December 4, 2010

For my surgery peeps: Stalls and Tips & Tricks

Recently I posted on OH about how I deal with stalls - and I have them often, the most recent for 3 freaking weeks. Perhaps my thoughts on how to manage stalls without going completely crazy will be useful to some of my readers:

I stall alot and I know how frustrating it is! My method of coping includes the following:

1) I weigh every day, but during this phase of weight loss, I don't record my little water weight gains on my spreadsheet - I just note whenever the scale has dropped by a pound. (As I approach maintenance, or if I see that I am actually maintaining any weight gains, I will change my approach.) I don't bother measuring fractions of a pound, though my scale shows them - just mark it off every time I lose a pound. Since I track this in Excel, I can see that my rate of loss has been pretty steady, even with all of the stalls that I have had.

2) Since pre-op, I have tracked my measurements on a spreadsheet and I note every month how many inches I lost that month as well as cumulatively - I almost always am losing some inches even when stalling. (And technically, it's not really a stall if I am losing inches - a stall is no weight loss and no size decrease for a month or more. That hasn't yet happened to me.)

3) I have taken monthly photos in my skivvies - front, rear and side views. I have compiled these into a word document showing the progression in each view from pre-op to the present. I refer to this when I start to think that I might not be successful - because actually I can see in the photos that I already AM successful.

4) Every month I revisit the goals that I set for myself pre-op and add new goals and check off the ones that I have achieved. NONE of these is a number on a scale and the only size goal I had was to be able to wear normal size clothing in a size 14 or less. The rest of the goals have to do with either:

HEALTH  (i.e. normal blood pressure without meds, normal blood sugar, no more sleep apnea, nor more stress incontinence, no more arthritis pain in knees, etc)

LIFESTYLE (i.e. making good food choices 90% of the time, being physically active, taking my supplements, drinking my water)

APPEARANCE - because I am vain! (i.e. looking good in a sweater dress, wearing skinny jeans with boots, having just one chin, rediscovering my collarbone and cheekbones, enjoying being curvy and proportionate)


ABILITY TO PARTICIPATE IN AND ENJOY LIFE (i.e. can go canoeing, horseback riding, hiking, swimming with my daughter and family, no longer struggle to walk up stairs or hills, can paint my own toenails, wrap a bath towel all around, walk the mall in heels without pain, enjoy exercise, cross my legs comfortably etc...)

I remind myself that I had this surgery not to achieve some abstract number on a scale, but to achieve all of the functional goals I have listed above. This helps me to not get too depressed when I stall - though honestly I, like most of the rest of us, ALWAYS wonder if "this is it"  and if I am done losing weight.

For me at almost 9 months out and within 20 lbs of my goal, I am realizing that I actually could be content at my current weight, even if I don't ever lose another pound. It was harder earlier when I was further from my goal.

P.S. A couple observations I have made that might be useful to new VSGers:

I have looked at my food tracking etc during stalls - and I can't see a single time where what I have been eating (I do eat about the same all the time, with occasional treats) has made a bit of difference in terms of when I stall and when the stall ends (my recent 3 week stall ended the day after I ate 5-6 Christmas cookies - go figure!) Just follow your plan in terms of protein, liquids, carbs, calories and your body will lose weight - the rate at which you lose is very individual, but unless you have a severely compromised metabolism, it is near impossible to gain at 800-1000 calories / day. (And in the early months I often didn't even reach 800 calories a day.)

The fabulous losses you see in your first couple months - where the scale is moving every day or two - will not continue! We get a bit addicted to that positive feedback and get depressed when we lose just a couple pounds a week. The scale is a cruel mistress! Step away if it is making you too depressed or obsessive!

A couple of pounds a week is a LOT! I lose on average 6-8 pounds a month and this has seemed SOOOO SLOOOOW at times. It all adds up though and at almost 10 months out I am down 101 pounds. I just purchased 100 pounds of food for the Food Bank and that is a helluva lotta weight!

Everybody has different strategies for staying on track in terms of their eating plan. Lots of folks abstain entirely from anything that isn't a protein or a veg. This didn't really appeal to me, so for me I have five rules:

1) Protein first - I can have anything to eat that I want, IF I eat at least 2 ounces of solid protein first. This usually helps me either not feel like eating the treat, or limits the amount of it that I CAN eat.

2) Prioritize liquids. I find that if I get dehydrated I often feel hungry instead of thirsty. So I mix up my drinks at the beginning of each day and pack them with me when I leave the house, then make sure one is always to hand so that I am drinking all day long.

3) The 90/10 rule: 90% of what I eat is according to my plan - the other 10% can be whatever I want. (I relax this a bit when I am pms-ing and during the holidays! - maybe 80/20 )

4) Plan meals and pack lunches. I write out the dinner menus and my plan for breakfasts and lunches before I shop every week. I find that if the path of least resistance is something healthy (i.e. I have already made up a batch of chicken salad that is sitting in the fridge) then I am likely to make healthy choices. I make sure to buy cheese sticks, sliced turkey etc so that I can throw together fast and easy lunches etc. - If I have to go out for lunch I often end up choosing something less healthy, so it is better for me to plan ahead and pack leftovers or chicken salad or something else in advance. I also keep almonds, cans of tuna salad and protein in my desk. Finally, I keep a few legal treats in the house - my homemade protein balls, eggface's protein donuts etc. so that I can have a cookie-ish or cake-like item pretty much guilt-free.)

5) Keep trigger foods out of the house. I am way too lazy to go out to the store if I am having a craving, but if the object of my desire is sitting on the kitchen counter -well all bets are off! (HELLO Christmas cookies!)


  1. Assuming it is like chicken salad on a chicken salad sandwich (as opposed to chicken on lettuce), what is your recipe for the chicken salad? Is it healthy if so? I love chicken salad and would love a low cal way to eat it!

  2. Hi! I just chop or shred any leftover meat from dinner, and also chop up fresh or leftover vegetables, and mix the whole thing with a bit of mayonnaise. It's easy and I like it, but certainly nothing fancy.

  3. Hi Margo, I would like to speak with you about your experience with Dr. Aceves. I am scheduling surgery with him in February of next year. A friend of mine is considering coming with me but is worried about the whole surgery in Mexico and flying after having major surgery. Could you email at Thanks so much and I've read your entire blog and would like to congratulate you on your 100 lb weight loss. You look great and I'm sure you feel great as well!

  4. Congrats on your big loss. I'm almost 10 months out, too and about 15-20 lbs away from my goal

  5. Those are great tips. I'm very new, 32 days out and these will help me when I get frustrated with numbers or stalls. Thanks.