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Monday, February 27, 2006

Recipe of the Week & Sugar

Did you all receive the LivingAfterWLS Recipe of the Week Newsletter yesterday? It featured a bistro menu of roasted chicken, steamed asparagus and balsamic strawberries for dessert. One of our astute community members, Mimo, wrote to me regarding this menu. She said,

"Greetings, and Salutations! I enjoy your newsletter and am concerned that you are offering a recipe with sugar in the first 3 ingredients! I have not used, have not craved or even wanted, sugar in any form -- with the exception of fresh and occasionally dried fruit.

I realize we each have a choice in re: consuming refined sugar. I choose to omit it from my menu."

First, I commend Mimo for her choice to omit sugar from her food selections. She is just under 3 months post-op and enjoying a terrific weight loss. She brings forward an excellent point about the sugar called for in the Balsamic Strawberries recipe. Sometimes when I work on these newsletters I'm so close to the information that I forget to include the reasons behind the menu.

This bistro style meal is designed to satisfy every taste need from the savory chicken to the spring fresh asparagus to the sweet and tangy fruit finish. Patients who address all flavor needs in a meal report feeling more satiated for longer after the meal. They also report feeling fewer post-meal cravings. That's what we are looking for in balance so we are able to sustain weight loss and maintain a healthy weight in the long-term.

The menu is designed to be high protein sided with nutrient rich vegetables and finish with antioxidant rich strawberries. The components of the meal satisfy several different nutritional and comfort needs associated with food. Four ounces of roast chicken with 1 / 4 cup of onions and mushrooms is the bulk of the meal - 34.5 grams of protein and 4.6 grams complex carbohydrates. Roasted chicken is an all-time satisfying comfort food for many people.

One-quarter cup of asparagus tips with a squeeze of lemon contains 1.3 grams complex carbohydrates and .7 grams fiber all for only 7 calories. The grassy taste with the sour lemon is a refreshing and satisfying spring taste.

The meal concludes with Strawberries in Balsamic Vinegar Marinade. To make this one cup of strawberries, rinsed and quartered, is sprinkled with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. This causes the berries to release their natural sugars. After enjoying the chicken and vegetables the balsamic berries finish the meal with just enough sweetness and tang to satisfy any sweet craving. A ¼ cup of berries is 20 calories and 3.7 grams of sugar. By the way, 1.8 grams of sugar occur naturally in the berries, the other 1.4 is from the refined sugar and .5 from the vinegar. A sugar substitute such as Splenda or Equal will not result in a favorable maceration of the berries and most likely will cause a slight off-taste.

Observing the portion sizes indicated the overall nutrition for this meal is very good at 239 calories, 35.5 grams protein, 5.5 grams fat and 10.7 grams healthy carbs. That makes it 61% protein, 21% fat and 18% carbs.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Fit is It Spotlight: Donna Estrada

Email Me The Fit Is It Challenge

Recently Donna Estrada introduced herself to me and I immediately liked her! She said, “I Love to exercise!!! Now that I can do it all I have so much fun. I have made exercise a part of my life it's not such a drag, I look forward to my workouts I leave feeling stronger and healthier.”

“For me exercise plays a big part in my life I am proud of the time and effort I put into it. Even when I don’t get the results I want on the scale I can look back and say well you stuck to your exercise plan this week and you didn’t let other things in life get in the way of that. I still feel like I have accomplished something.” Well said, Donna! These are words we could all live by, don’t you think?

Donna is 2 ½ years post-op and has maintained a loss of 120 lbs. She goes to the gym five days a week fearlessly trying many different classes including core, strength, spinning, eliptical and most recently a “group power” class that involves barbells for weight training set to music. Sounds like fun! Donna said The group power” class works every part of your body. I love it!”

She admits to being challenged by the core routine but was encouraged by the instructor. The instructor said, “You have to work on building up those muscles.” When Donna, who would like to lose 10 more pounds, asked if she needed to lose more weight to successfully do the core routine her instructor said, “There are people who weigh more than you and they can do it because they have built up their muscles.”

Donna was encouraged, “I felt better and I have a new exercise goal to work on.”

Thanks for the inspiration Donna & keep up the great work and wonderful attitude!

Denise Austin Website

Denise Austin, the modern woman’s fitness leader, has some midsection (core) Do’s and Don’ts that I have found helpful. From her book, “Shrink Your Female Fat Zones” on pp. 144-146:

Do zip up your abs all day long. Whenever you get a free moment, look down. Are you allowing your abs to pooch outward? Pull them in!

Do protect your back. Do this by keeping your lower back pressed down to the floor and bringing your navel toward your spine during this type of abdominal crunch.

Do keep your head in a neutral position. Do this for every exercise. To know what this feels like, stand against a wall, aligning your buttocks, shoulder blades and head against the wall. Now walk forward. Take a moment to memorize that feeling.

Do stay smooth. Resist the urge to use your arms to jerk your head forward during abdominal exercises that require you to place your hands behind your head.

Do exhale at the proper time. Exhale whenever you contract your abdomen during an exercise.

Do stay consistent. Fortunately the abdominal muscles respond quickly to toning – no matter what your age. Consistently work your abs and back at least three times a week to keep them fit and firm.

Don’t get discouraged. Ab work can feel tough, especially in the beginning (as Donna learned). Just do your best. As a general rule go until you start to feel the burn and then do two more.

Don’t rush. The more slowly you do each exercise the more effective the movement.

Don’t ignore stretching. Stretches help you to make the most of your abdominal work by allowing you to recover between exercises, helping you to work each movement to your fullest potential.

Be sure to visit Denise’s Website for great tips on healthy living and exercise. She has some terrific newsletters available!

As for my Fit Is It Challenge – I’ve made my goals (240 minutes) the last two weeks and it feels great saying that! In fact, during the last two weeks I have worked long hours on the LivingAfterWLS website upgrade (coming March 5) and I think my exercise is the only thing that has kept me sane!

Good Luck Everyone! Write and tell me how you are doing!

Email Me your Fit Is It Story!!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Introducing Regina Chayer
Photographer Extraordinaire

Regina Chayer and I have been writing to one another for several months but it was just last week she revealed her secret to me. She is a talented gifted photographer. I was breathless looking at her online photo gallery and you will be too. Please visit her gallery at this link:

Photos by Regina Chayer

Regina told me, "I do carry my camera with me almost everywhere, you just never know when a great shot will appear! I don't make a living with photography, but I do sell some of my work via greetingcards, stock photography, as well as doing a few weddings and some portrait work. I recently won 3rd place in a contest sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of Art. That was a big thrill!"

Regina is a little over six-months post-op. She said, "I work in an office at a desk 40-hours a week so my free time is spent trying to get outside and seeing some of the natural world. I started a few years ago during a difficult time in my life as a way to force me to get out of the house. I got hooked and have never looked back. The shutter bug really bit me! I have not been shooting as much since my surgery because of focusing on health and exercise, but as more weight comes off and the weather improves, I know I will be back out there snapping away."

I can hardly wait to see more of Regina's work! Thank you for sharing your talent and WLS inspiration with us! Regina is the featured inspiration in tomorrow's You Have Arrived Postcard Club! (click the sign-up link in the blog header to recieve this email.)

Kim's Meatballs from Heaven!

Back by popular demand - Kim's Meatball from Heaven! This is one of our most popular LivingAfterWLS recipes - enjoy it this week!

Original recipe by Kim Stover
Let me start out by saying that I try to use organic ingredients as much as possible. These meatballs are a meal in themselves. Enjoy!

1 lb ground skinless turkey breast
1 small chopped onion
2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
5 oz. frozen chopped spinach
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup low or no sugar whole grain cereal flakes
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning blend
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 egg and 1 egg white
½ cup shredded mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste
Non-stick cooking spray

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place spinach in a strainer and run some cool water over the pile and let it hang out to finish thawing over a bowl or sink. Get a baking sheet and line it with foil, spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.

Spray a medium skillet with non-stick cooking spray and cook the onions, garlic and mushrooms with the 1 teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Once this cooks down and the liquid from the veggies evaporates, remove the mixture from the pan and spread it out on a plate to quickly cool. Set it aside for later.

In your food processor, place the cereal flakes, Italian seasonings, salt, pepper, and dry mustard and blend until it has turned into fine crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, place all of the ingredients in a plastic Ziploc bag and beat it with a rolling pin. Pour the crumb mixture into a large bowl. Beat the eggs slightly and add to the crumb mixture. Squeeze all of the water out of the spinach and add to the bowl along with the cooled veggies and mozzarella. Finally, add the turkey and mix with your hands…it’s the only way to get everything blended.

Form meatballs that are about 2 ½ oz each. If you have an ice cream scoop, it makes the perfect size ball. Spray it with non-stick cooking spray and you’ll get a nice release. Try and get your meatball as “tight” as possible. Place on your prepared cookie sheet. Spray the tops with non-stick cooking spray and bake for 22 minutes. If you choose to make your balls smaller or larger, adjust your cooking time and use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness. (The USDA recommends ground turkey be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F). Let the meatballs sit for a minute and then devour!

I’ll eat two meatballs with a side salad that is made of sliced tomato, freshly torn basil leaves, chopped red onion and a splash of balsamic vinegar. I’ve taken the leftovers and sliced them onto toast to make a meatball sandwich. A bit of spaghetti sauce spread on the bread is wonderful. I’ve also added the meatballs to prepared low carb spaghetti and marinara sauce. Another delicious way of using these are to smash them up and add them to scrambled eggs. A low carb tortilla wrapped around it with some salsa and you have yourself a breakfast burrito. The best part of this recipe is that it provides tons of protein in a tight little package.

You can also change it up a bit. Perhaps, lose the spinach and mushrooms and replace it with red and green bell peppers. Use a Mexican seasoning blend and jack cheese to create an entirely different flavor profile. Or, if you feel like going Oriental style, you could replace the spinach, mushrooms and onions with blanched mung bean sprouts, chopped green scallion and some grated fresh ginger. A splash of soy sauce instead of the Worcestershire and use an Asian spice blend. I don’t think that I’d use any cheese for this version! You could serve these with some steamed brown rice.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Cheerful As Spring Crocus
Refreshing Blogs to Read

I spent time this morning enjoying some of my favorite blogs - here are a few of my favorites today - Enjoy!

Through the snow
Originally uploaded by fedex_ita.

Cee Cee's WLS Journey is a great place to read about the early days and weeks after surgery. Cee Cee's new life started December 19, 2005 and she has since dropped 40+ pounds and boxed away her size 2X scrubs! She is insightful and honest sharing the good and bad of this infant phase in her life after WLS. Her recent post is a great look at the first two months of her new life.

In Cee Cee's February 7th post she mentions a common problem in our WLS world - conflicting information. Have you run into that? Her surgeon prescribed VIACTIV calcium soft chews which are calcium carbonate. The general belief on the WLS message boards is WLS patients should ONLY have calcium citrate. This is a passionate topic for many people. In my research I've found clinical studies that can sway the argument either way. My advice to Cee Cee and others is always follow the advice of your surgeon, not the message board chatter, not even what Kaye says! Your surgeon has your medical records, your blood work and he knows your body intimately. Always follow the advice of your physician.

Cee Cee - you are doing great and I enjoy the things you share! Keep up the good work and the good blog!

Over at Plow Hazard Jenn is on the homestretch with only 30 more pounds to lose. I think Jenn should open a lemonade stand because she has an uncanny ability to take life's lemons and make lemonade. I am awed and inspired by each post she shares with us. Way to go Jenn! Go visit her and be sure to link to this post to see some great pictures of one terrific lady.

For a peek into a frantic life go see TriMom at Who Moved My Cheese? I can hardly keep up with this gal - she is on the go and moving fast. She has recently changed her blog to focus on her training towards a more active life that involves swimming, skiing and future fame in the triathlon. Check her out for some laughs and motivation. TriMom's hubby is a few weeks behind her with his own WLS - they are a WLS team.

Now, I am sad to report Melissa, AKA Big Grandma, has gone missing. Perhaps she is showing off her new body on the black sand beach of Punaluu Hawaii. But what I really think is she dropped below the 300 pound mark and is still celebrating her entry into the 2's. Whatever the reason you are missing, Melissa we want you back! Update your blog soon or a bunch of us are coming to Hawaii to look for you! Any volunteers????

And last but never least is our friend Sandi at Sandi's RNY Journey. Sandi is a writer of great talent and brilliant wit - just check out her post titled "hmmm, droopy boobs" for a chance to nod you head and say, "I didn't think it would happen to me either." Next week is her 3-months anniversary and she already has her eyes on size 10 jeans! Way to go Sandi! It hasn't been all cupcakes and roses for Sandi as she suffered a terrible personal loss recently. Yet she marches along doing the best she can with vigilance toward self-evaluation and personal improvement. We can all learn from Sandi.

There are many more fabulous bloggers who I will mention another day. Please everyone, keep up the good blogs, keep sharing, keep us crying and keep us laughing. We are all in this together!

Now if you are writing a blog tell me about it! I'd love to read your story and share with others. Email Me!

Have a GREAT Day!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

LivingAfterWLS Tool:
Vitamin, Nutrition & Fitness Minder

Please Send Vitamin, Nutrition & Fitness Minder

Do you find yourself at the end of the day wondering if you have taken all your vitamins, eaten your protein and done enough exercise? Sometimes in our multi-tasking world it’s hard to keep track.

LivingAfterWLS has created a weekly tracking sheet to help you monitor your supplement intake, protein and water intake and exercise minutes. This tool is a simple to use and makes managing your health and nutrition a breeze. Two weeks are printed on one sheet of paper. If you are interested in receiving this tool click the email link above and we will send the pdf file to you free of charge. It is our little way of helping you help yourself!

You Have Arrived Boutique

You Have Arrived Vitamin Tote

Another tool to help with vitamin organization is the You Have Arrived Vitamin Tote – available exclusively to the LivingAfterWLS community. Nobody wants to pack those geriatric drugstore pillboxes around. One community member told me “Those are for sick people!” The LivingAfterWLS Tote is a classy and practical way to organize your daily vitamins. To use, simply sort your vitamins once a week into the labeled weekday pillboxes. Each morning set out the pillbox for that day and when it’s empty you’ll know you have taken all your supplements. It’s as simple as that! We have included large boxes for prescription medicine (Rx) and miscellaneous OTC medicine (Misc). All of the boxes stow safely in the sturdy plastic tote box, which can be used when traveling too.
Introductory Price: $14.00 + $2.30 S&H = $16.30

You Have Arrived Greeting Cards

Brand new in the Boutique this week – the “You Have Arrived Greeting Cards.” These gorgeous artisan-crafted greeting cards truly represent the LivingAfterWLS motto – “You Have Arrived.” One set of four cards features a hand-knit work-in-progress sweater. Two cards contain the inspirational quote "Dream, Believe, Succeed" and the other two our slogan, "Whatever else you have on your mind, Wherever else you think you're going, Stop for a moment and look where you are: You Have Arrived." Please order quickly as supplies are limited.
Introductory Price: $16.00 + $3.50 S&H = $19.30

Dog Show Winners

Originally uploaded by square2.
Ok, for those who missed the Best In Show last night a Bull Terrier named Rufus took home the big trophy at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

My own favorite breed, the Old English Sheepdog did well placing first in the herding group. The OES is pictured here - a face only a mother could love! By the way, today (February 16) is my own boy Howard's birthday. He's 12 - not too bad for an OES! Happy Birthday old boy!

Other winners:

  • Sporting Group: Golden Retriever

  • Working Group: Rottweiler

  • Toy Group: Pug

  • Non-Sporting Group: Dalmation

  • Hound Group: Scottish Deerhound

  • Maybe next year the Schipperke & Corgi will make it to the Best In Show ring!

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    The Superbowl of Dog Shows

    Originally uploaded by Demedulce.
    I know the Winter Olympics have started but the sporting event that will have my attention for the next two days is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show – the World Series/Superbowl of dog shows!

    My husband and I are lucky to enjoy the company of Howard, an Old English Sheepdog of remarkable heart and joy. Howard will be twelve on Thursday.

    I know many of you are dog lovers. Kim has three Golden Retrievers, Andie Jamari has Bichons, Julie has a Black Lab, and Corgimom has, of course, Corgis!

    So let’s hear from you dog lovers! Who is your pick to win the big silver bowl at this year’s WMKC Dog Show? My vote is for the Old English Sheepdog, of course!

    When should we share our bariatric story?

    Sharing our bariatric stories is as personal decision as electing to have the surgery itself. Some of us are very private and others of us are very open. Overall I think we do the best we can on any given day. There are times when the moment is right to share and times when it is best to keep quiet. Here are a few things this bariatric zealot has learned the last several years:

    It is well known that when a person affects a tremendous change in their life they often experience a great spirit of sharing and a desire to convert others to the new belief system. This is an altruistic desire to bestow upon others their wonderful new life. Think of converts to religious beliefs or former addicts graduating from recovery programs; often these people reach out enthusiastically to others who are as they once were. The recovering alcoholic is a champion of reform to the drunken and depressed. The born again believer is a champion to the sinners and downtrodden. So it is with the bariatric zealot, a champion to the fat and hopeless.

    The desire to share our stories - to make converts to the bariatric persuasion - is sincere and well intentioned. But just like the recovered addict or the new believer, we must tread lightly when it comes to proselytizing this new wonderful way of life. First, we cannot assume that every obese person we meet is in a place where they wish to hear about our weight loss success. Second, it is quite easy to hurt someone’s feelings by suggesting weight loss surgery – it implies inferiority, even coming from a formerly obese person.

    Think back to when you were overweight and hopeless. Didn’t you sometime feel betrayed by a former fatty gone thin? Chubby folks stick together and when one betrays the band to join the tiny tummy league the others can feel exposed and vulnerable. They can feel like failures because one of their members has succeeded where they have given up hope.

    On the other hand, a bariatric patient is an inspiration for the heavyweight hopeless among us, a living breathing shrinking miracle overcoming the obstacle of obesity right before our very eyes. It is my experience that this metamorphosis is the greatest inspiration of all. Let the physical manifestation do your talking for you and tread lightly on tender feelings. We all share a great empathy for the obese and should never forget where we came from, even after the giant clothes have long been tossed on the garbage heap.

    My simple rule is to never give advice unless I’m asked for it. I often think back to how I felt before my weight loss when well intentioned people offered “constructive criticism” to “help” me with my “problem.” I hated it when well meaning friends or doctors told me to lose weight, to get fit, eat less, exercise more. I felt ashamed when people belittled the illness of obesity saying, “just stop eating so much.” I didn’t initiate conversation about my illness with anyone, but certainly more times than I care to count I endured the constructive criticism of others who were superior to the Little Fat Girl. I became a closet eater because I couldn’t cope with the unsolicited, “constructive criticism” of strangers in the mall’s food court telling the fat lady what she shouldn’t be eating.

    By calling it constructive criticism it becomes socially acceptable to be superior to another person. When constructive criticism is offered the implication is that the person to whom the criticism is directed is in error and the person providing helpful advice is wiser and above that error. Criticism is rarely constructive. Obese people are painfully aware they are obese. They know why they are obese and they know the efforts they have exhausted trying to overcome obesity. As zealous as we may feel we never have the right to constructively criticize or give unsolicited advice to another person.

    But when asked about the wonderful transformation weight loss surgery has affected, the opportunity is ours to empathetically inspire others with hope. Love the heavy woman on the plane. Commiserate. Obesity is a lonely place to be. Sharing an intimate understanding of that loneliness will go far to ease another’s pain. And perhaps, in their own time, they will have the good fortune to experience living after weight loss surgery.

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Fit Is It Update

    This is how I looked at life last week - I wanted to sleep by the fireplace rather than exercise. sigh.

    Life is rough...
    Originally uploaded by dreamline.

    Email Me the Fit Is It Challenge

    Fit Is It Update

    Well the time has come I have to confess I did poorly last week on the Fit Is It challenge. I've been procrastinating this post because I feel a stewardship to set an example and yet I spent last week making excuses. Not feeling well. Drop-in company. Superbowl Sunday. When all was said and done I had 110 minutes of exercise. That's 130 minutes short of my personal goal for 240 minutes each week.

    Yesterday I received an email from one of my favorite LivingAfterWLS friends - Corgimom. The eye-opening quote she sent me is now front page in my Inspiration Book:

    "Though no one can go back & make a brand new start, anyone can start from now & make a brand-new ending."

    I'm committed to making a brand-new ending and I appreciate the inspiration from Corgimom. She will be 1-year post-op on March 1st and has done a remarkable job with her weight loss and personal development. I wish her tons of continued success and look forward to each email she sends.

    I've become acquainted with another of our LAWLS neighbors - her name is Felicia and she is spirited and inspiring. She found our website one night when she was surfing the web and frustrated with her personal management of the WLS. She wrote, "Thanks for being there in the middle of the night when I needed to relate and be empathized with. I am grateful."

    She completed here LivingAfterWLS Personal Self-Assessment Worksheet and took seriously the contract she made with herself. And I do mean seriously. Here's what she wrote on Tuesday:

    "There IS light at the end of the tunnel!! Did I work out today you ask???? DID I EVER!!! I reply... Today, another good no great day! I did spinning for an hour (hated every second of it! but finished it like a champ) And I went back later in the day and took the belly dancing class.... Thank you very much... (my Elvis impersonation)!" Isn't she great!

    And then she tossed the challenge back to me, "I hope you have a fantastic work out, I'll pretend that we are running, jogging, walking or whatever it is that you do at the gym... in unison... as a team..."

    I take Felicia's challenge and hope you will to. We CAN succeed with our WLS, we just need to do it in unison... as a team...

    So here's to a better week and a new start at making a brand-new ending!!!

    Thanks everyone for the inspiration.

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    The Bottled Water Dilemma

    Bottled water 1
    Originally uploaded by dotjay.

    One World News reported last week that consumers spend a collective $100 billion on bottled water each year. They report consumption of bottled water in developed countries has increased 57 percent since 1999.

    While I drink tap water at home I often buy bottled water for the convenience. I don't particularly believe bottled water is healthier than tap water, it is simply more convenient.

    You can recognize a person in pursuit of weight control by their ever present bottle of water. As we all know water is a key player in weight loss and weight maintenance.

    During weight loss there are many waste products to eliminate. A high water intake protects you and helps your body to rid itself of waste products efficiently, promoting better weight loss. In addition water fills the pouch and helps to prolong and intensify your sense of satisfaction with food. Feelings of hunger can often be relieved by drinking water.

    Water consumption plays a key role in weight management as well by flushing toxins, staving hunger and preventing dizziness that results from dehydration.

    The question raised by the environmental think tank the Earth Policy Institute (EPI) is the ecological soundness of bottled water. "Tap water comes to us through an energy-efficient infrastructure whereas bottled water must be transported long distances--and nearly one-fourth of it across national borders--by boat, train, airplane, and truck. This 'involves burning massive quantities of fossil fuels,'' EPI Researcher Emily Arnold said.

    Contributing further to the economic impact is the cost of fossil fuel to manufacture bottles. 'Making bottles to meet Americans' demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 U.S. cars for a year,'' Arnold said.

    Here-in lies the dilemma for our LivingAfterWLS community. We are committed to our water intake, we are people on the go and need a steady supply of water, health researchers are telling us don't reuse the bottles because they harbor bacteria and environmentalists say the economic impact of bottled water is killing the planet.

    What are we supposed to do to meet our needs, respect our health and the planet?

    I drink tap water at home, but I also keep a supply of bottled water in my car and at my office. When I stop to put fossil fuel in my car I usually buy a bottle of water to take on the road.

    What is your strategy for always having available water? Do you worry about the enviornmental impact of bottled water?

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Double Cheese Meatloaf

    This recipe for Double Cheese Meatloaf is the most popular recipe on the LivingAfterWLS website. There's a good reason for that - it is high in protein, big on flavor and easy to make. Why not consider trying it for tonight's dinner? And remember, you can always substitute ground turkey for beef or pork if you have a low tolerance.


    LivingAfterWLS Recipe Index

    Are you receiving the LivingAfterWLS Recipe of the Week? If not enter your subscription email address below and update your interest categories. This Sunday's issue features a complete "Valentine's Dinner for Two" menu and recipes.

    Recipe of the Week Email Newsletter

    Vitamin Sale Extended!
    Buy 2: Get 3 Free

    Just a quick note - our vitamin affiliate, Puritan's Pride has extended their fabulous "Buy 2-Get 3 Free" vitamin sale to the LivingAfterWLS audience! Please check out their website and products for your vitamin and nutritional needs. Also, they have some great children's vitamins - now would be a terrific time to stock-up! And shipping is always only $3.95 per order!

    Take Your Health to Heart: Buy 2 & Get 3 FREE!

    For a list of Kaye's recommended supplements visit the LivingAfterWLS Vitamins & Nutrition page.

    Exclusive Vitamin Tote
    Have you ordered your "You Have Arrived Vitamin Tote" yet? This is the first of many exclusive products we are introducing in the "You Have Arrived Boutique." This is a classy yet practical way to manage your daily vitamin supplements - think Martha Stewart meets Marilyn Monroe! Order your tote today - supplies are limited!!!

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    Chocolate – What’s Good, What’s Bad

    2005 Valentine's day chocolate
    Originally uploaded by appler.

    If there is one food people are emotional about it’s chocolate. We love it, want it, crave it, fear it. Thoughts of chocolate evoke tender feelings of comfort and self-pampering. We associate chocolate with happy times and consider it a must-have tonic in times of stress and anxiety. With Valentine’s Day next week the store shelves are loaded with the “guilty pleasure.” Let’s take a look at the latest scientific beliefs and establish the facts before we let chocolate be part of our LivingAfterWLS diet.

    Chocolate comes from roasted cacao beans, which are mashed into a thick paste, heated to liquid state and then tempered before being shaped into bars. Sugar and vanilla are added during the mashing phase. The result of this process is cocoa butter, chocolate liquor or cocoa.

    The cocoa butter in chocolate is a saturated fat. According to recent studies the body is able to turn the cocoa butter fat into monounsaturated fat in a process similar to pressing olive oil. According to Dr. Andrew Weil chocolate appears to be neutral in regard to cardiovascular health and may actually lower serum cholesterol. In addition it contains strong antioxidant activity, equivalent to that of red wine and green tea.

    Dr. David Katz, a nutrition expert with the Yale School of Medicine agrees with Dr. Weil. "There are some unique health benefits in chocolate," said Katz. “These include an array of antioxidants that have been shown to give some protection against cancer. In fact, cocoa has more flavanoids — an important antioxidant — than green tea. It's probably the richest source of flavanoids in our diet," he said.

    Is this carte blanche to indulge in chocolate? Probably not. Dr. Katz warned “chocolate will never help you lose weight. While chocolate may be high in nutrients, it is also high in calories. Even a new sugar-free chocolate introduced by Godiva doesn't give people a free pass to go overboard.”

    What is the best chocolate in respect for the WLS?

    From a health standpoint the best choice is high-quality, plain, dark chocolate. Dr. Weil suggests, “Cheaper brands contain less actual chocolate, often replacing expensive cocoa butter with unhealthful hydrogenated vegetable oils. The first ingredient on a bar of high-quality chocolate should be chocolate (also called chocolate liquor, cacao or cocoa. It should never be sugar.”

    Quality chocolate will bear a “percent” of cocoa. Bitter baking chocolate is 100% cocoa. Most people enjoy and are satisfied by 70 percent cocoa and 80 percent is too bitter than most people enjoy. Remarkably, most people who enjoy an occasional treat of quality chocolate report being satisfied with a very small one-once serving. carries a line of quality organic chocolate. A one-ounce serving of Dagoba 74% dark chocolate contains 159 calories, 7 grams fat, 13 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams protein, 8 grams sugar and 4 grams fiber.

    In comparison, a 1-ounce serving of Hershey’s Dark chocolate contains 152 calories, 8.6 grams fat (4.6 grams saturated) 2 grams protein, 17 g grams carbohydrate, 15 grams sugar. And the Hershey’s Dark Chocolate is only 35% cocoa, which means the flavanoids, and antioxidants are not dense.

    Either choice is a gamble. Considering the fat and sugar content of both examples even one ounce of chocolate is a potential dumping disaster for the gastric bypass patient. For the lap-band patient who doesn’t fear dumping the potential to eat more than a one ounce serving is a potential weight-gain disaster.

    Dr. Katz said dark chocolate is the best choice because it is rich in fiber, magnesium and antioxidants. Moderation is the key. "It's an indulgence," said Katz. "But if you choose wisely, you can get some health benefits

    Be Your Own Valentine

    Originally uploaded by Andrew Pescod.

    It seems almost universal that WLS people have often been the givers in their lives notoriously putting themselves last. As we engage in our new lives I believe it is important to start putting ourselves and our needs first. Karen Dahlman has written a terrific article about treating ourselves well. Let's make February the month where we treat ourselves as "our own lover."

    February is for the Self-Valentine Treatment!
    By Karen Dahlman

    Aaah yes, the month of February is upon us. What comes to mind? Visions of red hearts, chocolate and flowers? Romance, love and a significant other? February is synonymous with Valentine’s Day. The day when another special someone treats you and you treat this special person, and remind each other of the romantic love you are fortunate to share together.

    Although, Valentine’s Day seems sweet, it can also go sour when you feel pressed to long for love and romance especially when there may not be any significant other with whom to don your heart and receive your flowers. Uuggh, another year without that special treatment from a love! Look, all of us have been there at one time or another.

    Whether you are celebrating Valentine’s Day with a special someone, or feeling like you are missing out, or are avoiding it altogether, learn to welcome the month of February in another light. February can be that month when you treat yourself as though you are your own lover. Sounds freaky, but it is not. Actually, make the 14th of this month special for you even if you do not have another to share it with. Consider turning all of February into that amazing month during the year when you focus on ways to honor yourself and not wait for another to make you feel special. You can feel special by your own doing and in the process of doing so, increase your self-esteem, build your self-worth, and interesting enough, set the stage for that “special someone” to walk into your life and treat you as you would treat yourself! (Hopefully, you are treating yourself well.)

    Make February work for you and still receive your special Valentine treatment by banishing the blues and bringing in the red!

    1.) Make a Date with Yourself – set special dates just for you this month, especially on the 14th and really treat yourself. This means make an appointment for a massage, go to a fancy dinner with friends or just cook a beautiful meal for you. Spend time with yourself soaking in a tub, with bath salts, essential oils and candles lit all around. The idea is to establish the date(s), mark them in your calendar and really do them.

    2.) Nurture Your Heart – if you want flowers, treat yourself to them. Buy the chocolates you desire and have them with that special glass of wine. By the way, dark chocolate and red wine (in moderation) are healthy for the heart. Feed your heart by providing it with what you would want from a lover. The idea is to treat yourself as if you are the lover.

    3.) Lavish Your Body – treat your body to special products. Purchase a new skin conditioner or premium body butter. Once you step out of the tub, immerse you senses and skin in a wonderful and healthy product for your body. Try that new facial mask you have been meaning to use. Sip your favorite tea while your face is being cleansed. The idea is to respect and care for your body to banish any blues. You cannot feel badly when you are caring for yourself.

    4.) Open Your Mind – be positive with your inner talk. If you wish to be in a significant relationship and you currently are not, notice what your self talk is saying. Be aware of the messages you may be giving yourself and others! Just because this year, Valentine’s is not what you would like it to be, does not mean that this is a permanent experience. It just means that there is room to expand your relationship with yourself and with another. Everything is in a constant state of change, so align the inner messages and beliefs you tell yourself about love with what it is you wish to experience within your life, and things will hange to match your beliefs.

    Ultimately know that by treating yourself well, you send messages to yourself that you are worthy of such care and nurturance, that when others come into your life, they will pick up on this vibe and treat you the same. So, this February, whether you are celebrating Valentine’s Day with another or just getting through the day alone, remember to use this day as a reminder to love and care for yourself in order to create more heartfelt love within your life now and in the days to come.

    Copyright (c) 2006 Karen A. Dahlman. All rights reserved.

    Karen A. Dahlman, art therapist, licensed counselor and entrepreneurial business owner aspires to teach others to lead healthy, creative lives. She is founder and CEO of Creative Visions Consulting, Inc., a consulting & design firm for fortune 500 telecommunications companies. Developed from her work as a therapist, her well-being company, Gifts of the Goddess™ – All-Natural Body & Skin Care, inspires women to evoke their inner goddess through self-empowerment and self-care of their bodies, minds and spirits with the ultimate in luxurious and healthy choices in skin care.

    For more information about Gifts of the Goddess™ – All-Natural Body & Skin Care, visit:

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    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Lisa's Superb Banana Walnut Bread

    Originally uploaded by jaboobie.
    As WLS folks we tend to think we cannot and should not eat baked goods. In most cases this is correct for a couple of reasons. The obvious is baked goods are not particularly nutritional, tend to be high in fat and sugar which can cause immediate blood sugar problems (dumping) and in the long run result in weight gain. I'm a former baker and admittedly there are days when I miss some lovin' from the oven.

    One of our LivingAfterWLS neighbors, Lisa, has devised an exceptional Banana Nut Bread recipe that is a nutritional gold mine AND WLS compliant. I tried it the very day she sent it to me and it truly is "Lisa's Superb Banana Bread." Thanks Lisa for sharing!

    Lisa's Superb Banana Walnut Bread

    1 cup white flour
    1/2 cup oat bran
    1 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    3 mashed ripe bananas (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
    1/4 cup low fat buttermilk
    4 tablespoons room temperature butter
    1 personal size container of no sugar added apple sauce (4oz or 3 tablespoons)
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    3/8 cup Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking
    1 egg
    1 cup walnut pieces

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees

    Prepare 3 mini-loaf pans by spraying with non-stick baking spray.

    Stir together flour, oat bran, baking soda, and baking powder. set aside.

    Mash the bananas in a bowl. To the bananas add the buttermilk, butter, apple sauce, vanilla, Splenda Baking Blend, and the egg. Beat well with a mixer. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and blend until totally incorporated. Stir in the cup of walnuts. cook for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out dry. Let cool and then wrap well.

    Lisa said, "This recipe made 3 mini loaves and they were moist and wonderful tasting."

    Each loaf should be cut into 6 slices and an appropriate WLS serving is one slice. Nutrition per slice: calories: 165, carbs, 22, sugar, 3.4 grams, protein 3 grams, fiber 1.7 grams.

    Now the caveat for us all to remember. There is a danger with a baked good such as this to out-eat the pouch. A little banana bread, a little coffee, a little banana bread. See what I mean? We could easily have several slices without feeling it. We might say it's ok because the sugar content is low. This is still a high calorie processed carbohydrate. The bananas, walnuts, oats and buttermilk make it better than the average baked good, but it is still very high in calories. Take it slow and enjoy it, remember mindful eating in moderation is a one key to long term success.

    Health Points: Bananas & Walnuts

    Bananas are rich in potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining heart function and blood pressure.

    Bananas help activate the stomach lining cells protecting against ulcers and acting as an antacid.

    Bananas are effective in normalizing movement through the digestive tract and ease constipation.

    Bananas contain a compound that nourishes the friendly bacteria in the colon and helps the body absorb calcium

    Bananas are available year round at low cost.

    Nutrition per 1 medium banana:
    Calories: 108
    Protein: 1.3 grams
    Carbohydrates: 27 grams
    Natural Sugar: 14.4 grams
    Fiber 3.1 grams

    Daily Values:
    Vitamin B: 35%
    Vitamin C: 18%
    Potassium: 13%

    Walnuts contain omega-3 essential fatty acids, a special type of protective fat the body cannot manufacture.

    The omega-3 fats can improve cardiovascular health, promote better cognitive function and work as anti-inflammatory agents against asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema and psoriasis.

    Walnuts contain an antioxidant compound called ellagic acid which supports the immune system and has several anticancer properties.

    Nutrition per 1 tablespoon of dry raw walnuts:
    Calories: 175
    Fat: 16.7 (1 gram saturated)
    Protein: 6.8 grams
    Carbohydrate: 2.8 grams
    Fiber 1.9 grams

    Daily Values:
    Omega 3 fatty acids: 90.8%
    Manganese: 42.5%
    Copper: 20%
    Tryptophan: 15%

    Nutritional Data From World's Healthiest Foods.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    Lori Is Doing Fit Is It - - Times TWO!

    Email Me The Challenge

    Doing Fit Is It Times Two!

    Lori Rosendahl, the darling lady in the picture and one of our LivingAfterWLS neighbors, has taken the Fit Is It challenge and she’s doing it times two! Remember the challenge meets the government guidelines – 180 minutes a week. WELL prepare yourself to be inspired – Lori is doing upwards to 400 minutes of exercise a week.

    Lori said, “I've taken your challenge and have consistently been getting in 325 minutes of exercise in each week, but, I occasionally get in 400! I've been doing this for 5 months straight now. I've lost 129 pounds and I'm 8 months out on my surgery. I have 87 pounds to get to my goal.”

    Consider how far she has come in five months, “This is such an achievement for me, as I had to walk with a cane before WLS. Four blocks would have been out of the question. I now can do four miles. I work with a personal trainer who meets with me once every six weeks and gives me a new routine. I do 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of strength training each day.”

    We had a quote in today’s You Have Arrived newsletter that reminds me of Lori. The quote, “WLS is not just about the weight you lose, its about the life you gain.” What a great inspiration she is in the new life she has gained. Lori has a favorite slogan too. She told me, “I do struggle with trying to do this right. Weight loss surgery is not a "get out of exercise and diet jail" free card. It is my new favorite saying!”

    Isn’t she great? And here’s the really exciting news for me! Lori and I live near one another and I will soon meet her live and in person! She can expect a great big hug when I tell her, “Welcome to your new life, Lori, You Have Arrived!”

    Now, checking in on my Fit Is It week #4. I’m happy to report that last week I logged 240 minutes of fitness activity. It was the second week I had increased my challenge to 240 minutes from the 180 minutes. This week, I’m afraid I’m not doing as well and my excuses are impressive. Long working hours, bad weather, drop-in company, and so-on. I’m so happy Lori came along and inspired me to get up, get out, get moving!

    Hey everybody! Keep up the good work! Tomorrow is a new day and if Lori can do it, so can all of us! Write and tell me about your Fit Is It challenge!