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 #100

September 1, 2006

Barbara Thompson
The Voice of Obesity

Hello Everyone,
This issue of my newsletter is a milestone. It is my 100th issue. The newsletter has grown over the years from once a month to twice a month and to a readership of 9,624. It has allowed me to keep in touch with all of you, to share what I know about life after this surgery and to be a conduit for you to learn from each other.

I thank all of you for your contributions.  Your emails inspire me.  They tell me what your problems and concerns are and they help to guide me in how I can help.  For instance, the Back on Track Program was born because so many of you emailed me in your desperation because you were regaining weight.  The article in the Wall Street Journal and the soon to be program on CNN about the link between alcoholism and weight loss surgery came from this newsletter. And all of this ultimately came from you.  Thank you.

In This Issue


* Back on Track
* Research Article: Pouch Too Small?
* Retreat Report
* Please Pass the Veggies
* Obesity Action Coalition
* Insulin Resistance
* Recipe: Zucchini Beef Soup
* The “Chewable Alternative” 
* Success Story: Michele Dunn

It's time to get Back On Track

If you’re not happy with your weight loss, then join the
Back on Track with Barbara Internet Mentoring Program.

Would you like results like this?
“I am loving this Back on Track With Barbara Program. It really does keep me on track.  I like having a new lesson each week, and practicing each of the new steps in the lessons. I know I need constant encouragement to keep the grazing under control. The low glycemic foods are a wonderful help. Let's hear it for Barbara! I'm so glad she is doing this work for us. This is a real need she is filling.”

New Jersey

For more information or to join the Program, go to


Research Article: Pouch Too Small?

Dear Barbara,

I have been doing some research about gastric bypass surgery, (i.e. procedures, risks, recovery etc) and I cannot seem to find an answer to one question that I have.  My question is:  what happens if the pouch is made too small?  From what I have read, the pouch should be 40cc (about the size of an egg).  Would there be any complications if the pouch is made smaller than that? 


Hi Vicki,
The pouch really cannot be made too small.  The pouch is left the size it is for convenience so that you will be able to consume more at a sitting and not have to eat quite so often. It is a matter of quality of life. It is better nutritionally also, so that you will consume enough to get in the nutrition that you need. However if you were diligent with nutritional supplements, and were willing to eat frequently, this wouldn’t be much of an issue. Your food is absorbed in your small intestines. Your stomach is just used for a sense of fullness and to help in the digestion of food.

There was a recent article that reported on research on pouch size. The research reported that those with smaller pouches lost more weight.  Here is a link to the article: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/531615

When I had my surgery 6 ˝ years ago, pouches were made larger than what they are made today. Surgeons have been reducing the size of the pouch over the years, with no ill effects.

Actually, you can live with no stomach at all. The following is from the American Cancer Society website and refers to the removal of the stomach because of cancer.  However, the same would apply for having no stomach at all for whatever reason. The complete removal of the stomach is called a gastrectomy and here is what the American Cancer Society has to say about it:

Total gastrectomy: This operation involves the total removal of the stomach, and is recommended if the cancer is in the middle or upper part of the stomach. If you have a total gastrectomy, the surgeon will try and make a new "stomach" out of intestinal tissue. Usually the end of the esophagus is attached to part of the small intestine and some extra intestine is also attached. This can make room for food to be stored before moving down the intestinal tract, and will allow you to eat some food before getting filled up. No matter how effective this is, people who have a total gastrectomy can only eat a small amount of food at a time. Because of this, they must eat more often.

Retreat Report

I held my first retreat in Pittsburgh Aug. 18th to 20th and it was absolutely wonderful.. It was more than I ever expected. We all walked away from the retreat having insights into ourselves that we never expected.  We danced, laughed, cried, learned, and ate (but very healthy food).  But don’t take my word for it. Here is what the attendees had to say.

  • This retreat empowered me with love, strength and peace of mind knowing I am not alone. I came away from this retreat with more than I ever imagined that I would obtain. I will always cherish this weekend.
  • This retreat has been such a wonderful and inspirational experience for me. I have met so many special and loving people that I will cherish for the rest of my life. You did such a wonderful job in covering the issues we all share. Thank you so much.
  • Helped me “see” and “listen” to my inner self.  I don’t do well with expressing myself, but this was the most important event of my life.
  • Learning that we are all going through similar struggles made me feel not so alone. It was a great retreat with feelings of love, support and empowerment prevalent throughout.
  • It absolutely helped me know that I’m not alone in my struggles and need for support. Helped me meet a wonderful group of women who will be a great support network.
  • This retreat helped me feel great about myself, to know myself and know I am going to be OK .

The women at this retreat became so close over the weekend that they have formed a yahoo group so they can stay in touch with each other.

I will be doing retreats around the country based upon the responses that I received from the surveys.  If there is a large group from your support group that would like for me to have a retreat and you think that there will be a group of 30 attending, contact me at Barbara@WLScenter.com and I will be sure to include you in my future planning.

Please Pass the Veggies
We had several responses to last month’s article concerning ways to eat as a vegetarian following weight loss surgery. They offer some great suggestions.  And even if you aren’t a vegetarian, there are some terrific ideas about how to get more fruits, vegetables, legumes and soy into your diet from the first days post-op to your life long term. Be sure to click the bottom of this article for more of the responses.

Dear Barbara,
I am more than 2 years post-op, and am a mostly a vegetarian. I say mostly a vegetarian because I do not believe a person can ever fully reach 100% vegan and a very important thing to me is sharing a meal with others. Social eating plays a big role in our society. Being post-op that can still be easily managed, but being fully vegetarian is not as easily done with others.

I have many vegan and vegetarian friends and much of the information we share is for anyone. I can try to relate some of my own experiences.

A vegetarian is one who does not eat meat, fish, or fowl, and subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, etc.

A vegan is a vegetarian who omits all animal products from their diet including eggs, milk and cheese.

Let me first state how important it is that you discuss with your surgeon and dietician that you are a vegetarian. As with any post-op patients, it is important to take iron, calcium, B12 and multi-vitamin supplements.

For any vegetarian soy and tofu are vital and wonderful products.  The soy bean is one of the best sources of protein. I would advise all people to work soy into their diet. Protein is vital, and soy as well as soy protein powder are very rich in meeting our protein needs. . There are a few vegetarians I have met that are soy sensitive. This can be quite a challenge. For those I recommend they seek several professional opinions to help figure out a vegetarian lifestyle.

For the first few months post-op my blender and I became very intimate. In today’s world we are hearing the advantages of raw whole fruits and vegetables, but in my early days post-op, I did cook vegetables, because we do have to treat our pouches like a baby’s pouch. I would puree cooked squash, cooked sweet potatoes, carrots as well as peas. Peas are actually a good source of protein, I am not a broccoli fan, but I have heard that if you cook broccoli to full tenderness and then blend it that it is eatable. Greens like spinach when cooked and pureed are doable. I would recommend this in moderation in the 6 to 12 month stage.

For the remainder of this article as well as more responses on this subject, click here

Obesity Action Coalition
Are you a compassionate weight loss surgery patient? If so, try this compassion test:
  • Do you know anyone who has had problems getting their insurance approved for weight loss surgery? And do you feel for them?
  • Are you concerned about the prospect of obesity in your own children?
  • Do you see obese people on the street and your heart goes out to them? Would you love to run up to them and give them your surgeon’s card because weight loss surgery has made such a difference in your life?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you have passed the compassion test. You are eligible for membership in the Obesity Action Coalition. This is a wonderful association committed to education, advocacy, and support on behalf of the obese.

I am very proud to be a member of the
Obesity Action Coalition
Board of Directors.

I urge you to learn more about the Obesity Action Coalition and to join.  

Here is the link for more information http://www.obesityaction.org

Insulin Resistance
Dear Barbara,
I just came back from a new endocrinologist and he said I am insulin resistant and that the excess insulin I produce gets stored as fat. I told him I had gastric bypass surgery and I don’t eat a lot and that I thought I had gained weight because my old endocrinologist took me off my thyroid medications cold turkey. Immediately after that I gained 30 pounds. Thankfully I have been on your Back on Track Program and have not only stopped gaining, but lost 7 pounds, due to the low glycemic index way of eating you recommend and your inspiration.  But the way the doctor made it sound, it’s like if I don’t go on these medications, I will never get to my goal weight. He was nice enough to say I should not feel like a failure because there is something medically wrong with me but I am not sure this is a real illness. Then he said untreated it could lead to diabetes and that scared me to death. If you know anything or can lead me to someone who does, can you help me? Thanks,

Hi Anna,
When we eat, our bodies break down food into compounds, one of which is glucose. Glucose is important because it provides us with energy, cell repair, etc. In order for our bodies to use this glucose, it has to enter the blood stream and then go to our individual cells. In order for this to happen, the pancreas produces just the right amount of insulin that will move this glucose into our cells.

When, for some reason, your blood cells stop responding to insulin, glucose will build up in your blood stream rather than going into the cells to be used. Over time, this can lead to diabetes.

There are certain things you can do to help your condition. 

  • Keep your weight at a normal level.
  • Exercise. Walking 30 minutes a day or doing other types of exercise is very important
  • Eat a diet high in fiber such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • If your doctor feels you need medication, take it, or get a second opinion.

Zucchini Beef Soup
For my Pittsburgh retreat, the attendees traded favorite recipes. Here is a great one from Pamela Matthews that calls for zucchini which are abundant right now. 


1/2 pound ground beef
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
3 medium zucchini, cubed
2 cups water
1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt, optional
1 tsp beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pepper to taste
Shredded Parmesan cheese, optional

In a large saucepan, cook beef, celery, onion and green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender; drain.  Stir in the tomatoes, zucchini, water, Italian seasoning, salt, bouillon, sugar and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until zucchini is tender.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired.  Yield - 6 servings.

Nutritional Analysis:  One serving (prepared with lean ground beef and without salt & Parmesan Cheese) equals 106 calories, 4 g fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 628 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber and 10 g protein.

  The “Chewable Alternative”
I am happy to announce that we are now providing you with a choice of nutritional supplements.  Bariatric Advantage provides the "Chewable Alternative" to our regular drinkable supplements.  Because of our alliance with this company, we can now provide many additional products that are dedicated to the bariatric patient that will lead to successful weight loss and good health. Many products can be set up to have automatic deliveries.

Visit our new eStore at http://www.WLScenterestore.com and browse our different Product Categories. You can order online, or call your order in to our WLS Center representative at (800) 898-6888.

Success Story:
  Michele Dunn
I want to offer a special thanks to Michele Dunn. Here is her story:

Dear Barbara,
After reading the awesome inspirational stories over the last three years I decided it is time to share my story.

My name is Michele Dunn and I had RNY gastric bypass surgery on April 16th, 2004. It was an incredibly long journey until the surgery day but it was worth very second. I grew up with the average weight concerns that every teenage girl experiences but I managed to keep my weight under control until I turned 19 years old.

While I attended college my weight began to climb. I left for college weighing 120 pounds but by the end of my freshman year I had managed to pack on 60 pounds. I remember coming home for a weekend that first year of college and my mother asking me, “What is going on?”  I didn’t know how to tell her that I secretly ate all hours of the night and couldn’t seem to ever feel full. Clearly, I was trying to fill a void that food was not capable of filling.

By my junior year in college I was severely depressed, had broken up with my long time boyfriend and had dropped out of school. My weight had climbed another 15 pounds. My self esteem was in the toilet and nothing seemed to “fill me up”.

Shortly after dropping out of college I met my future husband. With marriage came pregnancy and bed rest which brought with it another 35 pounds. I am sure anyone that has found themselves severely obese understands the struggle I was experiencing….depression that leads to eating which leads to more weight which leads to more depression. It is a vicious cycle that is not easily broken.

Fast forward 11 years……I was a 34 years old, 338 pound single mother who was watching her own daughter follow in her mom’s footsteps. The truth is the love I felt for my daughter is what possessed me to contact Dr. Somzstein at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida.

My initial appointment was in October 2003. I clearly met the requirements for surgery. I was suffering from diabetes; high blood pressure, sleep apnea and the swelling in the tendons on the bottom of my feet was almost unbearable. I fought the insurance company and my employer for over six months but finally my surgery occurred. I was blessed with my mother, grandmother and daughter praying for me in the waiting room while I went through the 3 hour surgery. I am sure the decision was the right one and that God was watching over me in the coming months because I experienced very few side effects compared to what I dealt with prior to the surgery.

Along with the confidence to take control of my health I also found the strength to attack some other old demons in the “closet”. I returned to school to complete my bachelor’s degree and I will finish my MBA in March of next year. The truth was the surgery was only a tool. I had to find the strength within myself to meet these goals and accept an outstretched hand from family and friends.

I had to have my gall bladder removed a year after the RNY procedure but otherwise I consider this surgery a “piece of cake”. I am 138 pounds lighter and I look forward to doing a lot more exercising when school is complete to lose even more weight. But I feel like a new woman with a whole new chance to do things right this time. 

The most important thing I can offer those who are suffering from the feeling that they are deprived after the surgery is a mindset I maintain on a daily basis. “Everyone gets a certain amount of ‘M&M’s’ to eat in a lifetime and I just made a decision to eat mine a whole lot sooner. In the end…we all had the same amount.”

Michele Dunn

Congratulations Michele

You achieved your goal. Share your story.

Many people email me that one of the parts that they like best about the newsletter are the success stories.  I can’t keep including them, if I don’t receive them. 

If you are 1 year or more post-op and have before and after pictures, please send me your story.  Don’t worry about your writing ability. I will make edits as necessary. Your story can serve as an inspiration to others. Send your story 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.

Permission to Reprint

You may reprint any items from this newsletter in your own print or electronic newsletter. But please include the following paragraph:

Reprinted from Barbara Thompson’s 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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