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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Popcorn After WLS - Do or Don't?

Is eating popcorn a "Do" or a "Don’t" after gastric bypass surgery?

Brand new patients are not likely to ask this question – the stomach is too tender and sensitive to even consider the intake of roughage like popcorn. But almost universally, you will find patients two or more years out have dipped into the popcorn bowl.

My trespass in the popcorn bowl resulted in a constant state of low-grade dumping and a 5-pound weight gain in two weeks. I called my WLS counselor and she gave me a big “NO! NO! NO!” She said popcorn is a high carbohydrate food that rapidly dumps into the small intestine causing insulin to drop and dumping to result. Patients also tend to out-eat their pouch with popcorn because they usually consume a beverage as they eat popcorn creating a slurry that quickly moves through the stoma – thus more can be consumed in a single setting. Finally, she said, eating popcorn is mindless and not generally related to hunger. It is a perceived to be an acceptable return to snacking and leads to other snacking abuses.

I stopped the mindless munching on popcorn and feel a whole lot better. But I do miss it and when I smell a fresh batch of microwave popcorn I am likely to lose my mind! But it’s just not worth it.

For conventional dieters popcorn itself is a nutritious snack choice, containing more fiber than snacks made with refined flour. In the standard three-cup serving (the size of a small mixing bowl), air-popped popcorn contains just 93 calories and less than 1.5 grams of fat and 3.6 grams dietary fiber. Dietary fiber — also known as roughage or bulk — includes all parts of plant foods that your body can't digest or absorb.

So, let’s take a poll: Is Popcorn a “Do” or a “Don’t” after gastric bypass? Post your comments below.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Adios Bloglet! Hello FeedBlitz

I met a fantastic man today, Phil Hollows, from – a service that monitors blogs, RSS feeds and Web URLs to provide greater reach for feed publishers. He learned about the problems I had with Bloglet and came to the rescue! For those of you who have received your daily LivingAfterWLS updates from Bloglet, beginning tomorrow you will see them from FeedBlitz. This site is all about service and providing you, the LivingAfterWLS community timely updates for all that is happening here at the blog.

To Phil I send my heartfelt thanks and gratitude for helping me out of a bad situation. If any of you are looking for a blog subscription service (and trust me “service” is key here: Phil has personally been working with me today to get you online with the FeedBlitz) check out FeedBlitz. It’s a great service – you won’t be disappointed. Thanks Phil!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Monday Message From Kaye

Hello Everyone! Hope you had a fantastic weekend and enjoyed some fun summer activities.

We have three community members undergoing surgery this week to start their new lives. Please send your warm thoughts and good wishes to Sherry, Lisa and Dana!

Congratulations go to Carol who was the 500th Subscriber to the LivingAfterWLS site! Carol is 5-years post-op and I am so pleased she found our site. A copy of the Jessica Fischer story "What’s So Funny?" will be on the way to her this week. To the rest of the new subscribers, Welcome to LivingAfterWLS – glad to have you here.

On a serious note: I’ve withdrawn the Bloglet subscription option from the website. Early Saturday it came to my attention that Bloglet was misusing the subscriber information and causing harm to the LivingAfterWLS community. I apologize for this misuse of trust. From now on all subscriptions will be managed by me exclusively without support from an outside utility.

The September issue "You Have Arrived" will be delivered to inboxes Thursday, September 1. This is the "Back to School" issue with lots of great ideas for making a fresh start in our LivingAfterWLS. Don’t miss it: Subscribe Today!

Have a great week!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Vegas After WLS: Can it be Done?

by Kim Stover

It’s time for a vacation and my girlfriends want to go to Las Vegas. The first thing that goes through my mind is, “Oh my gosh, what will I do about the food?”

Interesting. What I used to just consider, “eating”, was now to be known as “vacation eating”. My former self would have told you that Las Vegas was all about, what I’d like to call, the C’s. Casinos, cocktails, chocolate and consumption. Yeah, sure, there are shows and lights and tons of people to watch, but pre-WLS Kim didn’t care much about those things. You could find me in line at a buffet, rushing through the dinner portion so that I could visit the dessert island. Las Vegas was the only place that I could go and pile my plate with 8 different kinds of desserts without feeling like a gluttonous pig. Oh, I just wanted to take a taste of each, I would tell myself… Unfortunately, they were usually all divine and I would do my best to polish off as much of the plate as I could. If I wasn’t at the buffet, I’d have myself parked in front of a slot machine waiting for the cocktails to be delivered to me. Tom Collins, Slow Gin Fizz…sweet drinks. It didn’t take a psychic to predict that I would need WLS.

Being two years post-op, I took my first real vacation since having the surgery. I was going with two of my best girlfriends and we were staying for two nights and three days. I had a plan going into this whole thing. I am the queen of scheduling, planning and rule following. Let’s just say that all of my plans flew out the window once we landed at the airport. My girlfriends proclaimed as we were boarding our flight, that we would check in at our hotel and then immediately go to the Rio for their buffet. I was outnumbered and didn’t want to be the party pooper. My friends love to eat, but are able to control themselves. They are normal gals that have the ability to take a taste and move on. I thought that I could handle pressure of the buffet and agreed to go with them.

I went nuts. I know not to eat sugar, as I’m super sensitive, but everything else that was on display was up for grabs. I piled my plate with tons of fried food and things covered in cheese. It was quite the site. Now, this is the sort of situation when I’m happy to say that our pouch is only a “tool”. Usually, I hate to hear that. In this instance, it saved me from consuming a billion calories. I was plugging my mouth full of food, but knew that I could only hold about a cup and a half in volume. I immediately became very selective. If it didn’t make me smile as I chewed, it stayed on the plate. I was very careful to serve myself small spoonfuls of the different foods that were being offered…if it was yummy, I could go back for more. If it wasn’t, the little service person would come by to clear my dirty dishes. I love vacation. I ate to the point of no return and was thrilled to see that their dessert island had “no sugar added” selections. Cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, etc. I chose some cookies and some chocolate gelato. Oh my goodness, they were big time yummy…and apparently full of either some natural sugar or buckets of sugar alcohol. I was sick.

We left the buffet to go out and gamble. Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Rio, but it has a “Carnival in the Sky”. Basically, brightly colored floats cruise overhead and music plays at a deafening volume. This is usually my favorite casino to gamble at, as there is so much going on that I get distracted from my losing! It was different this time. I sat at a slot machine and proceeded to dump. I wanted to die. I could feel the base from the music thumping in my spleen. I began to sweat and could barely sit on the stool that I had parked myself onto. Attempting to play the machine, I lost focus at some point. My friend came to find me slumped in the stool, staring off into the distance at nothing. She said something about me not looking so hot and maybe we should go back to our hotel. “Yes, please” came from my mouth and that’s all I remember. She somehow got me out of the casino, into a taxi cab and then, finally, in my room. Thank goodness I had a room to myself.

I laid on my bed for about an hour. I started to feel a bit better; however, the gas that was escaping me was absolutely horrific. Something clearly had crawled up inside of me and died. I stayed in my room for another hour until my bloated belly finally deflated. I turned the fan on, although I was freezing, and vacated the room. I found myself at Starbucks, which was conveniently located in the lobby of my hotel. Yahoo…I love coffee, and was ordering myself up a big cup of Joe. It was early in the evening, I felt great and was getting wired. As I played the slots, I passed on the cocktails, but discovered that the Waitresses will bring you coffee if you ask for it. I was up all night.

The rest of my stay was great, but my food choices were definitely not healthy. I knew what was “safe” for me. Eggs, cheese, crackers and more cheese. I ate my body weight in cheese, I’m sure of it. Grilled cheese, cheese pizza, four cheese omelets. My gut was begging for forgiveness by the end of the trip. The new Las Vegas C’s were now…Cheese, caffeine and carbs. Was I ever going to get my gut back to normal?

I do have to add some new positive things worth mentioning. Caesar’s has a Forum that is full of designer shops. Kate Spade, Banana Republic, Victoria’s Secret, Anthropology, Ralph Lauren… There are many more and I never would have experienced any of this if I was still a size 32. I went into some top designer shops and tried on clothing that would take a week worth of work to pay for! It was amazing to see how something so nicely made looked on my new body. I was stunning if I do say so myself! I bought a few items from Victoria’s Secret…THONG UNDERWEAR. I used to have the funniest jokes about these little items, and now I was wearing them…not after putting my first pair on sideways, of course. Also, FYI, they put the tag in the front.

The other treat was spending a day in the hotel spa. I had a full body deep tissue massage. This was to work out all of the knots that have developed over time from so much working out! I got naked and sat in the whirlpool bath and no one laughed or pointed. The best part of the spa was grabbing a towel and having it go completely around me. Full towel coverage…who knew that it could ever happen? No embarrassment and I was pampered and relaxed beyond belief. Life is good and so is being a healthy weight.

I am thrilled to be home. I craved my now, “normal”, diet. Strawberries, blueberries, Kashi cereal, protein bars, lean protein. Bring it on! Who knew this would be me, two years ago? I never would have expected to crave a piece of fruit following a trip to Las Vegas! As the saying goes, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. Amen!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

LivingAfterWLS Regular Eating Plan

We have the most charming lady on the LivingAfterWLS site. Her name is Rachel and she’s almost 4-months out of surgery. She recently wrote to say, “I am struggling to find some kind of regular eating plan. I was wondering how you manage things on a day to day basis. I've been eating A LOT of cottage cheese!”

This is a GREAT question! While I’m not certain that what I do day-to-day is perfect, I know it works for me giving me optimum energy and health. So I outlined my plan for Rachel. After reading it she summarized, “It sounds like you're saying that you strictly control two meals a day and then give yourself more freedom with dinner. That sounds totally reasonable.”

Here is my regular eating plan:

For breakfast and lunch I eat the same things almost every day. Breakfast is most often 1/2 cup cottage cheese with 1/2 cup of Kashi Go-Lean High Protein cereal or cottage cheese with 1/2 cup sugar free jell-o or cottage cheese with 1 hard-cooked egg. I also have a cup of coffee about an hour after breakfast - but that is not recommended during the phase of weight loss.

For lunch I like tuna mixed with a little miracle whip, or canned chicken fixed the same. Sometimes I'll have shrimp 6-8 peeled shrimp or those imitation seafood flakes. Usually I add a piece of low-fat mozzarella cheese and then some fruit, whatever in season. We live in the country so the temptation of fast food does not exist for me (lucky thing). If I do have lunch out when we are in the city I'll get a salad with the chicken and eat the chicken, or get a sandwich and eat the insides, not the bread. I may taste the bread, but not eat much of it.

Now for dinner - that is when I get my variety. Again, we are in the country, so I cook almost every night of the week. I really love to learn new recipes and experiment with finding "safe" foods that both my husband and I will enjoy. (he's a normal tummy). We have lots of fish, chicken, beef and pork. We have basically eliminated starch such as potatoes, pasta and rice. He is not a huge fan and I get sick easily on starch. Side dishes are generally steamed. I've never been able to tolerate raw veggies since the WLS, but I often make salad for him.

Now, Rachel, this all sounds very blah and basic I imagine. It took me a long time for me to accept that if I eat my safe foods for breakfast & lunch I will feel good and chemically balanced all day. Dinners seem like such a treat because of the variety, so it is working for me (finally!). It takes a long time to resolve and accept a regular eating plan. There are still days when I want to rebel against the WLS - and I usually end up regretting it when I do.

So readers, that’s how I face my food day. What do you find yourself eating? Do you have an eating plan? Please post your suggestions for Rachel and the others who are finding their way.

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Diane Shield's Success Story

Our frequent contributor, Diane Shields has generously opened her heart to share her courageous story “Back From the Edge”. This is a story of great personal courage and hard fought battles as she overcame bulimia, learned to cope with bi-polar disorder, and ultimately lost weight and regained her health by way of weight loss surgery. Be sure to read her story of courage and recovery, I know you will be as inspired as I am.

Dehydration & Dumping Lead to Hypovolemia
Contributor Diane Shield's Story

I wanted to share this story with you and the other members at LivingAfterWLS.

You are often talking about not getting too comfortable with your surgery. It's easy to do when you get long term. You can get to the point where you take things for granted. I'm guilty of that and you won't believe what it almost cost me.

Every person having WLS is familiar with "Dumping Syndrome". They talk about right from the first. When you're a newbie, you NEVER forget the first time you experience it. I know I didn't. Carbs were my culprit. So I have since adhered to a low carb way of eating. Shoot, I even make my own ketchup. I cook most everything from scratch. All this so I have firm control of the carbs I put in my body.

I told you about having my gallbladder removed. Well, I was pretty sick for a few weeks before and after. Needless to say I was getting in the nutrition or fluids I needed. Also, when I'm sick I want to reach for comfort foods. This single act of taking my surgery for granted, getting too comfortable, nearly cost me my life.

Because I had not been getting in enough fluids for a few weeks, I was told by my MD I was MILDLY dehydrated. Being sick I gave into my craving for comfort food. The dumping syndrome caused by the carbs led to a life threatening condition HYPOVOLEMIA. Hypovolemia is a result of dumping. The body pulls fluid out of the system into the intestines to dilute whatever is there. Hence the dizziness, sweating, etc.

I wasn't feeling well so I walked up the hill to my parents’ house. They live next door. I was short of breath, sweating, dizzy. I passed out. My mom called 911 when she couldn't get me awake. They rushed me to the ER. My blood pressure was 60/30, pulse 195, blood sugar 350. I was in shock. They did tons of things to stabilize my condition. I was discharged the next day once my MD came to see me. The culprit in all of this---RICE AND GRAVY.

When I was young, my mom would always fix me rice and gravy when I was sick. It would always ease my stomach. I thought, hey, a little won't hurt me. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

What my MD explained to me, dumping is USUALLY not a problem. But coupled with my already dehydrated state it was extremely dangerous.

Think I'll be eating carbs anytime soon? NOOOOOOO!!!!

I was lucky this time. With my heart beating that fast and non existent BP, I could have had a heart attack. I had this surgery to not be faced with that prospect. SOOOOOOO, I WILL NOT TAKE THINGS FOR GRANTED!!!

I'm hunky dory now. It's like it didn't even happen. But I won't forget!!!


Here is some of the info I researched:

What is Dumping Syndrome?
Also called "rapid gastric emptying", dumping syndrome occurs when the lower section of the small intestine (jejunum) fills up too quickly with undigested food from the stomach, causing unpleasant digestive effects. Dumping syndrome can also be triggered in gastric surgery patients by consumption of simple carbohydrates (sugar, or some starches) or carbs with a high glycemic index.

Types of Dumping Syndrome
There are two variants of rapid gastric emptying: early and late dumping. "Early" dumping typically starts during or immediately after a meal. Early dumping symptoms include: abdominal cramps, bloating, palpitations, nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, and shortness of breath. By contrast, late dumping typically occurs 1-3 hours after eating. Symptoms of late dumping include: weakness, dizziness and fatigue.

What Causes Dumping Syndrome?
Bariatric surgery is the main cause of dumping syndrome because it changes the anatomy and normal digestive functioning of the stomach and also (in the case of gastric bypass) the small intestine. It may also reduce the amount of digestive juices from the stomach and pancreas. Another, much rarer cause of dumping is Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.

Treatment For Dumping Syndrome
Patients who suffer from rapid gastric emptying need to change their eating habits and consume several small meals a day - preferably including foods that are low in carbs, especially refined sugars. In addition, they should not drink liquids with their food. Lastly, patients should ensure that all food is chewed thoroughly.

Dumping Syndrome - Bad Eating Indicator After Bariatric Surgery
Dumping syndrome is not a big health risk. Rather, it's an indicator to gastric surgery patients that they are (1) eating too much, or too fast; (2) eating too many sugary carbs. In practice, most bariatric patients do not experience more than 2-3 episodes of serious dumping.

Monday, August 22, 2005

One Last Try

The Kelly McCamey Story:
An Extraordinary Woman’s Final Attempt to Lose Weight Without WLS

One may think that on a website called “LivingAfterWLS” you would never read about conventional dieting: losing weight the old fashioned way by eating less and exercising more. One would think we should say, “It can’t be done. The only way to lose massive weight is with surgery.” We should shake our heads with all-knowing smugness and think, “Well, it won’t be long and Kelly will be on the surgical table.”

But I don’t think that is fair. Who among us, in the first two difficult post-op years hasn’t questioned, “Was this really my last hope? Was this the only way to become healthy by losing weight?” I’ve questioned myself dozens of times, “Kaye, did you really give it your all before you had surgery?” I don’t know the answer.

It is too late for me to ask questions. My stomach has been chopped in two and my intestines re-routed for life. But it’s not too late for Kelly to ask questions and that’s exactly what she did.

Our extraordinary community member, Kelly McCamey was jumping through the pre-surgical hoops early this summer. During the approval process she asked herself, “"Did you really give it your all, Kelly? Or are you escaping and doing this because you are weak?" Told she had severe sleep apnea she was denied surgery unless she submitted to using a machine to aid her breathing while she slept. At 5’2” and 287 pounds Kelly, 37, had a BMI of 52.5. Kelly was in trouble, but refused the machine. By refusing the machine she was denied surgery.

“I was determined now that I "had" to do this on my own, I had to quit playing and work out, watch my calories and stop the pity I had (for myself) because I was so big. I thought that if I gave myself this one last chance, I would really do it; before altering my life with gastric bypass surgery.”

Recalling years of obesity Kelly said, “I was always "too" afraid to go to the doctor for fear they would put me on the scale. I did not take care of my health because I was ashamed to talk about my weight condition. I used to think nobody saw it; that I had everyone fooled. Not so! Fat is fat, no matter how you view it. So, it was at this point that I realized I had to do something FAST for my own health.” Kelly faced reality saying, “I am a 37-year-old female who is very overweight.”

Kelly joined the Jenny Craig program on July 11, 2005. “I met with a very nice representative named Sophia. It was at that point I realized how miserable I really was. As Sophia took my picture I saw my own face with the sickness that I have never seen before. I looked so unhealthy. I never believed I looked so unhealthy. But, I know I owed this to myself, I have always put others first, hid from the mirrors, hid behind the home and never wanted to do anything. I was always the first one to say, "No, I can't go, I have something to do". But that was so far from the truth.”

The Jenny Craig plan has Kelly on a strict 1500 calorie a day diet, and her daily routine includes exercise, something she didn’t enjoy before. She checks in on Monday evenings with her counselor Sophia. As of weigh-in tonight she is down 21 pounds and feeling fabulous. That 21-pound weight loss dropped her BMI to 48.6.

“I feel so good, I can't begin to tell you! I went to a softball game Thursday and I didn't have to turn sideways to go through the turn styles! To me that was great! I would normally hide at home and sulk, but this time I went out with pride, even though I have a long way to go, I am really giving it my all.”

Look how far Kelly has come in just five weeks. I am personally awed and inspired by Kelly for her gutsy determination to lose weight the old fashioned way when all she really had to do was submit to the nighttime breathing machine and then have gastric bypass.

Kelly acknowledges that losing weight is never easy. “I am more pumped than anything, and I have come to the conclusion this is my way of life. I will always be that pretty girl that wants to come out, but not accepted by society as an overweight 37-year-old. I have been miserable and lonely because of my weight.”

Kelly won’t have to be miserable in her own body much longer. She is on the right track to understanding what it takes to become healthier and happier by achieving a healthy weight. Kelly understands vigilance to eating and exercise is her new way of life.

Kelly has agreed to share with LivingAfterWLS her story as she strives, just like the rest of us, to become a healthy weight in a world that makes it so easy to be fat. I know she is going to do just fine! Please, send her your biggest hugs and warmest wishes for being a brave and open person. We are glad to have her in our community and look forward to future updates!

August 22: Monday Message From Kaye

Hello Everyone!

Warm Wishes

We have two community members undergoing surgery this week to begin their new lives. Please send warm wishes to Maria & Kaye who have just recently joined the LivingAfterWLS community. We wish them the best!

Two Must-Read Articles This Week:

I have two veryimportant stories that will be published early this week:
The first is about an extraordinary woman who is giving it "one last try" to lose weight the conventional way. She has generously agreed to share her journey with us. I think you'll find her brave and inspiring and like me, you will want to cheer her on. Check back this afternoon to read about Kelly.

The second must-read article is about hypovolemia - a life threatening condition associated with dumping syndrome. Our dear community member, Diane Shields, nearly lost her life to this condition. Check back Tuesday to read her story and learn how to avoid this deadly condition.

LivingAfterWLS Success Stories Wanted!

Even after so many years of living after WLS there is nothing more inspiring to me than a great success story. On days when I feel like I'm trudging along this path for fitness, health and wellness just reading the stories of others buoys my spirits and renews my confidence in this lifestyle that isn't all that easy. I believe sharing our success stories is a stewardship we owe others in the community of gastric bypass patients. Remember back to the pre-op days, looking hopefully at the success stories of others and believing "If they can do it so can I."

Over at the new and improved LivingAfterWLS website we have a full page dedicated to success stories. Please consider sharing your story with this community. I believe sharing our success stories is a stewardship we owe others in the community of gastric bypass patients. Remember back to the pre-op days, looking hopefully at the success stories of others and believing "If they can do it so can I." Well, here is the place and opportunity to give back, to share your story, to inspire another. Email me with your story! Brag about your success, be honest about the hard times and best of all, inspire us all to continue striving for our best self after WLS.

Subscriber Incentive

In the next day or two I expect to announce our 500th subscriber to the LivingAfterWLS community! That subscriber will receive a free copy of Jessica Fischer's DVD "What's So Funny?". Jessica is a professional comic who shares her story of obesity and weight loss by astric bypass. If you haven't yet subscribed don't wait another minute! In addition to the chance to win you receive two free exclusive newsletters each month and become a member of this compassionate support community. Subscribe!

Best wishes for a fantastic week!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Thursday Newsbrief from Kaye:

Hello Everyone!

Hope you are having a fine week. Things are busy here at LivingAfterWLS. I have a few brief news items to share with you:

On Tuesday Donna from Texas, one of the lovely ladies here, received the call no mother wants to hear: “Your daughter has been in an accident and I need to know if it is ok to transport her to the hospital”. Donna tells me her heart literally stopped. Fortunately, her beautiful daughter, Courtney, is ok – but what a heart stopping moment. I wish them both a fast emotional recovery from this trauma.

When Donna told me about that heart-stopping phone call I was reminded of a recent press release about putting ICE on cell phones:

Emergency Officials Want ICE On Your Cell Phones

If you were in an accident, you probably know who you would call first. But what if you weren't able to make the call? How would a first responder or state trooper know who you want notified?

If you have ICE on your cell phone, officials said it will help them help you.
ICE, or In Case of Emergency, is a phone number and name listed in your phone's phone book that can easily be found by emergency workers. Just enter ICE as the name so it comes up when you scroll through your cell phone directory.

"The big thing is just somebody to notify. A lot of times, we have a driver's license, but we still don't who to notify and a telephone number. So this will really help in those cases," Spartanburg County EMS Director Jimmy Greene said.

Low-Carb Freedom: Great Resource of WLS Readers

Diane Shields, another super lady here, mentioned a great website – Low Carb Freedom hosted by Katherine Prouty. As you know, life after WLS is all about eating high-protein, low-carb, low-volume food. Katherine is at the forefront of the low-carb industry. She keeps the site up-to-date introducing and reviewing new products, health trends and information oriented to families living a low-carb lifestyle. Be sure to visit her site often for loads of great current information. You can Link here or follow the link in the left column.

Speaking of low-carb, are you hungry for cheesecake? Check out this recipe New York Style Cheesecake With Brazil Nut Crust sent in by Diane. If you’ve been assigned dessert for a family party or pot luck give this yummy dessert a try and live safe after WLS.

Way To Go Kerri

I have made a very special friend here named Kerri, a goddess from California. She has faced heartbreak and hardship this last year. Her courage and determination continue to inspire me every time I receive an email from her. Recently she had her six-month check-up and she busted the deuce weighing in at just under 200 pounds. Way to Go Kerri! Keep up the good work! Still Under-Construction

I’m still working my HTML coding fingers to the bone here on the new-improved website. Some of the pages are online and if I do say so, they look pretty good! Thanks for your patience with this project! I hope you’ll keep clicking over there as new content, surveys and links are added.

Everyone take care & Enjoy your Living After WLS!


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Is Stress Making you Tense?
Practice “Calm Response”

Today has been an extremely stressful day for me – actually it was the fourth stressful day in a row. Lot’s of things going wrong that I can’t fix or control. Have you had days like that? Back in the good old morbidly obese days I would have been over the top with my food intake – but that just isn’t an option after gastric bypass.

Not long ago I came across a chapter in “Prevention’s Ultimate Guide to Women’s Health and Wellness” about dealing with stress. I wrote on a little card the behaviors suggested for self-calming in times of stress. Today I used the hints on that card and they helped me feel calmer and more able to cope. See if you’d like to try “Calm Response” on your next stressful day:

Breathe Deeply: People under stress breathe shallowly – this creates discomfort. Take a moment to drop your shoulders (very tense place for me), breathe deeply and let go of some of the tension.

Visual Vacation: Take 30-seconds and visualize yourself in a place you find calming, safe and relaxed. (I visualized a Nordstrom shoe sale!)

Get some Sunshine: Exposure to sunlight increases levels of serotonin, a natural hormone that reduces stress and imparts feelings of calm and well-being.

Be Socially Engaged: Call your best listener and share your troubles. I talked with Kim Stover, one of our lovely contributors here and she was wonderfully empathetic and understanding without fueling my stress. Thanks Kim for being your wonderful self.

Accept the Circumstances. Some types of stress you simply cannot solve. Deep breathing and mental vacations can ease stress, but not take away the circumstances. Understand that stress is, in fact, a part of being engaged in living.

Here’s wishing you the best of times and the ability to practice “Calm Response” on stressful days.


Shopper’s Alert: Low-Carb Products

Conventional dieters are drifting away from the popular low-carb trend of recent years. That’s great news for LivingAfterWLS because low-carb products and cookbooks can be found in the bargain bins for pennies on the actual retail price. Last week I found “Low Carb Recipes”, an illustrated 96-page cookbook for just $3 in the bargain bin.

The gastric bypass diet is essentially low-carb. We are instructed to eat mainly high-protein low-volume meals. The introduction of this book, while speaking to the “normal” tummies makes a valid point even for us: “Many of us have let the extra weight creep on and developed bad eating patterns that make us fat, unhappy and ill. A low-carbohydrate diet is one, very successful, way of tackling these sorts of problems, revitalizing and re-energizing the system and trimming off that spare tire.”

What I find great about low-carb cookbooks is the emphasis on quality products and great flavor. Check out that bargain bin next time you’re shopping – you just may find a treasure for pennies on the dollar.

From my new book are two recipes I tried. Both are easy, healthy and delicious!

Lettuce-Wrapped Meat

Pork & Sage Kabobs


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Monday Message from Kaye!

Hello Everyone!

Warm Wishes: We have three community members undergoing surgery this week to begin their new lives. Please send warm wishes to Laura, Pam and Keisha. To you lovely ladies I wish you the best and “Welcome to Your New Life – You Have Arrived!”

Delivered: “You Have Arrived – Head Games” a special issue newsletter, has been delivered to subscriber inboxes. I hope find time to read, enjoy and relate to the articles in this issue. Please drop me an email if you missed it and I’ll send it your way.

Community Growth: Our community continues to grow – we are nearing the 500 subscribers’ milestone – this awes me. Thank you so much for your belief and confidence in this website. I hope you are finding useful information for your life after weight loss surgery. As an incentive to new subscribers I’m offering to the 500th Subscriber – a free copy of the DVD “What’s So Funny?” Featuring Jessica Fischer’s story of obesity and transformation following gastric bypass surgery.

Mother Ship: Over at the main website,, we added 15 new pages last week for a total of 20 content filled pages. Now, many of these pages are still under construction but I hope by the end of the week to have them finished and online for your enjoyment. Thanks for sticking with me while I work on them. Like I’ve told many of you, I’m a writer, not a techie – so this is taking some time.

Please have a great week! Consider carefully what you put in your mouth and get out there and move that new body of yours! Remember we are LIVING after WLS.

Best wishes,

Coming Soon!
Special Edition "You Have Arrived"

Delivered exclusively to subscriber inboxes today is a special edition of the LivingAfterWLS Newsletter “You Have Arrived”. This issue focuses on the mental head games WLS patients experience (and suffer from) after weight loss surgery. My lead essay is titled “I Sold My Soul to the Bathroom Scale”. I hope you'll enjoy!

Link for the subscription & privacy policy.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Subscriber Incentive!
Free DVD to 500th Subscriber

LivingAfterWLS is fast nearing a record 500 subscribers in just three months online! I am so excited to reach this milestone I’m offering a great incentive to new subscribers! Free to the 500th Subscriber – a copy of the DVD “What’s So Funny?” Featuring Jessica Fischer’s story of obesity and transformation following gastric bypass surgery.

While this is a great reason to subscribe to LivingAfterWLS keep in mind that every subscriber receives:

Free Exclusive Monthly “You Have Arrived” email newsletters covering pertinent topics for living after weight loss surgery.

Free Exclusive Special Edition “You Have Arrived” email newsletters that are topic oriented covering issues for making the most of the WLS tool.
Past issues included:
  • Beating The Snack Monster Issue
  • Special Pre-OPS Issue
  • Independence Day Holiday Issue
  • And coming August 15: Head Games After WLS Issue

Priority email response from me when you write with concerns or questions about LivingAfterWLS.

Subscribe today – You may be the lucky winner. Link for the full subscription & privacy policy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Enjoy the Blueberries!
Skip the Muffin

All of my life I believed the best way to eat blueberries was with a muffin wrapped around them. No way could plain off-the-bush berries taste good. Well, lo and behold, I've been eating blueberries by the handful and they are fabulous! I can tolerate them with my gastric bypass system, I don't overeat or get sick with them. Best of all blueberries are in season now available at supermarkets and farm stands.

With flavors that range from mildly sweet to tart and tangy, blueberries are healthy superstars bursting with nutrition and flavor while being very low in calories. Blueberries are at their best from May through October when they are in season. Researchers at Tufts University say blueberries rank number one of fruits and vegetables when it comes to destroying harmful free radicals.

When purchasing: select blueberries that are firm and have a lively, uniform hue colored with a whitish bloom. Shake the container, noticing whether berries have the tendency to move freely; if they do not, this may indicate that they are soft and damaged or moldy. Avoid berries that appear dull in color or are soft and watery in texture. They should be free from moisture since the presence of water will cause the berries to decay.

Storing: Ripe blueberries should be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator where they will keep for about a week, although they will be freshest if consumed within a few days. Always check berries before storing and remove any damaged berries to prevent the spread of mold. But don't wash berries until right before eating as washing will remove the bloom that protects the fruit’s skin from degradation. If kept out at room temperature for more than a day, the berries may spoil.

Ripe berries can also be frozen, although this will slightly change their texture and flavor. Before freezing, wash, drain and remove any damaged berries. To better ensure uniform texture upon thawing, spread the berries out on a cookie sheet or baking pan, place in the freezer until frozen, then put the berries in a plastic bag for storage in the freezer. Berries should last up to a year in the freezer.

Now, if you just can’t bring yourself to eat them plain substitute this Blueberry-Peach Crisp recipe for the ubiquitous muffin. This recipe does not contain processed sugar and it is quite delicious. As always after WLS, monitor portions. ENJOY!

Silica Vitamin Helps Slow Hair Loss

The question of hair loss comes up all the time in the WLS community. Is there anything we can do to prevent hair loss or at least decrease the severity of it? Some centers say there is nothing to be done, that patients have to live with the hair loss. Other centers say a diet of 70g. protein a day will prevent hair loss. Still other centers recommend taking a daily multi-vitamin and supplemental vitamins intended to improve hair health. I believe in taking a supplemental vitamin that contains silica which is known to improve the health, texture and volume of hair.

Hair loss usually occurs in the fourth of fifth month following weight loss surgery. During the phase of rapid weight loss, caloric intake is marginal. This puts the body in a state of panic called starvation. Think about the pictures of prisoners of war. Most victims of this atrocity are without hair because they are literally starving to death. A healthy body normally sheds ten percent of hair follicles at any given time. When a body is starving roughly thirty to forty percent of hair follicles are sacrificed as the body channels nutrition to more vital areas. During this phase hair loss is dramatic, often patients find clumps of hair on the shower floor. Remaining hair becomes drab and lifeless.

I knew hair loss was a potential result of weight loss surgery, but because I’m a “cup-half-full” person, I didn’t believe that hair loss would happen to me! That just happens to other people, I told myself! Imagine my surprise when my blonde locks were littering the bathroom floor like hair saloon. I shed some tears over that.

The hair loss is a transient effect of your gastric bypass surgery and will be resolved when nutrition and weight stabilize. When my hair began falling out, my husband, who has been a proponent of vitamin supplements all his life, found a vitamin specifically formulated for building strong healthy hair.

The vitamin I take for healthy hair and nails is
Silica Complex

It contains calcium, magnesium, zinc, boron, betaine and horsetail extract. Consumption of this supplement almost immediately retarded my hair loss and renewed my dull lifeless hair. I will continue taking this supplement throughout my life. Five years after surgery my hair is long, full and lustrous – one would never know I had suffered significant hair loss. In hindsight, I would certainly begin taking this supplement prior to my surgery. In the very least I would begin taking it soon after surgery before the signs of hair loss were apparent.

This is a large vitamin - I call it "the big ugly" and for new post-ops it will be nearly impossible to swallow. You can split the vitamin with a sharp kitchen knife or purchase a pill splitter at your drugstore. As always, check with your bariatric center if you are newly post-op.

Buy 1, Get 1 Free Vitamins at Puritan's Pride

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Film Review:
What's So Funny?
a transformation of epic proportions

by Kaye Bailey

Funny, poignant, painful and joyous – That’s how I describe Jessica Fischer’s story as presented on the DVD “What’s So Funny? A transformation of epic proportions.” Jessica was a successful stand up comic who at the young age of 23 looked obesity square in the face and laughed on stage in New York City. She captured audiences with her self-deprecating fat humor.

Then she underwent gastric bypass surgery, lost half of her body weight and suddenly she wasn’t so funny. It turns out former fatty just isn’t as funny as the 300 pound girl making fun of her own obese self. Jessica found herself reinventing her act and herself, while at the same time trying to hold on to who she was before surgery. Can’t we all relate to that?

The film not only features Jessica, but also her support network: parents, brother, sister, friends, and even surgeon Dr. Shaw. Jessica’s sister is course and skeptical, openly criticizing the “easy way out”. She says, “You’re 23! What are you doing? Get off you ass and do something – walk around the block.” But her sister later concedes how hard Jessica worked for her weight loss and that WLS was, in fact, the only option for her. “It was not an easy fix,” she states, “she needed the help. I don’t think she knew how to get out of her own way.”

Dr. Shaw calls Jessie a model patient. He said what weight loss surgery does is open a window to make it possible to change a lifetime of eating behaviors and misconceptions. He said the physical changes from gastric bypass are predictable, “What is more profound than the physical change is the psychological and social changes. Weight loss surgery corrects a medical problem that comes with a lot of social and psychological baggage.”

The best part of this film is that it is real. Weight loss surgery is tough and the road is bumpy and twisted and challenging. It's tough being fat and it's tough losing weight. Not just for the comedienne on stage - but for every person brave enough to "take the easy way out." A definite must-see film for the LivingAfterWLS audience and the people they love.

WHAT'S SO FUNNY? follows Jessica’s journey after her surgery. Not only does she lose the weight, but also her drive and ability to perform comedy, which she perceived as her "ticket" into the world of entertainment. While her physical transformation is remarkable, it is the emotional turmoil she experiences afterwards, which is truly life changing and proves to be more than she bargained for.

The DVD "What's So Funny?" may be purchased directly from Chrysalis Productions, which is not affiliated with this site I highly recommend it for anyone before or after WLS.

This DVD is produced by Chrysalis Productions, a New Jersey based non-profit organization dedicated to the production of human interest, educational, historical and/or socially relevant documentary films designed to inform and enlighten the general public.

Jessica Fischer
. Is a native of Georgetown, MA, Jessica has been performing in New York since 2001. Some favorite roles include the third witch inLady McBroth as part of the La MAMA reading series and LuLu Reilly with the Peterborough Players. She was also seen in the independent film RF. Jessica has performed her stand-up act at venues such as Stand Up New York, New York Comedy Club, Caroline's on Broadway and The Duplex. She's also performed regularly at both the Tribal Comedy Hour and The Poole Party at Don't Tell Mama's. A theatre arts graduate of Bridgewater State College in MA, Jess is now in rehearsals for a new play by Boston playwright William Donnelly entitled, Host.

Sandra Longo, Producer/Director
Sandra Longo makes her directorial debut with the documentary feature, What's So Funny? After over a decade in the corporate world, Sandra worked for several years as a personal coach whose specialty was helping others to pursue their life's dreams. As a result, she felt compelled to pursue her own dream of becoming a filmmaker. A native of the Midwest, Sandra has lived throughout the United States and Bermuda. She and her husband now reside near the Jersey Shore and are parents to two five-year olds adopted from Guatemala. She is currently in production on her second feature documentary, as well as co-producing a television pilot.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Dinner tonight?
Chicken, Mango & Avocado Salad

One of our readers mentioned to me she enjoyed a small serving of chicken and mango. It sounded so yummy and reminded me of a recipe I tried not long ago: Chicken, Mango & Avocado Salad with Orange Dressing. Thanks Sara for the reminder! Sara is just out of surgery and this was a healthy, wise and safe food choice for her as she transitions from soft liquids to normal foods. I hope you all enjoy this healthy WLS friendly recipe!

Mangoes, a relative of the cashew, are in season from May through September. They have a thin tough skin which is green with yellow and red mottling. They can weigh as little as 6 ounces or as much as 4 pounds. There is a large seed inside the mango so the size is deceiving. A good ripe mango will smell sweet and have juicy orange flesh.

To store a mango place a ripened fruit in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Un-ripened fruit may be ripened in a brown bag at room temperature for two days. Mangoes are rich in Vitamins A, C & D.

Cookbook Software: Living Cookbook

Last week Diane shared with us her family effort to create a cookbook that will include a WLS section! Here is a description of the software program she is using.

Living Cookbook is award-winning, easy-to-use nutrition, cooking and recipe management software. Use it to create, organize, print and e-mail your recipes. Other features include a meal planning calendar, cookbook publishing, nutritional analysis, menus, ingredient database, grocery lists, web integration, import and export, reference library, powerful search engine, clone recipes, customize recipe views, backup and restore, integrated spell-checker and more. Comes with over 1000 free recipes.

Visit for more information and to download a free trial

Shari Received a Liver Transplant

For the past few weeks we’ve been following the story of Shari who was in urgent need of a liver transplant. She has received a donor liver and is in stable condition in ICU. Thanks for your thoughts & prayers at this difficult time.

We are pleased to announce that Shari finally received the liver transplant she so desperately needed. Her doctor finished the surgery Saturday night and said that it went very well. She is still recovering in the ICU, but is stable.

We just wanted to thank everyone for the unbelievable outpouring of love, support and prayers over the past three weeks. It has been an amazing source of comfort and inspiration and we have been touched by the kindness of strangers and friends alike. Shari will be overwhelmed when she learns the extent of the efforts that took place on her behalf across the nation.

We are forever grateful to the donor’s family for this amazing gift and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.

We hope that Shari’s situation has helped to draw attention to organ donation and that it will encourage those who may not have considered it before to become an organ donor. According to UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing), there are over almost 90,000 people in the United States waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, with more than 17,000 awaiting a liver, illustrating the importance of organ donation. We know how hard the waiting can be and truly hope that everyone continues to spread the word for this urgent need so that other families can experience the joy that we are feeling today.

Thanks again,
Shari’s Family, Friends & Colleagues

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Kaye's Monday Message: August 8

Hello Everyone!

Warm Wishes: We have two community members undergoing surgery this week to begin their new lives. Please send warm wishes to Megan & Regena. Both of these ladies have sent me such lovely comments – I am personally thanking them and wishing them the best of success in their new lives!

Help Needed: We continue to support through thought and prayer a friend of one of our community members who is in urgent need of a liver transplant. Our prayers continue to go out to Shari as she fights for life. Please link to Shari Kurzrok’s site for a downloadable flyer that can be distributed to hospitals, fire and police departments and posted on bulletin boards. Shari has made her career leading fundraisers for the American Red Cross – now is a chance to give back to her.

Special Edition: I’m working on a Special Edition of our newsletter “You Have Arrived”. This one is all about the mental head games we play after weight loss surgery and features my essay “I Sold My Soul to the Bathroom Scale”. It will be delivered to subscriber inboxes Monday, August 15.

Reader Feedback: We had lots of reader feedback last week in the form of comments – let’s continue the interaction as we truly become a supportive community for LivingAfterWLS. If you are uncertain how to leave a comment link here for instructions.

Have a great week & enjoy LivingAfterWLS!

Friday, August 05, 2005

WLS a Family Affair
Six Cousins – 1000+ Pounds Lost!

Diane Shields, one of the great ladies here at LivingAfterWLS, is thriving since her surgery. Presently she is working on a family cookbook that includes 7-generations of recipes. For this project she is using Living Cookbook software to develop the cookbook. “I’m working on a cookbook right now for our family reunion. I come from a very large family (in more ways than one). I emailed all of my cousins. They sent me cherished family recipes, short stories about their families, and pictures.”

Diane explained, “There's 7 generations of us. We get together every year for my grandmother's birthday. She'll be 106 this November. Food has always been a big part of our gatherings. I suppose that has something to do with many of my cousins being obese. As of right now six of us have had the WLS. So I plan to add a section of the cookbook just for us. Complete with before and after pictures.”

What a great idea – including a section in the family cookbook for WLS people. How much more supportive could you be of this new lifestyle?

Diane said last year was the first reunion she attended after losing weight. She said, “No one recognized me. I was always the chubby one of the bunch. But as the years went on they put on the weight as fast as I did. One of my cousins had scheduled her surgery for last October but backed out. After I got through talking with her and promising to be there for her, she rescheduled for January. She was down 70 pounds the last time I spoke with her.”

When Diane and her cousins tallied the weight loss the realized the six of them had lost of a-half ton of weight. More than 1000 pounds lost! “We are each in the DOUBLE CENTURY CLUB. Well except for the last one, but to reach goal she'll join the club too! So you can plainly see WLS is a way of life for many of us.”

Way to Go Diane & Family.

The Incredible Egg Cooker

From reading my food diary you’ll see I eat hard cooked eggs often. I have the most brilliant appliance called egg cooker that I use to keep a supply of perfectly hard cooked eggs on hand. Simply load the tray with six eggs, pierce the shells with the pin, add water, cover, set the timer and off you go! Within minutes perfectly cooked eggs. I allow them to cool slightly and refrigerate them in the shell away from the raw eggs.

Now, I’m not going to suggest breaking the no-snacking rule; but sometimes having an egg between meals is a great pick-me-up. Remember, an egg has 7 grams of protein and is a perfect fit for your tiny tummy.

Diane asked, "What is one kitchen gadget you would not be without???" Great question - click the survey on the left. Thanks Diane!

Vitamin B - Take Sublingual Tabs for Effective Nutrition

If you are having a hard time remembering to go in to the doctor for your Vitamin B shot there is an acceptable alternative - Sublingual tabs you slip under your tongue to dissolve. Taken once daily a WLS patient can avoid B-vitamin deficiency. As we know the malabsorptive nature of the gastric bypass system prohibits adequate amounts of B-complex vitamins from food sources from entering the body of weight loss surgery patients. Annual blood tests indicate that patients who do not supplement their diet with B-Complex Vitamins are deficient.

B-Complex vitamins are found in both meat and plant foods. Most dietary supplements contain the B-Complex vitamins, but many WLS patients elect to take an additional B-Complex tablet. There is risk of B-Complex deficiency due to malabsorption and limited food intake. B-Complex tablets can be purchased in sublingual form – a small tablet placed under the tongue to be dissolved and absorbed through the soft tissues of the mouth.


It has long been believed, although not scientifically supported, that mega doses of B-complex vitamins will combat everyday stress, boost energy and control food cravings. I can recall years ago my moody grandmother taking a trip to see the town doctor for a B-12 shot. Much to grandfather’s relief she returned from the visit cheerful and seemingly stress-free. In those days it was common for women “going through the change” to take B-12 shots.

The Vitamin B complex refers to all of the known essential water-soluble vitamins except for vitamin C. These include thiamine (vitamin B1) riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3) pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) pyridoxine (vitamin B6) biotin, folic acid and the cobalmins (vitamin B12). Each member of the B-complex has a unique structure and performs unique functions in the body. B-Complex vitamins support energy production, the immune system, proper cell division and support the nervous system.

Recent research conducted by the National Institute on Aging found that women over age 65 with a vitamin B12 deficiency were twice as likely to suffer from depression as those with a full store of the vitamin. Maybe Grandma was right to visit her doctor for that shot of cheerfulness. Today things are easier, slip a tab of feel-good nutrients under your tongue.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Exciting New Features at LivingAfterWLS

I’m happy to announce two new features added to the LivingAfterWLS community – a library page and some fun surveys.

The brand new LivingAfterWLS Library is a small, but rapidly expanding directory of helpful books/videos recommended by community members. There is a quick link to email me your recommendation, and also links to our affiliate, for each book or video mentioned. Keep checking in as our library grows to include cookbooks, fitness videos, health & nutrition books, self-improvement and gastric bypass books

For fun I’ve added some quick surveys to the site. Scrolling down this page on the left you will find the survey, “What stage are you at in LivingAfterWLS?” Please check your answer and click “vote now” – you will see the real-time results of the online survey. Cool, huh?

The new Library page also has a survey, “How many nights a week do you cook at home?” I’m curious about what our community members are doing. Aren’t you? Click over to that page and participate in this survey!

I hope you enjoy these features. As always, I love your comments and suggestions – email me!

Best wishes,

Bead Bags for Supplements
A Brilliant Idea!

Leave it to our brilliant and innovative frequent contributor, Kim Stover, to come up with an “out of the box” great idea for an ordinary craft product. She’s found little bead bags are perfect for organizing a daily supply of vitamins – and who among us isn’t always looking for a better way to organize our supplements! Kim wrote,

“I meant to tell you about something that I found at Michael's Craft Store. Do you have a Michael's in your area? If not, I'm sure that any craft store would carry this item. Anyhow, it is a box of mini-zipper baggies. They come in a box of 200 and you can find them in the beading section. The ones that I purchased are 2"x3" and the cost was about $2.50. I've started to pack my vitamins in these little wonders. Perfect! I sit down at the kitchen table with my pharmacy in front of me, bag up one or two weeks worth of daily pills and then I'm done! It becomes a "grab 'n go" item as I’m running out the door (especially on a day like today...). Brilliant, no?”

Brilliant, YES! Thanks Kim, as always, for sharing with us. Please readers, if you have other ideas for organizing supplments let's hear about it! Post your comments today - Thanks!

The Newbie Pantry – What’s in Your Cupboard?

Diane Shields, one of the great ladies here at LivingAfterWLS and an exceptional cook in her own right, has provided a list of what she kept in her pantry as a WLS Newbie. She makes the knowledgeable statement, “The hardest part of this surgery is not getting into a rut with what you eat. For those just starting out, they need to know that a variety of foods are best. Natural, whole foods are essential. I cook from scratch most of the time. That way I can control what I put into my body.”

Diane sent a recipe for Thai Peanut Butter Burgers – be sure to give it a try – it is melt in your mouth delicious! Thanks Diane!

Here is what she had on hand to keep her fed, happy and losing weight after surgery:

Sugar free Jell-o
Beef & chicken bouillon
High protein puddings
Unflavored protein powder (I added this to Jell-o and bouillon)
Ready-To-Drink protein drinks
Assorted flavors powdered protein shake mix
Refried beans
Eggs, cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese
Assorted seasonings and herbs

What’s in your pantry? Newbies & Old-Timers alike comment here!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

What is “Fitness Walking”?

In Monday’s post I mentioned my August goal is to walk 60 fitness miles and Diane asked, “What is fitness walking?” Great question! As I define it, fitness walking is the deliberate specific act of walking for fitness. Not strolling through the mall or walking in the park or playing with the dogs. To me, fitness walking is intent focused walking specifically for exercise.

There are several reasons I set my goal for “fitness walking.” First of all, I have not walked deliberately for exercise since early May. I’ve told myself doing yard work, playing with the dogs, walking around the ranch is enough. I convinced myself parking further out in the parking lot or taking extra stairs would keep me fit and I didn’t need to walk on the treadmill or power walk in the neighborhood.

This activity has not been enough.

I’m losing my fitness edge, my body feels soft. But worse, I’ve not had the energy reserves I enjoyed earlier this year and I’ve felt more stress lately. Last week I began reading Denise Austin’s book, “Shrink Your Female Fat Zones” and came across this quote: “Walk for energy. Walk for lower blood pressure. Walk for stress release. Walk for you.” The light went on! Of course! That’s what I’m missing in my day, a good old fashioned fitness walk.

“I love to walk. It’s such a great way to work out. It boosts your metabolism and puts you in a fabulous mood. After I walk, I feel invigorated and have a wonderful sense of self-accomplishment. I’ve found that it’s one of the best tools for permanent weight loss.” Denise Austin

So, this month I’ve scheduled time on my calendar for fitness walking for my physical and mental health. Since the first days out of WLS I’ve enjoyed walking and, dare I say, embraced it as a way of life? Yet I allow one week to go without walking, and then another and soon two months have passed and I’m out of the habit. How can it be so easy to give up something that makes me feel so good?

Fitness Walking! It’s on my calendar. What about yours?

Best wishes,

Monday, August 01, 2005

Why Are Men So Hard-Headed About WLS?

One of our readers, Diane, posted a thoughtful comment to this older post. She asks us, "Why do they have to be so hard headed?" Let's get some thoughts going about why it is so tough for men to undergo gastric bypass. Comments appreciated and men - feel free to chime in.

Men & Weight Loss Surgery
Is There a Social Stigma?

It’s estimated 200,000 American’s will undergo gastric bypass surgery this year. Only 15 percent, 30,000, will be men. Yet obesity statistics in this country indicate morbid obesity is not gender specific. About 60% of American men and women are obese. So why are so few men, comparatively speaking, going under the knife to lose weight?

It has long been known that if a man wants to lose weight he’ll go to the gym, pump some iron and maybe run a few laps. Seldom does he head for the kitchen to fix a nutritious, balanced low calorie meal. Men are genetically predisposed to lose weight more quickly than women. Most experts agree men tend to lose weight faster because they typically have more lean muscle mass and a lower body fat percentage than women. Said simply, men generally have a higher metabolism, or rate at which they burn calories, because they have more muscle.

Given the better odds for quicker success can we conclude that men are opting for conventional weight loss methods - diet and exercise – before considering gastric bypass as a plausible option?

Perhaps. But it’s been my experience that obese men, like obese women, are ashamed of being fat, ashamed of failing to lose weight and ashamed to take the last-resort surgical option for weight loss. And unlike women, men don’t cluster to talk about their “feelings” or the shame and self-loathing that accompanies obesity. Not surprisingly, many men feel very alone in their battle of the bulge.

One man, William, who secretly underwent gastric bypass said, “It is very difficult for men to reach out and ask for help because obesity is still very much considered a ‘women's disease’. Men may also not want to come forward for fear that people will think they are vain or worse weak.” When someone asks William how he is losing weight he answers with a slap on the back and a wink, “Working my ass off at the gym, buddy – you ought to try it!” He doesn’t even mention diet, portion control or nutrition.

Women are more often prompted to pursue weight loss, including gastric bypass, for self-esteem issues. They need to recover a sense of self-worth or validation, they need to feel attractive to future mates. Women often perceive that being overweight is a character flaw and by fixing it they can become a better person. Many believe media presentation of perfection fuels this perception. Men have generally been immune to unrealistic standards and historically an overweight man was one of affluence and abundance.

These days more and more men are prompted to lie on the surgical table for health reasons, few will admit having surgery to improve their self-esteem. Obesity related health problems scare, and perhaps, shame men to have surgery, lose weight and become healthier. But social stigma shames men into keeping quiet about it.

“I watched three men in my family, one-by-one, drop dead from massive heart attacks. Near as I could tell I was next,” said 37-year-old Frank Elliott. “At 385 pounds I needed to do something fast. So I had the surgery, I lost the weight and kept my mouth shut about it. I was ashamed of being so weak that I couldn’t lose weight on my own.”

Because men are reluctant to go public with their obesity solution there is a lack of male-bonding or support for one another. One LivingAfterWLS reader, Rob said, “I’m finding it difficult being one of the very few men who’ve had this surgery locally. By nature, I’m a talkative and sometimes overly reflective and analytical person. Maybe this is why I get a real sense of fulfillment when I can “talk shop” with other WLS people. But men, by nature I believe, don’t tend to want to band together in the support groups like women seem prone to. This lack of a true peer support system makes it a bit tough.”

Surprisingly men tend to celebrate the same “magic moments” women do when it comes to massive weight loss. Rob said, “The physical changes have been such a treat! I was wearing size 60 pants this time last year and I’m buying 46s and 48s now. Buying clothes is a blast!! One of my biggest short-term goals was to be able to go to most any store in town and buy clothes off the rack. I’ve jumped for joy each time I’ve had to take my watch to the local jeweler to have a link removed from the band. Did I mention that the physical changes have been a treat? I have collarbones now! The girl at the lab can find my veins by sight instead of “poke and fish” now. I’m almost down to having only a single chin!”

Wouldn’t it be great if he had a support network of men who were celebrating the same milestones?

In the context of human relationship male bonding is most likely to happen on the sports field, at the bar or in the stadium stands. Perhaps this is where the WLS male contingent needs to gather, rather than in the traditional meeting room on folding chairs. Given a familiar and comfortable environment where the words “emotions” and “feelings” aren’t requisite for the event I submit WLS men could build a camaraderie based on shared experience and common compassion.

Will that bust the social stigma for overweight men who chose to control their obesity with surgery? Probably not. But if it can help one or two or a hundred men become more self-respecting and more self-assured then why not? In the meantime, we have several male subscribers to LivingAfterWLS. Rob is one of them. I’m happy you are here.

© 2005 Kaye Bailey - All Rights Reserved