WLS Center E-Newsletter

A FREE publication from


Hosted by Barbara Thompson
Author of:
Weight Loss Surgery:
Finding the Thin Person Hiding Inside You.

Issue #81

November 15, 2005

Hello Everyone,
The holidays will soon be here. This time of the year brings its own set of challenges. But if you are prepared, you will be able to handle them much better. I deal with those special challenges in the article below. 

I want to wish each of you a very happy Thanksgiving. Most of us who have had surgery will agree that we have much to be thankful for.

Best wishes,

In This Issue

* Home for the Holidays
* Mentoring Program News
* Winter Activities: Your Responses
* Research Article: Obesity Vaccine
* Holiday Special
* Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake
* New Audio CD for Post-Ops
* Success Story: Traci Stewart
* Spreading the Word in Houston, LA and Cleveland

Home for the Holidays
As we head into this holiday season, remember that this is a time of stress. Donít let what others say get to you, whether it is that you are losing too much weight, or that you might be gaining weight, or why are you having such a dangerous surgery, or ďGee, I guess the surgery didnít work for you.Ē Why people feel that they have free license to comment on aspects of our weight always amazes me.

You may also have a difficult time dealing with all of the food present during this season. Watch out for 2 emotions. Be careful that you donít become depressed because you canít enjoy sweets or the volume of food that you used to.  And be careful if you are further out from your surgery that you donít fall into a ďWhat the heckĒ attitude and just eat and eat and then regret it.

Make the holidays as enjoyable as you possibly can. They may not be what they used to be, but then again, they are better. They are better because you look and feel better.  You know that you will be around to enjoy them for more years. They are better because you can actually shop for more than 30 minutes at a time before your back or your knees are killing you.

Here are some tips for getting through the next 6 weeks happy, healthy and sane:

  • If losing weight is too difficult around the holidays, just try to maintain. But if you are less than 1 year post-op remember the Window of Opportunity. These are precious months when weight loss will never be this easy. So consider priorities and make your decision.
  • Get enough sleep. Studies have shown that when you donít get enough sleep your leptin levels (the hormone that tells the brain that you are full) go down and your ghrelin levels (the hormone that stimulates your appetite) go up causing your desire to eat to rise by as much as 45%.
  • Never go to a party hungry. There is too much temptation. And when there, load up on water.
  • Donít let people get to you.  If you havenít seen family members for awhile expect that you will be on display. Everyone will be judging whether you are the weight loss surgery poster child. Prepare yourself mentally for it, take a deep breath and have confidence in yourself
  • If you are eating at someone elseís house, take a dish that you can eat and enjoy.
  • Graze carefully. Eat tiny bites of high calorie food and fill up on healthier offerings

Follow the 80-20 rule.  That means for the next 6 weeks, be very healthy 80% of the time and relax 20%.

Share with us your coping strategies for the holidays.  What do you do to help get you through the holidays in a healthy and sane way? Send them to Barbara@WLScenter.com

Winter Activities: Your responses
I had some great responses from readers about what they do to stay active in cold winter months. Here they are some of the responses.  I will include the rest in the next newsletter:

I don't like the cold winter months.  For my winter exercise I take advantage of mall walking, or walking in the supermarket at a steady paste. I get stared at a lot! I also exercise down in my basement when my rheumatoid arthritis permits me to. I also try cutting back on my calories more in the wintertime.

- Mae

Yes, it's a little more difficult to vary our exercise during the colder months of winter but looking for exercise groups and staying on track by going to the gym always helps me.  I find that a commitment with a friend or in a group helps me to stay focused.  I always wanted to please everyone when I was obese to compensate for my looks and that has carried over to my "new" life. So once I've made a promise to do something with someone I won't be the one to quit first. 

-         Judy

I love to do water aerobics.  I go to the community college here in Baltimore and do advanced aerobics for one hour in a heated pool.  We use weights and floating devices for extra training.  I have lost 20 pounds since I started and 2 dress sizes so it does work.  I was at a plateau for so long.  I have a nice terry cloth robe to put on afterwards and go right to the warm showers.  It is so refreshing and I sleep so well at night.

- Sandi

But the winner for true commitment to winter activities goes to Debra: 

I get out in the snow and cold of Michigan and walk 4.5 miles 6 days per week.  I have metal cleats that go on my boots so I donít slip and fall on icy roads.  Sometimes, during a big snowstorm, the snow will be knee deep and still I walk through it.  My dog wears red boots and walks with me as well.  I wear silk long Johns, silk socks and glove liners, and many layers.  I cover my head and nose and of course, I wear mittens.  All of this gear is rated for O degree and below and sometimes I get too warm.  I know for me, I will not walk on a treadmill.   IĎll find too many reasons and things to do to get off of it.  I know if I get ďout thereĒ I have to get back, and the only way to do it is to walk.  I use safety lights when it is dark and have reflective material on my outer wear.  The hardest part of all of this is actually going out the door.  Once Iím out there, I enjoy myself and my solitude.  I walk in the early morning hours while my family is asleep, before I go to work.  This way, Iím not missing out on valuable time with my family. Iím too tired when I get home from work.  I have done this routine for four years.  Of course, if it is 10 degrees or below, or the wind chill is outrageous, I give myself a break and stay inside.  The important thing is that I stay consistent and do something I like and will continue.

- Debra

Research Article: Obesity Vaccine

Vaccine May Target Obesity in the Future: Researchers Say

There are many reasons why we have a problem with obesity and researchers are finally discovering that pushing yourself away from the table may not be the only cure. We are hearing more and more about obesity caused by genetics as well as certain hormones such ghrelin and leptin that increase our appetite, tell us when we are full and determine how we store fat.  Now researchers are suggesting that some obesity may actually be caused by a virus.


Pumpkin Cheesecake

12 gingersnaps
2 1/2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1 1/2 cups frozen non-dairy fat free whipped topping, thawed

Place a gingersnap in the bottom of a paper cup cake cup. Mix together all remaining ingredients except the whipped topping. Pour mixture into cups.

Bake 20 minutes at 350į until lightly set; turn off heat. Let stand in oven 1 hour. Cool on rack and chill overnight. Serve with 2 tbsp topping.

Makes 12 servings
Per serving:
153 calories, 5 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbs

Using Sugar Twin brown sugar substitute instead of regular brown sugar:
130 calories, 5 grams of protein, 11.9 carbs

(Note: If you canít find Sugar Twin in your local grocery store, it is available on the internet)

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

Success Story:
  Traci Stewart
I want to offer special thanks to Traci Stewart. Here is her story:

Iím writing this in hopes of helping someone out there who has given up on life.  That is where I was a short time ago.  Here is my story. 

In school I went from fat to thin to chubby.  I lost 64 pounds in the 6th grade and was a cheerleader in the 7th thru 9th grades and then a pom-pom girl during the rest of high school.  Even during that time, I was not the skinniest one. 

Once married I would gain weight and then lose weight.  It seemed like a competition, that I had to eat just as much as my husband.  After all we both worked. Didnít I deserve the same amount of food as he did?

When I was expecting our first child I reached 200 pounds.  After he was born I did get down to 165 pounds.  Then we moved back to our home State.  The stress of the move, looking for work, finding a place to live, and taking care of a 6 month old all at the same caused me to blossom back up to over 200 pounds. 

Over the next 12 years I not only gained more weight but also gained children.  We now have 4 boys, ages 13, 10, 4 and 1. When the 4 year old was 6 months I opted to have breast reduction surgery.  My back constantly hurt and my shoulders had permanent depressions in them.  I went from a 48DDD to a 46C in less than 2 hours.  It helped my back but not my knees. 

Up to then I had tried almost all the diets out there: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Slim Fast, Fen-Fen, Xenical, smaller plates, baby food, eating with the wrong hand.  Nothing worked for very long. Iíd lose until I stopped the diet then I would gain back plus more.  By the time the ďbabyĒ came along I was pushing 300 pounds. 

We live in a doublewide mobile home and while I was pregnant I could not fit into the laundry room to do laundry.  I worked full-time as did my husband so I had to rely on my oldest two children to help out.  I would sort and fold and they would fill the machines and put clothes away.  Shortly after the birth of our baby, our 10 year old (he was 9 at this time) decided that he didnít want to live with us anymore and devised a suicide plan.  The counselor said the only thing that saved him that day was the fact that I chose to take him to school.  The counselor also said that this was my entire fault.  I was too fat to take care of my children and with my son only being 9 he was too immature to handle the responsibilities of being a parent. 

During this time my 13 year old decided that I was favoring his brother and now HE had to do all the work.  He even told me to ďget off my fat ass and do it myselfĒ at times.  I donít need to tell you that I was just taken back by these words.  You know the cartoon where their jaw hits the floor and their eyes pop out? Well that was me.  His counselor said that it was his way of shaking me up because he was worried about me and felt I needed to take charge.

This all lead to a deeper depression for me.  I was beginning to think that if I were out of the picture then everyone would be happy.  I didnít want to go anywhere; all I wanted to do was stay in bed with the covers over my head.  I couldnít go up or down stairs.  I would sweat all the time.  I even had trouble cleaning myself.  I couldnít go to my friendsí homes or to parties because I was afraid I would break their chairs and people would say how fat I was.  People were never outright rude to my face but I can read lips.  Besides when you hate yourself as much as I did you just know that everyone is talking about you.  I even had a hard time fitting in my own car seat much less using a seat belt. 

I was 38 years old but felt 68.  My knees and back hurt all the time; I thought I would be in a wheelchair by the age of 40.  I felt so alone.  I didnít want my children to end up with my mother-in-law, so I decided to do something about it. 

I work with a gal who has spent the last two years losing 50 pounds.  I totally believed that if I took that long to get myself able to be a mom again; I would only have three boys left.  I really thought that if I didnít do something very soon the oldest would be in jail for hurting or killing the younger one; or the 10 year old would run away or commit suicide.  I love my boys!  I wanted and still want my boys, so I decided to fix myself, permanently. 

I started researching weight loss surgery.  My mother-in-law had intestinal bypass surgery 15 or 20 years ago and is still fighting with her weight.  But, I thought that in that amount of time the medical profession should have made some improvement. I found a local doctor, who does weight loss surgery, however, not laparoscopically.  I made an appointment with him and we talked about why I was pursuing this.  I had my surgery scheduled for that next month.  I was scared, happy, excited, anxious, and fearful all at the same time.

That was 9 months ago and I havenít looked back.  Iím down 111 pounds and feel GREAT.  Iíve gone from a tight 28/4x to a loose 18/L.  My 10 year old has said more than once lately that he has never seen me play as much as I do now.  I actually play with the boys now!  I play tag.  We go on walks and hikes together.  I play in a playground, actually play not just sit and watch.  I slid down a slide last week and I even rode a bike!  I havenít done either in over 25 years.  I love life again and most importantly, I still have all 4 of my wonderful boys! 

I didnít mention my husband much in this but I want to say that he has been my 100% supporter thru all of it.  We shared our 16th wedding anniversary this year and are currently planning our new house together.  We will be moving this September.  He loved me when I was fat and he loves me now.  He is my best friend.  He is a great father and husband.  Iím so blessed to have what I have. 

I know there are people who have complications with this or any surgery. Some even die.  I am truly blessed.  I have had no major complications, I have a wonderful family and I get to move into a new house this year.  I credit my weight loss surgery for a large part of this.  Without it, I would not have the energy to be a mom much less move into a new house.  Sometimes I wonder where our lives would be if I had not had the surgery. Well, I donít want to go there. 

I just want to say, ďDonít give up.Ē  Do your research and no matter what way you choose to get on the losing side Ė do it.  Life is worth living not just watching. 

Traci Stewart
Ames, IA

Before After

I am getting a little short of success stories. 

If you have considered writing yours, please send it to me along with your before and after pictures. If you have submitted your story in the past and it hasnít been printed, please resubmit it.  It may very well have gotten lost in the shuffle!!

I love good news.  If you have good news, a success story to share, or inspiration, please send it to me at Barbara@WLScenter.com so that I can include it in future issues.  

Spreading the Word  
  in Houston, LA and Cleveland
I will be speaking at 2 upcoming ObesityHelp events; a Regional Event in Houston on November 19th and a National Event in Orange County, CA, on December 2-4th

Click here for details: http://www.obesityhelpevents.com/                  

I will also be in Cleveland, at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation on Thursday December 8th, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, in the Lerner Research Institute Building, Carnegie between 96th and 100th, Cleveland, OH. This event is free and open to the public.

Please Note: If you are interested in having me speak for your practice, call me for details 877-440-1518.

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Reprinted from Barbara Thompsonís free e-newsletter featuring helpful information and research material to help patients succeed following weight loss surgery.
Subscribe at http://www.barbarathompsonnewsletter.com/

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