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!

pumpkin pie protein shake

Pumpkin Pie Shake 

  • ¼ - ½ cup Hood reduced fat milk 
  • 2 scoops vanilla or unflavored protein powder (no carbs/no sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring (if not using vanilla protein powder)
  • 1 drop imitation butter flavoring 
  • 1 Tablespoon Pecan Pumpkin Butter (available at Williams-sonoma) OR 1 Tablespoon canned pumpkin 
  • a dash or two of ground cinnamon to taste 
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • sugar replacement to taste
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups ice cubes

Puree well. Top with a little Reddi Whip if desired and a shake of pumpkin pie spice and serve.

Note:  {2 scoops protein and Hood milk gives this shake lots of protein. If you are just starting out, this shake may be used for two or three servings. Make sure to watch the sugar grams in the entire recipe and keep it under 10 grams per serving and fat grams under 5 grams per serving, the lower the better.

Note: For fast and easy shakes and no messy clean up, the Magic Bullet is a must.

Posted on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 03:00PM by Registered CommenterJulia Holloman in , , , , | Comments Off

surgery complications can be scary

Complications after weight loss surgery are not just about feeling sick, they can be life-threatening and downright scary.

Feeling of nausea and vomiting can be the result of medication or anesthesia immediately after surgery. These symptoms can also be from serious complications such as dehydration, a blockage or stricture, ulcers or gall bladder.

Dehydration is not be taken lightly, if not corrected simply by additional fluid intake, you need to notify your surgeon.

One of these blockages is known as a stricture. Approximately 3%-5% of all gastric bypass patients could develop a stricture.

Strictures:  A stricture occurs when the new connection between the stomach and small intestine forms scar tissue during healing. This scar tissue can close the opening of the connection. Vomiting results when food or liquid can not pass though the closure. If you suspect you have a stricture, contact your surgeon immediately.

A procedure known as an endoscopy (a camera that is passed down the mouth into the stomach) can be used to diagnose the problem. 

Ulcers: One of the most common causes of nausea and vomiting in gastric bypass and sleeve patients is an ulcer. An ulcer is a sore that forms at the staple line, which is most prone to the development of ulcers.

Approximately one to 36% of all gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy patients may develop ulcers. However, with changes in surgical techniques, ulcer formation is much lower—down to 2 to 4%.

There are multiple factors that can play a part in the formation of ulcers after weight-loss surgery such as a bacterial infection. Most patients are given medication after surgery to prevent ulcers during the healing process. However, many risk for getting an ulcer are self-induced and can be prevented. Smoking, taking aspirin, ibuprofen or other NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) can increase your risk of developing ulcers. Taking these medications can cause ulcerations in the stomach lining because of the absence of digestive enzymes and a significantly reduced stomach area. Ulcers can usually be treated successfully with proper medications.

Symptoms of ulcers include nausea, abdominal pain, especially after eating. Vomiting of blood or a substance that looks like coffee grounds. Blood or black, tarry stool weeks after surgery. (Iron in vitamins may cause your stool to be black as well.)

Don't take chances with your health. If nausea persist, see your doctor or weight loss surgeon. 

Posted on Monday, October 24, 2016 at 07:00AM by Registered CommenterJulia Holloman in , | Comments Off

treat yourself to healthy

Chocolate Dipped Apple Treats
  • 3 green apples, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • lemon or pineapple juice 
  • crushed graham crackers
  • sunflower seeds
  • shredded coconut
  • raisins
  • chopped nuts: such as pistachio, peanuts, pecans, or walnuts
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or microwave
  3. Brush or dip apples in lemon or apple juice to prevent browning
  4. Dip one end of apple slices in chocolate and place on parchment paper
  5. Add toppings of choice and let cool until chocolate has hardened

Recipe compliments of

Posted on Monday, October 17, 2016 at 07:00AM by Registered CommenterJulia Holloman | Comments Off

don't be tricked

Almost every season holds tempting environmental challenges that could lead us astray or cause us to stumble into seemingly unavoidable situations.

There will always be birthday parties, Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, family get-togethers, movies, baby showers, graduations, funerals, lunch at the office, potluck dinners, the fourth of July, and the fifth of May.

How about the bakery around the corner, the local "fried chicken" drive thru, and the "hot" donut sign on the way to work. And just when you think you have made it through the grocery store unscathed, there's a whole rack of goodies around the last corner.  

We can eliminate unnecessary distractions as best we can, however, we can't control everything in our environment. But we can control our response to temptations. Therefore, we must be prepared to confront the things that we can't eliminate. 

Autumn is my favorite time of year, but temptation seems to start early in October. I've had to discover creative tricks for replacing unhealthy habits and excuses to bring unwanted ills into my environment by closing the door to temptation. 

I can't usually avoid trips to the grocery store for months, but I can do things that help me control my appetite before I go and while I'm there. I eat before I go shopping, or I sometimes grab an apple on the way into the store. (I pay for it, of course.) I sometimes pay a visit to the coffee shop and treat myself to a "skinny latte" on the way. This time of year, with candy displayed on every aisle, I can limit my visits, steer clear of the candy aisles, and avoid bringing bags of seasonal candy into the house.

Due to my personal spiritual convictions, I choose not to celebrate Halloween. Over the years my family's diversion has been to create our own traditions—we close the door, turn out the lights, eat dinner by candlelight, (or candle lit pumpkins) play games, read stories, or watch a movie.   

For those of us eating bariatric style, we dont' have to miss out on the tastes of the season, we can treat ourselves to any number of healthier alternatives such as:

  • a sour apple clear liquid protein drink (for liquid food phase)
  • a warm cup of coffee with whipped cream (full liquid food phase)
  • a chilling chocolate protein shake (full liquid through regular food phase)
  • a warm butternut squash soup (puree' and soft food phase)
  • an egg soufflé (soft food phase)
  • a Stuffed Pumpkin surprise dinner (regular food phase)
  • or these delicious Dark Chocolate Dipped Apple Slices (regular food phase)

(You'll find these and other recipes under the recipe sections and bariatric food phases)

If you choose to hand out treats at the door, why not choose healthy snacks such as raisins, or non-edible treats such as crayons, pencils, or post it notes! Or at the very least, purchase items that don't tempt you to over-indulge. 

Don't be tricked, instead, prepare ahead. Find creative alternatives that fits your lifestyle—treating yourself (and others) to health. Enjoy the holidays—Yes, you can. You have many more miles to go!

the web of sabotage

Here are a two seemingly unrelated questions.

Q #1. Have your weight loss efforts ever been sabotaged by someone, or even yourself?


Q #2. Have you ever walked into a spider web?

Interestingly, spider webs and sabotage have a lot in common than you might think... 

Spider webs are amazing. Although their intricate threads may be delicate and fragile to us, to their unfortunate victims, these delicate webs are five times stronger than steel and virtually inescapable. The strength of the web is in it's design. These tiny silk threads are more stretchy than elastic and capable of withstanding hurricane force winds. Nearly invisible, these tiny traps are well hidden and strategically placed to catch their prey off-guard. The spider then uses it's venom to paralyze and defeat it's unsuspecting victim.

Just like spider webs, sabotage works in a similar same way. Sabotage is defined as a deliberate action aimed at weakening another, often by applying pressure. We, too, are likely to be trapped if we don't know how to detect the webs of sabotage and avoid them.

Here's how it happens: our best friend, our spouse, our mother, our mother-in-law or even our own self-talk may put pressure on us to conform. Comments such as: "You've lost enough weight, you look under-nourished, you need to eat." "I made this cake just for you." "Are you going to waste it?" "Just this one time won't hurt." Overwhelmed, giving-in often seems like our only option and we fall prey to the deadly web of sabotage.

It's really easy to let others define our boundaries or rule our choices. Even when offered with good intentions, these temptations when strategically placed, throw us off guard and weaken our resolve. They often leave us entangled in a web of guilt, shame, or self-condemnation.

It only takes a little mist or dust to reveal a spider web. So it is with the webs of sabotage. With a little know how, we can be armed and ready to detect and combat them.

I have found that I can't rely on will-power—it's often gullible, weak and easily persuaded to surrender to the slightest pressure. I have to set my mind to something stronger. My strength comes by remembering my pre-determined convictions and the commitment I made to take care of myself by making healthier lifestyle choices. I start by revisiting my reasons for having weight-loss surgery in the first place.

▪    Why did I have weight loss surgery?
▪    What are my objectives? 
▪    What do I really want my life to look like?
▪    Do I have a plan of escape?
▪    What are the convictions that hold me to my plan? 

I find it best not to wait until I am in the heat of the moment to make these decisions.Defining my personal convictions in advance helps empower me to be true to myself and strenghens my beliefs—standing firm in my purpose. Knowing how to detect sabotage is essential to avoiding it.

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