I forget how many times we’ve done Whole30, but I think this might be the sixth or seventh time. Each time after the first, it’s been to help us get back to basics in terms of our nutrition. It’s not that we slip or fall hard. It’s always just a slight readjustment that needs to take place, but somehow, it always feels good to be back on the wagon. We started yesterday at lunch. Why not breakfast? Because I wanted my blueberry Paleo pancakes! Lunch and dinner, however, were Whole30 compliant.
This morning’s breakfast was also Whole30 compliant; bacon and eggs with half an orange and coffee. Lunch was Whole30 Picadillo. I am not sure what dinner will be, but Sherry meal prepped a week’s worth of lunches and dinners that are all Whole30 compliant, so I’ll be fine with sticking to our prepped foods.
Emotionally, it gets easier every time we do a Whole30. I think it’s because I am so used to the process and I fully know what to expect. I also know that I don’t do these without a good reason. This time, Sherry and I both needed to get back to brass tacks in terms of our diet in both content and portion size. I was allowing myself larger portions (because I have a serious problem with portion control; I always have) as well as chocolate. I still stayed away from grains, dairy, and anything (besides chocolate) with added sugar, but I have noticed my facial features getting a bit softer as a result of the water retention due to increased sugar intake. It normally takes me 2-3 days for it to go away, so I expect to have my sunken cheeks back by Wednesday or Thursday morning.
The weirdest thing for me and Whole30 is that I actually really like how I feel when I’m on the strict diet. My body really does well with a strict Whole30, and I think that’s part of why I embrace them now so much more than in the beginning. I actually look forward to the mental clarity that the ultra-strict diet brings me. I also like that I don’t get hungry between meals, and that I don’t have cravings for sweets (like I did for the past two weeks).
Is Whole30 for everyone? Probably not. But it works for me, and every time Sherry and I do one, we see immediate results and start feeling better soon afterward (well, I feel better sooner than she does, typically). If you haven’t done a Whole30, I recommend trying it to get you off the sugar addiction most people have (even if you aren’t into sweets, you would be surprised how many non-sweet foods have added sugar in them) as well as helping to identify possible food alergies (my wife didn’t know she had a milk alergy until we did our first Whole30).
As I countdown to the surgery on Thursday, I’ll recount the first appointment I had with the plastic surgeon.
I found the plastic surgeon based on online reviews and personal accounts. The surgeon I selected was highly regarded, had very good results, and very few reported issues. I searched for days; this wasn’t a decision I made lightly. Allowing someone to make permanent changes to my body is not something I do every day, nor is it a decision I would jump into without sufficient investigation.
After making the decision, I scheduled an appointment that was amenable to my wife’s schedule. I wanted her to be involved in the decision making process, so that meant her being there for the consultation. I wanted her to receive all the same information I was receving from the source. I didn’t want her to receive the information from me second-hand. That information would be tinged with my personal opinions or be skewed due to how I inferred what I was being told. This turned out to be a good call; there were a few things I misheard or inferred incorrectly. She was able to help me make a better informed decision.
At the appointment, I was interviewed by a nurse and then by the surgeon herself. I was asked a lot of questions about my health, the process by which I lost all the weight, and about what I do to maintain my weight and health. I was told that I was a good candidate for skin reduction and “Tummy tuck” surgery, but that I’d also need liposuction on my lower back. The fatty tissue there is exceptionally hard to get rid of, and in my case, it wasn’t going away. If it was going to go away, it would already be gone after six years of eating right.
Once the consultation with the surgeon was complete, all that was left was to fill out the paperwork and schedule the procedure. We settled on a date, and I was given instructions for what to do prior to the surgery. A pre-op appointment was made where I was told I would receive more detailed instructions and information as well as prescriptions for me to fill prior to the surgery so that I would have the drugs on-hand immediately after the procedure.
We made a down-payment on the procedure and went home to further discuss the procedure and how we were going to handle my recovery. I had to inform my employer to let them know I was going to be out for a few days as I recovered, and I had to let the military know that I was going to be unavailable during my six-week recovery time. We also had to arrange for my daughter to come and stay with us for the first week after my surgery to help take care of me. While I will be more-or-less able to function after three or four days, those three to four days will be pretty rough and I’ll need a lot of help to do some basic things.
At this point, I wasn’t yet nervous. I didn’t feel any anxiety or have any apprehension.
Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the pre-op appointment and the process from that point forward.
So, it’s finally happening: on Thursday, I will be under anesthesia and will have a medical procedure to remove excess skin from my waist, to remove some fatty tissue that has been reluctant to go away after 6 years, and to have my stomach muscles sewn back together after splitting when my stomach was at it’s largest (when I weighed over 320 lbs, also known as a “Tummy tuck”).
I’m a little nervous. The surgery itself won’t hurt; I’ll be under anesthesia. But the recovery will be long (six weeks) and there will be tubes hanging out of my body to drain excess fluid while I recover.
I’ve written in the past about why I’m doing this. It’s not something I’m doing for purely cosmetic reasons, but I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t part of the reason. It is not, however, a procedure done to shortcut any process. To the contrary, it’s because I haven’t used any shortcuts that I’m being forced to have this procedure done. The pain I have while running due to the excess skin is keeping me from taking my fitness to the next level. It is also hurting my self-esteem.
So, this blog will be centered around the procedure and my recovery. I will post before and after photos as well as photos of my recovery. My goal is to document the process for anyone who is interested in the same procedure.
In the meantime, Sherry and I are starting a Whole30. Again. It’s time for both of us. I’ve been eating foods I shouldn’t be eating, and I don’t want to let these bad habits turn into a permanent thing. I’m still very invested in my healthy lifestyle, but truth be told, it’s been tough to get back into exercise and weightlifting after graduating WOCS two weeks ago knowing that I’d have to quit for six weeks while I recover from the upcoming surgery. So, I not only stopped working out, but I’ve had some questionable foods here and there. That all ended yesterday.
So, Whole30 and surgery. Let’s see if it pays off.
As I get older, I learn more about myself all the time. One of the greatest and most difficult challenges I’ve faced and overcome in my adult life has been getting through the Texas ARNG/RTI Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) which consisted of a two and a half day drill once every month for five months and culmimating in a two-week stint at Fort McClellan in Alabama. I would argue that the reserve component WOCS is more difficult than the active duty school.
Instead of attending for five weeks straight, we drill once a month for five months. While that seems like it’d be easier, in fact, it’s the opposite. Once you’re done with drill, you spend the next 3-4 weeks mentally preparing, agonizing over every mistake you made and going through mental checklists to ensure you don’t repeat those mistakes. Then there’s the PT; you have to stay on top of your physical fitness for those five months, getting ready for the next physical hurdle. At age 53, this was pretty tough. While I exercise 5-6 days a week normally, I had to increase the intensity and push myself to meet specific goals. One of these goals was to be able to get through a 6.2 mile foot march carrying over 50 lbs of gear (heck, it was nearly 60 lbs when you consider the unslung rifle and my helmet) within a 17-minute per mile pace. This was no small task for someone who’s been around the sun 12 more times than the next youngest candidate in the class.
So, for me, it felt like I was at WOCS for six months. During that entire time, I lived, breathed, and even dreamt of WOCS. After I graduated and came home, I found myself somewhat lost emotionally. I didn’t have the next exam to study for, or the next physical test to work toward. I wasn’t having to push myself to the next goal. It felt great to not have the anxiety of the next weekend of WOCS, but it also felt strange. WOCS had been such a huge part of my life, and now it’s over.
The next chapter for me is quickly approaching, but this time, the preparation is 99% mental. There’s nothing much I can do to prepare other than to steel my mind to the discomfort and, literally, the pain I’ll be enduring. In a week and a half, I will undergo a surgical procedure to remove excess skin around my waist.
It’s a decision I wrote about in a previous post, and not one I came to easily or lightly. I considered it for a long time, and initially, I dismissed the idea. I didn’t feel vanity alone would justify the expense or the pain. But, as time went by, I found myself not only getting depressed at my body not rewarding me with the results I wanted to see after 6 years of hard work, but a new problem emerged: physical pain from the extra skin beating up against my kidneys when I run. This is something I never expected, but when it happened, I realized that this wasn’t something I could put off.
When I run, the extra skin at the sides of my body (but more toward my back) flap up and down and hit me. The result is that after a run exceeding 3 miles (which is pretty common for me), I feel like I’ve been kidney punched in both kidneys. It is quite painful, and it keeps me from being able to run as long or as hard as I’d like (and, frankly, as I need). This last reason was the last straw and led me to finally consider the procedure.
I had my pre-op appointment with my nurse this past week, and I will be honest by saying that there were a lot of things discussed that were unsavory. The pain, the recovery, but more specifically, the two tubes that will be placed into my body for draining fluid that my body will produce during the healing process. These tubes will need to be emptied daily, and I will need to log the amount of fluid my body produces. They say that it shouldn’t be too painful, but my skeptical brain says, “That’s exactly what they’d say to someone about to go through a procedure.”
However, everything I hear from people who have gone through this process is positive. Is it painful? Yes. Will there be discomfort for a period of time following the surgery? Of course. But in the end, is it worth it? Absoultely. I look forward to losing the 4″ from my waist in excess skin, in losing the 10-12 lbs of excess weight, and actually feeling good when I run. That I will look better in clothing, and especially in my military uniforms, is a definite bonus.
I will document my process as much as I’m able. I will provide photos before, during, and after, and hope to be a source of information for those considering the same procedure. I will be honest with my experience and will do my best to be forthright without hyperbole. As a man, I might overstate the pain, and for that, I apologize in advance. Any mother/wife will know what I’m talking about here.
So, it’s on to the next chapter for me; from getting through one of the most challenging chapters in my life to a physical transformation. It’s going to be interesting, for sure, and I definitely look forward to looking back two months from now. It’s just the next two months I need to get through. I guess I should tell myself that it’s not WOCS all over again.
I’ve been absent here for a while, because I was in military training that kept me from posting. More specifically, I didn’t have access to the Internet, or my mobile phone. I was attending Warrant Officer Candidate School Phase II at Fort McClellan, Alabama, and to say I was otherwise engaged would be an understatement.
It was physically and mentally grueling and exhausting, and emotionally it pushed me to limits I didn’t know I had. In the end, I made it through the worst parts and ended up being appointed a Warrant Officer in the Army National Guard.
All the physical activity I did before attending paid off; physically, WOCS Phase II was easy for me. I did sustain a pulled groin, but that was actually due to a reduction in the intensity of exercise as compared to my pre-WOCS routine. Ironic; I over-prepared, in some ways.
From a nutrition standpoint, the food was generally more carb-heavy than my usual diet, but the increased physical activity (we walked about 6 miles a day at a quick pace marching to and from classes) and the physical training coupled with my portion control and healthy choices kept my weight stable.
As of last Friday, I’m a Warrant Officer; a technical expert, trainer, mentor, and combat leader. We integrate technologies and create dynamic teams of soldiers. We are given challenging assignments and we utilize education and training to stay on top of our profession (this is all paraphrasing the official Warrant Officer Definition). I look forward to this new chapter in my life and military career, and I can honestly say that the challenge and difficulty of becoming a Warrant Officer makes the accomplishment that much more special.