I HATE diets. But, thank goodness for my band because it hardly ever feels like a diet.