Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lap-band: Maintenance mode

Today I got my first lap-band fill in what turns out to be two years. I knew it had been awhile since the last one, but I would have guessed one year, not two. OOPSIE.

(Super quick background on the lap-band, since I don't talk about it much: it's a plastic ring that goes around your stomach and has little pouches that are filled with saline through a port, slowly, over time. Filling the pouches increases the tightness of the ring around the stomach, increasing food restriction and making it easier to lose weight. This is done slowly after initial surgery over the course of a few months. In each of my pregnancies I had my lap-band emptied in order to reduce morning sickness and allow for consumption of sufficient nutrients, and then had it filled up again over the course of a few months post-partum. So, I had had it refilled after Annika was born, but then let it go two years without any further fills. In general, even once it's full, it still needs to be topped off every now and then due to fluid shifting and evaporating and the restriction loosening over time.)

Anyway! So, over the last two years I've lost the rest of the baby weight, about 30 pounds, which took me down to my pre-Callum weight, which was about 85 pounds below my pre-surgery weight. So, technically in the seven years since my surgery my weight is down 85 pounds, BUT an added wrinkle of the lap-band is that of course when you reduce your caloric intake by that degree, your metabolism also slows down (see also: this interesting NYT article on that topic), so when the band was emptied for my pregnancies, of course I gained a bunch of weight, and not just pregnancy weight, and ended up gaining 40-50 pounds per pregnancy. FUN TIMES. What that MEANS is that over the past seven years, I have actually LOST something like 175 pounds, BUT I also GAINED 90 pounds during that time, DAMMIT BABIES.

Anyway! Here I am now, and the lovely thing is that I HAVE lost the baby weight, TWICE, PLUS kept off the weight loss that I achieved in the first year post-surgery, before I got pregnant with Callum. So now, here I am, seven years later, finally in maintenance mode. Which doesn't mean weight maintenance mode, as I do want to continue to lose weight, but rather band maintenance mode. With the pregnancies and refilling and so forth over the past seven years, I've been in and out of my surgeon's office quite a lot with various fills and un-fills, and I will also say that it's kind of a mind trip to have your band un-filled for pregnancy because your nutritional needs shift and it turns out that postpartum isn't necessarily the most mentally stable, well rested and relaxing time to focus on your own nutritional needs. Meaning, while of course I'm always aware of my band and the accompanied restrictions (no bread, very few grains in general, no soda/carbonation, eat slowly, etc.), it hasn't really been top of mind for the last few years.

That has actually been GREAT. A huge reason why I wanted the band in the first place was because I wanted my weight to stop being such a THING in my mind all the time. I felt like I spent so much TIME thinking about my weight and my diet, and how much I weighed, and if I was losing weight, how to maintain that, and if I was gaining it back, how to stop it, and what I should and shouldn't eat. That sucked, frankly as much or more than the actual fact of being overweight, you know? Just the mental space devoted to it was so exhausting, and I really didn't want to spend the rest of my life that way. And that was a huge motivator to get the band, and that has been a huge success. Eating is no longer the Thing that it was, and I focus on nutrition and taste and have been able to almost fully remove any moral values from my opinions of food, and that's been so delightfully freeing. The band hasn't taken over my life, and that's been wonderful.

But it also means that I don't always think about how I could be using the band as the best possible tool for weight loss, and sometimes forget that I have it available to me, if that makes sense. So like, the 30 pounds that I've lost since my last fill two years ago were hard-fought, and slow, and I didn't even REALIZE that I could have gone in for another fill that would have made the whole process way easier and simpler. Like, it just did not cross my mind. I did occasionally think, "Oh, I should probably get another fill at some point" but there was always a conflict, a trip or a work meeting or something where I needed to be able to eat pretty normally (the first week or so after a fill, I have to be super cautious about eating) and so I'd figure I'd do it later, and then somehow... yeah, it's been two years.

But here I am now, I'm 85 pounds down from where I was seven years ago and that's a great place to be, and I have no further pregnancy plans and also no infants and can focus on my own stuff a little bit, as needed, and I have a fresh new fill and I feel good, and I hope it does help me lose a few more pounds without quite the Herculean effort that the last 30 pounds have required (the doc today was like, "I can't believe you lost 30 pounds with basically no restriction"), but the nice thing is, I don't feel like I have to have a renewed focus on weight loss or anything like that. More like, now I feel like I have the mental space to fit my band back into my life without it taking over, and I'm glad about that. And trying to feel proud of having lost those last 30 pounds without much help from the band, instead of dumb for letting so much time go by without taking advantage of it. Glass half-full, I guess.


  1. Yay for Jess! That's an impressive amount of weight- especially the last 30 lbs without any help. I look forward to focusing on my health once again after the c-section.

  2. I can't believe I've been reading your blog for more than SEVEN years!! Nice work on the weight loss!

  3. This is such a huge accomplishment! Yay for moving forward so consistently for so long!! Woot!!


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