Tag Archives: Eating Out

Food, Glorious Food…Really!

My babies and I waiting to explore the city.  Walking helps to work off the fantastic cuisine of New Orleans!

My babies and I waiting to explore the city. Walking helps to work off the fantastic cuisine of New Orléans!

Welcome back to Down the Scale! I neglected my blogging duties for the past month, but my weight loss journey still continues! I must say this has been one of my favorite summers. My family and I enjoyed fun activities around town and across the country. Swimming, sight-seeing, relaxing and eating were some of the great activities we indulged in this summer. Yes, I did say eating! I didn’t think enjoying food would be part of my life when I had gastric sleeve surgery over a year ago. I was wrong and a trip to New Orléans showed me how eating out can be a positive part of my life.

After San Francisco, New Orléans is my favorite city. It is full of history, architecture, charm and amazing cuisine. Even though I don’t like shellfish, I love the other types of food New Orléans is known for like beignets, gumbo, jambalaya, pralines and of course a variety of alcoholic beverages. In my past visits, I never worried about what or how much food I consumed. This trip, I knew I couldn’t eat with wild abandon. First, my small stomach prohibits me from eating too much. Second, I didn’t want to gain too much weight. I say “too much” because I knew I would gain weight as I would be eating food higher in fat and sugar than I normally do now. And yes, I’m up a pound and a half since vacation, but I anticipated that and I’m back to eating normally.

So I was excited to visit New Orléans, but I wondered if I would enjoy the food like I did in the past. My first test was breakfast. Cafe Beignet was close to our hotel and I went by myself to pick those hot, fluffy, doughy, sugary pillows of goodness called beignets. I stood in line behind other tourists (do locals eat them, I wonder?), anticipating the first bite, but also wondering would I still enjoy them. With my small stomach, would I even be able to eat much of it? Would the sugar and fat make me feel sick?

Simply put, the answer was no. I took my first bite of beignet and smiled. It tasted just as I remembered. No, it tasted better. Now that I eat healthier, which not only means better food, but eating slower, I truly enjoyed that beignet. I didn’t rush to eat it so I could get to the next one. I savored each bite of the beignet I ate. And yes, I only ate one of these delightful treats. I was full after eating one physically, but also mentally. I finally feel like I’ve learned that eating smaller amounts of food is just as satisfying as stuffing myself. My new body shape and the feeling of health I now have confirm that.

Yes, my guilty pleasure!  Cafe au lait and beignets!  I am so happy I was able to enjoy a bit of these New Orleans treats!

Yes, my guilty pleasure! Cafe au lait and beignets! I am so happy I was able to enjoy a bit of these New Orléans treats!

The rest of our vacation in New Orléans went this way. I enjoyed all my favorites, just in small amounts. Rice fills me up quickly, so I could only eat a bit of jambalaya, but it was worth it. I will admit to missing Muffulettas.   The bread is just too much for me, so a bite of my husband’s sandwich was all I could enjoy. He was kind enough to share it with me and I was kind enough to share my food with him and the rest of my family. I generally share all my dishes when we go out to eat, and even at home. I just can’t eat all the food restaurants serve.

Besides food, New Orléans is known for alcohol. I still drink since my surgery, but I am now a lightweight. One drink, maybe two is my limit. Yes, I’m a cheap date. I can’t eat and drink at the same time (liquids can push the food down too fast and it really doesn’t feel good either), so the New Orléans tradition of “to go cups.” was wonderful. I could order a drink and take it with me as we walked off our fantastic meals.

Our vacation to New Orléans will go down as my favorite. I really love the city and this time we also enjoyed the company of some of our East Coast family. We enjoyed all the typical vacation activities and it definitely included food. I am thrilled that I can still enjoy food, but with a more positive attitude. Eating is definitely different for me now and I am proud of how I handle eating out now. I look forward to more vacations and now I know they can still include eating out and I can still go Down the Scale…

My First Year Anniversary of My Gastric Sleeve Surgery!

Yes, a year makes a difference!  96.5 pounds are gone!

Yes, a year makes a difference! 96.5 pounds are gone!

96.5 pounds are gone! This is one of the ways I am marking my first anniversary of my gastric sleeve surgery. Yes, I am thrilled and amazed by the numbers, but that’s not the only success I feel from my surgery. Losing this much weight changed my life in more ways than I could have imagined:

  • I now enjoy walking and participating in outdoor activities! Walking instead of driving to pick up my kids from school and running errands is easy now. Hiking and exploring our great city and surrounding natural attractions are now some of our favorite family activities. For a girl who was always searching for the gift shop and snack bar when doing outdoor activities, this is a huge change!
  • I still enjoy food! I thought going to the Farmers’ Market and eating at restaurants would be a thing of the past, but it is now part of my life in a positive way. I look for better quality food and I eat in smaller amounts. Dinning at restaurants can be challenging, but I can always find a healthy option on most menus.
  • Yes, I will admit that I feel like I am more attractive. And some of this does come from outside validation. Having friends and family comment on my looks does make me feel better about my “outside.” But more importantly, I am more confidant on my outward appearance which makes me seem more confidant. A confidant woman is an attractive woman.
  • Mentally I am in a better place than I could have imagined. Once the crutch of eating my feelings was taken away, it was necessary for me to face my feelings. It’s still not easy and I will always have to work on my mental health. And you know what? That’s OK.

The best measure of success hasn’t been the scale. Sure the numbers are important, but it’s not the end all be all of my weight loss journey success. I finally realized that taking care of myself is not only important, but essential. It doesn’t make me a bad mother or bad wife or bad friend or bad person when I put my physical and mental health first. Such a simple lesson, but it is one I needed to learn.

I look forward to continuing to share my journey…the good and the bad! A huge thanks to everyone who supported me in my first year of my weight loss journey. Here’s to another year of going Down the Scale…

The Week I Gained a Pound and So Much More….

Comparing photos really helps me see my weight loss!  I love that my babies are growing, but my hubby and I are shrinking!

Comparing photos really helps me see my weight loss! I love that my babies are growing, but my hubby and I are shrinking!

Here it is Week 37 at Down the Scale and my total weight loss is 88.5 pounds! It hasn’t been easy these last three weeks to get there. During Week 35 I gained a pound. It took a few weeks to take it off and then lose another pound to get to my current total. It was a good reminder that my gastric sleeve journey is not only full of emotional ups and downs, but physical ones as well. The scale gives me important information, but isn’t the complete picture of my health.

The week I gained a pound, I also gained perspective on how much my weight loss journey has changed more than my body. My spirit and mind gained peace, silliness and love and that makes gaining a physical pound worthwhile.

I gained the weight on our four-day trip to Disneyland. My family and friends already know that my husband and I are true Disney fans. Perhaps über Disney geeks would be a better description. Dave and I bonded over our love of Disney World and even spent our honeymoon there. Our children’s infant and toddler years we spent at Disney World at least once a month when we lived in Florida. Now that we’ve been back in California for almost three years, we decided to take some time off from the “real” world and go on a family trip to Disneyland.

As excited as I was to finally take my babies to Disneyland, I was nervous about the food and rides. Amusement parks are full of fattening, sugary treats seemingly positioned every few feet. Before we left, I decided I would treat myself to a Dole Whip as it is my favorite Disney treat. And would you believe they were refurbishing the machines?! That was my one disappointment the whole trip and in the scheme of vacations, that’s really not bad.

So did I indulge? Yes, yes I did. The difference in my eating habits this trip as opposed to the past was that I shared all snacks. I didn’t get a churro for myself, but took a bite from one of my kid’s. I shared a carton of popcorn with the whole family instead of scarfing one down by myself. I must admit I did look longingly at the Mickey Mouse ice cream treats. I am still worried that if I start eating large amounts of ice cream, I will start eating them on a regular basis, so I decided to pass on this food.

For meals, I ordered soup or shared entrees with my husband and kids. Having children, who during growth spurts, can eat like Olympic athletes, makes sharing meals easier and cheaper. We also brought snacks like almonds, turkey jerky and protein bars so we could snack when needed. Being ready with snacks and sharing meals made eating during our vacation easy and eliminated much of the stress I associate with eating out.

The other stressful situation I feared before our vacation was the rides. My son is now at the age where he wants to ride rollercoasters and fast, bumpy rides. The last time we went to Disney World, he was 6 and just starting to express an interest in rollercoasters. We did ride one rollercoaster, Big Thunder Mountain Railway then and I was scared the whole time. I wasn’t scared of the ride since Big Thunder isn’t really that fast, scary and doesn’t go upside down; I was scared for safety issues. I was terrified the bar wouldn’t go down far enough over my big belly and that I would squish my son. Neither happened, but the worry was always there.

No worries this trip! The bars on all the rides went down easily and I truly felt safe! And yes, I rode a scary rollercoaster that went upside down and I didn’t fall out. The California Screamin’ Rollercoaster was one of my favorite rides of the trip and I am so happy that I was able to share this experience with my son as a healthy mom.

So in the past, I am sure I would have gained more weight and been secretly terrified of the rides. This trip was perfect in so many ways: time with just my family, no schedule or commitments, and just plain fun! While it was a struggle to take off that pound I gained and to get back on track for losing weight, it was well worth it. And really, that’s what my journey is all about…being healthy for me and my family. Bumps in the road will arise, but I can conquer them with my sleeved stomach, support of my family and friends, but most importantly my belief that I am worth it and I can do. Going to the “Happiest Place on Earth” was the best reminder that I make my own “Happiest Place on Earth” right here and right now…

Food isn’t the Enemy, but a Friendemy

Week 22 and 70.5 pounds down!  My and hubby and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary by walking in some of our favorite neighborhoods, having a light meal out and seeing a show.  And yes, it included my favorite coffee.

Week 22 and 70.5 pounds down! My and hubby and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary by walking in some of our favorite neighborhoods, having a light meal out and seeing a show. And yes, it included my favorite coffee.

My gastric sleeve surgery is the catalyst for many changes in my life, and my relationship with food is one of the biggest changes I am making. My smaller stomach physically restricts the amount of food I can eat at one time, but as I progress to Week 22 of my journey, I am able to eat more of a variety of food and I find I can eat more often. While it is nice to feel “normal” this is also giving me a bit of anxiety. With the holiday season here, or my other name for it, “the indulgent food season”, I need to really focus on my relationship with food. 

Food, in the past, has been such a huge part of my life. I used it to deal with depression, to reward myself for accomplishments, to fight boredom, and to celebrate holidays and anniversaries. I try not to use food in these ways, but it is going to happen. My anniversary weekend was a good test to see how I could handle food differently.

The ever-supportive hubby and I enjoying a night on the town to celebrate our 15 years being thick and now thin together. (A quick shout out to my hubby who has lost 50 pounds this year! He is amazing!) On these rare occasions when we have a date night, food would have been the focus. A dinner at a nice restaurant would always include appetizers for both of us, entrées and a glass of wine (OK, two) for me.

Now just because we’re eating better and healthier doesn’t mean we don’t want an enjoyable food experience. What we consider to be enjoyable, though, is now completely different! Instead of a huge, heavy meal, we ate wonderful salads at a café. They were delicious and left room for us to split a brownie from one of our favorite bakeries after we walked around the neighborhood! And there was still time for wine as we watched a musical show later that night. Such a lovely evening and it didn’t revolve around food!

So, food is not the enemy! Eating out is still enjoyable! But…yes, there had to be a but, I still struggle with some food. My body can handle tortilla chips and salsa very well; I’m afraid too well. Crackers are also easy for me to digest and I can eat more of them then I should. I don’t want to ban them from my diet because in the past that just makes me want whatever I say I can’t have even more. I am trying not to bring them in the house, but Goldfish crackers are a requirement when you have children. Healthy food is also another requirement, so that helps me when shopping for food. I am now finally eating like my children and it shows in how I feel and how I look. Oh, and how much weight I lose…70.5 pounds gone so far!

This is my latest challenge in my Down the Scale journey and that’s OK. I feel a bit like I have two personalities when it comes to food. “Normal Jen” eats healthy and small quantities, picks better food choices when she’s out and understands that small portions are satisfying. “Old Jen” thinks about fattening food, craves full sugar coffee drinks and wants non-fulfilling food like crackers in the pantry.

Fortunately, “normal” is wining over “old”, but I know that I will always have this struggle. And if the “old” wins sometimes, that’s going to be OK. I am human. I am not perfect. I am always trying to do my best and when it comes to weight loss and being healthy, that’s the best way to be, for me.

Back in the Food World

Getting ready to go out for my first party, post-sleeve!

Getting ready to go out for my first party, post-sleeve!

Week 7 is here and I feel pretty good! Another three and a half pounds down this week for a total of 32.5 pounds. While I’m proud of my weight loss, I am even more proud of my entry back into the “food world.”

Food has always been an important part of my life, but moving back to California made food even more important. San Francisco is a “foodie” town and we have tons of great and interesting restaurants. I think our grocery stores here have a better variety of food. And of course, there are the farmers markets which are the best I’ve seen.

Having these resources wasn’t particular good for my health when we first moved. For the first year and a half, we ate out and picked up take out food more than we should have. Having a cheap and tasty take out dim sum restaurant close to the house made weekend lunches very easy. Coffee shops are on almost every corner so it’s easy to pick up a sugary espresso drink at any time. Way too many options!

Since I can’t make these places go away, I am learning to live with them and still have them as part of my life. I don’t foresee the dim sum restaurant in my near future and perhaps not at all. I haven’t had any fried foods since my gastric sleeve surgery and I’m not sure when or even if I will have it. I am trying to be very careful with my new stomach. And my fear of vomiting keeps me in line, too.

I did venture back to the farmers’ market this past weekend for the first time. It was great! Surrounded by beautiful, healthy fruits and vegetables was inspiring. My focus is on eating enough protein, but I am adding in more vegetables now. My big treat of the day was picking up my favorite Serrano chile goat cheese. Instead of eating it with wild abandonment, I measured out a teaspoon to spread on my half a turkey burger the other night. Suddenly, a teaspoon is enough to get the flavor I enjoy. This weekend, I finally realized that smaller amounts of food are just as satisfying and enjoyable as the large amounts I ate before. For this overeater, this revelation is a bit overwhelming.

My biggest food test was at a party this week. Let me just say this right off the bat, I love wine. I love parties so that I can try new wines and relax and be an adult and not the mommy. Yes, I can drink wine with my new stomach, but I must admit I’m nervous to try. My overprotective nature with my stomach is one reason, but also I have a feeling I’m going to be a really cheap date. Meaning, the two to three glasses I could drink before, I assume will put me in a coma. So, the first time I drink I plan to do it at home. If I don’t feel good, I’d rather be in my home and if a half a glass makes me silly, again, I’d rather be home.

So, no wine at my first party post-sleeve and I was fine. I drank water all night and while it isn’t as yummy as a crisp class of chardonnay, I survived. I was too busy chatting to really care! I also didn’t eat. I made sure to have a protein filled dinner before we came to the party. I did bring vegetables and humus to the party, but I didn’t eat anything. I could have if I wanted to and I think that made all the difference. Knowing I can eat if I want is empowering and I realize I am in charge of my actions in regards to food.

We did leave before they served the birthday cake, so I did get off a little easy. Again, this is something I can eat, but I haven’t had sugar for 7 weeks, so again, this is something I want to try at home. The thought of me bouncing around like a child eating sugar for the first time is mortifying and not something that I need to do in front of family and friends. And I must admit, the sugar-free items I’m eating now (syrups in my lattes and hot chocolate) satisfy my sweet tooth and I would prefer to keep it that way. Eventually I would like to drop them and use natural sweeteners, but I’m happy where I am for now.

Other food challenges await, such as barbeques, eating out with friends, and the holidays, but I am learning to take each challenge one at a time. Food is not the enemy; my eating habits were the enemy. I finally feel like I am taking charge of my eating habits and this tastes better than anything in the world…