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Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Next Step:
Normalizing Life with Surgical Weight Loss

(This is me and my husband, January 2007)

by Kaye Bailey
For three years of my life my thoughts, actions and focus were on one thing only: weight loss surgery. Nothing but weight loss surgery. This full-throttle-focus began the year I researched and scheduled my gastric bypass and continued for the next two years post-op as I morphed through the biggest change of my life.

And then one day I yelled "STOP!" and declared that I am not just a recovering morbidly obese person - I am a person of many dimensions beyond gastric bypass and living the weight loss surgery life. I declared a moratorium on all things weight loss surgery.

No doubt, my husband was greatly relieved for me to put that chapter to rest. Lord knows the man is patient, but he had been my one and only sounding board for three years. He was exhausted of the topic too.

Goodbye weight loss surgery person. Hello new me. I Had Arrived.

What a relief to get back to "normal". Pretend "IT" was no longer there. Not worry about the rules, the protein counts, the exercise minutes and those minor complications (dumping & vomiting). Just living. Wow! It was liberating to be about more than weight loss, surgery, four rules and curious transformation.

So for several months, almost half a year, we lived around that pink elephant (WLS) pretending it was not there and I was normal.

And guess where that *normal* got me? Yes, you know. Back to the old habits that caused my obesity in the first place. Poor food choices, dismissal of physical activity and a "devil be damned I will live how I want attitude." This was my first weight gain after surgery and my first lesson: I am not, nor will I ever be "normal". For the rest of my life, every single day, I will have to be concerned and vigilant about weight control. I will never be a person who can eat all she wants, never exercise and not gain weight. That is not my normal. Harsh reality.

So, the next task was to find balance. I certainly didn't want to go back to 24-7 all-consuming weight loss surgery living. But I couldn't forsake the my health and weight simply living in denial.

As so many of us learn, going back to "normal" is like playing with fire. While we cannot let our surgical solution tyrannize our lives, we cannot become complacent about the lifestyle we signed up for - for life.

During this last month at LivingAfterWLS we have been discussing the 5 Day Pouch Test - an opportunity to rediscover "The Tool" and a method of detoxifying from a carbohydrate cycle or poor snacking behavior. The response to this plan has been phenomenal as our WLS friends are discovering that they are not failures, the tool is not broken and with a little maintenance we can rev-up the engine and work it again, just like it was brand new.

In the days and weeks to come we will discuss methods to find balance between that ALL-WLS mentality and a NO-WLS mentality. We will look at ways to thrive in our "new normal" so that long-term weight maintenance is ours for the taking. Watch for your You Have Arrived Newsletters, the Recipe of the Week, the LivingAfterWLS Blog and the Neighborhood Community for the information you need to find balance and success with your surgical weight loss. Together we can make this work.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Live Chat is Back

The Neighborhood Live Chat is back and better than ever!

More secure.
More user friendly.
More fun!

The live chat is open to three Neighborhood registered user groups: Foundation Members, Premier Citizens and Members. It is closed to guests and search engines: this is part of our "safe haven" policy.

To become a registered member in the Neighborhood and connect with others who understand you please link here: Neighborhood Registration

Beginning next week we will resume our weekly scheduled Live Chat (Thursday's 8-10 pm Eastern time). In the meantime jump in and chat it up with people just like you, doing the best they can to live life and make the most of their surgical weight loss options.

5 Day Pouch Test Journal: Useful Tool


Yesterday in the You Have Arrived Newsletter we presented a new LivingAfterWLS Tool: The 5 Day Pouch Test Journal. This is a downloadable worksheet for use during your pouch test. Our servers were overwhelmed with requests for this tool - if you were unable to get it please click the link below and download your free form:

Download the 5 Day Pouch Test Journal

Using the Pouch Test Journal:

This simple two-page form is divided by days and asks you to record your weight, your energy level throughout the day, food intake, activity and motivation. For your convenience the daily food recommendations are included on the journal sheet. Record keeping should be honest, but brief. You don't need another burden in your day, just a visual record of your progress.

Energy level should be ranked 1 to 10: 1 is low energy, 10 is extreme energy and 5-6 is neutral. We will talk more about energy level and food intake as we continue this discussion in the newsletters, blog and Neighborhood, so please keep track while doing the Pouch Test.

With the Pouch Test we are not focused on losing weight, but we ask you to record your weight as an observation. In most cases it will go down, but if it does not please remember the scale is not our focus here. The focus is on quickly moving through the post-op diet, rediscovering our pouch and breaking a snack or processed carbohydrate cycle.

Use the margins to note water intake, vitamin intake, monitored steps or anything else you use in your individual program to optimize your health. This is your worksheet and we hope it is a meaningful tool on which you can build a strong case for getting back on track.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Kaye Answers Questions About Pouch Test

Here are some questions about the 5 Day Pouch Test that I answered in today's You Have Arrived Newsletter:

Kaye, Is this something you came up with yourself or did you get it from your doc?
This is a plan I developed based on the post-op stages given me by my center. Over the years I've done it 3 or 4 times to get back on track. When I first did this plan it was for 7 days, but it seems like 5 days works better for me. After all, we can do anything for five days, right?

Is the idea behind this that we "allow" our stomachs to shrink down a little and thus get that full-feeling sooner again?
The plan is first intended to allow your pouch to rest, just like right after surgery, to break the slider food habit and gradually work up to firm proteins that worked in the beginning to help us feel full and lose weight. It will work to help your pouch feel tighter.

I don't like protein shakes - What can I do for days 1 and 2 of liquids?
I know many of us became sick and tired of shakes early after surgery. If you wish to omit the liquid phase skip days 1 and 2; do day 3 twice, day 4 twice and day 5 once (or twice for 6 days). This program should not feel like a punishment, so work it for your personal taste.

Recipe Suggestions

Eggs don't sit well with me. Can I use cottage cheese on day 3?
Cottage cheese is a good soft protein, but we did not include it on the list for Day 3 because many consider it a slider food. If you use cottage cheese measure your portion (1 cup volume) and do not exceed that. Practice mindful eating to know when you are full.

Is there a time a day I should be eating each meal?
Again, this is your program. Work it to your schedule. The program allows that you can eat protein whenever you are hungry so try your best to respond to your body's signals.

The program is working so well, can I just stay with it?
If you are enjoying the program then we recommend you stay with days 4 and 5 alternating between the two. Day five is actually the plan that most centers recommend during the phase of rapid weight loss.

Read the ongoing discussion in the Neighborhood

Monday, August 27, 2007

Going Green Beans

This time of year is one of my favorite “eating seasons”. The abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables brings variety and wholesome goodness to the table. Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables. They are a nutritious source of vitamin C, folate, iron, beta carotene and rich in fiber. One cup of cooked fresh beans contains 44 calories, 4 grams dietary fiber, 2 grams protein and just a trace of fat. Most surgical weight loss patients report a high tolerance for cooked green beans.

When shopping for fresh green beans they should be firm and snap crisply when you bend them. Chose slender, straight beans with a “peach fuzz” feel, free of nicks or rusty brown spots. For uniform cooking choose beans that are of similar size.

When I was a young girl I thought my Grandma Rhoda cooked green beans perfectly. She would boil them in salted water until they were very tender, drain the water and add fat from the bacon grease can she kept on the stove. Sometimes she included sliced onions or crumbled bacon. I loved these so much I could eat myself silly on them.

Times have changed and I think I have found an equally delicious way to prepare the seasons best green beans: Oven Roasting. Adjust the quantities of ingredients allowing 1/4 pound of beans and 1/4 onion per serving.

Oven Roasted Green Beans

Green beans
Sliced onion
Minced garlic (optional)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 425F.

Snap ends off green beans. Rinse under cold running water and drain. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Top beans with sliced onion and minced garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast in preheated oven 15 minutes. Using tongs, toss beans to mix. Continue roasting 10-15 minutes to desired doneness. Serve warm.

I usually buy several pounds of fresh beans at the Farmer’s Market and then prepare them this, seal in vacuum pack bags and freeze to enjoy during the winter. Simply thaw and reheat in a microwave oven.


More Green Bean Recipes:

Green Bean Casserole
Green Beans with Caramelized Onions
Green Beans with Toasted Almonds
Green Beans with Dijon Mustard Sauce
Green Beans with Glazed Pearl Onions

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fixing Broken Windows

I am posting this essay from the July 10, 2007 You Have Arrived Newsletter. We have so many new members who may have missed this - and it talks about some key steps to attacking a stall or weight gain. I hope you enjoy and would love to hear your thoughts.

Fixing Broken Windows

by Kaye Bailey

There is a popular theory in urban renewal that suggests fixing broken windows as they happen is the key to reducing crime and preventing urban decay. The theory is based on a 1982 Atlantic Monthly article by George L. Kelling. He writes, "Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside."

Perhaps it's a stretch but I believe it is possible to apply the "Broken Window" theory to our post-weight loss surgery health and wellness. The broken window, of course, would be a lapse in compliance with our program: eating unhealthy foods, the absence of exercise and so forth. If we break a window one day and do not fix it the next then we risk breaking another window. But if we practice self-renewal and fix that broken window promptly we can avoid the intrusion of vandals and squatters who would break more windows pollute our healthy new body.

The challenge herein is that if we allow the broken window to go without repair we then become the vandals to our own building (body). At times it is far easier to give permission to the squatters than it is to kick them out. One day of missed exercise leads to another and another and pretty soon the sloth-squatter has set-up camp in our building. I know for me all it takes is three missed workout sessions and my sloth-squatter is quite at home enjoying the broken windows. But when I saw the pattern I came to understand that one broken window (missed workout) could be repaired without struggle. Repairing three broken windows demands a forceful and determined self-renewal to fix my building.

In cities and in life there will always be broken windows. A broken window is not a sign of failure or neglect. Windows are made of fragile glass that sometimes breaks. And though we may pretend to be tough as steel we are more like glass: fragile and prone to occasional breakage. Windows can be fixed. Fix your broken windows promptly and forbid the squatter's entry. You've worked hard for your new life; give yourself the gift of self-renewal.

More essays by Kaye Bailey

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What is Fun Friday?

Fun Friday is an interactive Neighborhood game where we become better acquainted with one another by answering questions. We started Fun Friday in March of 2006, shortly after the Neighborhood was born. Each week a community member poses a question, another member offers prizes and the person who posed the question awards the prizes for the week. That person is also responsible to tag the next person to ask the questions.

Join the Neighborhood and play Fun Friday Today!

Tami aka Poohlady is the Fun Friday Hostess. She does a great job of keeping the conversation flowing, managing the prize trunk and prompting the awarding of prizes. I appreciate her effort in this area!

When asked to pose the Fun Friday question the member should PM that question to both Tami and me. On Friday morning Tami posts the Fun Friday to the Fun Friday Forum. We let the contest run through Tuesday of the following week and the *judge* awards the winners on Wednesday.

Questions can be serious, silly or sublime! We have some highly creative writers here and some truly fascinating answers have emerged by way of Fun Friday.

The Fun Friday game is not exclusive - we love for EVERYONE to participate. The more the merrier! So come one, come all and join in the fun. It's a great way for our new Neighbors to break the ice!

Fun Friday Hall of Fame 2006

Fun Friday Hall of Fame 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Support: Another LivingAfterWLS Power Tool

We have been talking about getting back on track with our weight loss surgery lifestyle. A scientifically proven key element in long-term healthy weight maintenance is the existence of a support group. We all know this and in fact, many of us participated in live support groups prior to surgery and in the first year or so following surgery.

An interesting trend to note is that as we near or reach our goal weight we tend to drift away from the support groups as we engage in living or grow weary of the focus on bariatric pre-ops or newbies. I have received hundreds of letters from people who say, "My bariatric support group is entirely focused on pre-ops or new post-ops. But where is the support for me three years after surgery?" Have you been there, done that? And then next sentence usually reads, "I feel so alone and feel like a failure."

Letters like this break my heart because when I was three years out I felt totally alone and isolated, frustrated that nobody understood how much work this "easy way out" really is. I understand the inherent loneliness that can be a part of this weight loss solution.

The simple fact is that we need life long support, compassion, understanding and empowerment to survive and thrive with weight loss surgery.

"Getting support for your efforts, whether through a friend, a trained professional or a group of fellow travelers on this same path, can ultimately mean the difference between your success and failure."
--Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for Everybody page 82.

At the risk of tooting the Neighborhood horn I must humbly say that this online community is the premier destination for the support we need to succeed. It is human nature to seek out those with whom we share a common bond, which in our case is weight loss surgery. But the Neighborhood is more than that: we celebrate our wholeness as unique and beautiful individuals who are not singularly defined by obesity or surgical weight loss.

Recently we had a discussion about our need and desire to connect for support. One of our Neighbors, Lee, said, "I'm not a big poster in general, but I sure do enjoy reading everything - no matter my own mood. It keeps me in touch with reality to know that others are experiencing both highs & lows - that’s life! It is always good to have people that can relate to what is happening, and there is no shortage of people here. Seems there is always someone who knows just what to say - even if you haven't asked a question..."

The Neighborhood
is a special place. We call it our "safe haven circle of friends LivingAfterWLS". We enjoy an advertising free environment with strict membership policies to avoid spammers or flamers. We accept each new neighbor for who they are and celebrate one another as unique individuals. We uphold the LivingAfterWLS Empowerment Philosophy and we are in this for the long run. If you haven't visited the Neighborhood lately I invite you to join us and include support as one more tool in your WLS toolbox.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Let's Get Physical!

Happy Monday Neighbors! It's a new day, a new week and another new chance to reclaim your best weight loss surgery living. How did you do over the weekend? I have heard from many of you doing the 5 Day Pouch Test and it sounds like things out in LivingAfterWLS Land are going well. Now, some of you have mentioned that Day 2 (the second day of liquids) is difficult. Maybe you feel grumpy or sluggish. If you have been in a carb cycle this is entirely possible as your body re-regulates blood sugar. If you notice symptoms of carbohydrate withdrawal you can eat a small piece of melon or an orange. You can also try a dose of Emergen-C which should reduce headache, dizziness or cramping from carbohydrate withdrawal. Stick with me; I know you will like the results from this 5 Day Pouch Test.

Today we are going to talk about getting physical as you face re-entry into a weight loss surgery compliant lifestyle. But I'm not going to talk about gyms, workout routines, rate of perceived exertion or the like. We'll save that for another day. Today it's all about getting physical in life.

The first task is to think about your pre-surgery wish list. Chances are you had a desire to be more physically active (play with the children and/or grandchildren, long walks with the dog; ride horses; go hiking; climb stairs without resting; etc.) and thus improve your quality of life. Well, today is the day that you put on your schedule a LIVING activity that motivated your surgical weight loss solution. Make time to play with the children or the pets, take a walk through the community garden or neighborhood, go swimming, ride a bike, visit a playground and swing as high as you can. There is a chemical euphoria that results when one moves to the rhythm of life.

When you schedule LIVING activity in your busy day it is a gift to yourself that you deserve. Even the simplest activities (walking) produce wonderful results:

--Improved blood circulation and blood oxygenation
--An energy boost when the "feel good" brain chemicals are released
--A relief from stress
--Quality time spent doing an enjoyable and healthy activity
--Confidence in the power and strength of your body
--Improved stamina for your daily activities
--More restful sleep
--The empowering feeling of accomplishment

This is but a short list of the benefits. You, of course, will have your own list of benefits. I challenge you to add a LIVING activity to your schedule every day for five days. Like the pouch test I believe you will be empowered and excited as you take control of your health, your wellness, your happiness and your weight loss surgery solution.

Keep up the good work - we are all in this together! Be part of the empowered movement at LivingAfterWLS Neighborhood - Your online place to connect!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

GDL: Grit Determination List

Since we are focused on getting back on track, rediscovering our pouch and empowering ourselves with success now is a great time to make a Grit Determination List. (grit: indomitable spirit: pluck)

A Grit Determination List?

Absolutely! This is a list of your Grit Priorities - the things in life about which we are unyielding; the things you will accomplish without regard or acknowledgment of life's barriers. Your list can include weight loss surgery rules and/or goals, healthy living concepts or just stuff you need to fix so you can thrive. Life has few absolutes - the GDL (Grit Determination List) is one of them. It can be a list of one or a list of one hundred. Just write it down. Hold your GDL close to your heart or share if you must. Either way, get hell-bent and uncompromising with your list.

Own it.
Live it.
Love it.

I share mine with you as a pledge to myself. After all, if my GDL is public then I have got to make it happen, right? Feel free to share your list in the comments here, on your blog or in the Neighborhood. Or, if it feels right, write it, learn it and burn it. This is your tool - use it in the most comfortable manner you know.

Kaye's Grit Determination List:

On this day, August 18, 2007 I vow to myself that I shall employ my personal powers of GRIT DETERMINATION to do the following:

1. Take my full vitamin cocktail - daily.
2. Engage in kindly self-talk with myself - daily.
3. Laugh at myself - daily.
4. Engage in "living" activity 40 minutes per day (this in addition to my scheduled exercise - 50 minutes per day).
5. Call my Dad every week.
6. Manage and clear my incoming paperwork/email - daily.
7. Empower others with positive talk even when I question my own capabilities.
8. Nap when I'm tired.
9. Manage personal guilt so that I neither feel like a failure, nor disregard life's lessons. i.e.; acknowledge that I am indeed, human.

There you have it, in the raw, my GDL. Have you started your list yet?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hell-Bent to Get Back on Track

Hello Friends!

Have you started your 5 Day Pouch Test yet? Perhaps you are waiting for the weekend or a special day to start. Perhaps you are on day 2 already. So many of you have written and are excited to use this as an opportunity to reclaim your pouch and your health. This excites me and inspires me to keep fighting my own battle against a regain.

We have our food plan in order and even some recipes. But there are two other things we can address during this pouch test: mental and emotional readiness and physical activity. Today we will look at emotional and mental preparation to restore the sense of hope and excitement we enjoyed as pre-ops and in the early weeks and months following our surgical weight loss solutions.

Do you remember back when you were researching your weight loss surgery - the sleepless nights imagining finally having a method of weight control that would work and you could get off the dieting roller coaster? There were no hoops we would not jump through to get approval and get our cure. In a June 21, 2006 You Have Arrived Newsletter I wrote about this hell-bent determination: "Ayn Rand, the noted 20th century philosopher wrote, "The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me." It is with this kind of hell-bent determination many WLS pre-ops fight their insurance providers to have the surgery. The same grit determination must be employed after surgery. If we are to achieve a healthy life we absolutely must fight like a mad dog against everything that made us obese in the first place. We must take control and own responsibility for our success."

Read the full article: Who is going to stop me?

This was the newsletter in which we introduced the LivingAfterWLS Empowerment Philosophy - many of you can probably quote it because I reference it so often. I reference it often because I believe in it, but also because I need to be reminded of it often. In part it reads:

"The LivingAfterWLS philosophy empowers individuals to recognize and harness their own inner strengths. The first step to personal empowerment is personal responsibility. LivingAfterWLS holds individuals accountable for making their weight loss surgery successful. When individuals take responsibility they feel liberated and motivated to invest personal equity in their success." Read the full statement

When we fought to get the surgery we were personally empowered. We had to be, there aren't many advocates out there fighting on the behalf of the morbidly obese.

VIDEO: Getting Ready for Weight-loss Sugery: The Process

Yet somehow, if we get to comfortable in our post weight loss surgery life there is a tendency to lose that hell-bent determination. Perhaps we take it for granted. Maybe we just get bored or distracted. Maybe we get discouraged because life after surgery has not been without struggle. Any of these things can cause us to lose hope or feel like failures. I have gone through periods of sadness and suffered feelings of failure since my weight loss surgery. Don't we all? This despair only festers if we regain some weight or sit on a plateau for an extended length of time.

But just like we can work a plan to test the pouch and get back on track, we can mentally train our mind to get back to being hell-bent determined to take personal control of our health. LivingAfterWLS is here to champion you in the cause, we are advocates who believe you deserve to be healthy, you deserve to be kind to yourself and you deserve to achieve the greatest level of success with weight loss surgery when you harness your inner resources.

Do you remember that 1970's best selling book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull"The story is a charming allegory with a profound message: push yourself as hard as you can in pursuit of you dreams. The story of Jonathan and his friend Fletcher reveals two ordinary birds who, with passion, chose to better themselves. They were not content to merely eat and sleep. They wanted to become extraordinarily good at what they could do - fly." I loved that book and I compared surgical weight loss patients to this classic story of two birds hell-bent on becoming the very best at what they could do: fly.

To the real Jonathan Seagull who lives within us all

My friends - you can recapture the grit determination that led you to weight loss surgery. You have not lost your inner strength. Take the LivingAfterWLS Self Assessment and write down exactly why you had surgery in the first place. I bet you still have strong desires for the life you thought it would bring you. If there have been bumps in the road you are normal: this is not an easy thing for any of us. Use the assessment to identify what you are doing right and how you can set a coarse to get back on track with all the determination of a plain old seagull spreading his wings to fly. Use this tool with your 5 Day Pouch Test. Spend these five days reading about nutrition and fitness and learning key knowledge about life after gastric surgery. Make notes of your dreams and desires. Make a plan. Get hell-bent on taking back your life.

And finally, remember, you never have to walk alone in this journey. We have our safe haven Neighborhood community. There are blogs all over the Internet and support groups are sprouting up around the world. Reach out for whatever support you are most comfortable with and empower one another. I believe in you and I know you believe in me. Together we are one tough fighting hell-bent pack of friends fighting to become the very best we can be.

Can you take one more bird article? Read Like the penguins, we will never walk alone

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Recipe Suggestions: 5 Day Pouch Test

Many of our LivingAfterWLS Neighbors are enthused about trying the 5 Day Pouch Test and a few have written to ask for recipes. As we explained in the original post, lean and clean protein is the best way to work this plan. But you can be flexible and cook recipes with more ingredients to enhance flavor. Remember, the objective is to give your pouch a two day rest, then progressively "tighten" it by increasing the density of your protein over the next three days.

Here are some recipe suggestions from our LivingAfterWLS Recipe Collection. Work the plan the best way you can and rediscover your pouch.

Days 1 & 2:
(liquids, protein shakes)
Healthy Chocolate Smoothie
Orange Dream Smoothie
Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

One of our community members suggested this:

"I have come across a great protein smoothie called 'Naked' All natural protein juice smoothie. I get it from SAM's Warehouse. Each bottle (32 fl oz) has 38 Grams of Protein or 19 grams per serving (16 fl oz) along with other nutrients like Potassium, calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Iron. It tastes great!

The web site is... ... Check it out. There is a store locater on the site too."

Day 3: Soft Protein
(canned fish, eggs, soft fish)
Healthy Deviled Eggs
Oven Scrambled Eggs
Crusted Fish Recipes
Cheesy Salmon Loaf (omit green peas)

Day 4: Firm Protein
ground meat, shellfish, scallops, lobster
Turkey Cheeseburgers
Grilled Garlic Shrimp
Tender Shrimp
Baked Citrus-Herb Salmon

Day 5: Solid Protein
(white meat poultry, beef steak)
Basic Sauteed Chicken Breasts
Lemon Herb Chicken
Bamagal's Thai Peanut Butter Burgers

Remember, keep your food selections as simple and basic as possible for the best results. But it is OK to be flexible. This plan is to help you rediscover your pouch and boost your confidence in your ability to work the tool.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Five Day Pouch Test

Does my pouch still work?
Have I broken my pouch?
Have I ruined my tool?

These are questions many weight loss surgery post-ops find themselves asking occasionally during their journey. Perhaps it feels like we can eat more food or we know that we are eating more food. Sometimes these questions are asked when there has been a weight regain.

Today I present a 5-day plan that I have developed and used to determine if my pouch is working and go back to that tight newbie feeling. And a bonus to this plan, it helps one get back to the basics of the weight loss surgery diet and it triggers weight loss. Also, it is not difficult to follow and if you are in a stage of carb-cycling it will break this pattern. Sounds pretty good, right? Here we go!

Days One & Two: Liquid Protein
The first two days are all liquids. You can have as many low-carb protein shakes as you like to satisfy hunger or cravings. In addition drink at least six 8-ounce glasses of water each day. The purpose of all liquids is to break any snacking, grazing or processed carbohydrate habits. In addition the liquids will work to cleanse your system and prepare you for the following three days. Try to reduce your caffeine intake as well, but do not stop caffeine cold turkey or you will feel sick and frustrated potentially losing the desire to continue with the pouch test.

If you notice symptoms of carbohydrate withdrawal you can eat a small piece of melon or an orange. You can also try a dose of Emergen-C which should reduce headache, dizziness or cramping from carbohydrate withdrawal.

The next three days you get to eat as much as you want as often as you want! Ahhh, but there's a catch: it has to be solid protein and you only get 15 minutes each time you sit down to eat.

Day 3: Soft Protein
Protein Recommendations: canned fish (tuna or salmon) mixed with lemon and seasoned with salt and pepper, eggs cooked as desired seasoned with salt pepper and/or salsa, fresh soft fish (tilapia, sole, orange roughy), baked or grilled, and lightly seasoned. This starts your program with "soft" protein. Measure your portion (1 cup volume or 4-6 ounces weight) and eat only until you feel full, not overfull. Remember, no water for 30 minutes before or after you meal, and no fluids with your meal. We are going back to the beginning and fluids will prevent you from feeling the pouch. If you need to add a bit of Miracle Whip or mayonnaise to the canned fish I understand, but keep it to a minimum so the meat is not too moist. One reason we lose the sense of tightness in our pouch is that we eat "slider foods" - foods that are too moist and do not stay in the pouch very long, they slide right through the stoma.

Day 4: Firm Protein

Protein Recommendations: ground meat (beef, turkey, lamb) cooked dry and lightly seasoned, shellfish, scallops, lobster steamed and seasoned only with lemon, salmon or halibut steaks, grilled and lightly seasoned. By now you should be experiencing that familiar tightness that will reassure you that your pouch is working. Remember to drink plenty of water between meals. Take some time to meditate and rediscover the wonder of your pouch. Often we don't like that uncomfortable tightness of the pouch, which is why we gradually move toward slider foods that don't make us uncomfortable. It is always my preference to eat moist protein so I don't get uncomfortable, but this allows me to consume more than I should. Rediscovering the pouch with this 5-day plan reminds me of how the tool really works. I hope by now you are rediscovering your tool and enjoying the hope and excitement because your pouch still works.

A word about constipation: A shift to high protein diet often results in constipation. To relieve this you may try adding a fibrous fruit snack to your morning and a fibrous vegetable snack in the afternoon. Fruit suggestions are apples, berries, apricots, cantaloupe or oranges. For vegetables try leafy greens, zucchini, cucumbers, spinach, summer squash or string beans.

Day 5: Solid Protein
Protein Recommendations: white meat poultry cooked dry and lightly seasoned, beef steak (if tolerated) grilled or broiled. Remember to chew chew chew. Measure your portion (4-6 ounces) and eat only until you feel your pouch tighten. Remember, only 15 minutes per meal, so you'll have to work fast to chew your food completely. By now you should be out of any carb cycle you were in and perhaps you have lost a pound or two. You will have new confidence in your pouch and your ability to work the tool for your health and emotional well being.

Good luck! I believe you are going to like the results when you give this plan an honest try. Tomorrow I'll write about re-entry into a healthy eating plan that will allow you to take advantage of this pouch test and return to a weight loss surgery way of life.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sizzling Hot BamaGal

Ladies and Gentlemen stand on your feet and put your hands together for our own BamaGal who has been named by Jimmy Moore one of the Sizzling Hot New Low-Carb Blogs for 2007!!! This is no ordinary blog shout-out - this is HUGE!!!! Jimmy Moore is a leader in the grass roots low-carb movement and he knows a good thing when he sees one. Diane started her blog in March 2007 and is now a leader in the low-carb community. Way to go Diane!!!

As you all know, an understanding and practice of low-carb is key in our success in weight management with weight loss surgery. If you haven't bookmarked Diane's blog, Back Across the Line, then don't walk, run to your favorites page and click SAVE now. Diane is the most current and accurate researcher when it comes to the low carb lifestyle with a little weight loss surgery and bipolar disorder mixed in for fun.

Glad to have you here at LivingAfterWLS, BamaGal and I am proud to say I knew you when you simply left comments -- now my friend, YOU are leader of the pack and I am your #1 fan.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Fat Burn: Catching the Regained Weight

Early this summer I found myself in the same fat-pants as many post-WLSers a few years out: I had regained some weight. About 16-18 pounds over my best weight. I blame it on stress eating and relaxing the rules. Actually, there were no rules and it showed. I knew I had to do something, for myself and for the weight loss surgery community that is such a part of my life. Afterall, I often answer emails giving advice to people just like me who have found the scale creeping upward. And here I was experiencing the same feelings of shame and failure that I try to help others cope with.

On June 6 I announced my plan to the Neighborhood, our online weight loss surgery community: "Like many of us WLSers who occasionally get off track the time has come for me to clean-up my diet, get back to basics, shed a few pounds and return to my best life with WLS. So I've been doing some (re)reading and note taking, reviewed my personal self assessment(s). I have my plan and I'm working it."

Read my full post and conversation: Going Into Fat Burn: Reclaiming my LAWLS Life

My plan started with a fat-burn detox that was three days of eating nothing but animal protein, as much as I could throughout the day. It takes the body approximately 4 hours to metabolize food (give or take some with the WLS). When the body is in metabolism it is also considered "fat burn" mode. Protein has the highest thermic effect of food over fat or carbohydrates. The thermic effect of food is how many calories it takes to digest the food. When the body is given only lean protein it doesn't have any easy nutrients (carbs or fat) so it must work to digest and metabolize the protein into fuel. Some nutritionists and scientists believe it takes more calories to digest protein than the protein contains.

Review: Protein First Rule

So far I've lost ten pounds. That's about right for two months although I do dream of the good old "rapid weight loss phase" of gastric bypass. Now, I haven't worked my plan without bumps and bounces. In fact, in July, I lost and gained the same two pounds the entire month. I have identified two reasons: first a change in my gardening activity. Since the heavy early-season work was accomplished the light maintenance hasn't required as much physical effort from me. I find it interesting to note that the "LIVING" activity plays a role in weight loss and health. So I must either increase my formal exercise or find a replacement "LIVING" activity. Secondly, I'm eating quite a bit of carbohydrates in the form of seasonal fruits and veggies. I know for me to lose weight I need to reign-in the carbs (even the good ones) but I just cannot give up the joy of summer's bounty.

On a positive note, I'm now on decaf-coffee exclusively using the Emergen-C for my little "boost". And I have not allowed white starches or processed food into my body.

Yesterday I stopped by my nutrition center to be weighed and have my body mass measured. The news is good!! My initial measure on June 4, 2007 indicated 32.7% body fat - 13% excess of my 20% goal. Yesterday my body fat measured 28.6% - 9% excess of goal. So I've lost 4% body fat.

I'm about half-way to my comfort weight and anxious to get there. So I made a plan:

--Continue with the high protein low carb eating, enjoying but not indulging the summer veggies.
--Increase my exercise from 40 mins/day to 60 minutes 5 days a week (emphasis on cardio).
--Continue to record my food, exercise & moods.
--Office Motion: Walk 5-minutes every hour including up-down stairs, 15 minute walk at lunchtime.
--Deep-clean the basement and garage for "LIVING" activity (that should be fun! ha-ha).

Eight pounds to go back to my comfort zone. I can do this!!!! And if you are frustrated by a weight gain after weight loss surgery it is possible to get it under control and take it off again. No, it isn't easy and sometimes I want to bang my head on the wall because I have to fight my weight every day of my life. But I am willing to fight so I never go back to obesity.

If you have successfully beat a regain let me hear from you. I can use all the help I can get!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Thiamine Deficiency and WLS

I just finished reading another great piece of research and information from our own Professor Bama (aka Bamagal) regarding Thiamine (Vitamins B, B1) and thiamine deficiency in gastric bypass patients. This is an extremely important issue, particularly for those in the first two years of post-gastric bypass. Bamagal writes, "As you can clearly see, this can be very dangerous. We're talking about your brain here people." Please take a moment to read Diane's post. Be informed and pay attention to your health. As she said,

That's why I preach proactive health care. You must take an active part in your own care. You must seek out knowledge to make you a better health consumer. If there is one thing I've found out over the years, you can not blindly listen to your doc.

If there is only one blog you read regarding weight loss surgery make it Back Across the Line. There is no other web resource where you can go for current and straight forward information on weight loss surgery, bipolar disorder written by one with nursing credentials AND real life experience. Thanks Bamagal for providing this leading edge resource.

Have you experienced the symptoms of Thiamine Deficiency? How has your medical treated it? How have you proactively tended your own health care?

Hair Loss Cause - Blood Circulation

Hair loss is a concern for most new weight loss surgery patients. We have heard the stories about patients losing their hair during the first year of massive weight loss. Many of us take vitamins believed to improve the health of the hair and prevent hair loss including silica complex and biotin. But here is another approach to avoiding hair loss: improved blood circulation. Mr. Silva writes, "Blood circulation is one hair loss cause that you can work on. By doing some of the recommend techniques listed here you can help yourself to have better hair for a longer time."

By Rudy Silva

One hair loss cause that is not discussed much is poor blood circulation in your scalp. This must be included in any discussion or listing of what causes hair loss or what can improve hair growth. What is important in blood circulation is the quantity and quality of the blood reaching the hair root. If your hair root does not get a good supply of blood, lymph, oxygen and nutrients, it will shrink and die.

Reduction in blood to the scalp is one hair loss cause that is caused by yet another body condition - tension or stress. Excess stress causes muscles to tighten and reduces blood flow to the furthest parts of our body - feet, hands, and head. Capillaries become constricted and feed your hair follicles and hair roots less blood.

Stress also works with androgenic hormones to tighten the scalp, making it thinner, and making it more susceptible to hair loss. Women, however, seem to maintain a thicker scalp which is a better condition for continuous hair growth.

Your blood circulation can also be caused by harden crystals that form from sebum and hair perspiration. These crystals plug up the follicles causing surround tissue to harden and then restrict the flow of blood to the follicle. Use of apple cider vinegar as a final rinse during shampooing and using jojoba oil as a hair gel will help limit these crystals.

Any arthritis or tightening of neck muscles can restrict blood flow to the head. Here you need neck massages. Regular exercises or movement activity will help you increase your blood circulation to your head.

In the hair loss cause due to blood circulation, moving your head below your heart regularly can bring more blood into your scalp. For those of you that have high blood pressure or circulation problems, you need to avoid these techniques. You can lie in bed with your head hanging over. Bring you head near the floor and count to 10 then bring it back level with your body. You can repeat this 6 - 7 times once or twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Also you can increase the count from10 to longer times as you continue to do this exercise.

The are also slant board that are sold, which allow you to lie on the board so that your head is near the floor and your feet are up in the air and the height will be determined by the angle of the slant. You can also do a yoga head stance, if you are doing yoga.

If you want scalp massage to be effective you need to do it at least twice a day. Place your fingertips on your scalp and move the scalp in two directions - forward and back and in a circulating motion. Do not rub or scratch your scalp to avoid breaking off hair or damaging your scalp.

Blood circulation is one hair loss cause that you can work on. By doing some of the recommend techniques listed here you can help yourself to have better hair for a longer time.

Rudy S Silva is a Natural Nutritionist. You can get more tips and information on hair loss and hair growth at: Rudy also writes a weekly newsletter giving natural remedies that you can use to keep you healthy. Go to:

Article Source:

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

In Praise of Star Jones Reynolds

Star Jones Reynolds has been taking a media and blog-lynching for years. First because she was fat, next because she did something to gain control of her weight and health, next for refusing to share her private medical information with the public. And now for publicly disclosing a very personal and private matter: she had gastric bypass surgery.

If you are looking for Star-Bashing then move along, you won’t find it here.

Star Jones Reynolds is more representative of the weight loss surgery community than one might think. Her predicament vs. the average desk-jockey-Jane is that of full public exposure. Granted, she elected a career in the public spotlight, but she is a person and deserves to protect her private life as much as you or me. When an average-Jane such as myself had gastric bypass and chose not to disclose it to my co-workers I did not have to see my big butt splashed on the tabloids with speculation and accusation. Oh sure, there were whispers behind my back as my ever-shrinking body told the tale of rapid weight loss. But I ignored it and stuck with my story, “changed my diet and I am exercising regularly.” Which actually is the truth – to this day – 8 years post-op.

You see, medical history is nobody’s damn business but your own. As far as I’m concerned there is too much disclosure of medical history. I don’t want to know about polyps in the president’s colon or kidney stones being passed by my co-worker down the hall. Details about Aunt Madge’s diverticulitis qualify as to much information.

Now, what would be the reason that Star or me would keep our little surgical solution secret? I don’t know about her but I felt ashamed that I needed help, drastic help to take control of my health. Plenty of times I heard the chants, “Eat less, move more.” No kidding, easy to say those words little miss skinny-minnie-eat-anything-you-want-and-don’t-gain weight. How about we strap a hundred pounds or so on your almighty back and see how much you move and how friggin’ hungry you get! I felt enough shame on my own and didn’t need anyone else to serve me a super-size portion of guilt. And that shame haunts me.

And another thing, talk about stomach stapling, gastric bypass or gastric banding to just about anyone and I guarantee they know “a friend of a friend who got that done and things went bad.” It’s tough enough to make the decision to have surgery, why add to the mental torment with stories of a friend of a friend?

People on the outside looking in say weight loss surgery (gastric bypass or gastric banding) patients take “the easy way out” of obesity. The obese are viewed as slothful, dumb and weak. Ms. Jones-Reynolds proves that theory wrong. She is an educated and ambitious black woman who created a perfect storm of stardom and success in a world where the odds were against her. Really, how many morbidly obese black (or white for that matter) women rise to the level of success she achieved? And so what if along the way she neglected her health, as so many of us do? And so what if she chose the best medically available option for her long-term success? Losing weight by any means is tough work. The easy way is staying fat.

Weight-Loss Surgery Myths Dispelled

As a celebrity she no-doubt observed the way other celebrity weight loss surgery patients shed their weight in the public fishbowl. Any public figure paying attention to that would think twice before “coming out” with the humiliating information, “I have an illness for which I am being medically treated for the sake of my health.” If her illness were something with a cause ribbon such as heart disease or cancer she would have been applauded and praised for taking advantage of state of the art medical science. But obesity, no, that’s a disease of shame and disgrace.

Obesity and Your Health: How WLS Can Help

And what if down the road she regains a few pounds? Most of us do, including the celebrities whose worth is measured by the scale. She will then face another public lynching as the bloggers and the press guesstimate her tragic rebound to the land of the binge-eating bulge. What is so skewed about this, a relapse with a “real” disease is cause of public empathy and humaneness. Regained weight, on the other hand, is a feather in the cap of those “I told you so” critiques who think someone else’s weight is their business.

It is no wonder Star Jones Reynolds, me, my brother and thousands of the weight loss surgery patients living amongst us keep (kept) our dirty little secret to ourselves for so long.

Kudos to you Ms.Jones-Reynolds. I wish you the best of health and happiness. You’ve earned it the hard way.