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!

twice around the table

Of all the things I love to do, one of my favorites things is to give a dinner party. I enjoy setting the table for guest—creating just the right atmosphere, selecting the background music, decorating the tablescape, planning the menu—and of course, eating the food and visiting with my guest.

Getting an invitation to a dinner party should be exciting. But let's face it, dinner parties involve far more than just choosing an outfit, or enjoying the centerpiece. After weight-loss surgery, festive or even family meals can be a bit daunting. So let's take a stroll around the holiday table and I'll give you a few of my favorite "table-topper" secrets for your next holiday party invitation. 

Survey the table:  When it comes to selecting foods on a buffet, I recommend more than one trip around the table or buffet. Before we had weight loss surgery, we most likely didn't have any quams at all about making more than one trip around a buffet. After surgery, however, it becomes a must do in my book. Let me explain why. Taking a stroll around the table (even if it's just a quick glance with your eyes) allows us to select the food items that are permissible to our food plan that we enjoy. This will allow proper selection or the right choice before placing food items on our plate. Make a good protein choice and we well on our way to successful.  

Take a little detour: Making a good protein choice will allow you to take a taste of an item that is a special treat, such as a dessert. There may also be one or two items that are only offered at this time of the year. Go ahead, choose a small helping that makes you feel in control and at the same time helps you feel that you havent' been cheated out of your favorite holiday meal. Food is not "bad", it is meant to be enjoyed. Tasting some of your favorite foods doesn't make you "bad" either. (That's part of the diet mentality we need to abandon). If you do decide to taste something sweet, make adjustments elsewhere: only take one or two small bites—the important thing is to balance your splurge with plenty of lean protein and vegetables. 

Bring your own "gift" to the table: Call it southern hospitality or just good manners, but when I was growing up, showing up with a gift was always appropriate. So, if you’re going to a party, along with a small gift for the host or hostess, add a table-topper— a dish that you can enjoy as well as the other guest. You can even call ahead. Explain to the host or hostess that you are so excited to have received an invitation, but at the moment, you have certain food restrictions. Or just insist on bringing a side dish. Suggest several options—maybe shrimp, a cheese or deli tray, and don't forget that deviled eggs are always a huge hit.

Food, parties, and family get-togethers are meant to be enjoyed, not dreaded. So enjoy your next stroll around the holiday table.

with a cherry on top

It may only be a few days after Thanksgiving but the feel of Christmas is already in the air. The first thing that comes to mind is how to add a little festive flare to that ordinary, everyday protein shake.

My grandchildren are like me, a shake just isn't a shake without a cherry on top. That can also include protein shakes.

The old saying, "You eat with your eyes first" goes a long way with protein shakes, too. So if adding a little whip and red cherry on top makes those shakes a little more inviting, I say go for it. I've said it before, and it's worth repeating, eating after weight loss surgery is a lifestyle not a diet. 

So I thought we could start off the season with a very merry protein shake recipe...with a cherry on top! Enjoy!

I begin with the Basic Protein Shake Recipe

Basic Recipe 

  •  ½  cup skim, 2% milk, soy milk or water
  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • Sugar substitute to taste

Then add Flavoring ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cherries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

You can also add a little cocoa if you like chocolate! and of course, a little whip and don't forget...a bright red cherry! 

Blend and serve

You are on your way to a very Merry Christmas!

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.

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