fb_32 twitter_32 linkedin_32 youtube_32

nsamemberwhite

My Faith

25 WLS Years, 25 Pound Regain, 25 Lessons Learned

Yes, it’s been 25 years since I took control of my weight, improved my health and changed the direction of my life by choosing weight loss surgery. In 1995, many looked down on a surgical option as an intervention for the disease of obesity and making the decision to go under the knife was not an easy one. Especially when my insurance would not cover the cost. But I am so glad I did. My journey has been full of ups and downs, weight loss, weight gain, mistakes made, thrilling successes, and many lessons learned. 

Throughout my years as a WLS patient, I have worked in the bariatric community. (Bariatric Support Center Int’l). It has been my great privilege to provide education, inspiration, and motivation to tens of thousands of patients. I have lost with you, learned from you, and celebrated with you. I will be forever grateful for my place in the bariatric universe.

As I look back, reviewing my life’s decisions, mistakes and accomplishments, the choice to have weight loss surgery a defining decision was surely a life changer for me.  Since that new beginning, I have tried to focus on paying it forward, on supporting and encouraging others. Willingly, sharing the things I have learned along the way.

This year is a milestone; worthy of notice and a bit of reflection. I would like to share with you the following list of 25 lessons I have learned in my 25 years as a weight loss surgery patient. I have written books, many articles, blogs, produced videos, given keynote speeches, and I have referenced some of those in my list should you like to learn more about those lessons. Please learn and enjoy and may the next 25 years, (Oh my, I’ll be 85!) be full of more happiness, hope, and good health.

  1. Learn from long term losers. (Back to the Beginning Videos)
  2. Honeymoons are awesome! 5 Clues That Your WLS Honeymoon is Over and What to Do About It!
  3. Sugar is evil (Sugar Free Me)
  4. Don’t stop short of your goal. (Goal-Getting)
  5. Gluten is a problem for me.
  6. I must exercise every day. (Just Do It!)
  7. Always pay it forward (Paying It Forward Feature Article)
  8. I have learned to eat to live instead of living to eat.
  9. Good food is expensive, but so is chocolate!
  10. Peanut M&M’s are not really a protein.
  11. Old habits die hard. (Exchanging Habits)
  12. Intermittent Fasting works for weight maintenance. (Ways Intermittent Fasting Works For Me)
  13. My “Why’s” have become more important to me.
  14. I have both supporters and saboteurs in my life.
  15. Regain sneaks up; one pound a year… 25 years, 25 pounds
  16. I’ve learned to listen and to respond to my body’s signals.
  17. My food choices effect how I feel mentally, physically, and emotionally.
  18. Water rules (The Dangers of Dehydration)
  19. Vitamins are a must (Bariatric Vitamins)
  20. Embracing the Moments (Embracing Moments That Matter)
  21. Positivity is a choice every day (15 Positive Ways to Spend 15 Days)
  22. Knowing & understanding myself is essential Top 5 Things Every WLS Patient Must Know About Themselves
  23. I am my best self when I live in gratitude.
  24. To succeed, I must learn what successful patients know, and do what they did. (The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients 
  25. God is good, life is short. No Tomorrow?

Finding Your Peace

Perhaps like me, you wake up each morning wondering if there was an earthquake, or an explosion? If the government is still fighting? If COVID cases are going up or down? Our world is filled with crazy, chaos and confusion. And that’s exhausting.

So many things are simply out of our control, and that leaves us feeling helpless and so very unsettled.  We know that things will never be normal again. But wonder what will our new normal be? Perhaps you have asked yourself these same questions, I share from a song, lyrics by Emma Lou Thayne from our hymn book:

“Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace When other sources cease to make me whole? When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice, I draw myself apart, Searching my soul?

“Where, when my aching grows, Where, when I languish, Where, in my need to know, where can I run? Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish? Who, who can understand? He, only One.” 

So where do you find peace? The photo I used for this article shows my little dog and I kayaking last week on a beautiful, Star Valley, Wyoming day. Looks peaceful, doesn’t it? Yes, but I have come to know that peace is not a place. Peace is not a person or a thing. In fact, peace is inside each of us. Peace can be found even among chaos. It’s hard to find and even harder to keep, but I am grateful for still, calm moments that provide opportunity to connect with my Father in Heaven, find strength to meet my life’s challenges, and gather renewed  hope for a bright, beautiful tomorrow.

May I share with you a few things that I do regularly to find calm among the chaos.

  1. Find a place of solitude and stillness. I love our rivers, lakes, and streams, but you may have a favorite park, a tree in your yard, a patio or even a quiet corner in your home. 
  2. Turn off the noise, turn off the news! For more years that I can count, I have kept my cell phone on my nightstand. No more! It is in my room, (in case kids, grandkids call) but not within reach when I wake up. I spend my first moments of each day in prayer and meditation, quietly in my own mind before I let the world in.
  3. Try Yoga & Tai Chi. Though I am not the best at it, I enjoy these occasionally. They help me connect with my body, balance myself and clear my mind. I am intrigued by the history and science of these ancient rituals. I enjoy learning about energy and how it flows. 
  4. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. There are so many things to complain about these days. It’s easy to find problems; they are everywhere. In these trying times it is more important than ever, to focus on all that is right, good and positive. Work to see the good and be the good each day.
  5. Connect with higher power. Those of you that know me personally, know that I am a Christian, (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). I cherish spending time in study and prayer. I love learning and serving. I draw strength, direction and most importantly peace from my Savior. Whatever your beliefs, may you find ways to draw closer to your higher power and may you find your peace.
  6. Change your tune. Music has always been a powerful motivator for me. I have several energy up music playlists that I listen to when I exercise. Just as music can energize, it can also calm and soothe. Here is one of my favorites songs I listen to when I am seeking peace. Enjoy. There Is Peace in Christ.

I challenge you to spend some time focusing on your personal well-being. Commit today to create the time and space you need to reconnect to all that is good and right in your life. And may you find comfort, strength and peace. 

Revisiting Plan A

Just before the ‘crazy’ my husband Roger and I enjoyed a cruise to the Caribbean. My are there some incredible yachts! Some with helicopters, private islands and full-time staff. It’s fun to see them and we especially like to read the names. Some are funny, some creative, some obviously very personal. One particularly beautiful yacht was named “Plan A.”

 

That name seemed so significant, and I have thought about it many times since. Sometimes find ourselves having little hope in our life’s Plan A and when it gets tough, move on quickly to Plan B, C, etc. as time goes on. It was inspiring to me to me to see that this yacht owner apparently kept his (or her) eye on the goal, stuck with it and was rewarded with what I can only assume is a dream come true.

Last week, we had some friends visit and we joined them on a white water rafting adventure on the Snake River. The guide, obviously very experienced, explained that there were only 2 plans for our trip. Plan A, the one where we paid attention, followed the rules paddled when and how he directed, and we all stay in the boat.  Plan B, however, promised a vastly different outcome. Plan B, he explained was the one where some, if not all of us would fall out of the raft because we failed to trust our guide and follow his instructions. We all took a vote. Plan A it was. He made his point well and as none of us were keen on going for a swim, we listened and obeyed the rules with careful precision.

Plan A was hard work! We had to listen carefully to his directions, follow through as directed and stay focused on staying on the boat, even through level 3 and 4 whitewater rapids. Fun, but sticking with our Plan A took commitment, dedication and follow through even through the most difficult times.

Such it is with our lives. Right now, we all seem to be focused on responding to the chaos, trying to survive, and preparing for what may come next. Much of our energy is being consumed with uneasiness, anticipation, and uncertainty. Plan A may not seem even remotely possible right now, as our lives have been derailed, sent off course, and upended by things beyond our control. 

Like the rapids on the river, this too will pass. Many prayers for calmer waters ahead, but in the meantime, we must stay in the boat, hold fast to our Plan A, and keep paddling.

How I Wish I Would Have…

In the midst of what is thought to be the peak of this horrible pandemic, I know that this too shall pass. Life will never be the same as it was pre COVED-19, but I suspect we are not too far from getting back to some normality in our work lives.

As I look towards that time, this thought occurred to me. When this is over and I look back at the many days and weeks of ‘at home’ time, will I wonder where the time went and what I did with it all? Will I be proud or disappointed in how I spent my precious time? When I look back, will I say to myself ‘How I wish I would have…”

In 2016, when my husband Roger and I left Salt Lake City to build a log home in the woods, we took a great risk. It was a hard decision and we were very brave in actually taking the leap. We sold our home and other property, put our ‘life’ in a storage unit and set off on a challenging adventure. Recognizing that we were both getting older, we decided that we did not want to look back on our life and say, “I wish we would have…” but rather, “I am so glad that we…”

So it is with this unprecedented gift of time. As I shared in my article “The Time You’ve Been Given” healthcare workers aside, each of us can decide what we will do with this time. Try this technique. Take a moment and consider yourself and your life three months from now. That brings us to mid-July. You will likely be back at work, and you will be back to your crazy, busy, hectic, non-stop neck breaking daily routine. You’ll be grateful to have your “life” back to be sure, but looking back to today and the current situation you now find yourself in, how will you answer this question,
“What do I wish I would have accomplished when I had the time?”

This has been a great technique that I have used many times in my life. Projecting myself into the future 1 year, 5 years or even 10 years hence and then looking back to imagine how that time played out. The key for me is the recognition that my life was, is and will be of my own design. Those people who accomplish great things and enjoy successes, did not simply allow their lives to happen by chance, but deliberately by choice; by setting goals and managing their time.

This time, right now can be a life changing, relationship renewing, self-improving time like no other. Roger and I have been so grateful for this time to spend with our grandchildren as we help our families through this crisis. We have made more calls to our parents, reached out to neighbors, sent letters and notes of love and encouragement. Important things, essential things that should, but usually never get done in our ‘normal’ life.

As you consider this strange time in your life, I challenge you to use it wisely. When you look back, what will you have accomplished? Whom will you have served? How will you have improved? What will you have learned? What relationship will you have strengthened? Because like the country singer Trace Adkins song suggests, I suspect….

You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this

Re-frame

It’s cold here! And there has been so much snow that our road is like a luge run and almost claustrophobic. Somehow, I have gotten into the habit of checking the temperature and weather forecast first thing each morning. And twenty below is what I woke up to today. Checking the temps during the winter months can be a discouraging and disheartening habit that has the power to set the mood for my whole day.  However, I am grateful for my ability to choose to focus my thoughts and energy elsewhere.

Choosing to live in gratitude each day helps me to re-direct my thoughts towards more positive, uplifting and enriching elements of my life. Roger and I have shoveled and plowed snow for several days, but today the sun is shining, the trees and fields are glistening, and we have a warm, comfortable and happy home to enjoy. I choose to keep my focus on that.

A few years ago, I was taught in a coaching class the importance of and the value of learning to re-frame. To deliberately look at circumstance and situations in a different way, from a different perspective.

As you approach your next potentially bad day, may I challenge you to stop for a moment, count the many blessings of your life and reframe your thinking. Yes, the “weather outside is frightful but the fire is do delightful!”

No Tomorrow?

Well, the world did not end this week either! I am glad about that, how about you? It seems that whenever a year ends, or natural disasters abound and cosmic events like this year’s eclipse, or the spooky cools super moons show up, people start to talk about the end of the world. Of course, most of us do not know when our lives will end, but if we did…

I have always wondered if I would make any changes in my life, do things differently, or refocus my priorities if I knew my life would end on a specific day. I don’t know that I would. I learned a great lesson from my grandmother many years ago. At a young age she was told that she had a hole in her heart that could not be repaired. She was told day after day, week after week, month after month and even year after year that she had just a few days left to live.
My grandmother, Pearl, lived each day as if it were her last. She spent her time reading and studying. Gathering family around her and telling stories. She called family members often just to say hello and to let them know of her love.  She was careful not to offend. If she did, she quickly apologized. Her priorities were clear to all – faith and family. What a wonderful example to follow!

On Christmas Eve this year we lost a very dear family member after a short (thank goodness) battle with ALS. (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). It came on quickly, destroyed her body one muscle at a time, and she was gone. She knew there was no cure and it was moving very fast. She knew that she would likely not live but a few months more. Once she received and understood her fate, she immediately planned for her husband and daughter’s life without her. She made the decision to donate her body to the University of Utah for research. She had had polio, cancer, and now ALS. No doubt, much will be learned from her generous gift. Then, she planned her funeral service. I have been asked to speak. I am honored and challenged by this request.

I can’t help but ponder her life, her death and contemplate what I might have done in the same situation. What if there were no tomorrow for me? I often wonder if it will take our being told that we only have a few weeks or months to live for us to spend our time on that which is most important? Are our lives “in order”? Would we have any regrets if today was our last?

Well. It appears we have a new year ahead of us. “Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we went from where we were to where we are now. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on… This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not.”  Thomas S. Monson (Who passed away January 3, 2018). 

As far as we know, there will be many tomorrows for us. May we all use this time, this season, this new beginning to re-focus, re-evaluate, and re-commit to those things most important to us in our lives. So, if tomorrow never comes…

All Creatures Great & Small

Knowing in our hearts that it would be impossible for our little dog Zoey to survive the -21 degree temperatures, our hope was that someone picked her up and decided to keep her. After 3 subzero nights, that was the only scenario we could live with.

On Friday, January 16th, 2016, amidst one of the coldest and snowest winters on record, Roger and I were on our way from Alpine, WY to Jackson, WY to stock up on food and supplies. The week ahead was to be treacherous. When we stopped for gas at the Alpine Junction Chevron station, neither of us noticed that our 2-year old little Morkie had jumped out of the car. It was only 20 miles up the canyon that we realized that she was not in the back, as we had expected, but that she must still be at the gas station.

In a panic we called the Chevron station. “Yes, she said, “we saw a little dog running around the parking lot.” Please bring her in.” I pleaded. “We are on our way!” We quickly made our way back down the icy canyon road to rescue our Zoey. Our hearts sank when we arrived and she was nowhere to be found. We called, searched, drove, walked and hiked for 4 ½ hours. Asking anyone and everyone if they had seen her. People were kind and sympathetic, offering to “keep an eye out” and “spread the word” and “pray for her.”

Surely someone has picked her up. But why haven’t they called? She had a tag on with her name and my phone. We called the vet, the sheriff’s office and Lucky’s Place, the local humane society.  All were kind and sympathetic, but I could hear in their voices that at this point, it was likely that we would never see her again. And with the temperatures, well…

Our desperate prayers were pleas for help that she would be safe and if not, that our hearts would be healed from the loss.

By Saturday afternoon, the hard truth began to set in. There was no possible way she could have survived the night and if someone had her, surely, they would have called us by now. With each passing hour, the prospects grew dimmer. Saturday passed into Sunday and we began to feel the emptiness.

img958367On Monday, beyond all comprehension, and in disbelief we received a call from an awesome family that Zoey had been found! They had seen her running through their field and assumed that she had found shelter under their shed. She was wet, cold and scared and would not come to them or let them catch her. She just kept running. They took photos and tried to zoom in to see if they could read her tag, but to no avail.

This great little family, The Dales, went above and beyond to rescue her. Adam & Gretchen put out a wild animal trap with some food on Sunday night.img_8397

They caught her on Monday morning and brought her in to warm her up and called us. We, of course dropped everything and through roads were closed, schools had been shut down and the county was calling for no unnecessary travel, we went to pick up our Zoey. She was about 1 mile north of the Alpine Junction where we left her. Safe, but frozen, exhausted, hungry and thirsty.

20170110_085354Today, she is bundled up on the sofa with her little toy lamb, warm, fed and loved more than ever. Words cannot express how grateful we are for the power of prayer and for this kind family who knew how much this little dog needed help. They refused our reward asking us to pay the kindness forward.  What a great lesson they have taught their two daughters, Juniper and Hazel. Thank you for your example of goodness and caring.

As I close this remarkable story, may I share with you a poem that I learned when I was little. “All creatures great and small, the good Lord watches over all.” Indeed! And please enjoy this song that has been playing in my head this morning. Consider the Lilies of the Field. We are beyond grateful. May we show our gratitude and do as the Dale’s asked and pay it forward at every opportunity.

 

Embracing Moments That Matter

Excited to share this great new book. Honored to have had the privilege to collaborate with such extraordinary people! In this Anthology, you will find uplifting, inspiring and engaging stories from me and a select group of my fellow professional speakers. You may laugh a little, cry a little, find yourself deep in thought, or just simply relax as you read and enjoy insights from some of my favorite people. Get your copy today and pass it on!

 

For The Beauty of The Earth

“For the beauty of the earth. For the beauty of the skies. For the land which from our birth, over and around us lies.Lord of all the we raise. This our hymn of grateful praise.”
Christian hymn by Folliott S. Pierpoint (1835-1917)

I’m especially grateful and feel so blessed this morning to be able to be here in these beautiful mountains. Every day I am able to breathe clean air, hike and be renewed. May I never take for granted the beauty that surrounds me. May I never become blind to the magnificence of God’s creations. May I always do my best to care for and preserve the beauty of the earth.

And may I be forever willing to share all that I see and feel with those who may be overwhelmed with life’s challenges. May the words I write and photos I share enrich your life and fill you with peace.

The Road Less Traveled

It’s a beautiful morning and I am enjoying a nice walk with our 2 dogs down a road less traveled. Obviously, the guy in this picture gave up way too soon.  As unfortunately, many people seem to do.

I think this is a good parable today for Roger and I. We recently made a very brave decision to sell our home other property and move to Star Valley Wyoming to build our dream log home. We are literally and figuratively on one of  life’s less traveled roads.  As we worked the last few months moving all of our belongings into storage, selling homes and packing to move so many of our friends, neighbors and relatives have commented, “You are living our dream.”

For many years I’ve incorporated into my speaking engagements a little something about dreaming big dreams. I learned early on that “It costs no more to dream a big dream than it does to dream a big dream”  So, why not? We dreamed it, now we are doing it! “Living the Dream” as they say takes commitment, hard work,  sacrifice and courage. And more of the same will surely be required as we continue on this adventure. Lets hope we are up for it, because here we are. Living in our 5th wheel trailer while we clear our land and build our dream home. We are blessed to have our family behind us and look forward to creating a peaceful retreat for them. We are so encouraged as people share that they are inspired by our decision.

Unfortunately, the road less traveled is a lonely one. So many dream, but never dare. So many hope but never follow through.   But life offers everyone the choice to travel any road they choose. Perhaps you are ready for a new direction. Perhaps you see a pathway in the distance that will lead you to your dreams. Follow it! Dream, then dare, hope and pray, then get to work!