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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I Am Not Ready for The Rocking Chair

by sandi on February 21, 2018

Life after Weight Loss SurgeryI had my weight loss surgery when I was 55 years and 8 months old.  OLD was exactly how I felt.  I had been abusing my body with excesses of food for as long as I could remember, and if you look at my “baby” pictures you’ll see I was a chubby 2 year old and it continued until I ate myself to 424 pounds.  THAT is a lot of poundage to haul around for a few years…  I think I reached that weight a year or two before my surgery.  Before that it had been the low 200’s, then the high 200’s then the 300’s, and you get the picture. 

I went up and down, losing 100 pounds on several occasions.  My point is not my ups and downs in weight.  What I get to live with today, as a 69 years and 5 month YOUNG woman is the result of that abuse that continued for upwards of 53 years.

Life after Weight Loss SurgeryIt’s left me with edema in my right leg due to a blood clot (DVT) when I was about 32, I have had scoliosis for years (it’s a genetic disposition), I have age related macular degeneration, and I walked around with high blood pressure for who knows how long, I have arthritis in many joints, my right knee being the worst of the bunch, and I have recently been diagnosed with peripheral vascular disease.

I sound like a mess, right?  If my back’s not hurting then my knee is, I hate driving at night any more, walking on pavement hurts my legs and my back, and many nights I wake up with pains in my legs, and the outstanding veins in my legs are not a pretty sight.

Life after Weight Loss SurgeryWow, I could curl up in a corner and order a rocking chair to be delivered to my front door by Amazon and call it quits, right?


I will NEVER allow a medical condition to define who I am.  I had weight loss surgery to be the BEST me that I could be and because I didn’t want to die.  I choose LIFE.  That means that to stay flexible and mobile I am at the gym 5 days a week, swimming, running on the elliptical and strength training. 

That’s just a little bit of what I can do.

Life after Weight Loss SurgeryI can swim, snorkel, scuba, kayak, and fish in the ocean and will be mastering Stand Up Paddleboard soon.  I can hike at elevations over 2 miles high for a few miles, not be breathless or in pain because dirt trails (even with rocks to negotiate) do not cause me pain; I can ride a bicycle for miles, I can walk on the beach.  I can work in the kitchen for hours creating new recipes for my next cookbook. 

These are all physical things I CAN DO.  It all started with one lap in a swimming pool at over 300 pounds.

Life after Weight Loss SurgeryNow my days are filled with fitness and fun activities I can enjoy because of my fitness level.

All because I decided that I CAN.  Life is all about perspective.  I choose to accentuate the positive.

What CAN you do?

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Keeping it RealAfter the holidays, and some bouts of some serious family illnesses, I found my weight over the top of my comfort/maintenance range.  I vowed to knock off the weight and then some as I have a few exciting trips coming up between April and June.

I did exactly what I said I would do with no issues.  Got back into my maintenance weight range and decided I would feel better if I reset my goal and went for another 10 pounds.  This is supported by my medical professionals for various reasons, and by me for the bathing suits and clothes I want to wear in May, on my 50th anniversary cruise.

Keeping it RealI know how to do this, right?  I’ve been doing it for 13+ years, right?  So then why am I frustrated that I have been the same weight for a week and can’t seem to get the weight loss going?  I know plateaus happen.  I also know how to kick them to the curb and start the weight loss again.  What’s missing from my plan?  So, I sat down today to review the plan, because I NEVER give up.  This is what I have set up for myself:

  • Calories under 1000 per day
  • Water at 64 oz minimum per day
  • Protein at 80 grams minimum per day
  • Exercise at 5 days minimum of total of 300 minutes
  • Journal everything that goes in my mouth

Keeping it RealSounds like I have it all covered, right?  Not quite.  I left out a few important pieces to my kicking the weight loss into action again.  Here’s what I think and what I will do for the next week:

  • Water at 72 oz minimum no matter how cold out it may be
  • Carbohydrates at 50 or less for about 5 days to get my body into fat burning mode
  • No sitting at my desk for longer than an hour without getting up and moving for at least 5 minutes
  • Work on keeping 1 gram of protein for every 10 calories consumed
  • SLEEP – make sure I get enough sleep
  • SMILE – keep the happy going and use positive affirmations every day
  • Meditate and visualize those additional 10 lbs. off my body and how great I will feel and look
  • Absolutely no alcohol because I know this messes up my losses even if I account for it in my calorie/carb consumption

Keeping it RealThat’s a lot more than the 5 basics I had going for me…  That’s looking at the entire person, the whole of my being, instead of just the “metabolic machine”.

Sometimes this is exactly what it takes to start letting go of those ounces and pounds.

Who’s with me here?

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Life Is What You Make It Several life events have occurred over the last few months that have me waking at 2 AM and not being able to get back to sleep.  They have to do with both my health and my family’s health so this morning, as I was swimming laps in the pool, I realized I was thinking like an “old” person and that would just have me acting like one too.  (no comments from the peanut gallery please)

Let me share an example with you.  After I was “officially diagnosed” with peripheral vascular disease I began worrying that I shouldn’t fly to Hawaii or to Tahiti because the flights were too long, and they might trigger blood clots.  We have already booked and paid for a South Pacific Cruise, so I worried about dealing with doctors and hospitals while I was there.

Life Is What You Make It This trip has been a dream of ours and we are celebrating both our 50th anniversary and my 70th birthday so what better time than right now?

Now here are the facts:  I have known I have circulation problems in my legs for years and years.  The ability to walk freely was on my list of things that weight loss surgery would help me resolve. 

Life Is What You Make It I have hiked the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, LA, Ventura, and Santa Barbara Counties, hiked in Kauai, walked and hiked at 10, 000+ foot elevations in Colorado and New Mexico, flown on planes several times a year.  I was at risk all those times, so what difference does an official diagnosis make?  NONE – in reality.  Do I want to continue to live my life and enjoy it, or do I want to get out the rocking chair and sit in it and wait to die?  I know my answer and with these words I am letting out a long, cleansing breath and letting go of that fear of the risk.  My solution is to wear the support hose the doc prescribed no matter how uncomfortable and walk the aisles of the plane for the 8-hour flight.

These solutions to what seemed to be unsurmountable problems for me flashed into my head as I was swimming laps this morning.  Yes, I exercise at minimum 5 days a week for 30 – 105 minutes each day.  Why do I do that?  To stay as healthy, flexible and happy as possible to live this 70th year like a 50-year-old.

Life Is What You Make It Let’s burn the rocking chair in the fireplace as we sit with our hot tea after our bike ride at the beach!!

The moral of the story is – LIVE every day to its fullest whether you are 20, 40, 60, yes, or even 70 years young.  

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Going Back To Basics Here we are at the beginning of February.  I have had people over and gone out multiple times per week since Thanksgiving.  I started to feel that tummy bloat, the waistband on my jeans were getting snug, and I felt a bit like a sloth.

First, I put it all off to winter and then I realized that I was just kidding myself.  I live in southern California and yes, it may be 35 degrees when I go to the gym some mornings, but it also reaches 75 degrees on many days.  Yes, the days are short, but the sun is strong.

Going Back To Basics I needed to take accountability and remind myself that it was about my choices – what I put on my plate and then into my mouth.  Were my portions getting a little too big?  Had a had too many “little pieces” of the cornbread I made to go with the family’s split pea soup and chili?  Was I consuming too much popcorn at the movies?  Did I have not 1 glass of wine on the weekends but one each of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, or was it two?  Well, YES and those are the reasons I felt bloated and sluggish.

Going Back To Basics What did I do about it?  I went right back to what I need to do 99.9% of the time as a long term WLS patient and that was to log everything that went into my mouth.  I planned my days around high protein and low carbohydrate foods that I loved.  I never starved myself, as a matter of fact I ate 4-5 times a day.  I paid attention to myself- I was mindful- while I was eating and stopped when I was full.  I increased my water which had slacked off a bit due to those 35 degree mornings.

I am 69 years young, and anyone who says it’s hard to lose weight when you get “old” doesn’t know me well.  In one week I shed 7 pounds and I am continuing to lose.

The moral of the story is to keep winning set the parameters you want to live within for calories/protein/carbs/water and fitness.  Make a plan and follow it.

And write it all down!

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I am almost 14 years post op, 250 plus pounds down and 8 months shy of my 70th birthday.  What has kept me going more times than I can count on my fingers is implementing my PLAN B.  So what the heck am I talking about?

Do You Have A Plan B In Place Take today for example.  I got up, had my tea and coffee and headed to the gym all ready to hop in the pool and swim for at least 30 minutes.  That’s what I had scheduled.  I left my house, got to the gym, walked inside and in large letters was a sign “THE POOL IS CLOSED”.  I immediately had a few choices:

  • I could have a long conversation with the ladies at the front desk and find out what was wrong, when it would be fixed and when they thought the pool would be reopened.  This would have just been procrastination because they don’t know at the front desk until it is actually fixed;
  • Do You Have A Plan B In Place I could have gone out to my car, grabbed my sneakers and hopped on a treadmill or elliptical for 30 minutes and got my fitness done for the day.  That would have been great, except I didn’t have sneakers in my car…..note to self, put a spare pair and some socks in the car;
  • I could have turned around, got in my car and drove the five minutes home and told myself I would do something later.  Well, for me, later will rarely come so this is just an excuse to blow off fitness, and it was Monday, and I #nevermissamonday so this wasn’t happening;
  • Do You Have A Plan B In Place I could and did choose my final alternative which was to get in my car and drive the 20 minutes to the other gym with the pool, knowing I would be later than planned, probably having to share a lane with someone, but I would get my fitness done and get my week started right. 

The upside of this Monday morning change in plans was that I got to see and chat with folks I haven’t seen in a while, one of them shared fresh lemons and oranges from his trees, and I got my fitness done – I swam laps for 45 minutes. 

The very BEST part of implementing my PLAN B – I feel great physically because I got my fitness in and mentally because I overcame an obstacle that put itself in my path with ease – WINNING!

Do You Have A Plan B In Place My Plan B’s for the rest of my healthy lifestyle habits include keeping a couple of liters of water and some jerky and a protein bar in my car and keeping a protein bar in my purse and a bottle of water in my hand everywhere I go.

What’s your PLAN B?

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Help Save LivesI began giving back to the Weight Loss Surgery Community about a year after I had my Lap Band surgery in 2004.  Then it was just speaking at my doc’s informational seminars after having lost 100+ pounds.  My audience grew as I lost over 200 pounds and the time went on.  I found I was so energized by being able to do this, to actual lose 250+ pounds and create a whole new life for myself that I wanted to share it with anyone who would listen.

Sometime in 2010 I found out about the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America and I have been a member, and for several years now a member of the Board of Directors.  This is the ONLY organization that funds grants for Weight Loss Surgeries for those who are financially unable to do it themselves, have little or no insurance coverage, and have the medical need.  Wow, that’s a big sentence for a BIG MISSION, one that is certainly worthy of my time.

I gladly volunteer my time as a board member and get to share the joy of not only our grant recipients, but all of those who attend our annual Meet & Greet to live and learn the Weight Loss Surgery Life as well as to help give back by helping to save a life through their attendance at our Meet & Greets.

This year’s event is in San Antonio, at the Marriott Riverwalk hotel.  If you have never been there you are in for a treat, it is a great location.  We have lots of fun as well as education planned for our attendees.  Friday will be about peer support.  If you’ve never been before, there is a Newbies meeting to introduce you to others who are with us for the first time, play some games, win some prizes, make friends, and then off you go to the rest of the event.

Help Save Lives

Help Save LivesThere will be inspirational talks, panel discussions by other patients, and on Friday night join us for our Fiesta — San Antonio style.  Saturday there are Bariatric Surgeons, Plastic Surgeons, and other professionals speaking individually, and on panels.  Our Vendor area will be filled with the latest and greatest in bariatric friendly products.  Oh, by the way, you’ll be taking home lots of samples so bring an empty suitcase.  Join us Saturday night for Sparkle and Shine when we all get to strut our stuff, no matter where we are on our journeys, and celebrate LIFE. 

Sunday morning we’ll have our bike ride and our 5k then finish the day with our Bari Friendly version of Chopped.  It’s loads of laughs as we will see some strange and often delicious tasting recipes created.

Help Save LivesOh, I did not forget to mention that Carnie Wilson, our National Ambassador of Hope will be in attendance, and we’ll have a little get together to raise additional funds at a Tapas With Carnie Event.

All of this and MORE.  Support yourself on your journey.  Meet new people, make new friends, hug old friends, and Most of All – Help Us Save Lives.

Here’s the link to register- I Hope to get to give you a personal hug in San Antonio in June

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Declaring 2018 the year of ME Happy New Year to all.  I am officially declaring 2018 the year of me.  Why?  Because it will serve me better than any resolutions I might make.  For years and years, I made resolutions to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, save money, declutter, etc., etc.  The list was long and covered everything from soup to nuts.  Then, along with 80% of the rest of the world, by February I had failed to make any changes in my behavior.

What was missing to make things happen?  I certainly had good intentions of making myself into a better person.  Oh wait, perhaps that’s exactly where I went wrong.  I wanted to be someone other than ME and had no plan as to how I was going to become that new and different being.  I thought that by simply writing down what I wanted to be somehow a miraculous transformation would occur beginning New Year’s Day.  Guess what, this was mere dreaming, it never happened.

Things do not improve when I sit on my duff and just expect them to.  I need to put some action into the process.  I needed to turn those wishes and hopes into SMART goals.  THAT is when things started cooking for me.  And the beat goes on today.  I have set NO New Year’s resolutions for 2018 and I feel great about it.  I do have some plans for ME for the year.

Declaring 2018 the year of ME My word for the year is THRIVE.  I spent many years surviving, and since having my Lap Band Surgery in 2004, I have learned what it means to thrive rather than just survive.  Here are some definitions of thrive along with synonyms – prosper; flourish


flourish, prosper, burgeon, bloom, blossom, mushroom, do well, advance, succeed, boom

I believe that as I found my way after weight loss surgery and started to realize that the only limitations I had were those I put on myself I began to thrive – to flourish, to try and succeed at things that I never in my wildest dreams, would have thought of in my previous life.  (BWLS – before weight loss surgery).  This year, 2018 brings some interesting numbers with it for me.  I will be married for 50 years on April 4th, 2018.  I will turn 70 years old on September 15, 2018.  These are two milestones for sure. 

Declaring 2018 the year of ME I have a couple of bucket list items that I intend to cross off by completing them this year.  The first is to go to The South Pacific and swim and dive in the waters around Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea and the like.  This trip is planned, and I get more excited each day I think about it.  The next is to finally get in my hot air balloon ride.  This has not been planned, because my hot air balloon ride has been canceled 3 times in California and twice in New Mexico, so I am allowing the universe to provide the right winds somewhere in my travels for this to happen.  And happen it will, because I am giving positive energy to the thought. 

Declaring 2018 the year of ME I have been thriving these past years.  I spent 2017 hiking many of the local waterfalls, hiking in beautiful areas in Oregon and in Hawaii.  I swam my “laps” in the Pacific Ocean off Kauai for my daily fitness, and bicycled the beach as well.  I experienced sunrises and sunsets in some of the most beautiful places in the world.  This is how the gift of my second chance at life has unfolded for me since 2004.  I am grateful for all of the opportunities that have been presented as well as for the ones that I created as I let go of an “I probably couldn’t do that” attitude and changed it into a “let’s try this and see what happens”, with the final outcome being – I can!  I did it!  Let’s do it again!

This year of ME will be filled with choices – choices to work my fitness every day and get stronger and increase my endurance.  Age is not a barrier, it is an incentive for me.  I can align myself with people who help serve my goals and fuel my soul and let go of those who don’t.  I can choose to let go of what I cannot control instead of letting it weigh me down (I mean that in every way including feeding my emotions) and work hard on what I can control including my food, my fitness, my hydration and my positive mental attitude.  I plan to live each, and every, day to the fullest, being the best ME I can be.

This year of ME, this year of thriving these 365 days called 2018 are a gift for me to unwrap and cherish, one day at a time.

That is exactly what I plan to do.

What is your word for 2018?  And, how does it impact your life?

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Finding Myself Starting Over As The Year Ends – Long Term Success After Weight Loss Surgery

December 27, 2017

The week before Christmas I contracted a stomach bug unlike anything I had experienced since being banded in 2004.  Thank goodness I made it through it without having to go to the doctor’s.  I was able to text my bariatric doc and ask for a prescription for something to stop the nausea.  It saved my […]

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Long Term Lap Band Success – Exercising My Options – 2017

December 13, 2017

Here we are.  Mid-December 2017 and once again I find myself in the throws of SADS (seasonal affective disorder), Yes, this gets me every year – the article that follows was written several years ago and all of it is still my truth.  Added to the short days and cold mornings is the fire that […]

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Long Term Success After Weight Loss Surgery – Sleep Is One Of The Cornerstones of Success

December 6, 2017

We all know that after Weight Loss Surgery portion sizes, protein first, staying hydrated, fit living, taking our vitamins are all cornerstones of success that we affectionately call “The Rules”.  What if I added one more to the mix that we don’t often think of as a requirement for success?  What if that one were […]

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Long Term Weight Loss Surgery Success – Holiday Appetizers That Are Easy, Inexpensive And Always A Hit

November 22, 2017

Today is Thanksgiving.  I wish you and yours a Happy and a Healthy Thanksgiving!  My family dinner is simple this year – roast turkey, cauliflower stuffing and baked sweet potatoes.  My daughter is making pies for the group and I will probably have a thin slice of her bourbon pecan pie because this lifestyle is […]

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Tis The Season to Be Grateful – Happiness After Weight Loss Surgery

November 8, 2017

There are basically two ways of looking at life: Looking at what you don’t have with avaricious thoughts Be grateful for what you do have I’ve lived life on both sides of this coin and work hard daily to keep myself in the head space of being grateful for what I do have.  Why?  Because […]

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How Falling Can Be A Non Scale Victory – Long Term Success After Lap Band Surgery

November 1, 2017

So here I am 13+ years post-op, maintaining, in the gym 5 days a week, living a fabulous life and what happens?  I am walking into the atrium area of the Hilton Long Beach hotel after a nice walk to Starbucks and back at about 8 PM – and I trip.  I tripped over a […]

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How Planning Solves The Never Ending Search For Something Good To Eat – Long Term Success After Weight Loss Surgery

October 25, 2017

Here I am, a 13+ year Lap Band patient and yes, food is still important to me.  There are many reasons that it’s important, so I’ll cover a few for you.  Feel free to let me know if you have others: Fuel For My Body Fuel For My Eyes, Tastebuds Provides Satiety Keeps Me Healthy […]

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Fitness Is A Way Of Life For Long Term Success After Weight Loss Surgery

October 11, 2017

As I worked out with my trainer this morning I realized just HOW important fitness is to me and WHY.  After weight loss surgery, as the weight came off I was excited to shop for new clothes and try doing physical things, like walking around the block, or the down to the beach through the […]

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Water, Water, Everywhere – Time To Drink Some For Long Term Success After Weight Loss Surgery

October 4, 2017

As I continue this amazing journey to health and wellbeing that I began in 2004 I find that when I forget who I am, a weight loss surgery patient, some of the success habits can get left out of my days.  Funny thing about The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients, they are pretty […]

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Long Term Success After Weight Loss Surgery – Sugar TRULY Is Evil, The Saga Continues

September 27, 2017

As I move through my 14th year after weight loss surgery, Lap Band Surgery to be specific, I continue to learn that sugar is NOT my friend.  And yet I am still taken in by the smells, the tastes, the ease with which I can swallow and digest it no matter how many times I […]

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