Beating Regain. Gina Getting to goal 9 years later.

Yvonne and GinaPlease meet my beautiful and inspiring friend Gina…. inspiring because she has one of the best regain success stories out there and she has graciously accepted my request for an interview.  We have a long history and it began at the Obesity Help event in Texas in 2004. We’re pretty OK for a couple of old broads.  I’m 56 and she’s 53!  (we are young in our minds)  This picture was taken at the recent Houston Obesity Help event where there were actually four members who also attended that event in 2004.  I hope that Gina’s story will resonate with everyone because it doesn’t matter where you are in your journey.  This will help you understand what it’s like if you don’t know and it will help you if you are in the middle of fighting regain.  Perhaps it will especially help someone to continue to make good choices.  

Yvonne:  Gina please start by telling your story.  When did you have surgery, how much did you lose at first? 

 Gina:  I first started seriously researching surgery in the summer of 1999.  That was when Carnie Wilson went “public”, had her WLS on the internet, etc. I found an obesity website thru “Ask Jeeves” (remember HIM???-before Google), and was hooked from there. I read everything I could get my eyes on. I finally took a job, in the summer of 2001, with the number one objective being to have WLS (they had the RIGHT insurance, etc). I went to 5 different seminars, of 5 different surgeons, before I chose the one I “clicked” with-a real “no nonsense/straight from the hip” little guy. It took me until 9-14-01 to make my appt with my family doctor. Fear? Self loathing because I couldn’t lose/keep weight off “on my own”? At first my doctor was VERY reluctant-remember this was 2001 and WLS was not as “popular” as it is now-but my doctor knew me well and trusted ME, so he gave me his support. He had ME write my own referral letter and then he signed it.  He ordered the blood, etc the surgeon asked for.  It took 5 months from PCP visit to surgery-5 very stressful months of “hoop jumping” for insurance.  I should have lost 200 pounds from the exercise of all that jumping!! I lost 102 pounds the first 6 months…effortlessly (as you know-a “trained monkey” could do it-you CAN’T screw it up at that point).  Over the next 6 months I lost another 40..then….OOPS…I was in “ONEderland” for about a hot minute… 

Yvonne:  When did you start to regain and how much?  (I like that …a hot minute) 

Gina:  At about 1.5 years out I took a weekend, overnight (8pm-8am) job, doing one on one bedside nursing with dying people. I didn’t really “test the waters” as much as I just “dove right in”. I’d give most anything to have never, ever done that.  But-I had no idea what I was really doing.  I gained probably 40 pounds within a few months.  This was around the time of my first big “conference”, where I met other post-ops, and found out things I SHOULD have done (and met YOU!) 

Yvonne:  What happened that caused you to decide to get back on track and what did you do? 

Gina:  I had joined a local support group-my first. I felt like such a HYPOCRITE. I was telling newbies “what to do”, but sure wasn’t doing it MYSELF…but nobody there had known me at my lowest weight, so I could keep my “secret”. I finally got SICK OF MYSELF.  I think it was turning 50 that was “turned me around”. I made up my mind, that month, that either had to GET A GRIP, or give up.  By this time I had gradually gained ANOTHER 30 lbs…so that made for 70 lb regain..after having NEVER made it to “goal”–being 30 pounds shy of first goal before the REGAIN ever began…Sigh… 

Yvonne:  How much have you lost so far? 

Gina:  As of when I weighed on 12-1-10 (I only weigh on Tuesdays), I have lost ALL the regain, plus MORE, and am now NINE pounds from that elusive goal “number” set all those years ago.  I have now lost 161 pounds. I TRY not to get hung up on numbers….but I WANT this one…I really, really want it. I want it badly enough to train for the White Rock 1/2 Marathon, bad enough to track my food and exercise every day, I want it badly enough to drink my water-even when it’s cold outside. I’m happiest to report that, in training for White Rock, my 21 year old son has lost 50 pounds-just my hanging with me and logging HIS food (he’s a non-op). 

Yvonne: If you could share something with a post-op that has regained and feeling like it just can’t be done, what would you tell them? (how to get started and what you believe help them get started) 

Gina: At first it feels SOOOOOO overwhelming and TOTALLY hopeless. 

My best advice: 

1. Pick a day to “start”-and not a Monday-we’ve done that a million times-try a THURSDAY 

2. Get SUPPORT. I just cannot IMAGINE trying to go this alone. As humans we NEED those kudos 

3. Have a WRITTEN PLAN-for the WHOLE day-even if you have to change something-you HAVE a plan to work from, so you’re not “snatching and grabbing”-that GRAZING is probably what led to REGAIN in the first place 

4. Contact me-I’ll help ANY way I can 

Yvonne: Is there anything you’d like to add?   

Gina: Anyone who has NOT experienced regain (and KUDOS to them, too!) just CANNOT understand how truly awful it makes you feel-MUCH worse than being fat pre-op. It’s tough, but regain CAN be lost. I did my second half marathon two days ago-at age 53-and FINISHED THIS ONE!!! I can’t begin to put into words how I feel. No cracker/pizza/cookie could make me feel the way that finish line and looking at my metal does. 

Thank you Gina! 

The written word cannot begin to show Gina’s incredible personality so if you’d like to see more, click on the link below where I interviewed Gina a couple of years ago.  She is SO funny that I still laugh every time I see the video.  Gina probably doesn’t know this but no matter what size she was….she was always “Gina” and I loved her dearly.  I never saw her big or little….I saw her heart and soul. 

Gina’s Obesity Help Profile (you can send her a message there) 

I hope this will open a forum for those that wish to ask her questions or leave a comment here.  

Gina will be celebrating her 9 year surgiversary in April.  It’s never….ever….too late.

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32 Comments on “Beating Regain. Gina Getting to goal 9 years later.”

SO INSPIRING! Gina, you’ve done a fantastic job of not putting up with the mind chatter and just getting yourself back on track toward the goal you set for yourself 9 years ago. Good on you, girl!

Just wanted to thank you both for posting this. I havent regained and of course hope not to, but I am 2 yrs out now and have not gotten near my goal. I am kind of holding steady but really really want to get down to my goal weight. Gives me hope and I will definitely follow Gina’s advice…

Thank you for posting Noelle. I would think you could relate to Gina’s story about never getting to goal but as you can see it can be done. Let us know how you’re doing OK? Gina and I would love to help.

Watching Gina fight the good fight has really been a blessing and exciting. To know such a wonderful lady has been a blessing for me. Any time I feel like giving up, I remember Gina and the wonderful inspiration she brings to me and our other WLS friends.
Thanks Gina for being there for us each and every day. You are loved and respected by so many people.

Thanks for posting Dana. You are also an incredible inspiration to me and others. It does help to know that when you struggle there are many more that have struggled too…and some have struggled even more. Gina’s story needed to be told and it needs to be told over and over to help others.

There’s so much MORE I could say..would LIKE to say..lol…but it’s YOUR site!!! Ask me ANYTHING–ANYTIME–I want EVERYONE to feel as good INSIDE and OUT as I do right now (except for the sore muscles-I can still barely move certain body parts!!)

Gina I want you to say anything you want. You can type forever and it won’t run out of room. I’m so proud of you for running that marathon. Can I touch your medal? You just say all you want….my house is your house. My site is your site. Let it all hang out because anything you say will only serve to help others.

Thank you so much for posting this. I needed this right now as I have been sick for the last couple of weeks,I have a kidney disorder and Minere’s Disease, and both have kicked in since Thanksgiving. The last time this happened I gained 10lbs and I can see from pictures taken last week it is happening gain. I haven’t stepped on the scale yet–denial. Time to step up and kick the weight off again. My original goal was 119 lbs, but at 5’7, that ddn’t seem to happen and I literally stopped losing at 132 lbs. I still don’t know how I feel about the 130’s a weight for me, as I am still “fat” in my family of petite blonds. Reading ina’s story was a good beginning for me. Thank you!!!

Mari I am so sorry you’ve been sick. I know everybody’s body is different but aren’t you pretty thin at 130? Pictures always tell me the most because my head sure gets mixed up looking in the mirror. I can talk myself into feeling fat every day if it wasn’t for pictures. I would encourage you to get on the scale and face what is there. I know that if I don’t I will imagine it much worse than it is. I think it’s best to deal with the straight truth so you know what you’re facing. It makes me sad that it’s hard for you to look. Thank you for sharing your story too. I hope you will get some relief from your illness and don’t worry so much about those petite blonds. I’m sure you’re just fine the way you are!

was the surgery helpful in loosing regained weight–if that makes sense

Gail I think I understand your question but either way would be a “yes”. Your surgery is still in tact so it is easier to lose with the surgery than without. I hope that answered your question. Please feel free to expand on your question if I didn’t understand it correctly.

Gina – you are AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I sit in awe of everything you stand for, everything you’re striving for, and for that beautiful heart that you share with EVERYBODY.

Thank you for being there for so many – and THANK YOU for being honest with yourself so you can help others be honest with themselves. You’re a great example of what it means to ring true. Thank you!!!

Thank you Jennifer (and pinup model beauty). The fact that you and Dana replied (who are also two extraordinary women) shows the caliber of ladies that hang around and share. Jennifer so few of us have ever had to live through a fraction of what you’ve gone through in your personal life and I am proud to know you. Thank you for taking a moment to say something so nice about Gina who inspires us all.

Thanks Gina for your transparency regarding your regain.  I have regained 20 pounds which I really, really want to lose.  I am up 2 sizes, B/P is up again and generally don’t feel as good about myself as I did 2 years ago (surgery was 05/2007 and lost 140 lbs.)  My goal is to lose as much of the 20 lbs are possible before Memorial Day weekend as that is my 40th high school reunion and I would love to attend wearing one of my cute size 10 outfits.  I was about 10 lbs from ever making goal, but after reading your story, I believe I can not only lose my regain pounds but also another 10 to reach goal.  
Also, thanks Yvonne for your site and encouraging words and attitude!  So glad I found your site tonight!!!

Hey Peggy! Thanks so much for adding your insight. I think you should be proud of yourself because you’ve done really well. When you look at the fact that you’ve lost 140 pounds, that’s awesome! Don’t give that 20 pounds any power and you can knock it off by reunion time for sure. I think reunions are a great accountability tool too. I remember the last time I was able to lose a bit of weight before my surgery was due to a high school reunion (my 20th). I was fortunate to have had my surgery by the 30th and I’ll be going to 40th in 2012. I’m glad you found the site and I’m really glad you read about my friend Gina. She’s truly an inspiration to many and I’ll bet you’ll be right where you need to be by your 40th reunion. Please keep in touch and let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Hugs, Y

WOW!!! This was just what I needed!!! Thank you so much for directing me to your site and your friend Gina! I watched that video and read her story and saw myself! I was 300 lbs. before my surgery June 29, 2004. I lost 120 lbs that first year and another 20lbs the second year post op. I worked that program perfectly for 2 years and was like a new person… 140lbs down and wearing a size 10 from a 24/26! The attention I was getting from men was amazing! I actually had men holding the door for me and pouring coffee for me at the local 7-11! WHAT! At 300lbs I had been invisable! How you can be so large yet see through, unbelievable, but at 160lbs, all eyes were on me when I went out and the attention I was getting felt awesome for the first time in my life. The more confident I got, the more I slowly started to test the waters of my pouch. Hmmm, I can eat the cheese & sauce off the izza, lets see if I can handle the crust. WOW, it causes some discomfort, but not too bad. I just ate crust and cheese for a few months and then thought I’d test again! Lets add the rest of the slice. Not bad! Kept it down! Gradually testing for 3 years eventually led to being able to eat 2 full slices. I continued to play the “Lets see” game which resulted in a 42 pound weight gain and feeling inside me that were worse than before I had surgery. I did maintain a 100 lb loss, but I slowly watched that 42 pounds creep back on. I went from size 10 slowly back to buying 12s and now 14s which are tight!!! I refuse to buy a 16! Well, feeling totally out of control, addicted to carbs, snacking and grazing nonstop, and an emotional basket case, I felt it was too late. I had life threatening surgery & took advantage of that gift! I lost 140 pounds and took it for granted! I THOUGHT it was too late! A surgeon told me I needed another surgery… lap band over my gastric bypass pouch!! WHAT!!! No!!! I know in my heart & this is a quote from Gina that rang so true to me, “The only revision I need was revision of my mind!!!” With that said, last weekend I spent reaching out to anyone and everyone online who had experience with WLS weight regain. I spent the weekend preparing my house & fridge with everything I needed to get back on track. Well, I am happy to report that after only 5 days back on track, I have regained control and lost 6.2 pounds over the past 5 days! I know this is the beginning, but after reading about Gina and watching that interview, I KNOW it is possible to lose the weight I regained plus more to get to my goal! I am 8 years post-op, but thats ok. I CAN DO IT!!! With your support. Thanks so much!

Denise I don’t know how I can thank you enough. There are days that aren’t pretty when I put all this information out there. I knew it would happen but the entire reason I do it is right here….today. You made me cry. I’m going to tell Gina to make sure and read your response too. I have used her quote so many times. Actually I use two of them. The other one is “a trained monkey can do the first year”. Do you realize that 6.2 pounds is getting close to 1/4 of your regain and you did that in a week! Keep your carbs under 100 grams a day and it will come off faster. Eat veggies and fruit too. Oh and the reason you weren’t invisible anymore is not because of your size. I’ll let you in a little secret. When we lose the weight and start feeling better about ourselves we become more approachable. When we feel badly about ourselves we give off an air of “leave me alone”. It’s not that you were invisible….it’s just that every cell in your body felt worthless and you didn’t want to be bothered or noticed by anyone you considered worthy. I’m so proud of you because you won’t buy an 18!! You’ve drawn your line in the sand. Welcome to Gina’s world!

DENISE..okay..now I’M crying!!! I got a text from YVONNE, this morning, telling me to check my e-mail, but I am out of town, visiting our friends’ support group, 3 hrs away, and just now home, to the computer..and I am just blown away, that someone is getting something out the interviews Y and I did so long ago. To update you, I am now a little over a month shy of 10 year post op, and DID reach “goal” by my 9th surgiversary, and DID complete another half-marathon. Every day is a new struggle-adventure, but I am 200% HEALTHIER than I was 10 years ago. I am more impressed by YOUR efforts, and what you have described, in your post, than I can begin to tell you. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep in touch. You can find me on Facebook, thru Yvonne’s friends-or just look me up-Gina Derr Robinson–You CAN do this!!!!

OK, now you BOTH have me crying!!! I don’t even know you and you have both given me more than you can imagine… the hope and reassurance I desperately needed. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Congratulations Gina on reaching your goal!!! I can’t believe you have been running 1/2 marathons too. WOW YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION! I will be 8 years post op in June, so I hope that I can follow in your footsteps and be at my goal by my 9 year post op anniversary as well! My first goal is to lose the remaining 36 pounds I regained by my 45th birthday in September. I will keep you posted. Yvonne really made me feel a sense of relief with her statement that I have lost almost 1/4 of my regain in a week. Looking at it that way makes my first goal definately seem reachable! Thank you both again!

I’m so glad you got that Denise! (about losing almost 1/4 of your regain). I constantly tell people to put it in perspective. Don’t make the regain into a monster you can’t fight. You just chopped off 1/4 of that monster in a week! Stay motivated and when you come up against a wall or slip down DO NOT FEEL SHAME! Shame sucks the life out of us. Put that in perspective too. I’ve done great for 30 days and I mess up one day. What can you do? You can beat yourself up about something that’s happened in the past (something you cannot change) or you can get back on the horse and start riding toward that place you want in life. No one is perfect.

I am told by some that I am an inspiration. I believe the people like Gina and you and the ones that turn around the regain are the inspiration. I’d love for you to read some other parts of my blog. I’ll send you a list of some. I’m so impressed you watched the video of Gina and I. She’s so smart and so funny and we’ve known each other for 7 years. I love her so much and I can’t thank her enough for putting her story out there so that people like you can be helped.

DENISE-your additional comment could have been written by me-AGAIN..lol..Just yesterday I was telling peeps, at a support group, about when I FINALLY made up up my mind to get a handle on my “brain revision”. I had “kept off” over maybe 60 lbs, and needed to give myself POSITVIE CREDIT for that< so I put on my "surgery day" clothes, and had my sister take a pic of it. I used it as my screen saver, for a long time. Pictures can't lie, the way our mirrors can. It helped to understand I was not a TOTAL FAILURE, and that all was not lost (pardon the pun!)..Also–I never want to misrepresent myself–so to calrify–I did not RUN all those miles–I walked/lurched/almost CRAWLED a few..but I did FINISH..I have a shirt that says "The winners are not only are at the FINISH line-they are also at the STARTING line". I love that!!

LOVE THAT GINA!! Putting on your pre-surgery clothes and you are right….pictures and video don’t lie. AWESOME!!

Love it, Gina!!! I have a pair of 24 jeans and a not so sexy sundress I like to call a MooMoo from my presurgery days. Now I have to try them on! Something tells me that will definately boost my esteem! Great advice. Also… I dont care if you walked, crawled or sat on your butt and scooted over the finish line! You got out there and not only made the attempt, but you finished!!! that is a great inspiration to me and an incredible accomplishment for you. I am so not an exercise girl unless you count getting up and down from my couch to walk into my kitchen over and over when I was in my regain phase!! I tell you, just pushing back the recliner felt like a stomach muscle exercise! Now that I am back in the zone, I dont even get that exercise. I will tackle my problem with exercise as my next step, but I know myself. I must take things one step at a time. I did lose another pound, so thats 7 pounds and tomorrow will be 1 week! I told myself once I hit the 10 pound mark, I will bring some form of exercise into my life. I love dancing, so I bought a country dance wii game to try! I figure thats a start!
Thank you for those recommended blogs, Yvonne! I appreciate all your support! I also went online and not only found LIPO Support group that you recommended, but I joined and Frank wrote to me. I will be attending my first support group meeting this Tuesday! I’ll keep you posted!

WOOO HOOOO!! Denise that’s awesome. I believe it makes a lot more sense to like your exercise. If you like to dance then dance girlfriend. That’s great exercise! I used to want to be one of those people that got a high off of running. I was sure when I lost the weight that I’d be one of them. I still don’t like running but I love yoga and I LOVE LOVE LOVE to dance. Put your favorite music on and make a playlist if you have to. Promise to dance all the way through. Try to go longer every day. That way it just doesn’t feel like exercise. Keep those carbs under 100, eat protein first then fruits and veggies and drink as much water as you can and I guarantee the weight will come off.

So glad you hooked up with Frank at LIPO!! This just gets better and better. You are going to love Frank and Maryellen. Both are such dear friends of mine. I can’t wait to hear about your first support meeting! I’m so happy for you Denise. Don’t get frustrated if your weight loss slows down because your body will figure out what you’re trying to do and throw a plateau at you. Just keep at it. I’m so so soooooo happy for you.

Thanks so much for posting this.  I, too am struggling with regain. You guys have inspired me to make a change. Now!

Thanks again!

You are so welcome. I might suggest you going to the search terms in this blog and searching “regain”. I think you’ll find a great deal of good info. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can help you. Hugs, Y

Hi Yvonne & Gina! I just wanted to check in and tell you how I am doing. I have been back to basics for 2 weeks now and have lost 10 pounds so far! Yay me!!! Even more exciting than my weight loss is the feeling of being back in total control. I now feel I have the strength and will power to make healthy food choices . I feel energized both physically and emotionally. I also went to the LIPO support group that you recommended and really enjoyed it. This was my first experience with a support group. I wish I would have attended meetings right after my gastric bypass rather than waiting until I was 8 years post op and already regaining weight. Maybe if I had support sooner… years ago, I would have reached my goal. I know, yesterday is gone, and all I can do is learn from my mistakes and move towards my goal!!! I would love to go back to my surgeon on June 29th (my 8 year post op anniversary) and show him that I lost all my regained weight WITHOUT revision surgery! I am 10 pounds closer to that goal and have 30 more to go! I feel determined to finally make it to my goal which is 60 pounds away, and this time I will maintain it! I realize if I choose to go back to eating all the snack foods and carbs again, I will also be choosing to regain my weight and will go back to being plus size, unhappy and unhealthy. I can’t thank you enough for your support and guidance!

Gina and Yvonne thank you for being such wonderful inspirations in the WLS community… since getting fibro I am now dealing with the regain and believe me its bothering me….

love you both

So glad to have found this site… I have regained some weight (Have to weigh myself for exact amount) My Anniversary date is 9-17-2008… Today I start to loose again thanks to you both!

Thank you so much Gerry. Yesterday was Gina’s Surgiversary! What great timing! It doesn’t matter how much your regain is because it’s very small compared to what you’ve lost. Don’t give power to the regain monster. Look at it as the insignificant thing that it is and you’ll do better. Please let me know if Gina or I could help you out at all.
Hugs, Y

My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.
Do you offer guest writers to write content for you personally?
I wouldn’t mind writing a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write in relation to here. Again, awesome web site!

Thank you for your kind words. Of course I would be open to your suggestion so please contact me through the website and let’s discuss it. I’m really pleased that you and your husband like the blog. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

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