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 www.bandedliving.com

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How Does My Lap Band Work – No Really!

by sandi on July 29, 2015

Dr. John Dixon
2015-Patient-Advocacy-Council-Apollo-Endosurgery
Young Sandi
Sandi before Weight Loss Surgery

During my recent trip to Austin as a member of the Apollo Lap Band Patient Advisory Board I was fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to Dr. John Dixon speak via video conference on the subject of Satiety vs. Restriction.  He is an amazing man with a tremendous amount of experience, and looking around the room as he spoke I saw that all present were totally enthralled, and even excited, by his presentation.  He put into words and fact based statements what I have been saying since May 28, 2004 – “As soon as a band was put around my stomach the gnawing hunger I had dealt with, the never having had “enough” went away.  My hunger- satiety switch was obviously broken most of my life and Lap Band fixed it.” Those are my words describing what I learned from my personal experience.  Dr. Dixon said quite simply that “surgery changes the satiety regulation.”

Think about those words, roll them around in your brain, and let’s talk a little about satiety regulation and what that might be.  It was explained to us that by the time we are 4 years old our metabolic programming is set.  Funny, but my “story” starts with I was an obese child from the time I was 4.  We went on to learn that our bodies have a built in bias to “protect” against weight loss.  That is as our weight drifts up our body tends to defend it.  This translates to us as Harder To Lose Weight.  Any of you notice this as the years went on and your weight got higher and your need for food got stronger?

The net take from this is that obesity is a physiological disease, not a lifestyle choice – as some would like us all to believe.  Once you get that, then you can understand and appreciate that Lap Band surgery provides an immediate and permanent reduction in physical hunger.  It did for me, and along with that reduction in physical hunger came my ability to demonstrate what Dr. Dixon called “cognitive restraint”, which was accessing my power to change my food choices and my portion sizes.  Makes sense when you understand that the physical need to eat hunger, was significantly reduced by putting a Lap Band around my belly.  It was a relief to not be driven by hunger all the time. 

The mental part of the game- the choice of what foods I was going to use to feed the physical hunger, the need to remove sugar from my eating plans, all of that was up to me.  No surgery will deal with those issues permanently. 

I chose Lap Band originally because I knew, based upon my doctor’s words at the informational seminar, that I would need to make those changes immediately, sooner rather than later.  While the other surgery choices might give me an immediate weight loss due to the anatomical changes that would be made in my body I wanted to not have a honeymoon period where I could count on anything but my choices and my WLS tool to facilitate the weight loss.  I didn’t want the most invasive surgery; I wanted the least invasive surgery.  For me it worked beautifully; hunger was reduced, I made the long term changes necessary and it was not about restriction, it was about learning and cherishing that new feeling – SATIETY.

There is a misconception out there in the world of bands that restriction, the inability of food to move through your band is what we are looking for.  All I can say to that is – ouch and NO.  I don’t know about you but I hate “getting stuck” and PBing.  As I have been learning so does our band and our esophagus.  A tight band would make the assumption that delayed gastric emptying – or in my terms keeping the food in your “pouch” or your stomach longer to achieve a higher level of satisfaction is how the band works.  NOT SO.  We are not out to have a girdle so tight around our stomachs that nothing passes through it easily.  Our pouch empties in less than 3 minutes.  The band is but a speed bump for the food we choose.  That is, well for me, a foodie who enjoys eating, actually SILLY.  Why would someone want to not be able to eat at all?  We have to eat to live, and what we eat might as well be enjoyable.  If not, just have your jaw wired shut and drink your food for the rest of your life.  Not much difference to me.

I have never functioned in the world of a band that was so tight I couldn’t enjoy foods.  Sure, we do get some restriction along the way as the band is adjusted to make sure that physical hunger between meals is reduced.  This is what my Lap Band is about.  This is how I have managed to lose, as of this morning, 270 pounds over the past 11 years and create a full, vibrant life for myself.

One side note from Dr. Dixon was something totally new for me.  I heard him say that a craving for sugar was actually your body asking for protein.  So yeah, grab that piece of chicken instead of that cookie, and see what happens.

As your journey continues or just begins, remember that a Lap Band is about hunger being diminished, satiety increased, and not a tool of torture.  You get to choose the foods you eat, and in those choices lie the weight loss you can and will achieve.

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I have just returned from my fifth annual trip to the Lap Band Patient Executive Council meeting.  I was honored to be invited to listen to an internationally renowned surgeon, Dr. John Dixon, and others speak about what it takes to have long term success with this incredible medical device that I credit with saving my life. 

2015 Patient Advocacy Council Apollo Endosurgery

If I came away with one piece of information to share with all of you, it is to stay connected to your surgeon.  It’s more than fills and un-fills.  Don’t need an adjustment, haven’t been to see the doctor in years, what if I told you that if you went in for a “tune up” visit at least once a year you might decrease the odds of having any issues down the road?  Would you do it?  Yes – well I’m telling you – call and make that appointment.

New Gastric BandWhen’s the last time you did a swallow, had a fluoroscopy, or an endoscopy?  Never you say?  How about calling and seeing if your doctor would like to check you from the inside to look at your band position, the state of your stoma and stomach, and tell you that all is fine?  Wouldn’t it be nice to hear at least once a year that everything is in good working order? 

Having a little reflux, or perhaps recurring stuck episodes?  Can’t tolerate firm protein?  What if these could be resolved by visiting your doctor, and sitting down together and honestly discussing your habits, what you might change and what he/she can do to help you?  What if it didn’t include long term medication, but the possibility of some positive short term changes, and BAM you’re back in the green zone again?  No reflux, no stuck episodes, no eating slider foods only because nothing else works.

Remember, the “head adjustments” we get by staying connected with our surgeons for regular visits is as valuable as the band adjustments, as long as we are honest with our surgeons.  When asked if you have reflux, answer truthfully, when asked if you are eating firm protein with no problems, answer truthfully.  Don’t be afraid that you will either get “yelled at”, or that your band will have to come out.  The statistics I heard at this meeting were that in 95+% of the cases of reflux, stretching of the esophagus, and yes, even slips, were resolvable without removing the Lap Band. 

Do you go to the dentist once a year?  How about taking your car in for service once a year?  Getting those mammograms annually ladies?

WHY would you not have your surgeon check out your implanted medical device at least once a year? 

Problems with your band do not necessarily mean another surgery.  You just do not know unless you see the surgeon and ask.  If you are told your band needs to be removed, ask WHY, and be sure you understand that there is no other alternative. 

Gastric BandI keep hearing things like my band isn’t working, I’m not losing weight.  Well, guess what folks, the reality is, if you have another surgery it may work for a while, but if YOU haven’t done the work, you will see the weight start to come back on again.  Surgeries are tools; they can help us control the amount that we eat as long as we choose the right foods to use the tools.  In every case, that is firm protein first.

Want to keep your Lap Band, and yourself, healthy and happy?  Get connected with your doctor, get the education and support you need, and get that Lap Band tuned up to get your lifetime of success in place.

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Move Your Body And Watch What HappensI listened to my doctor from the first day of the informational seminar and followed his instructions to the letter.  His instructions included eating protein first, drinking 64 ounces of water, and moving my body every day, working up to 30 minutes per day, every day.  I worked diligently at all of it from the day after I had my Lap Band Surgery in 2004, sort of.

Did that mean I was non-compliant?  Not in my book.  I was writing down everything that went into my mouth, staying within my calorie limits, getting in my protein minimums, drinking my water and sort of moving my body – a little.  It was hard to do at 424 pounds.  My knees and my back hurt all the time, and walking 20 steps would get me breathing so hard I had to stop to catch my breath if the pain in my knees didn’t stop me first.  What a mess I was for sure.

Move Your Body And Watch What HappensWhat did I do then to meet my doctor’s 30 minutes of moving every day?  I tried.  I moved around inside the house for the first week after surgery.  Then I went back to work and moved around there, And then strange things started happening.  The weight was dropping off my body and instead of sitting and waiting in the truck while my husband got everything on the grocery list, I started going into the store with him, and getting some more walking done.  Then it was not only the grocery store, but Costco, or Sam’s Club as well.  I wondered if I could walk inside the mall without dying, so I tried that, and low and behold, I did it.  I could now go back to window shopping, and actually start real shopping as my clothes started falling off.

This continued and I became brave enough to walk to the park from my house, the closest I had been to the beach (just about 12 houses from my front door) in years, because of the small world my size had forced me to live in.  I DID IT!

These walks became walks down to the sand, and eventually on the sand.  Then my knee and hip began “talking to me” on a regular basis.  I have arthritis in my right knee and it is bone on bone and I was not ready for knee replacement surgery.  Uneven ground was not a good place for me to be walking as it stressed my joints too much.  Did I give up?  NOPE.

Move Your Body And Watch What HappensNext phase… swimming pool.  I have always been a swimmer.  I love the water, but the ocean here in Ventura County, CA is a tad too cold for my tastes.  I like Caribbean or Hawaiian warm waters.  I Found a pool and figured lap swimming would be moving my body.  It was and it is.  I was 100 pound lighter by this time and started by swimming one lap, then two, then three.  I didn’t die.  I started getting stronger, and I kind of started enjoying myself.  It became a contest with ME.  Could I swim more laps than I did yesterday?  Could I swim the same number of laps in less time than I did last week?  Wow, this moving your body stuff started feeling good too.  When I was done, showered and back in my street clothes I had what I can only explain as an aura of accomplishment around me.  Between the endorphins created by the exercise and my working on improving a little bit each day/week/month I had a new motivation level.  Eventually I was swimming 60 minutes 6 days a week.  When I am in the pool the only time I stop is if I somehow manage to try to drown myself by drinking pool water (yuck) or if my goggles didn’t fit properly and I had water in my eyes.  Otherwise I am a machine.  Not the fastest machine, but I keep those laps going until I am done.

Move Your Body And Watch What HappensAll this time the weight kept coming off.  Somewhere in there I had 2 reconstructive surgeries (okay, plastic surgery), and was out of the water for about 12 weeks with the first, and about 6 weeks with the second.  I walked during those times and found out that I missed, truly missed, my time swimming.  ME – I was waiting with extreme anticipation for the day when I’d be released to use the pool again.  Not something I ever expected to do – Miss Exercise?  Why, when I could just chill somewhere, and do nothing?  Guess it got in my blood.

Somewhere in here I realized there was more to this exercise thing then swimming and thought I would pursue it a bit.  I hired a personal trainer, started warming up for 10-20 minutes on the treadmill and then worked on building muscles that swimming hadn’t developed yet.  I liked this too!  What was wrong with me?  I began alternating a swimming day, and then a training day, and this was great.  I watched new muscles develop on my body, I carried myself with more self-confidence, and it was a new game for me to play at.  Me, using exercise as a game to challenge myself to continue to do better than yesterday or last week or last month?  The ultimate competition for me fitness wise has become to challenge myself to do more, to get better, to try things I have never done before.

Move Your Body And Watch What HappensI am weight lifting 2 days a week, swimming 3 days a week and either walking at the beach, or getting a few miles in on the elliptical on day 6.  I take one day of rest now.  I love it, I don’t allow myself excuses to miss it.  I always feel better walking out the gym door having completed what I set out to do than when I walked in, typically still half asleep.

Move Your Body And Watch What HappensHere I am, 11 years later, still at the gym 5-6 days a week, still swimming, still weight lifting, still working on being the BEST me I can be.  I compete ONLY against myself.  I have watched my body shrink and change in so many ways.  It’s not just the number on the scale.  Muscle is denser than fat so the more muscle I create the smaller I look, and the stronger I feel.

ME – no longer 424 pounds, no longer unfit and unhealthy.  ME- 2015, 66 years young, building muscle and working on my race, my pace, and just getting better at life and fitness and this WLS journey every day.

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Body Image - The Eyes Have ItOne thing I have learned this past 11 years is that the brain does not always register what the eyes see.  Let me begin with me – at 424 pounds.  I was going through life every day, doing the best I could, getting my hair “just-so”, putting make-up on every day, dressing nicely, and not overly concerned about my weight – thinking I looked just fine.  I avoided most pics, but took pictures when on vacations, because that’s what you do.  I bought clothes I thought looked great on me, and lived in this tiny little world denying the reality of my size.

Turn the clock forward to July 2015, and here I am, getting up every day, throwing on my gym clothes, brushing my teeth and hair, then heading to the gym, not caring about how I looked, and if my make-up and hair are just so-so because there is no make-up or hair styling until after the gym and my shower.  That took me several years to accomplish. 

Body Image - The Eyes Have ItWhen I was morbidly obese I never left my front or back door without checking my hair and make-up first.  Today I post pics on Facebook of me holding that first cup of morning coffee, hair a mess, eyes still puffy from sleep.  The pictures are awful, but it doesn’t matter, most of the time.

I am learning to be comfortable in my own skin.  It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen.

I grew up with a very competitive nature.  I always wanted to be the best at everything; I competed to win, and this winning meant being better than others, prettier than others, slimmer than others, better dressed than others.  I was never quite enough for myself.  Why, you ask?  I’m not sure; it doesn’t matter to me now.  I have read enough on human psychology that I can speculate on the many “causes” however I no longer feel the need to find out the exact nanosecond that turned on my competitive nature and my desire to be “better”.  There is no longer a need to do it because I have learned on my journey to health that I am enough.

Body Image - The Eyes Have ItMy first sense of being enough came as I was presenting my story to a group of folks who were considering having weight loss surgery.  Up until that moment I truly believed that I had chosen “the best” surgery, and that anyone who chose any other surgery was somehow “not as good” as I was.  I had an epiphany, an aha moment where the light went on in my head, and I understood that whatever weight loss surgery someone chose it was the exact right one for them at that moment in their life.  No more competing with the other “stars” in my doctor’s practice, just presenting information to folks who were looking into weight loss surgery as a possibility in their lives.  I actually cried, and so did the RNY gastric bypass patient who was co-presenting with me.  We both got over ourselves that night.

Body Image - The Eyes Have ItThat was a big step in my beginning to accept myself for who I was in the moment, and having that person, that Sandi, be just right instead of not enough.  Taking those early morning, undone selfies and sharing them also helped me work on acknowledging who I am right now today and beginning to love and respect her more and more each and every day.

At the gym, when hiking, and at various other in-opportune times my brain still tells me to be careful because I am moving around 424 pounds instead of the 157 that I am actually moving.  I am still working on creating new paths for my neurons to fire appropriately.  This sometimes frustrates, but it doesn’t defeat me.  With concentration, I can create those new neurological pathways and WIN.  I am a work in progress for sure, and will continue to be as I create myself each and every day.

Body Image - The Eyes Have ItAnother way I have learned to accept that I am just enough each and every day is to take those selfies, with and without hair and make-up, doing all of the things I enjoy doing and compare them to pictures I have of me along the way and remember what it was like to be Sandi who weighed 424 lobs, Sandi who weighed 324 pounds, Sandi who weighed 224 pounds….well you get the picture….  Today I can do so much more than I could last year at this time, and the year before that, and……. 

As the weight came off I began living my life and I just keep building on that life making it bigger and better each and every day, THAT is how I know I am just enough, just right, in the perfect place for the moment and I can look at those pictures of me in the moment and find flaws with myself if I choose to, or I can look at those pictures and celebrate the successes.  That is where I choose to live right now, in the moment of my successes whether it be wearing a smaller size, hiking at 10, 000 feet, avoiding trigger foods in the moment, getting my workout done, drinking all my water, or accepting a compliment by breathing it in deeply and smiling and saying thank you and meaning it.

Body Image - The Eyes Have ItMy face has wrinkles of wisdom lines, my body is not perfect.  Those are facts.  Would I like to be able to correct those imperfections?  YOU BET!  The likelihood of that happening is slim to none so my choice is to obsess over those imperfections every time I take a picture and look at it, or accept and love me in the moment and heal my relationship with myself and the mirror.

I am satisfied with who I am and who I am continuing to become.  I am more than enough.

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Webster’s Dictionary defines the verb to hope as follows:  “to desire with expectation of obtainment”.

Never Lose Hope - Long Term Lap Band SuccessI don’t know about you, but that is how I went into this Weight Loss Surgery thing.  I had the desire to resolve my health issues by losing weight, using my Lap Band as a tool to reach my expectations.

Along the way, and it has been over 11 years, there were definitely periods of time when I thought that “it wasn’t working”.  Every time I felt that way, I remembered my WHY – WHY I choose to have Weight Loss Surgery in the first place.

Here are some of my reasons:

  • To resolve my sudden high blood pressure
  • To resolve my asthma
  • To help my arthritis
  • To be able to walk pain free
  • To lose weight, look and feel better
  • To LIVE my life and not die of a stroke, heart attack, or any of the other co-morbidities.

Do any of those reasons resonate with you?  I expect each of you can find at least one that is the same, or similar to yours.

Going back to these reasons helped me to push through any crisis of belief in myself and my ability to win this lifelong battle with obesity.  I know we all need to look forward to our goals, to have daily action plans in place to attain them, to have realistic goals and to set time frames to get there; but reality is, sometimes you do have to look back to be able to reach inside yourself, not get stuck in your head and your own negative thoughts and remember not only your WHY, but also to look at how far you’ve come.

  • It may not be in the number of pounds you “want” to lose.
  • It may not be getting rid of all of your health issues
  • It may not be in the size you thought you “should” be wearing

However, it may be that your medical issue is now more easily controllable, you can do things you haven’t been able to do in years, although not EVERYTHING on your list yet.  It may be that you are definitely smaller in the size clothes you wear, and you are able to walk around pain free for longer periods of time. 

Never Lose Hope - Long Term Lap Band SuccessTake a moment and locate yourself in today, look back at where you started, and tell yourself – write it down, share with your friends, your significant others, your bariatric team, your support group.  Shout it out to the world.  Strengthen that belief in your decision to have had Weight Loss Surgery, and your ability to meet your goals, start planning today and tomorrow with a smile on your face, and HOPE in your heart.

That’s what I do every time the journey “gets me down”.  It’s usually not about the journey, it’s typically about me not feeling my own POWER.

Never Lose Hope - Long Term Lap Band SuccessNever give up, Never lose hope.  If you want to reach out for help getting back “in the game”, getting rid of that regain, kicking that plateau to the curb, energizing yourself and your body’s metabolism to begin losing, and to start feeling like you did shortly after surgery – that “ I CAN DO ANYTHING” feeling.  I suggest you find the time and the inclination to be educated through WLS Success Matters BACK ON TRACK 6 week series.  It works. 

I have been using these techniques for the past 11+ years and here I am losing weight once again- solidly in the 150’s when I began my journey at 424 pounds.

YOU ARE POSSIBLE!

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Life After Lap Band Surgery - What I Did On Summer Vacation 
Life After Lap Band Surgery - What I Did On Summer Vacation 
Life After Lap Band Surgery - What I Did On Summer Vacation 
Life After Lap Band Surgery - What I Did On Summer Vacation 
Life After Lap Band Surgery - What I Did On Summer Vacation 
Life After Lap Band Surgery - What I Did On Summer Vacation 
Life After Lap Band Surgery - What I Did On Summer Vacation 
Life After Lap Band Surgery - What I Did On Summer Vacation 
Life After Lap Band Surgery - What I Did On Summer Vacation 

I just returned from 10 days in New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Colorado.  I am officially in love with the Four Corners area of our Southwest.  What beautiful country, what wonderful people, and what a great experience to be able to move freely hiking, climbing and just living at between 5000 and 10, 000 foot elevation for 10 days and do absolutely anything I chose to do, with no ill effects.

At 66 years young I was worried that I might have some issues being at high elevations for 10 days.  I live at sea level, at the beach as a matter of fact.  Breathing is very important to me after all.  I made sure I was super hydrated (4 liters of water each day) and ate protein first at all meals and had no issues of significance.  If I got a bit of a headache beginning, or a bit of light headedness I quickly sipped my ever present water bottle and if that didn’t resolve it, I had some protein out of my WLS Success Matters Box.  (Jerky and protein bars)

Here’s how the trip went:

  • Day one flew into Albuquerque – elevation 5200 feet
  • Day 2 woke up to catch a balloon ride beginning from the foothills around Sandia peak – elevation about 6200 feet
  • Balloon ride cancelled so we took the tram to the top of Sandia Peak – elevation 10,378 feet
  • At 10,378 feet hiked around and investigated the woodlands and the local flora and fauna and had a great time for several hours.
  • Back to Albuquerque for walking around Old Town and just checking things out
  • Day 3 did 30 minutes on the elliptical in Albuquerque – was slower but finished my 30 minutes – elevation 5200 feet
  • Drove to visit friends in Kirtland, NM and celebrate our 50th High School Reunion – we went to Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn, NY but decided not to go into NY, but have our own reunion instead – elevation 5200 feet
  • Left Kirtland NM for Monument Valley AZ -elevation of the desert floor is about the same 5200 feet.  Hiked around and gawked at the views with ease.
  • Spent the night in Kayenta, AZ – elevation 5300 feet, taught a Back on Track class, and then back to the Navajo restaurant THE VIEW at Monument Valley for dinner.
  • Did 30 minutes on one of the two ellipticals at the hotel in Kayenta in the morning and then headed out for Durango, CO – elevation 6512 feet
  • Walked all over downtown Durango, up and down hills with no ill effects after dinner at Steamworks.
  • Next morning up super early to take the Narrow Gauge Railroad from Durango to Silverton – elevation 9308 feet
  • Walked around Silverton for a bit with no issues- up and down hills and then returned to Durango
  • Dinner at the Dixie Belle Saloon in Durango – what a hoot, they mock up a gunfight in the street, then walking up and down the hills of old town Durango with no ill effects
  • Off to Mesa Verde to visit the cliff dwellings the next morning – elevation 7000 – 8500 feet
  • Walked up and down hills, got to the highest point (a fire lookout) and hiked up to it with no ill effects – elevation 8500 feet
  • Toured the Cliff Palace dwellings described as a strenuous tour.  Cliff Palace, at about 150 rooms, is the largest cliff dwelling in the park.  The one-hour, ranger-guided tour involves 120 uneven stone steps and climbing five, 8-10 foot (2.6-3m) ladders on a 100 foot (30m) vertical climb.  No ill effects – elevation 7000 feet
  • After a swim for 30 minutes, left the next morning for Ojo Caliente just outside of Taos, NM – elevation 6967 feet
  • Got up at 4:30 for yet another attempt at my hot air balloon ride- this time over the Rio Grande Gorge – that one was cancelled too LOL
  • Balloon ride cancelled – grabbed breakfast and then drove to Santa Fe.  Walked all over old town with no ill effects, and had the best chicken mole I have ever tasted – elevation 7199 feet
  • Back to Ojo Caliente and took advantage of all their mineral soaking pools for the rest of the day.  Had a fabulous shared filet for dinner, a couple of glasses of wine, and watched a thunder and lightning storm about 7 miles away while sitting on our front porch after sunset.
  • Up the next morning to soak first and then pack and leave the beautiful New Mexico vistas behind us as we headed home.

I was overjoyed with the level of physical activity of both myself, and my husband.  We worked out mornings when we were able, walked and hiked day after day, and saw some amazing sites, ate some delicious food (my chicken mole came with rice and beans, and I just ordered it without).  Navajo tacos were great, but I left the Navajo fry bread without eating it.  I must admit I did eat one of the blue corn tortillas that my sunnyside up Huevos Rancheros were served on. 

I was active each and every day, moving my 66 year young body, living at elevations up to 10,629 feet with no altitude sickness, no shortness of breath and never stopped till well after sunset with my days often starting at sunrise.  I came home and got on the scale and found I had lost ½ pound to boot.  What a joy.  LIVING, truly participating in my life each and every day instead of standing next to my car watching it all unfold around me.

What a difference shedding 264 pounds (today’s total) can make.  I am grateful each and every day for my Lap Band.

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It all started as a childIt started when I was a child; it continued into my teen years and never stopped until I reached over 400 pounds.  What was it you ask?  It was food as the answer for everything.

If I fell down and got a “boo boo” it was here, have a cookie it will get all better.

If I went potty in the bathroom instead of my diaper it was here, have a cookie, what a good girl.

If I got a good report card it was let’s go get ice-cream and cookies to celebrate.

A’s on particularly difficult tests, and it was what do you want for dessert, even though the day before it might have been a “don’t eat that it’s too fattening, and you don’t need it.”

Confusing, contradictory, you bet. 

Celebration time = Food timeI was raised that you celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, births, deaths, graduations, engagements, weddings, divorces, new houses, and holidays with food.  Lots, and lots, and lots of food.  We never ran out of reasons to celebrate with high calorie food and drink.

Is it any wonder we’re a nation of obese people?  I don’t think it is only the USA that celebrates this way either.  Is it our heritage of being hunter/gatherers, needing to make sure it was feast time when abundant food and drink was available — so we could get through the famine time?  If it was, it is not serving us well any longer.

I’ve had 11 years to change my behavior and certainly have done so significantly, however when my “guard is down” old behaviors can show up seemingly out of nowhere.  I have listened to myself say, “It’s been a rough week, I have earned a skinny margarita, a glass of wine, a cookie, some tortilla chips, whatever.  Mind you, the cocktails, the cookie and the chips are not the issue here.  In 11 years you can bet I have had more than 1 of each of them on numerous occasions.  It is my talk, it is the concept of “earning them” that is worrisome.

What if my relationship with food was such that I could say I am going to have 1 cocktail tonight, or 1 cookie, or 10 tortilla chips, and 2 tablespoons of guacamole?  What if there was no need to rationalize or justify, or feel guilty afterward or feel shame while I was enjoying these infrequent treats?  What if I didn’t use them as a reward for stress, anger, loneliness, happiness, or whatever the emotion of the moment was?  Do you think I might be able to just enjoy the variety of the moment, and NOT eat or drink to excess?  I do, I have, and that is how I have turned around my previous 54 years of living in feast or famine mode.  Since I was a fat child and certainly a fat adult (at 424 pounds), heard mixed messages daily – Don’t have that – you don’t need it, and then have some, you deserve it.  Do you think that might have influenced my choices to not only have 1, or a few, but to eat or drink as many as I could since tomorrow the message would change?  YOU BET! 

Intellectually I know that the wine, the cocktail, the chips, the cookies, or whatever will be there tomorrow – I even know that if I leave food on my plate I will not starve in 2 hours if I get physically hungry again.  My DNA may have feast/famine embedded in it, but my conscious awareness says differently.  Most of the time I have control these days, and all of the high calorie items that I “crave” as rewards are slider foods that my surgery doesn’t really help limit for me. 

I am not a dog – I do not need to reward myself with food.  I have learned (ok, let’s take the dog metaphor one step further- yes this old dog has learned new tricks) to reward myself for goals achieved with non food items, and not feed my anger, stress, loneliness, or any other emotion.  I am not physically hungry at those times.  It is an emotional response, taking me back to the days of being 424 pounds – days I will NEVER again see.  I have found that the best defense for me against emotional eating is to just change what I am doing.  If sitting and watching TV, get up and do something.  If working at the computer, stand up, stretch, and take a walk (but not into the kitchen).  Call a friend, read a book, drink some water, or some flavored tea.  There are many alternatives to eating my emotions.  It’s up to me to choose what I will do.

A Different ChoiceBack to how to reward goals achieved without a slice of mile high chocolate cake.  There are so many ways I have found satisfying.  Here are a few:

  • Buy some flowers
  • Take a bath
  • Get a massage
  • Manicure/pedicure
  • Go shopping for something new that will fit better than all your loose clothes
  • Go to the movies
  • Meditate
  • Take a walk in the countryside
  • Take a drive to somewhere new
  • Plan my next vacation

These are just a few ways I reward myself for mini goals achieved.  How do you reward yourself?

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Fifty Shades of …Yogurt

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I posted a picture of my 6 ounce container of Fage 0% Greek yogurt with a note that the entire container was 100 calories and 18 grams of protein and I just added hot salsa to it for a taste treat.  I asked for everyone else’s ideas on how they used it and thought I […]

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Portion Control Matters After Lap Band Surgery – How I Determine What Goes On My Plate

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Twice a month as WLS SUCCESS MATTERS we offer FREE telephone support group calls.  This past Saturday we chatted about portion control.  It is one of the basic rules of success after weight loss surgery.  For those of us who do count calories, how we figure those calories is important.  Ponder this, if you do not weigh […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Discovering My Realities Day By Day

April 29, 2015

Yesterday I had a visit with my bariatric doctor.  Everything is fine, my weight is steadily decreasing, he is happy with my progress.  We chatted about life, weight loss surgery, following the rules, fine tuning the rules for about 20 minutes, and I went on with my day.  Sounds like a simple easy visit right? […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Being Accountable To Myself

April 22, 2015

My 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 […]

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Fifteen Minute Chicken Salad – As YOU Like it

April 15, 2015

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 […]

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Pastrami and Swiss Cheese – Not On Rye Bread

April 8, 2015

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.  […]

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