It’s been 25 years since my weight loss surgery, and I am quite proud that I still wear a size 10 jeans. However, yesterday when I put on a pair of my pants fresh from the dryer, I found myself holding my breath, sucking in, doing a few kicks, dancing around and zipping them up with all the strength I could muster. (You are smiling aren’t you. You know what I am talking about)!
Hmm. My first thought was, well shrunk in the dryer… my next natural go to explanation was… must be water weight week, and of course, darn this corona virus weight gain! But then, like a flash came a hurtful dose of reality as I recalled this thought from a billboard:
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t the consequences of my own actions!”
Yep, it was in that moment that I finally told myself the truth. My habits are all out of whack! I knew exactly what I had been doing and I owned it! All of it! Taking personal responsibility, a very difficult, but essential step to change.
When I first read this billboard, I thought about some of today’s generation of kids who seem to lack any sense of personal responsibility. Everything is someone else’s fault. They fail to see the connection between their own choices and the inevitable consequences of those choices. Forever placing the blame for their own circumstances on anyone and anything but themselves. “It’s his fault, it’s her fault, I had to because they…” Some adults are like that too. “It’s my boss, the weather, the government, the neighbors, how I was raised.” On and on it goes, placing blame on anyone and anything to avoid owning and taking responsibility for their current circumstances.
Then, there are the ones who, in my mind, really ‘get it.’ I have always admired those people who, though they make mistakes, are very quick to own up to their responsibility. To step up and say, “Yes, I did that; I knew better, but I did it and now I own the consequences.”
My book, the # 1 Bariatric Best Seller, The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients, highlights our research into the habits of the most successful long term weight loss surgery patients. When comparing those most successful, with those who have struggled through the years, the desire and the ability to take responsibility for daily habits varied greatly. Those most successful are personally accountable every day, in every way. Readily owning their choices and consequences; both good and bad. They make quick adjustments as needed, not only to maintain a healthy weight long term, but also in other areas of their lives.
I think of myself as a pretty responsible person, but surely want to do better, more often. Today, I am renewing will my commitment to be more accountable for my choices, and to own my actions and their outcomes.
Now, about those tight pants… I’m on it!
Seriously?! They say a picture is worth a thousand words but this one… oh my. I really think that we can be better neighbors; don’t you? Our world and so many lives are in such chaos these days. There are so many who are suffering and living day to day in fear and uncertainty. The challenges faced by some are obvious however, “in the quiet heart is hidden sorrows that the eye can’t see.” Never before in my lifetime has there been a greater need for us all to express simple kindness, love and concern for one another.
Kindness can be so simple. A smile, a compliment, a note in the mail, or a quick text of encouragement. Taking care of our neigbors. May I invite you to look around and know that as Mother Teresa shares, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
A few weeks ago, my husband traveled to Casper, Wyoming to spend a few days visiting his parents. One evening, we treated them to dinner at a favorite Chinese restaurant. As we were finishing our meal, the waitress came to our table and said, “your meal has been paid for.” The service had not been so hot, so my first thought was that management was compensating for the many mistakes made by the rookie waitress, but no. She explained that our meal was paid for by the couple in the corner that just left! Roger and I were pleasantly surprised, but his father was not. He simply pointed to his Veteran hat and said, “this happens to us all the time.”
Outstanding! I have been so consumed and discouraged lately by the news of our day, that this simple act really renewed my faith in the goodness of mankind. That led me to re-read one of my favorite books, by Gordon B. Hinckley Stand for Something – 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal our Hearts and Homes
It speaks of such simple principles like “do unto others” and “love one another.” It champions the need for honesty, trust, forgiveness and gratitude. Most of all has instilled in me hope and optimism for the future. Perhaps you will enjoy it too.
Through challenged by this COVID crisis, we are doing ok. But we see neighbors, friends and family members who are not. All the more reason, I am recommitting to stop obsessing over the news, look up from my phone more often, ‘see’ people and do more to provide comfort and support for those within my reach.
We have a lot of snow here. I think I will go shovel my neighbor’s steps.
For so many reasons and in so many ways, the experience of weaving a rug on a 100 year old loom was very special to me. For months I have been collecting strips of fabric from shirts, skirts, old sheets and tablecloths from various family members. My friend, Karen, a 4th generation Star Valley, Wyoming Weaver, instructed me to on how to sew the strips together and roll these family memories into a big ball, then invited me to her home to weave my rug.
I recalled many years ago, meeting Karen’s grandmother at the county fair, as she displayed her beautiful rugs. I knew then, that I would relish the experience. Years have gone by, but last week, I bundled up my ball-o-family memories, and my mother and headed to Karen’s home. As I caught my first glimpse of this priceless antique loom, I was a bit intimidated. Hundreds of strings, shuttles, foot pedals and a pounding bar, and of course I knew nothing! Karen was kind and patient as she showed me how to load the shuttles, work the foot pedals and use the bar. So cool! Awkwardly, I completed several rows, honestly, just to be able to say I did it. Then, turning the loom over to the master craftsman, Karen, we watched as she continued, finishing my rug in less than an hour. I am impressed with and inspired by her timeless skill, and her respect for and commitment to all that she has learned from those who have preceded her. To show my gratitude for both the rug and the experience I shared with her and now you, one of my favorite poems. Enjoy!
“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”
― Grant Colfax Tullar
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.
- Learn from long term losers. (Back to the Beginning Videos)
- Honeymoons are awesome! 5 Clues That Your WLS Honeymoon is Over and What to Do About It!
- Sugar is evil (Sugar Free Me)
- Don’t stop short of your goal. (Goal-Getting)
- Gluten is a problem for me.
- I must exercise every day. (Just Do It!)
- Always pay it forward (Paying It Forward Feature Article)
- I have learned to eat to live instead of living to eat.
- Good food is expensive, but so is chocolate!
- Peanut M&M’s are not really a protein.
- Old habits die hard. (Exchanging Habits)
- Intermittent Fasting works for weight maintenance. (Ways Intermittent Fasting Works For Me)
- My “Why’s” have become more important to me.
- I have both supporters and saboteurs in my life.
- Regain sneaks up; one pound a year… 25 years, 25 pounds
- I’ve learned to listen and to respond to my body’s signals.
- My food choices effect how I feel mentally, physically, and emotionally.
- Water rules (The Dangers of Dehydration)
- Vitamins are a must (Bariatric Vitamins)
- Embracing the Moments (Embracing Moments That Matter)
- Positivity is a choice every day (15 Positive Ways to Spend 15 Days)
- Knowing & understanding myself is essential Top 5 Things Every WLS Patient Must Know About Themselves
- I am my best self when I live in gratitude.
- To succeed, I must learn what successful patients know, and do what they did. (The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients
- God is good, life is short. No Tomorrow?
Among her many talents, my dear friend, Doreen was famous for her bread baking skills. Every week without fail, she would bake 6 beautiful loaves; sometimes from the wheat she ground herself. As they came out fresh from the oven, she would first, select the very best loaves to donate to our church for our Sacrament. (The Lord’s Supper). It was her gift, and it was filled with gratitude and reverence for our Savior’s atoning sacrifice.
Then, remaining loaves also became gifts. She strategically and thoughtfully selected people, families and sometimes even strangers to receive a loaf.
Throughout these past few months of COVID19 distancing, Doreen continued to bake and have others deliver her bread to people she felt prompted to serve. She kept a list of those who had received a loaf, and each week she would ask about families who were moving in or out of our neighborhood, someone who who might be struggling or who might need a little cheering up, or someone she wanted to thank. A few weeks ago, I was asked to deliver Doreen’s loving gift to 5 homes, and as a thank you, she wanted us to have one!
This week, suddenly, Doreen passed away at her home of natural causes. Mindful of how much it meant to her, her family arranged for the last loaf to be delivered to Doreen’s selected recipient; a young couple who had just brought home their first baby. The perfect family to receive her last loaf.
As I have recalled the last time I saw Doreen and our last conversation, I am inspired once again by her consistent focus on others and her unwavering commitment to love and serve. Throughout this sheltering at home time, she reached out to others in any and every way she could. She sent messages, Facebook posts, thoughts and pictures. Just hours before her passing, Doreen posted this message:
Perhaps, you too find meaning and significance in one’s final words and actions. I only knew Doreen for a few short years, but am so very grateful for her life, her love and her example of goodness.
Even in the best of times the wait for bariatric surgery can be substantial. Most pre-op patients are given a long list of to do’s like informational sessions, lab work, evaluations, medical tests, visits with the dietician, and psychologist, etc. All important to be sure, but consider what else might be offered to keep them motivated and excited about their upcoming life changes.
During this time of temporary shut down / slow down of non-essential surgeries the added wait time for a bariatric patient can be beyond discouraging. Here are a few ideas that you might share with your pre-op patients to encourage them to spend this time learning, connecting and staying excited and enthused about their upcoming weight loss successes.
- Attend Telephonic and online support groups
- Subscribe to eNews, Articles and Insights
- Learn and be inspired by veteran patients
- Attend Colleen Cook’s “Three Essentials Before Surgery Webinar”
- Download the free copy of “3 Essentials You Must Know Before You Have Surgery”
- Enroll in The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients eLearning Series
- Participate in Bariatric Support Facebook Group
Most of all, an outreach call, text or email from your bariatric team might mean the world to them at this difficult time. Let them know you are thinking of them, that you understand the wait is challenging and that you too, are anxious for them to move forward towards a happier and healthier life.
Time is our most precious resource. Let us first remember and be grateful for those whose time is not their own, especially now. Those brave and selfless healthcare workers and others who are working tirelessly, to manage and mitigate this pandemic. This will pass, we will recover, and hopefully emerge as a stronger, wiser, and more grateful people. But in the meantime, what an opportunity we have all been given!
For most of us many of the daily things that used to consume our time, money and energy have been cancelled, freeing up time for us to do with as we please. It may feel like we have escaped from our neck-breaking, hard driving, overwhelming schedules and allowed more time. Time to slow down, re-group, re-focus, and re-connect with things that matter most. As Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings has wisely shared, “All we have to do is decided what to do with the time that is given us.”
Just imagine the possibilities! So, what will you do with this unexpected gift of time? Will you put your life on hold or pause? Spend time binge watching TV or playing video games? Or will you choose to come out of this crisis having served others, strengthened your relationships, and accomplished worthy goals?
This time is yours to do with what you will. May I challenge you identify what you might do to improve yourself and enrich the lives of others. Perhaps begin by making a few lists. Write a list of things that make you happy, a list of things you have been putting off, a list of things you enjoy, a list of things you may want to do, learn and share. Here is my list and my commitment to make the very most of the next few weeks.
15 Positive Ways to Spend 15 Days:
- Work out on my elliptical at home, each day
- Volunteer time to help distribute meals / serve in our community
- Finish reading, The Saints Volume II
- Take online guitar lessons
- Finish the flooring and walls in our family room & stairwell
- Complete the molding project in our living room
- Write and mail 15 notes to 15 people. (Grandkids for sure!)
- Finish and file our taxes. (I was going to file an extension)
- Get my mangy dog groomed
- Design and make a decorative table box.
- Capture lessons learned from 25 years as a WLS patient (video, blog)
- Complete photo project on each grandchild
- Resume writing in my journal
- Complete dental work I have been putting off.
- Share my progress in a new article.
Let me close by sharing a favorite story of mine. At the age of 65, Hyrum Smith’s mother, (Founder of Franklin Covey Company), decided to go back to school at the University of Hawaii to get a 2nd degree. Hyrum overheard the conversation as she shared her plans with friends. One of her friends piped up and said, “You have got to be kidding? It will take you 3 years to get that degree; by then you will be 68 years old! Hyrum’s mother, wisely replied, “In three years, I will be 68 years old anyway!”
Remember, the time between now and next year, today and 15 days from now will go by one way or the other. You can choose to be the same as you are now, worse off than you are now, or better – the choice is yours.
So, what will you do with your time?
Yesterday, I helped a few Hispanic 4th graders at our elementary school. They were learning how to identify a central theme, message or meaning in a story. The story we were assigned taught about how sometimes; you have to be brave and take chances to make important things happen. The students were to read the story, summarize and identify for themselves what they thought the central theme or message of the story was. One boy, Alex really got it! After reading the story he summarized by saying, “You gotta risk it to get the biscuit!
Outstanding! Whether he had heard the phrase before, or just made it up on the spot, I was both impressed and amused. In fact, I laughed all afternoon and pondered the truthfulness of his statement.
As I searched for an appropriate photo for this article, I was surprised to find that this catchy saying has been around for a long time! In fact, it is attributed to Jimmy Fallon and there are t-shirts, coffee mugs, signs and apparently a famous movie line.
Perhaps you have heard it before, but it was new to me, and I will always think of little Alex and how spot on he was. I believe the meaning is significant. It plays an important part in how we make decisions in life and of course what our outcomes will be. In one of my presentations about Goal Getting, I share this quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
People who know me, know that throughout my life I have been a bit of a risk taker. I have always talked of dreaming big dreams and reaching for the stars. You see, I have a core belief that we are divinely created, with infinite potential far beyond what we allow ourselves to believe. That thinking is what lead me to seek weight loss surgery.
I knew that successful people are people who are willing to do those things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do. I knew that in order to lead, motivate and inspire others, I needed to get my health and my life in order.
Having weight loss surgery in 1995, without insurance coverage and a small family at home was a risk. I took a risk in creating Bariatric Support Centers International,
I took a risk in self publishing The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients And most recently, selling everything and moving to the Wyoming wilderness to build our dream home – well that was surely a risk. And here we are! I am still 100 pounds lighter, BSCI has influenced thousands of weight loss surgery patients and professionals, , the book has sold nearly 25,000 copies and we are living in a beautiful log home in the woods. Yes, I am a risk taker. I do not want to come to the end of my life and say, “Oh how I wish we had done that!” Instead, I want to say, “Look what we did!” (You may enjoy another blog post : Whatever it Takes)!
While I was especially drawn to the reference to a delightful food, it is of course, a reference to something we want in life. So, what is your biscuit? And what are you willing to do to get it?
My hope for you and my challenge to you is that you will first recognize what an extraordinary creature you are! With talents, drive, and creativity opportunity awaits. A good life is very hard work for most of us, so get after it!. May you embrace every opportunity and be willing to risk it for the biscuit!
The snow is beautiful here in our winter wonderland, but during a snowstorm, travel can be a little treacherous. Sometimes we experience a ‘white-out.’ It’s like a black out, but it’s the blowing snow makes it impossible to see but a few feet in front of you. I have been in a “white-out” a time or two, but it recently occurred to me that the term “white-out” has another, more significant, year round meaning for me. Let me explain.
As a weight loss surgery veteran from 1995, (yes, celebrating 25 years this year!) I have established a plan that works for me, not only to maintain my weight but to get myself back on track when I have been out of sync with my Success Habits. For me, the last half of 2019 was a doozie! With significant losses, life changes, family drama, and then the holidays. I went into crisis mode, and overwhelmed, I put myself at the bottom of the list! When I do that, I completely lose my focus, abandon my good habits, and as a result feel awful; physically and mentally.
I am grateful through, that through the years I have learned exactly what I need to do, step by step to get myself out of the funk, and back to taking care of myself, and back to my healthy routines.
As you may know, several years ago I adopted Intermittent Fasting as one of my go to tools. I simply do not eat between 8pm to noon the next day to allow my body to rest and metabolize properly. This habit has served me well, and I have been able to continue that schedule on most days, even though stressful times.
Now that brings me to my ‘White Out” tool. After preparing myself for a few days, I am ready to jump all in and get back to my good, healthy habits. I know for myself, that the culprit to my out of control / mindless eating is too many refined carbs. So, WHITE – OUT! I stop eating things made with white flour or white sugar. Not rocket science here. Its simple! I don’t count calories or carbs, I eat good, clean food within my 8 hour window each day, and avoid gluten and sugar. (see Sugar Free Me). I drink my water, eat proteins and vegetables, with an occasional whole grain. I keep on hand foods I love, like shrimp, avocado, squash and asparagus.
Yeah! I am back in control and back in sync with all that I know to be right for me. I hope you too, are finding your way and putting into place your plan to maintain your weight and your plan to get yourself back on track when you need to. Please do reach out, we have some extraordinary people and essential resources to help. Bariatric Support Centers.