Thursday, October 28, 2010


You asked and I answered.

I hope you enjoy!

Do you crave different things now than you did pre-surgery?

Yes and no.

Right after my surgery, when I couldn't really eat anything, I craved weird salad and mashed potatoes. I watched the Food network like a stalker and legitimately thought Giada and Ina were my best friends. It was sad.

There are some things that I REALLY enjoyed pre surgery that I just can't touch now. For example...weird as it sounds I used to put Ken's Italian salad dressing on almost everything I ate. And had been doing that been since I was a child. Vegis? Rice? Potatoes? Hell yes. But now, it doesn't appeal to me at all. In fact, foods drenched in any kind of dressings kind of make me gag.

Sometimes, I crave things that I can't ice cream or chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes I sneak a bite or two in, but most of the time I use my own little substitutes for these things that keep me happy. Sugar free fudgesicles and apples with peanut butter are my favorites at the moment.

I may have missed this when I tuned in late, but why go for the whole Monty vs the lap band. Just curious. I've been reading quite a bit and I know someone who has had the same surgery. Lost 150.

A lot of people have asked me this question, so I’m really glad you asked me too. I think that each person makes their decision based on their personal preferences. I have seen successes and failures with both. That being said, I believed the gastric bypass was the way to go for me for a few different reasons.

1. Research shows that in the long run you lose more weight overall with a gastric bypass. My doctor said that with a gastric bypass you should expect to lose 70% of your excess weight, while with a lap band you could plan on losing about 50%. Currently I've lost a little over 80%

2. I didn't want a device implanted in me. I had seen some people with the lap band have problems with movement, erosion, and breakage. Although rare, I didn't want to deal with it. Since I was a generally healthy person, I figured my risks for complications were low with a gastric bypass, so after weighing the pros and cons I felt like it was the best move for me.

3. I didn't want control. I didn't want to be able to "fill" and "let out" my band whenever I wanted. I liked that a gastric bypass was a complete lifestyle change and I couldn't eat anything I wanted as long as it would fit through my band. The fear of dumping keeps me on track. I took that risk and it paid off for me.

What about, um, you know, excess skin?

As for excess skin....I have it. (as does anyone with this kind of rapid weight loss, I'm sure) Mostly the skin that bothers is in my stomach and thighs. SPANX help a lot, but I decided from the get go that I really needed to work-out to tone and make the skin less noticeable. And it has definitely helped.

I tell people quite often that I have work really hard at the gym to NOT look like I had a gastric bypass. I think working out is key to managing the skin issue, but there are surgeries to remove it and some are covered by insurance. I’m not considering anything at the moment because I feel like it would be silly to have skin removed from my stomach before I have children. Which I want. Definitely.

I was wondering if you knew what your body fat percentage was before surgery and now?

Oh my god. Math. (Hopefully I can make my high school math teacher, Mr. Duffy, proud here)

Bear with me as I think…

Ok…so…my starting weight was 301 lbs. An average person my height (5 ft 8 in) should weigh about 160 lbs to be considered “normal.”  According to that, I was 141 lbs overweight.  Which is about 47%.

Of that 141 lbs, I have lost 119. So as of now, I have lost 83% of my excess weight. (The average with a gastric bypass is 70%)

My body mass index (a calculation using your height and weight which doctors use to gauge your weight class) before surgery was 45.8 and I was considered “obese- class III”….the highest one. My BMI now is 27.7 and I am only considered “overweight.” A normal BMI for me would be under 25.

I've heard that some people switch their "addictive" behavior from food to something else.  By that I mean whatever function the food served them, stress reliever, friend, comforter etc. Have you experienced that?

Yes. I realized very soon after my surgery that I was addicted to food.

No one can really prepare you for that moment at all. 

This is what I did: I got mad. I lashed out. I cried. And I watched the food network constantly.  Until one day, I realized food was not coming back into my life in the same capacity as it was before. I needed to find a healthier way to deal with this “loss” than throwing a tantrum. So I did a lot of things

I started opening up and talking to my friends and family about my feelings.
I started embracing the gym.
I wrote a blog.
And as I lost weight, I became addicted to my new confidence. 

Feeling great about myself is the best high ever. This is why I say, “nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels!” It’s not about attaining a certain weight goal or depriving yourself to look good. It’s about reminding yourself that you don’t need food to feel great. Feeling confident in myself feels better than anything I used to eat to make me happy. End of story.

Well everyone, I hope these answers were interesting and helped you out! There are a couple really good ones that I have saved to use as their own blog entries…so stay tuned.

By the way…If you ever have questions for me, don't hesitate to ask. By the length of this post, It's obvious that I REALLY like answering

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Success "story time"...

Guess what?

I am a success story.  Really.  Check it out!

I know, right?  Who knew?

When I was a bigger person, I remember watching various infomercials at night when I couldn’t sleep.  They are all the same, really.  There would be some person on there, telling you their “success story”.  How they lost 100 or so pounds with some gimmick diet or workout program.   Generally, standing next to…or in…their old pants.  Luckily, I never bought into all of that.  In my mind, I always knew that if something looked too good to be true, it generally was.   But that never stopped me from dreaming.

This year, I made my own success surgery with the combination of surgery, diet, and exercise.  I won’t claim that it was easy, because it wasn’t….but it was simple. That’s it.  No gimmicks.  My way may not be for everyone, and that’s ok.  I’m just happy that it worked for me.

As you guys have read, most of the hard work I’ve had to endure involves the gym.  I know I’ve said it before, but working out was just as an important part of this process as the surgery.  I tell people all the time that I work really hard to NOT look like I had a gastric bypass.  And I would say I am quite pleased at the results. 

So, a few days ago, my trainer, Beth, asked if I would mind writing a testimonial for her website.  I was honored and told her I’d love to.  But, when she also asked me to take some photos for a “before and after” section, I was a little nervous. 

Should anyone really know what they look like working out?

I am always afraid of being judged.  Hence trying to be perfect…all the time.  But at the gym, I leave all that at the door.  I don’t wear make-up, I get really sweaty, and I make noises that I can only describe as “discovery-channel-esque.”   I go there to work.  And it’s the only time I don’t care about what people think about me. 

But I was curious.  So I agreed.  And the pictures came out awesome.  I mean…for the first time ever, I saw that I have “cut” arms.  There isn’t a better feeling in the world than really seeing your progress.  It’s just so motivating.

So, take a moment and take a look at some of the photos.  And then click on Beth’s website to read the testimonial and see the “before and after” photo section.   The photo we picked as “the best one” is just my favorite.  I nearly dropped that dumbbell on my head.  That’s why I’m laughing.  Well, that and the fact that everyone was watching me. 

But you know what?  They can look all they want.  

My "success story" has a really cute butt now.


tricep pull downs

look at those arms!!!

lunges with medicine ball lifts

chest press


**By the way, I'm going to do the "Q&A" blog next week so get your questions to me if you want them answered!  Either leave them in the comment section or e-mail them to me**

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Last week sometime, I was talking to my mother on the phone and we were picking a day to get the whole family together to celebrate my birthday.  As we were planning away, she asked me a question I hadn’t even thought about. 

“Do you want me to make you a cake?”

For as long as I can remember, everyone in my family always get a homemade cake from my mom for their birthday.  We each have our own choice flavor combos of cake and frosting, as well.  My dad is chocolate/chocolate.  So is my sister.  But, I am a yellow cake/chocolate frosting kind of girl.  Oh…and my cake has to be made in a heart shaped pan.  Every single year.  Because I am a brat. 

We would have birthday dinner, followed by a huge piece of cake.  And then maybe I would have another one before bed.  Then, I would have a piece for breakfast.  And take a piece in my lunch to school.  I literally could not think about anything else until it was gone. 

As an adult, I loved this tradition even more.  It was comforting.  And delicious.  I mean it’s birthday cake, right?  No one feels guilty about eating Birthday cake!  Even when I was on a diet, I would ALWAYS allow myself a piece.

But this year I couldn’t have birthday cake.  It wasn’t even a choice for me.  So I told my mother not to even make one.  It was too much of a temptation to even see it there, as I’m absolutely sure I would have risked the potential dumping and had a piece.

So, for the first time since I can remember I wouldn’t have my delicious, heart shaped, chocolate frosted, yellow birthday cake.  And I was sad.  For about 10 seconds.

Until my mom said, “Well…what would you like for dinner?”  and I said the first thing that came into my head. 

“Chicken pie and mashed potatoes.”

I don’t know why I picked that.  Maybe I thought it would be something easy to eat.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t had it in awhile.  Whatever the reason, it ended up being the perfect meal on a cold fall New England day.  I had a satisfying portion and even got a “doggy bag” to take home, which I had for two additional meals in the next few days. 

My mom even made an apple cake (kind of like coffee/spice cake with chunks of apples/nuts/raisins in delish!) for everyone. And by everyone, I mean my father and brother-in-law…who I’m fairly sure wrestled for the leftover cake when I left.  So, I snagged a few bites of that.  And I didn’t miss “my” cake at all.  

So, I thought I would share this with you guys.  Just to show you that, even 8 months post op, I continue to occasionally struggle with food.  I miss some of my favorites, but in the end, I always realize that food is never as important as I think it is.  In fact, when I think about what I’ve gone through to get here…it’s easy to say "no."  

All I have to do is remind myself that nothing will ever taste as good as skinny feels!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's my birthday and I'll blog if I want to...

29 years ago today….at 7:51pm…I was born.  Right  on my due date.  

TOP-The birth info from my crib at the hospital and the name announcement they added when my parents finally picked a name for me...(they were assured that I was a boy...oops...)
Bottom- My birth announcement in the paper and a picture of me at a few weeks old!

How friggin' cute was I?

At birth, I weighted 9lbs 10.5oz and I was 20 3/4inches long.  My mother will tell you I was a big baby, but an average sized child.  And that my delivery was long….very long.

Birthdays are supposed to be a time to celebrate another year of your life.  To reflect and be proud of what you have accomplished in a short 365 days.  But, since college, I often felt like every milestone during the year (including my birthday) was another time to look at how unhappy I was with myself. 

Sure...I have a fantastic career.  And a house I worked hard to buy on my own.  But at the end of the day, I was always another year older, another several pounds heavier, and at a point where another year had gone where I felt that my life was at a standstill.   I watched my friends zip past me and forward to weddings and babies.  So by this point in my life, I had come to dread my birthday.  Not because I felt older…but because I felt stagnant. 

But this year is different.  This year, I feel like I have made so much positive change in myself…and in my life…that I have finally moved forward.  Closer to where I think that I’m supposed to be.  So, after dreading my birthday for inevitably arrived.  And a funny thing happened.  

I felt great.  

No regrets.  No guilt.  I just felt...happy.  For me, this past year was about change and evolution.   Most obviously, my body has changed.  But more importantly to me, so has my mind.  This year I learned some important lessons that I think will make the last year of my twenties, the best time of my life.  

First, and maybe most difficult for me, I’ve learned that, in fact, I am beautiful…and may have been for a lot longer than I believed.  I’ve learned that food, although important, is not and should not be the main focus of my life.  I’ve also learned that, despite my earlier beliefs, exercise will not kill me.  In fact, I actually enjoy it.  I’ve learned that shopping is even MORE fun when you feel comfortable about yourself….inside and out.  And finally, I've learned a lot about my friends and family.  I feel more loved and supported by most of you than I could have ever dreamed.  

This year, I’ve decided that I’m going to embrace my 29th birthday as a new beginning to what I hope will be the best year of my entire life.  Instead of moping around, I spent my the very first minutes of this "new year" out salsa dancing...for the very first time.  Spinning and twirling on the dance floor with my friends (and some strangers!) was a blast.

At this time last year, I was just beginning the process to see if I even qualified for this surgery.  At that point, I had no idea where I would end up.  Today, I am 118 pounds lighter and feeling the best I have ever felt in my life.   

So here's to birthdays...because, in the end, it's not the years in your life that count....but the life in your years!  And I want to have as much "life in my years" as possible!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Good hair day...

I know…my hair again.

You guys know my hair anxiety pretty well by now and have listened to me moan about it for months.  Well, my you are in luck!  Instead of whining about it, I just wanted to let you know I got a new hair style and I think I’m in love. 

I went to my stylist last week and discussed the situation.  My hair is definitely growing in now and starting to look way better.  With this new thickness at my roots, the ends of my hair were looking (and feeling) extraordinarily thin.  So, since there were no pending weddings in my future, I told him I needed to start over.

And we decided to go short.  

Really short.  

In fact this is the shortest my hair has ever been.  For a while, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it…but now I’ve decided I LOVE it and it is the perfect change I needed for the fall.  

Fun to play with, easy to manage, and hides my “growing in” parts flawlessly!  It’s perfect!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

If the shoe fits...

So, if there is one thing that I have learned throughout this whole process it is to not be surprised about the way my body changes.  It’s really just not worth the stress.  But in the past few weeks, I have really started to notice something that is driving me BANANAS. 

My shoes don’t fit. 

Now, don’t get me wrong…I know that I am very lucky that I wear clogs all day to work.  (And sizewise, they are very forgiving)   But, when I do have to wear actual shoes, I like to wear really sassy ones.  Did they sometimes hurt my feet to the point where I can barely walk the next day?  Sure.  But like my mother always told me…”it hurts to be beautiful.”

Well, recently, I’ve headed out for a night on the town, and each time I go to find a pair of shoes from my closet, they are all too big.  I’ve gone from a size 10 to a 9.  I’ve tried sole inserts, padding, and moleskin without any help whatsoever. 

This is just horrible. 

I always thought I looked bad in my clothes.  So, to watch my “fat clothes” disappear was never really a problem for me.  But I just love the shoes in my shoe collection. 

REALLY love them.

Thoughts of them no longer fitting makes me really sad.  I mean, I am definitely ecstatic about my transformation, but I this was a side effect that I wasn’t prepared for.  But, it is one I must accept…like it or not. 

So, I have decided to embrace my new “skinny feet” by slowly but surely building up my new shoe collection.   But that doesn’t mean I won’t  miss my old shoes…In fact, I plan to keep my size 10,  4 inch, leopard print pumps tucked away in the back if the closet…just in case!

20,000 hits...Q&A!

Just checking in this morning and was so excited to see that the site reached 20,000 hits...

Per usual, I am forever surprised to see the interest on this site just grow and grow!  Without your continued support, I know I would not have had the kind of success I've had so far.....and I remain forever grateful to you guys!

In honor of this momentous occasion (ok, not quite "momentous"....but a girl can dream, right?...) I decided to answer some questions from you....the readers.  Have a burning question you want to ask?  Want an  explanation about something related to my surgery?...weight loss?...personal life?

Go ahead.  Ask me.

I promise that I will answer as honestly as I can and may even turn the answer to your question into an entire blog entry.  And when I publish the book  you could legitimately be famous.  (**KIDDING**)

Thanks again, you guys!  YOU ROCK!!!


**leave your questions in the comment section below OR feel free to e-mail them to me with the e-mail subject being "questions"**

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pain in the...gut?

I know I’ve said it many times (knocking on wood each time, I swear) but my recovery has been extremely uncomplicated.  I’m lucky.  But I guess I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  

:: sound of shoe hitting floor ::

Monday started out as a great day.  I went to the gym, ate like normal, and got ready for work.  I hopped into my car and headed into Boston, per usual.  But about ½ way there I started having a really horrible abdominal pain.  A stabbing pain right below my sternum, making it hard to even breathe. 

Being the kind of person I am, I tried to shake it off and work, but it was impossible.  I had to leave only 2 hours in.  (And I still feel guilty about it.)

I went home, started to feel a little better, had a snack, and went to bed.  When I woke up, I felt like a million bucks.  I chocked it up to working too hard at the gym and went about my day.  I ate light and stayed on the couch most of the day jst so I wouldn’t stir up anything.  But when I got up to go to get ready for work, this sharp pain came back with a fury.  I tried to blow it off, thinking it would go away on it’s own again, but when I couldn’t even stand up straight in the shower, I knew something was wrong. 

I called out sick from work…again…and went to the ED at my hospital.  Of course, by the time I got there (about 4 hours after the pain had restarted) the pain was diminishing…but I hadn’t eaten in almost 6 hours and I was convinced it was related to food.

In my mind, it could only have been a few things. 

My first thought was that it was my gallbladder.  Gallstones are common after gastric bypass, so it wouldn’t have surprised me if this were the case.  But alas…after an ultrasound, I found out my gallbladder was looking all right and did not need to be removed.  This was a thrill, because gallbladder issues meant surgery in my head and I totally didn’t want to deal with that at all.  (although of course they saw some sort of spot on my liver so I have to have an MRI out patient now….awesome… :: rolls eyes :: )

So, moving on, I also thought it could have been a small hernia.  Although I couldn’t really feel any sort of protrusion where it was hurting, I had worked out that day, and hernias can definitely happen after abdominal surgery.  So, I had a nice abdominal x-ray that ruled that one out.  Fantastic.  Zero for two...

Finally, my last thought was that I could have some sort of gastric ulcer, which can happen at the seams of your pouch after gastric bipass.  To me, what I was feeling didn’t feel as much of the burning type pain that I would expect with an ulcer.  I remembered that when I had my EGD previously, they did say I had a small maybe it had grown.  Heck, I didn’t know.  I was grasping at straws.  But, after an extremely awkward rectal exam, I was told that I was not “bleeding” and it may not be the cause.  Wonderful.

No one seemed to know what the heck was wrong with me.  And since my pain had gone away (I hadn’t eaten in almost 12 hours) they gave me a glass of water and some graham crackers.  When I didn’t die after eating those, they sent me home.  Without any answers.  At 3am.  


So, long story short, it’s right about the witching hour for this pain to come back.  All I’ve eaten today is a piece of pizza and a fudgesicle.  So far so good, but I’m being cautious.   I need to follow up with my PCP and my bariatric surgeon, but I think will live. 

As a nurse, it’s hard to be on the other side of the bed.  And it’s even harder to be there without answers.  But I am glad it’s nothing emergent and, honestly, I’m just hoping it doesn’t happen again.  :: crosses fingers ::