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!

a new image of the new you

You can tell a lot about a person by the uniform they wear. Whether a nurse, a fireman, a chef, or a basketball player—clothing reflects who we are—our identities, personalities, and values. 

In a sense, we all wear uniforms. The clothing we choose makes a statement. Whether it’s the teenager in a self-discovery phase, the preppy college student, or diligent homemaker, our own personal “uniforms” say something about who we are and what we value—that is, unless we are obese.

If you wear any size above a standard size 12, you’ve probably had difficulty finding clothes that fits your personality. As my size increased over the years, I struggled with shopping. It was both frustrating and depressing. I hated the limited, unstylish larger-sized options. Those XXX-sized clothes revealed more about my size than my personality. As a result, I had just one shopping rule—if it fit, and somewhat covered my body, I purchased it. 

But those big, bulky clothes did more than just cover my body. They actually hid me. They allowed me to camouflage my true self. They became such a security blanket that I struggled to let go of them when I started to lose weight. You know, just in case the surgery didn’t work, or I gained the weight back. I begain to realize that I was also holding on to the old identity of the person I used to be. I needed a new identity to go with my new body image. I needed to reveal the "me" I had hidden away inside for so long.

I quickly realized that I had to let go over the old me and start embracing the new one. I knew if I kept those old clothes, they would serve as a crutch to fall back on. I had to learn to take responsibility for my success; I couldn’t hide behind excuses any longer. I had to shed more than my old clothes, I had to shed the old identity that didn't fit me anymore.

Recovering from obesity means more than getting to wear new, smaller and more stylish clothing. It’s also about what not to wear.  As we shed the pounds, we also need to shed our "old out-dated identities" of our former selves. We are not who we were, or who we think we are....we have changed.

I think one of the most important things I did after losing weight was to find my new identity. The one who had been hidden away for so long. I encourage you to do the same. Let go of those old labels of your "old" self and find a new identity - the one that you've been hiding behind all those years.

So as the weight falls away, lay aside those plus-size security blankets. You'll reveal more than a thinner you, you will uncover your dynamic personality, your new found sense of self-worth and truck loads of self-confidence—be yourself—the one you really are! 

low carb it  

I love to eat bread, but I'm not good at making it. 

Recently I tried to make low carb bagels, not only were they good, and low carb, but easy and quick to make.

So, if you've been following my blog for awhile, you know that I don't advocate dieting. After weight loss surgery, the main point is to adopt a healthy lifestyle and healthier eating habits. That means keeping your protein high and your carbs and fat low. Things like sugar and flour must be limited.

It's not dieting, it's about making healthier eating choices for long-term weight loss success.

The low carb craze seems to be popular now, so it's easier to find recipes for low carb and low sugar cooking and baking. Weight loss surgery patients also need to watch fat grams to avoid dumping and feeling like you swallowed a brick.

Even though we have to keep fats at a minimum,, a certain amount of heart healthy fat is necessary for good health. Besides a little fat helps with you feel full and stay fuller longer. It also helps slow down the absorption of the carbs you do eat. The whole key is about healthy food choices and portion control.

Keeping counts in the range of 5g of fat, 10g sugar and 15 to 20 carbs per meal is recommended. (This is a guideline, not a hard fast rule.)

This recipe is just one of the many I found on Pinterest. I plan to try several to find which one is the best for me. I encourage you to try different recipes until you find one you like. Take the advise of a veteran weight loss surgery patient—once you are off sugar, don't start back, those cravings will come back.

So, today's breakfast included:

  • 1/2 a homemade low carb bagel with a little butter and a drizzle of Truvia Nectar 
  • one egg 
  • a slice of deli ham

Enjoy! Yes, you can. You have many more miles to go!

full steam ahead

Raw vegetables might be better FOR you, but after weight loss surgery, well steamed is a much better choice. 

Your pouch just doesn't have what it takes to digest raw foods any more.

"Gas forming" vegetables, such as broccoli,Brussel sprouts and cabbage are best when eaten very well steamed. When air gets trapped in your pouch, it causes pain. Trapped air can also expand your small pouch and be dangerous as well.  

Even veteran patients don't seem to digest raw veggies well. I'm 11 years out from RNY. Not long ago I decided to munch on a handful of baby carrots before bedtime—that was NOT a good decision! It proved to be too much for my pouch—my stomach cramped for at least an hour. Very painful.

So, when it comes to raw vegetables, I know to opt for very well steamed or roasted.

sitting at the gate

It was about three years after surgery and I had been sitting by a gate. Not one exactly like this, but I'd been at the gate of my heart. I had been thinking about the things that I had let into my thinking, into my mind, regarding who I am and what, or who, I would allow to control me.  

In ancient time, cities were surrounded by walls and heavyly guarded gates. The gates were a symbol of strength, power and dominion, but they were also the weakest part of their defense.

We are like a city. Our gates are the entrances into our mind and heart. They are our eyes, ears, mouth, nose, hands, feet, and mind. Once we open the gate, things can come in. Sometimes we open our gates to things that we really don't want.  

In cities, the gates were set up to keep their enemy out and to protect the city inside the fortified walls. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy. I have let circumstances, negative self talk, opinions of others and life situations rule my self-image and determine my self-worth. I opened the gate, when I let those things rule my thinking about myself and determine my worth and value.

Often I allow my eyes, or my sense of smell tell me how to eat or how to feel. I have had to learn how to set a guard or how fortify my resolve. Sometimes, my gate looks a little trampled down. But that is not how I wish to live. It's not how I chose to live.

Early in the years after my surgery, I had to do a lot of building up the gate of my mind. Tearing down old habits and thought patterns and building new mindsets about who I am and what controls my thinking and my actions.

During those first few years after surgery, I thought a lot about set up a guard and determine what I will believe. Would I believe my "truth" as I knew it or will I let God define who I am? Would I choose to believe His truth?  

It was time to build up my gates. I found I had to put an end to the old thinking patterns and let His truth rule. Besides changing my external habits, I believe that changing my mind was the single most transforming thing that led to my success.

I can possess the gates. I can stop the enemy of my mind and heart from entering. I can be free to be all I was created to be. I encourage you to examine your mind and thoughts. Discover who is in control.

We can possess our city and we can possess and guard our gates. We are also promised that we can possess the gates of our enemies! Who are your enemies? Who or what are you allowing to in to the land. Go take possession.

Yes, we can, we have many mores miles to go!

 Genesis 22:17 ...your seed shall take possession of the gates of your enemies...

let's talk juice 

 

I live in a small town in eastern North Carolina, that's growing by leaps and bounds. Just last week a Tropicla Smoothie opened just down the road. Of course, we had to go check out the smoothies and sandwiches. 

The menu looked yummy and healthy, but beware, all that juice could spell trouble. This time I played it safe with a sandwich. I also asked for a nutritional menu to check my options for a smoothie visit.

Why the caution? Let's talk about drinking fruit juice after weight loss surgery.

We all know that there are health benefits to eating fruit: as well as disease-fighting antioxidants. Oranges prevent inflammation. Lemons can help with kidney stones as well as help with camps and fluid retention. Grapes can boost brain function. Prunes helps with digestion and regularity. Cranberry juice is good for urinary tract health.

But drinking juice is another matter, especially after gastric bypass surgery.  

Juice contains natural sugars, but even whole fruit juice, with no sugar added, is still a concentrated source of sugar and calories. This can cause problems for weight loss surgery patients including those watching their weight or blood sugar levels.  

Fruit juice contains high levels natural sugar, but it can also contain additional sugar. Juice lacks the fiber found in whole fruit, which means we not only miss getting the health benefits of fiber, but sugar, (natural or added) rapidly raises blood sugar levels.

The lack of fiber speeds up the entry of sugar in the bloodstream. Gastric bypass surgery also speeds up the process of undigested sugar "dumping" into the bloodstream— it's a double whammy.

Most gastric bypass patients have found that consuming over 10 grams of sugar at a time can cause problems such as rapidly rising blood sugar levels, causing dumping syndrome, producing abdominal cramps and causing severe diarrhea.

Let's look at the sugar contents of fruit juice: 

  • One 8-oz cup of orange juice contains 21g of sugar.
  • One 8-oz cup of cranberry juice has 30 grams of sugar.
  • One 8-oz cup of grape juice has 37 grams of sugar.
  • One 8-oz cup apple juice: 27grams of sugar. 

Compared to whole fruit, one medium orange has 12 grams of sugar. 

Only 40 percent of bariatric surgeons allow their patients to drink juice after gastric bypass procedures. The remaining 60 percent of surgeons instruct patients to dilute fruit juices 50/50 with water or to avoid juice altogether.

At our local Tropical Smoothie cafe, I decided the best option is to go small, really small, like kid size. Something like strawberry or banana has less sugar. I could even add a little peanut butter, for a little protein. Even though the peanut butter has more fat grams, it also slows down the rate of absorbtion of the sugar. One good rule of thumb is to make sure I don't consume sugar without first eating a protein loaded meal. Even then I wouldn't suggest comsuming the entire thing at one sitting.  

  • One US cup = 8 fluid ounces.
  • One UK cup = 10 fluid ounces
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