And I don’t’ mean Corona the city or the beer! So many, I believe will be able relate to having gained a few pounds through our crazy COVID year. New research shows that over 35% of Americans gained weight during the pandemic! And I was no exception. Uncertainty, stress, new environment, several deaths, mom moving in with us and the reasons, “excuses’ have gone on since we moved to Star Valley in 2017. Finally, in April, when I put on my favorite pair of jeans and could not breathe for most of the day, I thought, Enough is ENOUGH!” The was the last straw. As a weight loss surgery patient from 1995, I know this road, and I know it well. And, I know when it is time to refocus, re-commit and get back on the wagon.
While BSCI’s Back on Track Program is a successful go to, I have also had success with Intermittent Fasting so, I began by immersing myself in learning some of the new research, especially as it applies to those over 50. I love learning and am always motivated by the science of it all. Knowing how my metabolism works, how I burn and store fat has helped me make positive, effective changes as I have customized a program to help me repair and restore my ‘challenged’ metabolic health. Daily I read articles, watch videos, consider reports, track, monitor and learn about my 61 year old self. Here are some of the highlights of what I have recently learned and how I implemented what made sense to me and lost 15 pounds. Seven more to go and I am as motivated as ever!
- For the first time in my life, I track everything I eat and drink, including vitamins. I have tried a few different apps and online programs and have settled on myfitnesspal.com
- I track my ‘macros.’ Meaning, number of carbs, protein and fat as well as calories, keeping my calories under 1200 per day (I know my BMR is very low). If you don’t know what your Basal Metabolic Rate is – find out!
- My goal each day is to consume 10% carbs (no more than 30 grams) 30% protein and 60% fat. I follow a Ketogenic diet, for the most part. Except when I don’t, let me explain…
- After 4 weeks or so in ketosis, I felt an undeniable decrease in my hunger and cravings, my mental clarity and my weight. Then at about 10 weeks in that changed for some reason. After some research, I learned the importance of regularly changing things up, keeping my body in tune and focused. So I went off Keto, kept my calories the same lowered my fat, and increased my carbs. My weight stayed the same over that 2 week period then I went back on Keto again. As I had become ‘fat adapted’ (look it up) I went back into Ketosis very quickly and began losing weight again. Love it! Taking a ‘diet break’ really did help. And the truth is, I couldn’t wait to get back that great Keto feeling of being full and energized.
- Throughout it all, I have also experienced many of the great benefits from Intermittent Fasting (see my article here). I fast 16 / 8 three to four days each week. I feel great, and most importantly to me, I enjoy eating this way! I enjoy feeling full, (Keto does that do you). And I enjoy being motivated by learning, trying and succeeding at so many new things.
- Oh, and I play Pickleball! Love it getting good at it. Kind of obsessed really!
I am 26 years post op from bariatric surgery. I will be forever grateful for my surgical tool and resulting 125 pound weight loss. However, new research, new thinking, new science has changed the way I understand my obesity and how to better manage my metabolic health. I have come to understand the essential role that insulin plays in how my body burns or stores fat. I have also learned that I struggle with insulin resistance and I am pre-diabetic. All great reasons why the important changes I have made are essential and working.
Since my surgery in 1995, my focus as been on long term success. My book, The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients has helped thousands learn embrace the bariatric lifestyle. There is one thing, however that I would like to correct. One thing that I know now that I didn’t know when I wrote it. I used to say “If you want to burn fat, don’t consume fat.” I was wrong about that. May I encourage you to learn more about what, when and how to consume the right types of fat for your ultimate health.
I am so pleased to see so much new research, so many articles, features, blog posts and podcasts throughout the bariatric community, now talking about and touting the great effects of keto and fasting for bariatric patients. I hope you will give it a try. And honestly, the best way I know how to help you get back on track is to encourage you to begin is to first read my book, then consider our Bariatric R.E.S.E.T or Back on Track programs. Just what you will need to take back control of your life, your health, your weight.
Last week, as we were preparing orders for shipping, I noticed that one of my books was going to a town called Effort, Pennsylvania. What a great place, I thought! I wondered does it take extraordinary effort to get there? Live there? Or are the people of Effort were “extra milers”?
Thinking about Effort called to mind a very powerful principle that I have tried to consider often in my daily life. It is the power of simple, small extra effort. Author, S.L. Parker in his book, 212-The Extra Degree (great resources, google him!) he encourages all to be Two-Twelve®*. Let me explain. At 211 degrees water is hot…at 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water comes steam, and with steam you can power a train! Hmm one degree! Similarly, there are many, many stores of accomplishments, wins, successes that hinge on just a small about of extra effort. For instance:
In professional golf, there are 4 major tournaments each year. The average margin of victory was less than one stroke a day! Yet, the first place winners took home 77% more than the 2nd place participants.
In racing, the Daytona 500, the average margin of victory was .175 seconds! First place, $1,354,368. Second place – over a half million dollars less.
Many Olympic event winners are chosen by a measure of time or distance. The difference between the “Gold” and no medal at all is minuscule! For instance: The Women’s 100 Meter Speed Skating – .07 seconds!
I remember learning to water ski. Holding on for one more split second makes all the difference in a fun time skiing, or a discouraging crash. Think of how your life might improve if you gave just a little, tiny bit more effort.
- If you were to eliminate 30 minutes of TV watching or online browsing each day, you would have an extra 182.5 hours each year to accomplish something. That’s like four and a half weeks at work!
- What impact would it have on your health and your weight if you were to exercise 10 more minutes each time or add one more day each week?
- What if you were to pay just one mortgage payment extra each year? Do you know that it would cut a 30 year mortgage down to 22 years!
With all of this in mind I am recommitting to care a little more, give a little more, Stay focused on the little things that can make such a big difference. Join me?
Oh, and by the way, according to tradition, the community of Effort was named for the considerable “effort” it took townspeople to agree on a name for the place.
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?