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!

the symphony begins

In this first section of discovering the keys to success we will take a look at the first component of change: the body. In the world of music, each part of the whole must work in harmony. In our physical arena, coming into harmony means compliance with the principles that offer us better health.

First, comes the physical guidelines of diet and exercise. There are many tips and suggestions that will allow us to make the right choices for a healthier lifestyle. Things such as food selections, commitment to staying active and making wiser choices that ensure physical health, addressing solutions to physical hunger, getting enough rest and learning to bring our bodies into balance again. 

Just after surgery, we start with a liquid phase and progress until we are eating a regular diet, still allowing us to lose the weight we need to lose.

We are beginning to feed our body and our brain the nourishment it needs to flourish. Staying active and sufficient water intake aid in sweeping away fat and toxins as we begin to build a healthier body. As we focus on taking care ourselves, harmonizing work, play, rest and worship, every muscle, organ, cell and fiber in our body will find its proper balance. Relaxation and sleep also play vital roles in this restoration process.

Once we reach our goal, and new eating habits have been established we can begin to make simple manageable changes, which will give us success for a lifetime. Like the melody of a song, these lifestyle changes will remain simple, constant and steady. Soon, with practice and as other harmonic parts begin to enter into play; the melody becomes a strong foundation on which the entire symphonic structure will be built.

Congratulations, you are beginning to hear the faint and subtle heartbeat of a masterpiece.

four-part harmony

In the world of music the highs and lows are described in four parts; soprano, alto, tenor and bass. The coming together of these four parts produce the harmony, agreement and balance needed to make the whole, and so it is with us.

We aren't just physical beings, we are made up of several intricate parts, fashioned together to work as one.

Likewise, weight loss surgery is only one part of a whole. There are other parts to be considered in addition to the physical.

Weight loss surgery deals with the physical aspects, but in order to have complete wellness, we must fine-tune other aspects of this well designed instrument we call ourselves.

In this series entitled Four Part Harmony, we will learn how each part comes together to play a key role in healing us as a whole.

You have probably heard many say that weight loss surgery isn’t brain surgery, but that’s exactly what we need. Not only brain surgery but also heart surgery, but not the kind we can get from a hospital or a physical operating room with carbon steel scalpels, stainless steel staples and silicone bands. Neither does it require professional surgeons or leaders in the field of bariatrics, cardiology or neurology.

These procedures require only the personal desire to go on an inward journey to explore matters of the heart and soul. Together with a new mindset and a new physical tool of weight loss surgery, we will discover the secrets of weight loss surgery success.

There is a song waiting to be sung and a symphony within us about to begin. So join me as we uncover the keys to success.

pillars of success

Not long ago, I read an article from a veteran weight loss surgery patient that not only works, but it's just good ole common sense advise. 

The bottom line: After weight loss surgery, we have built-in tools…a smaller pouch and a chooser–our brain. These tools along with a strong foundation are the pillars of success. 

Remember before weight loss surgery, how excited we were to get our surgery date? Finally, we would be given an answer that would help overcome the years of struggling with our weight. A tool that would be life-changing for a life-time. Along with making healthier lifestyle choices we would be equipped with everything we needed to succeed.

No matter how far out from surgery we are, we still have the tools we need to get the job done.

Sure, we all get off-track once in a while. I'm at the top of the list for getting de-railed. And even though I can eat more than I did just after weight loss surgery, this advise was a good reminder that in order to stand firm, I needed to keep my foundation strong and my tool belt filled, ready, and accessible.

In my experience, motivation is the foundation that gives all my other choices a place to stand firm. When my motivation wanes, all else seems to crumble. I have to make a conscience effort to get my mind back on track.

Finding my motivation to move forward and not backwards, to stand firm in my commitment, no matter how compelling the temptation to fall my seem. I have to take some time to ponder the reasons I need to make wiser choices. Reminding myself that I am equipped with the tools I need to build a successful lifestyle. Maintaining a proper mindset, choosing better health, building positive habits, and using my pouch with awareness and mindfulness. 

Tools don't do the work for you...but they do make it easier to get the job done. 

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

You can read other articles like this on Miles to Go Blog, see tool works, or search the left side tool bar.

new local support group, jacksonville, nc

There are times when all of us need a helping hand. It's proven that folks that attend support meetings have better outcomes. 

In May, Support Group Leader, Marty Kaminski will be holding Weight Loss Surgery Support Group meeting at the Onslow County Library in Jacksonville, NC. If you live in the area, please join Marty for sharing and learning together with others weight loss surgery folks in your community.

You'll want to place these dates on your calendar. 

4th Monday of May     May 29th
4th Monday of June    June 26th
4th Monday of July     July 24th 

blueberry bbq chicken

Before bariatric surgery and after, one of the thing that remains the same for me, is the thrill of going out to eat. I learned pretty quickly after surgery how to manover my way around a restaurant menu selections and still stay within my bariatric limits.

One of my favorite "special occasion" restaurants is in Kinston, NC, not too far from where Richard and I grew up—Chef and the Farmer. People travel from miles around to eat there.

On the other hand, I enjoy trying new recipes at home and looking thru cookbooks. I guess I'm just a "foodie" at heart. 

One of my family's favorite things from my kitchen is grilled chicken over a charcoal fire. Lately, I've been dreaming of introducing a bottle of Blueberry Barbeque Sauce, from Chef and the Farmer, to my charcoal grilled chicken. I've been experimenting with this Blueberry Sauce all winter. But this week it all came together. 

Chef and the Farmer's sauce is a vinegar based sauce. So I added some fresh blueberries to make it thicker, and more "blueberry-ie"—kind of like a compote.

So, if you've not added blueberries to barbeque sauce, now's the time. 

Life after weight loss surgery doesn't mean food cant' be fun as well as delicious—and healthy.  It's all about your choice of ingredients, preparation and portion control. After I had bariatric surgery, I had to learn to have a healthy relationship with food and deal with the reasons that brought me to weight loss surgery in the first place. Once you win the battle with "why" we make unwise choices with food—it's possible to enjoy food as well as maintain a health weight.

Here on Miles to Go Blog, you'll find tips on how to eat out with success as well as many bariatric friendly recipes that I've tried since I had surgery eleven years ago. You'll also find lots of posts on my emotional journey.

I encourage you to do the same. Get creative and have fun in the kitchen. I also encourage you to venture out to your favorite restaurant and try something new.