Wow, nine months post-op. I definitely feel like I have given birth to a new life.
I thought it might be interesting (but maybe not) to give you a visual of what I eat in a day.
After months of not feeling super awesome, I finally called Rachael and asked her to give me some advice. I was feeling lethargic and bloated after eating and was starting to become averse to eating because of the way I was feeling.
My blood levels were showing a bit high in different areas so I had to adjust my calcium pills, which I still take three times a day + my multivitamin with 45g of iron.
Rachael suggested I switch to a pescatarian diet, focusing on plant based proteins. So far, it is working a lot better.
My ultimate “cheat” meal is a grilled chicken sandwich from Chick-Fil-A…which was like a healthy meal pre-op.
I can definitely tell a difference when I eat land animal protein and if I am going to break my diet and eat it, I try to stick to nighttime so I am not weary the rest of the day trying to digest my lunch (ew, I know).
I haven’t had red meat or pork in about two months…and I am now a person who enthusiastically eats tofu.
Ok, so here it is.
My goal is to get around 1600 calories and 100 grams of protein per day.
Early morning, [I] wake up…
I am super nauseous in the mornings. I can’t drink water and the thought of eating makes me pretty ill. So, I wait until after I’ve gotten ready for the day and then the first thing I consume is my coffee…but, in order to balance the caffeine, I add about a cup of whole milk (9g protein) and 2 tablespoons of creamer. This is my “sweet” treat to enjoy throughout the day. I will drink on this from 8 AM to about 3 PM. Yep, you read that right. I put it in a tumbler and when it gets cold, I enjoy it as an iced drink. Work with what you’ve got…
Total, 9 grams protein + 250 calories
At around 10 AM I will eat a snack. It is usually yogurt. I concentrate on a low sugar, high protein variety. This one from Trader Joe’s has 16 grams protein, 5 grams added sugar… plus topping it off with about two tablespoons of pecans adds another 3 grams of protein and 90 calories. Great snack. I’ll maybe switch it up and have a protein bar or oatmeal if I’m feeling wild and crazy.
Total, 19 grams of protein + 320 calories
By 11 or 11:30 AM I am really starting to feel “hungry”. I don’t get normal hunger signals, but instead start to feel shaky, foggy, and begin to lose my words. Once again, lunch is high protein, low sugar, high fat, and moderate carbs. My “go-to” easy lunch is one piece of Dave’s Killer Bread – thin sliced – (3g protein), a slice of smoked salmon (11g protein), two tablespoons of cottage cheese (7g protein). I’ll throw in about five chunks of watermelon or half of a peeled apple as a side just for something crunchy and sweet.
Total, 21 grams protein + 252 calories
From after lunch to about 2 PM., I concentrate on getting in liquids. I work on the remainder of my coffee and start on water. I have found that waters like Essentia, Smart Water, or the Trader Joe’s Alkaline water tend to go down a lot smoother. I don’t question it…I just go with it. Regular tap water and bottled water tend to give me a drowning effect. The water gets caught in my throat and I can’t get it down. It is…unpleasant.
Around 2:30 PM., I start snacking again. Usually just a pack of peanuts for a quick 13 grams of protein + 290 calories.
When I get home from work, I try and get straight onto the Peloton. My output is half of what it was pre-op and I usually burn just around 250 calories. Both during the ride and after I will drink a Fairlife Protein drink. They range in 26-42 grams of protein. My favorite flavors are Elite Strawberry (42g of protein, 230 calories), Strawberry Banana (26g of protein, 170 calories), and my newest kick is the Nutrition Plan Chocolate (30g protein, 150 calories).
Then it is time for dinner. When I am at home, I tend to eat the same boring things night after night simply because I know they are “safe” and I won’t have any issues. A good go-to is marinated tofu (8.5g protein, 85 calories) + pre-made stir fry (9g protein, 340 calories). I eat about a cup.
Total, 17.5 grams protein + 425 calories
Total for the day: 109.5 grams of protein + 1,687 calories (1,437 calories after subtracting the 250 on the Peloton)
That’s like…a perfect day. A lot of days I become satiated very quickly and will end up eating only half of whatever portion I’ve allotted for myself and don’t hit my goals.
I use the MyFitnessPal app and the FitTrack scale to monitor all my progress and stats.
The FitTrack scale is a sleek scale that connects to an app on your phone. After you step on the scale, you get a full read out of so much more than just your weight. It provides your BMI, bone mass, muscle mass, fat mass, water weight, and protein weight to name a few. I find it incredibly interesting and useful to see beyond just the scale number. I also have a lifetime of watching my bone density. To have the ability to get a read out of my current bone mass in between DEXA scans at NIH is handy and comforting.
You can learn more about the FitTrack scale here. (I think this makes me an influencer???)
And that pretty much sums it up.
Super boring, right? Both the content and the menu. I should say, while I do eat other things, I find a lot of comfort in routine and knowing that what I am about to eat is going to settle well.
If I am being completely honest, I will admit that this has been harder than I ever anticipated. I know it will get easier with time – it’s already gotten so much easier just from 8 months ago. But, to deal with constantly feeling low-energy and have a sense of “hunger” or emptiness, yet unable to get satisfied on top of just day to day life things…it can feel like a lot.
I recently had a time where I stood at the throne room of heaven and cried so hard I burst several blood vessels around my eyes. It was a really good look.
I walked away from beseeching God feeling like my prayers had gone no further than the ceiling.
That’s where we learn the biggest lessons, eh? My favorite name of God is El Roi, the God who sees me.
If you aren’t a Bible follower, real quick, when God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations his old (and closed up) wife, Sarah, laughed. They got impatient with God and Abraham slept with Sarah’s handmaiden, Hagar. Hagar gave birth to a son and Sarah wasn’t too thrilled (even though it was her idea…). Sarah was so awful to her that Hagar ran away.
If you ever thought the Bible was boring, I challenge you to read the Old Testament to see the definition of D-R-A-M-A.
In the middle of the desert, God finds Hagar and deals kindly with her.
Hagar gives this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me (El Roi)”, for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”Genesis 16:13
God sees us where we are; whether it is in the middle of the driest desert, daunting trial or on top of a vibrant mountain. He sees us and He deals kindly with us. I just want to tell you a short story of how God recently met me in the desert.
A running theme in my quiet time the past couple of weeks has been me asking God the same thing a desperate father asks Jesus in the Gospel of Mark: “help my unbelief”.
Like a pouting child, I have moaned to friends:
“I think God has forgotten me.”
“I don’t think He hears me.”
“I believe He did amazing things in the Bible, but I don’t think He is going to do them in my life.”
To which one of my friends, in her astounding wisdom, reminded me of our Savior in Gethsemane and how He suffered as man to understand our struggle as mere humans.
Two days after this conversation, I received a book in the mail that I had originally put in my Amazon shopping cart and forgot to buy. My mom mailed it to me because she knows how much I enjoy the teachings of the author, Pastor Jarrett Stephens.
I started reading the introduction…not even the first chapter…the introduction.
Page xvii (we aren’t even on page one yet), sentence one, “God is always for you.” Ok, that’s nice…but, I’ve heard that before.
That same page, Dr. Stephens cites the father in Mark 9:24 crying out “help my unbelief”. Well, that sounds familiar. Page xix …you know what, here’s a photo of page xix.
Page xx, Dr. Stephens talks about Jesus in Gethsemane.
Page xxii, Pastor asks, “Does God really see me…”.
Oh, and the name of the book “The Always God: He hasn’t changed and you are not forgotten”
I didn’t even have this book in my possession when I was crying out or having those desperate conversations with my friends. I left my prayers thinking I had not been heard. And the whole time the answer was already in the mail. The questions I was asking and the things I was saying were being repeated to me verbatim with an articulate answer.
Sometimes God says yes, sometimes He says no, sometimes He says wait. He answered Moses with a burning bush and Elijah in a quiet wind. For me…He spoke through Amazon. I asked for God to see me, hear me, remember me and He answered with this, “Always”.
Has my situation gotten easier? No. Has anything changed? Not physically.
But God in His infinite mercy gently reminded me that He is the same God who spoke to Hagar in the desert. He is El Roi.
And that changes everything.
I pray that wherever you are that you remember God sees you. He is closer than we realize.