Spent the morning with Granny Whiddon’s Angel Trumpets …if she could see me now.

One of my fondest memories as a child was Granny Whiddon’s garden.
Don’t ask me how… but I scored some Angel Trumpet seeds that were from 1980, and I planted them a couple of years ago. As it rarely turns out, the Angel Trumpets seem to like Dallas, Texas far better than Jackson, Mississippi or north Louisiana. Every year my plants get bigger and bigger. Their technical name brought up all kinds of stuff on the internet because apparently some people eat the seeds to hallucinate. Angel Trumpets are also called Datura and if you wish to Google it, there’s a horrible story about what a German teenager did to himself after making “tea” and drinking it. It involved an emergency room visit and a couple of things that could not be reattached to his body. In fact if you don’t do it just right, you’ll die…. so you can bet I am one careful gardener when I get them on my hands.

This morning there were so many blooming that I HAD to take pictures and video. I have to share these shots because they are beautiful.

I thought about granny’s life and what it must have been like. Fretting over computers, blog content, and photographic quality were not part of her daily routine. My grandfather was much older than she was and he was actually in the Mississippi House of Representatives. He was a very stern man and didn’t say much at all but when he did talk, he called us “fellas” (this included the girls). My grandmother cooked as well as she gardened and I cannot imagine explaining weight loss surgery to her. I assume she never tried to diet even if she needed to and I laugh when I remember her telling me that she only read the Bible, biblical magazines and The National Enquirer. Many times I told her that National Enquirer wasn’t true but she just laughed and read them anyway.

So here are some pictures of the flowers…
from the seed….
that Granny Whiddon had many years ago.

What a strange long trip this has all been but it is what brought me here…to the beautiful place I am right now…
with Granny Whiddon’s Angel Trumpets.

Unrealistic Expectations?? Is that fair??

As I have said many times, the weight loss surgery field is so very new and EVERYONE is learning new stuff every day. It isn’t that the people in charge are bad people….they are learning just like everyone else is but somewhere, sometime back in WLS prehistoric times, someone thought it was a good idea to tell you not to have unrealistic expectiations.

Digging into my deepest core feelings, I said “I don’t think that’s good!”

Here are the reasons….

It all started when I heard a bariatric doc say that we should not have unrealistic expectations. He said not to expect to get to the weight you were when you married.

What if you got married three years ago? My brain interpreted it this way. “Ok little fat girl…we know you are less than and can’t do things we regular people can do.”

Granted… this is more than unfair because it was what I heard. For me, it was comparable to telling the “fat girl” that she could only make a C on the test instead of an A.

I am currently at the exact weight I was at my very smallest in college (35 years ago). I starved myself for two years just to be thin.

When I was challenged by my teachers in school, I performed. I had one teacher that seated us according to our grades. If you made an A on the last report card, you sat at the front table. Guess where I was sitting??

The front table.

My dad was really strict but I only had to make a C to maintain my privileges and that’s pretty much what I made if I was uninterested or unchallenged in class.

When I went to college I had the priviledge of choosing my classes and because I loved music and the courses I took, I was on the dean’s list. I knew I could do it if I wanted to. I also knew I could do this weight loss surgery thing and succeed….mostly because I blindly believed with my entire soul that it was my last chance and I was going to prove that I could do this!  Believing it from the very beginning, knowing it was the answer, and making promises I wouldn’t mess up this miracle was what I needed to make it happen. That’s a subject for another blog entry but for now I wanted to address this unrealistic expectation concept.

I don’t know if it’s the same for others as it was for me, but telling me I couldn’t do something was probably not the way to go for someone who was pretty sure she was a failure because of obesity. Being a master and always first in line to beat myself up, I could do a bang up job all by myself. Perhaps it is because of the quote below…. that I put so much stock into what we have to say….the people who have walked this path.

“No one can lead you down a path that they haven’t been.”

I look forward to the day that we as patients can contribute to the programs designed for us because we have so much to offer and I’m ecstatic when there are professionals that totally get what’s going on with us. It seems to be getting better every day!

Below you’ll see the video that chronicles the changes in my life due to weight loss surgery.

Wow….what a joy to be “Living My Life!”
hugs and blessings, Yvonne
aka Bariatric Girl


Without WLS this would have never happened!

This will be a reoccurring theme in this blog because after all, it is about the positive side of weight loss. Stuff I have done, stuff I can do, stuff that has happened because weight loss surgery made it possible. Believe me…I am well aware that my brain had to follow but it was because I was able to get to a manageable size that I allowed me to try some things that I would have never done. This will explain what led up to winning the contest mentioned in my previous post.

A couple of months ago I was standing in Starbucks and saw a poster on the bulletin board. It said Cesar dog food was hosting a small dog contest at the mall near me. Online there were details about the only two mall contests and one of them was in Dallas!

My first reaction was “I want to do this!” Of course there was a bit of “stinkin thinkin” going on.

Sundance came into our lives because of a wonderful woman named Vicki that fostered him when he showed up at a shelter with an atrophied leg that had to be amputated. You can see a video here.

Sundance’s video

OK so there’s another one.
Sundance’s other video

So continuing with stinkin thinkin process…..
What would they want with a 3 legged dog and 50 something woman?
You can dress girl dogs up with hundreds of accessories.
What would I dress him in?
Would he even wear it?
Why do I question myself?

It doesn’t cost a thing to participate except some time. I’m in!

I found a very inexpensive hat and t-shirt for him and then splurged on a leather vest for me. The rules didn’t give you much of a hint on whether the “person” was supposed to dress up too so I went for it.

When I arrived there was literally a red carpet and something like 6 to 8 photographers that were shooting pictures…flashes going off everywhere. This is one of the shots they took.

It was really hot outside and I had no idea that we would have our picture made right away but I had put it into motion and there was no going back.

As I walked up to the line there were 25 people with dogs ahead of me.

Cute dogs and cute people.

I recall seeing this woman that worked at the mall and she formed her lips perfectly so that I could understand her words even though I couldn’t hear her. She said “You should win” and smiled at me. That alone was enough return on my investment for the dressing up, worrying about Sundance and worrying about my thought process that got me there.

As I approached the stage I was asked why I thought Sundance was a star. Explaining his former life and how difficult it was made him a star in my eyes. I told them his life had become a fairy tale now and the hardest thing he’s had to do since he’s been with us is to wear that hat. I guess it worked.

Now the important part.

Yes it happened because of the weight loss surgery but the procedure alone was not the total answer. My plumbing was rearranged so that I could get to a manageable size to do the things that I could not before. After losing that weight I had to do “surgery” on my brain. That was definitely the hardest part but only because it is a bone of contention among the bariatric pros. Many programs, various information…but nothing concrete. The field is new and I believe most of us are stumbling around in the dark…desperately looking for an answer to keep the weight off. That was truly the issue in the first place wasn’t it?

In future posts I will address what has worked for me. It slips out in most of what I write but the very first and most important issues is to stop blaming, shaming and judging.

Do I mean others? yep…but most of all quit doing it to yourself.

There’s a great quote from Robert Burney. He says that the battlecry for people like me is “I’ll show you, I’ll get me!” When we do these horrible things to ourselves we only hurt the one beautiful soul we are responsible for. ME!

So my challenge to you….for just today. Go 24 hours without shaming, blaming and judging yourself or anyone else. In fact if you come into contact with someone that is absolutely awful, feel pity for them but do not judge them. Again when you are so adept at doing it to others, you will also be adept at doing it to yourself.

Oh ye of little faith, do not condemn something prior to investigation! It is a sure way to continue to walk in the dark cruel world of obesity. I am free! At least for this very moment because we cannot be perfect but we CAN get better every day.

I was already ahead of the game because I did not have a cruel word for anyone but I made up for it in terms of how I talked to myself. I quit that just about the time this little contest came along and look where it got me. It allowed me to be the person I should have always been.

A trophy, some incredible prizes, a chance for a grand prize (to be announced in October) and a beautiful dog and family. Those external things don’t make me happy….the happiness comes from within.

In the past I did it backwards. Wanting things to make me happy. Now I am happy and things are coming to me every single day that are beyond anything I ever expected.


Moderation in all things….BALANCE!

I was concerned when I started this blog. I wanted more quality than quantity and I didn’t need added stress in my life to be a stellar blogger every single day. With only 7 years under my belt in this new life, I am still learning life lessons as a thin person and believe me….they are totally different than obese life lessons.

Today as I was walking my beautiful boy Sundance (my three legged dog), I was pondering the seemingly prevalent issue of control in the weight loss surgery community. Just like a bulimic that cannot control anything but the food, I see control issues and addictions. As I raise my right hand and put my left hand on the Bible….yes…that includes me. As I fought obesity and did everything known to man to lose the weight, I controlled everything else in my life because I could. Learning to let go is a HUGE mountain to climb but of course the only way you can do that is to put one foot in front of the other and just climb the damn thing. When I figured out that I really cannot do anything about the past…when I REALLY figured it out….it freed me further from the prison of obesity. Saying it and doing it are two totally different things and since there is no such thing as perfection, I can only hope that I am making progress.
I have had the honor of speaking at several large gatherings of weight loss surgery groups and when I said that I had to be careful at learning to do new things, I was being totally honest. Learning something new or getting a “high” from a new activity can set something in motion that can get out of control. As I have said many times, I believe we are all addicted and that doesn’t make us a bad boy or girl. It is what it is so you carry on and try your best to put one foot in front of the other and do it all in moderation. Too much of anything is not good for anyone. Of course keeping that in check is the magic pill isn’t it? As I watch many precious souls in our community, I see so many go from food to something else. In the past I thought as long as it wasn’t drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, or shopping…well..that was all good. I realize now that no matter what the “high” becomes that it can be detrimental to us. Geez…you’d think that getting the weight off and not getting involved in DAGSS (drugs,alcohol, gambling,sex, shopping) that it would be OK. Hey, I created an acronym!
Anyway, as I am fond of saying sometimes…. I have seen some stuff man. Naming these addictions doesn’t matter but whatever it is that we do too much of, I believe we are chasing a high. The question is whether that it will hurt us or not. I’m not a doctor and don’t play one of TV but I have to believe that we must be cognizant of this. Not being able to leave our house for long or not being able to go on vacation because of our “activity” may be an indication it has gotten out of hand. As I turn the attention to myself, I wonder what would qualify as my problem area? Perhaps it is my zest for finding the answers to why we do this to ourselves. In a matter of a few weeks I got many answers for this question in the form of 4 or 5 books that just landed in my lap at once.
One of the simplest lessons was when we look to external things for happiness, we are doomed. We absolutely set ourselves up to be a victim. Really? Guilty as charged your honor! Let’s see….how does this list start?
When I lose the weight, my life will be PERFECT!
It’s not perfect? OK, then what’s next? I know! I’ll talk in front of lots of people and tell them about it. Then life will be perfect because I’m spreading the word.
The problem is that when you are talking to these precious souls that know that obesity makes their life unbearable for so many reasons, they see nothing else but perfection when the weight comes off. How do you tell them they are setting themselves us to be victims of yet another disappointment?
I know this now….happiness comes from within.
Easy enough to say…hard to figure out sometimes. Given the promise by several sources, I put this into action and to say that this disbelieving Bariatric Girl was shown the light is an understatement.
I hope soon I will do a blog entry called “straight to happiness”. I MUST look within to happiness and go straight there. I cannot use external stuff to do it. I MUST have balance and moderation in my life so as I stand here like the scales of justice….I have a little bird on each side and one tells me “I’m getting too far down….raise me back up!”
It is amazing how well it’s working for me. I am one grateful woman for all the new information pouring in.
On a totally different note…. this would fall under things that would have never happened in a million years when I was obese. Last month I entered a contest with a couple hundred other people at a mall in Dallas. It involved small dogs and their owners. My sweet boy Sundance has three legs because he was left to run the streets for a year with a broken leg by his former owner. The leg atrophied and had to be amputated. His foster mom Vicki took him in and picked my husband and I to give him his fur-ever home. Sundance was wearing a Harley Davidson cap and I was wearing a leather vest. My very first Harley Davidson leather vest….
Can you guess the rest?
First place BABY!!
I looked within for that happiness….and learning from the love of my sweet dog that it is more important than the trophy, the win, the prizes, or even the Harley Davidson leather vest!
Ask Sundance if his life is good without that leg. He doesn’t have a clue he’s physically challenged. I considered cutting the legs off his four legged toys so he’d adjust quicker…
Happiness within….
Everything else that happens is icing on the cake.
Blessings to you in your journey,
and Sundance

Letter to my fat self…just before surgery.

This is a letter to my formerly fat self…just before surgery.

Dear Bariatric Girl (2001),

I know you’ve tried it all….
every diet on earth…
every trick….
lost and gained hundreds and hundreds and hundreds…
did I say hundreds??
of pounds.
You’re about to get an opportunity to finally succeed. (I’m not kidding)
Don’t be afraid, I know you think you’ll fail just like EVERY SINGLE TIME BEFORE! This time it’s going to work. Be prepared for weird stuff from friends and even family. Some friends will go away because you no longer are the holder of the “fattest friend trophy”. Believe me, when you give that trophy to someone else, they will do all kinds of stuff to stop you.
It’s a fact. You were always the holder of the trophy but you aren’t anymore and believe me, no one else wants it.
So after you give that trophy away, things are going to move fast. People will talk to you that never saw you before. Make sure and appreciate it. Don’t go to the dark side and resent the fact that you weren’t spoken to while fat. You are part of the reason that happened anyway because you felt so bad about yourself and you were sure no one wanted to talk to you.
Respect and nurture your surgery. Follow the rules.
Doesn’t that seem like a no brainer? I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard about people that just decide they don’t need to take their vitamins. Things like failing kidneys and teeth falling out do not compliment your newly thin body. I’m not trying to scare you, it’s important and it’s a simple thing to do every day. No matter how good you feel, do NOT stop taking your vitamins.
That’s a pretty simple trade for not being obese.
Vitamins? or Obesity?
Easy answer.
Never forget where you came from.
Take those pictures and do whatever it takes for you to never forget how you felt the day before surgery. Understand that you will be making a lifestyle change because your lifestyle was the reason you got yourself in that spot. Granted, it started many years ago but gradually you got yourself in big trouble with food and it became your friend ….
and your enemy…..
Understand that it is easy to keep chasing the high (another post will be dedicated to that). You’re giving up the “high” of food. In exchange, the first year you will get the “high” from losing weight and it’s gonna be GREAT! When the honeymoon period is over, you better be prepared for finding something to help deal with your anxiety. Using food isn’t allowed anymore so I suggest you find something to take your mind off the “high”. It is an easy thing to slide right into shopping or sexual addiction because you are smaller for the first time in ages and those new clothes and how you look in them can be intoxicating.
Talking about intoxicating…
You might feel more like being social and doing some partying so be careful on the alcohol consumption. It’s not good on a number of levels but again…if you haven’t dealt with your need for your “highs” and how you handle anxiety, you could get in trouble. I suggest that as you lose your weight that you get involved in support of some kind so that people can hold you accountable in case you start to get out of hand.
Also know that people will think you took the easy way out and that you didn’t do it the old fashioned way. That’s OK…it doesn’t matter. None of it matters…just do your thing. The reality of it all is that you can only control what you do…you cannot do a thing about anybody else. Well one thing you can do is avoid the people that keep bringing negative crap into your life. Haven’t you had enough?
Just show them by example that you are saving your life and go ahead and enjoy it!
The great news…
you’re gonna do it this time!
As I like to say very often, I’ve caged the monster of obesity but I have to check the lock on the cage every single day.
So…note to self….you’re about to have a life you could have never imagined and I’ll check back with you and write another letter at the ten year mark. All I can say is that the first seven have been phenomenal!


So again….
Congrats and enjoy…
Have a good time but keep checking that lock on that cage.
I can’t believe you did it this time….oh…and keep working on that loving yourself stuff.  Damn, that part is SO HARD!  
Love and kisses,
Bariatric Girl 2008