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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Long Term Lap Band Success - Being Accountable To MyselfMy journey continues.  My surgiversary as an 11 year veteran of weight loss surgery approaches on 5/28/15.  I can’t believe it has been that long.  Why does my body still think it weighs 424 pounds when I get up from a chair sometimes, or when I am hiking on uneven surfaces?  Will it ever just “get” that I now can move freely, and easily, 100% of the time?  Oh well, that’s a subject for another time.

Today I want to chat about personal accountability.” I alone am responsible for my successes and my failures.” Not my surgery, not my doctor, not my friend who “made” me go out to Happy Hour, nor the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America who just had their 5th Annual Meet & Greet in San Diego at a hotel surrounded by great restaurants and watering holes.  Not anyone else, just ME.  There I said it.

Long Term Lap Band Success - Being Accountable To Myself

Long Term Lap Band Success - Being Accountable To Myself
Long Term Lap Band Success - Being Accountable To Myself
Long Term Lap Band Success - Being Accountable To Myself
Long Term Lap Band Success - Being Accountable To Myself
Long Term Lap Band Success - Being Accountable To Myself

Before the event I headed off to San Diego with all of my travel foods packed ( protein powder, shaker bottle, jerky, and protein bars), and when I found that I had a refrigerator in my room I went and picked up some Greek yogurts and some string cheese.  I was all set.  I also was responsible for the food served at the event so I knew the protein and calorie counts in all of it.

So how did I come home and step on the scale this morning to find a 4 pound weight gain?  It really wasn’t difficult.  As a matter of fact it was quite easy…Hmmm, let’s review:

  • Left home Wednesday evening immediately after facilitating a class and drove for 4+ hours.  Dinner was a protein bar and some jerky
  • At about 11PM after checking in to our hotel for the night we ran across the street for some late night protein (extra calories here!)
  • Each evening included at least 1 cocktail, or 1 glass of wine.
  • Sunday was the worst with a margarita, then chips and guacamole
  • Somehow I also thought that a cup of tea, and then a Quest bar before bed was somehow okay
  • Monday morning brunch was Maryland crab cake over spinach topped with a poached egg.  At least I had them hold the Hollandaise.
  • Back home Monday evening and I made sure to get our luggage out of my car and head quickly to the market to get some of “MY FOOD”.  Dinner was baby spinach, cucumber, tomato, 2 tablespoons feta crumbles, sliced olives and 2 ounces of smoked salmon with 2 tablespoons feta dill dressing.  Whew, back in my groove again.

What was I thinking?  Did I really expect that a drink each evening and guacamole and chips would not have me gaining weight?  Then add in that I worked out each day as planned, however it was for 30 minutes, not 45-90 as per my regular routine.  YES.

I knew that by making the choices I did I would show a weight gain at a time when I was working on losing.  It was okay for me.  Today is day one of me being Back On Track.  It’s 6:30 PM and I have eaten 609 calories, 72 grams of protein and drank 78 ounces of water.  Dinner is mahi-mahi marinated with garlic and sea salt and roasted asparagus.  I swam for 50 minutes this morning, and have my food planned for the week,

I will see the scale move back to last week’s number, and then keep going down.

I have no shame about choosing to have a cocktail, or the guacamole and chips.  I have no time or patience for that emotion in my life.

I made some choices, I owned them, and now I am making other choices. 

I alone am responsible for my successes, and my failures.

I had a wonderful time at the Meet & Greet.  So many familiar faces and so many new ones, great speakers, great parties, and we were raising funds to save lives at the same time.  What could be better?

Update… With my daily accountability I have shed the gain, and am moving full speed ahead.

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Fifteen Minute Chicken Salad – As YOU Like it

Fifteen Minute Chicken Salad - As YOU Like it
Fifteen Minute Chicken Salad - As YOU Like it
Fifteen Minute Chicken Salad - As YOU Like it

You all are getting used to me finding great and easy ways to use rotisserie chicken that I get from Costco.  It is good, meaty chicken and each one yields between 1 ½ to 2 lbs of meat.  I take this and weigh out 8 ounces and use my vacuum sealer to get these packages ready for freezing.  When opened and thawed this meat tastes like you just peeled it off the chicken. 

This morning I decided I wanted chicken salad for lunches for a few days so I grabbed a package out of the freezer, cut open the bag, defrosted it in my microwave and threw together a chicken salad.  This made 4 servings for us at less than 130 calories each.  Here’s what I used and how I tossed it together:


  • 8 ounces of rotisserie chicken chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 3 mini sweet peppers chopped
  • 5 Tablespoons Bolthouse Cilantro Avocado dressing


  • Mix all of the above together in a large bowl
  • Separate into 4 containers and store in the refrigerator.


  • Makes 4 servings, each with approximately 127 calories and 17.4 grams protein

Alternatives to this would be to leave the celery in, take out the peppers and:

  • Add ½ cup of skinned chopped apples – no basic change in calorie/protein count
  • Add ½ ounce chopped walnuts to the celery and apples – this would increase the calorie count to about 150/17.5 per serving
  • Add 1 oz of sliced grapes to the celery, apples and walnut- this would increase the calorie count to about 155/17.5 per serving
  • Season with curry powder

What I love about this is it’s real food, not canned, and can be altered slightly for different tastes.  I can eat it over a handful of baby spinach and sliced cucumbers, or eat it right out of the container, or make a lettuce wrap with it.

It is tasty, meets my nutritional requirements and is quick and easy to make.  A sure WIN for me.

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Trader Joe’s once again made it possible for me to enjoy one of my old favorite deli meals – Pastrami and Swiss.  Just how did they do that for me?  They now have uncured pastrami that is as lean as can be, and 2 ounces of it are 100 calories and 15 grams of protein.  Add some Jarslberg Lite Swiss Cheese, some deli mustard, and I am in heaven. 

I made our Sunday morning breakfast with the pastrami and cheese in an omelet, and it rocked! 

Pastrami and Swiss Cheese - Not On Rye BreadHere is how I did it- just a few ingredients and a few simple steps for an omelet for 2:


  • 1 whole egg
  • 5 egg whites
  • 3 ounces Trader Joe’s pastrami
  • 1 slice Jarslberg Lite Swiss Cheese
  • Deli mustard if desired as a condiment


  1. In a preheated 10 inch skillet that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick spray (I currently use coconut oil spray) place the pastrami, add 2 tablespoons of water, cover and let steam for a minute
  2. Stir and cover for another minute to evaporate the water and thoroughly heat the pastrami.  Remove the pastrami to a plate, spray the skillet again
  3. Whisk together the 1 egg and 5 egg whites (I add a drop of water to this) and pour into your prepared skillet on medium heat
  4. Pastrami and Swiss Cheese - Not On Rye BreadCover and cook eggs until almost set
  5. Add pastrami first, and then strips of the cheese to ½ of the omelet
  6. With a spatula, fold in half covering the pastrami and cheese
  7. Lower heat, add a few drops of water to the pan and cover to finish the cooking and melt the cheese
  8. Slide onto a plate, cut in half with the spatula and enjoy

Pastrami and Swiss Cheese - Not On Rye BreadNutrition:  This makes 2 servings, each with around 180 calories and 27.25 grams protein.


Serve with a dollop of deli mustard on the side and enjoy your Sunday, New York breakfast, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.


Just want pastrami and cheese with no eggs?  Heat the pastrami in a skillet as per the directions above, place on sprayed cookie sheet, foil or parchment paper, and broil for a minute or so until cheese has melted.

Place on lettuce or just enjoy as is with a fork and knife.

Who said I can’t enjoy my New York Delicatessen Foods after Weight Loss Surgery?

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I went into my local CVS Drugstore as I left the gym today to purchase an 8 x 10 frame because it was in the same shopping plaza as my gym.  Easy, convenient, no extra time or gas (It’s currently over $3.00 a gallon again in CA).  It’s a store I don’t frequent often so I had to do a complete scan of the aisles to find what I was looking for.

Hippity Hop - Candy Shop - After Lap Band Surgery

Hippity Hop - Candy Shop - After Lap Band Surgery
Hippity Hop - Candy Shop - After Lap Band Surgery
Hippity Hop - Candy Shop - After Lap Band Surgery
Hippity Hop - Candy Shop - After Lap Band Surgery

Holy Chocolate Bunny Batman!  There were huge Easter baskets filled with candy of all sorts, rows and rows of Peeps – the totally useless, and horrible tasting, marshmallowy things, aisles for gourmet chocolates, aisles just for chocolate bunnies, aisles just for chocolate eggs, rows and rows of at least a dozen different varieties of jelly beans, and giant displays as I walked into the store.

I wandered up and down the aisles (there were 6 full aisles in a large store dedicated to just Easter Candy, another two to the baskets, filling, plastic eggs, and other nonsense.  And if that wasn’t enough, at the check stand there was a tub full of mixed Easter treats in a small size — so you could eat just one.  They almost got me.  I was thinking hmmm what ONE item could I get each of my grandkids, and then just one Cadbury egg for me, and one for my husband…and then, and then…

Then I rethought and said, they are teenagers and do not need this garbage any longer, and I am NOT going to encourage poor eating habits.  There is no need for me to fall prey to CVS’ genius marketing displays.  Isn’t that part of how I wound up at 424 pounds, and needing weight loss surgery..

I made a decision as I wandered the aisles, shooting the pictures you see here.  That decision was — I will make dinner on Sunday, let them choose the meal, and the “sweetest” thing on the menu might be baked or mashed sweet potatoes.

No chocolate for me, no licorice jelly beans for me (my favorite), and they truly don’t need them any more either.  I’d rather give them an iTunes gift card.

Music might get them up and dancing.

Are YOU letting the Easter bunny Marketing Mavens Feed You?

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Managing Food And Alcohol While Out With Friends Or Family - Long Term Lap Band SuccessOne of the most difficult things I have had to do over the past 11 years is to learn how to eat at family functions and out at restaurants, or yes, even at Happy Hours with friends.  First thing I would like to say is that it is definitely a BIG learning, since regardless of what type of surgery you’ve had, if you sit at a table at home, in a restaurant, or in a bar for a long period of time you can graze and consume many more calories than you planned.  Add a glass of wine or a cocktail to the mix and it’s even easier to lose track.  (wink wink)

Take yesterday, a beautiful California day which I started by getting my fitness on for 90 minutes at the gym, and with my typical morning protein shake.  Then it was off to wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley we went.  We packed a cooler filled with veggies, turkey slices, apples, pears and 2 light cheeses.  Suddenly crackers and a wedge of blue cheese made it into the mix.  Uh oh….

Managing Food And Alcohol While Out With Friends Or Family - Long Term Lap Band Success
Managing Food And Alcohol While Out With Friends Or Family - Long Term Lap Band Success
Managing Food And Alcohol While Out With Friends Or Family - Long Term Lap Band Success

I made it through the tasting and almost through our lunch without straying past my 1 glass of wine, turkey, baby squash sautéed with onions and garlic, sliced tomatoes, and a baby bel lite cheese.  I totally avoided the crackers, but the blue cheese called to me and I gave in.  With no measure I put a tiny piece on slice of pear and enjoyed it.  Tastebuds and appetite was stimulated.  On to another winery, did fine there, barely tasting the wine and then to downtown Los Olivos to the Wine Merchant Café.  I was NOT hungry but an artisan cheese plate and an order of Tomato-Basil Arancini was placed to go with the bottle of wine ordered.  (Tomato-Basil Arancini – fried risotto balls, molten mozzarella, tomato presse) Do you begin to see where this was going?  I tried to stay with the fig and 1 small piece of cheese from the cheese plate.  I did have a small bite of one of the Arancini, and thank goodness that is all I allowed myself.  It was delicious and not something I would normally even think about eating.  My guard was definitely down.  Was it the glass of wine, the sunny day, sitting around chatting with friends I hadn’t seen in several years in a beautiful location?  None of the above; just old habits creeping in?  Who knows, I was beginning to cave, that’s for sure.

We then made the drive back to my house and I drank a 33.8 oz bottle of water on the way.  We stopped when we got into town to find a particular wine that my friends liked and wanted us to try.  Just being accommodating again, and then into Trader Joe’s to pick up something for a quick and easy dinner.  The pulled chicken met my protein needs, and roasted corn, guacamole and chips were added to this top finish it off.  Here I have to admit that I was the responsible party for the guacamole and chips.  I told you my resistance was weakening.  I finished off the evening with chips, guacamole and some pulled chicken with ½ glass of wine.

This morning it was the gym again with my protein drink in hand.  Got my fitness done, working on water and trying to figure out what it is my friends would like to do today.  It always revolves around food and wine, and this is very difficult for me.  They are NOT alcoholics by any means, they both work long hard hours and are on vacation enjoying themselves, I am the problem.  I try to keep up with everyone, my husband included, and then feel overstuffed, uncomfortable, bloated and out of control.

It’s not easy for me, that’s for sure.  However, it is doable.  I have done it before, and I will do it again.  I have learned some important things over the last few days about eating with folks who have not had weight loss surgery:

  • It’s a challenge, but I can do it!
  • It’s like fitness, I am not going to run as fast as someone next to me, or swim as many laps, but I’ll still get it done.  Eating – my race, my pace;
  • Keeping well hydrated helps A LOT in controlling the grazing.  It’s hard to reach for a chip or a cracker if you have a water bottle in your hand ;
  • I have stomach size envy and need to let go of it.  Eating to stuffed has too many negative consequences;
  • Just like I do when it’s just hubby and me, when I have finished what is on my plate, or when I am done eating – whichever comes first- get up from the table
  • Only put on my plate what I intend to eat
  • Even one glass of wine will weaken my defenses to trigger foods so note to self – Be Aware!

I am sure I could have done much worse these past few days.  The reality is, I could have also done much better.

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Shopping Can Be ScaryHere I was, almost 11 years after surgery the first time, 4 months post-op from my new band placement and off to shop for a retro outfit to wear to the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation’s Fifth Annual Meet & Greet next month in San Diego.  I am not a one size fits all body so I knew I had to go in to a shop and try things on.  Through some awesome advice, thank you Jamie Corp, I found the Pinup Girl Boutique store in Burbank, and I conned my husband into driving down there with me, (3 hours round trip), to check it out, and hopefully find something suitable that I liked.

Shopping Can Be ScaryOh my, what an experience!  We got there without much in the way of traffic delays (highly unusual for LA) so I thought maybe the stars were aligned in my favor.  LOL.  As I walked from the side street parking this beautiful March afternoon I saw a breathtaking tree in full bloom with nothing but blue sky above it.  Another sign from the Universe perhaps?

Then low and behold, there is the store, right in front of me…Dare I?  Uh, I better since I drove 90 minutes to get here.  Walking inside was a feast of colors, patterns and fabrics.  I started looking and kept pulling things off of racks to try on and a fitting room was started for me.  Take a look at all the possibilities.  Aren’t they all amazing?

Here are a couple of me in two of the dresses I didn’t get.  I let my husband choose the one he liked best.  No, he didn’t have the patience to come into the shop, so I was texting him pictures as he shopped down the road at Fry’s Electronics, and then waited in the car for me listening to his talk radio shows, and napping.

Shopping Can Be Scary Shopping Can Be Scary Shopping Can Be Scary


If you’re interested in which one I did choose you’ll just have to come to San Diego April 10-12, and check it out at the Fabulous Forties Night!

Shopping Can Be Scary

Shopping is getting to be more fun every time I go, whether it’s to a new store or in my very own closet.  

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Stop And Smell The Roses
Stop And Smell The Roses
Stop And Smell The Roses

I had the most amazing thing just happen to me.  It’s something that I never experienced before.  I thought, hmmm, I wonder if I could borrow a dress from Angie.  Angie is not only a friend, she does bookkeeping for both of my companies, and she is anywhere between a size 6 and 10 depending on the cut.  Most frequently she is a size 8.  I thought she must have a formal I can wear to the WLSFA Meet & Greet in April, and she had 3.  I tried them all on, found one that is perfect, and left with a gown and a BIG SMILE on my face.

Why, you ask?  Not because I didn’t have to spend money on a formal I would wear maybe once or twice, although that started the corners of my lips turning up.  The bigger Non Scale Victory was being able to share clothes with someone who is thin and fit, and who also happens to be 20+ years younger than me. 

I have NEVER in my 66+ years been able to borrow clothes from anybody.  They never fit, they were too tight, it was embarrassing, so I quit trying years and years and years ago.

It’s a new experience and I like it.  She is welcome in my closet any time and I have a few dresses that would be perfect for her.  I get to shop in my own closet too, and it is time for me to donate or sell some of my size 12’s that are too big.  I will never need them again.  I have the power to make sure of that.

This is like going back to High School, only I never had this experience when I was the chubbiest one in high school, or elementary school, or junior high school, or college for that matter,

I like it!  It feels good.  It feels right.  It makes my body sing with pleasure; I guess it’s called feeling normal.  I am going to bask in this glow for a while.  When’s the last time you stopped, smelled the roses, and acknowledged that you were winning?

Celebrate Your Success Every Day!

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Living A Life I Never Dreamed Possible With My Lap Band

March 4, 2015

My 11th year “surgiversary” is almost here.  I had my Lap Band Surgery on May 28th 2004.  I never even dreamed of losing more than half of my 424 pound body weight at that time, let alone be able to enjoy the active life I am living today, at 66. I just spent a week […]

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Success After Lap Band surgery Take 2 – And The Story Continues

February 25, 2015

I am sitting here at the same weight I was after Lap Band Surgery followed by my plastic surgery.  That puts me at the same weight that I was in 2009, and it is 6 years later.  I am a happy camper for sure since I had some regain while my doctor, and I, figured […]

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Fabulous Breakfast After Weight Loss Surgery – Protein Packed Flourless Ricotta Pancakes With Blueberry Syrup

February 25, 2015

When you all are ready this I will be on a plane returning from a week in Hawaii, so ALOHA! This morning I decided to try another take on the flourless pancakes and share my step by step with you.  This recipe will easily feed 2, I chose to serve it with some Trader Joe’s […]

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Learning To Love Myself Before, During And After Weight Loss Surgery

February 11, 2015

Let’s face it, when I looked in the mirror in 2004 and saw a 424 pound woman staring back at me I was not happy.  But is that really what I saw when I looked?  I don’t think so.  I was so deep in denial of what I had allowed to happen to my body […]

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Success After Weight Loss Surgery Means Enjoying Food Not Dieting

February 4, 2015

I have said many times before that I am NOT on a diet although I track my calories and protein.  I do that to live in awareness so that if the scale goes up or my clothes feel snug I know why.  It’s quite simple really.  It also gives me the opportunity to change what […]

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What Are You Waiting For? – Choose WLS Success Today

January 28, 2015

As I sit here messaging with two folks on Facebook, trying to just walk them through their own thought process about their weight loss surgery, their life in general, their reasons and excuses for where they are today I am grateful that “the stars aligned” and brought me to my bariatric doc in 2004.  I […]

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Moving Off The Couch To Keep The Scale Moving – Long Term Lap Band Success

January 21, 2015

I have said it before and I can’t help but keep repeating myself – Moving my body at least 5 days a week has been one of the major contributors to my long term success.  My mantra for many years was I hate working out, I hate sweating, I hate hurting.  Somewhere along this journey […]

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Random Thoughts Of A Lap Band Patient Seeking Success

January 14, 2015

I woke up this morning (it’s Friday morning), jumped on the scale and was pleased with what I saw.  I put on my sweats and headed downstairs for my tea and coffee, then I took off to the gym where I hit the pool for 30 minutes of swimming laps.  My arms were still sore […]

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The Saga Of My New Lap Band Journey Continues

January 7, 2015

As I continue on my journey since my surgery of 11/17/14 I find that I have become that person I warn others to not become.  I AM A SCALE WHORE!  There, I said it out loud, and am fully owning it, and all it means.  Every morning since 11/17/14 I get out of bed, use […]

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Let’s start off the New Year With a Banded Living/Wellesse New Year – New You Health and Fitness Giveaway!

January 7, 2015

Let’s start off the New Year With a Banded Living/Wellesse New Year – New You Health and Fitness Giveaway! We ran a giveaway contest with free prizes and lots of ways to WIN. FOR EVERYONE WHILE SUPPLIES LAST Request FREE 2 oz. samples of Wellesse Calcium at The Contest ended on: — Saturday, January 31, 2015, 11:59 […]

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