Last week, just as I completed my third full week with ORBERA, my younger daughter Jenna and I embarked upon a trip to Manhattan. We love New York for many reasons, but one of our top reasons is the food. We dream about the manti (Turkish ravioli) from ABA, we have tried to replicate the famous New York kati rolls at home, and of course no trip to New York is complete without an authentic slice of pizza from a hole in the wall pizza place. Lots of caffeine normally helps me keep up with my fellow travelers who are more nocturnal than I am, and is a must in the city that never sleeps for a girl who likes her sleep.
I had done pretty well adjusting to solids in week three. I did have a couple of setbacks initially, specifically eating a little more after I felt full led to throwing it all up hours later and eating something too creamy left my stomach unsettled overnight. The setbacks were good preparation for the trip in that I got a better sense of what full feels like versus "This tastes so good, I'm going to finish it." I also found (under direction of my doctor) that a few sips of ginger ale helps settle something heavy. Soda is generally off limits with ORBERA so I am very cautious to not overuse that one. Although I was nervous to travel to such a delicious city with my restrictions in place, particularly no caffeine, I was excited to try. The name of the game is making a lifestyle change I can live with, not a six month break from my regular life that will have me rebounding once it's over. I also wanted to make sure that my daughter would enjoy this trip fully, food and all.
Planning really is the key to success with ORBERA and that is non negotiable when traveling. Jenna and I decided to take the train up, so we knew that our trip would be about three hours. I had one of my go to breakfasts, greek yogurt with Cheerios before we left the house at 7 a.m. and had to plan for a snack on the train around 10 as well as something for right when we got there prior to lunch. I opted for Triscuits and string cheese for our first snack, the usual mid morning snack. I also brought mini whole grain cheddar rice cakes just to tide us over until lunch. I had one serving (6 mini rice cakes) prior to getting off the train. The goal was to have something healthy for me, but also something Jenna would want to eat. The more she likes the snack, the easier it is for me to maintain my portion control goals! I also brought lots of water. ORBERA requires two cups of water a half hour after eating. Public restrooms (including on the train) are an unfortunate adjustment that I had to get used to.
We arrived at Penn Station and walked to our hotel. In fact we walked EVERYWHERE while we were in New York. We have always enjoyed walking in New York, but always took our share of taxis. On this trip I made a conscious decision to stay at a central location and get my steps in by walking whenever possible. We planned our walks and left early enough to get to where we were going.
We started our trip the same way that I would start a trip to New York with my father when I was a teenager, getting a slice of authentic New York pizza. I was extremely nervous about this with ORBERA, but decided to give it a try. We walked over to Empire from our hotel and took a look at the options. Pizza is, and has always been, my Achilles heel when it comes to food. The Sicilian cheese pizza had just come out of the oven and looked amazing but very bread heavy. Jenna got a slice of that as well as a slice of my favorite, plain cheese pizza (I believe I've mentioned I eat like a 12 year old). I ordered a slice of veggie pizza, loaded with broccoli, mushrooms, and fresh tomato. I have never eaten so many vegetables on my pizza in my life. It was amazing! I have missed pizza so much and have also surprisingly missed fresh vegetables as I've moved through the "soft foods" phase. I focused on including vegetables in each bite, moving excess cheese off my slice, and bypassing most of the crust. Part of the diet and nutrition portion is cutting back on processed foods, particularly bread, rice, and pasta. I realized that even though I picked the "healthiest" version of the pizza available, it's the sort of meal that requires a little extra movement to work off the calories and extra effort to pack in some nutrition since I'm limited in how much food I can eat. We walked for half an hour after lunch and walked to Macy's and back (about 4 blocks away) after getting settled in our hotel. We had planned to get manti for dinner that night. We didn't go to our usual Turkish restaurant, we went to one walking distance from our hotel and with an appetizer sized portion of our favorite dish. We each ordered our own and I ordered a salad as well. I worked on the salad first, focusing on the more nutrient rich vegetables in the mix. Once the manti arrived, I ate about 4 pieces really trying to enjoy each piece since each bite has to be chewed 20-30 times. Chewing anything 20-30 times gives you a real awareness of what you are eating. For me the (sad?happy?) revelation has been that pasta is really gluey. One of my all time favoirite foods has lost it's appeal. I passed the remainder of my portion over to Jenna who happily finished it up. I was surprised to see neither of us had touched the bread basket.
We saw a show on Broadway that night and believe it or not I enjoyed it thoroughly with nothing more than my bottle of water. These are the kinds of things that concerned me, can I watch a show without concessions?!
Max Brenner's Chocolate Bar is one of our favorite brunch locations, we headed there on day two. Jenna got her usual milkshake and mac and cheese and I got the Guilt Free omelet with whole grain toast. The portion sizes are huge so I ate probably 1/5th of the omelet and one piece of the four pieces of toast that came with it. The real benefit of the gastric balloon is the mindset shift. I know that I don't want to feel sick so the mac and cheese does not call out to me, I know that I have limited space to eat so I want to maximize the quality of what I'm eating and eggs really hit the spot in a way that pancakes or waffles would not. I'm slowly developing a taste for whole grain that I never had before, I think primarily because it really fills me up in a way "regular" bread does not.
The beauty of walking in New York is that there is always something to see or do along the way. Jenna and I headed back to our hotel (a 20 minute walk from the restaurant) and wound our way through the farmer's market and various shops. We stopped back at our hotel for an hour or so and then walked back to Macy's. My first stop was new walking shoes. I found a pair I liked and as we made our way through the Junior's section we realized it was time for my next snack. I was not prepared. We headed over to the cafe in the store and I was panicking a little at the options. I ended up with a couple of pieces of asparagus, and a little tomato mozzarella salad from the salad bar and a bottle of water. Jenna had a footlong hot dog. My mistake here beyond not being prepared, was not getting a big enough snack. I was hungry almost immediately. When we left the store, Jenna wanted to stop at Baked By Melissa for cupcakes. As she got cupcakes, I went over to Pret a Manger and found all sorts of appropriate options. I settled on a whole grain vegetable sandwich in a half size (they sell half a sandwich here!) and it was perfect.
Our main purpose in visiting New York last week was attending the Sweet Sixteen at Madison Square Garden, so we went back to our room to prepare for that. We decided to have a light dinner in our hotel restaurant before heading out at 6 p.m. (I try and finish eating no later than 7 regardless of how long I'm awake) and walk over. Keep in mind that part of the ORBERA nutrition plan is a serious limiting of caffeine intake. Up to this point I managed to do well on drinking nothing more than water. Although we ended up spending over six hours at Madison Square Garden (we were lucky enough to catch the Wisconsin vs. Florida game that went into overtime until 1 a.m.) and walking back to our hotel after the game, I stuck to water and felt fine.
The next morning we were meeting my brother in law for breakfast and overslept. We ran out of our hotel at 9 a.m. to meet him at a nearby restaurant. Apparently you don't have to order the huge breakfast portions on the menu. I ordered a poached egg and whole grain toast from the side dish menu and treated myself to a cup of black tea with milk and sugar the way I like it. I ate a little of Jenna's rejected fruit bowl to get some produce in and felt full but good. We stopped at Pret a Manger again before heading to Penn Station and picked up an egg salad and arugula sandwich to share on the ride back to D.C. as well as a packet of almonds.
We had one of our best trips to New York, I ate absolutely everything I wanted although what that is has changed quite a bit since my last trip. I lost 2.5 lbs between leaving on Thursday and checking on Sunday. It is perhaps the only time I have ever lost weight after a vacation and I did it without sacrificing a good time.
Wednesday March 29th marks the completion of week four for me. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.