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!

still hungry?

I realized before I made the decision to have weight loss surgery, that there had to be more to success than just the surgery itself. I realized there was more that needed to be "fixed" than a tiny tummy, a healthier diet and more exercise. There is more to the issue of obesity than what you eat. I found that it's also about what was eating me. I just didn't know what that "something" was. But it didn't take long before I figured it out.

It was only a few weeks as a matter of fact, that I came face to face with this "missing link" and I began to experience the impact it would have on my success.  

The problem, however, is our appetite. BUT, Not just the appetite for food. I began to recognize the fact that we are created with different appetites. These appetites have a value and purpose.

We are made with an appetite and desire for food, sex, authority and power, pleasure, work, gaining wisdom, companionship, love, acceptance, to be wanted, needed, understood, cared for, appreciated, trusted, and to fellowship with God. That's a lot of appetites, no wonder we are still hungry.

To satisfy an appetite, you must use the actual thing being desired to fill it. This is where we get off track.  We begin to use the wrong thing to fill the appetite desire.  We begin to substitute by trying to fill our needs with something else. You may have discovered already, that our appetites don't like to be ignored. That is when they begin to "rage" out of control.   

I encourage you to consider your appetites. Do you recognize your body's different desires? What are you really hungry for?  Are you filling every desire with food instead of what you really want or need? 

You can read more about appetites and how I worked through "what was eating me" in my book, Out of Obesity and into the Promised Land. Click on title to purchase.

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

lean and green

Before surgery, most everyone is asked or required to go on some kind of "diet."  Whether it's a grueling fast, a traditional diet that requires measuring and calculating or just a casual lean and green. Dropping pounds is the whole point behind losing weight before surgery.

It may sound crazy, but it does have a purpose—and the purpose of losing weight before surgery is to help shrink your liver. And it is extremely important for the safety of you and your surgery team. A fatty liver not only slows down your metabolism, but is gets in the way of the operating procedure. 

Before my weight loss surgery in April of 2006, I started losing weight on my own, a month or two before my first Dr. visits. I know it sounds crazy, I viewed surgery as the light at the end of the tunnel. But my biggest motivation—I had two upcoming weddings that year. I couldn't waste any time getting into mother-of-the bride dresses, I had to get going fast.

Once I began my series of visits with my surgeon, I had lost some weight. Those few pounds made a big difference in reducing my liver. I was told at that point to keep going by eating "lean and green". What does that mean exactly. Just what it sounds make green vegetables and lean meats the majority of my eating plan. It helped to keep the weight off while I waited for my surgery date. 

There was one consolation. I love veggies. My pick of the crop is the long, thin, french variety of green beans.   We are talking fresh or frozen here, not canned.   

These extra fine variety of beans are my favs! They are called "French" not to be confused with "french style" which refers to the cut. French beans are the long thin variety of bean. I was introduced to these beans years ago when my neighbors grew some in their garden, they were the real thing —  from France. 

With careful attention to detail, you can find them in the frozen section of our grocery store. I usually sauté them in the skillet with a little water, olive oil, salt and pepper. Sometimes I add a little garlic or herbs, such as thyme or even a little squeeze of lemon. Cook until they are as tender as you like. 

My favorite way to serve them is to chop them up and add a little vinegar and cucumbers on top!

I usually fix a huge skillet early in the day and store them in the fridge for those "hungry" moments when I have to grab something quick. Yes, I love them that much! 

My second favorite veggie is collards, which you can also sauté or steam in the skillet in a much shorter time that boiling for hours in a pot of water. If you don't like collards then maybe you'll prefer my third runner up in the green vegetable dept—broccoli. My favorite way to eat broccoli is steamed in a Ziplock steaming bag. Three to 4 minutes tops and you're on your way to healthy, lean and green.

So if you're looking to make those scales go down even before surgery, consider going lean and green. 

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

slowly but surely

Do you ever think about how slow a sloth moves. They move slower than a turtle. I get tired just thinking about it.

We all want things in our lives to happen fast, instantly, right now, no waiting — especially weight loss...even after weight loss surgery.

I remember once, before surgery, being so frustrated with constant dieting and little lose weight, I threw myself across my bed in a moment of self pity and announced to my husband that I was not going to get up until I had lost 50 pounds. He jokingly remarked, "Well then, you will , because I'm not bring you anything to eat."  He always has a way of snapping me back into reality with his humor. 

You know the routine, you hear it all the time from dieters, I'm sure you have experienced it yourself. You commit to a strict diet, allowing yourself no carbs, fat, fries or sugar, hoping that all the sacrifice will result in massive weight loss in a hurry.  

But let's face it, life is just not like that, weight just doesn't fall off in an instant. The reality is: it wasn't that way before weight loss surgery and it isn't that way after surgery. Will we lose weight after surgery? Yes, if we follow a healthy eating plan and get moving...weight loss will happen—but not always as fast as we would like. 

Even now, after 12 years after RNY, losing a few pounds takes effort. And the older I get the longer it takes to drop those unwanted pounds. Weight loss surgery is a tool that can make it happen. There are, however, other factors involved in weight loss. A healthy diet, increased activity and a willingness to make lifestyle changes are things we can change, but often there are things that affect weight loss that we just have to accept such as medication and (as much as we don't want to admit it) —our age!

I was reminded of a scripture in Exodus that has inspired me through a great deal of transitions in my life. Exodus 23:30 reads, "Little by little I will drive them (your enemies) out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land."

A few years ago, I lost a few pounds. Then I became discouraged because my weight loss stalled. Eventually, I let a few bad habits slip back in and before I knew it, little by little, I had gained those 15 pounds back. If only I had stayed the course. If only my derailment had been short lived, I wouldn't be facing having to lose those pounds again.

I've had to learn the same lesson again...the hard way...that taking possession of the land, involves dwelling in the land — on a full time basis. It means a commitment to longevity, even if it requires us to get back on track when we get derailed. 

More than not, enemies such as old habits, require a reversal and an increase of positive behaviors before long term change is realized. So hang in there. It will happen, little by little, we increase enough, and take the land.

Yes you have many more miles to go

words are not just words

We hear and speak words all the time, but most of us seldom take the time to consider how words alter our perception of who we are.

I love to study words, but not just uncommon words we have never heard before, but everyday words we think we know the meaning of. Most of the time, I may think I know the meaning of a certain word, but when I actually look it up in the dictionary, I often find a deeper meaning, a whole new sense of wonder and a renewed sense of understanding about its meaning.   

The spoken word is actually not just a lifeless word; words are vibrations that cause movement. They change the atmosphere around us. When that movement is realized on our hearing ear, we are suddenly awakened into a different reality. 

We don't just hear words. Words are alive and active. They cause change. They cause us to think, feel, imagine, communicate, change, and heal. Words carry meaning. They matter. Words are powerful. They make a difference. They change us and the world around us. They hold the power to inspire, strengthen and empower.  They impute wisdom, provide understanding, reveal truth, give direction and create awareness.

I want to inspire you to take a look at the words you hear. Awaken your awareness to how you respond to the words you speak and the words you hear. How can you use the words you hear to change yourself, the way you feel about yourself and the world around you? I challenge you to examine the words around you to change your environment and your self-image for the positive. Make the healing, make the count for the good.

Words are not just words. Yes, you can. You have many more miles to go!

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