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!

eat your veggies, or not! 

I love Brussel Sprouts. Before weight loss surgery, I would "veg out" on these little green beauties. I could eat my weight of them. I ate them often and in excess. Of course, no one ever became overweight eating vegetables, right? 

When we think of vegetables, we think of healthy eating, but are they always weight-loss or weight loss surgery friendly?

Over the years, I've discovered that every time I eat Brussel Sprouts my weight goes up 2 to 3 pounds. Why? Because, for me, Brussel Sprouts cause an inflammatory reaction.

Then I realized other foods that my body reacted to—eggplant, oranges and pickles. So I began to eat them sparingly. 

Brussel Sprouts, along with other foods, such as raw cabbage and raw brocolli are also gas forming. After weight loss surgery I had to eliminate these from my diet because air/gas build-up caused pain my newly formed pouch. Some foods are just harder to digest. Once I ate a handfull of baby carrots before bedtime—which didn't digest well and made me very sick. 

Now, in case you are a Brussel Sprout lover like me, or before you go into a tizzy that your eating will have to completely change again, everybody is different and different foods react differently to each of us. With a little practice, keeping a food diary, and making notes about how you feel after you eat certain foods, you can discover which foods cause weight gain, senstivities, gas or allergies. Also note that there are differences in food sensitivities and having an allergic reaction to foods.

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

a twist on pineapple

One of my favorite flavors is pina colada. The word pina colada means strained pineapple. But usually we think of a pina colada as a drink made with coconut, pineapple and rum. What could be better, right? 

Although, rum is probably not going to be our best choice of ingredients, after weight loss surgery, we don't have to give up the taste of our favorite flavors or feel deprived. 

By adding a little rum extract, we can turn our favorite drinks flavors into something healthy and satisfying - a great protein shake. 

In this recipe, low fat milk can be substituted for coconut milk. Coconut and pineapple flavorings can be substituted for coconut oil and pineapple.

Remember, portion size is the key. Depending on how far out from surgery you are, this recipe may be more than you can drink at one time, (or your serving size) so that will determine your fat, sugar and carb grams. No more than 5 grams of fat, 10 grams of sugar and 15 to 20 carbs per servings per meal - or at one time. 

And remember, you eat with your eyes first, so go ahead and serve yourself in a fancy glass!

Pina Colada Protein Shake Recipe

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 or 2 scoops vanilla protein powder (I recommend Jay Rob's)
  • 1 TB coconut oil (optional)
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen pineapple
  • Rum extract - to taste
  • ½ cup ice cubes 
  • Stevia to taste if needed

taking your place at the table

We all know after weight loss surgery, that our portion sizes down-size, but we may find it helpful if our table settings down-size, too. 

If we compare the changes in place setting number 1—before weight loss surgery, and place setting 2—after surgery, we can see the difference.

Plates and Portions

The first thing that you may notice is that the plate sizes are different. After surgery, it's helpful to use a small plate. 

Reducing the size of our plate, prepares us mentally and visually for smaller portions. Our new portion sizes should be measured to insure that we aren't tempted to overeat. Our new smaller portions on a smaller plate makes our plate appear more full.

In the early 1990s, the standard size of a dinner plate increased from 10 to 12 inches. The size of eating containers can influence how much people eat. The fuller our plate the more we tend to eat. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that when people were given larger bowls and spoons they served themselves larger portions and tended to eat the whole portion. It seems that no matter how much we put on our plate, we tend to eat until it's gone.

Don't rely on willpower, give yourself a head start by using a smaller plate.  

Utensils 

It's not as obvious at first glance, but place setting number 2 has a small size fork. In the beginning, just after surgery, eating with a smaller spoon or fork is helpful in controlling the size of each bite. Placing our eating utensils down after each bite helps slow down the rate in which we eat.

Slowing down our eating time also allows us to notice when we are reaching fullness.

Early on after surgery it may be helpful to eat with a baby spoon. Some people also find chopsticks work well for taking smaller bites. The point is to make ourselves more aware of how fast we eat and allow ourselves to slow down take smaller bites and enjoy each and every bite of our eating experience.

Glassware

Notice that place setting number 2, doesn't have a glass. One of the hardest transitions for most people seems to be omitting the beverage during a meal. It's not that you can't have a beverage handy in case you need to take a tiny sip, but the idea is to form a new habit of not drinking with a meal. If it's there in front of you, it's hard to change the habit.

Drinking during a meal can cause food to leave the stomach too soon, leaving you feeling empty and less satisfied after eating. Since our new pouches have less stomach acid for digestion, not diluting what we do have is advised. Adding liquids into a tiny pouch can also cause pain and discomfort, causing our pouch to stretch. Stretching our new pouch can be medically dangerous as well as counter productive.

Our eating experience should be relaxed and pleasant. Once we establish new habits, new size plates and utensils will be the norm and mealtime will be less stressful and more enjoyable. 

Take your place at the table—with smaller things for a smaller you. Yes, you can. You have many more miles to go!

just for the girls 

Hello, girls!

As our outer shape changes so does our inner, and that includes taking care of the "left over" us. After massive weight loss, I had no idea how to dress myself. I was lost in the world of fashion and I had no idea what style I needed to fit my new shape. I had to learn the latest up-to-date styles and fashion tips. This also included updating things such as my hairstyle—to fit my new personality and my new face shape. But these weren't the only things that needed "up"dating!

One of the things that can be overlooked is what lies underneath the surface. Looking good on the outside means taking a look at what lies underneath. During my weight-loss journey, I had to take a look at some internal reasons that led me into obesity in the first place, but in the process I also discovered that in many cases, it's our "inner"(emotions) that shape our "outer" lives. But that's not all, there's more. Today's segment is about some other "inners" that affect our "outers". This section is just for "the girls" who need a "up"-date. Let's get a little personal and talk about—"the girls".

There are two different types of breast tissue. Some breast are composed of more fat and others can be more glandular. For those who have more glandular breast, no amount of weight loss will cause a reduction in breast size. On the other hand, for those who have more fatty breast tissue, losing weight means losing breast size. 

Surgical lifts and alterations can take care of this dilemma, but regardless of size or whether we choose to have breast surgery or not, we all need "a lift". Whether large or small, your breast need to sit halfway between your shoulder and your elbow, not sagging to our elbows, knees, or toes, or still bulging out in places they shouldn't. This can be done simply by discovering how to find the proper fitting bra. Lifting "the girls" can lift our spirits as well as our appearance. 

After massive weight-loss, you can look and feel your best, inside, out, and underneath, too. So, give yourself a lift. Videos on proper bra fitting can be found online....ta ta!

going coco for a coco shake?

 Chocolate Coco Protein Shake

  • 1 or 2 Scoops chocolate protein powder (I recommend Jay Rob's)
  • 1/2  Small or Medium banana (optional)
  • 1 cup unsweetened chocolate Hood milk
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (sugar free is best) (optional)
  • 1 Teaspoon unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 3-5 Ice Cubes
  • Stevia to taste if needed

Make sure to keep your portion size in line with around 5 grams of fat, no more than 10 grams of sugar, and 15-20 grams of carbohydrates per serving. 

Sugar free yogurt, such as Triple Zero, will give this a smooth consistency, but completely optional. 

And yes, you can have a little whip on top! You can even drizzle on a little Stevia chocolate syrup. Enjoy.