WLS Center E-Newsletter

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

Issue #93

May 15, 2006

Barbara Thompson
The Voice of Obesity

Hello Everyone,
A very dear friend of mine had gastric bypass surgery 3 weeks ago. Her surgery was converted to open and since her surgery she has had problems with a wound infection, low grade fever and nausea. She is thinking, ‘Why did I do this?’ This is a question that most of us ask at some point after surgery and is a question that we need to continue to ask even as the years go by following surgery. I talk about this in the article below.

In This Issue


* Why Did I Do This?
* Spring Sale Begins
* Research Article: Never Forget
* Recipe: Barbequed Sesame Chicken Breasts  
* Success Story: Francisco Caravayo
* Attention Nurses

Why Did I Do This?

Weight loss surgery is major surgery and many things can go wrong, some minor and some major. You may experience nausea or a wound infection, or something more serious such as a leak.  It can be very discouraging as well as frightening as you imagine that these problems will never end, and that it will always be this way. 

But the problems do end. And to help get through those tough times, it is important to keep your eye on the prize and keep in your mind why you decided to have weight loss surgery in the first place. What motivated you to go to that first consultation?  

Try making a list of all of the reasons that you had surgery. If you haven’t had surgery yet, then your list will come to you quite easily. But once the list is complete, tuck the list away so that you have it to remind yourself when the going is tough.

For those who are more than 18 months post-op and are struggling with weight regain, reminding yourself what life was like pre-op can be a great motivator to never get there again. Try to think back and start making your list. Include such things on your list as:

  • What health problems do/did you have?
  • What pain do/did you experience?
  • What size clothing did you wear and what are you wearing now?
  • What do you want to do, or what are you able to do now that you couldn’t before?
  • How much weight do you want to lose? Is that weight realistic?

Be very specific, keep everything in perspective and visualize your success with each point on your list.  You will be amazed at how powerful that can be.  You have to see it in your mind and believe it in your heart before you can achieve it. Have faith that your challenges will end, that it will all be worth it and that you will be even prouder of yourself than you are today.

Pre-Summer Sale Begins: 10% Discount

The more educated you are, the more successful you will be. Learn to use your tool to its fullest potential by taking advantage of our 10% off Spring Sale. Take 10% off every book or CD on our shopping cart just by entering the word Spring in the discount code (the field above where you enter your credit card number) as you are checking out. Take 10 % off:

·        Weight Loss Surgery; Finding the Thin Person Hiding Inside You – known as the bible of bypass patients. The 1st weight loss surgery book written by a weight loss surgery patient!

·        Weight Loss Surgery for Dummies – packed with information in typical Dummies format and containing 30 recipes.

·        End Emotional Eating – Audio CD on the problem of emotional eating that so many of us face.

·        Reach for Success: Dealing with Post-Op Perils – Audio CD on all of those post-op issues that can derail us.

·        Barbara Thompson: A Thin Way of Life – Audio CD that is an excellent overview especially for pre-ops.

·        It’s All About Food – Audio CD with a gastric bypass chef who discusses what to eat and how to prepare it.

·        Exercise: You Can’t Reach Goal Without It – Audio CD on what exercises to do and how to stay motivated.

·        Plastic Surgery: The Inevitable Next Step – Thinking about it? Here’s what you can expect in this audio CD.

Click the dollar sign below to enter the

shopping cart and to start saving money.

Research Article: Never Forget

Huidepohl, Dana, “Why America Hates Fat Women,” Marie Claire, Vol. 13 (2), Feb. 2006, p 78-82.

A very interesting and somewhat discouraging article appeared in the February issue of the magazine Marie Claire detailing the discrimination that overweight women face every day.

The article cited study after study that detailed discrimination such as:

  • Shopping – A Rice University study found that women wearing a suit that made them a size 22 had less eye contact with more rudeness and hostility than when they were their normal size without the fat suit.
  • Employment – Overweight women are paid 30% less than those of normal weight according to a study done by Memphis State University.
  • Yale University Study found an anti-fat bias on the part of doctors, nurses and even those treating obesity.
  • Society – A man photographed with a heavy date is viewed 22% more negatively than one with a thin woman according to a University of Liverpool study.
  • On TV – One-third of women on TV are dangerously underweight. Obese women on TV are twice as likely to be the target of jokes, and are less likely to have romantic interests depicted.

People speak out against racism, sexism and homophobia, but who is there to speak out against discrimination because of size? Don’t tolerate size discrimination. For those who have had surgery and are at or nearing normal weight, you will probably hear people make disparaging comments about obese people that they never would have made in front of you before you lost your weight. Don’t allow it.  Don’t let it slide.  Take the initiative and tell that person how you feel. Let’s never, ever forget our roots and those who haven’t yet or chose not to have surgery. Speak up for them and remember that it was not that long ago that we were “them.”


Barbequed Sesame Chicken Breasts

Memorial Day will soon be here, and with it comes the season to grill food outdoors. Here is a great low-calorie, low carb, high protein recipe.  I hope you enjoy it.

Barbequed Sesame Chicken Breasts

1 Tbl brown sugar (or Sugar Twin* artificial brown sugar)
3 Tbl soy sauce
1 Tbl sesame seeds
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/8 tsp black pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Combine all ingredients except chicken. Pour the mixture into a large zip lock bag.  Add the chicken, turn to coat and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Remove the chicken from the marinade.  Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and heat to boiling, and then cool. Place chicken on the grill until the chicken is done and juices run clear, approximately 7 to 10 minutes per side. Turn and baste frequently with marinade.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving:
166 calories, 5.2 grams of carbohydrates, 29.2 grams of protein

*Brown Sugar Twin is available at most grocery stores.  But if you can’t find it, order it on the internet. Here is just one of many links for it http://www.diabeticfriendly.com/sugtwinsponb.html

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:
  Francisco Caravayo

I want to offer a special thanks to Francisco Caravayo. Here is his story:

My journey toward gastric bypass surgery started 33 years ago when I attended my first Weight Watchers meeting with my Mom and Dad.  Over the next three decades, I was off and on Weight Watchers, each time losing a significant amount of weight, then gaining it back plus ten to twenty pounds more.

While Weight Watchers is a good program, it never addressed my needs in the way that successfully helped me to find the answer to why I had become morbidly obese.  I’m so lucky that my insurance provider, Kaiser Permanente, had the program that worked for me.  I had a whole team of health professionals guiding me: a surgeon, a primary care physician, a case manager, a dietician, a psychologist, and support groups.

They all pointed me in the right direction, but I had to take personal responsibility for my health, and I had to believe that I could do what they were asking me to do.  Over the months that I attended support groups and pre-op classes, I began to see that I really did have the power to make a monumental change in the way I operated in the world.

For the first time in my life, I gave myself permission to take care of my needs first, not last as I’d always done in the past.  Little by little the light bulb went on, and I began to believe transformation was possible.  I was sitting in a support group meeting when a beautiful and radiant woman entered the room.  I thought that she was probably the wife of a weight loss surgery patient.  I almost fell out of my seat when she began to tell her story.  I was riveted to her every word because I felt that she knew the answer to my weight problem.  She’d seen the “Promised Land,” and she knew how to get there.

It was such a revelation when she said, “The surgery is just a tool.  You have to watch what you eat and exercise for the rest of your life or the tool won’t work.  And you have to change the way you think.  They do surgery on your stomach, but you have to do the surgery on your mind.”

It was at that moment I said to myself, “I will do whatever it takes.  I’m going to make this work for me.”  It wasn’t easy, buy I realized that I was worth the effort.  I followed my program guidelines to the letter.  I exercised 7 days a week, I chewed 30 times each bite, and I drank my water, took my vitamins, and began the difficult task of changing my internal tapes.  For years, I denied myself the love I so freely gave to others.  I said damaging and horrible things to myself, and over the years, this negative self-talk manifested itself in my self-destructive eating and exercise habits.

At first I didn’t believe the positive things I said to myself, but then another light bulb went off.  I started to believe that I was worthy of love.  I had no idea that these emotional issues were at the core of my issues with weight.  I’ll put it this way:  I finally gave myself the gift of loving me.   And now, I love myself unconditionally, but NOT because I lost the weight.  I was able to lose the weight because I began to love myself first.  For me, the self-love needed to be there so that I could make the right choices, so that I could continue on my journey even when faced with challenges.

In order for this miracle to happen (and I do feel it was a miracle), I had to be willing to change everything in my life.  And now, almost three years later, everything is different.  One of the unfortunate by-products of my weight loss was the end of my eleven-year long-term relationship.  My former life-partner was unable and unwilling to come with me on the weight loss surgery journey.  And just as I reached goal weight and was emerging from the self-imposed prison of fat, he said to me, “It’s like the man I fell in love with has died, and in his place is a person I don’t even know.”  The cruel irony is that at that time in my life, I was feeling more like “me” than I ever had.

Furthermore, three morbidly obese friends turned their backs on me one week before my surgery.  One even told me that God wouldn’t want me to change the way He made me.  I told her, “I guess you don’t have cavities filled because that would be changing the way God made you.”  These three friends became poisonous to my process so we had to part ways.  While I’ve lost 153 pounds, each has gained about 50 pounds more.  I wish things could be different, but they were unwilling to share my journey because I guess the fact that I was confronting my obesity with clarity and honesty hit too close to home for them.  I feel in my heart that they did not abandon me out of maliciousness.  They just couldn’t handle the fact that my journey was a most uncomfortable mirror into their own issues around morbid obesity.  I was ready to look into the mirror and see the unadorned truth.  I was ready to make a permanent change.  They weren’t.

But my story doesn’t end there.  Sure there has been sorrow and loss.  However, the joy far outweighs the sadness.  One of the program psychologists advised me to seek out joy that would nourish my soul.  So I went in search of that joy by joining groups where I would not be “Francisco, weight loss surgery patient”, but just “Francisco.”

I joined a gay square dancing group where the emphasis is on fun and camaraderie set to music.  I can dance and dance non-stop, and I feel a lightness and ease of movement that was impossible for so many years.

The program psychologist also advised, “You have worked on your mind, you have worked on your body, but how are you addressing the needs of your spirit?”  So I searched for the answers to the spiritual questions in my life.  And I found The Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco whose credo is “A house of prayer of all people.  A home of queer spirituality.”  You see, I was not only a morbidly obese man who had been rejected by society; I was a gay man who had been rejected by his former church. 

I was in need too.  I needed a place to belong, a place to give back in gratitude for the gift of life and health that I’d been given.  The church made me aware that being thankful on its own wasn’t enough.  Gratitude is empty without action, so I searched for a calling, and it came.  It was an opportunity to use my health to help others.  I became part of an online support group and soon became a moderator, helping and supporting those weight loss surgery patients who are on their way to surgery, and also supporting and receiving support from all the post-ops.  I also am in the process of starting an “in-person” post-op support group in San Francisco.

I also decided to participate in the National AIDS Marathon Training Program put on by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.  I trained six months to complete the half marathon, and I raised over $3000 for this worthy cause.  My group raised $679,353.00.

Now, in 2006 I’ve decided to train for the Full Marathon—26.2 miles!  I now have the precious gift of health—no more diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, acid reflux or joint aches. From February until July, I'll be logging nearly 500 miles in this six-month training program put on by the National AIDS Marathon.  It's an exciting journey.  And even though I'll be getting up at the crack of dawn, and I may have my share of aches and pains, I know it will be worth it. I can fulfill the dream of running a marathon.  Two years ago that would have been impossible, but now exercise is such a big part of my life.  Since December, I've ramped up my workouts to meet this challenge.  I wake up at 5:30 AM to workout 6 days a week.  On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I do a circuit workout combining sit-ups (300 crunches), push ups and free weights.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays I do a maintenance run of 3 to 4 miles.  Saturdays are distance/endurance runs anywhere from 6 to 15 miles.  I can’t believe that I am capable of doing this type of physical activity.

For the first time in my life, I feel athletic, not the fat little boy who no one wanted on their team, and it’s all due to the miracle of gastric bypass surgery.

But the biggest change in me is not the physical, although that is indeed a great change.  The most significant change is in my heart.  I am open and loving to a degree that I thought impossible.  I am optimistic and hopeful because I know that there is a way out of every problem, even if it’s just a simple, “I was wrong, and I’m sorry.”  And I know that, no matter what, I will never give up on me.

My hope is that all morbidly obese people find their way out of the isolation.

Francisco Caravayo
San Francisco, CA
Total weight loss: -153 pounds
Type of surgery: open RNY
Maintaining goal weight: 16 months
Quality of life: priceless

Congratulations Francisco

I Need Your Story

I am running low on success stories.  If you have a story to share, are at least 1 year post-op and have before and after  pictures, please send them to me at Barbara@wlscenter.com so that I can include them in a future issue.

Attention Nurses

If you are a nurse and would like for me to speak on positive patient outcomes, patient satisfaction, or obesity sensitivity for your State Nurses Association, please have the conference planner for your State Association contact me. I have a corporate sponsor who will pay my fee and expenses so it is free for your Association. I also speak for many hospitals on the same topics. 

Contact me at Barbara@WLScenter.com or 412-851-4195.

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Reprinted from Barbara Thompson’s free e-newsletter featuring helpful information and research material to help patients succeed following weight loss surgery.
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