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WLS Center

June 2003 Issue


WLS E-Newsletter
A FREE publication by
Issue # 26, June 2003
Circulation: 8,229


From the Desk of Barbara Thompson
Author of "Weight Loss Surgery, Finding the Thin Person Hiding Inside You"

** In this Issue **

* Survey: Newsletter Twice a Month?
* Eating on Vacation
* Research Article: Thoughts on Diet Drugs
* Calcium
* Research Article: Is The Atkins Diet on to Something?
* Book Excerpt: When Am I Going to Wake Up Thin?
* ASBS 20th Annual Meeting
* Recipe: Protein Slushy
* Spreading the Word in Danville, Boise, Boston, Margate, and Atlantic City

Dear Subscriber,
This is such a great time of year! It is summer vacation time. I know I anticipate this time of year all through the winter. In fact, my favorite holiday of the year is Memorial Day. It signifies the start of summer freedom and vacations.

But as much as we look forward to spending time away, those trips can pose challenges to weight loss surgery patients. I just received an email from someone saying that her support group was discussing this and did I have any tips on eating while traveling? Well, I don't know anyone who travels more than I do. I am speaking somewhere 2 to 3 times a month, which means I am searching for solutions all the time. I have collected some of those thoughts in an article which follows.

I hope your summer vacation finds you healthier and happier than last summer. I hope that you are able to physically accomplish more, whether it is an increased ability to walk around a tourist area or something more vigorous like a biking or hiking trip. If you haven't yet had your surgery, or you are newly post-op, please be patient. Look forward to next year!

** Survey: Newsletter Twice a Month? **

I need to ask you a favor. I have received several requests to send out my newsletters twice a month instead of once a month. This would enable me to cut down on the length of each newsletter. Each would be shorter but allow me to keep in touch more often. The people who suggested this said that they love the content but prefer it to be sent in two issues each month. I would be interested in your comments on this matter.

So here is my question. Would you favor one longer newsletter each month or would you prefer a shorter newsletter twice a month?

Please send your comments to

** Eating While on Vacation **

I'm on vacation so I'm not going to watch what I eat. That is what I thought every time I went on vacation. Maybe that's why I loved vacations so much. It was an excuse to pig out guilt free. It was not only a vacation from work, but a vacation from the stress of worrying about my weight or one of the many diets I had been on.

It is amazing how your life changes after weight loss surgery. Your desire to pig out is tempered by the knowledge that you will suffer immediate consequences if you do. It is one thing to put on a few pounds like we did pre-op. It is quite another to feel that pressure in your chest and then throw up after we, as weight loss surgery patients, eat more than that small pouch can hold.

Your first vacation post-op is interesting. Prior to my surgery, my vacations always centered on food. Those trips to all the wonderful restaurants were always the highlight of my vacations. Post-op, I had to find something else to do. I still went out to eat and enjoyed it, but not with the same "relish" as before. I found myself looking for more active things to occupy my time. I also find that I check to make sure that the hotel has an exercise facility.

I am putting down some of my thoughts on eating while traveling. I would love to hear some tips that you might have that you would like to share. I will print them in next month's newsletter:

Staying in Hotels:

The problem with staying in hotels is the lack of a refrigerator. Having a refrigerator gives you freedom to bring along food to eat that will exactly suit your needs and the stage that you are on vis--vis your surgery. A refrigerator also allows you to bring back leftovers from your restaurant meals. Consider staying in a suite hotel, but check to ensure that it has a refrigerator and a microwave, and not just 2 rooms with no eating or cooking facilities.

If a suite hotel isn't feasible, ask that a refrigerator be placed in your room, although you may be charged for this. If there is a mini bar, empty it out and use it for your needs. Most hotel rooms come equipped with coffee makers. You can use this for cup-a-soup type preparations.


When in a hotel room, I like to take the tuna salad packs that can be found in most grocery stores. They are very high in protein and easy to prepare. Protein bars are a given. You can take protein drinks with you; however I don't like them unless they are prepared in a blender. However, there are brands that are already prepared in a bottle (just not the brand I like!!). I eat a lot of individually wrapped string cheese. You can carry them for a couple of hours without too much fear of food contamination. When you get to your hotel, pop them in a zip lock bag with some ice from the ice machine and you're fine.

I know that many of you have great tips to share for traveling and eating while on vacation. Please send them to me at

** Research Article: Thoughts on Diet Drugs **

In last month's issue, I wrote about the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) April 9th article on trends in weight loss surgery. I did mention that the entire issue was a theme issue devoted to the subject of obesity. What I did not mention was that included in the issue were articles on new drugs to treat obesity.

The drugs in questions are Zonegran and Axokine. Zonegran is used to treat epilepsy and Axokine is used to treat Lou Gehrig's disease. For both of these drugs, a side effect was weight loss. Therefore researchers tried the drugs on obese people and found that in the case of Zonegran, patients lost 13 pounds in 16 weeks when combining the drug with dieting. Those taking Axokine and dieting lost 9 pounds in 12 weeks.

Having gone through the Phen-fen era as well as having taken Meridia, these reports did not particularly excite me. Like many of you, I found Phen-fen effective, but when I stopped taking it I immediately regained weight. Meridia seemed to work for me for awhile then it stopped working. Perhaps my body adjusted to it. What I did not like with Meridia was the insomnia side effect.

Some of you may want to investigate these drugs prior to making your final decision about surgery. Both drugs are approved by the FDA, but they are not yet approved for use in weight loss, therefore you would not likely be able at this time to have the drug prescribed for you. What you do have to consider is if you would be happy losing 10 to 15 pounds? The trials show and the odds are that you would lose only that amount of weight.

I seemed to have spent my entire dieting career trying to beat the odds. I would reason that if I took a drug for 16 weeks and lost 13 pounds, then that averaged 1 pound per week. I calculated that I could lose 50 pounds the first year and another 50 the second year. Then my weight problem would be over!! And if I just dieted harder, then instead of taking 2 years, it might take 1 1/2 years. I could do it!!! After all, I had accomplished a lot in my life. I could lick this problem if I could just find the solution. But it never worked that way for me. The trials so far on these drugs, specifically Zonegran, indicate a weight loss of 13 pounds in 16 weeks. Therefore losing 13 pounds in 16 weeks might be the end of it. So ask yourself if that would truly satisfy you. Only you know the answer to that.

** Blood Tests for Calcium** ========================================

I have many conversations with people regarding their calcium. I have heard people say, "My calcium levels are fine, I had my blood test." Calcium levels in the blood are important for 1) beating of the heart, 2) transmission of nerve impulses, 3) muscle contractions, and 4) blood clotting. Low levels can indicate damage to the pancreas or an under active parathyroid. About 99% of the calcium in your body is in your bones. The other 1% is free. When you have your blood tested, you are checking the levels of the free calcium.

While your blood calcium levels are extremely important in determining your overall health, they do not give an accurate picture of bone density and your susceptibility to osteoporosis. According to Dr. Lynell Braught, "Sometimes a doctor will order a blood test for checking the body's calcium level. Blood tests cannot give an accurate picture of bone density. We can survive only when our blood pH (the degree of alkalinity or acidity) stays within a narrow range, thus our bodies do whatever is needed to keep that blood pH balanced. If that means pulling calcium out of the bones to neutralize excess acid, then that's what the body will do. The body will pull calcium from any or all areas to maintain the blood's pH within that critical range. Therefore, blood test results will probably show a normal calcium level, even when a person has osteoporosis. That's why the only accurate test for osteoporosis is a bone density scan." Get a bone density test as soon as possible and have one annually so that you can compare your density levels.

It is imperative that you take calcium after you have had weight loss surgery so that you can maintain your bone density. But not any calcium will do. If you are taking Tums or Viactiv for your calcium needs, you are not absorbing the calcium. Those forms contain calcium carbonate which requires gastric juice in order to be absorbed which we as weight loss surgery patients have very little of.

There is no other calcium on the market which provides a better form of absorbable calcium for gastric bypass patients than the products which are available through my website. It is powdered and in a base which when mixed with water, ionizes the calcium and releases it so that no gastric juice is required for absorption. And because it is an isotonic formula, it is 90% to 98% absorbed within 5 minutes of drinking it. And it tastes good! Order it today. A 45 day supply is only $17.95 plus shipping. Click here for more information and to order.

** Book Excerpt: When Am I Going To Wake Up Thin? **

The following is an excerpt from my book, "Weight Loss Surgery; Finding the Thin Person Hiding Inside You."

When Am I Going To Wake Up Thin?

Not long after my surgery, I had a difficult time when I realized that I was not going to become thin overnight. I felt that when I told people that I had weight loss surgery, they would look at me and correctly assess that I was still fat! I would always ask myself, "If I had the surgery, why wasn't I thin?" And despite that I knew that this surgery is only a "tool," the idea of yet again having to watch carefully what I ate, was discouraging. I wanted to be thin right now. I had waited long enough to have the surgery; waited for appointments, waited to be approved by my insurance company, and waited for an available surgery date. Why couldn't I be thin right now? And how long would this process take?

Well I finally did calm down, as most patients do, and got into a routine with my life. And one wonderful day, I did wake up thin! I'll never forget the morning that I looked into my bathroom mirror and came face to face with my true body size. I finally found the thin person that was hiding inside me.

I looked in the mirror and said, "There you are. I finally found you. I knew there was a thin person hiding in there."

If you do not have your copy of my book "Weight Loss Surgery; Finding the Thin Person Hiding Inside You," what are you waiting for? Many surgeons all across the country will not allow their patients to have the surgery unless they have read my book. Order your copy at

** ASBS 20th Annual Meeting **

The American Society for Bariatric Surgery (ASBS) will hold their annual meeting in Boston June 17th through 22nd. I will be there as an Exhibitor, as a member of the Corporate Council and as a sponsor of the Foundation. Obviously the ASBS is something that I believe in. It is a professional organization for surgeons and allied health professionals involved with bariatric (or weight loss) surgery.

In the meeting brochure, the current President of ASBS, Dr. Walter Poires, invites members of ASBS to come to the meeting, and he makes some very profound statements that touched me. He says, "Who could have imagined that there would be a national meeting where physicians would present evidence that surgery can achieve full remission of diabetes and of asthma? Where we can take solace in the fact that excessive obesity is no longer a sentence of an early death? Where folks would learn that an operation can be done in less than an hour and could provide durable weight loss of over 100 pounds for as long as 16 years? Where surgeons would show that the technology is so effective that bariatric surgery can be done with only a one percent mortality rate, even though those patients are high risk operative candidates? If you would like to hear more about these miracles, please come."

This will be my third meeting of ASBS that I will be attending. I feel privileged to be among so many of the pioneers of this surgery who found a solution to our desperate problem. And I feel privileged to be among the surgeons who have chosen this specialty because they understand our desperation. And I feel privileged to be among the allied health professionals who so patiently guide us both pre and post-op.

I will let you know next month about some of the highlights of the meeting.

** Recipe: Protein Slushy **

I am asked so often for my recipe for my protein slushy, so I thought I would reprint it

2 scoops of vanilla protein powder (I use the Atkins vanilla shake mix)
4 cups of ice cubes
1/2 envelope of Kool-Aid dry powder, unsweetened
1/2 cup of liquid (water, Crystal light or juice)
4 frozen strawberries
4 packets of artificial sweetener

Crush ice and put in blender with all the other ingredients. Blend until it reaches the desired consistency.

If you have a recipe that you would like to share in future issues of this newsletter, please send it to me at


Copyright 2000-2013 Barbara Thompson All Rights Reserved