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Monday, January 17, 2011

The Most Important Element of a Healthy Diet? FIBER!

Thanks once again to Dr. Ski Chilton for coming in to preview tonight's "Made to Crave" webcast. Today we really dug in to the issue of fiber. Dr. Ski said that new studies show that just by consuming adequate fiber (25 grams for women, 30 grams for men) we can make a HUGE difference in out health and weight. He added that at least 30% of that fiber should be soluble fiber and the rest can be insoluble.

Dr. Ski also said that by starting the day with 16 oz of water and then drinking water throughout the day we can easily reduce our caloric intake and help prevent some of the less pleasant side effects of fiber (gas, bloating, frequent bathroom trips).

Dr. Chilton has made a complete guide to healthy eating available on his website. Get his "Go Guide" at http://www.genesmart.com/products/gene_smart_go_guide___free__/52.php?page_id=293

Tonight is the 2nd installment of the Made to Crave webcast, beginning at 8:00 PM. You can watch it here:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Pain, No Gain

Now that the kids are back in school, like many moms, I've resumed my regular workouts. Things are going pretty well, but once again, I'm dealing with muscles that are screaming out in protest over their new work schedule. However, I'm trying hard to push through the pain because I know from experience that in a week or two things wil improve and I'll feel stronger and more energized.

I did some research online about the cause of muscle soreness after a workout. I learned that when we exercise we lengthen and contract our muscles. In the lengthening phase, we create tiny tears in our muscle fibers which result in the soreness that appears a day or two after each workout, especially for those starting a new exercise routine. It is through this process that our muscles adapt and strengthen, becoming better prepared for the next time they have a task to perform. Now that I know the soreness is actually a sign that my muscles are getting stronger, I don't mind it as much. In fact, I hope to be a little sore after each work out, that way I know it was effective. After all, I probably won't see the results of all this hard work for a few more weeks, so feeling the results right away is encouraging.
Pain is often a part of a strengthening process in our lives, isn't it? Spiritual and emotional growth rarely happen during the peaceful times in our lives when everything is going well. Unfortunately, periods of great growth usually happen during times of great trial. These are the times when our spiritual, emotional and mental "muscles" are tested, torn and ultimately strengthened.
Even though it may not feel like it, God is closest to us in these painful seasons. Psalm 34:18 assures us that "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." And, in Isaiah 40:29-31 we find the encouragement that after the pain comes a time of renewal and increased strength, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

12 Weeks Later

Three months ago, I embarked on a fitness program called the 12-Week Hyperspeed Weight Loss Program.  The goal was to lose 20 lbs in 12 weeks.  So, how did I do?  Well, I didn't quite make the 20 lbs, but I DID lose 15 lbs, 11" and a one full clothing size.  I also built a lot of muscle...something entirely new for me.  I'm feeling great...strong and capable. And, when I'm kicking and punching that bag during kickboxing class, I feel invincible.  So, for Allen Branch and his awesome staff of personal trainers at Fitness One in Kernersville, I have these words from Christina Aguilera...

'Cause it makes me that much stronger

Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My B.S. Story

There is one appliance in my home that rules over my emotional stability and mental well-being like no other... my bathroom scale.   We'll call him B.S. for short.  This demon with numbers posesses me, leaving me powerless under it's mind-control tactics.  If it's digital eyes reveal a number that shows I've lost weight, I'm elated.  However, if the number shows no loss, or even worse, weight gain, self-defeating feelings of failure and despair set in.  It's hard to believe that something as basic as a number could have such dominion over my well-being.

"Just don't weigh yourself", some might suggest.  The problem with that approach for me is that I need the accountabillity of the scale, even though the results are sometimes misleading.  When I don't weigh myself, I tend to lose sight of the fact that I am still on this weight loss journey.  Once I reach my destination, I'll still need to weigh in on a regular basis to make sure I haven't started to head back in the wrong direction.  So, weighing in, at least weekly, is a must for me.

I'm not sure what to do about this B.S. dilemma.  But, if you are ever driving down Main Street in Kernersville and see a scale in the middle of the road smashed to smithereens...you'll know what happened.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Update

I have completed week #3 of the Hyperspeed Weight Loss Program at Fitness One in Kernersville and here are the results so far.

Drumroll please....

I have lost 8 lbs, 3 inches from my waist and 2.5 inches from my hips!

I have worked so hard for every pound and inch lost, but it is definitely worth it.

Look out Week 4...HERE I COME!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A New Chapter in My Weight Loss Story

It's been a little over 1.5 years since my lap-band surgery. In that time, I've lost 55 lbs. which I am quite thrilled with. However, I haven't lost a pound in close to a year. I haven't gained any either, which is a good thing, but the plateau has been frustrating since I still have about 60 lbs to go.

I knew in my heart that I was not doing necessary things to continue losing weight. Sure, my meals are still very small and the Lap-Band was doing its job of stopping me from eating too much food. But, I had started eating all the wrong foods (junk food, chips, ice cream, etc.) and my walking workouts were not challenging or consitsent enough to really make a difference. I knew I'd need to do something drastic to get the scale moving again.

Enter the Hyperspeed Weight Loss Program offered at Fitness One in Kernersville. Fitness One trainer and regular guest on the Morning Show, Allen Branch, encouraged me to join the program which guarantees a 20 lb. weight loss in 12 weeks. So, the Monday before last I started the program.

Here's what I am doing...Monday and Wednesay I take a 45 minute Kickbox Fitness class, Tuesday I do a 45 minute Kettlebell class. Friday I work out at home with the Fitness One DVD or my Wii "My Fitness Coach" for 30 mins. and then Saturday I do the 1 hour Circuit Training Boot Camp at Fitness One. I am also following a 1,400 cal diet.

The diet is the easy part thanks to the band. I haven't beenn hungry or felt deprived. However, I have honestly never worked this hard or sweat this much in my life. The first week was pretty brutal because my muscles hurt so bad each day, yet I still had to bite the bullet and work out. But...here's the thing..I DID IT. I made it through. I worked through the pain and discomfort and sweat and I kept going. I know this is no big deal for a lot of people, but for me it is HUGE. I just cannot describe the sense of accomplishment I feel.

I love to watch The Biggest Loser, but I used to get so annoyed when the people start bawling in the weight room. But today, I understand those tears a little more. Those aren't necessarily tears of agony, but tears of pride. They're an expression of "Hell yeah, this hurts but I CAN DO THIS! I'm not stopping. All the lies I have believed about myself are just that...lies." That's what those tears are saying. I almost shed some of those tears myself today!

When I signed up for this program, my thought process was this, "I'll work hard at this for 12 weeks, lose 20 lbs. and then take the rest of the year off." In my mind, a 20 lb. weight loss in one year is great, especially because I know the lap-band will help me keep it off. But, I'm starting to think I can do way better than 20 lbs. If I stick with this I can get the rest of the weight I need to lose off by the end of the year. But, we'll see. This is still only week 2.

If you're a praying person, please, please pray for me. I need to stay motivated. I need to keep this positive attitude. It is so hard to convince myself to go work out at 7:00 in the evening after I've been up and going since 5:00 AM. Even harder is setting the alarm on SATU RDAY MORNING to get up and go work out at 9:00 AM. This goes completely against my nature...my body just wants to rest. So, your prayers are appreciated.

Philippians 4:13-14 "I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Birthday Challenge--Day 1

Yesterday (10/15) I managed to stay within my 18oo calorie goal AND tracked everything I ate. Here's yesterday's menu:


Coffee With Fat Free Half And Half And Sugar x 3/189
Deweys Moravian Sugar Cake/230
Donato's Thin Crust Vegy Pizza/577
Yoplait Thick And Creamy Cherry Cobbler/100
Cheese Pizza, 2 slices of 12-inch/304

Total Cal: 1,661.00

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Birthday Goal-revised

Back in May, I made a huge goal to lose 50 lbs by October 27 (my Birthday).

Ummm...yeah...about that...

I completely lost focus. I had actually forgotten about the goal until someone asked me how I was doing with it. I've actually only lost a couple of pounds since then.

The fact is, I am terrible at achieving long term goals. I start out strong and then lose it. However, I am not about to give up, so what I have decided to do is work on a much more immediate goal. My birthday is now 12 days away. I can easily lose 2 pounds in that time period. So, that is my new goal. 2 lbs by 10/27. I'll track my food and exercise every day between now and make sure that I do not exceed 1,800 net calories per day.

On a positive note, I have really ramped up my walking. Two weeks ago I walked 10 miles. Last week, I didn't get any walking done becuase of a particularly crazy work schedule. But, yesterday I walked 2 miles and then rode the stationary bike 11 miles. I broke down and bought some New Balance shoes and am really loving having decent walking shoes.

Anyhow, I'll keep you posted on my 10/27 goal. Keep praying!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer Update

Another long lapse between updates! I am so sorry. Life really does "come at you fast". Here is the latest. On July 17th, I got another fill, which was definitely needed. I had gotten to the point where I was able to eat waaaay too much at one setting, which totally defeats the purpose of having a band! So, now I am up to 6.5 cc's of saline in my 10 cc band. For now, this seems to be just right. I think I have finally reached what is know as the "sweet spot"-enough restriction to provide significant appetite control, but not so much that nothing will go down. I am getting "stuck" much more frequently since the fill, mostly when I lose focus and eat too fast. That's probably the most annoying thing about having the band. Eating slowly, chewing everything to a pulp and then still getting stuck! But I seem to be losing weight again after a lengthy plateau, so it's still totally worth it.

I took my walking up a few notches last week, logging 12 1/2 miles for the week! I am hoping I can keep up the pace this week. I know that regular exercise is the key to continued success with the band, but I still struggle to find the time and energy to do it every day.

My other biggest hurdle is avoiding junk food. I eat really tiny meals, but cookies and crackers and ice-cream still go down with ease. I don't usually buy this stuff for the house, because if it's there, I'll eat it in a moment of weakness. It's so frustrating!

Still, there have been so many really wonderful things that have come out of having the lap-band and enjoying the weight loss success I have had to date. Here are just a few:
  • Having visible collar bones and thin hands (even my rings are loose).
  • Walking around on the beach in my swimsuit and not feeling like the hugely fat lady that everyone is staring at
  • Actually liking pictures of myself
  • The other day Laura said I wasn't fat anymore since I had my surgery
  • Trying on clothes at the store and then realizing the size I chose was too big, having to go back and get a SMALLER size. (I never used to do that!)
  • Having no shorts that fit anymore, because they are all too big!
  • Buckling my seatbelt on an airplane and actually having slack.

There are lots of little victories like these that keep me encouraged, even when the scale has stopped moving. So, please continue to keep me in your prayers. Specifically, please pray that I'll have the motivation and opportunities to exercise each day, that I'll have the will power to stay away from junk food and that I'll continue to enjoy weight loss victories, both big and small, with help from my trusty Lap-band.

Thank You!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

One Year Later!

2 Corinthiand 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

WOW! I cannot believe that it's been a whole year since I had my Lap-band surgery. One year ago I weighed over 300 pounds (this is the first time I'm admitting that publicly, by the way). I was so unhappy and had reached a point of desperation. After trying every diet under the sun without any long term success, I was convinced that the Lap-band was my last hope of ever winning my life-long battle with obesity.

One year later I am thrilled to say that I've lost around 55 pounds and gained something that cannot be measured, hope. A real optimism that I will beat this. I can see the proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel" and it is getting brighter and closer with each inch and pound lost.

One of the most common questions I'm asked is, "Do you have any regrets?" My answer is a resounding NO. I can honestly say that (with the exception of the first few hours out of surgery when I was dealing with anesthesia-induced grogginess and really bad gas pains) I have never regretted my decision to have surgery or wished that I had never had it done. I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been easy. In fact, I get really annoyed with people who actually think weight loss surgery is an easy way out. One of the main things I have learned this year is that, Lap-band or no Lap-band, I will still always have to watch what I eat and make exercise a regular part of my life. The Lap-band is only a tool, it helps with appetite control and satiety. But, the rest is squarely up to me.

Today, as I head into year number two, I realize that I am going to have to work harder to get the second half of my excess weight off. I have gotten careless in my food choices and very lax about exercise. My specific goal is to lose 50 lbs by my 37th birthday on October 27, 2009. I will need to lose 2 pounds per week to make that happen.

Here is my action plan, will you help me by praying that I will have the strength and motivation to stick with these goals?

  1. Pray-I need God's strength to get through this every day.

  2. Get a fill-I had been on the fence about whether or not I needed my band tightened, but I am sure of it now. I am often able to eat more than I should at one sitting, which means the band is not at the right fill level.

  3. Keep a Food Journal-I have stopped doing this faithfully, and it does make a difference. I definitely eat better when I write down everything that goes in my mouth. According to "The Daily Plate" website, I will need to stick to around 2,300 per day (assuming that I am doing some physical activity each day) in order to lose 2 lbs. per week.

  4. Physical Activity Every Day- I know I need to be physically active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day, every day. I'm renewing my commitment to walk every day. I will also journal my exercise.

So, there you have it, the skinny on my one year "band-i-versary" (the skinny, get it?). I'll keep blogging about year number two, so check back often for updates. And, a big thank you to the hundreds of you who have walked along side me this year. I am so thankful for your love, prayers and support!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Chew More, Weigh Less

I found this article on Realage.com and I think it is right on...

Next time you grab a handful of nuts to snack on, count to 40.

A recent study revealed that when people ate a small serving of almonds, 40 chews quelled hunger better than 10 or even 25 crunches of the same amount of nuts.

The Magic Number
Not only did the extra chews help curb hunger best, but also the feelings of fullness lasted longest when people gave the nuts the extra chews. And the practice may work with other foods, too, because researchers suspect it may simply be the mere act of chewing that switches on your brain’s satiety center.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Q & A

I just recieved an email from a woman with some questions for me about my experience with the Lap Band. Her questions were really good and I thought this info would be benificial for lots of folks who are considering the Band. So...here is her email and my response:

Dear Tami,

I am a wife, mother of 4 children, nursing student and member of a local church. I have struggled with my weight all my life. I have been following your weight loss journey on the WBFJ website. I have been doing some research on the procedure and would like to ask you a few questions if you don't mind.

A this point the major obstacle for me is the cost. I have BCBSNC insurance but I think it will still cost $3,000 to $4,000 out of pocket.
First of all, looking back from where you are now, are you still happy about your decision to have the surgery?
Have you had any complications?
What has been the hardest part of this journey for you.
Would you recommend Dr. Fernandez to others?

Do the nutritionist and psychiatrist accept insurance?
Do you mind telling me the total cost of the procedure before any insurance coverage?

I know this sounds like it is all about money. I know that you understand that it is hard to decide to spend (and to find)a large amount of money on yourself when you have a family to consider. I feel very selfish for even looking into having this done.

Thanks for listening and for answering my questions. If there is any other information that you think would be helpful that I have not thought of or forgotten to ask please share that also.

Here is my response:

Feel free to ask away! I feel that God has given me this procedure as a gift...a bondage breaker...and I want to share it with as many people as possible!

Your estimate is probably close. I have BCBS as well with a $500 deductible and a $3,000 individual out of pocket max per year. The Psych and the Nutritionist do not file insurance; however they are both participating providers w/ Blue Cross Blue Shield, so you may have some of those payments refunded if you file them on your own. (I got about $85 back from the $500 I paid to Jeff) I'm thinking the whole thing cost me about $4,500 out of pocket. It was the BEST MONEY I HAVE EVER SPENT! Worth every penny. I think of it as an investment in my future health and well being. It's really a drop in the bucket compared to the financial and physical costs of life-long obesity.

I understand your reservations as a mom about spending this kind of money on yourself. But, if you think about it, this is as much about your family as it is about you. The analogy I use is how the flight attendants on the airplane tell you that if the cabin loses pressure you are to put the O2 mask on yourself 1st and then on your child. That’s because, if you pass out from lack of oxygen, you are no good to your child. Same thing applies here. If you don’t take care of yourself, what's left for your children? So, this really is an investment in THEIR future as well, because you are such a crucial part of their future.

I've had a few bumps in the road, but nothing huge. The most significant problem I've has was a few months ago when my port (the access point where the Dr. injects or removes saline solution to adjust the band) came loose and flipped over. This required a minor, outpatient surgery to flip it back over and put it back into place. It's very securely in place now and I've had no problems since. The other problem was the incision from the second surgery developed a minor infection. 10 days on an antibiotic took care of that. Other than that, occasionally a small piece of food will get stuck between the upper part of my stomach and the lower part. This causes an uncomfortable pressure and very occasionally spitting up until the food goes up or goes down. This problem can be pretty much eliminated by eating small bites, chewing slowly and eating slowly. This is a learning process.

I have not regretted my decision once. I'd do it again tomorrow. In fact, based upon my recommendation and experience, my best friend just had the procedure done by Dr. Fernandez (Fuzz). If I'd recommend it to her, I'd recommend it to anyone. Fuzz and his staff are wonderful. I consider them a blessing.

I hope this helps. You are doing the right things...research and asking lots of questions. Pray, pray, pray. God will absolutely let you know if this is the right choice for you.

Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions!


Monday, January 26, 2009

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times!

Last time I wrote, I told you about the 3 week vegetarian eating plan I was embarking upon. Today marks day 22...and finally I am back to a regular diet. I'm not gonna lie, it was tough. Especially when confronted with BBQ ribs and chicken, pizza and food from cookout. But I made it without cheating once, and it was well worth it!

Physically, I am very pleased. I've lost 7 lbs in 21 days and I feel cleansed and healthy. Our bodies long to eat food that is unprocessed, in the form God gave it to us.

I've discovered a new appreciation for beans, vegetarian chili, canned diced tomatoes and home made, pan-fried polenta. I've also discovered that I need to find an effective remedy for gas.

I've realized that my high sugar intake had made me tolerant of the taste of overly sweet things. After being on sugar detox for 3 weeks I notice a huge difference. I am going to continue to try to keep my sugar consumption to a minimum.

I can drink and enjoy black coffee.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Few Food Ideas

I mentioned in my previous post that I've chosen to go on a very restricted diet for a few weeks in order to purge my body of all the junk I put into it over the Holidays. I'm trying to get the New Year off to a good start. Basically, I've eliminated meat, dairy, sugars and all processed foods & chemicals. I'll admit, the first few days were tough! But, after getting through detox shock, I'm really adapting well. I feel good. The hardest part was figuring out what I can actually eat. But, I've found a few easy and good things that work well for this eating plan. If this is something you're interested in doing, here are a few recipes & meal ideas, which also work for the "Daniel Fast":

  • Soy Milk (check the label...no sugar)
  • Grape Nuts Cereal
  • Post Shredded Wheat (Original or Spoon Size)
  • Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs Cereal
  • Protien Shake made with soy milk and powdered soy protien.

Lunch & Dinner:
  • Organic or Homemade vegetable soup (make sure the base ingredient is vegetable broth, not beef or chicken-recipe below)
  • Plain or lightly salted rice cakes w/Smuckers All-Natural Peanut Butter and Polaner All-Fruit Spread
  • Celery sticks with all-natural peanut butter
  • Salad w/ Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
  • Home-made polenta (recipe below) topped with all natural or homemade spaghetti sauce or salsa (again, beware of sugar or preservatives in the ingredients
  • 100% Whole Grain Pasta w/ all-natural tomato sauce
  • White beans w/ crushed tomatoes

Recipes: There are many more out there, just Google "Daniel Fast Recipes". Here's a link to one great resource I found: http://www.therockofwilmington.com/downloads/rockdanielfast.pdf

Angela's veggie soup
1 28oz. can diced or crushed tomatos

1 6oz. can tomato paste

1 can of tomato sauce

1 can (drained)of corn, green beans, potatoes, english peas, carrots

salt and pepper to taste

2 medium onions diced

1 tsp garlic

4-5 bay leaves

Add water to cover items cook in slow cooker for 3-4 hrs or on stove top. Could also add mushrooms or other veggies you enjoy-just be creative.

Hot Water Cornbread (or Fried Polenta)

2 c. Cornmeal (yellow or white)

Kosher Salt

Pour cornmeal in 2 cups of boiling water. This produces a firm mound of dough. Set the dough aside and let it cool for approximately 20 minutes.

After the dough is cool, pinch off a piece of dough and pat into small round cakes. You may either fry the cakes immediately or refrigerate on wax paper for later cooking.

Pan fry in 3-4 Tbsp of Olive Oil (not extra virgin) until cornbread has a crisp crust on the outside, yet is soft on the inside. Sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt. Serve warm--great with tomato sauce or salsa.

White Beans and Veggies

1 Can Organic Tomato Soup

1 Can White Beans

1 Cup Mixed Vegetables (Frozen)

Add your favorite spices and heat everything in a pan until vegetables are at a consistancy you like (5-10 minutes).

Holiday Success

I saw Fuzz yesterday for a check up and a fill. I'm finally back to the fill level I was at before my Italy trip unfill. I needed it, because I was eating waaaayyy too much, and alot of the wrong foods. But, here's the great news...I made it through a 10-day trip to Italy, Thanksgiving and Christmas, with a less than perfect fill-level and LOST 1/2 pound! God is good!

I'm back on track now. This past Monday, I started a very restricted three-week diet (no meat, dairy, sugars or processed foods of any kind--basically vegetables and whole grains only) in order to purge my body of all the junk I've been putting in it for the past few months. And, I'm feeling really good about that. Anytime I've been on a diet in the past and gotten off track, I've gained a bunch of weight and then, a year or two later would go on another diet and repeat the same thing all over again. Ahhhh....the world of yo-yo dieting, I know it all too well. With the band, I feel empowered and equipped to stick with it, even if I slip up from time to time. Actually, it was nice to enjoy the Holidays and eating, knowing that I wasn't ruining the progress that I've made.

Yes, I'm still loving my band. Even though I've had a couple of small bumps in the road ( a flipped port that had to be surgically repositioned and then an infection at the incision site), I have no regrets whatsoever.

Please pray for a good friend of mine who is having her band surgery on February 3rd. I'm excited for her and I hope that the procedure is as successful for her as it has been for me.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I've hit my first real plateau. I can't seem to bust through the 50 pound mark. But, it's really to be expected...I've had an unfill, travelled to Italy, and been through one Holiday with another one on the way. So, I'm not too bummed. About 3 weeks ago I saw Fuzz and had a partial refill, but I'm still not filled back to where I was before I went to Italy. Apparently, refills have to be done gradually or you risk being too tight. I won't see Fuzz again until January 4th.

So, I've decide that my goal is to make it through Christmas without gaining any weight. That will be a success. I'm going to have to start walking more regularly in order to do that. I'm really struggling to find the time, energy and motivation to get my rear-end in gear and exercise! Please join me in praying that I'll get my act together and get moving. I really don't want to gain any of this weight back. I've come too far to lose ground now.

On a positive note, I bought a pair of jeans at Goodwill the other day. I bought them a size smaller than I am wearing now, thinking I could wear them when I lost a little more weight. I tried them on when I got home and they FIT! I was so happy! When I started this journey 6 months ago I was wearing a size 26, the new jeans are a 20. How cool is that?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Port Revision Update

Yesterday's procedure to flip and re-attach my port went just fine. I am back at work today and, other than a little tired and sore, I am no worse for the wear. Fuzz emptied most of the fluid from my band so I'm ready to go to Italy now...Woo-Hoo! Now, I'm just praying that the port stays put this time!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Flipping Port

I went to see Fuzz on Friday to have my band unfilled so I'd be ready to go to Italy. Apparently the altitude and cabin pressure affects the tightness of the band, so they like folks to be unfilled before air travel. Fuzz couldn't access my port. It's the little, roundish thingie located just under the skin on my abdomen that the Dr. injects the saline into in order to fill and unfill the band. You can see it on the picture. Turns out, my port has flipped completely over. This is a rare complication, but it does happen to band patients from time to time. I had no idea that it had flipped, I never even felt it. When he put the port in, Fuzz stitched it into my abdominal muscle, so it's hard to imagine how it came loose.

Fuzz tried and tried to manipulate it through my skin hoping he could get it to flip back over so he could do the unfill, but no luck. So, this Wednesday I have to go in for some out-patient surgery to have the port re-positioned and stitched back in. He'll unfill me then, too. He's going to access the port by opening the same incision he used during the 1st surgery, so no new scars. They don't have to put me completely under this time, it's done under IV sedation with a local anesthesia.

I'm trying to stay positive about the whole thing. So, here are the positives. First of all, my unfill appointment was originally scheduled for next Friday, 10/24-just 3 days before I leave for Italy. For some reason the hospital rescheduled that appointment for November 14. I called Fuzz's office and told them that I needed the appointment before I left for Italy because of my unfill. So, they squeezed me in for this past Friday. That's good because Fuzz discovered the problem and now has enough time to repair it before I leave. If the appointment had stayed where it was originally was, there'd be no way for him to fix it. I don't know what would have happened.

Secondly, I've already met my out of pocket maximum with my insurance for the year, so any costs connected with this procedure won't be my responsibility. So, if this was going to happen, I'm glad it happened now.

This doesn't change at all how I feel about the band. When I chose the band, I knew that some complications could arise. This one is pretty minor and easily corrected, just a little bump on my road to success!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

5 Months and 50 lbs. Down

My 5-month "surgiversary" was a couple of days ago. I am still loving life with the lap band. I've lost 50 pounds and 2 pant sizes. I've only had to have 2 fills since my surgery and have had a wonderful level of restriction...not too tight, not too loose.
Next Friday, I see Fuzz for a complete unfill because I'm heading to Italy in a couple of weeks for a 10-day vacation. Apparently, the lap-band gets tighter for some reason when you fly, so he likes to loosen it up before a long flight. That's just FINE with me because I want to fuly enjoy the Italian food while I'm there. I'm not too worried about gaining weight, because we'll also be doing alot of walking on the trip. Plus, even with an unfilled band, I doubt I'll be able to eat as much as I could before surgery.

Here are some before and after shots. This is what 50 pounds less of me looks like.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fast Food Fat Attack

A breakfast with 1,220 calories, a 900 calorie salad, and a burger packing over a days worth of fat grams and 1,200 calories are just a few of the menu items lurking at your neighborhood fast food restaurant.

Find out more about these drive-thru diet disasters here: http://health.msn.com/health-topics/cholesterol/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100214450&gt1=31007

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This Stinks!

A recent study shows that people with the so-called "Fat Gene" can combat their tendency to gain weight with physical activity...6 TO 7 HOURS PER DAY!! Chek out this article from msnbc.com.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Quick Update

Man! It's been a long time since an update. Sorry! Life has been crazy...but what else is new, really? My last fill on July 25th (see talky blog below) seems to be doing the trick. I am able to eat much less. That's good. I get stuck more often. Not so good. But, I am learning! I have to slow down, take small bites and chew very well. Now, I knew all of this good and well before I had surgery, but I have to learn things the hard way. Like this morning , I got stuck on a banana! I waited too long to eat, was really hungry and took two or 3 big bites and didn't chew well enough. This was the worst episode I've had...it lasted about 45 minutes. So, to give my tummy a break, I think I'll do liquids for the rest of the day. Mmmmm, chicken broth! If you want to know some of the more graphic details of what happens during a stuck epispode, send me an email (tami@wbfj.fm). It's not horrible, but it may involve TMI for some.

On a positive note, I've now lost around 40 pounds. I'm very happy with that. 28 of those pounds are since surgery (14 Weeks Ago) , which works out to 2 pounds per week, which is what I'm shooting for.
I'm down about 2 clothing sizes as well. I bought some new clothes the other day at Wal-Mart and was THRILLED with the way clothes were fitting. If Fuzz had been there, I am sure I would have kissed him! This is the first time in my whole life that I have ever had to buy new clothes in a smaller size. I cannot begin to explain how that feels.
I got a new hair cut. It's shorter, but not drastically different. Kudos to Mike Todd at Mike Todd Serenity Salon and Spa for another great cut! No lie, I brought in a picture of Jenny McCarthy with her new do to give Mike an idea about what I wanted. When Alton saw my hair cut later that day he said, "I like it...it reminds me of whatshername....you know, Jim Carey's girlfriend." If you don't know, Jim Carey's girlfriend is Jenny McCarthy. Of course, I can't style it as well as Mike, but here's a recent pic to give you an idea.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Power of Writing it Down

Here's a link to a study that proves what dieters have known for years...keeping a food diary is important when you are trying to lose weight!


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Weight Loss Tips...With or Without the Lap-band

On this lap band journey, and during the 20 years of trying to lose weight leading up to it, I have found that there are a number of factors that lead to success in weight loss. Certainly, the lap-band is a huge factor for me, but that is only part of the equation. The lap band is a tool that helps me with portion control, but the rest is really up to me. Band or no band...here is a list of things that anyone wanting to lose weight should do.

1. Calorie Restriction- Bottom line...it is all about the calories you consume compared to the calories you burn. A deficit of roughly 3500 calories = 1 pound of fat loss. A surplus of 3500 calories = 1 pound of weight gain.

In order to figure out how many calories you should consume in order to lose weight, you must first determine how many calories your body burns each day (this is called your basal metabolic rate or BMR). Here's a link to a BMR on the Mayo Clinic website http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/calorie-calculator/NU00598

Then, you must reduce your calorie intake and/or increase your activity level to create a calorie deficit. For example, lets say you want to lose 1 pound per week. You would need to create a 500 pound calorie deficit per day: 500 (calories) x 7 (days in a week) = 3500 (calories in a pound). If your body uses 2,000 calories each day with little or no activity, then you would have to eat no more than 1,500 calories per day or increase your activity level by 500 calories or do some combination of both diet and exercise to create that calorie deficit. Here is a list of activities and the calories burned doing each one based on your body weight...http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/calorie-calculator/NU00598

Just a note...you should consume at least 1200 calories per day unless you are under a doctor's supervision. If you eat too few calories, your body will go into starvation mode and your metabolism will slow WAY down.

2. Protein and Fiber are Important- Consuming fewer calories will leave you hungry. Protein and fiber help to fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied longer. Think about the old joke about eating Chinese food and feeling hungry 30 minutes later. The typical Chinese restaurant meal consists mostly of noodles or white rice, then some veggies and meat. You fill up quickly because of the bulk of the noodles and rice, but they are easily digested and pass through your stomach quickly, leaving you hungry. There is also a connection between simple starches and increased insulin levels which add to hunger. For explanation about how this works visit: http://heartdisease.about.com/cs/riskfactors/a/lofatlocarb_2.htm

3. Keep a Food Journal Every Day- It is so easy to eat too many calories! The only way to keep stay on track is to write down everything that you put in your mouth. There are some awesome free websites where you can easily track your daily calories. http://www.sparkpeople.com/ and http://www.thedailyplate.com/ are two of the best. Personally, I use the daily plate, because it has a bigger database of foods to choose from. There are lots of other tools on the daily plate as well. It offers a calorie calculator and you can even tell it how much you want to lose and how quickly you want to lose it and it will calculate how many calories you should consume each day to reach your goal. You can also enter your daily exercise and it will adjust your calories for the day. It is awesome!

4. Stay Hydrated- Drinking plenty of fluid each day is helpful for lots of reasons, but mainly because it helps prevent hunger. I've heard lots of different theories about how much water one should consume each day. However, 64 ounces is a widely accepted rule. And, you are not limited to water...any sugar and caffeine free beverage is suitable. If you drink coffee or any other caffeinated beverages, you need to increase your daily fluid intake because of the diuretic effects of caffeine. I try to add one cup (8 oz) of water for each cup of coffee I drink.

5. Exercise (aka-"The E Word")- I HATE exercising. I am a low energy, non-athletic person and exercising comes about as naturally to me as eating nails. However, there is no denying how important daily activity is to weight loss.

First of all, exercise burns calories, which gives you some leeway in the calories you consume. As hard as you try, sticking to a restricted calorie diet is tough and there are days you'll exceed your allotted intake. However, if you took a 30 minute walk you could cancel out 200-300 (more or less depending on your weight) of those excess calories.

Secondly, exercise builds muscle. Strength training is best, but any exercise will add some muscle. Muscle tissue requires more calories to exist than fat tissue and increases your basal metabolic rate (BMR). In other words, the more muscle you have, the more calories you'll burn each day. Here's an excellent explanation of how this works from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/metabolism/WT00006

6. Eat Slowly and Consciously- Lap Band patients have to take small bites and chew very thoroughly so that our food doesn't get stuck in the small opening created by the band. However, everyone should consider learning to eat this way. We live our lives at a frantic pace and the way we eat is no different. Watch the way people around you eat...it's like we are all in a race to see who can finish first. By the time our brain gets the signal from our stomach and intestines that we are full, which takes about 20 minutes, we've eaten way more than we need to. http://health.howstuffworks.com/eat-slower.htm

Here are a few tips: take smaller bites, chew very thoroughly, put your fork down between bites and every 3-5 minutes stop eating altogether for a minute or so. Also, avoid multi-tasking (i.e. driving, watching TV, reading, etc) while you are eating. This will help you focus on how and what you are eating and when your body tells you it's had enough.

7. Avoid "Portion Distortion"- A big part of limiting calories is portion control. Using a food scale and measuring cups at every meal is pretty impractical. It's better to learn to "eyeball" portion sizes. This website provides a guide using everyday items as a way to estimate portion sizes: http://education.wichita.edu/caduceus/examples/servings/visual_estimates.htm

Restaurants are notorious for serving excessive portions. We tend to eat what is put in front of us, so it is common to overeat at restaurants. One good way to combat this is to ask for a to-go box when your meal arrives. Put those extra servings in the box and you'll avoid overeating plus you'll have two or three more meals to enjoy later. You've saved calories and money!

8. Develop a Strategy for Eating Out- In addition to the to-go box tip mentioned above, it is important to be prepared when you eat out. Most restaurants have on-line nutrition information Consult the guide to decide what you'll order before you head to the restaurant . These guides are also often available at the restaurant if you did not have a chance to check beforehand. Check out this article from the Washington Post with links to some of the most common chain restaurants: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/06/AR2007030600589.html .

For example, I have narrowed down the menus at the fast food restaurants where I eat regularly to just a few choices that I know are the healthiest. By the time I get to the drive thru lane, I already know what I'm going to order...I don't even have to look at the menu. At Wendy's, its a small chili, a baked potato, a grilled snack wrap or a salad with low-fat dressing. At McDonald's it's a grilled chicken salad with light dressing, the fruit and walnut salad, a fruit and yogurt parfait, a grilled chicken snack wrap, or a Chicken McNugget Mighty Kids Meal with apple dippers and 1% white milk. Keep in mind, the last option still has 480 calories and 20 grams of fat...but it is still healthier than a lot of other options on the menu.

Here is an article that offers great advice about eating healthy when you're away from home: http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/usda-diet-strategies-for-dining-out-ga.htm

9. Don't Skip Meals...Especially Breakfast- Eating throughout the day keeps your metabolism higher and prevents a hunger-driven binge that can sabotage a healthy diet. Breakfast is so important! A breakfast that is high in protein, fiber and even has a little fat will help you eat properly throughout the day.

Most people don't have time to prepare a meal every morning, so here are a few weekday breakfast ideas. Mix 1 cup of light yogurt or 1 cup of skimmed milk with 2/3 cup of high-fiber cereal (Kashi Go-Lean and Special K Protein Plus are great choices because they are high in fiber and protein). Quaker makes a Weight Control Oatmeal that is high in both fiber and protein. Or, eat a serving (1/2 c) of light Cottage Cheese and a serving of high fiber fruit, such as: Apples, Bananas, Berries, Dried Fruits (Figs, Raisins, Apricots, Dates, etc.) Kiwi, Oranges, Pears or Prunes.

Also, a good-quality meal replacement bar or protein shake made with skimmed milk are good breakfast choices. Choose a protein powder that has at least 20 grams of protein and is low in sugar. I'm a fan of Revival Soy protein shakes, although they are expensive. Slim Fast makes a lower carb, ready-to drink shake, great for those of us on-the-run in the morning.

10. Limit Sugar- This is a big weakness for me because I love sweets and I'm not a big fan of any of the artificial sweeteners on the market. But, sugar only adds empty calories to your diet. Here are a few tips to cut back on your sugar intake:

-Change the way you drink coffee. I used to put about a tablespoon (3 tsp) of sugar in each cup of coffee. Now, I use Fit and Active (Aldi) French Vanilla creamer. It has no fat and is very low in sugar.

-Eliminate other Sugary Drinks. Soda, sweet tea, fruit juice and other sugary drinks have lots of calories, have little or no nutritional value and do nothing to help you feel full.

-Limit Sweets

-Read Food Labels- Avoid items that have sugar as one of the first 3 ingredients. Remember, sugar has lots of other names...corn syrup, fructose, glucose, lactose, dextrose and maltose are all forms of sugar.

Check out this article for other tips about how to cut the sugar: http://www.ehow.com/how_2043524_reduce-sugar-intake.html

11. Take a Daily Vitamin- In a perfect world, you'd get all of your daily nutrition from your food. However, it is next to impossible to get all of your required nutrients each day, even on a healthy diet. Also, make sure to get plenty of calcium and vitamin D every day, this is especially important for women.

12. Track Your Progress With a Scale, a Measuring Tape and a Camera-Keeping track of your weight provides accountability and motivation. However, weighing yourself too often can lead to frustration as your weight tends to fluctuate day to day for reasons including water retention and muscle development. There are different schools of thought on how often to weigh. I recommend weighing at least once a month, but no more often than once per week. Keep a record of each weigh-in so you can track your progress over time. http://www.thedailyplate.com/ also has a weight tracking tool.

Since the scale can be a bit fickle, it is also a good idea to keep track of your measurements. At a minimum keep track of your waist measurement. You may also want to track your hip, bust, forearms and thighs. It's not unusual to have periods when you haven't lost pounds, but you have lost inches. This is especially true when you are exercising. Muscle weighs more than fat...so you could lose fat while gaining muscle and have your body weight stay the same. Here's a link to a website that has additional tips about weighing yourself and will show you how to properly take your measurements:

Finally, it's not a bad idea to take a few full-length pictures of yourself (front, profile and back)when you first start a weight loss program. Periodically, retake the pictures and compare before and after. It's a good idea to stand in front of the same door in your home and wear the same or similar clothes each time. Hopefully, within a few months you'll begin to see a noticeable difference in yourself.

13. Don't Go It Alone-Studies show that people who are most successful at lifestyle change have a strong support system. This is one of the benefits of Weight Watchers...weekly support and accountability are very important. Overeaters Anonymous and First Place are other excellent weight loss support groups. If you can't attend a structured group, at least try to connect with friends, family members and co-workers who are trying to lose weight. There are also some really good on-line networking sites to try... http://www.obesityhelp.com/ , http://www.sparkpeople.com/ and http://www.thedailyplate.com/ are a few of the best.

14. Be Patient-There is no such thing as quick, easy weight loss. Lasting weight loss takes work and time. I have given up on so many diets because I wasn't losing quickly enough. However, I have come to accept that in order to achieve long-term weight loss I must commit myself to a lifetime of healthy lifestyle choices.

Make your changes gradually. We've probably all heard that it takes 21 days to break a bad habit or make a new, good one. So, instead of trying to change all of your diet and exercise habits at once...why not try changing one or two new things every 3-4 weeks? In a year you'd be well on your way to a healthier life and you'd be much more likely to stick with the changes.

Try this 9-month plan, adding each new activity to the already established activities from previous months:

Month 1- Track everything you eat and drink, plus your daily exercise in a journal or online. This is also a good time to join an on-line support group.

Month 2- Drink at least 8 ounces of water per day. Start a daily multi-vitamin.

Month 3- Begin exercising a minimum of 30 minutes per day, or add to the exercise you are already doing.

Month 4-If you aren't already eating a good breakfast, start this month. Make sure breakfast includes at least 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.

Month 5- Start eating slowly and consciously as described in number 6 above.

Month 6-Increase exercise again (this is a good time to start strength training 2-3 days per week if you haven't already).

Month 7-This month, work on cutting excess sugar and other simple or "white" carbohydrates from your diet. Instead eat whole grains and complex carbohydrates. Need more info about this? Check out this website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002469.htm

Month 8-Start a restricted calorie diet. See number 1 at the beginning of this blog for info.

Month 9-Increase exercise again. By this point, you should be doing at least 30 minutes of cardio 5 days per week and 30 minutes of strength training 3 times per week.

This plan may take you more or less than 9 months. If you feel you have not mastered a particular step, take longer than one month to work on it before you move on. If you are already doing one of the steps, skip ahead to the next month. However, give yourself at least 3 weeks to master one step before you move on to the next.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Getting "Stuck"

I have encountered one of the least pleasant side-effects of the band a few times now that I've been eating solid food for a while. Getting Stuck. Uck.

If I eat too fast and/or don't chew my food well enough, it can get stuck in my stoma-the small opening created by the band between the small pouch (upper part of the stomach) and the rest of my stomach. This results in a very uncomfortable sensation of extreme pressure in my chest which lasts for 10-15 minutes until the food works its way through, or comes back up...also known as a "PB" or productive burp (this has not happened to me yet). It is annoying, and painful, but it is a very powerful reminder to chew, chew, chew and slow down...which I should be doing anyway!

On another note...lots of folks are curious about how much weight I've lost..I think I am down around 25 pounds now, but I like to go by my doctor's scale for my official weight. The last time I saw him was on June 11 and I had lost a total of 20 pounds. My next appointment is on July 25th. I will definitely let you know the "official" new total then.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Free Yourself Portion Distortion

I'm always one to look for the easier way to do things. This holds true to trying to figure out serving sizes. Sorry, I'm just not too likely to pull out a food scale or measuring cups everytime I eat. Here is a "handy" guide to portion sizes put together by Witchita State University.

One of the easiest ways to visually estimate portion sizes is to use an everyday item that you carry around with you all the time, your hand.

-1 ounce of cheese is about the size of your thumb
-A teaspoon of margarine is about the size of your thumb tip
-1 cup of milk, yogurt or chopped fresh greens
is about the size of a small hand holding a tennis ball
-1 oz nuts or small candies:About one handful
-2 oz chips or pretzels:About two handfuls
-1 cup: About the size of a man's fist
A ½ cup of cut fruit, cooked vegetables, pasta, rice is about the size of a rounded handful
-3 ounces of meat, poultry, or fish are about the size of a women's palm
-1/2 cup of cut fruit, vegetables, or pasta
is about the size of a small fist
-One ounce of snack foods--pretzels, etc. equals a large handful

Because hand sizes vary according to body, size, gender, and age, it may be easier to estimate portion sizes using some common household items.

-One piece fruit or potato: About the size of a regular (60 watt) light bulb
-One-half cup of vegetables is about the size of a light bulb
-1/2 cup
: about the size of a racquet ball
-One cup of pasta is the size of a tennis ball

-3/4 cup: about the size of a tennis ball
-1 fruit serving = ½ cup canned or 1 medium fruit: is about the size of a tennis ball
-1 1/2 - 2 oz cheese:
About the size of a 3.5" computer disk or a tube of lipstick or three dominos
-3 oz. meat/poultry/fish:
About the size of a deck of cards or cassette tape
-2 TB peanut butter:
About the size of a golf ball
-One bagel
is the size of a hockey puck
-A medium potato
should be the size of a computer mouse
-One teaspoon of peanut butter
equals one dice.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008



The above link is to a testimonial page from patients at St. Vincents Hospital's (Alabama) Weight Loss Surgery Program. Their stories are amazing and wait until you see how wonderful, healthy and happy they all look now!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Just a Quick Post

I am exhausted! It is 10:30 PM and for the 3rd night in a row I'll be getting to bed waaaay too late. I love my job, but early mornings are really hard for me. As the week goes on and the sleep deficit accumulates, it gets harder and harder to get going in the morning. All that to say...this will be a short post.

I know that many people are following my progress. I find this to be such a great honor and source of encouragement. And, I don't want to leave you hanging! So, here is the latest.

As I already mentioned, my first fill was last Thursday. I had to go back to full liquids for a couple of days to give my stomach a chance to adjust. Now that I've been back on regular food for a few days, I can definitely feel a difference in the amount of restriction. Before the fill I had gotten to where I could pretty much eat as much as I wanted and I was having to really work hard not to over eat. But now, the band is starting to do some of that work for me. If I eat too much, too fast or if I take too big of a bite or don't chew well enough, I get an uncomfortable sensation in my upper chest. The food just kind of hangs there until it can start working it's way through my stoma and into the bottom portion of my stomach.

My head has not really caught on to the idea of my smaller stomach, however, and I still try to eat more than I can. For example, today's crazy schedule had me hitting Wendy's for lunch. I ordered one of their new "Go Wraps" which is basically a chicken tender, cheese, lettuce and ranch dressing wrapped in a tortilla. It's pretty small and I thought I would still be hungry, so I also ordered a small chili. Needless to say, the snack wrap was all I needed to be completely satisfied. But, I didn't want to waste the chili (duh!) so I tried to eat it. I got a few spoonfulls down, but that was it. I let Andrew have part of it and then ate the rest a couple of hours later.

This is a learning process, so I am trying to be patient with myself. I still feel that I am making really good progress and I am very happy with the way things are going. I am also confident that when my head, my stomach and the band all start working together, it's gonna be great.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

First Fill

Today I saw Fuzz and had my first "fill". This is when he injects saline to tighten my band. I was ready because my hunger had really kicked back in. I was able to eat more than a cup of food at a meal and was hungry just a couple of hours later. All signs that I needed more restriction.

The fill was quick and relatively painless. Fuzz located the port by pressing on my belly in the area where he placed it. Once he found it he used a needle to access the port and then injected about1.5 cc's of saline solution into the band. The port and the band are connected by a thin tube. He had already put in 3 cc's when he placed the band so now I have about 4.5 cc's of saline. I'm on full liquids again for 2 days until my stomach adjusts to the new level of restriction. Then I can start back on regular food and see what kind of restriction I have.

After my fill, Jeff the Psychologist met with me for a few minutes. He said I seem to be doing really well and was pleased with my progress and my outlook. He reminded me about the June Support group meeting. I am hoping to attend this one.

So far I have lost a total of 20 pounds. That didn't seem like a whole lot to me until I picked up a 20 pound bag of dog food the other night. WOW! That put into perspective how much weight that really is! No wonder I already feel so much better. I am hoping lose around 120 ponds total, I am now 1/6th of the way there. 1 bag of dog chow down, 5 more to go!