Bari-Educational TV: Videos To Teach You About You And Your Options

  • 1. The Stages of Digestion
  • 2. Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass
  • 3. Gastric Banding
  • 4. Sleeve Gastrectomy
  • 5. Duodenal Switch
"Eat right, exercise regularly, die anyway."

~ Author Unknown

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I haven't posted much this week as I haven't been feeling all that well.  I think that I've been pushing myself a little more than I should, which has been hard not to do!  The weather has been pretty nice so I've wanted to get out and get moving but I have to remember that my surgery was just a short 3 weeks ago and that my body is truly still healing.  I'm proud of myself for the days that I've hit over 12,000 steps on my pedometer, but I think I might need to scale back just a little.  I'm glad that I've taken a full 6 weeks away from work to allow myself the time that I need.  There are some days when I feel like I can take on the world, then others where I'm reminded of the fragility that's still there.

I've had to scale back on my pureed diet a little as well as my lower digestive system has been hibernating during these last weeks of liquid dieting.  It's taking some effort to wake up my system and that process hasn't been without some pain and discomfort.  To be honest, it's so much easier to get in my proteins and fluids through drinking that I actually prefer sticking with a liquid diet these days anyway!  I never imagined myself preferring a liquid diet to eating but it's nice to have this "honeymoon period" where I'm not fighting cravings.  I know that it will not always be this easy but for now, I'll take it!!

That's all for now, just a little update to let you know that I'm still alive and kicking.  I will hit my first milestone within the next couple of days so I'll be sure to post and let you know what that is!  In the meantime, be healthy, wealthy, and wise, and enjoy this wonderful holiday season for it most certainly is "the most wonderful time of the year"!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why Not Lose Debt While Losing Weight?

Years ago, I worked as a high school chemistry teacher.  I was about 26 years old at the time, still somewhat freshly out of college and had no clue about how to manage my finances.  As we all know, teachers make very little money and it didn't take long before my life of trying to live like my friends clashed with the reality of my lack of money, even working a second job during the school year and a job in the summer.  I lost everything.  I was evicted from my apartment, had a car repossessed, and literally sat in tears calling different friends asking if I could spend the night on their couch or on their floor because I had nowhere to go.  Now don't get upset or feel sorry for me because I am a woman of strong faith and that's the one thing that I never lost in all of this! 

God provided me with wonderful friends and family that bounced me around between them helping me with food, housing, and other things until I was able to find a new career and get back on my own two feet and I will be forever thankful for them.  Believe it or not, I'm also incredibly thankful that I went through the whole experience, in retrospect, because I learned what things in life are luxuries versus what things in life are ones we really can't live without.  The list of items in the luxury category is very long.  You would truly be amazed what things you can live without if you had to.

Fast forward to around 2005....I'd been working in my new career field for about 3 years but was still kind of feeling my way around in the dark.  I finally hired on with my current company, a company that sounded almost too good to be true, but luckily, ended up being true to their word. They offered me the opportunity to do some things that I'd always wanted to do as well as a competitive salary package.  It was at that point that I said, "Lord, since you've been so good to me and allowed me to get back on my feet, I want to do everything I can to learn how to manage my money so that I will hopefully never end up where I was again."

I'd already been a fan of Suze Orman, but I started to follow her even more carefully.  I started to read books and follow her advice.  I pulled my credit report, took a deep breath when I saw all of the negative items on it, and vowed that no matter how long it took, I was going to dig my way out of my debts.  I started working my way through them and started to get excited paying off bills because I felt like I was taking care of my responsibilities in an honorable way.  I made this mess and it was up to me to clean it up. 

About a year ago, a friend gave me a book called, The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.  He told me that it would completely change my mindset when it came to money and debt and he got me really excited about reading the book.  I started reading and immediately recognized myself being described in the first few pages.  I learned strategies for really getting out of debt quickly and starting to build my financial future.  The great thing is that there was no get rich quick theme to it.  I didn't have to pay for any plan on CD or DVD, yet I had a concrete easy plan to unburden myself from things like my student loan that has in and of itself added weight to my bathroom scale whenever I allowed myself to stress about it.

I've now become a huge "Dave" fan and I am making huge strides in my finances and will soon be completely debt free.  While sitting in our WLS support group meeting one day, we talked about the fact that we each have to find some way for us to individually flip the switch in our brain when it comes to our weight loss because as the saying goes, "they operate on your stomach, not your brain".  Walking out of that meeting, I figured out how to flip that switch....for me.  I asked myself, after all of the work that I've put into paying off my debts, after becoming debt free, would I then go out and max out a bunch of credit cards and spend money that I didn't have?  The answer to that is easy.....HAAAAAAAAIIIILLLLLLL NO!!

I'm trying to take on the same attitude and intensity with losing my weight.  After I've gone through this long, arduous process to get weight loss surgery, as I go through the process of losing the weight, and all of the special steps that are required to get to a "goal", would it make sense to then go out and binge on Krispy Kremes, Ben & Jerry's and all of my old friends that now sit on my hips?  Again, the answer to that is easy......HAAAAAAAAIIIIIIILLLLLL NO!!

In thinking about my finances, I'm excited about being able to be completely debt free in about the next year or so.  Imagine, with no credit card bills, car payments, student loans, etc. my money will all be my own!  I can save, invest, start a business, take a vacation, whatever I want to do!  Now that I've had surgery the amount of money that I need to budget each month for food is already lower so that's just an increased opportunity to get out of debt sooner!  In order to get to this point, I had to make sacrifices.  I had to make a commitment to myself that yes, I am willing to give up vacationing, purchasing any and everything that I want and learn to simply say, "I can't afford that.", but it's been worth it.  If I could do that with my money, I know that I can do that with my weight.  It's NOT EASY, but it's worth it.

So.....what's the point of all of this?  While you're working to lose your weight, why not also work to lose those pounds of debt too?  How many times have you eaten because of financial stress?  If you could get a "financial weight loss surgery" to help you get a jump start, would you do it if you knew that it had the same likelihood for success as your RNY, Lap-band, gastric sleeve, or duodenal switch? 

No matter what your financial picture looks like today, you too can build a plan toward a more secure future, and Dave Ramsey's book, The Total Money Makeover can help you just like it helped me.  I'm not being paid to say this and I get no kickbacks from Dave or Suze.  I just know that financial stress can be just as deadly to people as our obesity can be.  The Total Money Makeover is available at the above link on sale currently for $10!!!  Buy two, one to keep and one to give!!

** Amazing, as I'm writing this, I'm watching The Suze Orman Show and you simply must watch this coming Tuesday's episode of  The Biggest Loser on NBC at 8pm EST/7pm CST.  Suze gives the contestants some financial lessons related to their obesity.  She showed a clip from Tuesday's episode where the contestants learned that obese employees earn on average $7,000 LESS per year than their non-obese coworkers!

**Suze Orman's TV show airs on CNBC on Saturday nights at 9pm EST and re-airs again at 12am EST.

**Dave Ramsey's TV show airs on digital cable channel FBN (Fox Business News) Monday-Friday at 8pm EST and 11pm EST.  He can also be heard on the radio. 

Click here to find a local radio station, or click here to listen online.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I Survived Golden Corral??

For the past week and a half, my mother has been in town to help me with my initial stages of surgery recovery.  It's been a challenge from the very first day that she's been here because I was on my pre-op liquid diet when she arrived, then on to clear liquids, and now my pureed diet while my mom is able to eat whatever her heart desires.  We've been into several restaurants, to the movies, and of course the grocery store and she even brought Bojangle's Fried Chicken into my hospital room, yet I've done really well at dealing with being surrounded by my favorite foods without being able to have them.  I've remained focused on my goal and the fact that I knew that this time would come.

After surviving the movie theatre today being surrounded by the smell of hot, fresh, buttered popcorn, my mom elected to go to Golden Corral for dinner.  For those of you not from the south, Golden Corral is a tasty, home-cooked, buffet restaurant with freshly baked yeast rolls, cookies, cakes, cooked to order steaks, freshly sliced meats, fried chicken, and many other Southern food favorites including sweet iced tea.  I once knew someone who called it "The Trough", which is quite an appropriate name for the place because once inside, you really are tempted to fill up your plate, forgo the silverware, and just go to town coming up for air only between trips to the buffet!

When my mom said that she wanted to go to Golden Corral, I thought about saying that I couldn't handle it, but at the same time, I know that there are going to be situations when I'll have social obligations in the future where I am confronted with my favorite foods and I'll need to adjust. to "The Trough" we go!

To remind you, I'm on my pureed diet now so there are some normal foods that I can have.  What matters most next to nutritional quality of course is the consistency of the food.  I was hungry and figured that there might be a few options for me.  I'm pretty proud of myself.  Before paying and committing to eating, I browsed over the buffet selections to see if there was indeed anything that I could have within reason.  I managed to find some tuna salad that I could pick the celery and onion pieces out of, a tiny bit of mashed potatoes, meatloaf with tomato sauce, and applesauce.  I put a small amount of each on my plate and figured, "go with what you know......start with the protein".  I started with the tuna salad and was able to finish that along with the spoonful of mashed potatoes and about 2 bites of the meatloaf.  I was full and satisfied and ate slowly enough to hopefully give my stomach the opportunity to tolerate everything.

So far so good on the digestion side, but I have to say that mentally that was THE greatest challenge that I've had since doing my pre-op liquid diet and now since surgery.  Just seeing all of the foods that I normally would have not just eaten but devoured!  Watching others come to their tables with plates of my favorites and watching my mom pick over her red velvet cake that I wanted to steal because she ate around the frosting leaving just the icing on the plate.  It was really hard!!  Even now a couple of hours later with my stomach full enough that I couldn't possibly eat a thing, my brain still says, "I want this....I want that!  I wish I could have taken just a bite of this or a spoonful of that!" 

It's so amazing that even though our brains control everything, they can also be so wrong about some things.  Sure, I'd love the taste of almost every one of those foods, but do I really want them?  Hmmm, (all surgery aside) let me think.  Do I want to eat them and feel bloated and overstuffed?  Do I want to feel the anger at myself for being out of control?  Do I want to wake up in the morning feeling famished because my blood sugar has spiked and dropped so low that I can barely move?, I think I'll take the memories of all of the times that I have eaten all of that stuff before and have a sip of a lemonade protein drink.  I think I'll enjoy the way my clothes are feeling and the numbers that I'm seeing on the scale.

I know that the honeymoon period of only being able to eat these small amounts will not last long, yet in a way, because my brain still wants these foods now, there isn't really much of a honeymoon at all.  This is such a scary journey!!  It's somewhat easy to resist now, but will I always be successful at resisting?  The only thing that I know of that I can do, is to work through some of the books that I have that teach different methods of focusing on the true purpose of food and my feelings, and of course, give a gift to a therapist this holiday season......a little gift called JOB SECURITY!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Face Off With The Enemy

I've conquered my first meal and I've lived to tell about it!  So far it seems like my energy is moving in waves each day.  I wake up one day and I feel great with lots of energy, can walk for hours, and am able to get in nearly all of my nutrients for the day.  The next day I feel tired and have to force myself to consume any calories at all.  Yesterday was an energy day.  Today, I slept late but actually felt a mild sense of hunger when I got up and got dressed.  Looking forward to trying out this new pouch to see if it will be able to actually tolerate real food, I pureed some chicken with barbeque sauce to add a little moisture as well as some mixed fruit.  I measured out 2 tbsp of each according to the sample menu in my resource book from my dietician, and voila, here goes lunch!

I sat down with my little baby spoon and remembering "Protein First!" I started with the chicken.  I actually set a timer to go off 2 minutes after each bite to make sure that I wasn't eating too fast, and chew, chew, chewed, well as much as you can chew something that's already the consistency of baby food.  I finished all of the chicken and one bite of the fruit then knew that I could absolutely eat no more!  I felt like I was going to explode!  In the traditional ways of the morbidly obese on holidays, I laid back on the couch and undid my pants to allow my stomach to fully swell to accommodate my feast.

I drifted off to sleep which wasn't my intention, but upon waking decided that it was important for me to still remember to get my fluids and additional protein in for the day.  Now that I can have full liquids again, I made a simple chocolate protein shake with a little PB2.  I made it through about an ounce or two before I started to feel a pain that took me to my knees!  "Oh God, I must be dumping!" I worst fear, but then I started to feel those familiar bubbles rumbling through my intestines and realized that this wasn't my worst fear, it was just gas.  Ha, just gas....  Let's just say, I have a new worst fear and dumping is not it.  There is a new villain in town and its name is Gas.  He is known as the Silent Bomber, the Dark Wind. 

I contorted myself into different positions on the floor on my hands and knees praying to God that He release me from this evil captor.  My salvation finally came in a few forms:  chewable Mylanta anti-gas tablets, my trusty Lortab, a brief walk around the complex outside, and some other natural body defenses.  I started to feel a little more human as the tight grasp on my abdomen dropped its hold.

Lesson learned, even if my resources say that I can eat 2 tbsp (an ounce) or two, always measure a little less as I don't want to fill my pouch to capacity.  Second, no matter how much I feel like I'm going to explode, take a walk after each meal, no matter how long or how short.  It's up to me to make sure that I get the motion started because my body isn't quite able to give it the jumpstart that it once could.  I'm feeling back to normal now and begging my pouch for forgiveness for my grave mistake.  I think that my pouch and I can learn to get along well, as long as I never forget who's in charge.  Mental note.....who's in charge? My pouch, not me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Post-Op Week One: The Week In Review

As I lazed around this morning, taking my time to wake up and get dressed, it occurred to me, wow, I've actually had gastric bypass surgery!  You would think that it would have sunk in by now but I'd been on a liquid diet for two weeks prior to surgery and clear liquids all this week so it really has felt just like an extension of that liquid diet, even though I feel full so much faster.  I've been eating the same individual Jell-O cup for 3 days and it's not even halfway gone!  I'm still dealing with pain but it's getting better and I'm able to go for long walks without feeling weak so are you sure I had surgery?

I think what finally made it real to me is that tomorrow I get to start Phase 2 of my diet: the Pureed Phase.  After a nice hour long walk with my mom and my dog in the park today, we went to the grocery store to shop for the week and I was never so excited to shop for food!!  I can remember being excited about going to buy my favorite junk foods before in the height of some sick binge, but this was different.  I was happy that I get to eat again, but I also brought my resource book from the nutritionist with me because I so want to get off to a good start and follow my new diet to the letter.  At other times when I've started some new diet I've gotten excited about going to the store to buy my healthy foods, but today the real difference was that not only is this a new diet for me, but it's one where I know that I will definitely lose weight and have a really great opportunity to never gain it back again.  There's no guarantee, but I now have the best chance to lose weight and maintain that loss than I've ever had before.  (btw, I couldn't believe how small the total bill was and I look forward to cutting my grocery budget by leaps and bounds!!)

I made a preemptive call to the therapist that I have here and scheduled an appointment because I know that I will always have to work on my food issues.  I've spent the last several months addressing why I eat and how I've gained my weight, but I know that this new change in lifestyle is sure to bring up additional issues that I never thought of.  I cannot ever allow myself to forget the mantra that I've been taught, "...they operate on your stomach, not your head."  Just like anyone else who starts this process, I not only want to meet a goal weight but I want to surpass it.  I once heard that it takes 40 consecutive days of performing a behavior in order for it to become a habit.  I started changing my eating behaviors months ago and healthier eating is now more than a habit, it's a lifestyle.  One thing I've learned from successful post-ops is this, you simply cannot get through this journey successfully if you don't learn to settle the voice inside that cries for food when the heart is broken and the stomach is already satisfied.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My New Life Begins...

Today is my first full day home from the hospital and it feels so good to be back in my own pet-filled bed.  My surgery could not have gone any better.  I was up and walking Monday night and feeling pretty good. The nurses at Carolinas Medical Center Mercy were the absolute best that I could have asked for.  This was my first major surgery and although I wasn't nervous, it was still such an unfamiliar experience being the patient and having to allow others to do things for me. 

While in the hospital, I wasn't able to take my regular medications which was a problem because without them, I have complete insomnia.  On my first night, it didn't matter so much because I was still under the influence of the anesthesia but night 2 was spent wandering the halls, surfing the internet, and laying in bed with my eyes closed wishing that I could sleep even though I was wide awake.  When my doctor came by for morning rounds I begged for my meds just so that I could sleep and I was finally allowed to take them.  I got a few quick naps throughout the day and slept some last night but sleeping is still a challenge.  I typically sleep on my stomach occasionally rolling to my side and while I can sleep on my side now, my stomach is completely off limits.  I've gotten a little rest today but I'll be glad when I am completely pain free so that I can really knock out for a good 8 hours!  After surgery, I was given a pca pump with morphine to help with the pain and was given toradol every 6 hours.  The toradol was awesome!!  The morphine didn't really help very much and neither has the lortab elixir that I was prescribed for use at home.  My pain today at home has been probably among the most difficult that it's been.  I imagine that I'll spend these first few days trying to catch up on sleep but I'm still working to keep up my walking as well.

Today is also the first day without the safety of iv fluids to help me to remain hydrated!  The goal is to try to get in 64 ounces of fluids a day and yeah, that isn't quite happening so far, which is scary for me.  I feel like I've eaten a huge meal and am trying to force myself to continue drinking on top of that and it's hard.  It's so very interesting experiencing this feeling now as a post-op that I'd heard so much about before....just feeling FULL!  I'm trying to consume fluids when I have that same feeling that I used to get when I'd visited one of my favorite restaurants and eaten until I literally couldn't consume one more bite.  My mother made the suggestion of sucking on ice and since I have the super duper Blendtec blender....I put the ice in the blender and made snow out of it and have been able to use that to increase my fluids a little.  I know for a fact though that I haven't come anywhere close to 64 ounces for today.

My hopes for the rest of this week.....that my pain will subside and I will be able to extend my time walking even more.  Hopefully walking more will produce a greater need and desire to drink more and we can get the hydration train a rolling.  The weather is supposed to be beautiful and about 72 degrees this weekend so that sounds like the perfect environment for some outdoor exercise and a great opportunity to celebrate my new life.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Surgery Day

I'm ready to go.  My laparoscopic RNY gastric bypass surgery is to start in only a matter of hours.  I'm still not nervous about the surgery...odd.  The only thing I feel nervous about is forgetting to take something that I might want to have with me, and worrying about my dog's separation anxiety.  I'm so accustomed to having tons of things to do before getting ready for a relocation or a big day at work and now it feels so strange because my overnight bag is packed and there's nothing left for me to "do". 

I've lost about 14 lbs on my pre-op liquid diet; about 23 lbs total from my highest weight of 233 lbs.  I can't believe that I've done it, and what's even better is that I can't believe that it only gets better from here because I actually get to keep the weight off!!

These pictures were taken in July of 2008 in San Diego, CA and I definitely was at my highest weight and worst days of binge eating.  I was away at a conference and had this photo shoot done and was pretty mortified when I looked at the pictures later.  The photographer is a great guy and likes to photograph in natural settings.  He gives you the opportunity to be your own model or bring out your inner "sex kitten" as I like to call it.  I knew when I posed for the pictures that I didn't like how I looked that day.  I knew that I looked fat, that I felt fat, and that my fat was showing.  I was sad and too embarassed by most of the pictures to share them with friends.

It was also at that time that I made a decision.  I had to do something about my weight.  I knew that dieting wasn't going to work because I'd tried it so many times before, but I had to at least give it another shot.  I started eating Lean Cuisines for just about every meal and exercising but my excess pounds looked at me and laughed.  It was then that I started to seriously think about surgery.  Over the next few months I did some investigating to find out if my insurance would cover gastric bypass or not and when I found out that they did, there was no turning back.

Now here I am, November 2009 and my time for surgery is here.

These pictures were taken this morning.  I'm still fat and it still shows, but I've lost almost 23 lbs!  I'm smiling a little more these days.

I wanted to get a picture of me showing my pretend buffness so that when I actually have shoulders and collarbones and muscles that you can see, I can look back to this picture and really be proud of the decision that I've made.

I received a call from my surgeon earlier this evening (yes on a Sunday, is he great or what??) and he's proud of the progress that I've made so far.  I can't wait to see him tomorrow!  I have lots of support and people that are believing in me, but most of all, I believe in me and that's what going to keep me going day after day, but most especially in the difficult days ahead.  Please keep me in your thoughts over these next couple of days.  I still have my invincibility complex that tells me that I'll be updating you on how I'm doing from the hospital.  Sounds crazy, yes, I know, but this whole blogging thing is pretty fun for me and kind of therapeutic too!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Get Set...

I cannot believe that the time is finally drawing near for my big day.  Today is the 12th day of my liquid diet, and my surgery is only 4 days away.  I've lost 10 lbs in these last 12 days. WOW!!  People keep asking me if I'm nervous and maybe I will be when I'm finally laying in the pre-op area or being wheeled into the room but for now, I'm not nervous at all.  Everyone has warned me that I will initially feel like "what the hell did I do??", but my silly sense of invincibility says, "nah, I won't feel like that."  I think that because everyone has told me what to expect I'll know what feelings or second thoughts are normal.  I expect to be in pain but I'm also one who tends to be able to function through pain.....a history of migraines will do that to you.  I've been told that the sooner I get up and get walking the shorter my recovery time will be so I'm already mentally preparing myself to push through the pain.  Are my expectations of myself unrealistic?  Possibly.  I have no idea how I will really feel but I'm trying to be as optimistic as I can be.  It's been a long road up until now and I still have a long road ahead.  So often you hear the saying, "this isn'a a sprint, it's a marathon".  Well, I've run 4 full marathons in my life with lots of training and I can say that these last 11 months have definitely been a training season for the long race ahead.  It's only a mere 4 more days until I stand at that starting line.  When the starting gun goes off the only thing that I can do is take a deep breath, close my eyes, and wake up to a new life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Everything I Ever Needed to Learn Was Definitely Not All Learned In Kindergarten

I'm verklempt!!  In my opinion, my weight loss surgery journey began the moment that I arrived at the informational session for the program and although I haven't even made it into the operating room yet, I am beyond amazed at the changes that I am seeing in my life.  Sure, I've already seen some of the numbers on the scale go down and that's nice.  I'll really be ecstatic about that after surgery when they're going down at record pace!  The changes that I'm seeing that have so far made the most difference, are the things that I've learned about myself and why I eat, and second, the power that this decision has made in my willingness to reach out to others for help and support.

I got a phone call today from my oldest sister.  Throughout all of our years, we have never been close and I mean ever, but she called me today because I'd left her a message on Facebook to check in on me here at the blog.  We talked for probably an hour about weight, about our other goals, and all kinds of things.  I couldn't believe that we were having such a great conversation.  She wanted to make sure that I knew what I was getting myself into, to make sure that I knew that this surgery isn't a quick fix, and to offer her support.  She was really looking out for me and I just can't tell means SO much!! 

Going into this process, I figured that I would have my mom's support but I wasn't sure of the reaction that I would get from the rest of the family.  I think that I expected them to have the opinion that I was taking the "easy way" out so I didn't expect much in the line of support.  Wow, I am so glad that I was wrong!!  Right now, my sister calling me means as much, if not more, than if President Obama were to call me himself.  Now that's powerful because I'd probably pee my pants if he called!! That would just be over the top!!

For me, I know that the head work and the support will be my keys to being successful long term.  I'm a binge eater, but I'm an emotional binge eater.  Sure I have my cravings, but I generally binge due to what I'm feeling emotionally.  Between my support group, my friends, my family, and my twibe-mates, more and more I am being reaffirmed that I CAN DO THIS!!! Oh, and let me not forget that therapy has and always will continue to play its part.

My heart feels so full right now and I know this sounds sappy and stuff but I'm 35 years old and single.  My greatest source of depression over my life has been loneliness and during my adult years, the fact that I'm single and haven't had really successful relationships with men.  Within my family, I've always been the odd duck so I've never really been close with them. Thanks to Facebook, I've been in touch with old friends that are married with kids and I've learned that the grass isn't necessarily greener on the other side of the fence.  I've learned that there are things in life that I can value being single that married people sometimes long for.  I'm learning that you can indeed be surprised by what things in life bring people together and that it doesn't have to be a tragic event, and I'm learning that support comes in many forms and that it is all of these forms working together that make the difference.