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.

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Moving Off The Couch To Keep The Scale Moving 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 I have been on since 2004 that mantra changed to BRING IT BABY!  I will try it and either I can or I can’t, but I will NEVER say NO!  That is, to my trainer at the gym.  That is my attitude toward life now and it reflects in my fitness as well.  I am ready and willing to shoot for the starts and try anything that sounds interesting or fun to me.  I want to LIVE each and every day to it’s fullest and I can do that simply by being my best me each and every day.

  Moving Off The Couch To Keep The Scale Moving
  Moving Off The Couch To Keep The Scale Moving

Here’s the progression of my exercise:

  • 2004 – weighing 424 pounds- getting up in the morning was exercise
  • 2004 -2005 after weight loss surgery – going to the grocery store, then the mall, then actually walking outside to the park
  • 2006 – went to the gym began swimming- 1 lap at a time
  • 2007 – swimming for 30 minutes to an hour 5-7 days a week
  • 2009 – added weight training with a trainer 2 x per week and a 15 minute warm up walking on the treadmill
  • 2010 – added some elliptical time for warm up before weight training
  • 2011 – added 20 minutes elliptical before 30- 45 minute swim
  • 2012 – began weight training day with 30 minutes on the elliptical
  • 2013 – trainer had me doing planks, pushups and what the heck…kettlebells
  • 2014 – got really serious on the elliptical and shaved my 1 mile best time down to 10 minutes 20 seconds.  Two surgeries intervened.
  • 2015 – 30 minutes elliptical before 1 hour of weight training 2x weekly (double the training time) and goal of 3.2 miles (a 5k) each time I hop on the elliptical – oh- did I mention that I want to complete that 5k in 30 minutes?
  • January 19, 2015 – Got 2 miles done in 24:20 which is twelve minutes, ten seconds per mile
  • Every month, every year I set my goals just a little bit higher and reach for them.  I cannot increase the resistance on the elliptical (I have to work at level 1 because of knee pain if I increase) so the way to get my aerobic exercise and challenge myself is to increase my speed.  The motion doesn’t hurt my knee, it actually feels better at the end then at the beginning

Moving Off The Couch To Keep The Scale Moving I challenge myself every day to do a little more or work a little harder.  Some days I get it, other days I don’t.  That’s okay with me.  The critical piece is that I work to my best each day whatever that is.  That is my commitment to ME, my life, my health, my family, and to all of you who take the time to read my words.

I make NO EXCUSES for missing a workout.  I just show up and do it- tired, upset, or whatever emotion I may be wallowing in at the moment.

I always feel better when I am done and my body certainly shows it.  At 66 I am in better shape than I was at 46, and probably at 36 as well. 

Is it your day to get off the couch and do something your body will thank you for?

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Random Thoughts Of A Lap Band Patient Seeking SuccessI 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 from my 60 minutes of weight training on Wednesday, but true to form I live in the land of no excuses when it comes to my personal fitness so I did it anyway.  I got out of the pool, showered and dressed for the day.  I was headed to a dentist appointment.  As I finished drying my hair I looked in the mirror.  Then I looked again and turned sideways, and the all the way around to the back.  For a moment I was surprised.

Why was I surprised?  I liked what I saw, that’s why.  I saw a strong, fit woman who had fewer lumps and bumps since the last time she looked at herself with that intensity.  I looked again, and kept looking and thought, wow, all of this work I am doing daily is paying off.  My body profile is starting to look slimmer, my thighs do not look or feel as big as they were before; my face and arms and shoulders are definitely showing the changes.  I was happy with my image in the mirror.  I was happy with ME, my choice to have my Lap Band replaced with a new Lap Band and all of the possibilities that were unfolding for me on my new journey.

Random Thoughts Of A Lap Band Patient Seeking SuccessI thought for a moment and realized that while I had been okay with myself these past few years while I was struggling to figure out what was happening with my WLS tool I hadn’t been really HAPPY in a long time.  I had regained some weight, still keeping off 220 pounds which is great no doubt; but I was not satisfied with 25- 30 pounds more than my lowest weight.  I knew I could maintain that weight but no matter what I did I still struggled.  Reconnecting with my doctor and questioning everything that was happening brought us to determine that my band was not holding fluid and needed to be replaced.  That’s after 10 years of success that I never in my wildest dreams thought possible.  I heard if you’re going to have another surgery do this one or that one or why have surgery again you look great and all of that.

WHY did I have surgery again?  I had surgery again and choose LAP BAND again because I was hungry all the time and could not maintain a stable weight.  I was fighting demons 100% of the time and couldn’t do it.  That’s why I had surgery in 2004 and that’s why I had surgery again in 2014.  My hunger is gone and I am HAPPY with who I see when I look in the mirror.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I “wish” I had fewer wrinkles on my face, long slim legs like so many others, and a belly that was not only flat (thank you Dr. Pickart) but had no new scars on it; and I could name off a few more “flaws” if I picked myself apart.  I don’t need to pick myself apart.  I know who I am and where I’m going, and it’s not back to that “Friday fat girl” who would come out every weekend to play; eating tortilla chips and guacamole like they were without calories or consequence, drinking numerous glasses of wine or worse; eating bread just because I could; asking my husband to stop and get me cookies because I had a bad day; you name it I used it as an excuse to eat. 

My physical hunger that gnawed at me 24/7 is gone.  I get physically hungry every 3-4 hours which is appropriate and I feed that physical hunger delicious, high protein food in appropriate portions and I am satisfied until the next meal.  I am drinking water like a fish between meals and planning my meals whenever possible.  I am learning to dine in restaurants with friends again and not focus on food for the entire time we’re sitting.

Random Thoughts Of A Lap Band Patient Seeking SuccessIn other words, I am optimizing my results with my weight loss surgery tool, and guess what folks – IT WORKS!  I am back in my favorite jeans and can breathe and need a belt with them, I feel strong, and I am sleeping better, and am enjoying every day for what it’s worth.  Each and every day is the very best day it can be.

I vow to look in the mirror each day and say, “You’ve got this girl.  Just look at what you have been able to do” This will keep me doing every day and keep the “Weekend Fat Girl” locked up in the closet where she belongs as I feel deep in my soul the same joy I felt this morning as I looked in the mirror.

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The Saga Of My New Lap Band Journey Continues

by sandi on January 7, 2015

I am a Scale WhoreAs 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 the restroom and then jump on the scale.  I then put my sweats back on ‘cause it’s dang cold in my house at 5AM and head downstairs to record my weight, and compare it to yesterday’s weight.  THAT is where the problem occurs.  Some days it is down from yesterday, some days it is the same, and yes, some days it has even gone up.  This gets recorded in the same notebook where I record every bite and sip that goes into my mouth.  I have calories, protein and ounces of water recorded for each and every day.

I am a Scale WhoreSo what’s the problem you ask?  If I see the same weight, or if the scale has inched up even 1/10th of a pound and I ate and drank and worked out “perfectly” yesterday I begin to play a head game on myself.  I start that negative self talk that is so disempowering….it sounds something like this “Why did you bother to go through the surgery again if you do everything to the letter, and still don’t lose”.  Or maybe, “I must be doing something wrong.” If I allowed the negative self talk to continue it would degenerate into “I guess it doesn’t matter what I eat or drink, I am never going to get to my goal”…it also goes to “your 66 years old and maybe you shouldn’t expect so much from yourself.” UGH!!  I hate this conversation and started finding myself having it every morning the scale was not my friend.

So how do I change this negative self talk into positive conversation with myself that is motivating and empowering?  I bet you say I should stay off the scale and only weigh once a week.  That is certainly one way, and for folks who are new to the weight loss surgery journey, or just getting back on track after an “absence” from their journey, that is possibly the best way. 

I am a Scale WhoreContinue to journal everything that goes in your mouth and pick one day a week to weigh yourself and compare that weight to last week’s to gauge how you are doing, and to see where you might make changes and put those changes into play.  THAT is probably the best way for all of us.  My day that matters is Monday, the day I had surgery.  It’s also a great day to matter because it keeps the “WFG” (Weekend Fat Girl) from coming out to play because the scale will reveal it all on Monday morning.  Whatever day you choose is the perfect day for you.

I am a Scale WhoreWhen I go back each and every Monday since surgery I see progress and THAT boys and girls is what matters.  The scale is moving in the right direction.  Not only is the scale moving, but so are my clothes- they are beginning to be loose where they were tight, my favorite pair of jeans can be worn again and requires a belt, I have more energy and stamina throughout the day, I feel good about myself, the folks at the gym where I show up 5 days a week without fail are coming up to me and telling me I must be doing something right.  My skin is clear, I no longer feel bloated, all of these are signs that I am progressing in the right direction.

I have found my answer to that very early morning before coffee negative self talk – I count back 7 days from the day I am recording and look at that weight.  Without fail it is lower than the weight I am recording and it is about Progress Not Perfection, right?

Are you a scale whore?

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

We’re running a giveaway contest with free prizes and lots of ways to WIN.

Our good friends at Wellesse  are offering three (3) Health and Fitness Packages for you.  One (1) Grand Prize Winner will receive a Health and Fitness Package valued at $150 with various Wellesse Supplements and fitness items, such as resistance bands, yoga mat, hand weight, and more.  Two (2) Second Place Winners will receive a $50 Health and fitness package including Wellesse Supplements, and more.

That’s 3 WAYS to WIN and many ways to enter:

Wellesse Health+Fitness Package New Year 2015
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Leave a comment on this blog posting by —

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⇒ Don’t forget to include your name and email address, so that we can contact you if you win!  ⇐

Your comment will automatically enter you in the giveaway contest.  Within two days, we’ll select a winner, using Microsoft Excel’s random generator feature, and announce the winner of this prize on the main page of the Banded Living website, as well as on our blog (SandisBandedLiving) and on our social media sites.  We will also email the winner at the address included in the winner’s blog comment.  The winner has one week to respond to our email notification.  If that person doesn’t respond in the one-week period, we will choose another winner using the random number generator. Please…only one COMMENT ENTRY per person.  Additional comments won’t give you a better chance to win!  Remember, we moderate our blog comments, so you may not see your comment for a little while after you post it.  We reserve the right not to post comments that we don’t think are appropriate, although as long as you follow our guidelines for comments, you’ll still be eligible to win the prize! While we love ALL of our Banded Living Community worldwide, shipping is difficult outside of the U.S., therefore our contest is only open to folks in the U.S. For the full contest rules, please click here

Want extra chances to win???

Do any of the things listed below and mention in your comment what it was for up to five more entries per person!  (Each item below counts for one additional entry.)

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Starting with Good IntentionsHere we are at the start of 2015 full of good intentions.  Who has ever said these words – “right after the holidays I am getting back on track”?  I bet those words sound familiar to many of you.  They sure do to me.  Before my weight loss surgery in 2004 I would say them year after year after year, and perhaps for a short time I would follow some new fad diet, or Weight Watcher’s, or Atkins, or Nutri whatever and lose some weight.  Then back it would come with a vengeance and then some.

Lap Band SurgeryThen I had Lap Band surgery and suddenly my entire life became a roller coaster filled with good intentions, AND the actions necessary to make them real.  I could set a goal of losing 10 pounds in a month and keep it because I wasn’t hungry all the time any more.  I could plan my meals and work my plan to eat protein first so that I was satisfied with small portions.  This was GREAT and I loved my new life.  As the weight started dropping off I could do more, walk further and felt better than I had in years.  I knew I was still missing the one ingredient that would make a big difference over the long term.  That was exercise.  I started swimming laps because I love the water and it supported my joints.  I kept that up and kept increasing my time and distance and the number of days per week I was swimming.  WOW, I had muscles again.  This was great.

Exercise WorksSeveral years later I decided that swimming was not enough.  It was time to add some weight training and elliptical or treadmill time.  The treadmill hurt my knees and hips when I walked fast enough with enough incline to raise my heart rate to the point that I could actually sweat and know I was in my personal aerobic zone.  Here’s a link to the American Heart Association Information on Target Heart Rate.  So I tried the elliptical and very slowly built up my time and my speed from 5 minutes and being sure I was going to die to 30 minutes, 2+ miles and keeping my heart rate in the high 150’s or low 160’s for extended sprints.  Along with this came weight training and as I increased my efforts I began to see a new body take shape and I was loving it. 

Here I am, several years later, 66 years young and I am ready to kick it up another notch.  So the former 424 pound fatty is setting fitness goals for 2015, along with a plan on how I will reach these goals.  I am actually amazed at myself.  Who in their right mind would have thought I would be reaching to complete a 5k in 30 minutes (or less) on the elliptical before the end of 2015?  Not me, but that is one of my goals folks.  It was a goal for 2014 that I didn’t make because of a surgery on 10/1 and another surgery on 11/17.  How will I reach that one?  By completing 30 minutes each of the 2-3 days per week that I do my aerobic activity on the elliptical and pushing just a little harder each day that I am able.  I will keep at this until the end of March 2015 when I will reassess and see where I am at.  I believe I can do it.  I have my endurance up to completing 30 minutes every day on the elliptical so the rest is a matter of extending my sprints a little bit longer every day.  I CAN, I WILL, I AM.

My second fitness goal is to begin strengthening my lower body along with the work I am continuing to do on my upper body.  This will be accomplished with the help of my trainer.  I have committed to 3 months of 1 hour sessions 2x weekly instead of the ½ hour 2x weekly we had been working together.  Progress will be made here even with my arthritic (bone on bone) right knee if I am careful

These legs and this back carried around 424 pounds for too many years to even think about so I have done some irreparable damage and have paid the price for that.  This does NOT prevent me from continuing to create a stronger, better ME.  As a matter of fact it just encourages me to keep right on going.

When’s the last time YOU kicked your exercise up a notch or even changed it?  Have a look at what Jillian Michaels has to say as she busts the myth that you can improve with one type of workout

Don’t let your body adapt to your same old exercise regimen.  Not only is it boring, it becomes less effective over time.

It’s the start of a new year; let’s make it a great one together!

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Finding My New Journey To Lap Band Success

by sandi on December 24, 2014

Weight Loss Surgery Post Op AppointmentWoke up today excited to visit my doctor for my first appointment with him post op.  Sure he checked me out before he released me from the hospital, but I am not good at discussion when under the influence of narcotics.  Ha! 

Then I thought I have to ask him why I am not losing faster when I am working out, drinking water, eating less than 900 calories a day, and still getting 75+ grams of protein.  I started to get upset about how long this process of losing weight is taking.  I want to be back at my lowest recorded weight since my first surgery in 2004 before the end of 2014.  That’s my goal and I’m sticking to it.

A cup of good hot teaI had a cup of tea as I worked those thoughts around in my mind; allowing the upset to grow and then having a light bulb suddenly go off in my head.  DUH!  I was expecting my weight loss to parallel my initial weight loss in 2004.  I started that process at 424 pounds, and fortunately started this one at 225 pounds less than that.  Why would I lose at the same rate?  I was eating many more calories of poorly chosen food in 2004, and now in 2014 my weight gain was due to a little over a year of not having a working lap band, and definitely some poor choices along the way.  That year did not have the food consumption, nor the lack of movement, that the years prior to 2004 had offered.  A really bad day was probably 2000 calories not 5000+.  Also, during that year I still worked out regularly and was eating healthy foods in reasonable portions, most of the time.  The reason that I knew I wanted to replace my band was, I wanted not to struggle every day with my physical hunger.

My surgery on 11/17/14 solved the physical hunger part.  Now with small portions of well chosen protein based foods I am satisfied for 3-4 hours.  I am back to working out, and I am losing the poundage I put on from 2013-2014.  So why have I allowed myself to get caught up emotionally in that dangerous game called comparing my journeys?  Could it be because I am still my own worst critic?  You bet. 

Your JourneyToday I vow to change the story being told in my head.  I am losing between 2 and 3 pounds per week, and my first goal is within reach.  It is more than enough!  My physical satiety is back and I am grateful for my Weight Loss Surgery Tool.  I am following “the program”, and I know I will succeed.  The two things that I am encouraging myself to do today is to STOP comparing my journey to anyone else’s, including my own 10 year old journey, and to trust myself and the process.

Here’s to reaching all of your personal goals in 2015.

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Lap Band Success - Planning For The Holidays and WinningSo Hanukkah started Tuesday evening.  I have a large family dinner on Sunday that will include high calorie appetizers, dinner with traditional potato latkes (pancakes) and sour cream and high calorie sugary desserts and lots of wine.  I am almost 5 weeks post-op and have my lowest previous banded weight within reach for the end of 2014.  How am I going to deal with this big event and not eat too many calories, too many carbs and ruin my day with overindulgence and physical discomfort?

  • Lap Band Success - Planning For The Holidays and WinningMy day will start with a workout.  I am looking at 30 minutes minimum of sweating – that is raising my heart rate to burn calories and keep it going for 30 minutes.
  • I will have breakfast, lunch and my mid-day snack and head over to the dinner well hydrated with a large bottle of water in my hand.
  • I am going to bring some baked sweet potato latkes that I make to share.  The entire recipe is 781 calories and 13 grams of protein and will make at least 10 latkes so I can have one at less than 80 calories.  I will top with some gingered 0% Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • I’m checking with my sister in law to see what the main course is.  If it’s brisket or chicken I am ok.  If it is something carby I will just bring some sliced turkey or a hardboiled egg or two to eat.
  • I’ll track what I eat regardless of my choices and decide after dinner if I can have 1 glass of wine as dessert.
  • I’ll spend my time chatting, visiting and enjoying folks I don’t get to spend time with to frequently instead of focusing on food.

Lap Band Success - Planning For The Holidays and WinningThis will get me through Sunday Hanukkah dinner, now on to Christmas Day at my daughter’s house.  We started a “tradition” of bagels and cream cheese and lox and herring for Christmas morning so all we do is grab and there’s no cooking involved.  My husband and I bring over the hot bagels from the bakery and all of the fixings including sliced tomatoes.  Dinner will be ham, chestnut dressing and yams.  Lunch is leftovers from breakfast.

  • I’ll bring lots of water and my favorite teas with me.
  • Lap Band Success - Planning For The Holidays and WinningI will put my bike on the car’s bike rack so I can get some road time in after breakfast and the gift opening.  OK- exercise and hydration handled.  Now on to food!
  • I’ll get some butter lettuce along with the tomatoes and I can have a little cream cheese (1 tablespoon) and 2 oz. of lox in a little lettuce wrap for around 112 calories and 11.4 grams protein.  If I’m still hungry I can have ¼ cup of pickled herring for an additional 92 and 10, or that can be my mid-morning snack.
  • If none of the above agrees with my new surgery I can make some eggs, or even and egg white omelet pretty easily.
  • Lunch will be a repeat of breakfast unless I choose to bring some deli meat turkey with me
  • Lap Band Success - Planning For The Holidays and WinningDinner is easy – I can have 4 oz. of ham, a medium sweet potato and be more than happy for around 300 calories and 27 grams of protein.
  • I will be well hydrated, get my exercise in, have a great family day and stay on program…I may even have the calories available for a glass of wine for dessert.

What’s your plan to WIN for the Holidays?

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Long Term Lap Band Success – There Is No Shame In Regain

December 10, 2014

Many of our bariatric doctors will tell us that we can “expect” a 10% regain after a couple of years.  Most of us conveniently forget we ever heard, or read, those words anywhere, as we get to the point in our journey where we are at our goal weight loving our new life, and all […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Next Installment of As The Stomach Turns- Random Thoughts of a Newbie x 2

December 3, 2014

So by now I am a few weeks into my new Lap Band and Plication Surgery and have noted several interesting tidbits: I get full on liquids pretty quickly I can sit at a table in a restaurant with others ordering some of my “favorite things” and be totally repulsed by the food when it […]

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Thankful for a Second Chance

November 26, 2014

As most of you know on 10/1/14 my 10 year old band was removed and I lived 6 weeks without my band.  On 11/17/14 I had a new Lap Band placed and am now on my second journey as a newbie after weight loss surgery. So what’s different this time?  So many things.  Have a […]

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Back In The Ranks Of The Banded

November 19, 2014

  On Monday 11/17/14 – 10 ½ years after I was first banded I got my new Lap Band.  Along with my band Dr. Billy did a plication, and for those you who have no idea what it is, Google it since I still tired, drugged, and would definitely get something wrong in the description […]

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Lap Band Success Interrupted – I Have My New Date

November 12, 2014

My saga continues.  I have been without my WLS tool since 10/1/14.  I had all my tests done, all is ok and now it’s time for me to schedule my revision and get back on the “bandwagon”, literally as well as figuratively. Let me tell you that not having a tool has been playing some […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – I Decided, So Now What Happens?

November 5, 2014

In the soap opera called my life, my Lap Band was removed on October 1st, and I was given the option of either another Lap Band or an RNY Gastric Bypass.  Although VSG is a popular surgery, it was not a consideration because my insurance would not cover it.  It’s been over a month now […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Making Every Bite Count

October 29, 2014

As most of you know by now on October 1 my Lap Band was removed and my surgeon wanted me to have some tests before we did any further weight loss surgery.  Did I freak out a bit?  You bet, wouldn’t you?  I was sure I was going to wake up and be 424 pounds […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success And Making Dreams Happen

October 22, 2014

    This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to co-host five amazing women at a weekend retreat at the beach within 1 mile of my house.  They can from as far away as Ontario Canada, and as close as Salinas CA.  Oregon, Washington and Arizona were also represented.  Why did they […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – With Or Without My Band

October 15, 2014

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

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Look at What’s On Your Plate And How It Got There

October 8, 2014

I want to live a “normal” life.  I want to be a “normal” size.  I want to continue to increase my strength and endurance and flexibility each year, instead of losing strength, endurance and flexibility each time the calendar moves forward a year.  I managed to attain all of that.  I reached weight loss goals […]

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