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!

clothing: the new you

It's time to down size...with style!

In her book, Winning After Losing, Stacey Harlprin says, "Ridding yourself of the old clothes is as important as ridding yourself of the pounds." I found this to be true.

Wearing clothes that are too big doesn't make you look or feel your best. It is much easier to overeat when clothes have too much stretch or don't fit properly.

It's also important to purge those larger sized clothes that we don't wear anymore. We need to make room in our wardrobe for smaller, age appropriate, updated styles.

It was really hard for me to get rid of my old clothes after I lost weight. It was more of an emotional issue than I expected. I found security in having them tucked away, just in case. It wasn't just about the money I'd spent or even liking the items themselves, it was the fear that I might have to go back to them, just in case I gained the weight back. Then I realized that having those old clothing meant I was expecting myself to fail. They became a crutch for not moving forward with the present.

Stacey recommends that the best way to shed those old clothes is the same approach you lose weight, a little at a time. Periodically, I would go through my closet and take out clothing that was way too big. I invited a few friends over to take their pick, handed them out to others who were losing weight, and distributed some to ministries who would see that they were given to people in need. I recycled the fabrics I could use for other projects, such as quilts, and I even started a new business in creating handbags and totes from old clothing.

I stated to replace the old clothes with new finds, by shopping clearance sales. Then when I was in a size for more than one season, I started  filling in my wardrobe with classic pieces, a few at a time.

It had been a really long time since I had been shopping in a regular store or kept up with the current trends.  Downsizing give you the opportunity to make changes in your wardrobe to compliment the new you. Don't forget hair and makeup, accessories, shoes, and even undergarments. Down size with style and flare! It's the new you!

You're going to make it this time...out with the old and in with the new...yes, you can you have many more miles to go. 

best bariatric surgery blogs of 2018

Renew Bariatrics says,"Here are the 40+ blogs in the bariatric surgery space worth reading and subscribing too. Learn better post-op nutrition, fitness, vitamins, and more."

And Miles to Go Blog is listed as one of them!

According to Renew Bariatrics, they "carefully picked these top bariatric blogs because they’re actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information."


"Another blog that recounts a woman’s (Julia) life journey after bariatric transformation is MilesToGo. Julie had gastric bypass surgery in 2006 and now uses her blog as a platform to share recipes, motivational ideologies, and resources for those considering weight loss surgery or already on their post-surgery path. If you’re looking for a well-established blog that comes from a woman who lost more than 160 pounds, head over to MilesToGo and read her firsthand account of post-bariatric surgery life."

Looking to nominate a blog for this category? Email info at Renew

Click here to view the list

Posted on Monday, July 30, 2018 at 10:00AM by Registered CommenterJulia Holloman in | Comments Off

oh, honey, honey!

Recently, I've been studying honey. I became interested in honey when reading the biblical story of Samson. Samson defeats a lion, then later returns to find honey there— retrieving the sweet reward even among the bees.

I've learned a lot about honey that I never knew before, honey is one of the most amazing foods I have ever seen. It's a natural preservative. It's good for just about everything, including, believe it or not, stabilizing your blood sugar, weight loss, and even promotes sleep. Athletes use honey for strength and energy.

Honey contains Vitamins such as A and C. These nutrients are good for vision, skin, and bones. Honey is considered an antioxidant, fights cell damage and even cancer. It helps maintain healthy teeth by strengthening enamel. It is anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-fungal.

Honey can be helpful with stablizing your blood sugar (when eaten in small amounts). It's a treatment for certain eye conditions, a cough suppressant, improves sleep, increases your body's immune system. It reduces cholesterol, helps curb your appetite and promotes fertility. It helps heal wounds and dry skin. You name it, and honey cures just about everything. 

I find that honey is a tasty addition to my afternoon snack of meat and cheese. When purchasing honey, look for the darker colored varieties. Raw honey, which means its unheated, is best because it still contains its natural nutrients. 

Honey is digested slower than can sugar so it doesn't spike your blood sugar, causing it to crash, however make sure you only eat honey in small amounts, especially if you are diabetic. I start my day with a teaspoon of honey at breakfast and find it especially helpful at bedtime for promoting sleep and stabilizing blood sugar overnight. When your blood sugar is steady, it reduces cortisone levels which in turn reduce stress. A teaspoons throughout the day is good for you. Taste several kinds:  Orange Blossom, Tupelo, or a local wildflower variety.

Spiritually speaking, honey is symbolic of God's Word. In it's natural state, with nothing added or taken away, honey is just like the Word of God - it's eternal. A little honey every day is just like "tasting" God's Word everyday—it's healing, it keeps you spiritually strong and promotes good health.

In the story of Samson, he experienced supernatural strength. Led by God's Spirit, he was empowered to overcome the adversaries that stood in his way and the end result was sweet and rewarding. I encourage you to discover more about the benefits of honey both physically and spiritually.  Enjoy! 

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good... Psalm 34:8

How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!     Psalm 119:103

nibbling away at success

The first year my husband and I were married, we planted a garden. We had both worked along side our parents as children, and were no stranger to family farming. But this experience was far more than either of us bargained for. We began to realize, we really didn't have a clue how much work there was to be done to bring forth a harvest in an abandoned field. 

We worked hard on our garden. It was quite a large undertaking for the two of us. We claimed our ground, too much ground, actually. We rented a tiller, cut through huge weeds to clear out space in an untended field. Everyday after work, we would work in our garden. With very little rain that year, we transported water in our trash cans, for a mile in the trunk of our small red Vega, because we didn't have a water source.

Then, after all that work, the bugs and critters ate more of our crop than we did. We did harvest mounds of cucumbers and squash. So much in fact, we couldn't give it away fast enough. I guess even animals, insects and root rot don't like squash. 

Looking back, I was reminded that successful weight loss is like growing a garden.

In the beginning of my weight loss surgery journey in early 2006, the Lord was also planting some "seeds" in my life. I came across a scripture in the Book of Isaiah. Although, at the time I was preparing for my physical weight loss journey, I had a lot more "inner" work to do than I knew or ever dreamed there was to do. As I read this passage from I began to see and experience it's implications. At the time, this verse became significant to me in a spiritual sense, but little did I know how much promise it held to keep me growing forward emotionally in the years ahead.    

"This year you will eat what grows by itself, and the second year what springs from that. But in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit." Isaiah 37:30

The First Year

During this time in history, the Israelites were returning to their homeland from a place of captivity. I would guess that the land was probably not tended in their absence. It would take about three years for a vineyard to produce fruit. There was work to be done.

This verse in Isaiah 37:30 tells us that the first year they got a little bit of a break. The existing vines would produce enough to sustain them.

Just like the first year after weight loss surgery, weight loss does seem to progress "by itself"—compliance with diet and exercise and things go fairly effortlessly. But then, comes the second and third years.

The Years Ahead

The second year you seem to be sailing along on the heels of your success, just as the verse implies, whatever comes, even though you may have to put forth a little more effort, you hardly seem to notice—you're still in the honeymoon stage of weight loss, everything is just fine. Then as you come to the end of the weight loss phase, things become harder. Something seems to be nibbling away at our hard earned success. Not only does weight loss seem to require more "work", so does compliance. Sowing is easy compared to tending and reaping.  

As weight loss surgery patients, we have all faced the statement, "Oh, you took the easy way out". Yeah, right!  Any one who has experienced bariatric surgery first-hand knows differently. Easy. The relatives, husbands, wives, close friends, sisters, brothers, sons, or daughters, even trained health care professional and physicians—they all work along side. They are a great support team, indispensable, but they are just that—support. They keep us strong and steady. They help us stand when we need a helping hand. But they don't, and can't, do the work for us. They see the results of our efforts, but it's another matter to go through the emotional and mental experiences of the weight loss journey. In order to accomplish long-term weight loss success, there is an inner work that has to be accomplished to bring forth lasting fruit—a work that only we can do.

Have you ever planted a garden? Just like weight loss surgery, I was somewhat prepared for the physical work, but I wasn't prepared for the emotional work. Just like the Israelites, spiritually, I had to been held in the captivity of obesity and I need to be set free. Just like planting a garden, the fruit of freedom is like the fruit we harvest from the ground, it doesn't just come up by scattering a few seeds here and there. We must prepare the soil, water, prune and tend the field. Sometimes the weeding seems endless. Then there are those pesky critters to contend with.

If you have ever planted a garden or even a small tomato plant or a blueberry bush, you know that every seed you plant or plant you set doesn't come to fruition. Nor does the garden just grow and produce healthy fruit on it's own. I'm certain there were things that stole your harvest and it took some effort to find what was nibbling at your success.

Just like our first garden experience, I found out quickly that planting and watering the garden was the easy part. Dealing with unlying causes of not producing fruit was the key to success. Gardening under the tutelage of my parents was different, I didn't have to worry about the success of the garden I just helped water, weed and harvest.

Just like weight loss surgery, there is work involved. The first year goes easy, but long-term success comes with lots of hard work, for years to come. Weight loss success requires emotional, mental and spiritual work.

Richard and I had no idea what was eating our tomatoes, nibbling on bean stalks, digging up the roots, or stealing our harvest. Just like life after surgery, finding the root causes of what ails us, things hidden from sight, hidden hurts, deep down where no one else sees is what we really need to focus on. Some have long roots that have entwined themselves around our heart so tightly that they have choked out our self-esteem and self-worth. Some plants grow just fine on the ground, but others need to be guided upward or even sheltered, and protected.

Just like growing a garden, the promise of success comes with diligent work. In the end the victory is as sweet and delicious as fresh as hand-picked fruit. It's the difference between a store bought tomato and a fresh summer variety picked straight from the vine. The fruit of your labor is so much more rewarding than "grocery store" shopping.   

So it is with permanent weight loss. There is a lot of work to be done to be successful, but so worth it. Just as the rewards to planting come with great rewards, so does the "emotional" weeding we do for weight loss success. The end result provides us with health not just for us, but also to those around us., but the reward is a harvest of long-term success.

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

the importance of 30 

In the beginning of my journey as a bariatric surgery patient, I was encouraged to stay within a 30-30-30 guideline.

The 30-30-30 guideline is meant to keep you within the boundaries of weight loss success. Let's review the basics and find out why it's important. 

30 before, 30 during, 30 after.

  1. Stop drinking 30 minutes before your meal.
  2. Slowdown: Mealtime should be about 30 minutes: during that 30 minutes, chew your food 30 times (or until the consistency of applesauce) and don't drink any liquids during your meal.
  3. Don't drink for 30 minutes after your meal. 

So why is it so important to follow this guideline? There are several reasons:

30 Minutes Before:  Proper Nutrition and Good Health

Weight loss surgery is not just about outward appearances—or getting into smaller size clothes, it is a medical procedure meant to improve health. But this procedure also carries risk as well as increased responsibility for health and nutrition.

During the day, you should be sipping water constantly—hydration is a must. However, it is important to stop drinking 30 minutes before you start eating. Our new stomach pouch restricts calories, but that also means restrictive nutrition. It is important to eat a healthy diet. Not drinking before meals will allow your stomach to empty of water—permitting you to eat enough food to fulfill your nutritional requirements and prevent malnutrition. 

30 Minutes During—Chewing Each Bite 30 Times:  Avoid complications, Dumping, and Hunger.

Slow down and chew more. Your new stomach "pouch" is much smaller than your former stomach, therefore, it does not have the same amount of digestive acids as it did before. The outlet to your new stomach has been changed also. Therefore, food leaves the stomach differently. In order for food to remain safely inside the stomach until it can slowly exit is important. Your mouth must do more work in the pre-digestion process. Chewing your food approximately 30 times (or until the consistency of applesauce) before swallowing will help things go a lot smoother.

If food is not chewed properly, it will be too large to exit, getting stuck, plugging up your stomach. This could result in pain, nausea, foaming, or vomiting. If the food does not dislodge quickly, severe complications could occur, requiring medical attention. Take it from me, no amount of drinking will dislodge food that is stuck at the stomach exit, and drinking will only make things worse. 

Again, because your stomach pouch is so small, filling up on water during the meal will keep you from eating enough food. Drinking fluids washes food from the pouch too soon and will also cause you to be hungry sooner, or over or under eat. This doesn't mean you can't have a few sips, but more than a few sips will get you into trouble. Believe me, it's painful to overfill your pouch and just a few sips could be enough to cause pain. Chewing well will eliminate the need for drinking.

Slowing down and not drinking while eating were probably the hardest habits to establish after I had surgery but soon it became a lifetime habit.  

30 Minutes After:  Avoid Overeating, Hunger and Dumping.

You should not return to drinking liquids until at least 30 minutes after a meal. This will allow your meal to leave your stomach. If your stomach empties too quickly, dumping could occur. Since your stomach will be empty, the temptation to snack on empty calorie or non-nutritional foods is greater.  

It sounds complicated, but it's really simple.These habits take time to perfect. Practicing them before surgery is highly recommended.

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