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!

small steps to long-term success

Lots of people write me asking about weight regain. Either they have gained weight or they have a fear of gaining back weight. This fear is common. But it doesn't need to rule us—regain is something that we need to understand and allow ourselves to put into perspective. Here are the facts:

  1. A certain percentage of regain is expected after weight loss.
  2. Re-gain may occur because our weight dropped lower than we were able (or willing) to maintain.
  3. As we grow older, we experience a lower metabolic rate and/or reduced activity levels.
  4. We experience a gradual departure from our healthier choices.

So whether we are just fearful of gaining back or have found a few pounds from surgery, let's get down to discovering how we can set our minds on healthier mindsets toward weight, establish realisitic mindsets on weight lose as well as weight gain, and how return to healthier lifestyle choices.

I lost the majority of my weight in 18 months after surgery, but it took several years before I actually found a weight that I was conformable maintaining. I jokingly say that when I reached my lowest weight, eleven years ago, I only stayed there for 30 minutes, because I wasn't able to maintain it long enough to make any difference. I bounced back a few pounds right away.

A few years later, I had some plastic surgery done, they removed about 10 pounds of skin. Slowly over a few years until I began to gain those 10 pounds back. The initial exuberance I experienced losing weight, being 138 pounds and wearing a size 4 or 6—although wonderfully exciting—was not realistic for me to maintain in the long run.

I've had to accept that my lowest number on the scale was not a bench-mark for my success. At my lowest I lost 30 pounds more than the goal weight my surgeon had set for me, and I gained back that 10 percent—which is an average re-gain. With that said, I have maintained my health and improved quality of life during my 11 year journey. I call that success.

Over the years, there are been many changes. I've changed. My lifestyle has changed. I'm 11 years older than I was when I had surgery, so over time, my weight has changed and so have my weight loss goals. I think 138 pounds was unrealistic and an emotion goal in the first place. I no longer need to be that weight emotionally. 

Maintaining weight loss is about adapting to a new lifestyle. We have had a lifetime of losing weight, but we are not as experienced in keeping it off. That's not to say we won't ever gain weight—it's just part of the process. Once I reached a weight I could maintain, and despite fighting severe hypoglycemia, I managed to keep my weight in the "maintaining category" for several years.

With that said, the last 4 years of my life have been exceptionally and emotionally stressful—involving moving three times, dealing with the loss of my mother, as well as learning how to control my low blood sugar levels. I have gotten off track with my eating several times. Even though my surgeon says I'm within 10 pounds of his goal weight, I am uncomfortable with additional pounds. 

From time to time,  I have had to make a commitment to get back to the basics and lose a few pounds.

I have needed to re-new my bariatric lifestyle habits. I even joined Weight Watchers. For me, joining Weight Watchers, helped me re-establish my boundaries, find accountability, and encouragement to return to a disciplined lifestyle. 

Weight loss surgery isn't the "quick fix" or the "end all, be all". It's about having boundaries in place to lose weight and keep it off. Old habits and weight can come back. Weight loss surgery not about making temporary changes until you get the weight off and go back to the old way of eating.

It still demands constant attention to healthier choices and when we realize that we are no longer making those healthier food choices we must find the courage to turn back to the right path.

Health is not about numbers on the scale. The bottom line is about making healthier lifestyle choices. Whatever that looks like for you. It just involves getting back to the basics—making a plan, committing to the plan and working the plan until you reach your goal.

Weight loss after surgery—doable.

Weight re-gain after surgery—probable. 

Losing the re-gained weight again—absolutely. 

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

the fish school moment

It finally happened, the moment I had been waiting for over a year, maybe two! That “ah ha” moment when you realize the thought you just had was a breakthrough to success. It’s like finding that missing piece of the 5000-piece jigsaw puzzle. The one that is so much like all the rest that you thought you would never find it. After all, you have tried every piece, more than once. Then, suddenly, there it is. The one that fits. You are relieved and inspired. You can continue with the puzzle with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.

That is how I felt the moment my mind became united with my new body. It was November 2008—two and a half years after I had weight loss surgery.

I had to start believing it was real. Really believing it. I realized that the thought that I was really believing was something I had told myself repeatedly over and over again for years. The belief that I was hopelessly overweight, things were never going to change and that I was always going to be.  Forever doomed to be overweight and unhealthy. That is when the light came on. That was the “disconnect” that kept my mind from seeing my true size as it really was. The belief that I would never change simply was not true. Not anymore. I had changed. I am different. 

I had to  continue to tell myself the real truth to displace the lie that I believed about myself. Not easy, but that is what replacing those old mindsets with a renewed mind means. We become what we believe. I was believing a former truth, but that truth wasn't relative anymore. Success comes with changing our core beliefs. Those beliefs rule our actions. We must uncover the lies that we believe and replace them with new truth. 

Someone recently emailed me a story that communicates this thought very well, written by Simon T. Bailey. 

“I am reminded of a story about a large fish that was placed in the middle of an aquarium with minnows to feed on. The fish fed to his heart’s delight. Then, the researchers placed a glass partition in the tank, dividing it in two. After the pike had eaten all of the minnows on his side of the partition, he could see the other minnows through the glass but he couldn’t get to them. He thrashed, he bumped, he bashed his body against the glass partition, but to no avail. He finally formed a belief that it was impossible for him to get to those fish. He stopped trying! Then, the researchers moved the glass partition and allowed the minnows to swim all around him.

He could smell them. He could see them. He could feel them. But he believed that those fish were no longer available to him – that they were forever locked away from him – that it was impossible for him to win. So he starved to death in the middle of an aquarium full of food.”

Are you ready to unlock your full potential?  Yes…you can…you have many more miles to go!

More on how to replace old mindsets and habits and begin life anew, in my book, "Out of Obesity and into the Promised Land". 

Posted on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at 11:00AM by Registered CommenterJulia Holloman in , | Comments Off

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.

KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL FAST FOOD EATING

  • 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, ah...no 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

labeled

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