Six Months Out - Full Body Picture

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dealing with Cravings

We all have them... those foods that our minds tell us we just can't live without. It may be something good for you like chicken breasts or steak, or it may be that, like me, you always seem to crave something that the world tells us is "bad".

Now, I don't believe in good or bad foods, but I know there are some foods that help us reach our goals and some foods that don't help us reach our goals. I tend to crave the latter.

Those who "know" me from VST, Bariatric Pal, and Facebook know that I have a major addiction to Cheetos. Early post-op, eating a few Cheetos here and there wasn't a problem. I could have a handful and move on, mostly because I had too much restriction to eat more than a handful. The problem with that is that the restriction eases up as you get further and further out from surgery, so you can eat more of any food. Add that Cheetos are a slider food, meaning that they don't truly fill you up, and I could do some serious damage to a family size bag, even with my little sleeve!

Today there was a discussion about whether post-WLS patients are Abstainers or Moderators. Sadly enough, I'm neither.  I crave certain foods fiercely, even 2.5 years out. What works best FOR ME is to allow myself one serving of my craving food per month. I will buy one serving size package of whatever the food is... used to be Cheetos, now it's Hershey's bar with almonds. Then I will sit down and eat that one serving size package with all the pomp and circumstance I can muster, enjoying every single morsel. Then I will not allow myself to have another serving for a month. It's a weird head game that I play with myself, but I cannot tell myself that I can't have something forever and ever or I will crave that food until I end up binging on it. This works for me. Your mileage may vary.

So, what are you? Are you an Abstainer or a Moderator? Or do you use some other method to handle your food cravings?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bucket List

So, there are a few things I want to accomplish in the next few years and I've decided that I need to hold myself accountable for them. Most are not weight loss related, but, this is my blog, so I'm going to use this space to start my list. I'm sure I will revise this list as I think of things, but here's a start:

1. Spend more time doing charity/volunteer work. Goal is 10 hours a month.
2. Spend more time with my grandson and kids. This involves travel, but it's definitely worth it!
3. Walk daily.
4. Get a bicycle, preferably one that has a big basket and foot pedal brakes.
5. Use the bicycle instead of my car as much as possible. Bonus: Built in exercise.
6. Visit the Grand Canyon
7. Visit Washington D.C.
8. Learn Spanish. I speak a little, but I'd like to be fluent.
9. Travel more. Maybe even give up living in a house and be a gypsy for a year or two.
10. Buy an RV/pop up camper to help accomplish goal 9.
11. Do more genealogy research on my family.
12. Sew more of my own clothes.
13. Sew a wedding dress for someone.
14. Sing at a wedding... and a funeral (morbid? No. Just think it's a huge honor to be asked to help someone depart this world)
15. Travel outside the US (Scotland, England, France?)
16. Write a book and have it published.
17. Dream bigger.
18. Be bolder, stronger, wiser.
19. Own a little cottage on a piece of land somewhere where I can garden and have chickens.
20. Love more.
21. Spend more time at the beach. It's my calm, happy place. Maybe ride my bike there at least once a week.
22. Have a white picket fence.
23. Get one more tattoo. I know what I want and I have four already.
24. Run a 5k, 13k, full marathon.
25. Live off-grid. (probably not something I can do full time, but I'd love to do it.)
26. Make a king-size quilt.
27. Burn great-smelling candles every day
28. Be happy. Practice gratitude.
29. Walk the Camino de Santiago.
30. Win the lottery. ;)

Okay, that's my start. What do YOU want to accomplish?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico Caution

Some of you may know that I am "Lissa" on Vertical Sleeve Talk, now I'm an old-timer there, having been on those boards since March of 2011. I've been away from the boards for quite some time, but not because I don't love them. Life just has a tendency to get in the way.

The reason I tell you all of this is so that you can follow my posts there and know that I have always advocated for people to do their own research about doctors and make the best decision for their own journeys. And, I've always been the one who says that Mexico IS a viable option for many people to have WLS. I even sent one of my best friends to Mexico with all my blessings because of research I had done on VST/Bariatric Pal.

I did that based on the experiences of quite a few people, but some of those people were more influential for me than others. Susan Lackey, an administrator at Bariatric Pal, is one of those people. She has always been level-headed, posting good information and positive affirmations for those who felt nervous about any aspect of WLS. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Susan.

Lately, though, several people (Susan, Lil Miss Diva/Irene, and others) who have had surgery in Mexico have posted that they are having major problems with their sleeves. One has an hour glass shaped stomach and another discovered that she was never even sleeved!

I'm going to reiterate to do one's research, but I see a huge backlash coming against Mexico... and maybe that's what NEEDS to happen at this point.

I am posting Susan Lackey's experience from Mexico. The doctor is Albert Aceves. For verification purposes, here is the original link for Susan's post AND, just so you know, I have asked Susan Lackey for permission before reposting her words here.

BY NO MEANS am I saying anything negative about anyone, just posting information because the topic has been raised.

Everything below is a direct cut and paste from the Bariatric Pal website.

First off, I have nothing to gain by posting this topic. I do not represent any doctors, I do not work for a doctor, I have no financial gain whatsoever! I am a long-time member and administrator of Bariatric Pal. I am an advocate for your safety! Learn from my experience and learn from my knowledge!

Before considering weight loss surgery in Mexico, make sure you consider all the possible ramifications of doing so. Is it really going to save you money if you don't have insurance? Is it really worth it just to avoid jumping through insurance hoops? Is it worth risking your health, or even worse, your life?

Here is my story...

I had my sleeve surgery done by a doctor in Mexicali. I have now learned my surgery was botched. He did not properly sleeve me. I now have severe side effects, including a major hiatal hernia that is pressing against my heart, a malformed/malfunctioning stomach and major acid reflux that has done severe damage to my esophagus. The only way to fix everything is for me to convert to gastric bypass. Today, my surgery was denied. I am stuck with this problem because I do not have the financial means to cover surgery myself. Had I had this done in the US, I would have some sort of recourse, but because I had it done in Mexico, my hands are tied.

Like so many employers in the US, mine has opted to not cover any obesity or weight loss surgery issues because they believe it will save them money. They fail to think about how much more money all of the medical issues that arise as a direct result of obesity will cost them. Please, we need to educate our employers on this issue, they are costing themselves money and adversely effecting their employees. Like it or not, obesity is a true medical diagnosis, and it is time it be treated as such.

Now, to continue, I personally know two other people who used the same surgeon I did, and are having the same exact problems. Not only that, this surgeon also recently had a death and tried to cover it by stating the patient had not disclosed heart issues to them. Well, guess what, at the time, I was coordinating for a medical tourism company owned by this very site (please note, I am no longer coordinating for anyone, I am now all about being an advocate for patient safety, lives are more important than the almighty dollar!). The patient that died, I referred her to the doctor. I am devastated and have to live with the guilt of this. I spoke with the spouse of this patient, she did not hide any medical issues, she had none!

Through the course of coordinating, I became friends with another doctor's coordinator. She trusted him, not only as her employer, but her surgeon. She had him perform sleeve surgery on her. Or so she thought. It turns out, he didn't remove any portion of her stomach, instead he just stapled it. Upon doing some research, she has found six other patients he did this to, and who knows how many more are out there. When she confronted him, his response was, "us doctors lie". Needless to say, she is no longer coordinating either.

So please, think twice before leaving the US for your surgery. I know personally how desparate we become because we want to lose the weight, our insurance won't cover it and we think we have no other recourse. However, if I knew now what I now then, I would have never stepped foot out of the United States, even if it meant not having surgery. Even though Bariatric Pal offers you discounted surgeries in Mexico, the site owner himself said he would never have surgery in Mexico. What does that tell you?

There are some good doctors there, but truly, how do we know for sure which ones are good and which ones aren't. I thought the doctor I went to was the best, he had the best reputation, was the most well-known and most recommended. Where did that get me? The other doctor I mentioned above, he is extremely popular with members of this site right now. That scares me, it really, really scares me.

If you want more information, you may contact me on facebook at

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Thoughts

I've been all over the boards for the last few days and have seen a couple of trends that make me happy, as well as a couple that make me sad.

Happy is seeing people recommit to their goals. Folks are doing liquid diets to break stalls. They are adding in exercise and more of it and I'm seeing so many people post their before and after pictures. It's inspiring and thrilling to see folks getting to their personal goals.

What doesn't make me happy, though, is seeing how judgmental we can all be. Someone posts a picture of a meal and others have to jump on the person. I've seen comments ranging from "You can't eat that!" to "That's not allowed!"  Really, folks? A sleever can eat anything they want to eat. I have always allowed myself to eat whatever I want on holidays. I actually ate a tiny slice of pecan pie on Easter! Oh, the horror!

Truthfully, I don't eat too much junk on a regular basis, but I didn't have this surgery to deprive myself forever.  I had this surgery to LIVE. Unless I see someone saying they eat bread every day and drink nothing but soda, I'm not going to comment on someone else's diet unless they specifically ask "What could be causing me to stall?"

Most of us have enough issues without someone tearing us apart because we eat red meat, or because we don't eat red meat.

I'd love to see the WLS community learn to be much more supportive of one another. Boy, would that be something to write home about! :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014


So, yesterday was interesting. I spent most of it huddled inside asking myself if I really live in South Florida! It was 63 degrees when I got up. I know that those who live anywhere else in the country are thinking that's a beautiful temperature, but that's COLD to Floridians. Monday it was 86 degrees here, so 63 is a big drop in temperature and I actually wore sweat pants, socks, and a long sleeved shirt most of the day.

Since my WLS, I've been cold anyway. Apparently ghrelin is partly responsible for regulating the body's temperature and mine has been out of whack ever since my Sleeve. Almost all of my clothes are long sleeved these days and I prefer long pants unless it's around 90 degrees outside. Forget going into a doctor's office or hospital! I need a winter coat for those places.

I have noticed that I don't feel as cold when I make sure I take my vitamins, so that's one of my primary resolutions this year. I'm working to make sure I get my vitamins in every day and I'm trying to eat a bigger variety of fruits and vegetables.

Time for me to find a pair of socks and get to work for the day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Well, the scale was nice to me two days in a row! I'm down yet another pound. Of course, today I think it might be because I didn't drink enough water yesterday. I still struggle for that 64 ounces every day, but I'm very creative about drinking it.

I have to confess that I do have diet coke a couple of times a week. There's one sitting beside the keyboard as I type this. However, I'm nowhere near as addicted as I was pre-surgery. I've already had a 17 ounce bottle of water and two cups of decaf coffee this morning, then I ran out to a customer who offered me an ice cold bottle of diet coke. Yummy. I know that means I have to drink an extra bottle of water to make up for the soda, but that's worth it, in my opinion.

I'm adding a new picture to the blog today. This was taken a few days ago and I think it shows a lot about how far I've come in my journey... both in terms of weight loss and in terms of how happy I am normally.

Loving life and looking forward to what's coming next! :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lunar Eclipses and Life

So many people were talking about the Lunar Eclipse last night on FB that I really wanted to stay up and watch it. However, I hit my wall around 1 am and didn't actually get to see it. I'm enjoying all the pictures this morning, though, so it's all good.

The scale gave me another present this morning, another pound gone. It's amazing to me that all I had to do was commit again to drinking my water, moving more, and sleeping enough (see above paragraph) and the weight is coming off again. Of course, the weight loss now is not as rapid as it was early post op, but I still have my tool and it still works!

I'm 2 years and 8 months post op and STILL learning things about my sleeve! It's a great feeling to get up knowing that my sleeve is going to help me prevent regain and, when I forget, my sleeve is going to restrict my eating anyway.

Where have I been while I wasn't blogging... hmmmm, let's see. I'm self-employed and I was extremely busy for a few months last year. SO busy, in fact, that I didn't do any sewing or gardening, which are my two favorite hobbies. As of January, work slowed down so much that I have actually considered a "real job", but that hasn't panned out yet either. Right now, I feel like the universe, God, or karma (whichever you believe in) is sending me in a completely new direction, but I haven't figured out quite yet what that direction may be.

While I was walking this morning I was thinking about my next venture and I've come to the conclusion that I am going to work all the angles that are open to me right now and see which one bubbles to the top. Sometimes all I can do is let go of the control and see what happens.

So, here's a breakdown of what I'm working on, both at home and out in the big, bad world:

Sewing. I've always sewn as a hobby and lately I've been really into making purses, wallets, and baby stuff. Did I mention that I have a new grandson? He's definitely inspired me to make lots of things... blocks and bibs and baby quilts. I'm head over heels in love with him and that IS a new Granny talking!

Gardening. Everywhere I've lived I've had some kind of garden. I got away from it for about 18 months after my WLS because it was so hard for me to process raw veggies and I ate so little of them that it didn't seem worth my time to grow vegetables. However, I missed having my hands in the dirt regularly, so I have planted a container garden, plus a couple of flower beds. I'm starting small, just radishes, tomatoes, green beans, peas, squash and some herbs for now, but I may add more later.

 I've discovered that I love lightly steamed veggies. More importantly, my sleeve loves them as well. I may only be able to eat a very few at a time, but it's nice to go to the fridge and pull out two or three steamed green beans when I'm hungry. I also planted a flat of lettuce mix inside and I love cutting a small handful of that to use as a salad or to eat alongside my protein. Yummy!

Karaoke. This is a big one for me.  As an adjunct to the year of therapy I did after my WLS, my therapist asked me to find a way to be more social. I've always been outgoing, kind of the life of the party type. What she wanted from me, though, was to learn how to interact with people without having to make myself the butt of jokes. We have all had one, or been one, you know... the fat person who is always making others laugh while poking fun at themselves. What I had to learn was to interact with people socially without picking on myself. That's where karaoke came in for me. 

I sang "Delta Dawn" (very badly) for my debut at karaoke. My hands shook, my voice shook, and I wanted to crawl under the table... then everyone applauded me. The KJ (karaoke jockey) gave me some encouraging words and I had the nerve to get up and sing again... and again... and again. After doing it for over a year, I'm pretty comfortable at it now. I have been told a few times that people like my voice and I even won a karaoke contest at the local bar! I don't flatter myself that I'm great, but I am okay at it.

Oh, and the biggest thing is that I'm no longer making jokes at my own expense. I have other things I can talk to people about when I'm out and other connections with people socially. THAT was my therapist's goal.

I guess the lesson here for me and for other post-WLS people is that eventually our weight becomes a secondary issue in our lives, whether we reach goal or not. For so long it seemed to be all consuming... worrying about the number on the scale, measuring my food, being totally obsessed with every aspect of my "food life". Now I'm learning the long-term requirements of WLS. I have always said I had this surgery to LIVE and now I'm learning how to live with my surgery. The tool is there and now I'm learning how to adapt my lifestyle and hobbies to my new normal.

Overall, that's a great thing. I'm still on MY journey, but I'm finding that I (still) love the journey.