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Friday, August 26, 2005

Vegas After WLS: Can it be Done?

by Kim Stover

It’s time for a vacation and my girlfriends want to go to Las Vegas. The first thing that goes through my mind is, “Oh my gosh, what will I do about the food?”

Interesting. What I used to just consider, “eating”, was now to be known as “vacation eating”. My former self would have told you that Las Vegas was all about, what I’d like to call, the C’s. Casinos, cocktails, chocolate and consumption. Yeah, sure, there are shows and lights and tons of people to watch, but pre-WLS Kim didn’t care much about those things. You could find me in line at a buffet, rushing through the dinner portion so that I could visit the dessert island. Las Vegas was the only place that I could go and pile my plate with 8 different kinds of desserts without feeling like a gluttonous pig. Oh, I just wanted to take a taste of each, I would tell myself… Unfortunately, they were usually all divine and I would do my best to polish off as much of the plate as I could. If I wasn’t at the buffet, I’d have myself parked in front of a slot machine waiting for the cocktails to be delivered to me. Tom Collins, Slow Gin Fizz…sweet drinks. It didn’t take a psychic to predict that I would need WLS.

Being two years post-op, I took my first real vacation since having the surgery. I was going with two of my best girlfriends and we were staying for two nights and three days. I had a plan going into this whole thing. I am the queen of scheduling, planning and rule following. Let’s just say that all of my plans flew out the window once we landed at the airport. My girlfriends proclaimed as we were boarding our flight, that we would check in at our hotel and then immediately go to the Rio for their buffet. I was outnumbered and didn’t want to be the party pooper. My friends love to eat, but are able to control themselves. They are normal gals that have the ability to take a taste and move on. I thought that I could handle pressure of the buffet and agreed to go with them.

I went nuts. I know not to eat sugar, as I’m super sensitive, but everything else that was on display was up for grabs. I piled my plate with tons of fried food and things covered in cheese. It was quite the site. Now, this is the sort of situation when I’m happy to say that our pouch is only a “tool”. Usually, I hate to hear that. In this instance, it saved me from consuming a billion calories. I was plugging my mouth full of food, but knew that I could only hold about a cup and a half in volume. I immediately became very selective. If it didn’t make me smile as I chewed, it stayed on the plate. I was very careful to serve myself small spoonfuls of the different foods that were being offered…if it was yummy, I could go back for more. If it wasn’t, the little service person would come by to clear my dirty dishes. I love vacation. I ate to the point of no return and was thrilled to see that their dessert island had “no sugar added” selections. Cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, etc. I chose some cookies and some chocolate gelato. Oh my goodness, they were big time yummy…and apparently full of either some natural sugar or buckets of sugar alcohol. I was sick.

We left the buffet to go out and gamble. Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Rio, but it has a “Carnival in the Sky”. Basically, brightly colored floats cruise overhead and music plays at a deafening volume. This is usually my favorite casino to gamble at, as there is so much going on that I get distracted from my losing! It was different this time. I sat at a slot machine and proceeded to dump. I wanted to die. I could feel the base from the music thumping in my spleen. I began to sweat and could barely sit on the stool that I had parked myself onto. Attempting to play the machine, I lost focus at some point. My friend came to find me slumped in the stool, staring off into the distance at nothing. She said something about me not looking so hot and maybe we should go back to our hotel. “Yes, please” came from my mouth and that’s all I remember. She somehow got me out of the casino, into a taxi cab and then, finally, in my room. Thank goodness I had a room to myself.

I laid on my bed for about an hour. I started to feel a bit better; however, the gas that was escaping me was absolutely horrific. Something clearly had crawled up inside of me and died. I stayed in my room for another hour until my bloated belly finally deflated. I turned the fan on, although I was freezing, and vacated the room. I found myself at Starbucks, which was conveniently located in the lobby of my hotel. Yahoo…I love coffee, and was ordering myself up a big cup of Joe. It was early in the evening, I felt great and was getting wired. As I played the slots, I passed on the cocktails, but discovered that the Waitresses will bring you coffee if you ask for it. I was up all night.

The rest of my stay was great, but my food choices were definitely not healthy. I knew what was “safe” for me. Eggs, cheese, crackers and more cheese. I ate my body weight in cheese, I’m sure of it. Grilled cheese, cheese pizza, four cheese omelets. My gut was begging for forgiveness by the end of the trip. The new Las Vegas C’s were now…Cheese, caffeine and carbs. Was I ever going to get my gut back to normal?

I do have to add some new positive things worth mentioning. Caesar’s has a Forum that is full of designer shops. Kate Spade, Banana Republic, Victoria’s Secret, Anthropology, Ralph Lauren… There are many more and I never would have experienced any of this if I was still a size 32. I went into some top designer shops and tried on clothing that would take a week worth of work to pay for! It was amazing to see how something so nicely made looked on my new body. I was stunning if I do say so myself! I bought a few items from Victoria’s Secret…THONG UNDERWEAR. I used to have the funniest jokes about these little items, and now I was wearing them…not after putting my first pair on sideways, of course. Also, FYI, they put the tag in the front.

The other treat was spending a day in the hotel spa. I had a full body deep tissue massage. This was to work out all of the knots that have developed over time from so much working out! I got naked and sat in the whirlpool bath and no one laughed or pointed. The best part of the spa was grabbing a towel and having it go completely around me. Full towel coverage…who knew that it could ever happen? No embarrassment and I was pampered and relaxed beyond belief. Life is good and so is being a healthy weight.

I am thrilled to be home. I craved my now, “normal”, diet. Strawberries, blueberries, Kashi cereal, protein bars, lean protein. Bring it on! Who knew this would be me, two years ago? I never would have expected to crave a piece of fruit following a trip to Las Vegas! As the saying goes, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. Amen!


Diane; AL said...

To heck with the gambling. Show me the food. I've got great at picking over a buffet. With my family, eating out has to be a buffet. There is such a variety. I can choose numerous meats. I don't do desserts while I'm out, not even the sugar free. Mine taste a whole lot better at home and I know what goes in them.
I second your choice of the spa. There's nothing like a day of pampering. The clothes, not my style. My family is always on me to wear things that fit. My clothes are loose.I still have a big body image problem. It's all that skin on my belly. To me it's still as big as ever. My psych MD is working on that. At least I'm eating better now. I can't wait until Nov so I can have my panni done.

Kim said...

You will love having the tummy tuck! They removed over 6 pounds of skin from me. It's nice to go jogging without slapping your thighs with your own belly.

As for clothes that fit. Give it a try! Take a friend with you to any clothing store, go in the dressing room and put on an outfit that truly fits. Have her take a digital photo of you in the fitted outfit and then of you with the clothes that you came in with. Once you go home, download the pictures and look at them side by side. If you have to, crop your face out so you can look at them objectively. I'm sure that you'll see that the fitted outfit is a much better choice!

Anonymous said...

What a great story Kim. It's really nice to hear that people can go, lose it a little bit, and then get right back on track. You can make it work, even if you're not perfect. Thanks for all you candor :)