I hope…

I hope…
I don’t have any real expectations from the upcoming WLS surgery, but I do have hopes. I know I’ll lose weight and become healthier, but I don’t have any idea how much to expect, at what pace, etc. Will I be a slow loser? I don’t care, as long as I lose and get my health back. But, I do have hopes. Here are some of them, in no particular order:

  • I hope…My doctor is thorough and careful during the surgery. And that he is guided by the prayers I say each night during my chat with Jesus.
  • I hope/ pray for no complications during surgery.
  • I hope I’ve educated myself enough about this process and avoid gaining weight back. The key to this thing is how you eat. Forever a lifestyle change. Exercise is important, but if you don’t get the protein, it’s not going to work long-term.
  • I hope-when I take a bubble bath in our standard size tub, that one day my legs and hips don’t touch the sides.
  • I hope it’s not so hard to get myself OUT of the tub!
  • I hope as I get lighter, my feet hurt less. (right now they hurt most of the time.)
    I hope I can return to my beloved kickboxing. (after I get the tennis elbow on each arm fixed!)
  • I hope my daughters are proud of me.
  • I hope they know that this decision was as much for them and Jason as it was for me. I want to be here for them for many years to come!
  • I hope that when I get on airplane again that I don’t have to have my husband buckle my seat belt because I couldn’t see it for my midsection! I hope I never feel that discomfort again. I was an inch or two away from needing an extender on the belt.
  • I hope I teach somebody about the VSG process. It’s hard! I had the best mentors and hope I can help someone else.
  • I hope I can climb stairs and ” the hill” at the lake without losing my breath at the top.
  • I hope I can shop in the regular section of clothing stores – not the plus size section.
  • I hope with this lifestyle change that my family becomes healthier, too.
  • I hope to actually ride a bike again without fear.
  • I hope to zip line!
  • I hope the breweries in this town don’t have to lay anyone off due to my not being there anymore. LOL.
  • And I hope Anheuser-Busch doesn’t go bankrupt for the same reason above 🙂
  • I hope I never again hear anyone say to me, or any other woman “she’s pretty – for a big girl” And- I hope if I ever DO hear that said, that I have the courage to turn to that person and remind him/her that ALL women are beautiful. Period.
  • I hope, on my next wedding anniversary, that I choose a non size-wow dress and my husband gets a little choked up over it❤️
  • I hope my Steelers jersey fits by football season and that my sister doesn’t get mad for me taking it back after I let her borrow it!
  • I hope my sister and cousin know how much I love them for guiding me through this process.
  • I hope my friends and co-workers know how much I appreciate their encouragement through all the phases of this journey.
  • I hope my Mama knows how happy I am that she’s my “coach” and cheerleader all in one. My sister and cousin, too.
  • I hope my husband knows I am thankful for his generosity and helping me pay for this surgery. And I hope he’s proud of me. He always has been, but I hope after this hard journey, that he’s even more proud.
  • I hope that Jason and Haley know how much I love them, even though I have been a complete jerk since this liquid diet phase started.  Thank goodness they love me anyway.
  • I hope that I can finally let go of years of shame about being overweight. Once you’ve been overweight, lost weight, and gained it back a dozen times, it works on your self-worth.
  • I hope,whether it takes a year, or a decade, that I finally find comfort in my own skin.
  • Though I shouldn’t care about the opinions of others, I hope none of you reading think I took the easy way out, because it’s anything but… And I hope if you DO, I can prove to you why it’s not.
  • Mostly – I hope that how I feel on the INSIDE finally matches the OUTSIDE.
angry, diet, gym, low carb, Sleeve, Surgery, Uncategorized, weight loss

My Weight Loss Surgery Journey: Pre-Op week 2. Can’t say I am looking forward to this…

Hi Friends!

A week from tomorrow, my VSG (Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy) is goin’down! I am so flippin’ excited for this to happen…but not so excited about the final stage I have to complete before surgery.  It’s a doozie.  LOL.

So, for the past week, in an effort to keep shrinkin’ my liver as the doctor prescribed,  I’ve eaten only protein shakes 2x a day and  one  lean/green meal per day.  I also could have 2 healthy ketogenx snacks or stuff like a cheese stick, veggies, etc.  I ate out a couple of times and had a green salad with grilled chicken and vinaigrette dressing.  Not too terrible.  It’s very much the way I should have eaten all along, but didn’t.  One of those meals was with a terrific friend at my favorite pub.  Was definitely great seeing her, and definitely weird sitting in my favorite pub on a Sunday afternoon eating a SALAD and having water instead of beer!

During this past week, I HAVE been a little hangry at times.  You know…Hangry= hungry and Angry at the same time?! But in those cases, I’d have  small snack or have a couple of glasses of water to make me feel full.  I’ve tried to keep busy to keep my mind off food.  So, all in all, this past week didn’t really suck.  I’ve lost nearly 6 pounds this week, so there’s the silver lining in this week!

I ain’t even gonna lie.  This week is so gonna suck.  Here’s what I can eat this week:


This lone bag of vanilla flavored protein powder is my new BFF for a WEEK. Five times a day.  NO FOOD.  Just liquid. Sigh…

I can use sugar free sweeteners like SF kool aid packets or drops like Mio in it to give it different flavors.  My sweet mama bought me some SF syrups in various flavors like Chocolate, Smores, Belgian Sugar Cookie, etc to make it tolerable for a week.

So, tonight is my last night of real food for a long time.  My husband is going to take me to dinner (YAY!).  I will get a healthy meal that I can actually CHEW for the last time until about the 3rd week in March.  After bariatric surgery, patients are on a liquid diet for about 2-3 weeks.  We can have protein shakes, broths, SF jello, SF Popsicles.  Around the third week is generally where we introduce our new, much smaller tummies to foods again. Like yogurts, puddings, applesauce, etc. This portion of the diet doesn’t suck so bad because I won’t be hungry.  Fun fact: the part of my stomach that is removed is also the part that has the hormones that tell my brain that I am hungry.  I won’t feel hungry AFTER surgery, but I am betting this upcoming week and until March 2nd I am gonna be one hangry bitch.

SO. My plan is to keep busy, busy, busy! Go to the gym…go see friends….go walk outside with my dogs…clean my house….just get out of the house so I don’t think about food.  And of course, on my outings, make sure I take my trusty shaker bottle with me to mix me up some protein shakes! If you have ideas on how to keep me busy, you just name it.  I have a lot of time to keep myself busy. I  will sleep as much as I can to avoid being awake to think about food:)

When my teenager says something is not fun, or she didn’t enjoy something, she’ll say, “Mom, that was not “lit”. That means it was horrid and she isn’t going again or doing again.  This stage isn’t gonna be lit!  But even though this stage will suck, it is still for the betterment of my health and I am gonna stick to it.  I see the bigger picture. I am still feeling strong and undeterred!

Through this journey, it has become so clear to me how much as a society, we place so much emphasis on FOOD.  Someone gets married= we go to a reception and eat/drink.  Somebody dies, we immediately take a casserole to their home. (nothing wrong with that!!) We meet up with friends, and we meet for lunch/dinner with drinks.  Everything we  do is about food. We go for coffee…ice cream…we go to the movies and gorge on over-sized sodas and popcorn.  Whether we are celebrating or commiserating, we incorporate food into each event.  That will surely be a struggle for me later, when I choose foods that apply to my new low carb lifestyle.

But I have an idea on how to celebrate with food.  For each pound I lose, I am going to donate a pound of food to a food pantry or food bank in my area.  For my local folks reading, if you volunteer at such a place, let me know! It will be a while before I get a good bunch of foods together, but I do plan on donating.  So, if I lose 80 pounds, a shelter/food kitchen/food bank is gonna get 80 pounds of food!  I think this is a much better way for me to celebrate with food as opposed to actually eating it!  So far, I have about 6 pounds to start off with! That’s like 6 boxes of 1 pound pasta. When I put it in a visual perspective, it seems like a lot.  I hope it’s a lot and benefits a lot of needy people/families! Not sure where I am gonna store all this food.  Maybe I’ll start an area in the garage and build from there.  SO exciting to share food in a different way!

As always, thanks for reading.  I hope you’ll continue to follow me on my exciting journey to a happy, healthy me.

Be Blessed,





diet, low carb, Sleeve, Surgery, Uncategorized, weight loss

My WLS journey- phase 1: liver shrinkin’! 

2 weeks from today I’ll be having weight loss surgery! Yay! I have to follow a strict diet in order to shrink my liver. Most people have a fatty liver. People who eat not so healthy with a diet full of carbs and fat tend to have fattier livers. I reckon mine is fatty, hence the reason for this phase in my journey.

I went out with girlfriends last night for Mexican food as my last supper. And when I got home I drank my last glass of wine. All to prepare for this big step!

This week I must have 2 ketogenx protein shakes a day, 2 ketogenx snacks, and a healthy dinner with stuff like chicken, fish, veggies, etc.  The way normal people are supposed to eat!  Easy peasy, right?

NOT. The protein powder is nasty. I must mix it with water only. This morning I tried putting it my single serve blender. Gross. Even with a little PB2. This afternoon I put it in my shaker bottle and chugged it before I ever had a chance to taste it. LOL.

Here’s this week’s meal stuff… Plus dinner with protein and veggies each night.

Bon appetite! 

Wait until you see what I get to have the whole week before surgery….this week’s haul looks like a smorgasbord compared to next week!

But- a little inconvenience now is worth my good health later😄

Thanks for reading about my journey💜



So, WLS (weight loss surgery) is in about 2.5 weeks. (Yay!)

As the days pass, I realize a few  “lasts” are coming up. As in – the last of things are happening… My last carb-heavy meal will be Tuesday night because I start the pre op liver shrink diet Wednesday.  My last alcohol beverage will be Tuesday night. Not sure if it will be a beer or margarita!  Sobriety is both a sad and welcomed occurrence. I know I need to part ways with my beloved barley and hops for a long while. But I will really miss it. 

One of the “lasts” came to me tonight as my husband and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary tonight at Ruth’s Chris. This is the last anniversary we will celebrate with me as a morbidly obese woman. 

It makes me wonder what I’ll look like at this time next year? And to think about how much my life is going to change is overwhelming but in a good way. I damn sure won’t be eating the way I did tonight! And our bill won’t be nearly as much. LOL!  We had the nicest waiter and the staff gave me a rose for Valentine’s Day. They put rose petals in our dinner table. Nice waiter guy handed me the wine/cocktail list as I was seated. It was a spectacular list! But- knowing my breakup with Shotgun Betty comes in just 2 short evenings, I chose my favorite Hefeweizen instead of a fancy cocktail or wine. Delicious!  Here’s a pic of my handsome husband of 19 years❤️ I’m a lucky girl! 


beer, diet, low carb, Sleeve, Surgery, Uncategorized, weight loss

I Wanna See You Be BRAVE.

“I wanna see you be brave.”

These are the words to one of my favorite Sara Bareilles songs. And it’s also my personal mantra for 2016.  My heart is really full today and I’d like to share why…

You’ve likely gotten my blog link from my Facebook profile.  I share things on FB about my family and my life in general.  I tend to keep it light and funny most days but as you know, in the last few months, I’ve shared my struggle with depression and how I’m dealing with it.  (Wonderfully, by the way!)  I’ve also shared with you my struggle with being overweight since I was a teenager. Being overweight is a very common bond that many share.  In my case, it has gotten to the point where the excess weight is affecting various parts of my life.  I was growing more and more detached from friends and family because I’ve been embarrassed of my size, especially because just 3+ years ago, I was almost to my goal weight, but gained nearly  every ounce back again because I got injured, lost my motivation.  My blood pressure has had a steady rise over the last year.  My body hurts as it hasn’t before.  The body weight has really taken its toll on my knees, ankles and feet. I find myself always fatigued in one or all of those areas.

“Mrs. Graham, you are Morbidly Obese.”  These are not the words one wants to hear from her doctor. But I heard them last year.  And I heard them again this year.  Not “you’re overweight”. Not even  that I’m obese.  Throw in the word “morbidly” and it the “obese” part takes on a whole new meaning and sense of urgency.

At 47 years old, I am heeding the warnings.

Exciting things are happening! My life changes on March 2nd for the better. A few of you know that I have spent the last several months researching Weight Loss Surgery. I’ve spent hours and days educating myself on the different procedures, and have chosen the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, also known as VSG. My stomach will be reduced to about 25% of its normal size. I will follow a life long high protein/ low carb diet.  I’ve attended informational seminars from 3 different hospitals, talked to surgeons, joined online support groups- but mostly, I’ve been fortunate to have 2 excellent resources in my life who have had this surgery. My sister, Teresa- and my cousin, Regina. Both of them are younger than me…I thought the older sibling and cousin was supposed to be the wiser one?!?!?!? Not in this case! Both of these ladies have had wonderful results from this surgery and they’ve been fielding my 4654647874 questions for the last several months 🙂

Before you even THINK about saying the words “She is taking the easy way out.” I respectfully ask you to retract those words and let me tell you why it is anything but easy!

For the last 3 weeks, I’ve had test upon test. Psychiatric Evaluation, Sleep Study, EKG, Nutrition Classes, Blood work, Upper GI and an Ultrasound to name just a few. Next week, I will begin a strict, physician supervised diet that helps shrink the liver. Most people already have mildly fatty livers. People who are overweight tend to have more fatty livers- so before I have the surgery, they want me to try to shrink the liver so the surgeon gets around it easily when he operates on my stomach. I remain on that diet for 2 weeks. Week 2 of that diet is gonna be a real test of my willpower. Only liquid protein for 3 meals a day. Oy. When I come home from the surgery, I will go 2 more weeks of JUST LIQUID while my stomach heals itself. After that, I will introduce foods again. One by one.

My relationship with food will totally change. For the very first time in my life, I will be eating to LIVE as opposed to living to EAT. AND- I am paying for this myself because my insurance does not cover it. We are talking thousands of dollars. So all of that is the easy way out. Right? This will test my physical and mental willpower like nothing else.
Why am I doing this? I’ve lost weight dozens of times in the past. In fact, if you take all the times I’ve lost weight, it would add up to about 400 pounds lost. Unfortunately, with each time I lost, I also gained. That roller coaster of highs and lows is not just depressing, it’s terrible for my body. The Sleeve is a tool to help me keep the weight off. Secondly, I am getting older, and it’s not getting any easier no matter how I try to get the weight off of me. Other reasons….because there is a shame associated with obesity. There is a dark, lonely depressing side that you can’t truly understand unless you live it. I am tired of the dark. It’s time for my health to take a front seat in my life.

Quite simply, I want the rest of my life to be the BEST of my life!

The Sleeve is not a miracle. It is not a quick fix. It is a tool to help me with my obesity problem. Can I fail? Sure. If I substituted my protein shakes for milkshakes, yes, I can fail. Is it likely? NO. I can’t remember in my adult life ever wanting something more than I want this, even though for a short time it will be a huge financial burden. But it will be so worth it. My health is worth it. Look- this process is hard. But being fat is hard, too. I am just picking a different hard.

Before actually deciding to do this thing, I looked at myself in the mirror. There was NOTHING I liked in that mirror, so I vowed to change it. And the words that just kept coming to me were from the Sara Bareillis song, “Brave.”

“Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live. Maybe one of these days you can let the light in. Show me how big your brave is.”

And with that, I called Bariatric Specialists of North Carolina and scheduled my consultation! In 3 weeks, I will have the Sleeve and learn a new way of life. And I simply cannot wait! I have a list of things to accomplish along this journey. They are scale victories and non-scale victories. I hope you will stick around to read my updates along the “weigh.”

Until then, I want to show you pictures of my role models!
This is my gorgeous sister, Teresa. She’s four years younger than me but clearly a lot smarter:)  Sleeved in November 2014, she’s lost about 90 pounds!!


To show you that true beauty really does run in the Barnes Family…meet my beautiful cousin, Regina! She was sleeved June 2015 and has also lost over 90 pounds, and still losing:)


Aren’t my mentors terrific!!?? I love them so much!

For me, this journey is not about being thin.  It’s about being healthy.  And if Ilook better, then that’s just a bonus for me.

I know there will be doubters. I know there will be people who don’t think it is necessary.  My circle of friends has recently decreased and it may get smaller still.  The friends who know my struggle will understand and the ones who don’t care or want to sabotage my efforts simply won’t be in my circle. I’m serious about this lifestyle change.

With my faith, and the support of my family and friends, I know I’ll be ok and obtain the healthy goals that I want. I’ll update the blog with each phase.  I hope you will stick around to witness my journey- I’d be happy to have your company. And if I can support you in your weight loss journey, I feel I am a great cheerleader!

Chat with you a week from today.  Until then, I just might eat pasta with every meal and chase it with a beer.  LOL.

It feels good to finally be BRAVE.


Love, Dawn

Watch and sing this with me ❤  How big is YOUR brave?