beer, diabetic, gym, love, low carb, Sleeve, Surgery, T1d, Uncategorized, VERTICAL SLEEVE GASTRECTOMY, VSG, weight loss

Overdue 4 month VSG progress update and reacquainting with an old friend

It’s been OVER four months since my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy and I am a bad blogger for not updating sooner.  I feel like I am currently experiencing 5671275 “WTF’S” per hour:) This time of year is a really busy time for me in my work life.  I don’t have a whole lot of stress in my professional life, but when it comes to months May through July, I am a little over the edge.  BUT- even through the busy times, this year has differed from years past and I’ll tell you why.

In the past, I’d sit down at my computer with a drink and a snack and work until wee hours of the night prepared for my late-July deadline.  Sometimes I’d eat dinner at my desk.  Sometimes I’d not eat at all.  It just depends on how busy I am.  Right now, I am preparing for the deadline and do not feel the need to mindlessly eat and drink while I work.  I find I get up from my desk more to move around…where in years past, I’d sit so long my back and behind would be sore.  My right arm would be so tense from using the mouse and my shoulder would lock up because I had not gotten up to loosen it up.  This year I feel very different, and I mean that in the best way possible.

My mind feels healthy and so does the rest of me:)

I’ve mentioned before that my VSG journey has been pretty much non-eventful with no complications.  I’ve also mentioned before that my progress is MUCH slower than I think other WLS patients experience.  To date, I am about 45 pounds down since mid-February when I started my pre-op, liver shrinking diet. Don’t get me wrong. I am HAPPY to have lost 45 pounds!  I am more than half way to my goal.  I think we generally think that if someone has WLS, we expect huge weight loss numbers in record time.  Lots of people do experience that.  I am just not one of them.  LOL.

As I lose weight, lots of things are happening.  Good things.  I have explored a new area of my closet for smaller clothes! I am no longer in “plus” size clothes, though I probably have a few items of that size because they are comfortable.  But generally, I am in Missy sizes now.  Even my feet are changing…my shoes don’t fit the same anymore, but not so much that I can’t wear them.  It’s just weird.  Good weird. Due to the vitamins I take, my hair, skin and nails are all pretty healthy.  I am moving more fluidly, and more confidently. I can’t say I LIKE ALL the activities I do at the gym, but I find myself choosing more adventurous classes than my typical DREADmill routine.  I find myself sleeping better, eating less, and moving more.  And most importantly, I am remembering what health and fitness feels like.  I still have a long way to go.  But I feel like I have really accomplished a lot these last four months.  Somebody asked me if I am proud of myself.  I wouldn’t say proud…I’d say pleased with my progress.  I’ll be proud when I reach my goal.  I am hoping I reach it by my December birthday.

With weight loss surgery comes some not so fun things, too.  I mentioned having healthy hair- and it is healthy, but I am losing it like crazy.  VSG patients typically lose hair between months 3-9.  When it didn’t happen at 3 months, I figured it wouldn’t happen.  Was I ever wrong!  Now I can really sympathize with my sister and cousin, who both experienced hair loss during their journeys.  It is a good thing I have ridiculously thick hair because it’s working in my favor during this loss stage.  And since I am losing it, I shouldn’t color it.  If you know me in real life, you know that Miss Clairol and I are BFF’s.  I’ve been coloring my hair since I was 13.  My first gray hair appeared and subsequently was dyed when I was 22.  I am 60% gray.  I color every 3 weeks.  Can’t do that now for fear of losing even more.  So…I reckon I’m just gonna go Au Naturale!   Can’t say as I like this.

Then there’s the loss of things we as women really don’t wanna lose.  I gave away 2 brand new Victoria’s Secret bras to my sister, who is already well-endowed.  I did not get those genes.  Teresa got all the boob genes! LOL.

I’ve shared some of the good and not so good.  But I am pretty excited to share with you one of the better things to happen in my post-VSG life. I have reacquainted myself with an unlikely former friend.  And that friend is Sobriety.

At least one of you reading, who knows me and my relationship with beer, has already assumed I am drunk as I type:)   I assure you, I am not.  

Weight Loss Patients are encouraged NOT to drink for at least a year after surgery.  Some will tell you it is because there’s a dependency transfer.  People who are addicted to eating large quantities/bad types of FOOD are food addicts, right?  Well, since our tummies are so small, we cannot ingest those big quantities and bad foods will likely make us sick.  So the food addiction gets transferred to alcohol in SOME patients. (That is not the case for me)

Another reason is that some of our organs, like the liver, are traumatized after WLS and need time to recover.  Adding alcohol to an already-small-as-a-banana-stomach and a traumatized liver may result in damage to those organs. I have not found this to be harmful to me personally, although my doctor did recently say my liver enzyme counts were slightly elevated.  it could be due to medication, though and nothing to do with alcohol.  I would say I have 2 glasses of wine or a cocktail one night a week.  And 2 will do me just fine.  That’s my new limit. Anything more than that will leave me with a splitting headache the next morning. AND alcohol slows down the loss process, in my opinion, so I don’t have much.

In real life, you know that I LOVED beer.  I loved beer like I can’t even describe.  And I live near 4-5 breweries.  My husband and I loved to spend an afternoon tasting different kinds of beers.  He’s an IPA guy.  I am a Hefeweizen kinda girl.  or I was:)  Beer is a no-no due to the carbonation and the carbs.  I was prepared for this when I decided to have the surgery.  so far it has not been hard to comply.  I did have a tiny taste of a blueberry blonde ale a few days ago.  A little taste was heavenly!

Admittedly, I am kinda digging this stage of my journey.  I know my limits now.  That doesn’t mean I won’t test the limits now and again as my body changes.  Don’t worry, my Hot Tub Mermaids, I’ll still be able to have cocktails with you on the beach! I just have to sip them a little slower than usual! But I don’t think I will ever revert back to the frequency of drinking like before.  I have not missed the next-morning headaches or sluggishness.  I have embraced the clarity I feel.  My to-do’s get DONE.  I say all of this now, but my work deadline is coming up and I may just say the hell with it all and drink a bottle of vodka.

LOL.  No, I won’t. For real- I feel strong, and healthy. And I love that so many people in my life, whether we’ve met in the weight loss community, or we’ve been friends for years, the outpouring of support I’ve received has been nothing short of amazing.  If you’re considering WLS and need some guidance, I would love to tell you more about it, and if I am not one to help, there’s a whole WLS community out there that is incredibly helpful.

Thank you so much for coming by to read my little update.  Four months into the journey and it’s not been that difficult.  Who knew I could live without beer or carbohydrates in general?  Who would have ever thought?!?

There’s some crazy stuff happening in our world right now.  Sometimes it is hard to find the silver linings….sometimes it is hard to recognize our blessings.  If you can’t find a blessing….go be one<3




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?


beer, diet, low carb

Low-carb life – begins tomorrow!

Making a huge change in my diet beginning tomorrow – and fitness changes on Monday!

Gained some weight over the summer. More than the ten pounds I’ve talked about. More like 18. They gotta go. My daughter is a type 1 diabetic so a low carb diet would lower the carb intake and lower the units of insulin she has to inject daily. I’m hoping to lead by example. I feel like if I can get through the first 2 weeks, I can do anything. Please don’t ask what I’m gonna do about my love for beer…. Will have to reserve for special occasions;)

Memorial Day marked the start of summer. I lost my senses and gained a sh*t ton of weight since then. Labor Day divinities the unofficial end of summer. These extra pounds can leave with summer, too!

Off to find my willpower and change my eating habits – and return to bad ass gym girl!