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!

transfer addiction: what is it?

There is a kind of sabotage that's more serious than the kind that others do to us. It's how we sabotage ourselves. It's called transfer addiction. If you have never heard of transfer addiction, you need to keep reading.

According to Dr. Lance Dodes, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the author of Breaking Addiction, it is not unusual for recovering addicts to transfer one obsession to another. 

“It’s been well known for a very long time that A.A. meetings used to be filled with smoke because people shifted their focus from drinking to cigarettes. Alcoholism isn’t about alcohol any more than compulsive gambling is about playing roulette—or winning money. Addiction is a solution to an emotional need. If you deprive someone of one solution to their emotional problems, it’s not surprising that they’ll find another one instead.”

It is true that some of us became overweight for reasons other than food. But for most of us, myself included,   the fact that we turn to food for comfort sets us up for food addition. And it doesn't help that most of us are or were in denial.

For some of us - food is an addiction. We use it to cover up a lifetime of pain and disappointments. Weight-loss surgery might restrict our food intake, but it can not fix the real issue. We need a real remedy. We need to get to the root cause of what is eating us. We need to discover our emotional need and fill it with what we're really hungry for. Food isn't it...and it will never be enough to satisfy our hungry hearts. Easy - no. But we can, and we must. 

It begins with realizing we may be in denial. Admitting we may not be able to solve our dilemma with weight-loss surgery alone—or any other addiction, for that matter. We live and act out of how we feel. We feel what we believe. We solve root issues by getting to the bottom of our core beliefs and changing them. 

  • I started by asking myself what I was feeling when I found myself looking for food when I wasn't hungry. 
  • Then I asked myself when the feeling started. It's like following a trail of smoke to the source of the fire. 
  • Once I found the answers, I asked myself what I believed about myself and if the beliefs were true or false. 

There is a way of escape. It's based on finding truth. It may take time and effort, or even professional help, but we can be free. 

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

celebrating 12 years - on the heels of faith

In 2006, I made the decision to have weight loss surgery. It was not a decision I took lightly, but after much research, thought and prayer.

I am often asked about making such a life-changing decision. How do we make the right choice?

While considering whether or not to have weight loss surgery, I researched. I prayed, a lot. I waited, and listened for guidance in making the right choice. But, even so, I didn’t have a clear and certain answer that gastric bypass was the “right path” for me. But one thing was certain: I did believe that whatever my choice, I had expressed to God my faith in His promise to bring restoration to my life. So, I stepped out in faith that God would see me though to success.

It reminds me of a story in the Bible. As a child, it was my favorite—and still is. It’s the story of Jairus and his daughter. The story tells us that Jairus’ daughter has just died. As Jairus stands face to face with Jesus, he expresses his faith with an invitation—an invitation to “come.” His invitation expresses his certainty that if Jesus “comes,” life will return.

As Jarius starts his journey home, what happens next is something unexpected. Matthew 9:19 says, “And Jesus arose, and followed him….” 

Making the decision to have surgery is difficult, and from our current view our outcome is uncertain. In prayer, we can extend to God an invitation to “come.” We then, step out on the certainty that He has our best interest at heart. His heart is to bring healing and restoration. Then, whatever decision we choose, we can put our faith in the fact that He not only leads, guides, and prepares the path ahead of us, but He also follows on the heels of our faith. 

Jesus did arise and "come." And with him came resurrection of life to Jairus’ daughter—and for me, too! On Easter Monday, April 17, 2006, God redeemed my circumstances, I received my health and my life back. It was my personal resurrection day. This year, I celebrate 12 years of weight loss surgery success. 

you can read the full story in Matthew 9:18-34

what's your m.o.?

M.O. that's short for Modus Operandi.

That's Latin for "method of operating" meaning: normal operating procedures. But as weight loss surgery recipients you may know by now that our parts don't "operate by the normal method" anymore—and neither does our medical care. 

With that in mind, let's review some medical "methods of operation" that change as well as information you should share with emergency, hospital or other health care professionals. 

If you have had weight loss surgery, you should inform medical personel that you have had it and what kind of procedure you had. It is always of the utmost importance. 

It could save your life...

MO = time is of the essence

An informed medical staff helps insure that you get proper approach or medical treatment and executions without unnecessary delays. Saving time, could save your life.  

Knowing that you are a weight loss patient lets them know certain medical conditions to look for that they might not check on a non-weight loss surgery patient. Depending on your symptoms they could look for things such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies, ulcers, bowel obstruction, and blood sugar levels. 

Bowel Obstructions. Any abdominal pain should never be overlooked. Notify your surgeon or get medical attention immediately if you experience any abdominal pain.    

Any and every doctor that is treating you needs to know that you have had weight loss surgery.  

If you ever have any upper GI done, your health care professionals should be notified of your altered anatomy. 

MO = procedures and techniques

Protocol is different from other patients. After a gastric bypass or weight loss surgery, there are certain medical procedures that should be altered, such as smaller diameter instruments used. 

One example, gastric bypass patients should not have a"blind" NG tube. An NG tube is a nasogastric tube, a slender tube that is inserted in the nose, down the back of the throat, and into the stomach. An NG tube might be placed if a patient needs his stomach suctioned out. Patients can also be tube fed through an NG tube.

Normally, a doctor or nurse puts the tube up the nose and pushes. For a normal anatomy, it generally ends up in the right place. They check before pouring anything into the tube to make sure it's in the stomach, not a lung. When this procedure is done "blind," they can't see where the tube is going.

Get the idea, you don't have a normal size tummy! After a gastric bypass, you should NOT have a blind NG tube. Your stomach is shaped differently after a gastric bypass, and the walls of your little pouch can easily be damaged by the NG tube if it's not inserted carefully. A doctor should insert the tube using a scope, a tiny camera, that allows him or her to see where the tube is going.

MO = medications offered 

There are certain medications that gastric bypass patients shouldn't take, including NSAIDS. NSAIDS are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and include things like ibuprofen, Motrin, and Aleve. Also steroids should not be taken without additional medications to protect the pouch. These medications are commonly given for pain inflammation. Gastric bypass patients shouldn't take them because they are at a higher risk for ulcers, and NSAIDS increase the risk of ulcers significantly. Your surgeon should provide you with a list of medication to avoid. (there is also a list provided on miles to go site)

MO = medical identification

As you can see, there are several reasons why you should inform those in charge of your medical care that you are a weight loss surgery patient. Another way to insure that a proper plan is carried out in an emergency is to wear a medical identification bracelet after having weight loss surgery. 

After surgery,  I got a medical ID bracelet. Not only am I a RNY patient, I have hypoglycemia and sleep apnea. I am also allergic to medications that need to be realized, even if I am unable to communicate these needs.

Hypoglycemic episodes are not uncommon for gastric bypass patients and symptoms may sometimes surface unexpected. Symptoms include, weakness and fainting. 

There are lots of choices on-line, including American Medical ID, that are attractive and affordable. 

MO ID = What information you could put on the id...

Here are some ideas you might want to list on your bracelet.

  • Your Name 
  • Type of Surgery Procedure*
  • Medical Conditions 
  • Medications
  • Emergency Contact 
  • Doctor's Name
  • Drug allergies, No NSAIDS
  • No Blind NG tube
  • Blood Type
  • Sleep Apnea

*Wearing an identification for Gastric Bypass or Weight Loss Surgery is important. 

MO = local 

Locally at New Hanover Regional Medical Center,  emergency medical and hospital care for weight loss surgery patients have expanded. 

No one "plans" to have an emergency, but you can have a "plan" for the unexpected—helping insure that incase of an emergency or if you are unable to relay information that you receive the appropriate medical care for your specific needs as a weight loss surgery patient.

Just make it your M.O. = "standard method of operation". 

which whey is best?

The first and most important ingredient in our pre and post op food plan as weight loss surgery patients is protein. 

Whether whey, egg, or soy, find one or more that you can at least tolerate and hopefully enjoy. 

Although taste is extremely important, the ingredients are what make the protein beneficial. So if you're going to drink it for health, lets choose the best.

Protein offers a plethora of important benefits, but simply stated, protein is what helps us lose fat without losing muscle mass.  

There are so many protein supplement options on the market today and the list just keeps growing and growing. Options are a good thing, but with so many options how are we suppose to choose which one is the best?

In my opinion, the best protein shake is the one you will drink. So, let's take a look at some important componets to consider when making your choice.

I also recommend finding several varieties that you like. 

Pricing

I once heard that choosing a protein supplement is like choosing a car seat for your infant...would you go for cheapest of safest? 

It may seem that protein supplements are expensive, mostly because you're buying them in bulk. Remember your health is your priority. Consider the servings per container and remember protein shakes and powders are your meals for as long as your in the weight loss phase. You're not eating a lot of "real" food. Protein shakes are essential for health during this weight loss phase. Compromises are not going to be in your best interest.

Protein shakes will phase out of your routine after you're on maintenance.

Not all proteins are created equal. Start with a high quality protein that you enjoy and then you can look around for other products you like, such as additional flavors, bars or puddings. 

Reading Labels

Label reading is important, but it can be confusing, but not when you know what to look for...

The top five things to consider are all listed on the nutritional label.

  1. calories
  2. fat
  3. sugar
  4. carbs
  5. protein
  • Check ingredients and grams. First look for high quality protein. The protein content should be as high as possible.  High quality protein is imperative, not the lest expensive. It should be listed first on the ingredient label. Protein supplements should offer a complete source of protein (more on this later).  Protein content is most important.   
  • WHICH WHEY: Whey protein isolate or hydrolyzed whey is best, but whey concentrate will do in a pinch. *These proteins digest very quickly and are the ones most often chosen workouts or exercise. Casein or milk protein isolate will digest much slower. Other drinks may contain protein blends, including egg protein, soy and/or added amino acids such as branch chain aminos or L-glutamine. 
  • Twenty / 20 grams per scoop is considered high. 
  • Next: check the label for: low carbs, low sugar, and low fat with the least calories as possible. (see below). Usually if the carbohydrates and fat are low the calories will be also. 

Taste

Select a protein drink that taste good. You will be on protein supplements during your weight loss phase. It's important to find a protein drink that you enjoy. Don't expect it to taste like the best milkshake you've ever had, but can you tolerate it? What flavors do you like best?

You might prefer to find one you can add your own flavor to and get creative. Find several that you like and try not to get burned out on just one flavor or product brand. I chose one staple brand that I liked with high quality medical protein and made shakes of different flavors. Then I had more than a dozen that I liked, both powder an pre-made, ready to use varieties. This really helps take the frustration and stress off. You need to make it work into your lifestyle, travel, work and schedule as well as taste. 

Fats

Contrary to popular belief, zero-fat products are not necessarily the best. Fat limits should be around 5 grams per serving (or single digits). Some fats are healthy, such as CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, sesame see oil and medium-chain triglycerides (saturated fat from coconuts) help to fill you up, stabilize blood sugar and burn body fat. Avoid other high saturated fats.  

Sugar

Many protein drinks are sweetened with the artificial sugar substitute sucralose, also known as Splenda. Anything over 10 grams of sugar per serving is considered high. Keeping the sugar as low as possible or around 10 grams, will ensure that you don't have dumping. Lactose, which is milk sugar, causes dumping. Loctose-free proteins are available if you have a problem.

Fiber

Pick a product with some dietary fiber. Enlightened protein drink manufacturers recognize the link between fiber intake and reducing the risk of heart disease and obesity. Several products offer 5 or 6g of dietary fiber per serving, which can also help to suppress hunger between whole-food meals. If the product you select doesn't have fiber you can add your own by adding wheat germ. It's better to select a good product that meets the fat, sugar, carb and protein criteria and add your own fiber. 

Where to find protein supplements

Protein supplements are everywhere from health food stores, vitamin store, grocery and specially stores, the internet and many bariatric sites. 

It's a good idea to start by researching on the internet. Some places offer samples. Once you found one you like, high quality protein that fits the nutritional requirements and taste you prefer, then shop for price comparison.   

My staple protein duirng the weight loss phase was Unjury Medical Quality Protein, however, I had dozens of other brands I enjoyed. I was always on the lookout for new products. Unjury is sold in large containers and also smaller packets which made easier travel.

Although I never really did a lot of the high protein "shots" or "viles", they are good for traveling, especially when traveling by air.  I always made sure that when traveling that there was at least one variety of protein that I could find at a local grocery store. I did this by researching different brands and knowing my protein inside and out. Do this ahead of time, not to get caught without.

Finding several proteins I liked really paid off in the end. I actually learned to enjoy protein shakes!

Choosing proteins are essential for good health and weight loss...so enjoy the journey, get creative and most importantly, know your protein! Look for other protein favorites and information in the protein section.

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

fish in the slow cooker

I love to cook in my slow cooker. It's so easy and over the years I've found lots of fast and delicious recipes that I can make ahead. Easy to cook, easy to clean. Thats my motto! But fish in a slow cooker? Who ever thought that would work? But it does!

In fact, it's fast, simple and it's delicious and best of all it's loaded with healthy protein. It suddenly became a family favorite—they raved about it for days!

The serving size for this recipe is 4ounces of sea bass fish fillets—which has 22grams of protein. However, I have used tilapia and salmon, and the cooking time is approximately the same.  

Pecan-crusted Fish Packets

  • 4  4ounce fresh skinless sea bass or salmon fillets, about an inch think. (talipia is thinner, but it works well).
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
  • 1 TBsp ghee (clarified butter or coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp snipped fresh basil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 4 lemon wedges

1. Rinse fish, pat dry.

2. In a small bowl combine the next five ingredients. 

3. Cut four 12-inch squares of parchment paper. For each packet, place 1 cup of spinach in the center of the square.

4. Top with a fish fillet, spread fish with 1/4 of the pecan mixture. 

5. Bring up the opposite sides of the parchment paper and fold several times over the fish. Fold remaining ends and tuck underneath packet. 

6. Place packets in a 4 to 5 qt. slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 1 1/2 to 1/3/4 hours or until fish flakes easily. 

7. Serve with lemon wedges.

Makes 4 servings. For sea bass: 216 calories, 13g fat. 3g carbs, 2g fiber, 1g sugar, 22g protein. (revised from Better Homes and Gardens recipe)

Look for more recipes on Miles to Go in the recipe section.

Posted on Friday, March 23, 2018 at 11:00AM by Registered CommenterJulia Holloman in , , | Comments Off
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