Blog Posts

It’s been a while!

First and foremost- I apologize for the long gap between posts, as I have been struggling with the whole job search on top of the weight loss journey and school. This is just a little update/filler-


As a general update, I have continued to lose, though this week has been slower than normal due to weight lifting also. I have started doing light weight lifting which leads to muscle gain, and I have had to remember that muscle will burn more fat and I just have to keep pushing. I have been taking photos as I go to make sure I have reference points, which has significantly helped. This journey truly has been a mind fuck and is not for the feint of heart.

I am officially 3 months post op on the 21st. Since surgery, I have lost 40.8 pounds and a total of 62.8 since September 2018. I am so proud of my progress so far, and only have 62 pounds left to get to my actual “goal” weight. To be honest though, my “goal” is to be healthy and feel good, so that number may change, but it feel attainable. This last couple of pounds to get under 200 have been the hardest ones to lose. I am going to get back to the gym today and probably start back with more cardio… or maybe lift first then cardio rather than the other way around (open to suggestions on best methods for weight loss).

I plan to share some of topics I had originally mentioned soon, I just had to clear my head first. If there are any specific topics y’all are wondering about, feel free to suggest them!

WLS is an amazing tool, but it is just that, a tool. I am going to work hard to make sure my tool is doing the best that it possibly can.

Love,

Sophia Carolina

Meal Breakdowns: Pre and Post- OP

Prior to surgery, your doctor may have a pre-op diet you must follow. This varies with each surgeon. Some just have a 1 day clear liquid diet, some have 2 weeks of liquids before surgery. Mine had a 1 month 1200 calorie diet and a 1 day clear liquid diet the day before surgery. The point of this diet is to shrink your liver and make it easier for them to navigate inside of you to complete the surgery laparoscopicly.

On the day of surgery, you will not be able to eat or drink anything… and then post-op you will not want to.

Post-Op:

In order to leave the hospital, you must be able to get down, and keep down 4oz of liquid per hour and walk the hospital to get the gas that they pumped into your stomach. Yes, this means that they want you to burp, fart and use the restroom on your own. Now- When they let you leave, your post-op diet starts… You are required to limit your sugar, fat, and carbs to prevent issues with digestion. I will create a tab that includes screenshots of the Kaiser printouts for each week. In addition to a daily intake of 64oz of water, and 60 grams of protein (as close as you possibly can the first 2 weeks, and then at least 60 after that) you must follow the following breakdowns (these vary by surgeon’s office)

Weeks 1-2: Full Liquids- this includes pre-made protein shakes (i.e. premier protein, equate protein etc.), bone broth, low-fat creamed soups, sugar-free pudding or greek yogurt. This stage is relatively easy because for the first week you are not interested in eating or drinking anything… Week 2, YOU.JUST.WANT.TO.CHEW.SOMETHING…. it is frustrating, but you have to push through.

Weeks 3-4: Pureed foods- regular protein shakes, scrambled eggs, thinned mashed potatoes, blenderized creamed soups, non-fat yogurt or greek yogurts. The introduction of scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes are life savers here! They help you to feel like you are chewing something and are the closest to real food.

weeks 5-6: Soft foods- anything soft like steamed or poached fish, tuna, ground chicken or turkey, low fat beans, tofu, well cooked veggies (Except those that are gassy like brussel sprouts, broccoli and asparagus). Pure joy… not because you are starving, or that food sounds good, but when you are hungry you want something that is a bit more satisfying than soups or thin mashed potatoes… Low fat beans and ground turkey were my faves!

Weeks 7-12: Regular foods- this means any normal food, but limited to 400-600 calories per day; .25 – .5 cups per meal. This is where things are tough for most… Yes, TECHNICALLY you can have what you want, but you shouldn’t. This surgery is a tool, it will not eliminate your food addiction if you suffer from that. It will not make you not crave hot Cheetos (They sound so good, but I have still avoided them like the plague). Having something that doesn’t meet my meal plan, just because it is tasty, is not worth risking my overall goal with this surgery.

Months 3-6: Regular foods with a daily calorie intake of 600-800; .5 – .75 cups per meal

Months: 7-12: regular foods with a daily calorie intake of 800-1000; .75-1 cup per meal

Months 12+: regular foods with a daily intake of 1000-1200; 1-1.5 cups per meal

Now- with these meal plans there are foods to avoid (mentioned some in the photos below) as well as the fact that you will be taking vitamins every day for the rest of your life. You also will have prescribed medicine post op, however this is typically for only a few months. I plan to do a post covering why certain items are meant to be avoided and the full breakdown of vitamins to take. I included the pages below for reference, but there are additional supplements to take that are helpful.

I will be writing up a post on my daily foods, and including some of my favorite post op snacks and recipes! I post a lot of this on Instagram, so follow me there to see daily posts!

Please leave comments or message me if there is something specific you would like to know or would like me to cover.

Love,
Sophia Carolina

The images above do not belong to me- they are directly from the Kaiser packet provided by my surgeon.

What to Expect From me

Well hello all of you who have viewed this site and followed my blog! I was truly surprised by the out-pour of support I received upon announcing that I followed through with VSG. I honestly did not expect that, and it means so much to me.

I want to do my best to post regularly on here and provide updates on my progress, eating habits, exercise etc., but I also want this to be a way to communicate with others and help anyone looking into the surgery to understand what it truly is and what it entails. I have noticed in speaking with others that are having, have had, or want to have bariatric surgery, that not all surgeons or processes are the same. Please remember the obvious, I am not a doctor or trained nutritionist. The things I state in my blog are based SOLELY on my own experience unless specifically stated/sourced. Please be sure to discuss your options with your primary care doctor.

Things to look for in the coming posts:

  • Kaiser’s process and length of time it took from initiating the referral to actual surgery date.
  • Real expectations for VSG
  • Food pre and post surgery and what the first 6-8 weeks post surgery really look like for a bariatric patient
  • Exercise before and after surgery- when can you work out again and what can you do?
  • Vitamins/Suppliments post-op and what it looks like for life
  • Favorite post-op protein sources and foods/snacks and reviews on said products (like QUEST bars which are my damn life now!)
  • Common misconceptions of bariatric surgery
  • Dedicated posts to progress with photos – ongoing. I also plan to have a photos section
  • General life updates

Please feel free to comment what you want to see on here or on my Instagram! I am very excited to get this started and get to know everyone and I want to cover requested topics also!

Love,

Sophia Carolina

Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy & Why I Chose Bariatric Surgery

Some of you who know me may ask, “Why keep this a secret? Why not just say HEY I AM GETTING SURGERY and just move on?”- well, I don’t know. Originally I had planned to just say it, but as the day got closer I felt guiltier and guiltier.

Very few, and I mean very few, people knew about my real weight loss struggle over the years outside of my parents and my husband. Most never knew about my eating disorder, or depression and anxiety. Most would see me as “taking the easy way out” and judge me for doing it. Thinking on it now, it is so stupid that I let that stop me from sharing this publicly, but I did. With the fitness craze that is happening these days, and many of our friends owning gyms or being gym rats, I really didn’t want to hear anyone tell me that “All you need is Keto and Crossfit” because, no, that is not all I need.

I was 27 years old, 264 lbs at my highest, with severe Type 2 diabetes and a family history of severe genetic heart disease and cancer. And to top that off, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to have children, which is what I want more than anything in the world, because of reproductive issues I have dealt with since I was 10 (this is a totally separate story that I may share later, but is ongoing with research and doctors visits). I knew that I needed something to help me, and clearly diets and exercise were not enough.

On February 13, 2018, I spoke to my doctor and learned that I had to be put on a heavy dose of Insulin as well as a cholesterol medication due to my A1C being 11.4 and my cholesterol being high. This caused me to re-gain the 30 pounds I had previously lost due to my glucose levels being to high. It was that moment that I asked to began the referral process for bariatric surgery. Now, with Kaiser they have multiple hoops to jump through. Aside from having to meet criteria (BMI over 35 with co-morbidity or over 40 without) but you had to complete a 12 week course and complete a number of medical visits before even scheduling a surgeon to talk with you. It was a long road, but I jumped through every single hoop.

I had originally decided I wanted to get RNY Gastric bypass which decreases your stomach to a 2oz pouch, and reroutes your intestines to cause you to digest your food in a different manner, however, upon further discussion with the surgeon, we learned that it was actually better to have the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) because it not only is less invasive, but it does not cause a risk of future internal hernias like RNY does. Because my goal is to get pregnant, that was a major deciding factor.

So, what is VSG? Well, with VSG surgery, the surgeon makes 5-6 small incisions on your belly and laparoscopicly removes 70-80% of your stomach, leaving only a 4oz, banana shaped, ‘sleeve’. There is no re-routing of intestines or remaining pieces floating in your body. They physically remove the other portion. Gross right? Well, on January 21st 2019- I had my procedure done. Typically you go home the following day, however I had to stay an extra night due to the nausea and pain that I experienced.

Now before I get to the good stuff, I want to make this very clear. This is not cosmetic surgery… it is not done because “I want to be skinny”. This is a last resort surgery to take control of your health. Yes I struggle with the mental aspects of losing weight, but the overall point of this surgery is to take control of my health which I had lost control of years ago. This surgery is merely a tool. It does not fix anything mentally or eating wise. I have to make the decisions to eat better. I eat extremely low carb, low/no sugar, and in very small portions. You are required to follow a strict eating process post surgery until week 6 when you can finally introduce normal foods, HOWEVER, my stomach can only hold 4 oz at one time, so this means I have very small portions and chew things more than is humanly normal. I cannot eat and drink at the same time, and can make myself sick if I eat the wrong things. I go to the gym at least 4 times a week and try to walk and move as much as possible. For those of you thinking this is easy… please do some research. I will also be taking vitamins for the rest of my life, but to me, that is worth it. I would rather go through the tough times (like the potential hair loss that is to come in the next few months) and take vitamins forever if it means I have a chance to live a long life and raise a family with the man that I love.

I still feel this was the greatest decision I have ever made for myself. Not only have I finally been able to lose weight and keep it off/continue to lose, but I am feeling better than ever. I am off all diabetes medication, dropped my A1C to 5.8 and have made so many friendships via the WLS (weightloss surgery) community on Instagram.

The following pictures are from 2 days prior to surgery on the left (242 lbs), and 1 month post op on the right (221 lbs). By 1 month I had already lost 21 pounds since surgery!! This process is a slow lose, but continuous lose which is perfect!

The following are my stats as of today! I am at the end of week 8, and today weigh 213.4 lbs. That is 28.6 pounds down from surgery and a total of 50.6 lbs from my highest! I have now dropped 2 pant sizes which is surreal as I have not been a size 16 since a year out of high school (9 years). I still have a long way to go, but I am so fucking proud of how far I have gotten and how much this has already helped me. I got this surgery to better my health over all and to give me the best possible chance to have a baby in the future, and seeing the results happening is beyond emotional. I cannot wait to share more of this journey and my life as I go, and I hope that ya’ll can be encouraging and supportive.

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK ME ANY QUESTIONS AT ALL!

Welcome!

Hello everyone, thank you for visiting my blog! I have decided to create this in order to better document the changes I have made, and continue to make, outside of just Instagram. Recently, I found myself unemployed and in a pretty low rut with still not having had luck finding a new job in the last month. This caused me to be less than thrilled with life in general due to the stress.

Today, I had an epiphany… I have made so many life changes this last year and taken care of my health that I have more things to be proud of and need to get them out in the world. I have always been proud of my ability to be an open book with people. From everything from, general life decisions to my mental and overall health, but for some reason I kept a major change secret longer than I had originally planned.

This blog has been created to allow me to get my thoughts out and share with those who are either going through the same situations or just want to be nosy in my life. Whichever you are, enjoy!

The truth about my health, or the start of the discussion

So there is something that I have been keeping, relatively, private the last year and I am feeling like I want to share it with everyone now. Because I have been feeling so low with the recent loss of my job, I wanted to share something that I am extremely fucking proud of.

Now, before I get into this, I want all to know that I honestly do not care if you disagree with my decisions, this was the only option for me and it has changed my life.

As some of you know (if you actually know me), I decided to take my health back into my own hands last year. I have known I was diabetic for 10 years now, and never cared enough to do anything about it for more than a month or two, mainly because I didn’t have any physical signs of it, or so I had thought. Off and on, I had worked to better my health by losing weight in various ways. I had tried keto, low carb, Slimfast, diet pills, over exercising, and many other methods that may work for a few pounds, but nothing more. I dealt with eating disorders (EDNOS, we can talk more on that later) throughout the years, and in the latter years of high school, I started a relationship that allowed me to focus less on not eating (as a note on this, this relationship is the best thing I have ever done, and we are now married happily). Unfortunately, I began gaining weight over the years going from 175 pounds in 2009 to a high of 264 pounds in 2013. From 2013-2016 I was able to lose 20 pounds, but was never able to break 245 pounds no matter what method I tried even after talking to multiple doctors and therapists about the issues I had been dealing with.

In 2017, my husband and I moved to Southern California, where I began working from home and walking our dogs twice a day, every day. I had lost 30 pounds at the beginning of 2018 and had thought it was due to the walking and low carb eating… Unfortunately, it was not. I had made a new years resolution, like every other year, to lose weight and get healthy and in order to do that, I needed to accept my diabetes. In February of 2018, I met with a new doctor to determine where my diabetes was and what I needed to do. I was in shock with the results.

According to my blood work, my A1C had significantly increased to 11.4 (this is the glucose levels in your blood on an average. Non-diabetics are under 6, and folks over 9 start to lose limbs typically and have a higher risk of heart attack, strokes etc.). I have seen therapists about my history with eating disorders and have been trying to avoid falling back into that lifestyle since I knew that was the only method that worked for me. What I hadn’t associated with my weight, were issues with reproductive systems. Though many of you don’t want to know the gory details, I will say that I have had extreme issues with my menstrual cycle and issues that cause infertility such as “anovulatory cycles”. This means that I do not ovulate normally and it was at this time that I knew I needed some divine intervention to truly reverse the issues with my diabetes and various other problems to allow me to be able to start a family.

Over the last year, I have been attending nutrition classes to prepare for bariatric surgery, which I finally had on January 21st 2019. This was the greatest decision I have ever made for myself. Many believe this to be the “easy way out”, however I challenge those to do some major research on Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. Yes, I can consume less, but I still have to do a significant amount of work in order for this tool to work.

I have lost a total of 50 pounds from my highest weight, and 29 pounds since surgery! I have also decreased my A1C from 11.4 to 5.8!!!! This places me in the “non-diabetic” range. I have not taken insulin or any medication for my diabetes since the day before surgery and am feeling fantastic. I will always be diabetic, but I am now able to manage it with my diet and exercise.

I will be posting more details about the surgery itself, life post-op, and what it means for my future, but I wanted to share with everyone that I will be documenting my progress here as well as on my Instagram (www.Instagram.com/plussizetopintsize).

The photo below does not belong to me and is only used to show the A1C levels mentioned above.