How Weight Loss Surgery Saved My Life

by sandi on October 26, 2010

My friend Gloria and I in my old pants. Can you believe it?


I have been fighting the fat war since I was 4 years old. I finally won the war, leaving only small skirmishes that crop up regularly. My friends tell me these little battles are what a “normal” person always deals with. 

 Just five years ago, I was 424 pounds, had arthritis in my right knee, and had trouble walking across a parking lot. My asthma forced me to stop and catch my breath several times across those parking lots. I rented a scooter to be able to take my grandkids to Disneyland. I let my husband go into the market while I waited in the truck. People looked fearfully at me when I was getting on a plane, hoping I wasn’t sitting next to them.  In March 2004 I had a hypertension crisis that got my attention. To this point, my arthritis, asthma, reflux, and sleep apnea had not yet been enough to make me take notice. 

I have succeeded at most everything I have tried in life — I have a wonderful marriage of more than 40 years to my soul mate, a great daughter, four awesome grandchildren, and a successful business I built from scratch over 20 years ago. But I could NEVER get a handle on my weight for longer than five minutes. 

On 5/28/2004, at 55 years old, I had life-changing, and life-saving, Lap-Band® surgery. Within 28 months I had lost 250 pounds. Now, more than five years after surgery, I am holding at 175 pounds and loving it. I am off all my medications and move freely and vigorously through my new life. 

 With the help of this tool and a great support team I have reached a place where it is fun to go anywhere and try new things, and I actually enjoy looking at pictures of myself (well, most of the time). 

 If you are struggling with your weight, you may find some useful information and solutions here. I have created this blog because something like it would have made a big difference to me when I was going through the decisions and the process myself. 

 As the old saying goes, information is power. If you are struggling with your weight, I want you to have the information you need to answer the questions you have so that you can make the best decision possible for you to have a richer life. 

 I hope you find this useful. I look forward to hearing from you.  

Take a look at some of our Gastric Banding Tips —  Here

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Our New Book – Is Lap Band Surgery For Me?

by sandi on October 26, 2010

Our new book is now shipping on amazon!  Read an excerpt here.

Visit us at

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Back In The Ranks Of The Banded

by sandi on November 19, 2014


Day 1 with my new Lap BandOn Monday 11/17/14 – 10 ½ years after I was first banded I got my new Lap Band.  Along with my band Dr. Billy did a plication, and for those you who have no idea what it is, Google it since I still tired, drugged, and would definitely get something wrong in the description I give you.  Next week, and in the weeks to come there will be more.

I just got home, poured myself 4 oz. of protein & 4 oz. of water and when that is done I will get up and walk around and repeat.

It is strange to be this new again, and I am excited that it took me all morning to finish one sugar free Jell-O.

I did step on the scale this afternoon.  I did not expect to have lost any weight because my hands look like sausages and my tummy is distended.  Guess what?  I was 4 ½ pounds heavier than when I checked in to the hospital on Monday.  This doesn’t frustrate me because I know it is about all of the IV fluids that were pumped into my body.

By the way, I slowly sipped 2 oz.  of protein and I am fine.  Now THAT’S what it’s all about.

By next week I’ll be up to sharing more of the details of my journey.  Meantime, thanks to Dr. Billy and his staff and all of the amazing folks at St.  John’s Hospital.

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Lap Band Success Interrupted - I Have My New DateMy saga continues.  I have been without my WLS tool since 10/1/14.  I had all my tests done, all is ok and now it’s time for me to schedule my revision and get back on the “bandwagon”, literally as well as figuratively.

Lap Band Success Interrupted - I Have My New DateLet me tell you that not having a tool has been playing some big tricks on my emotions.  This has been a roller coaster to say the least.  The first week or so after my band was removed there was enough swelling from the surgery itself that the amount I was able to consume at one sitting was still small thank goodness.  As time passed and the swelling subsided capacity and emotional hunger out of fear and frustration returned together with a vengeance.

Some days I won, some days I lost.  Every day I tried and did my best.  Keeping both my fitness and my water in place has been key to my sanity.

Lap Band Success Interrupted - I Have My New DateSo I set my date.  On Monday, November 17th I will join the ranks of the newly banded and I am terrified, excited, and happy all in the same sentence:

  • Terrified because on October 1st I went in fully expecting to come out as a newly (re) banded patient so my worst case scenario self is that he will not be able to do surgery for some reason and I wonder then what;
  • Excited because I am getting to have a new weight loss surgery tool and I get to push restart and perhaps create numbers lower than anything I have ever seen before
  • Happy because in less than a week it will be over.  I believe that my lesson on earth this lifetime is about learning patience.  I do not wait well.  I never have, but I am improving each and every day.

Lap Band Success Interrupted - I Have My New DateThat’s it for now, so on Monday think of me and think good thoughts, think successful Lap Band surgery and moving forward with all things in their right place- food, fitness, water, vitamins, personal accountability of course.

See you all on the other side!

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In the soap opera called my life, my Lap Band was removed on October 1st, and I was given the option of either another Lap Band or an RNY Gastric Bypass.  Although VSG is a popular surgery, it was not a consideration because my insurance would not cover it.  It’s been over a month now that I am living without my weight loss surgery tool, and I WANT IT BACK AGAIN! 

Sandi before and after Weight Loss Surgery

Even though I know better, and eat healthy meals 90+ % of the time, I did find myself testing my new limits.  Not good!  Thank heavens I have both exercise and water down pat so they are daily routines in my lifestyle.  Both of these have kept me sane as I went back and forth between the positives and negatives of both surgeries, and used my emotional uncertainty as a reason for putting less than healthy foods in my mouth that +/- 10% of the time when I wasn’t making healthy choices.

New Lap BandNow, in the next chapter of the soap opera of my life I have made my decision.  I will have LAP BAND surgery just as soon as my surgeon is willing to schedule it.  I see him tomorrow, and I hope to leave the office with a date.  Certainty is a much nicer world to live in, and I am certain that knowing that my surgery is scheduled will help me sleep a little better at night while feeling a little less stressed throughout my days.

If any of you wonder how I reached my final decision it was with the help of many friends, both part of this “industry” and “community”, and others who are not at all related to the weight loss surgery community.  I kept trying to look for scientific data that would have me lean one way or the other, and it really isn’t there.  Then I spoke about what I wanted, and what I didn’t want, as a result of my surgery and someone kindly and gently coached me into the realization that I kept saying I want a Lap Band, but a bypass would…….  The key phrase always being I want a Lap Band.  So that is what I’m getting, and I will let you all know when as soon as I know.

In the interim I plan my meals, plan my water, take my vitamins, plan my exercise, and then I execute my plans to the best of my ability each day.

Thank goodness the tool between my ears functions well the majority of the time.

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Band vs. BypassAs most of you know by now on October 1 my Lap Band was removed and my surgeon wanted me to have some tests before we did any further weight loss surgery. 

Did I freak out a bit?  You bet, wouldn’t you?  I was sure I was going to wake up and be 424 pounds again.  Well, it hasn’t happened yet, my test results were all negative thank goodness, so now starts the process of selecting and scheduling surgery again.

Due to insurance, the sleeve is not a contender.  My choices are between a new Lap Band and a gastric bypass.  It’s really a tough choice at this point in time.  With a bypass I can be assured of rapid weight loss, possibly reaching a new low weight I never in my wildest dreams thought possible.  However, it is a lot of surgery and do I want to deal with the possibility of dumping, of malabsorption, of iron issues and of having my body “re-plumbed”?  I don’t know. 

With my Lap Band I was able to successfully lose 250 pounds in about 27 months and keep it off.  I was able to control my hunger through food choices and in the past 10 years 5 months I have adopted a totally new Lifestyle that is focused on not only Healthy Choices, but Exercise, Water, Vitamins and LIVING every day as the best it can be.  Why wouldn’t the band serve me again as my tool of choice?

Making every bite count
Making every bite count 
Making every bite count 
Making every bite count 
Making every bite count 

I am still contemplating my decision.  It will be final very soon and I will share with all of you.  In the meantime, what am I doing to keep massive regain at bay?  Nothing different than I have done for the past 10 years – I am PLANNING to succeed each day.

I must admit, I had a bout of feeling sorry for myself overindulging that included chips, guacamole, a seafood enchilada and beans along with a Dos Equis Dark and then a number of hours later popcorn at the movies followed by Trader Joes triple ginger snaps.  Did it taste good, probably but the discomfort was certainly not worth it so I will not be visiting those “poor me” thoughts again.

I continue to plan my week and my days as I have been doing and I find that as long as I lead with protein first I am not physically hungry as I keep my portions to the size that have kept me in maintenance for these years.

I woke up this Sunday and made my frittata of the week, some chicken salad, prepped my dinner so it will get in the oven quickly at dinnertime and made sure my frig was stocked with everything I needed including deli turkey meat, baby bel lite cheeses, a plethora of 80-100 calorie yogurts with Caramel apple pie as my new favorite, small apples, grapes and I have lots of bottled water in my pantry.

Have a look at how I prep my week and visit the inside of my frig with me.  I will journal all I eat and make sure I get 64-96 ounces of water daily and at least 30 minutes of exercise.

I can do this.  I am doing this.  I have been doing this for 10 years.  

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Making Dreams Happen
 Making Dreams Happen
 Making Dreams Happen

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to co-host five amazing women at a weekend retreat at the beach within 1 mile of my house.  They can from as far away as Ontario Canada, and as close as Salinas CA.  Oregon, Washington and Arizona were also represented.  Why did they come?  What were they looking for?  All of us were looking for understanding of how to use our Weight Loss Surgery tools and that most important tool – the one between our ears – in order to maximize our journeys to a long term healthy lifestyle from one where obesity had held us back for years.

Making Dreams HappenMy co-host and business partner in WLS Success Matters, Wendy Campbell, and I made sure that began from the very first moment we opened the doors.  We had an agenda, I mistakenly left the word DRAFT on it, and guess what?  It was a draft because one of the first things we all learn on this journey to health is that we have to have a PLAN B.  We must be flexible and aware of how things can turn on a dime and be ready to deal with everything that means.

Making Dreams HappenWe created vision boards together, we not only talked about “bad” habits, we also created the plan for exchanging them by getting to the core of how the habit was actually serving us.  This is some tough work so we broke it up with walk/runs on the beach and at the marina.  We planned meals and shopped for them.  We ate our “regular” foods and tried some new ones.

We made friends and bonded together as we realized that this was a safe place to share our thoughts, our plans, our dreams and to develop new ones.

Making Dreams HappenWe set individual goals, life goals, not a number on a scale goals, and created the step by step action plan necessary to get there.

We laughed, we cried, we toasted life, but most of all, we spent the weekend being open, honest and actually living the Weight Loss Surgery lifestyle and staying present in the moment for 3 days.

Making Dreams HappenThe positive energy and love in that house was palpable.  On Saturday morning one of the women stepped out of the shower and came and looked me in the eye and said – “I’ve changed.  I don’t know when it happened exactly but I am a different person than the one who showed up here Thursday night.” One of many such comments.

What an amazing adventure this was.  I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face because I was honored to be able to sit and watch all 5 of these women access their individual POWER.

What a trip!  And when I think that I experienced this just because back in 2004 I made the decision to have weight loss surgery.  WOW!


If you would like to find out about WLS Success Matters and our educational programs and support groups please go to

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It is now more than two weeks since my band was removed.  I do hope to eventually get it replaced, but that is another blog for another time.  Here I sit today, 10 years and 5 months after my lap band surgery, living a new and different life.  At least I thought I was anyway.

As you can well imagine, the last two weeks have had me digging deep into the crevices of my mind coming up with all sorts of reasons as to why I can’t do this without a band.  I used terms like white knuckling it, hard, hungry with a vengeance, and I’ll do the best I can do without my tool.

Facts are more like this – while I don’t have my lap band, I do have a toolbox full of good ideas and tips and tricks I have learned over the years. 

Food ChoicesJust because I don’t have a band at the moment doesn’t give me permission to:

  • Fill and eat off a full size dinner plate
  • Take big bites and shovel food into my mouth
  • Shop in the center of the supermarket where all of the chips and cookies live
  • Blow off my exercise because I am too busy, tired, or emotionally upset
  • Eat mounds of bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fried foods and other food items I have avoided for the past 10 years
  • Have dessert whether I am hungry or not
  • Drink alcoholic beverages excessively
  • Have popcorn and candy at the movie theater
  • Avoid getting all my water in because it just doesn’t matter any more

I could go on and on but I think the picture becomes clear.  I can be mindful of all of my choices around food, nutrition, hydration and exercise.  I will continue taking all of my vitamins and supplements.

I am not throwing in the towel, nor am I white knuckling it.  Both of those are nothing more than excuses that permit a level of behavior that I find personally unacceptable.

Does this mean I will never have a dessert, or a piece of candy, or an adult beverage?  NO it does not.

I will continue to live as I have for the past 10 years, tracking my food choices, planning my meals, planning my exercise, getting in my water and living my life. 

Why am I telling you all of this?  Because, just maybe, you have had to have the fluid removed from your band, or even your band removed and you are frightened, as I am, of not having a tool. 

Choices - We Must DecideThe BEST tool that we have is the one between our ears, the one that makes the choices; the one that has learned, with the use of the lap band, that it is about quality, not quantity.  So go ahead and enjoy your tasty breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I will, on my salad plate.

NO EXCUSES is really what it’s all about for me right now.  How about YOU?

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Sandi at normal sizeI want to live a “normal” life.  I want to be a “normal” size.  I want to continue to increase my strength and endurance and flexibility each year, instead of losing strength, endurance and flexibility each time the calendar moves forward a year.  I managed to attain all of that.  I reached weight loss goals after my LAP BAND surgery, I have reached fitness goals I never in my wildest dreams thought possible for me, so what’s this rant all about?

In the Weekly Weigh-In groups I facilitate on Facebook we run weekly challenges.  One that I choose to put into effect was taking pics of everything you eat and writing in the calories and protein for the picture.  This is usually a wonderful exercise to help all of us see exactly what we are eating, when we are eating it, and what the stats are for our choices.

Looking at a few days or a week’s worth of pictures and stats can really help me assess my choices and see if I want to make any changes in what, when, or how I eat.

Here are my personal revelations from the last week:

  • At dinner I often put too much food on my plate which leads me to have to choose to leave food on my plate, and I still suffer from clean plate syndrome;
  • Eating yogurt or cottage cheese mid day does NOT provide me physical satisfaction.  Either the carbs in the yogurt or cottage cheese or the fact that I don’t have to slowly chew defeat any protein benefits to me;
  • Waiting until I am ravenously hungry creates stuck episodes and PB’s;
  • Eating at night in front of the TV is NOT my friend;
  • I get my protein in throughout the day;
  • When I am busy emotional hunger is more easily dealt with

Those are just a few of my personal discoveries.  I may have discovered them before, but it is great to put myself back into the space of checking in with myself so that I remain mindful and aware of all of my choices.  My worst enemy is mindless eating, even after 10 years on this journey.

Food scale
Measuring Cups

Here are my “solutions” to the revelations above:

  • Put only on my plate enough food to satisfy ME, not the same amount as I put on my non WLS husband’s plate;
  • Using my food scale, measuring cups and measuring spoons ALL of the time is necessary to REALLY monitor what not only goes on my plate, but what goes in my mouth.  It’s NOT as time consuming or annoying as I made it out to be in my head;
  • Keep the yogurt and the cottage cheese for quick protein sources, rather than meals since I am “head hungry” an hour after I eat them no matter how protein packed they are;
  • Find other sources of mid day foods like cheese sticks, jerky, roasted vegetables, lunch meats, etc so that I have to CHEW my food which seems to benefit my psyche;
  • Eat every 3-4 hours to avoid getting overly hungry and eating too fast, and ruining a perfectly good meal. 
  • Close the kitchen after dinner for anything but liquid;
  • Keep busy;
  • Acknowledge and congratulate myself for my good choices.  I deserve a pat on my back to keep me moving forward, even if it’s from myself.  After all, I alone am responsible for my successes and my failures.

All of these tricks and tips I have learned over the past 10 years and implemented into my lifestyle are critical for my continued success.  What I truly hoped to be a quick and easy remove the old band, and replace with the new band surgery has turned out a little differently.  My band was removed, and due to inflammation could not be replaced at the same time.  I am scheduling a colonoscopy at the request of my bariatric surgeon to see if we can discover the cause for the inflammation.  That is where I am now.  I have no weight loss surgery tool.  What I do have is 10 years of Lap Band Lifestyle, which translate to changes in my food choices, my portion sizes, my exercises, and my water consumption.  I am hanging on to all of these changes by my fingernails with the hope that they will see me through this period of time with no weight gain.

My hope is to have some answers in the next 30 – 60 days as to what my next steps can be.  In the meantime, I will read ALL of my articles over again and reach out for all of the support I need.

When’s the last time you checked it carefully – What’s on your plate?

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Ten Years And I’m Doing It All Over Again

September 24, 2014

  I will be on a flight To Orlando as you folks read this on Thursday, September 25, 2014.  WLS Success Matters is exhibiting at this year’s OAC (Obesity Action Coalition) Your Weight Matters Convention.  We are excited.  If you are in the area please stop by booth 213, and say Hi to us. I […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – 10 Years Banded, 66 Years Alive

September 17, 2014

I just celebrated my 66th birthday on Monday and as it approached all I kept thinking about were the words of a Dylan Thomas poem: “Do not go gentle into that good night.  Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” I kept thinking about […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Quick and Easy Meal or 8

September 10, 2014

Many of you say you don’t cook and you need ideas that are simple and easy.  Here is a step by step that begins with buying a rotisserie chicken at Costco, Sam’s, or wherever you can get it, that is reasonably “natural” with no added MSG, Gluten Free if you need it, etc. Night one:  […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Almost Another Year Older And Wiser Perhaps

September 3, 2014

I had Lap Band surgery on May 28th 2004.  That was the first day of the rest of my life.  Day by day for the past 10 years I have been reclaiming my life and creating a new one bit by bit.  It has been an incredible journey so far.  I have learned much about […]

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Long Term Lap Band Patient Spends An Hour Sunday Planning For Success

August 27, 2014

One of the keys to not only losing the weight, but keeping it off was changing my lifestyle habits over these past 10 years.  After my morning coffee, water is pretty much the only liquid I drink all day.  That’s how I get at least 64 ounces in, and that is also how I keep […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Shopping In my Closet Is Fun

August 20, 2014

This past weekend I attended the Obesity Help Conference as an Exhibitor.  Aside from having a wonderful time and meeting so many new folks and making new friends, I did not have the angst I usually have when packing.  This was actually fun.  I have a walk in closet now filled mostly with my purchases […]

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Ten Years With My Lap Band and The Journey Continues

August 13, 2014

People trying to get an understanding of the lap band frequently ask, “So after you lose all your weight you take the band out, right?” WRONG!  My typical answer is that my lap band comes out only over my cold dead body.  I say this to emphasize how much help my band has provided to […]

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Long Term Success After Weight Loss Surgery – Removing The Obstacles In The Way – The Power of You

August 6, 2014

So you decided to have weight loss surgery.  You go through whatever pre-op program your insurance company or your doctor requires of you.  Now it’s time, the day has arrived and your mind is spinning in so many directions, the thoughts just keep coming one after another: What if this doesn’t work? What if this […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Winning The Mental Game

July 30, 2014

    I woke up this morning to a gray sky, warm and humid house and a low level of energy.  As I sat with my coffee cup I urged myself gently to get going to the gym.  I finally made it out of the house and to the gym and was in the water […]

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Why I Attend Weight Loss Surgery Events

July 23, 2014

As a blogger who has been around the weight loss surgery community for 10+ years now I am often asked which weight loss surgery event someone should attend.  My answer is simple and straightforward – ALL OF THEM.  These events are amazing!  Each one has its own set of value and I thought I would […]

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