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Monday, July 12, 2010

31 Years of Self Sabotage is Hard to Change

If there was a gold medal or a World Cup for this event I could win it. There I said it. Yet, I am a little too hard on myself too. I grew up in a family with raging alcoholics lurking in the great grandparents generation. A boat load of shame raged from them into my grandparents and then into my family of origin. This was mostly on my maternal side, though I did have one grandfather that hit the bottle pretty hard after first after the loss of his five year old son to a car accident and then his wife to pneumonia. Understandable. I have other relatives that have battled addictions and because this is a blog and anyone can read it, enough said on that. I must protect their identities.

My mother died 31 years ago today and this is largely when I learned to sedate myself with substances that would take away the pain. I never did anything hard core and nothing that would keep me from getting elected if I ever decided to run for an office. But, I did learn how to use food and at times alcohol to numb myself from the horrific pain of watching my mother's illness of diabetes slowly eat away, literally at her. She had two legs amputated before she died and suffered a series of heart attacks starting when I was ten years old.

I am now four months out from my second weight loss surgery, a revision from a lap band to a gastric bypass. It was recommended I not have any wine until I was a year out from my surgery date. I decided to try some and I quickly learned it isn't the right move for me yet. One glass became two and so on. It took a month, but I've learned it isn't the right choice for me. I've not lost weight in a month and it is likely due to this. I've put on solid muscle in the last 8 weeks since I started weight lifting.I continue to lose inches and sizes but the scale has remained the same. Drinking wine, the empty calorie is all I can attribute this to.

So, on this 31st anniversary of the one event that changed the path of my life for ever, the event I am still recovering from, I am recommitting myself to only engaging in healthy behaviors. Drinking wine is a slippery slope for me. I don't take risks in the winter living in Vermont and driving on icy roads, so why would I engage in a "dangerous" behavior?

Because shame is a powerful thing and it is easy to numb oneself then to face shame or pain. I've learned in my own recovery process from obesity, shame, overeating, drinking etc. that the only way to deal with pain is head on and to move through it.

I'm starting anew again today.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Keeping it Real

One of the tough things about overcoming an eating disorder is learning to think differently. The longer one has an eating disorder the harder it is to separate from it. To be able to look at it for what it is, a way to cope with uncomfortable feelings you don't want to feel. When I first began my journey to wellness, I thought the hardest words I ever had to say were "I am obese." I've since learned the hardest words I've had to learn to say were "My obesity wasn't about the food, or my weight, it is about the feelings." Feelings I've tried all my life to not feel, at any cost.

Over the past month, I had to learn how to keep it real. What do I mean? I had to look for evidence that I was making progress towards my health and weight loss goals. I've watched the scale go back and forth with the same 2-3 lbs. It was driving me crazy. I let it drive me back into disordered thinking around food, my progress and my chances for success.

It helps that I am in therapy and am discussing this with a talented Jungian Analyst and that I have an awesome partner in life, my husband Scott.

On our daily morning walk yesterday I was telling him how frustrated I was, like he didn't know! He is a man of few words, at least less then me. He said, "You have to keep it real, Andrea. Look at all the things you've done so far."

1.) Lost 36 lbs
2.) Cleared your closet halfway out of clothes.
3.Lost four clothing sizes.
4.)Lost at least 2o inches.
5. Lowered by BMI by 8 points since its highest.
6. Lost 60 lbs since my heaviest weight.
7.) Got rid of Diabetes and the meds that go along with it.
8.)Achieved normal blood pressure, low even.
9.) Achieved the heart rate of an athlete.
10.Work out like an athlete
11. Completely changed your relationship with food.
12. You make good choices everyday for your health

And, I was controlled by the number on the scale! So, I am working on keeping it real and when self sabotaging feelings arise I am recognizing them and saying, "Oh yeah, I recognize you and you're not welcome here anymore! Get out!

I will slip and fall because I am only human, but my recovery time in between will be less.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Learning Not to Self Sabotage

Since my last post I've been engaging in some self sabotage, which I do oh so well. I know myself well enough to know that when things aren't going well for me that I calm up, shut up and don't communicate.

This is how I learned to protect myself in my family of origin. Early communication patterns are hard to unlearn. They can sneak up on us, take control for awhile until we are ready to deal with them. For me, this manifests when I don't feel well because of the choices I am making.

At approach four months out from my gastric by pass I thought, I can have a little of this and a little of that, mainly by adding carbohydrates to my diet. This along with the fact I've been weight lifting and building muscle caused my weight to bounce up and down by four weeks. Part of it was my first plateau as well. It's hard to say what all the factors are, but I do know I need to get right back to basics and stay very disciplined, until my first year anniversary of surgery and beyond.

I am far too much of a perfectionist, I need to understand I will have slips here and there, but that each time I have to get up brush myself off and keep going.

Self sabotage is the opposite of self care. Practicing good self care without doubt is the hardest work of my life to really learn and embrace.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Some important lessons

The last few weeks my weight has remained the same which is normal as my body adjusts to the weight already lost. I tried some wine this week and decided I'm not going to do that again until I get to my goal. Why? Well, it just makes it too easy to not get all my vitamins in and it makes it easy to not get my exercises in. It does hit me a bit harder too, so I decided I just don't want to partake. Glad, I got that lesson over with early. Otherwise, all is well in my gastric by pass world.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Walked a 5K 10 weeks after Gastric Bypass

I wanted to share with everyone I walked a 5k today just 10 weeks post surgery. I've done this particular race in the past but today was my best time ever which felt great. During the last mile my body was definitely ready for the walk to be over, but I kept my pace. I was at 20 minute miles walking which felt good.

During my surgery I had a lot of activity on the right side and it was here I felt the fatigue of the effort of the walk the most. I sleep well tonight. That's for sure!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Big Nation Big People Article in NY Times

I wanted to paste this on my blog for everyone who follows it to read. It is worth the time. Be well. Be healthy!


My Best Day Since Surgery!

Yesterday was my best day since my March 3rd surgery. I felt healthy, so happy, vivacious, full of life, encouraged like I was in a state of bliss. You so have to love those days. I am working hard on all my goals like saving money, establishing my emergency fund, looking at next classes I want to take. The list could go on.

I believe it is important to value each day but knew deep in my heart I wasn't and couldn't be happy until I began to get my health back and for me this meant progressing towards a healthy weight.

I am well on my way! Have an awesome day everyone!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Speaking Publicly About My Weight Loss Surgery

I'm finding that speaking publically about my weight loss surgery and my journey to good health and a good relationship with food is helping me heal. I spoke again today for the second time at the information session at Dartmouth Hitchcock. I feel a little nervous but it is getting easier each time. I told them I'd speak any time. It feels good to tell my story and to help people considering the surgery.

I'd like to find more opportunities to do so!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Converting from Lap Band to RNY- Response to a question I got

I recently got a question on Obesity Help from someone who is struggling to decide to convert from lapband to gastric bypass. This was my response.

Bottom line for me is though I thought I was emotionally ready for the lap band surgery I wasn't. I got into a situation where I was transferring some of my behavior I used to with my family of origin onto my first surgeon and that was a mess. When I stopped losing weight he would yell at me and I'd leave his appointments crying etc. I began canceling my appointments and eventually didn't use the tool as planned. Of course it wasn't that clear at the time. Therapy, writing and reflection have helped me figure it out. I'm writing a book now about it and started a blog called Healing From my Obesity.

Here are some of the factors that contributed to my weight gain.

I let the first surgeon talk me out of rny and into lapband, saying I wasn't big enough. When I had a high enough BMI with comorbidities.
I hadn't really faced my issues with food, using it to numb myself out.
I developed a transfer addiction as a result and began drinking a lot of red wine. Thankfully I stopped before developing alcoholism.
When I lost my first 25 lbs the attention I got from me freaked me out and I gained weight back.
I beat myself up with feelings of failure for two years.
I thew up constantly and developed major nutritional deficiencies including ones that manifested neurologically.

Fast forward to 2009, I finally decided I had to be under someone's care. That I deserved that. Living in VT there was only one doc I could go to when I first started on my journey. I then learned about Dartmouth Hitchcock's program and contacted them. I can't say enough good things about them. At my first appointment with my surgeon he said “I am so sorry you've been through what you have. You never should have been a candidate for the lapband. RNY is the gold standard for treating obesity and as a diabetic you have a 90% chance of your diabetes resolving.”

We had to fight tooth and nail to get my insurance company to pay for a second surgery, but he convinced them it was medically necessary. I had revision surgery on March 3rd of this year. I am now down 35lbs 8.5 weeks out. 47.5 since my highest weight. My diabetes is resolved. I am starting to appreciate,even love my body again and I'm the happiest I've ever been.

I am not finding the adjustment hard, though I did experience some mourning for food. I've filled my life with other things, writing my book, planting my first garden, planning on learning to knit, playing with my dogs, enjoying my work as a professor etc. I hope this has been helpful. I so wish I had done this ten years earlier, but I am just happy to be where I am now.

Good luck on your journey. Let me know how I can be helpful.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Debt linked to Obesity

This is a very interesting article about the two and a possible connection between them.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

First Week Back to Work Went Well

So my first week back at work went well. I am on a four day a week contract going to a five day a week contract in June. So today was my Friday. I got everything I wanted done this week and I even had some time to read for the last hour of the day. As a professor I am expected to keep up with the literature in my field so this is a good thing. Plus I love to read.

Tomorrow, I'll be working on some book reviews, going to a meeting to sign up for a 401 K and planning the garden we are putting in on Sunday. My first garden of my adult life!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Third Day at Work Better than the Second

I was so tired last night I went to bed earlier then a middle schooler. Today I felt better and tonight I'm not nearly as tired. I'm still going to be early so I can stay rested.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fatigued at the end of the day

I'm going to have to recoup this weekend as going back to work is definatley tiring. I'll be in bed early tonight for sure. There is a lot to plan for, food,water,breaks, making sure I'm not pushing myself too hard etc. I'm pratically asleep right now!

Monday, April 19, 2010

First Day Back at Work After Surgery/Wellness Compact.

Today was my first day at work, six weeks after my surgery. It went well and I was impressed by my level of energy. Of course all the compliments from colleagues didn't hurt! I noticed my energy dip as I needed more food which wasn't as easy to do while I was on leave and not constantly moving around.

I created a wellness compact for myself detailing all the ways I will work to maintain my goals and wellness. I'll let you know how I do. If you want to see it, let me know and I'll send it to you.

Be Well!


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Financial and Physical Wellness

Last week on America's Biggest Loser Susie Orman met with the cast and discussed the relationship between money management, self esteem and weight. I follow a great blog called The Simple Dollar. It has great financial advice. Today I found out about a great online site called Smarty that helps people save money. Here is the link. Check it out.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Free Trainer is Awesome

So, about a year ago I thought I'd check out a personal trainer even though I couldn't afford one, at least monetarily. I totally needed the help. I met Scott Bevins who inspired by my story took me on for FREE. Can you believe that. I told him my story of struggle with weight, self-esteem etc. If you go to my Facebook Page and look under Andrea's Journey you can see and hear us working out. In these videos I am 30lbs heavier then I am now.

Well we met for the first time since my conversion from lap band to RNY today and outlined my new program. It consists of an hour of exercise a day, cardio to burn fat and weight lifting three times a week.

Feels great to be back in the workout saddle again. I have been walking every day since surgery starting with a mile, 40 laps around the nurses station the day after surgery. I'm up to four miles a day now!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm Halfway to my Weight Loss Goal!

My journey to wls started four years ago when I started investing the lap band. I thought I was emotionally ready to change my relationship with food but wasn't as ready as I thought. That combined with letting my first surgeon talk me into the lap band when what I really needed was the rny I had the lap band on July 2, 2007.

That led to three years of what I describe as a living hell for me, but a necessary one for me to go through to get to where I am now. I realize the lap band is the right tool for some but it wasn't for me. We all have to make our own decisions about what surgery is best for us.

Today, I reached the halfway point in my weight loss from my highest weight ever to my first goal of 150 lbs. I'm not sure if I will go lower we'll see. It feels DAMN good to be half way there after over two decades of struggle and one failed wls surgery attempt. It all has been a good learning experience.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Post Gastric ByPass Poop Incident

Who knew the most popular thing I've written would be a post about, well, uhmm, poop after gastric by pass. I posted this on obesity help and it got over 200 views and 40 replies from people saying they were laughing so hard they were crying etc. Enjoy!


Okay, so you know as we move through the diets ahh, we can get a little constipated at times. So, this morning, I thought I was giving birth when I attempted to go. The dang thing was so hard it wouldn't flush after three attempts.

I got a plunger, the accordion type and used it. All seemed well....that is the key statement. I thought well I have to wash this thing off now. So I turned the water on scalding hot in the tub to rinse it and then clean and sanitize the tub.

To my shock and horror that damn plunger actually sucked up that turd which was the biggest I ever took in my dropped out of the plunger into the tub! Well, I let out a primordial howl and my husband comes crashing into the bathroom thinking I am dying. I'm mortified and don't want him to see "it.". All the while, I am thinking, "How the hell am I going to get that back into the toilet." Clearly, not having children I was grossed out by this. So I run into the kitchen to get paper towels. The dang thing stuck to the towels and I had a hard time getting it off the towels.

By now, I am laughing so hard I can barley see. It took my husband until tonight to really see the humor in it. I knew I had to share this with my lightweight friends.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Energy is through the roof!

It is amazing how much energy I have five weeks post op from my RNY. I'm down 25lbs and I can see a total difference. Total recovery time to full energy back is 8 weeks. So, my co-workers will have to strap themselves in when I go back to work. I understand now why some weight loss patients run marathons after losing lots of weight. All that energy has to go somewhere. I plan to use mine continuing to exercise, and writing my book.


Friday, April 9, 2010

This is a very insightful article about the reality of what is an acceptable prejudice in our culture.


Stephen Ritz, PhD, a clinical psychologist practicing in Decatur, Georgia feels privileged to have worked with WLS patients for nearly twelve years now. Dr. Ritz may be reached at 770-270-5488 or

The U.S. population is now at least two thirds overweight, with those designated as obese by BMI and other measures being the fastest growing group within this category. It has been predicted that nearly one in two children will be overweight by the end of this year. Obese children are the targets of ridicule, bullying, social exclusion and the like. They are victimized by their peers, teachers, and other adults; even by members of their own family. They are more negatively stigmatized as a group than kids with any other characteristic for which they might be targeted, be it race, ethnicity or some other defining characteristic. The weight bias suffered by children is staggering, tragic and entirely avoidable.

Unfortunately, the prejudice-if not abuse-suffered by overweight children is not limited to them exclusively. Many who are obese, whether overweight as children or not, often wrestle with body hatred, embarrassment–if not humiliation and shame, self-loathing and self-contempt, depression, damaged self-esteem and a range of missed or lost opportunities. They suffer job discrimination, denial of job advancement opportunities and relationship frustration. They are excluded from a host of social and economic opportunities simply because of their weight, size and appearance, regardless their intellect or substance, character or charm. Most, if not all, of this prejudice and the obvious accompanying painful emotional fallout would never be an issue in a more sensitive, caring, understanding and embracing society. Sadly, we have light years to go in accomplishing this in the one that we call home to Americans of all shapes, colors and ethnic origin.

Just listen to Linda who recently responded to an OH request for examples of weight discrimination that they suffered. Linda blogged in frustration, “I had been debating on surgery for a few years. In September 2009, I went to Tokyo, Japan. Because I am a large person, I got dirty looks from people on the airplane, comments were made on the subway and I was generally ignored if I had a question or wanted to buy something. I felt invisible. At 300 pounds, it was humiliating. The day after I landed in the US, I called and scheduled my seminar and had RNY December 15th. I plan to go back to Japan in May. I don’t think I’ll get ignored or receive the scathing looks I did in September.” How ironic that the larger one’s size, the more invisible the obese individual so frequently becomes to others. How sad to think that Linda must rush to a physician to alter her body in order to feel accepted by others, whether in this society or abroad.

How about thisbe777 who reflected about being denied a job opportunity despite her obvious qualifications? She commented, “Back around 1981 I was in the process of moving to another state and with the help of a friend who lived there, lined up a job in a lounge as a bartender/cocktail waitress. I had been to bartender’s school, had experience doing both jobs, and was pretty darn good at it from what I’d been told. The manager told me over the phone that they had a job available and really needed someone who could wait tables and work the bar.

When I arrived, I went down to meet her and to get things started. When I got there I noticed that all the employees wore tight, low cut little striped shirts and white jeans. The manager looked at me (I was about a size 18), then tersely informed me that they had no job openings. I guess she didn’t think I’d look too great in their little outfits. All I could say was that it was her loss, because I could have worked circles around anyone else there.”
There is plenty of data now available clearly showing that those with weight difficulties are often discriminated against in a host of settings. We know that this kind of bias can significantly harm the physical and psychological well being of individuals while decreasing their willingness to get help and stick to whatever aids and loss/maintenance strategies are available.

Another unnamed OH respondent painfully captured this with their comments. “I was fired from a job. My boss’s boss made him fire me. When I asked my boss (and mentor) why his boss seemed to hate me his reply was ‘Well some people relate fat to lazy’ was chilling....and while at the time a crushing blow that made me hit rock bottom, now I see it as a pivotal turning point and I’m so much better off not working there.”

Those deemed obese by a variety of conventional standards are routinely insulted and ridiculed both subtly and in more obvious and blatantly disrespectful and damaging ways. They are often identified as “lazy, stupid, incompetent, and unqualified” and given many other hurtful and inaccurate labels. In fact, consider for a moment the highly popular and successful network television show The Biggest Loser. This prime time program does a terrific job of pulling at our heartstrings while championing the successful and often dramatic non surgical weight loss of the contestants. Yet, some have rightfully criticized it for promoting “unhealthy, unrealistic and unaffordable weight loss regimes.” Furthermore, it “reinforced that being obese is an individual’s fault and that individuals should take personal responsibility for weight loss.” The show was chastised in that it “promoted a simplistic notion that obesity is caused by binge eating and a lack of exercise”. Finally, The Biggest Loser “perpetuated damaging, negative social stereotypes of people living with obesity.”

Consider for a moment the title of this show. An interesting double entendre, don’t you think? What associations do you typically conjure in your head when you think of a person as being a “loser”? Nothing flattering I would venture. The show’s title communicates a message, whether intended or not, that influences our perceptions and attitudes about those struggling with obesity. It risks fostering a mindset that furthers our negative associations with this population of folks that is accounting for a larger percentage of the U.S. population as we enter this new decade.

As recently as this morning, I was driving to the office listening to the radio, channel surfing for a brief moment when I happened upon a nationally syndicated radio host hawking the merits of a well known weight loss system. The host suggested, and not too subtly mind you, something to the effect that if one wanted that next promotion, shedding about twenty to thirty pounds with the help of this weight loss program would certainly grease the job advancement wheels. And therein lies the rub, a massive and corrosive societal problem that harms countless obese individuals. We as a culture have learned to all too frequently value style over substance, outward appearance over competence, and the shapely over the supposed unsightly. We brand those overweight with discriminatory labels that do nothing to promote wellness, only shame and wasted talent. So many of us are guilty of sleepwalking our way through life; mindlessly loyal to the toxic assumptions that drive how we interact with our fellow man and woman. There really are no phrases that aptly characterize the cruelty and wounding that the obese individual suffers at the hands of others. Even the descriptor “obese” itself, has negative connotations. All one has to do is reread the blogs of those brave folks referenced earlier to realize just how malignant a process obesity discrimination can be.

So how should obesity discrimination be addressed? The answer on an individual basis may lie within the comments of those who were quoted above. Those who are comfortable within their skin, regardless their size or appearance are more likely to value themselves with immunity from the hurtful prejudice of others. Tackling this issue on a societal level is of a magnitude and challenge that space here does not permit. There is no doubt that so many of you who have read this article may have an opinion one way or another; something that might foster another article at a later date, a forum to include your ideas and suggestions. What do you think?

Stephen Ritz, PhD, a clinical psychologist practicing in Decatur, Georgia feels privileged to have worked with WLS patients for nearly twelve years now. Dr. Ritz may be reached at 770-270-5488 or

Thursday, April 8, 2010

First Day on Full Foods Went Well

Yesterday was my first day on full foods since RNY. Actually, I had to do a two week liquid diet before surgery. So, that is two months of mostly liquids and two weeks of soft foods.

I'm very pleased I met all my protein, fat, carbs, hydration and vitamin requirements.

Feels great!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Appointment was Great!

My doctor walked in said "I don't even recognize you" and shook my hand. I'm cleared of all restrictions and will start with my trainer soon. I'll keep folks updated on that too. Blood pressure was perfect. Weight loss was just as expected. All my levels of nutrition were great too. I'm right on target in every way and very pleased.

First Post Op Appointment Today!

I'm looking forward to seeing my surgeon and bariatric team today a little more then one month post op. I am sure they will be pleased with my progress and healing so far.

Questions I have today:

1.) Are all weight lifting restrictions lifted?
2.) Can I start working out with a personal trainer. I have a great trainer who took me on for free and I intend to use that service fully.
3.)Will I have my blood levels tested today?
4.) What to expect for progress over the next two months before my second appointment
5.) See if my surgeon wants to be facebook friends.

I'll let ou know what happens.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Waiting for Onederland to Start Living

So it's been a few weeks and I realized something important. Without knowing it I was waiting in a way to get under 200 lbs which happened on April Fools day for the first time in over two decades. I love that. There is certanley some irony to it. In the WLS world Onderland is when you get into a weight that is under 200 lbs.

Afterwards it was like I breathed out a sigh of relief and said, "Okay, I'm going to make it this time. I am doing all the right things. I am following my program and its rules. My RNY is working and I am healing well.

It is sad in a way I felt like I had to get in the 100's before I really believed I'm successful at getting healthy and fit. I'm here to stay now that is for sure. I've lost 28lbs and three clothing sizes since my surgery date on March 3rd.

I'm reading some books about blogging so I can get better at it.

Best Wishes to all and thanks for the continued support!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fed Up with School Lunches Blog

This is an excellent blog from a school teacher who is working to bring attention to the problems with school lunches. Check it out


Three Weeks on Liquids Is Over!

My three weeks on liquids ends tonight! It wasn't easy but important in the healing of my stomach and intestines. I move on to soft foods tomorrow. What does that mean? Things like cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, re fried beans with cheese, scrambled and soft boiled eggs and soups. Here is a recipe I got from the Obesity Help Website. This tasty soup got me through the last few days when I was really tiring of liquids.

Also, check out the blog Fed Up with School Lunches I will post momentarily.

Creamy Black Bean Soup 1 tbsp olive oil 1 small onion 2 garlic cloves 15oz can black beans 3 cups chicken broth ½ cup salsa ½ c sour cream Salt Pepper Shredded Cheddar (optional) Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the beans, stock and salsa, and season with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the flavors blend and the soup thickens slightly. Puree the soup with an immersion blender.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Weight has stayed the same for three days and I am not engaging in any eating disordered thinking.

A big step in recovering from any eating disorder is to stop thinking in distorted ways about food, ones body and how much we weigh. I am now 15 days past my RNY Gastric Bypass. I'm walking two miles a day, following my food plan, healing well and feeling great.

I've dropped 18 lbs in this time. For the past three days my weight has stayed the same at 203. In the past when I was under the control of my eating disorder this would have upset me and likely ruined my day. No more! I know my body is taking a break and this could last a few weeks. I believe in my doctor, the education and counseling I've received and I am making all the right choices.

I am strong, hear me roar! Stay tuned and as always. Thanks for reading. Please sign up to follow my blog if you haven't. I'd love to have your support and thanks to those who have.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I took my two cockatiels to have their wings clipped today. It doesn't hurt. It is like clipping a dog or cats toe nails. If you do it right, all is well. They need this done so they don't fly away or into walls or windows.

This got me thinking about how birds of a feather flock together. This made me want to recommend a very helpful website to anyone interested in finding support for weight loss or recovering from obesity. I've been a member of this online community for about three years. It is a great web site for education. Remember though, there is no substitute for seeing your doctor before starting any exercise or weight loss efforts. Enjoy!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

11 days to go on full liquids!

What an incredible experience on the full liquids. I can tell you I am looking forward to the soft food stage I'll start on the 18th. I will always supplement my diet with protein shakes and drinks I am looking forward to eating food again. Real food that is. The closest thing to real food I've eaten is soup and pudding. This is a vital stage in recovery from the bypass because the stomach needs to heal. So, I'll just get through it. I've been researching recipes and planning menus for the next phase. Until then, I'll keep at it and keep losing.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Head Hunger/ Putting the Scale Away and Healing from Obesity

This is like phantom pain, a pain we feel, but it isn't really there. I experienced it today for the first time since returning home after my surgery. I was full and I knew I was full so I sat down to think about why I felt hungry. I know myself well enough to know I was an emotional eater most of my life. I ate when I didn't want to feel and it turns out I also ate to not feel before the feeling I was trying to avoid arose. That is what happened today.

Despite my doctors best warning to not weigh myself daily as in his words "It would drive me crazy" because of the bodies tendency to fluctuate it wasn't good for me emotionally either. During the past five years I got in the habit of weighing myself daily. There are pros to it, but for me, there are too many cons. Research does indicate that those who weigh themselves daily tend not to gain back lost weight because they get on top of a rise quickly. I learned this in a weight control group run by a licensed psychologist. It wasn't the best advice for me and now I am trying to break the habit.

I have 8 lbs left to go before I am under 200 lbs for the first time in 20 years. I've been telling myself I don't want to miss the day I wake up and see I am under that mark and into what those in the weight loss surgery community call "Onederland" weighing in the 100's.

Today my head hunger was caused by the fact that I only lost 9 ounces over night. This is after an average of a 3lb drop daily since returning home from my bypass. One thing I know about suffering from an eating disorder and having been raised a perfectionist is that I am much more able to see what I consider a bad result then all the good. That is why I felt hungry when I wasn't physically hungry. This is where I realize that was emotion talking not real hunger.

Learning to recognize the difference is key. I am proud of what I've achieved so far. I am healing well, walking a mile a day 11 days after surgery and following my eating plan. Tomorrow is a new day. I'm going to put the scale away and only weigh once a week.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mourning and Food

There is no question the first three weeks on the Stage II Diet of liquids and very soft foods is tough. My husband of course continues to eat normally. I know it is hard for him to watch me go through this, but we both prepared for this emotionally.

I find myself observing some of the things he eats like ice cream and I find myself noting the following "I'm okay with the fact that I won't eat a full serving of regular ice cream again. I can have a bite or two, but I won't take it further. To do so is slippery slope. I can have fat free or sugar free ice cream, yogurt, sorbet etc.

The good news is I am learning how to prepare desserts that are sugar free and low fat. So it's not like I'll never have something sweet again. I've been enjoying sugar free jello with a little lite cool whip. Sugar free pudding with a scoop of protein powder and cool whip. These all satisfy that craving, so watching Scott eat a regular cookie or some ice cream isn't a problem and this is good, very good.

Still, I notice there is a tinge of mourning in this for the loss which is normal. However, the benefits of the life saving gastric bypass surgery I had makes those feelings and thoughts pass quickly...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food | Video on

Teaching Every Child About Food
A Must See Video About the Need for a Food Revolution: Please take the time to watch this video
I promise it will be worth your time.

Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food | Video on

Monday, March 8, 2010

Today was a much better day

I stayed focused on getting in my protien and fluids throughout the day and felt none of the symptoms I had yesterday. I dropped six pounds overnight. That is water and gas weight leaving the body post surgery.

I'm experiencing one of the common side effects of weight loss surgery, gas, and lots of it. At times it sounds as if I have an alien inside my belly! My husband and I are getting some good laughs out of it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Powerful Lesson Today

I learned the first thing I need to do is drink a protien shake and get some food in the system. I woke up feeling thirsty. Staying hydrated is very important, especially right after surgery. So I chose to drink water.

We went to the mall so I could get some walking in. It went well. We did a little shopping and then weakness hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to sit down. I felt light headed and had a headache at the same time. Not a good feeling! We stopped and got a myoplex protien drink with 42 grams of protien. Had to drink it warm, and still it wasn't bad. I took an hour and a half nap when I got home and have been struggling with a headache most of the day. I have about 30 more ounces of water to get in so I will be sipping until I go to bed. It is 6:30 now.

I have to wait 45 minutes between drinking fluids and eating. I am on all fluids right now so it was a bit confusing what to do. I drank a cup of tea first and then thought I should wait to we got back from the mall to get my first protien shake in. That was a mistake. Lesson learned. Protien/food first. 45 minutes, then tea and liquids.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Surgery Went Well: It's My Birthday Today

I came home from the hospital yesterday! My surgery went fine. It is a huge psychological relief to have the lap band out and to have the gastric done. I am not hungry at all. That will change over time, but the next few months there won't be hunger.

I left the hospital off all my diabetes medications. I am taking my blood sugars each morning and each evening before bed. As long as they stay under 150 I will be able to stay off these meds.

I consider today my "first" birthday. This is a new life and a new way of living. I intend to do well with this tool and to reach my weight loss goals and maintain that loss.

I just want to give a shout out to the entire staff at Dartmouth Hitchcock. I received superior care. The nurses and LNA's were great and my surgeon Ted Trus, did a fantastic job.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Surgery is two days away

The time is finally here. I've been moving towards this day my entire life and I am ready for it. We leave tomorrow to stay overnight near the hospital. I need to be there at 7:00 a.m. so we won't to be closer.

I'll post when I get back. Cheers!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Countdown to surgery and I'm very calm

My surgery is five days away and I'm nine days into the pre-op diet. I've lost 6lbs which is on target. I may lose another six or more before Wednesday as I am mostly on liquids making sure I get at least 60 grams of protien a day.

I am a little spacey today as I've had the lowest amount of calories so far, about 700. We'll see what tomorrow brings for weight loss. This weekend I will pack my suitcase for the hospital and make sure my family members have all the contact phone numbers needed.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs: Food as Embedded in Culture and a Recipe

Spaghetti and Meatballs: Food as Embedded in Culture and a Recipe

Does anybody remember this little song from childhood? For no reason that song popped into my head yesterday and I kept humming or singing it all day. I think I learned this at Girl Scout camp! I’m thinking there was a reason and that is somewhere deep in my brain the thought percolated knowing that I may or may not eat pasta after my by-pass. I can have meatballs, sauce and ricotta though which will give me the taste and the protein I need.

Spaghetti with Meatballs all Covered with cheese

I lost my Dear Meatballs When Somebody Sneezed!

I promised to share some recipes for what I’ve been eating for dinner while on the first week of my prep for surgery. Here is the first, it is from the Susan Maria Leach’s book Before and After: Living and Eating Well After Weight Loss Surgery

Mykonos Shrimp With Feta

WLS Portion 3 ounces. Calories 207, fat, 10 gr, carbs, 8 gr, Protein 18 grams, serves four

1 Large Onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, I used four

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

One 14 ounce can Diced tomatoes, drained

½ cup white wine, I used chicken broth

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8-teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt and pepper

½ cup chopped parsley

11/2 lbs of large shrimp peeled and deveined. I used medium sized.

2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

¼ lb Greek Feta Cheese, rinsed, drained and crumbled.

Sauté the onion and garlic in 1 tlbs olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, add the tomatoes, wine oregano, and cinnamon; light season with salt and pepper and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated 7-12 minutes. Stir in half the parsley and spoon the sauce evenly over the bottom of a baking dish. Sauté the shrimp in another tlbs of olive oil in a nonstick skilled over high heat until the just begin to turn pink and curl, about 2 minutes. Arrange the shrimp on top of the sauce in the baking dish. Add a layer of sliced tomatoes and then feta; drizzle with the remaining olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling/ Turn the broiler to high and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve immediately. Serve with a salad and crusty bread and you are good to go.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day Two of Pre Op diet: Checklist's Rule

I felt the effects of a low calorie, low carb diet today. I had a slight headache on and off. My mental clarity is a little off manifesting in slight concentration issues. That is why I am using check lists to make sure I get all my work done before I leave my job for a six week leave. I didn't sleep well last night as I got up multiple times to use the bathroom. This tells me the diet is working as my kidneys are flushing both fat and carbs from my system. Dropped two lbs the first day. Will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day one of post op diet

This has gone pretty well. I did feel some pretty strong hunger at times. I also noticed I was a bit distracted at times. That is normal. I made a bariatric friendly shrimp dish for dinner tonight. I will post the recipe over the weekend.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Surgery Pre-op Diet Starts Tomorrow

Hello Everyone, so tomorrow really starts the next part of the rest of my life. I've made lots of changes since starting prep for my surgery since I first saw the Dartmouth Hitchcock team.

The purpose of the diet is to make the liver release carbs. When this happens the liver gets softer and easier to work with. This is important because the surgeon needs to lift the liver to get to the stomach. Calorie amounts are between 800-1000 a day so as you can see I will drop weight before the surgery.

I'll be sure to post to let people know. I'd love it if you decide to follow my blog.

Surgery is two weeks from tomorrow on March 3rd.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Last Pre-op Meeting/Noticable Changes!

February 13, 2010

What a week its been. It is a challenge to keep a daily blog going. I am attempting to do this for the first 12 -18 months after my RNY weight loss surgery as a means to help me be accountable. I had a lot to deal with over the past week. I had a biopsy for uterine cancer to clear up heaving bleeding that contributed to my anemia I had for the past two years. That thankfully was negative. I also found out that I am no longer anemic. The Dartmouth Hitchcock team started me on iron supplements about three months ago. This has solved the problem. This good news along with the final approval of my surgery has me over the moon with joy.

Today, I had a wonderfully healthy lunch of Tuna Salad made with capers, a little olive oil, hard boiled eggs and olives served over Kale. I find Kale holds up much better then lettuce and is of course rich with nutrients. Store Kale like a bouquet of flowers in a jar or vase of water and it will last for at least two weeks. I shared lunch with a friend at her home in Randolph Vermont and then went for a 2-3 mile walk with her dog along a river bank. We saw a fox den, many animal tracks and a lovely view of the Brandon Gap.

Tonight I made a stir fry that is perfect for post surgery eating. It was chicken, veggies and a basic stir fry sauce. As I cooked I thought about how many changes I've been making since October when I first went to my new team at Dartmouth. In the past I would have served this meal with rice. I have no desire for it now. So, I stayed true to the protein first followed by veggies.

That is it for now. I am in the process of reviewing books and products I've found helpful on my journey. As soon as I get to it, I will build a link to Amazon to help my readers find these products.



Monday, February 8, 2010

Insurance Prejudice

As I listened to my surgeon do an information session for those thinking about weight loss surgery I was stunned to learn the following. Insurance companies without hesitation will pay for heart bypass surgery even if it may only extend a patients life for a short amount of time. Yet they do all they can to prevent weight loss surgery which is proven to add between 7-13 years of additional life.

I ask my readers this: Why is that? I am curious to know what you think. I think this is because weight bias is the last acceptable prejudice in America. A bias exists that somehow the obese person could have completely prevented their obesity. Rarely is this true, if ever. I think obesity is the result of an eating disorder and heart disease in many cases is too. So, can someone help me understand the reasons to cover one procedure and not the other?


The Pondering Professor

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Take the Your Weight Matters Challenge

I found this website today while surfing the web. One of the reasons I started this web was to continue to educate myself about this disease and to offer resources to people who find their way here. The organization is sponsored by the Obesity Action Coalition. Here is some information about them and a link to their web site. I am off to take the challenge and get a Your Weight Matters Awareness Bracelet.

You can follow them on Facebook at:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Going to my First Support Group

February 5, 2010

After the set back of hearing my insurance company denied my surgery again yesterday I decided I am going to proceed as normal. I've learned in my process of getting my health back rational thought is very important. When I use my rational brain when I am upset I make better decisions. I am going to remain calm, make good eating and exercise decisions. I am also not going to worry about this situation until I find out more about it.

My insurance company agreed this surgery was medically necessary once, it will be hard for them to go back on this decision. We'll see...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Insurance Company Shananigins!

February 4th, 2010

So, I am happily preparing for my surgery and I get a call today from my doctor's office. My insurance company has issued a denial for my surgery after all ready approving it. I learned today that this is a somewhat normal move. Many insurance companies will do ANYTHING to not pay for the surgery. This is ironic as doing so now will save them money in the long term. So, now I have to wait between 4-15 days to find out if I in fact will be having this surgery.

Unbelievable. They don't want to tangle with me though, as I will win...


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Center for Disease Control Website on Obesity

February 3, 2010

My original date for conversion surgery was today. I rescheduled to help give my employer the time needed to determine how to figure out how to cover my classes. One of my main goals is to provide resources to educate about obesity while I share my own experience becoming obese, struggling with it, moving through it and recovering from it.

I hope sharing my story will give hope to and inspire any one who is struggling with, has struggled with or loves or cares about someone who struggles with this disease. This website is a great resource. Let me know what you think and I'll see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's Groundhog Day-Looking forward to a smaller shadow

February 2, 2010
With the best of intentions I forgot to post last night. Probably because I went to bed at 8:30. I was exhausted. I'm covering a lot of bases, getting a lot of work done before I leave for 6 week Medical leave on March 1st.

A friend had gastric bypass yesterday at Fletcher Allen in Burlington VT. She said my struggles with weight loss inspired her to work on her own obesity. She's doing well and her surgery went off without a hitch.

Over the weekend, Scott and I donated all the unopened food we had in the house with more then 5 grams of fat. The house has no been cleansed. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe in never having a food again. The truth of the matter is that there will be some foods I can't tolerate. After I heal I could have a bite or two of a food with more sugar then that, but I risk what is called dumping which essentially makes you feel like you are having a heart attack and a low blood sugar attack at the same time. This occurs because the food goes directly through your digestive system quickly. Not everyone who has RNY gastric bypass suffers from this, but many do. Those who don't get it often wish they did as it is an incentive while learning to change eating habits to not eat high sugar and high fat foods.

So, I continue to lose weight which is good. I've made many changes and I am practicing new eating and shopping behaviors. It's all good!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A piece I wrote about writing

January 31, 2010

My first blog post had the wrong date! This one is correct. Since I am putting myself out there as a writer, I thought I'd share something I wrote while in the MFA program at Vermont College. I hope you enjoy it.

Spent more time in the grocery store reading labels with Scott as we shopped. After surgery I won't be eating anything that has more then 5 grams of sugar.

To Write Is
Andrea Silva McManus

To write is to spill your blood, secrets, hopes, rants and desires on the page.

To write is to let go and let words flow.

To write is to face demons and dance with them, learn from them.

To write is to not disregard your own voice, no matter what the experts tell you.

To write is to birth yourself a second time; it can save your life.

To write is to put your butt in the chair until the words come.

To write is to put your work away when the words won’t come, they always return.

To write is to live fully, to flow, glow and let it go.

To write is to dare to tell stories people thirst for truth and fiction.

To write is to disembowel yourself and let everyone see your damaged bloody insides.

To write is to hope in the face of reality that there is meaning to be found in your life.

To write is trust the words will come like bright shooting stars streaking across your mind.

To write is to live and teach.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My First Post

January 31, 2010

I've been thinking about blogging for a long time about my journey towards obesity into it and my current process of recovering from it. I tend to spend a lot of time getting ready to get ready a good friend once told me. So, for better or worse I decided to just do it.

I will be 46 on March 6th. Three days after I have RNY gastric bypass. Why am I blogging about it? Well, my issues with weight started at the age of five progressed throughout my and have effected every part of my life. I believe it is important for people to share their stories in the hopes of helping each other.

I am a professor of education, leadership, philosophy and ethics and a writer. So, it is natural for me to want to practice reflective learning through writing and to want to share my story and learn from others.

My goal is to write something every day for the next year no matter how small to chronicle my experience with gastric by pass, the good, the bad and the ugly. I hope my experience will help me make sense of my experience and be useful to someone else.

The first resource I'm adding is the Facebook page of the bariatric program I've been working with.