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

Saturday, February 6, 2010

New Milestone And The BMI Is No B.S.!!

Wow, I just realized that it's been a long time since I've posted! Life is still good and after a long stall, I'm happy to report that my scale has inched down a little and I've finally hit my milestone of having lost just over 50 lbs. from my highest weight. I've kicked up my exercise some incorporating some resistance training and an old favorite, spinning classes. Look out Lance Armstrong, cuz you ain't got nothin' on me! ha ha

It feels great to look in the mirror and see a difference and to have more energy. I haven't felt this good in a really long time and it's so awesome to know that it only gets better from here because I still have a long way to go. I've been taking my walking up to a run and playing around with a faster pace in preparation for my next half marathon coming up the first weekend in March. I've aggravated an old knee injury in doing so which is very frustrating because I am one of those crazy people that loves running and knows the feeling of being "in the zone" and it's difficult to want to be there but have pain holding you back. I know of a few things that I can do to help and I'm going to do everything that I can because now that I'm racing again, I realize that my motivation for exercise is very much goal-driven and that when I have a race on my calendar, I'm much more inspired to get out on the trails or to the gym everyday.

One thing that I know about myself is that once I begin learning something new or taking my life in a new direction, I become somewhat consumed with it and often share with family and friends whatever my new endeavor happens to be. Of course right now, that endeavor is my weight loss and learning to be healthier long term. Prior to my surgery, I shared my plans with family and a few friends and for the most part the reaction was positive and I received a great deal of encouragement. I didn't receive much opposition but I did receive comments from some people that "'re not that big so why do you need surgery?....or why can't you just keep dieting and exercising?"

I came to understand that in general, most people only think of weight loss surgery as something for the super morbidly obese that they see on tv. They don't realize that a great number of patients that undergo surgery are people like me that are morbidly obese, even though we're not 500 lbs.

Within the black community, obesity is rampant and our culture is one that typically values a "thick" woman over one without curves. I've found myself becoming frustrated in some conversations with friends because I've had to explain to them that yes, I was morbidly obese at 233 lbs. for my height of only 5'3". I've had to explain that if I didn't do something to change, I was setting myself up for long term illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure that has hit nearly everyone in my family over the age of 45. Where I get downright angry though is when we start to discuss the BMI scale and I've faced the opinion that the BMI scale doesn't include us and is only made for white people, or people without "natural curves".

The BMI scale is not bullshit, and it generally includes everyone unless you are an ELITE athlete like a bodybuilder or Olympian that works out to the point that your weight is not necessarily proportional to your height. In general those not represented on the BMI scale have such a low percentage of body fat that their BMI is really unimportant, but for those of us who are average people, a normal range in BMI is actually pretty wide. For me at 5'3", I can weigh anywhere from 109-140 lbs. and have a normal, healthy BMI. That range encompasses many body types and frame sizes, and definitely includes black women and our natural curves. Yes, the BMI scale was made for us too!!

I guess I get angry because I see the obesity epidemic, the diabetes and hypertension epidemics, and yet the attitude that somehow the color of our skin and the curve of our hips makes us immune to needing to get fit. It's not an excuse! I watch friends and yes, even family members who eat unhealthy foods, and some who won't even walk to the end of the driveway for exercise, try to justify a weight of over 200 lbs. as being normal and it's not okay!! Yes, I'm sounding off and it doesn't really matter what I think because everyone is in control of their own bodies and yes, I know that just because I had surgery doesn't mean that everyone else should, but the truth must be told.

Watching Oprah's show on diabetes the other day, I saw a shocking reality that many of my people need to see...the long term devastating effects that diabetes can have. Consider this video:

If you knew that this could happen to you, would you still keep the same habits that you have today? One of the reasons that I had surgery was to try to prevent diabetes.  I'm frustrated because I can't get my family members to embrace the fact that with the proper diet and exercise, they could live free of their medications.  I have to accept that I can't change their minds or make their choices for them just because I love them.  I can only change me....but, even though I can't change them, I will not accept their excuses.  I WILL tell the truth, and that truth is that no matter what excuses you make, no matter how you justify your behaviors or unwillingness to change, it doesn't change the facts of obesity.  The fact is that obesity is unhealthy, no matter what color you are.  The fact is that obesity can and will shorten your life and alter your quality of life.

You don't have to have weight loss surgery it that's not the road for you, but you do have to face your own reality and the reality of your health.  You have to live with your own choices and the effect those choices have on your future.  I choose to live and to live healthy.  I choose to live long and to live strong.  I once met an 82 year old man walking a half marathon.  He said that he'd been running only since his 50's but that he'd done over 25 marathons over the years.  He was lean, healthy, and strong and someday....that will be me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

We Did It!!!

It was a cold, cold morning in Orlando with freezing rain at one point.  It was about 6:20 am when our wave hit the starting line of the 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon and we were off!!  Dedicated volunteers, family members, and friends braved the cold to support the more than 17,000 people that were crazy enough to conquer the race.

I pumped my arms and lengthened my stride and watched as the mile markers came and went.....1, 2, 3, 4......8, 10, 12, 13, then finally the finish line was in sight.  My mom and I joined hands and raised them high in victory as we crossed the finish line, nearly 3 1/2 hours after we began.  It was a surreal moment and  I was exhilarated!!  It wasn't until I had my finisher's medal around my neck, mylar blanket around my shoulders, and started walking to the car that I realized that every muscle in my legs was starting to stiffen and I began walking like a 90 year old woman!!  I'm still stiff and sore but the pain is worth every ounce of victory!!

I'm so thankful to God because I know that I could not have made it to this day without Him.  I spent a good deal of time praying over this last week as I was a bundle of nerves but aside from the cold weather, the race could not have gone any better.  My mom was at my side the whole way and although we've sometimes had our difficulties connecting with each other over the years, this event was a bonding experience that we shared with each other.  I couldn't be happier or more proud!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

My 2009 In Review And Racing Into 2010

Time passes so quickly and as I keep trying to think back on where I was in my life last year at this time, I find myself coming up blank with only flashes and snippets of memories here and there.  I do remember that at this time last year I was on my way out of a very unhealthy relationship.  I'd spent 2 1/2 years with someone that was with me not because he really loved me, but because he didn't want to be alone.  If I search myself enough, I think the truth is that I may have been with him for the same reason.  He was great at bringing me romantic "gifts", usually my favorite junk foods in excess (10 pints of Ben & Jerry's all at once here, or a couple of dozen of Krispy Kreme doughnuts there).  He actually admitted that he thought that if he could "fatten me up" or keep me fat that no one else would want me and that I would stay with him.  He said it as a joke but one of my best friends has a saying..."There's a little truth to every joke."

During those years, I watched myself get fatter and fatter ignoring the fact that I was quickly moving from one size into the next.  I think I turned a blind eye to what I saw in the mirror.  I accept complete responsibility for everything that I put into my mouth, whether he bought it or I did, but I also recognize that I allowed myself to be affected by my environment when it came to food.  As I started to take control of different areas of my life, I finally started to take a good long look in the mirror, at myself and the relationship.  I realized that I wasn't happy and that when I looked ahead into the future, I didn't like where my life was going.  I wanted more quality to my life......and less of me to enjoy it.

I walked away from the relationship, and it really wasn't hard.  I'm a pretty driven kind of girl and once I make up my mind to accomplish something, there's no stopping me.  My ex fought for the relationship.  He fought really hard but luckily for me, the saying "out of the heart the mouth speaks" holds very true.  Every time he opened his mouth and spoke....I was more and more sure that I was making the right decision.

I'd entertained the idea of weight loss surgery because I knew that losing over 100 lbs. was not something that I could do on my own as I'd never been successful in my attempts to lose and maintain weight loss before. to the information session I went.  Initially I was disappointed that my insurance required a six month medically supervised diet but as I look back, I am extremely thankful for that period of time as it gave me the opportunity to gradually make changes in my diet that I could stick with.  It also gave me the chance to interact with a support group on a regular basis which prepared me for surgery and my life after in ways that I really needed.  My 2009 was spent as a year of learning and growing mentally and emotionally, and shrinking physically.

My surgery came and went and I'm excited about my 2010.  I'm still learning which becomes more and more evident every time I go to the grocery store.  In a few days, I'll finally be 2 months post-op and therefore able to progress from my soft diet to a regular one.  Somehow I don't think it will make grocery shopping any easier for me though.  I read the label of everything I pick up and feel somewhat afraid because how do you know exactly how many grams of fat, or how many grams of sugar are too many? 

It's a process that will take time and I'll continue to seek support as well as go through good old fashioned trial and error as I have been.  So far I've been doing very well.  I feel very optimistic going forward.  I have my first half marathon of the year coming up this weekend and have already registered for another in March.  It feels incredible to set race goals again!!  I can't wait to have that finisher's medal placed around my neck if I have to crawl to the finish line to get it! 

Between 2001 and 2002, I ran 4 full marathons and several shorter races.  When I first started running all those years ago, I weighed 182 lbs.  When I stepped on the scale today, I was 189.8 lbs.  I was hoping to be down to 183 by this weekend's race as that would put me at a total loss of 50 lbs. from my highest, but I don't think I'll make it.  I'm okay with that.  The important thing is that I won't be 189.8 forever, and I hopefully will never weigh this much again.  I will make it to that 50 lb. loss and hopefully much, much more.  The other great thing is that I'm on the road again, walking for now not running, but I'm getting the mileage in all the same.  At the finish line, it doesn't matter if you've walked or run the race.  You've completed 13.1 miles and that's a half marathon no matter how you look at it.  I'm nervous but excited and with my mom at my side, it's gonna be a great day!