*sigh* so yeah. I know I know. This is a bandwagon. Everyone knows SOMEONE who’s tried SOMETHING from Advocare and usually that person is its biggest fan. Super fan. Fan of the Month. They chat happily about things called Slam, Spark, Catalyst, Herbal Cleanse (but only the Peaches and Cream, apparently universally everyone things the Citrus is gross), Max. And it comes on suddenly. BAM! They are a convert!
Usually I try and avoid things that faddish — yes yes I know I am a Zumba(R) instructor. Got it, and I’m retired people. And I have had an iPhone since version 1….and. Okay okay so sometimes I DO adopt a fad. But when it comes to diet and fitness, I really do try to avoid faddish products. Wheat Belly, Zone, Adkins, blah blah blah. Really if any of these were the panacea they try to make them out to be wouldn’t all of us have been vegan, blood-type, gluten-free, low-carb, high healthy fat eaters by now? To me, the key with diet and exercise is that you MUST MUST MUST find what works for you. Because if you don’t like it, or believe it in it — if you slip up you will crash fast and hard into a pile of your favorite foods and a Law & Order marathon.
As a weight loss surgery patient, I know how to go to extremes for
thinness er…health. Yeah. Health. *smirk* I literally had life altering surgery, that installed a random piece of hardware into my body to try to achieve some source of dietary control. (and thinness, don’t forget the American dream of thinness) More on that in later and previous posts (like say HERE). So when I saw this whole Advocare mess, I just sigh and scroll right past it in my news feed. Well…until a high school friend joined the bandwagon. She’s one of the most honest and trustworthy folks I know…so when she started talking about it. I kinda started to listen. She had been really really tired….hey wait. I’m REALLY REALLY tired (which could be due to said lap-band, but…). She said this whole 24-day program had given her great energy, and on top of that she happened to slim down. Hrm. Really. Now the key to this is that this girl is beautiful anyhow, and did not need to lose one pound. But she felt better. And that is what was very intriguing for me. Then I found MORE trustworthy friends who tried Advocare and loved it. Both friends are Advocare distributors, but never tried to push a sale. They just told me
I’ve felt like crap for a while. I don’t eat horribly, and even though I don’t teach fitness classes any longer I do still take my own butt to the gym to work out in ways that makes me happy. But I just couldn’t shake the “I feel like crap and I’m tired” feeling. I tried doing a regiment of supplements, and though I did feel better I also felt like I was eating pills all day. And with a lap band, pills aren’t your friend.
So my friend had a few boxes at her house and I scooped up just a box of the Spark Energy Drink and the Herbal Cleanse which is the first 10 days of the 24 day program . The website lists Spark as:
AdvoCare Spark® Energy Vitamin & Amino Acid Supplement. KEY BENEFITS: Enhances mental energy and focus; Provides support for long-lasting energy; Helps fight occasional drowsiness; 21 vitamins, minerals and nutrients; Sugar-free and only 45 calories
They list the Herbal Cleanse as:
Herbal Cleanse Metabolic Cleansing System. KEY BENEFITS: Helps rid the body of toxins and waste; Supports improved digestion and thorough internal cleansing; Provides 10 grams of fiber per day; Helps remove impurities from the body; Supports healthy weight loss; Recommended every 90 days.
Now for my one soapbox. Yes I know the word cleanse is a fad word, and so is “eating clean”. Both terms come with some nutritional mumbo-jumbo and lots of dietary shame (so if I don’t eat clean, I’m dirty?!). However, just know I am aware of this while I try these products out. Know I’ve read articles about this company (yep its a multi-level one, just like any other Direct Sales program (including one I am a member of), about the products (amazon.com is great to hear the real deal on products), and about nutrition (like this great article HERE).
SO, with all that being said — how about we get ready for my journey in seeing if this fad-appearing program works for me. Word of caution — this will be about a real person taking these supplements. A real person with a real lap-band. I plan to modify the program when I need to, and I know I’ll mess up. I have a real life — one filled with work meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings, conferences, angry lap-band days, and so on. My life will never have 10 fantastic days where I can follow this to the letter, but I’m going to give it a try.
If you can’t tell already, Panera is my go-to fast(er) food restaurant. There at least incorporating a veggie or fruit is made easier than at most joints, and you can craft your meal to be healthier than normal. The downside in my opinion is that:
So along with the Hidden Menu launch nationwide, Panera also used January to relaunch their Salmon offerings, and to launch a Spinach Power Salad. According to the website, the new salad contains
fresh baby spinach, roasted mushrooms and onion blend, diced egg, Applewood-smoked bacon, frizzled onions & smoky Vidalia onion vinaigrette.
They suggest using it in the “You Pick 2” offerings with the Bistro French Onion Soup. The “Pick 2” program pairs a 1/2 salad, cup of soup, or 1/2 a sandwich together at your choosing. Prices are lowest if you pick cafe styled foods (think the basic greek salad, and a turkey sandwich) and rises with every premium or signature offering you select. And that is exactly what I had for lunch last snowy Friday afternoon.
I did make a few changes. First, I did add a second serving of dressing. I still appreciate this method because it is measured out. Instead of dumping half a bottle on my salad, I know I am really just adding 2 additional tablespoons. Second, I added a serving of salmon on my salad. I happen to love salmon, but my fiance does not. So when I can have it while dining out — I typically choose to do so. It adds a punch of protein, which is a focus of lap-band patients — and helps keep me full longer. When the salmon is not available at Panera, I tend to add chicken to my salads.
I am actually in love with this salad. Again, the appearance was a bit lacking — and we do eat with our eyes, but that pretty piece of salmon worked wonders.
Weight Watchers Points Values (keep in mind that you can tweak your intake by asking the staff at Panera to remove some items like the cheese in the soup, or choosing an apple over the baguette):
Taste: The dressing is great, a little sweet which pairs nicely with the rest of the dish. I am a big fan of raw spinach, because it actually 8 times out of 10 works with my band. The addition of roasted mushrooms and onions is a big hearty plus for me, and I loved the crunch of the “frizzled” onions (which reminds me quite a lot of those french fried onions that top holiday Green Bean Casseroles in my humble opinion…). Oddly enough, I am nonplused about the bacon. Take it out, leave it on — I didn’t feel like it added to the salad, but it didn’t detract either. I might consider leaving it off honestly.
This is a salad that I would order in the full size happily. I just hope they keep it around for longer than a season (if you’re reading this Panera Executives — please keep this salad, seriously. And salmon on the menue as long as possible. Thanks!). If not, I think the next salad I will try is the hidden menue turkey one, since it also uses spinach as a base. Does anyone know if you can order spinach as a salad base on a regular basis?
So this is the second part of my lab-band based postings (read part one here). Fitness.
Working out is critical to success with a lap band. Unlike Gastric Bypass (I will do a post on the differences between the band and bypass — since two months before I was banded my mom got the bypass. And we live together. That was difficult to say the least…still can be *side eyes the candy jar she keeps full….*) there is no real “automatic” weight loss with the band. Bandsters can cheat even during the liquid diet phase (cause…milkshakes are liquids too you know). As I will reinforce, my surgeon warned me that success with a lap band could be a 20lb weight loss. And while that sounds “normal” for someone who has undergone typically a year of preparation, spent thousands of dollars, and is typically severely obese and using this procedure as a last resort — that is not comforting.
Think about it. If you were 5’8 and weighed 350lb when you under went weight loss surgery– a year from that date you could just have lost 20lbs? You would still be over 300lbs, still well outside of that annoying and arbitrary height/weight chart maximums, still with an obese BMI. The Lap Band is a TOOL. One more time, the band is a TOOL. It is not a promise of any weight loss, let alone large amounts of weight loss. It does not prevent “cheating”, and it does not prevent weight re-gain.
So in order to achieve those goals, to even have a chance to do that — most people who undergo banding must change their diet (MYTH: Not all large and obese people eat Ho-Ho’s and Twinkies (RIP Hostess), while watching reality TV. Some of us had quite healthy diets, some of us went to the gym before the band, some of us had healthy stats. Not all of us, but some of us. One of my goals is to dispel these horrible myths of obesity, and to let people know the real deal). They also must figure out a work out regimen that works for them and their lifestyle.
I spoke a bit about the struggles with choosing healthy food options versus choosing something that will insert calories in the body in my previous post. So now lets talk fitness. As an obese woman, a fat woman – I did go to the gym. I had a gym membership all through law school. And yes — I did go to the gym when I could. I took Tribal Belly Dance when I lived in Richmond. I joined the YMCA when I returned to my hometown. I was not sedentary. I was not running half-marathons — but I was not sitting on the couch all day, every day. Also when I returned home I ended up taking a position in retail, which had me on my feet all day walking around the store — stocking shelves — climbing ladders.
When I returned to my hometown I also finally found a form of exercise that worked with my personality. Zumba(TM) fitness. A wonderful woman taught it at a local parks and recreation center. I finally had found a form of exercise that worked well with me — I hate running, I do not like working out to the point of throwing up, I do not enjoy step (I tend to always be concerned about taking a face plant off that sucker). However, I always loved to dance. Being larger I could never stay in any formal dance classes — I literally sized out of ballet and tap — they didn’t make the costumes in my size. I sized out of baton, and I was kept on JV cheerleading due to my size. That did not stop me from dancing all over the club, in my dorm room, at dances….I love to dance. My fiance laughs at me because I dance in the laundry room.
This love got to blossom with Zumba. In Zumba class I could feel the music, move my larger body appropriately, and I even found myself helping others because I got the moves and they didn’t. I took Zumba until my instructor found out she was expecting, and stepped aside. Then there was a lack fo Zumba in my hometown for a while. When an instructor appeared at the YMCA where I was a member by then, I jumped at the chance to jump back in. Ultimately I became a Zumba Fitness instructor in November of 2010, and it was a huge milestone for me. I am still not a size 6 — I will never be that ultimate model of fitness; that super petite, very thin and toned, very perky woman who looks fantastic in spandex. However, what I am is someone who has been where most people are. Who knows what the average woman (who is a size 14; not 6) feels when they step into a fitness class or the gym. I know how to push people without making them feel like they shouldn’t be there. I push them so they can see how awesome they are, not so that they feel as if they do not belong. I’ve been personally blessed to have wonderful Zumba mentors who have helped me be the best instructor that I can be — including a woman who does look like that ultimate model of fitness. But she welcomes all, encourages all, and allows me to teach for her even though I am not that size 6.
I still am scared to death of face planting off of a step, my thighs still jiggle in spandex (but I wear it anyhow), and I laugh at myself more in Yoga than at any other time of my existence because I can do some moves like a Yogi rockstar — and others I look like a hot mess. Most importantly, there are days where I have NO DESIRE TO GO WORK OUT. I do not want to go. I want to sit down somewhere, read a book, catch up on sleep. So do not feel alone if you do not like working out. I teach group fitness, and there are days where I do not want to work out myself. I so understand. However, what my surgeon says is the key to my successful weight loss is that I am willing to go to the gym and sweat out my hair (Admittedly, I do miss having amazing hair like in my avitar photo….I don’t keep hair looking that good. I sweat through yoga yesterday, and I will sweat today when I teach class. I just let it go, went natural, pull it up in to a ponytail, and call my stylist only when I have to go somewhere or get a photo taken. But I do miss my amazing hair….). So find some form of fitness that you are comfortable doing, and maybe even want to do (even if it’s just 45% of the time — that is better than doing nothing). No action is too small. Walking your dog counts, dancing with your partner in the kitchen. If you like belly dance — go shimmy and shake it. If you love to swim, go splash in the pool. If you are a tri-athlete; well this post probably isn’t for you…. But for the rest of us, just move when you can — how you can. One of the reasons why I like yoga so much is because they give you levels and encourage you to explore what YOUR body can do. You aren’t trying to compare your pose to your neighbors, you are trying to get the best pose out of yourself. That is some kind of awesome body acceptance, right? It’s not about feeling bad if your knee lift is modified, its about the fact that you are lifting it! So find something that works for you, and go for it!
Again, the lap band is a tool. This is not easy, this is not cheating, this is not a quick fix. Some of us will be able to loose weight, we will work hard to eat the best we can and work out when we can. We will sweat, have many awkward moments in the gym and life, and try to figure out how to live with our new tool. And some of us will still hate to run, no matter if we are roughly 135lb lighter than our highest weight……
Perfect lead-in to tomorrows post on going to the gym…..
I am simply blow away that so many people, most of whom I do not know — are reading my post that I made in a moment of total honesty. I hope that for anyone who read that post, they will find out either more about what it is like to be a former fat kid — or even find support in the posting.
When I reviewed the posting, and did a bit of research. I determined that there was not a lot of information about Gastric Banding out there. There are TONS of books on amazon.com about Gastric Bypass and even the Gastric Sleeve. Yet there is not a lot of personal information from Gastric Banding patients about their experiences I have had many people, some who were thin and curious — others who were overweight/obese and looking for answers, to ask me about my band. So I thought this would be the most appropriate follow up blog to the last one.
Alright — there I am again. Law school again. So how did I move from that girl up there to this one down here?
As I sit and write this post while rocking my VS Pink PJ’s, I never thought I would be here. Sometimes I forget that being a size 12 [give or take — for example JCrew takes (usually an XL/14 or 16) while Talbots gives (usually a Medium/10)] was a pipe dream. I sometimes forget how long and hard I worked to get here. I usually forget those things while wallowing in a big vat of “not good enough.” It is during those times that I wonder why I just can’t be a size 6, why I just can’t stop life to work out more, why I just can’t stop eating entirely to achieve societal perfection.
I was always a chunky kid. I never was thin. So until I was roughly 27 years old — I was overweight, obese. Fat. What always burned me was that I never was the kid who was pounding down milkshakes and twinkies. I played sports, I hated icing on cake (still do), I asked for seconds of veggies and fruits. So why in the world was I so fat? My doctor basically looked at me one day and said: Kid, you were born this way — you are healthy — it’s how you were meant to be.
I never truly accepted that, however. I — like most fat kids — hid the insecuirty with extreme confidence, hid the pain of being made fun of or passed over during gym class with jokes. I poured myself into extracurricular activities and my studies. I would have minor moments of weight loss, but over all I still was large. I never wore Junior sized close in high school — by that time I was living in Lane Bryant.
I remained large and (seemingly) in charge through college and law school. I had boyfriends, I had friends, and I had fun. I was not the larger person who hid in the shadows, I was not the fat girl to be pittied. I had a kick ass life — and my weight never stopped me from trying to learn to fence, belly dancing, kissing boys at frat parties, or kicking ass in class. Not all of us chunky girls were wallflowers, not all of us chunky girls were so concerned about what the skinny folk thought that we hid in oversized clothing hugging walls.
I forget that sometimes. I forget how amazingly confident self-assured, and full of life I was.
Sad to say, my path to dedicated weight loss came not from my own prerogative — but from a man. I was befrended by a man on an online dating site. Yes you read right. He somehow used this dating site to find FRIENDS. Odd I know, but that is another blog post for another time. Regardless, *I* was into him. Then one day he said that he could never date anyone who was fat. I blinked on the phone — that kind of blink that you can hear if you listen close enough. *blink, blink blink* What? Did he really just say? Oh no he didn’t!! Well friends, yes he did. We went on to debate a while…and he stood by his point. He needed to date someone who cared about her body — since being fat must mean that one does not care. I yelled, he yelled, and then we got off the phone. Sad to say my move towards desperate measures to loose weight came that night — when I decided I would NEVER give a man an easy reason to not want to date me.