Physically, I'm half the woman I used to be, but as a result of my journey with gastric bypass surgery I've gained a lot. I'm Julia, and this blog is about the miles I've traveled in transforming my body, soul, and spirit while shedding more than 160 of the 300-plus pounds I carried before surgery. 

I'll share my personal experiences of restoring my health and changing my lifestyle, and I'll offer spiritual encouragement, social and emotional tools, nutritious recipes, health information, and more.

I've had a few challenges along the way, but through all the struggles I've grown stronger and regained my health and my life. I had my surgery on Easter Monday, 2006, which I call my personal resurrection day. Because of my transformation, I now look forward to many more "miles to go", and I invite you to travel with me on the road to a happier, healthier lifestyle....yes you can...I just did!

safe and friendly fast food options

You may have been told, as I was, that after weight loss surgery fast food is off limits. But, let's face it, sometimes in life, especially when traveling, we are faced with little or no choice BUT fast food. We can't always control our restaurant options, but we can learn to make the best decision possible under these circumstances.


  • Make the resolve long before your faced with dilemma, you want to make a practical decision based on wisdom not an emotional one in the heat of the moment. 
  • Sticking to the lean meats, whole foods, and avoiding fried items. There are some fast food establishments now that offer a wider variety of healthier choices. 
  • Make fast food fare an occasion and get back to your routine as soon as possible.

Here are a list of better choices when visiting fast food.

  • grilled chicken
  • grilled seafood
  • fruit
  • veggies and salads, (use low calorie dressings, lemon or carry your own)
  • chili 
  • soups, (watch out for the "creamy" varieties and choose options with protein and veggie ingredients)
  • lean deli meats such as turkey, ham and cheese, (avoid or limit bacon) 
  • roast beef 
  • taco meats and beans
  • hamburger
  • reduce the bread
  • avoid fried foods, sauces, condiments and gravys

Hamburger is at the bottom of the list for a reason. It's not that we can't eat them, but there are other choices that are better. If hamburger is my choice, I compensate by making a few adjustments. I take off the bread or eat a very small portion, (only about a 1/4 of the bun). Reduce the fat by leaving off the cheese and mayo and keep it moist by adding tomato, onion, pickles and lettuce. You can control your condiments by getting mayo and ketchup on the side or substitute mustard for mayo.  

I usually eat cheese with lean meats such as turkey, ham, or even roast beef, but usually not with hamburger. I find that hamburger offers more protein and will keep me fuller longer, but adding cheese or other fats such as bacon or mayo is taking the risk of dumping. Spending calories is a lot like spending money, where can you get the most for your buck.  

I probably eat at Moe's Southwestern Grill, or other Mexican fare, more than anywhere else when it's "fast food".  At Moe's I can get 1/2 taco meat and 1/2 chicken, add a little cheese and black beans. I usually choose the chips, (personal preference) which I can control the portion instead of rice, wraps or shells. Tortilla chips have 1.2 grams of carbs per chip. So if I eat 5 pieces that is 6 carbs and 31 calories verses a 6" flour wrap with 15 carbs and 95 calories.   

If your faced with fried food options, such as fried chicken, just remove the skin...I know, I know—that's the best part. This is where I have to do a little self—reminding myself of my goals and remembering what the consequences are for eating it...extra calories, greasy fat that goes directly to my thighs, additional hidden carbs that could drop my blood sugar, higher cholesterol, an unsettled tummy, a few hours of nausea, feeling like I swallowed a brick, severe stomach cramps and explosive diarrhea, thanks. Not so appetizing anymore!

One good idea is the familiarize yourself with our options. Dont be afraid to ask what information and make request for what your need. Most every restaurant has nutritional information on-line now or on site, so do your homework ahead of time and play it safe. For instance, I sometimes treat myself to the French Vanilla Iced Coffee at McDonalds—I order the small with half the syrup. It also comes in sugar-free!

We can't and won't always be 100% on-point with our food options, but the key is to make wise choices and get back on track as soon as possible. Once you establish good habits you don't have to "sweat" the once-in-a-while stuff. You're not going to become overweight with one indulgence, it's what becomes the routine that is important. 

1101 faith avenue

One day, almost 10 years ago, I had one of those “ah ha” moments. You know, a moment when you suddenly feel like someone turned on a flood light in a dark room. It was as if I had taken a step upward and was seeing the view from a new and brighter perspective.

I was listening to scripture written to music: the verse written to song was Hebrew 11:8. It reads, "By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place, which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going."

It reminded me of a similar scripture CD I was listening to some years ago, I was probably on diet number one thousand one hundred and one. At the time, I was standing on the promise that someday I would surely inherit a “promised land” of my own. I was not only praying for weight loss but total restoration of my health and body, it didn’t seem possible in the natural. 

Faith is stepping into the unknown, to see beyond where we are. Even though I was still working on my weight loss efforts, I really didn’t see how it could ever be possible, but it didn’t keep me from dreaming.

God called Abraham into a place he would inherit in the future, but until then, verse 9 tells us that he lived in the land of promise, as a foreigner dwelling in tents. He dwelled in tents, which is temporary, but he was “dwelling” there never-the-less.

Abraham had a bigger picture in mind than what he could see in the natural. He had a bigger vision, one he couldn’t see, except with the eyes of faith. He wasn’t about to take up residence in a permanent manner because verse 10 tells us what was really on Abraham’s mind—he was looking for more than a place to put down a tent peg, he was looking for something much more grand and a great deal more permanent, a city built by God himself.

When I made the decision to have weight loss surgery I had no idea where it would take me. I did, however, have a slender hope that this might lead me to the restoration I was dreaming of. And so it has…somewhere along the way, I had to adopt the mindset that I could rightfully occupy this “promised land”. I had to pitch a tent, and hammer down the stakes until I could receive the full reward, looking forward, while moving into a more permanent fulfillment of the dream. I started by allowing myself to dream and God turned my "little faith" into reality. Faith is knowing that the "title deed" is already in your name, even before you receive it.  

Let’s look for something much bigger than just making temporary changes; lets occupy a place of permanence.Total restoration, health, and longevity that bring lasting rewards and changes that we can pass down from one generation to another. Weight loss surgery, my continued commitment to success, and my faith in God’s promises, have allowed me to dwell at a new address: 1101 Faith Avenue. Welcome to the neighborhood.  

Faith is knowing that the "title deed" is already in your name, even before you receive it.

Hebrews: 11:1 NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. Amplified Bible 

Posted on Monday, August 7, 2017 at 11:00AM by Registered CommenterJulia Holloman in | Comments Off


Labels. We are all familiar with labels. Labels serve as indicators of what's inside a package.

We read food labels all the time…and rightfully so, its important to find out what we are eating to ensure the contents are wholesome and within the healthy limits for a well balanced bariatric diet.

Then, there are the clothing labels—washing instructions and size tags. I used to wear a 3X or a size 28. I knew that any other size would not fit. Just after surgery, I could wear a small or a size 6. It took a while for my brain to get on the same page as my body size, but soon it began to register.

It may just be a number, and although the information these labels provide are useful, they also set our limits.

Clothing labels let us know what fabrics were used in the clothing we wear. They guide us in caring for our clothes. 

Labels reveal something identity. We have even given labels to ourselves without knowing it. Have you ever been tempted to put “professional dieter” in the space on the medical form that asked for your "occupation"? But we never consider that the labels we use reveal how we view ourselves, our self image, and assign our limits.

Several years ago, I read The Difference Maker, a book about making our attitude our greatest asset by John Maxwell. When I got to this question I was stopped in my tracks. A quote by Dwayne Dyer relates: “If you are having trouble getting where you want to go, the problem may be inside you. If you don’t change your inward feeling about yourself, you will be unable to change your outward actions…”

Every thought we have shapes our life. After countless diets and years of failing, I must admit, failure was common, and I was at the bottom of the pit. I had gotten to the point of self-doubt and low self-image. I had to reprogram my mind and my thoughts.

I realized the need to change my inward feeling. I needed to examine my attitude towards how I viewed myself when it came to failure. This one was difficult. Do you believe you are a highly competent and successful person who sometimes fails, or are you basically a failure who is working to avoid mistakes? Ouch…as Garfield would say, “I think I resemble that remark.”

I had to take a good hard look at the labels I had placed on myself. The old attitudes just don’t fit anymore within the margins of my new lifestyle. I needed an interior change along with the exterior. I want the contents on the inside to be wholesome and within the healthy limits.

It may take some time to establish new labels for ourselves, but I believe we can change our thinking to attain a new vision of ourselves - so that the one in the mirror matches the one in our head.

Yes, we can…we have many more miles to go!

If things go wrong, don’t go with them.” --Roger Babson

august local support meeting

Miles Support Group Meeting

Tuesday,    August 1, 2017     6:30 pm

NHRMC Orthopedic Hospital  3rd Floor Education Room North  (formerly Cape Fear Hospital)

Topic:  What’s On Your Mind?  And a small presentation on Protein 

 It’s been 2 months! Come and share your journey with others!

Posted on Sunday, July 30, 2017 at 11:00PM by Registered CommenterJulia Holloman in | Comments Off

part 2: solutions to get you back-on-track

So now what?

If what you’ve been doing isn’t working then STOP DOING IT.

It’s time to start thinking about things differently.

That same old dieting advice that didn’t work for you before surgery isn’t going to work after either.

But, don’t worry, Katy is here to help. She has worked with hundreds of people who have had weight loss surgery. She has honed in on some key factors that will actually make a difference for you. Katy says:

1. Do the things that matter.  It’s easy to get bombarded with information and overthink it. You can spin your wheels doing things that don’t matter.  I had a client who kept trying all these special protein-fortified foods and finally I told him, “You’re spending a lot of energy on these special foods, and you’re still gaining weight. Let’s look at some other factors that might be impacting you.” He wasn’t seeing that his lack of sleep and snacking were working against him. Once we targeted those issues he started losing weight again.

2. Implement a system. Don’t rely on willpower. Willpower doesn’t work because it’s finite, and it gets depleted by everyday stressors. You’ll inevitably find yourself lacking willpower with food when you most need it if you don’t have a system. Ever been through a drive thru on the way home from work after a stressful day?  That’s because your willpower was depleted earlier at work. If you have a system for dealing with stressors at work such as automation of tasks, delegation, stress management techniques, and perhaps a wind-down ritual at the end of the day, you’re much less likely to hit the drive thru on the way home. 

Try a new approach. For example, your dinners could be automated by a rotating monthly calendar or a delivery system such as Blue Apron. Make yourself a route to drive home that doesn’t go by any fast food restaurants, and BAM! we’ve created a system. 

3. Develop habits.  People who are successful at something have boring habits. It’s never quick and easy like we’re led to believe. You don’t accidentally win an Olympic gold medal or find it with magical solutions, like taking supplements. Nope, it takes years of intentional and intense training. Same thing with your eating.  You don’t accidentally or magically lose a ton of weight just by having surgery and taking vitamins.  And you certainly don’t accidentally keep it off for the long run. You need habits that you stick to every single day. 

Things such as planning your meals ahead of time, grocery shopping on a specific day of the week, exercising at the same time each day. These are the habits that will pay off over time.   

Systems and habits reduce the cognitive load of having to make lots of tiny decisions all day long. Just like willpower, our decision-making ability gets fatigued and we start to take the easy way out.  If something is a habit you’re much more likely to do it - rather than sitting there trying to decide whether or not you feel like doing something. Chances are there are plenty of times you’re not going to feel like going to the grocery store, or cooking dinner, or exercising. If you only do it when you feel like it you’re probably not going to lose weight. 

How to get started: What to do today

Today, sit down and take a look at what you’re really eating. Don’t lie to yourself, it won’t help. Be brutally honest.  Write it all down.  Then identify ONE thing that you want to change.  Something that if you did it, would actually make a significant difference.  Find a way to implement a system around this change, and do it until it becomes a habit.

The result: You’ve now shown yourself that you can make sustainable behavior change. You can repeat this process over and over again to create new systems and habits.  Keep doing it, and I promise you’ll start losing weight and feeling better, having more energy, feeling more confident. You’ll feel like you’re in control of your life.  And that’s pretty awesome.

Check out this site for more in-depth help getting back on track

Katy is giving away a free gift to help Miles to Go readers get moving, have more energy, and feel great.

Have you made any changes that made a big impact on your weight loss? What did you do to stick with it?  If so Katy would like to hear from you.

Katy Harvey, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD, is a registered dietitian, author, blogger and ultimately a teacher at heart.  She is an expert in bariatric surgery, eating disorders, and the psychology of eating.  Her blog can be found here, and her online course can be found here

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