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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A Morning At The Gym In January Mornings at the gym in January are frustrating.  First of all, the parking lot is full of all of those New Year’s Resolutions people.  I look around and wonder who will still be here in March and April.  I know, after 12 years, that it will be less than half of the folks currently trying to meet their New Year’s resolutions of losing XXXX pounds, or getting healthy or, if you look carefully at the women, trying to hook up with someone new and hard bodied! 

Once I get past all of the above it’s really okay – sometimes.  Example, today in the pool someone was singing out loud as they swam laps.  That was way too annoying.  She might have been in a good mood today, good for her, but what if her voice and choice of songs didn’t resonate with me?  Kind of rude I thought. 

A Morning At The Gym In January Then there was the woman who has been getting swimming lessons 2x weekly since the beginning of January, and who tried to swim on her own after her instructor left.  Her coughing and sputtering at the 1/3 way across the pool let me know that she had ingested a bit of water.  Yet she kept right on going for about another 10 minutes, and she had already been in the pool for an hour with her instructor.  Good for her!!!  Trying to learn and grow – a woman after my own heart.  I watched this from the hot tub which is my reward after swimming for 45+ minutes.  She too joined me in the hot tub and I looked her in the eyes, smiled, and told her she was doing a good job.  You would have thought I told her she won a million dollars.  Her face lit up, her smile bright as the sun, and her eyes sparkling with accomplishment.  Then the negative self talk began for her.  She explained how she was so bad at the breathing, and how hard it was, and she’d never get it right, and on, and on with what she couldn’t yet do.

A Morning At The Gym In January Dang, a coaching client in the hot tub.  I asked her to tell me what she had been able to do since day 1 of getting in the water.  She told me how she hated the snorkel at first but now loved it, and how her brother in-law will not let her use it anymore because she has to learn how to breathe.  How she is no longer afraid of the water, how she enjoys it, and looks forward to her days at the pool.  Then she started telling me about her brother in-law.  He is 64 years old and still competes in Ironman!  Wow, I was impressed, and told her a little of my story, of going from 424 pounds to today, using swimming as my first form of exercise – since I couldn’t support my weight for any real physical activity, the water was great for not hurting my joints.  I told her how I began by swimming 1 lap, and how that hurt and was so hard, and then worked it up to an hour 6 days a week.

A Morning At The Gym In January She was encouraged, she smiled a lot, and asked me if I thought she’d ever be able to master the breathing.  I assured her that if I was able to, she could too.  She was about 30 pounds overweight and had joint issues so the water was a great place for her to get her exercise.  She also shared part of her why – her 8 month old grandchild would need to learn how to swim and she planned to be the one to teach him.

All of my frustrations turned into smiles as she thanked me for encouraging her.  Reminder to self:  It’s a great feeling to share positive messages with strangers.  Good things happen.

Make it a great day folks.  You’ll only have today one time.

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Just Doing It!

by sandi on January 11, 2017

Long Term Lap Band Success - Just Doing It!My body acts as a barometer.  Any time there are weather changes coming I know because I get aches and pains in places I didn’t even know I had places.  This is not a complaint.  It is a fact of my life.  I have had to learn to live with it, and I have.

Last night we had a storm come through from about 11PM until about 5 this morning with cells coming through of varying intensity.  It brought lots of rain to drought ridden Southern California so that is a good thing.  It brought lots of pains and weird body feelings to me all night long so that is not so good.  It’s so hard to explain how my bed can be uber comfortable, warm and cozy and I can be tired and my mind is drifting into that space where sleep will take over momentarily and then BAM, something starts aching, or I get a weird buzz of nerve endings through my body and I can’t get to sleep.  I meditate, I wear a sleep mask to block out all the light, hubby wasn’t snoring (I raised the head of the bed and shut him up with my remote LOL) but the rain was beating harder outside.  The rain itself is pleasant and the sounds of rain are mesmerizing and easy to fall asleep to, but my body just wouldn’t cooperate.  Weird feelings all night long.  I did catch an hour or two on and off and, as usual, when the sounds of the night start mixing with the sounds of the day and it is beginning to show signs of dawn – (between 4:30am and 5:30 am) for me I was awake for good.

Long Term Lap Band Success - Just Doing It!The bed was warm and cozy and I didn’t’ want to get to out of it, but nature called and I listened.  I had my two cups of herbal tea as I woke up slowly- and a bit grumpy due to lack of sleep- and read at the dining room table.  Then it was time for my 1 allowed cup of coffee.  It filled the house with it’s incredible aroma and I sipped it slowly and savored every last drop.  Time now to get ready to go to the gym. 

Now began the self-talk, the internal battle as to whether I would take the day off because I was tired or I would go.  Then my head wandered to what could I eat before I went….thanks cortisol.  I wasn’t hungry and it was a swim day so a shake was not really necessary.  I took some of my supplements, got dressed and got in the car to go to the gym.  I told myself that if I got tired out after 15 minutes I could stop, then it was 30 minutes, and pretty soon I had completed 45 minutes of swimming laps and my reward was 10 minutes in the hot tub.

Ahhh, that felt great.  Now it was shower and home to work.  It was 10:30am before I ate anything and then it was protein based- a spinach-egg-bacon-chili-cheese frittata.  Off to an appointment and back here at 12:30.  It’s 4:00 PM now and I just finished lunch because I just got hungry.  I tried to sabotage myself by going and getting one of my husband’s quinoa chia seed wraps.  The carbs would do me good I thought.  – NOT!

Long Term Lap Band Success - Just Doing It!I have been known in the past to have 2, and sometimes 3 of these wraps on a day when I haven’t slept.  (110 calories/5 grams protein each) Feeding the carb monster (healthy food though it might be) to give myself “energy”.  You see I learned that if you microwave one of the wraps for 1 minute 20 seconds and then sprinkle some shredded cheese on it and back in the wave for another 20 seconds it makes the most wonderful crunchy nachos.  I am the person who can make any carb into something delicious that is not a safe food for me. 

Not today – I took out my chicken salad with 26 grams of protein, took a bite, put my fork down, chewed it, swallowed it, enjoyed the tastes and textures and did that again and again until my serving was gone.  It truly was delicious because I make a great chicken salad.  I am full.  I have no room for any food- crunchy carbs or not.

Had I stayed home from the gym my carb eating frenzy would have begun by 6am and probably continued throughout the day.  Today the score is Carb Monster 0, Sandi 1.

So moving my body on purpose also keeps carb cravings under control.  Hence, the title- JUST DO IT!

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It’s all about the attitudeWelcome to 2017.  It’s going to be a great year.  How do I know that you ask?  Simple, I will make it so.  I can choose to make my time on earth a chore, difficult, tedious, sad, troubled, or why not GREAT instead.  Attitude is everything.

Over the holidays I got a little loose with a few too many sweet treats, and a glass of wine or a cocktail many evenings, when I typically would not have, and guess who’s jeans are a little snug?  Yup, that’s me.  Not perfect, still a work in progress and that is just fine.  That doesn’t mean I have an excuse to eat or drink whatever I want – whenever I want.  I could choose to do that and wind up back at 400+ pounds if I tried really hard – I suppose.

That’s no longer who I am.  I did a little too much Merry Happy and now it’s back to the grind.  Wait – I had shrimp poached in Thai green curry sauce with peas over cauliflower rice last night for dinner.  That is “the grind” for me.  Delicious food that meets my protein needs as well as my need for veggies and keeps the calories low enough while satisfying my banded belly.  It’s all good.

It’s all about the attitudeThe difference between this week and the first week of the year before weight loss surgery is that I am not making resolutions that I have no real commitment for following through.  My jeans are a bit tight so I am not going to freak out. I will not blame the Universe for giving me the fat gene and continue eating peppermint JoJo’s until Trader Joe’s has no more, while I vow to lose an undetermined amount of weight this year. 

My choice is different now.  With a clear head I simply get all of the toxic foods out of the house, set up a meal plan and stick to it.  Today is Wednesday.  I began Monday.  Three pounds are gone and more is coming off.  The rules work, I have always known that.  My fitness is on point.  I have to work on my water because of the cold rainy weather here, and now my food is back on point.  It’s not hard when I don’t resist it.

Attitude is everything!!!

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Complacency Is A Buzz Kill For Long Term Success After Weight Loss SurgeryHere I sit.  It’s December 28th, 2016 and time to look back on my year and see what I have achieved towards my personal goals related to weight loss surgery and what I choose to set as goals for 2017.  You may think – wow, she’s over 12 years out since surgery.  Why does she need to review weight loss surgery goals?  My answer is that in order to maintain my weight loss and the level of health and fitness that I have achieved I need to stay aware of who I am, what I am doing and what I could be doing better.  It’s about choices and changes and creating my best life.

So what have I done that I am proud of?  Here goes:

  • Complacency Is A Buzz Kill For Long Term Success After Weight Loss SurgeryMy fitness is spot on.  I missed only 2 appointments with myself all year ( I have 5 appointments per week) and that was me listening to my body and an early morning appointment;
  • For the first 11 months of the year my food choices were those that benefitted my health;
  • I wore a two piece bathing suit all week in Mexico and felt comfortable in my skin;
  • I spoke on panels at two WLS events
  • I met my goal of completing a 5k on the elliptical and I continue to improve my time and distance in the 45 minutes 2 x weekly that elliptical cardio is part of my routine
  • I have healed a rotator cuff injury while staying active
  • I have co-authored a cookbook of delicious weight loss surgery friendly meals
  • I have shared my journey daily on Facebook as my way of paying it forward
  • There is so much more.

What can I do more of or better in 2017?  Here goes:

  • Complacency Is A Buzz Kill For Long Term Success After Weight Loss SurgeryGet the cookbook published and out to the public;
  • Pay it forward to even more people worldwide by engaging them in caring for themselves through continued education, coaching and support.
  • Meet my goal of doing Tree in yoga for 1 minute on each foot.  Balance is the key to staying young in mind and body.
  • Complete 4 workshops at bariatric practices around the country.  There is one scheduled for Feb 25th in Fort Worth Texas.
  • Not use sugar and processed carbs to feed emotional hunger when things aren’t going my way.  Begin right now, today, by acknowledging when the situation comes up and going for a walk or going to bed or making a phone call instead. 
  • Get back to my lowest weight of 154 lbs which will happen as I follow the previous “do better”.  I felt great at that weight, was sleeping better, had less physical exhaustion, and was able to keep my emotional hunger out of the equation.  My jeans are tight and I don’t like that, and only I can resolve that issue.  (The last month has been filled with holiday and medical news, both simple excuses for eating crap)
  • Reduce the stress in my life to improve my sleep, mental attitude, food choices.  Step one is letting go of things that I can’t control and making choices that benefit my health in the areas that I can control – food and fitness especially.
  • Continue to hike and snorkel and dive and bicycle ride wherever and whenever I can and create the opportunities to make active vacations happen.
  • Allow myself to feel – if I am sad I can cry, if I am angry I can rail at the Universe and then move past it and continue in all of the areas above.
  • Seek the guidance of people I trust to get through problem areas beginning with my husband, my best friend, my biggest supporter and my soul mate. 

Complacency Is A Buzz Kill For Long Term Success After Weight Loss SurgeryLife has its ups and downs.  Our journeys through life, whether it be health, job, bariatric surgery related, relationship related all have ups and downs too.  Roll with the punches, turn the downs into ups, and keep it as high as possible.  Don’t forget you are a Weight Loss Surgery patient first and foremost and this requires you to make choices like a weight loss surgery patient to maintain your success.  When you let those choices go with a “what the heck” this can’t hurt me attitude you will find your jeans tight and your body not feeling its best.

I choose to live my best life in 2017.  Join me!

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Finally REALLY Comfortable In My Own Skin
Finally REALLY Comfortable In My Own Skin 
Finally REALLY Comfortable In My Own Skin 
Finally REALLY Comfortable In My Own Skin 
Finally REALLY Comfortable In My Own Skin 
Finally REALLY Comfortable In My Own Skin 

I just returned from a week at a warm beach in Playa del Carmen Mexico.  Several things were different from any other vacation I have taken in the past few years.

First and foremost was that I had no qualms about wearing a two piece bathing suit and walking between the beach and the lap pool where I got my daily fitness done.  This is significant for me.  I have shed over 250 pounds and have not had any surgery done on my legs and thighs.  I am 68 years young, have had a blood clot in one of my legs and have not only lots of thick varicose veins and mottling and discoloring, but a swollen ankle 90% of the time as well as lots of loose hanging skin.  Sounds awful, doesn’t it?  Well it might be, but I just figured if folks didn’t want to see it they could turn their heads.  I no longer felt like I was being stared at, whispered about and made fun of.  This was me, take it or leave it.  This feeling was one of ultimate freedom, indescribable.  I was not there to impress.  I was there to be and live and enjoy.  I was finally fully comfortable with who I am, the person I have created and all of those folks who wouldn’t get above their waist in the water got to watch me swim laps in cap and goggles for 15-30 minutes at a time, veiny, jiggly thighs and all.

Then I went to visit Mayan ruins in Tulum for the first time.  I was able to keep up with the tour group walking up and down the hills in high heat and super high humidity.  Sure I sweat, but I never was out of breath.  After that 2 hours of walking and looking I headed to Akumel Bay for a couple of hours of snorkeling with the turtles.  For some reason, which this diver didn’t quite understand, our guide took us into the water at the far end of the bay and had us swimming against the current the entire way…..oh, and you’re not allowed to wear fins in the bay so as not to harm the coral reef which had me using my arms to push against the current, follow the group, and the turtles.  Amazing creatures to watch, however inexperienced folks were constantly swimming into me as I floated just above the turtles, hands at sides, breathing easily…..arghhhh…someone needs to tell them not to swim freestyle when they are trying to watch sea creatures.  Anyway, I managed in the water for about another 2 hours, again walking head held high into and out of the water in my bathing suit and guess what?  NOBODY was pointing, laughing, looking strangely at me.  I was just one of a group.

Most of the previous times I have been diving or snorkeling I have hung very close to my husband as my “fear” (unfounded) of getting lost or drifting into open water too far from the beach ran through my head.  This time my husband’s shoulders could not handle the current.  His legs are super strong so if he had fins he could have kicked and barely used his arms.  This was not to be, by regulation, so he left the water and I took off with confidence, fearlessly on my own.  Another NSV, non scale victory.  Every day, in every way my self confidence keeps building.

I spent a week walking and swimming and enjoying life.  I spend every day finding new ways to celebrate life.  Thank you Lap Band for giving me this second chance.

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Resisting Change Doesn’t Work For Me As I walked into the gym early Wednesday morning I saw a sign where I needed to check in that said “Pool Closed Until Further Notice”.  I immediately began to panic and then get angry because I joined this gym BECAUSE they had an indoor swimming pool and my body needs to swim 2-3 times a week for many reasons all of them relating to my health.  I was okay for today because on Wednesday I do weight training and a 5k on the elliptical.  But what next?  Where was I going to swim?  Would I have to pay the money to join another gym?  I would have to pay 2 gym memberships because my trainer was here at this gym.  How could they do this to ME?

These thoughts swirled in my head all day long, making me more uncomfortable by the minute, creating stress and “stealing” my focus.  And still I let them swirl around and build up even more stress until I was feeling overwhelmed by the situation.  Pretty silly, huh? 

Resisting Change Doesn’t Work For Me Then a brilliant thought occurred to me.  They were building a new gym the same distance, just in a different direction than the one I was going to.  I needed to check it out, see when it would open and if they did indeed have an indoor pool.  It was the same gym chain as mine so I would be able to go between the 2 at my leisure.  Problem solved, or so I thought, especially after reading on line that the gym was expected to open in 2016. 

Not so fast.  I drove over and the building was barely a shell so I don’t believe a quick December opening is in the cards.  Their webmaster was just a bit too optimistic.

Resisting Change Doesn’t Work For Me The evening was progressing and I still had no viable solution.  I suddenly had the brilliant thought that I would go to the gym in the morning and do 30 on the elliptical and that wouldn’t kill me, and, oh, by the way, I was leaving on vacation the following week so that would give my gym a couple of weeks to resolve their problem with the pool.

If I really thought it necessary I could go to the gym that had the other indoor pool and see if I could make some sort of financial arrangement with them as I sorted out the details.

Boy, this was getting complicated.

Thursday morning arrived, I put on my gym clothes, went and did 2.25 miles on the elliptical in 30 minutes and as I left I noticed the pool closed sign was gone, so I asked what happened.  I was told the entire story which boils down to the problem was resolved; there is no danger of toxicity (ceiling insulation had been falling into the pool I guess) and the pool was cleaned, the ceiling fixed and, oh, by the way, the pool heater would be fixed shortly as soon as the part arrived.  So I had a pool available, although it was a tad cold.

Resisting Change Doesn’t Work For Me Now my trainer cancelled on me because she injured her knee so although I was scheduled for an hour of weight/strength training on Monday and a cold swim on Tuesday I now have to flex again.

My decision, Monday and Tuesday I will go to the gym, and do the elliptical for 30 and then swim for 30-45 minutes.  My fitness is a non-negotiable and no matter how difficult I try to make it there is ALWAYS an easy solution.  I am more important than creating obstacles to my healthy living.  I have learned it.  I live it.

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On Being Thankful - Long Term Success After Lap Band SurgeryOK, so it’s a week after Thanksgiving. That doesn’t mean I can’t be grateful, thankful, appreciative – of all the benefits that have come to me as a result of having Weight Loss Surgery in 2004. Here are a few of them, and believe me, each one comes from heart and soul:

  • I have a life – before surgery my life was getting smaller and smaller because I couldn’t do so many things;
  • I can swim – yes before surgery I floated very well and now I can actually swim laps for 45 minutes to an hour and feel great when I am done;
  • On Being Thankful - Long Term Success After Lap Band SurgeryI can ride a bicycle – I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was about 12 until several years after surgery. Thanksgiving morning I got up and took a 30 minute bike ride to get my blood going;
  • I can walk – Across a room was difficult and painful for me before surgery now I rode my bike Thanksgiving morning, set the table, got the dinner for 12 going and then walked down to the beach and enjoyed sunset with family members without pain;
  • I can complete a 5K on the elliptical in under 45 minutes – when you consider I am 68 years young and have been obese and out of shape most of my life I will take that as an accomplishment;
  • On Being Thankful - Long Term Success After Lap Band SurgeryI can lift weights and develop muscles and maintain the muscles – again I could barely lift myself out of a chair let alone get to a gym and do any strength training with weights;
  • I can do push ups;
  • I can do pull ups;
  • I can dive;
  • I can snorkel;
  • I can walk the entire mall with my teenage granddaughter or hike in the mountains with my husband

On Being Thankful - Long Term Success After Lap Band SurgeryYes, I have a life, and I do all of these things not only because I enjoy them; sometimes just because I CAN – and for that I am thankful.

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A Weight Loss Surgery Patient’s Guide To A Healthy Thanksgiving Holiday – Thursday Inspirations For Banded Living

November 23, 2016

First and foremost Happy Thanksgiving to all!  I am grateful for each and every one of you who reads my blogs and takes away something to use on their journey to health and well being.  I am grateful to all who share my blogs with others.  I am grateful for this opportunity to share my […]

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What do I eat for long term success after Lap Band surgery?

November 16, 2016

MEAL PLANNING – UGH, RIGHT? We spent x years before weight loss surgery going through life, often from one drive through to another or from the pizza place to the Mexican restaurant to the Chinese restaurant.  Some of us actually cooked – what did we make?  Big pots of mashed potatoes, rice and beans, lots […]

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Making It Through The Holidays Again Maintaining My Long Term Lap Band Success

November 9, 2016

This will be my 13th holiday season since I had weight loss surgery in 2004.  Every year is a little bit different because every year I am a little bit different.  There are a few constants that remain for me so I thought I would share them and see if anyone else feels the same […]

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How Exercise Has Shaped My Long Term Success After Lap Band Surgery

November 2, 2016

It’s 6am.  I am sipping a cup of black coffee in my sweats and it’s almost time for me to get dressed and leave for the gym.  Today my schedule is 30 minutes on the elliptical, then an hour working with my personal trainer, then 15 minutes more on the elliptical.  Then home to start […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – The Tools of The Trade That Work For Me

October 26, 2016

I had weight loss surgery on May 28, 2004.  That is 12 ½ years ago.  I had Lap Band Surgery so I was required to learn from Day 1 what I needed to do in order to get the weight off, improve my health and stay that way long term. There are some things that […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Never Stop The Celebration Of YOU!

October 19, 2016

Time marches on.  You have lost 100 pounds, or more, or less – at any rate you have lost a significant amount of weight and now you are living life as you choose, free from the burdens of obesity.  You are no longer sidelined because you can’t _________ (fill in the blank – fit on […]

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Long Term Success After Lap Band Surgery – The Holidays Come Earlier Every Year

October 12, 2016

Is it just me or do the Holidays actually come earlier every year?  By that I mean Labor Day is barely gone, the weather is still summer hot, and in most Big Box stores Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are already in full swing? I don’t know about you, but I have a hard enough time […]

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Obesity Health 2016

October 5, 2016

This past weekend was the 2016 Obesity Help conference in Garden Grove CA.  Friday began with my not being able to drive down there from home, with all of the horrible traffic on the 405.  My rotator cuff is still giving me grief and holding the steering wheel for 2 ½ hours would only make […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Making My Choices Count

September 21, 2016

As I was sipping my coffee this morning I checked my messages as per my usual routine.  My trainer had texted me to let me know she was dealing with a flooded bathroom and wasn’t going to make it in to the gym this morning.  My mind took off in the following directions at high […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – It’s My Birthday and I Celebrate Life!

September 14, 2016

As I begin the 68th year of my life, I am looking back and looking forward at the same time.  As I look back 12 ½ years to my decision to have Lap Band Surgery I know from the depths of my very soul that this was one of the best choices in my life.  […]

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