Faye Bryant

Getting through the holidays

It’s been a minute since I shared an update on my health journey. Let’s rectify that.

We’ve just come through the marathon eating season. By the time we finish Thanksgiving leftovers we’re stress eating as we shop for Christmas right up until the parties and gatherings of the holiday. It’s very easy to gain weight!

I confess. On Thanksgiving I had a bite of the cherry pie my daughter-in-love made. I had a bite of dressing, too. Both were about the size of a dime.

At the church gathering, I had a tiny bite of chess cake after enjoying some turkey.

For Christmas dinner, I had a smidge of mashed potatoes.

My weight didn’t go up, but it hasn’t been falling like it was before the holidays. However, upon the advice of my surgeon’s nurse practitioner, I didn’t utterly deprive myself, so I felt included and sated.

Now to get back to being super diligent about what I eat and getting more exercise. Currently down 88 pounds.

And my latest NSVs?
I can now use the stalls in public restrooms that are not the handicap size. This is a big one to me, because doing this means I’m recognizing that I’m not the size I was.

I walked all over Biltmore House and the grounds without having my heart pounding so hard and fast it felt like an attack. I didn’t have to sit down to rest every 20 minutes. I walked up steps and hills, and I felt good!

Oh! And one last NSV: I tried on my mother’s garnet ring. It only ever fit my pinky finger and for years, not even that. I also tried on her wedding set. THEY FIT!!! I believe Mom would be very happy, because she wanted me to have those and not to just leave them in the safe.

I am so grateful to God for this tool to move me to good health so I can better serve Him.

While I was driving…

I had another NSV (non-scale victory) sneak up on me today!

As I was driving, I caught myself turning the steering wheel while keeping my hand in the same position – crossing my arm across my body.

I’ve had my car since 2014 and have never been able to do this. Every turn took both hands. Not anymore!

Progress in Pictures

As I slid on jeans today not marked with a W, I decided to share some pictures of the journey. 

About a week before surgery.
Headed out for surgery.
About a month after surgery.
December 1, 2019

More NSVs and a downer

It feels like forever since I’ve given y’all an update, so let’s get with it today.

I am now 107 days post-surgical. That’s 3 1/2 months. In the 5 months before surgery, I pushed the scale back 30 pounds.
In the 3 1/2 months since surgery, I have slammed that scale back 51 pounds.

That’s right. I have now lost 81 pounds since March. 🎉 Woohoo! 🎉

Allow me to share some other things I’ve lost:
• TWO blood pressure medicines.
• 75% of a heart med
• pressure on my CPAP machine
• knee pain
• back pain
• THREE sizes in my jeans.

I am celebrating each of these and more.

Before surgery, I would have to cook in 10-15 minute increments separated each time by 10-20 minutes seated because of horrible back pain. Yesterday, I sat down when there was a wait for something to finish cooking. It was GLORIOUS!

I did good with the holiday eating, mainly because my surgeon’s nurse practitioner (NP) told me ahead of time how to do it. She said if there was a food that I dearly loved – carbohydrate or sweet – to get a tiny spoonful of it on my plate. After I ate my protein, I had barely enough room for that dab of dressing and touch of mashed potatoes, but was able to put each one in my mouth and allow my tastebuds to relish them. I even got to have a cherry and bit of crust from the pie. THAT was wonderful!

Doing this taught me that I CAN go to events and refrain from wrecking myself.

Now for the downer. I said at the start I’d be honest and transparent:
I have very little strength in my legs.

I can walk around fine, stand good, but walking up steps is difficult and getting up from kneeling requires help. Earlier this week, I knelt down to plug a cord in under my desk and when I went to stand back up, I toppled over. (Obviously Im not a Weeble.) I’m so glad it was on carpet! I had to crawl over to a chair to use it to push and pull my body upright.

Now, I have to confess, when I started doing my project of interviewing authors (you should watch those, you’ll find some great ideas for books to read) I kinda sorta dropped riding the bike. So, for about three weeks, I’ve not been riding. I started back yesterday. I’m going to keep that up, even in this busy ten days leading to my book launch party (are you coming?). Then my plan is to start at the gym doing strengthening exercises.

Do you think I’ll be able to squat and kneel by Christmas? I’ll let you know how that goes.

Listen, if you have any questions about this bariatric journey, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m happy to share with you what I know and what I’ve experienced. I want to see you living life instead of just existing.

I see her healing…

I have some more non-scale victories (NSVs) to report and celebrate:

I sat in a movie theater seat and my hips didn’t touch either side. 🎉

I walked up a steep driveway and I wasn’t winded. 🎉

I can walk down steps now, left, right, left, instead of stepping with my right foot and bringing my left to that step. 🎉

I am walking and talking with more confidence. 🎉

And best of all, a sweet young man considered “special needs” when asked by his mom if he had noticed I was losing weight. His answer:
❤️“Nope. I just see her healing, Mom.”❤️

Seeing the number in the scale go down is certainly exciting, but these? These are life-giving!

I return to the surgeon’s office tomorrow. I’m hoping that all my lab work shows I’m fully healthy and that their scales match mine. 😁

With this ring…

See this? It’s my wedding band. I haven’t worn it in about seven years. I could have had it resized, but I believed that someday I would be able to wear it again.
I put it on a couple weeks ago, but it was still a little tight.

Today is the third day since I put it on.

This ring doesn’t define my marriage to Jack. It doesn’t say our marriage is solid and the lack of its presence doesn’t say it’s not solid. But it is the ring he pushed onto this very finger almost 29 years ago and it’s special to me, and I’m really glad it fits again.

Not since 2016

As I began this journey, I was told to celebrate NSVs (Non-Scale Victories).

At the conference I attended, I celebrated being able to squeeze between chairs in the main room – without actually squeezing.

On the road trip and in other places, I celebrate being able to use the smaller bathroom stalls instead of needing the larger handicap ones.

Today I’m celebrating what I consider a huge one. In December 2016 I broke my right arm right at the shoulder joint. Even with amazing physical therapy, I was not able to reach behind my back to hook my bra.

Today, I tried. And, I DID IT!

Whether you’re on a health journey like me or just living life, learn to celebrate the victories that can’t be measured. It really matters.

On the go

Some of you saw my posts from the past six days when I was at a conference. Let me tell you, the food was AMAZING.
I ate at Arby’s, Cheesecake Factory (twice), room service, the conference, a VIP meet & greet, Steak ‘n Shake, and the VIP dinner.

Let’s talk about the choices those places offered this non-carb eater.

I stopped at Arby’s on the way to Ohio. I asked for a classic roast beef & cheddar without the bun. I got a bowl full of roast beef! I believe it was more than what you bun-eaters get. I could not consume the whole thing. I think next time I’ll ask for a slider without the bun. $4.69

At Steak ‘n Shake on the way home, I did the same. I asked for the burger without the bun. They brought the burger patty on one little plate and the “salad” on another. I wasn’t able to eat the whole thing, but what I ate was delicious. $2.50

On Saturday evening, we had a two-hour break for supper, but I didn’t find a group to join to go out so I went to my room to recharge me, my phone, and to eat. I ordered a jumbo shrimp cocktail. It was good. I don’t think my tummy liked the horseradish cocktail sauce. I ate all four of the gigantic prawns, as my new Aussie friend Susan calls them. $10.75.

At the conference, the lunch buffet was magnificent. Long tables filled with delicious food and a smaller soup station. Each day I walked past the rice, macaroni and cheese, and other grains and carbs. I grabbed chicken, turkey, and pot roast. CONFESSION: I did grab one piece of maduros. I couldn’t pass that up. I WANTED a dozen, but left it at one.

At the meet & greet, servers brought trays of wonderful delicacies, including stuffed mushrooms, mini-tort pies, and much more. I asked about each one and chose only the all meat ones.

At Cheesecake Factory the first time, I examined their menu – 21 pages??? – and the inserted “Skinnylicious” menu. I ordered from that insert. Tuscan Chicken. Something the menu didn’t describe was that you wouldn’t be getting one chicken breast, you get THREE. It was so very good, I managed to eat 3/4 of one of them. (SIDE NOTE: These portions given at restaurants are almost always more than we should eat. In the past, I would have devoured most of that and had a piece of cheesecake.) gifted by wonderful friends, Tony & Kristine.

The second trip, I ordered the Mexican lettuce tacos. They use lettuce as a tortilla. I should have put all three pieces of chicken in one taco, but I just ate them from the plate with a bite or two of the taco. $9.95

The VIP dinner was amazing. Each plate came with filet and chicken with steamed asparagus, rice, celery and onion. It was all incredibly delicious. I ate about two ounces of the steak and two of the chicken. The rice looked so tempting, not to mention the cheesecake for dessert. I managed to say no.

I also made the choice to exercise. I made the choice at home, even planned the clothes I would take to go to the gym. Then, I forgot those clothes at home. A perfect opportunity to say, oh well, can’t exercise. NOPE! I made the short trip to Target on Thursday morning as soon as they opened at 8:00 and found workout clothes made for me.
I went back to the hotel, got into my new duds and headed to the gym. Then I walked to and from lunch with friends. Then I did it again on Saturday and Sunday mornings before going to the conference. That meant I had to choose to get up earlier, dress, go to the gym provided by the hotel, return to my room, shower and get ready for the day. It helped by helping my body, but also giving me energy.

When I got home yesterday, I jumped right into unpacking and putting up all my stuff. in the past, just unloading the car has worn me out. Jack even remarked that he could see the new strength and energy in me.

So, I got on the scale this morning and found I lost almost 2 pounds this past week. Woohoo! I’m so close to dropping below 200 pounds for the first time in ten years!

I could have easily chosen to devour that whole bowl of roast beef & cheddar. I could have scarfed up more of the Tuscan chicken. I could have added that yellow rice and toppings from the Friday buffet. I could have enjoyed the mashed potatoes, creamy baked mac & cheese, the rolls, the desserts from the other buffets. I could have ordered that bun grilled for the burger.

Why then didn’t I? I mean, my accountability (Jack) wasn’t with me. Who would have known?

First of all, the Lord would have known and I’ve placed myself in His care and control, so really, my accountability WAS with me.

Secondly, those choices would have halted my journey. Absolutely stopped it. Oh, I could have gone back to step one, the liquid diet for a week, then moved up through the stages. No thanks. I’ve gained too much ground. I don’t want to stop now.

Every aspect of life is about choices. Which ones do you need to work on?

What have I done?

Keeping it real about my recovery:

What a joy it was to report to you the victories I felt the other night. What a glorious feeling! And enjoying “real” food still is. Jack does make award-winning chili. Yum!

Unfortunately, since then I’ve spent my days close to my chair, keeping a basin nearby. When I stand and walk I get that feeling of darkness closing in around my eyes with the sound of a zillion beetle legs clicking louder and louder. I come close to passing out.

Every time I get up.

I’ve gone to the bathroom and had to fall into the bed (mere steps away) so as to avoid ending up on the floor.

I’ve had to make my breakfast in three phases because I couldn’t stand long enough to scramble eggs with ham and cheese. Stand 2-3 minutes, sit 15, repeat.

On top of that weakness, I’ve been nauseous. I can tell the “it’s time to eat” nausea, but this is not that. It’s ugly and I won’t describe it. Just know it’s more than uncomfortable.

I’m not sharing this looking for sympathy or pity. I’m trying to be honest about the struggles and victories I’m going through on this journey toward a healthy me.

If you’re so inclined, I would love your prayers that whatever is causing these problems are revealed and repaired.

How do I listen to my body when I don’t speak its language?

I’ve heard all kinds of people say “listen to your body.”

I get that. We need to pay attention when our bodies say they are tired or running without fuel.

Since my surgery I have been trying to listen to my body. Most of the time it’s saying, “I’m cold! Cover me up!” (Seems that when your body is operating by using your fat stores, you feel cold.)

Otherwise, my body keeps saying “I’m sick! Get a bucket!”

What I’ve learned is that that can be interpreted in different ways. Crazy, huh?

I don’t feel hunger like I used to. The way my body declares its need for food is …. you guessed it: nausea.

If I eat too much, I feel nauseous. That’s kinda normal, I guess, it’s just that it happens quicker now.

If I get too hot, I will get extremely nauseous.

See? I need an interpreter. Anyone speak post-bariatric surgery nausea?

The good news is, I’ve lost almost 50 pounds since February. I’m grateful that I’ve kept those clothes from several years ago “just in case.” It’s like having a new wardrobe for free.

I’m also healthy. It’s easy to become dehydrated and thus far I am avoiding it. That’s a hallelujah!

What are ways you’ve learned to listen to your body?

Health Update

I have thought about updating you so many times since my surgery on August 14th. Trouble is, every time I’d think of it, I was incredibly tired or feeling sick or my brain was fuzzy. So, here we are, 23 days out from surgery and I’ll share a bit of what’s been going on.

Umm, you might want to grab something to drink and settle in for a bit.

On the 14th, I was apparently a good girl and behaved during surgery. As the surgeon worked his way through the procedure, he found what he described to Jack as “a large hiatal hernia.” Many times when people have a hiatal hernia, no surgery is even recommended. Apparently, had this one been seen, I would have had surgery to fix it. Fortunately, my surgeon did the work to move my stomach back into place, close up the gaping entry into my diaphragm, and set me to rights.

Jack and I are certain that this whole plan for health through the gastric sleeve was simply to get me on the table so that hernia could be fixed. I had been told about two years prior that I had a tiny one, nothing to be concerned with. I guess I’m fertile ground for a hernia.

The program likes for patients to get up and walk within two hours of surgery and keep walking as much as possible. When I tried to get up just to walk to the restroom, I all but fell into the nurses’ arms. I saw the blackness gathering around me and heard the squeaks of crickets that weren’t there. That was scary.

I was reinstalled into bed and my room got really busy. Seems that my blood pressure was exceedingly low. Like, 71/36 low. So, for the first time in 40 years, I am no longer taking blood pressure medicine.

WHAT???? Just hours after surgery? No weight lost yet, but my BP is low? I almost did a happy dance right there in my hospital bed.

The only problem was, I had to have my blood pressure and heart rate up to a normal range in order to go home. It all worked out. I was sprung Friday evening.

We had to make the stops for medicine and the ride home was fun – do you know how many bumps there are between Maryville and Townsend? My stitched up spots were counting! When we arrived home, I was worn out, but boy, oh boy! Sitting down on my couch, laying my head back in my house was the best!

I won’t bore you with a daily recounting of everything that’s gone on. We’d be here a really long time. Suffice to say, it’s been an up and down journey.

That first week, I could “eat” liquids only. Broth, strained cream soups, protein drinks – kind of like I had the week before surgery. The only problem is, since surgery, I cannot stand those protein shakes. It’s like I bring one to my lips and my stomach starts to revolt right then.

On Day 14 after surgery, I graduated to Phase 3 for eating. That’s soft foods. Scrambled eggs, cottage cheese. There’s other stuff too, but the variety is limited. You know, it’s not really fun to have the same four things every day. I will survive.

That’s all for now. More in a few days.