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!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Special Christmas With Friends

I once lived in the Orlando, Florida area for nearly 7 years.  I have only a few contacts left here but one of them is a true friend that is more like a sister to me.  We don't always keep in touch as much as we should, but nevertheless, we know that the other is always there if we need them.  Christmas is by far my favorite holiday and I wasn't looking forward to spending it alone.  I've done it before but it's just not the same as spending the day with friends and family.  I was so excited that my friend invited me to share Christmas with her and her family.

When we talked a few days ago, she told me all of the things that she was cooking for Christmas dinner and even offered to make some special items for me.  I told her not to worry about me.  I made a meal on my own and took it with me and was just happy to spend the day with friends.  I can remember years ago when we were both single and going out living the single life and looking for dating opportunities.  We both have stories to share that we laugh about today.  A few years ago, she met the man of her dreams and I came back down for the wedding.  I'm so happy for them now as they are expecting their first child within the next few weeks.  I even got to feel the baby move!

Our lives have gone in different directions but yet in many ways we are both having dreams come true.  I couldn't be happier for her, and in seeing my weight loss and how I feel about myself, she couldn't be happier for me.  She was there for the times when I really felt the most insecure about my body and shied away from opportunities for fun because of my self-image.  There's much to be said about having great support along this journey.  I have to say that I've been extremely blessed in having support from nearly everyone around me.  It really makes a difference!

My Christmas gift this year is the gift of connecting with family and friends, seeing positive changes in myself physically and mentally, and knowing that I am loved.  These gifts far outweigh any material gifts that I could receive.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Little Natural Vitamin D

I've finally moved into my apartment in Florida.  Thank you God!!  I left on Saturday for what was a 10 1/2 hour drive from North Carolina so I did it in 2 days.  I never like to drive longer than 8 hours in one day because it's just too tiring for me and stressful for my pets.  As I drove further down into South Carolina, an amazing thing happened....I started to see the sun and almost instantly felt more energized and alive!

Yesterday I was back to work so up bright and early at 4am.  After working a full day, I had to move everything from a hotel into my apartment.  I'm on the 3rd floor and it took me about 10 trips to bring everything from my car upstairs (mind you that's 10 trips up and 10 trips down!).  Of course, once moved in I had to go to the grocery store and get stocked up on everything so there was another full trip!  I'm feeling the burn in my thighs and calves today, that's for sure!!  It was a great workout and I realized that when I want to spice up my workouts,  I can simply run the stairs of all of the buildings in the complex.  This complex is huge so that just might be a great strength training routine.

I finally finished up for the night and landed in bed at 3am.  To my surprise and amazement, my eyes opened on their own around 8:30am, the time I normally begin to stir during the summer.  I have to admit that I took a nice long nap later but wow, it's so nice to feel the warmth of the sun beat down on my face and the natural pick-me-up that it brings.  I've already taken some nice long walks around the complex and feel increasingly motivated to get up and get moving.

I'm down a grand total of about 40 lbs. so far and I'm noticing amazing differences in my clothes.  I've lost weight before but the change in my clothes has never been this drastic so quickly.  Over the last couple of years, I've always worn sizes 2X or 3X scrubs at work.  At times, I've been embarassed as I've had to ask someone to go into the men's locker room to get the larger sizes as the women's locker room wasn't stocked with them.  The worst has been when people have looked at me and sized me up on their own and thought that I only needed and XL and I couldn't even get the pants up to my hips. 

I've been wearing a pair of sweatpants that are a size 16W or 1X but that's still from the plus-sized department.  When I went to work yesterday, I decided to grab an XL and a 2X just to see how the XL would fit.  I expected to be able to get them over my hips this time but just knew that they would feel tight in the thighs and that I'd have to wear the 2X.  To my amazement and glee, not only was I able to fit into the XL, I had room to spare!!!  Not only that.....the only over-the-shoulder boulder holder that I can still fit is the sports bra!  God I love my RNY!!  The big question, is...can the fast change in my clothes be attributed to wearing my Skechers Shape-Ups during my workouts?  Who knows, there may be truth in advertising!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Eeyore Syndrome

The last couple of weeks have flown by and while I've successfully progressed to my soft diet and am feeling even stronger during my workouts, I feel like I've been suffering from what I'm calling "My Eeyore Syndrome".  Eeyore is probably my favorite Winnie the Pooh character because he reminds me so much of myself.

Lately, I've been feeling really exhausted and I'm not sure if it's from my surgery, my normal seasonal depression, a vitamin deficiency, or just being lazy.  I do think that I'm hard on myself because I feel guilty if I'm not working out 5-6 days a week even this early out. There are days when I feel strong and can get in over 12,000 steps on my pedometer, then there are other days when I don't want to get out of bed.  The great news is this...I'm back to work next week and I just received word yesterday that my next assignment is in southwest Florida.  Hallelujah!!  I am definitely a solar powered girl and I know that the sunshine and warmer temperatures will do wonders for me, not to mention the peace of the white sandy beaches.  I look forward to taking long walks with the sun beating down on my face.

Even without working out everyday though, I do feel good in that I am feeling stronger and pushing myself more during the workouts that I have been doing.  I love to do what I call my treadmill aerobics where I add arm exercises to my walking.  Add just the right mix of dance music and I remind myself of my old spinning instructor, full of energy and pep.  Hmm....maybe someday I could create some sort of class utilizing the treadmill with the arm movements.  Walking is great for you and doesn't leave you with "bike butt". 

Overall, I am recovering well and learning through trial and error what foods I can handle and which ones I cannot.  I haven't attempted milk in quite some time.  My initial intolerance even with the light soymilk was enough to give me a healthy fear that I'm not sure that I want to get over.  My high protein staple meal for both the protein and the fiber is fat free refried beans with melted reduced fat cheese and plain greek yogurt on top in place of sour cream.  Four ounces of beans with 2 ounces each of the cheese and yogurt packs a whopping 20g of protein and satisfies my cravings for Mexican food.  I went out for dinner last night and did well with baby back ribs and broccoli.  Barbecue sauce gave me the moisture that I needed for the pork and the steamed broccoli was smooth sailing.

Although tired, I feel good.  I miss being able to eat and drink at the same time and do have some food mourning when I pass what used to be some of my favorite restaurants or when I think of certain foods, but I still have not had one day where I've regretted my decision to have surgery and change my life.  So far I'm down about 39 lbs. from my highest weight, 22 lbs. since surgery.  The weight is coming off somewhat slowly in comparison to others, but I consider that a good thing, and I just keep reassuring myself that the weight is indeed coming off.  I can see it in the mirror and in the smile on my face when I look in the mirror.

I just realized last night that I've already taken all of my summer clothes to Goodwill and bought simple sweats with drawstring waists to get me through the winter.  I thought to myself, "...I shoud have held onto those a little longer since I'm now going to Florida!", but the truth is that they were all too big now anyway!!  So, I'll just have to visit Goodwill again to see if I can find some "new" clothes for the warm weather.  That feels so great to say!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hitting My First Milestone

Just a quick post to document hitting my first weight loss milestone...  Each morning I step onto the scale for my daily weigh-in.  Over this last week, I've been consistently working out and still on my pureed diet but was being teased by my scale as each day it read 201.8...201.6....201.4....201.4 lbs.  I knew that hitting "ONEderland" was only a matter of a couple of days away yet it was kind of funny watching the scale play games with me.  It's as if it has a mind of its own. 

Well, yesterday morning, my waiting game came to an end.  I stepped onto the scale to find a very pleasing 198.8 lbs.  I jumped up and down with excitement and called my mom.  Here's a little of how the conversation went...(ring, ring) "Hello?"


"What, huh?"

"198.8!  Girl, are you playing a game or something?"

"No!!  198.8 POUNDS!!!"

"Ohhh, now I get it (laughing).  That's great! I knew you would get there."

As you can tell, when I get excited I don't necessarily speak in full sentences.  I feel great and I can see some changes as I look in the mirror.  As with most people, the biggest change I see is in my clothes.  I have all of my summer clothes and jeans ready to go over to Goodwill.  I recently bought a few pairs of sweatpants, all with drawstring waists, but even some of those I'm having to pull and tie really tight.  My mom teases me that my butt is no longer a shelf that I can balance things on, but just a ramp now.

Now of course that's not quite the end of the story.....when I got up and got on the scale this morning, in its joking fashion it read 200.0 lbs.  I chuckled at it because I was already mentally prepared for the fact that small fluctuations on the scale are common so I'm not worried.  I had a long workout planned ahead for me today anyway. So, off to the treadmill I went for two full hours! 

I'm training for the 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon in Florida on January 9th so I want to make sure that I get some longer walks in to make sure that I'm ready for the distance.  There is a time limit and I have to finish in 3 1/2 hours which is definitely possible because that's a pace of about 16 1/2 minutes per mile.  I know that if not today, and even if not tomorrow, the scale will read in the 100's again and once it does, I will keep working to make sure that it never makes it into the 200's again!