Thursday, October 25, 2007

Days Away From LAP-BAND Surgery, Woman Decides To 'Stick To The Low Carb Way'

My three-pronged mission here at the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog is to educate, encourage, and inspire others as they venture down this journey to weight loss and better health. It is the heartbeat of everything I do here on a daily basis and I am gratified to know that real lives are being changed for the better because of it.

But today I have a very special e-mail from one of my readers that greatly inspired ME and I couldn't wait to share it with you. I'll warn you, the e-mail is quite long and detailed. But the end result should make anyone and everyone who is livin' la vida low-carb feel very proud of their chosen dietary lifestyle change.

Prepare to reignite the passion that fuels your low-carb lifestyle!

Hi Jimmy,

Here's my story and when you read it I know you will understand why I love your website. Congrats on the weight loss - I know I can do it too and reading your website encourages me.

I too had asthma from 6 months old until I was 28. My mom thought I looked unhealthy because I was skinny at 8 so the doctor gave her liquid vitamins with something in it to cause me to eat. Boy did I because I was a plump little gal and went through a real ugly stage. In 4th, 5th and 6th grades I was called names like Godzilla from boys. It made me feel terrible. I had a mom who was a constant dieter with weight watchers and every week I watched her start a diet on Monday only to break it by Friday with the talk of promising to start back on Monday to stick with it again. Week end and week out she was a consistent diet breaker. HMMMM...wonder where I learned this??

At the end of 6th grade they took me to an asthma specialist who ran tests. He then took me off all dairy products - no more chocolate milk, ice cream every night or cheese on everything. Over that summer I lost 30 lbs which is a lot for a 12 year old. I started junior high as a new person and people didn't recognize me. My height stopped growing and every person out grew me so I was no longer the tallest, largest Godzilla that I was called. I kept this weight off until I was 20 and was pregnant. Even after that I was only 20 lbs overweight and I eventually lost that down to 117 - my high school weight.

Then at age 28 I was prayed for healing of asthma at church and went off all my asthma meds - cold turkey!! The first week was the toughest but I kept praying and kept getting better. The asthma meds had always given me a fast heartbeat. Within the first year I gained about 30 lbs. The next year another 30 lbs. - it was like my metabolism was totally messed up and I couldn't stick to any kind of diet. It didn't help that I had a crummy marriage and was stressed out all the time. I started a business, became successful at time and owned it for 9 years. I got divorced in 1991. I had lost 50 lbs right before the divorce but then slowly gained it back over the next 2 years. It seemed like I could never get past this threshold of weight.

I bought Dr. Atkins book back in 1995 (heard it was revolutionary) but couldn't follow it because I had gone to a weight loss doctor and loss 50 lbs doing low-fat. With low carb I couldn't imagine a life without bread or pasta, smart ones or lean cuisine!! I closed my business in 1996 due to burn out. Then I loss the same 50 lbs 5 years later (in 1997) after a job related injury that changed my life. I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel, Thoracic outlet pain syndrome and Fibromyalgia. What this meant was constant chronic pain. I have been on disability ever since. In 1998 I got married to an wonderful man (moved from Dallas to Sacramento and yes we met on the internet) but he weighed 365+ which didn't help me stick to losing my last 35 lbs to reach goal. Unfortunately I packed it back on rather quickly and ballooned to 302 at my max.

Then in 2003 I discovered Atkins low carb from some friends and with the Internet's help I stuck to it. I did great and lost about 35 lbs. Then we went on a road trip vacation the low carbs flew out the window. So I have yo-yo'd from low carb to all carb ever since losing the same 35 lbs over and over again. I would have support from my husband and he would be the first to bail ship. It seemed like this man with a strong will power had none when it came to healthy eating. I became convinced that I couldn't do it alone although in my 20's to late 20's I weighed less than 135 and with every weight loss no one could rival my will power.

Since I am on Medicare (since I was 45) I read where they approved gastric bypass but I just didn't want my stomach detached. Granted I did want to get rid of the weight but when I found out about low carb and removed the sugar and carbs from my diet I found I had no hypoglycemia attacks and my energy level increased a great deal. Get off the low carb way I seem to fall into what I call a "death spiral abyss of no return" unable to get back on low carb for months ultimately gaining the weight back.

The first 4 months of 2007 started off bad - From Nov to March 1st I had two severe bladder infections, one resulting in a kidney infection. Then I had to have 3 molars surgically removed because of decay from Vicodin and other pain meds over the years. The pain from the dental work lasted 4 weeks. Then I got bronchitis that turned into pneumonia which took 6 weeks to completely get well. By this time I was sick of being sick - having every incident put me in bed with exhaustion translated from the Fibro. So I decided to check out lap band surgery and found that Medicare covered it. Knowing I didn't have the money for the co-pay and also knowing that I could qualify for Medi-Cal I decided to plan out my journey to weight loss heaven.

My plan was perfectly planned. I was approved with Medi-Cal and found a PCP. Before I went to the doctor I checked out the Medicare website for approved lap band physicians. I called every one of them. I chose a hospital bariatric clinic that I know is a great one. They told me their process to get an appointment. So with the referral I got a packet to fill out and mailed it back the next day. One requirement for the first time appointment was to have a chest x-ray and EKG from my primary. I also learned that they require 10% weight loss prior to surgery. So I went back to my PCP, had the tests done and was referred to another doctor for a weight loss management class. I went to the bariatric orientation and started the class about the same time. By the time I had my first appointment with the lap band doctor I had lost 18 lbs in just two weeks - ALL ON LOW CARB. So they counted this loss towards my 10%. I started out at 298. The doctor put my surgery date at March 10th for lap band.

When we attended the gastric bypass orientation night a plastic surgeon showed a scary slideshow of massive weight loss resulting in hanging skin. They said it didn't matter whether you exercise or not, you would have skin like that. He said insurance will only cover two of the surgeries. The gastric bypass doctor presented the surgery pro's and con's. After much thought for 2-3 days I came to a decision. I was also starting the weight management class. I didn't like some of the things I heard with the surgery but I am serious of getting the weight off. So I proposed to my husband that I will start a lifestyle change with low carb AGAIN using this class for accountability for a least 4 classes (then I was on my own). If I could go through all the holidays - Thanksgiving through January 1st sticking to low carb, exercising and LOSING weight - come January I think I will NOT have surgery. I set a weight loss goal of 60 lbs by March 1st. Now I needed a back-up plan. So I said I would go through the entire process at the lap band clinic - meaning appt.,classes, reviews, tests, etc. leading up to the surgery date. I am so serious about this time being the last time that I will go through with surgery if that is what it takes to get the weight off.

So I went through all the weight management classes and I started walking and then going to 24 hour fitness. It was slow at the beginning. It's been 7 weeks and I have lost 28 lbs. Likewise the doctor said I needed very few tests because I was so efficient with my preparation of test prior to my first visit. So I went through with the EGD and colonoscopy (yikes!) but sooner or later they would make me do that. It came out excellent and I knew it was a matter of time that the clinic would want to move the surgery date up. If they did, I knew for sure that I was completely covered with the insurance. It was cost me nothing out of pocket. Post weight loss I could probably get approval for the skin removal as well.

Then I signed up on the Yahoo groups lap band for my area and and have been reading post after post of problems each person has and how they are learning to live with their lap band even 3 years post-surgery. Almost every person has this vomit type reflux and acid reflux - hate it! I would rather be sick than vomit! I heard of lap band's slipping from several people and they had to re-do the surgery. All this is the northern California area. I really didn't hear a lot of positive - only problems.

So after weeks of this I posted a questionairre survey for the lap banders. I got about 10 responses to all my questions. Then I shared that I was on the fence about having surgery. I was doing so well with low carb - 28lbs and increasing my exercising stamina was great. My 60 lb goal should be reached by January 1st which is only 4 months from the start. I searched for hours to find out weight loss results on the lap band surgery and the average for the one year mark was 50 lbs and the greatest weight loss in 6 months was 70 lbs with some weight gain the following 6 months. I keep remembering - surgery is only a tool - you will only lose if you exercise and change your eating habits. Duh! If I have to go through all that changing of habits anyway - why have the surgery?

Then on Thursday of this week the call came that I knew would come. The lap band clinic called to say they wanted to move my surgery date up. My tests were all in. I hadn't even had my appointment with the dietician but they were willing to look beyond that and move the surgery date up to November 8th. Pre-op would be Oct 31st and my dietician's appointment would be Nov. 2nd. WOW! Of course, when I hesitated to the office she told me they don't know how much longer he will be doing the lap band's and he may just decided to not do them anymore so I better get in while I can. Plus I would be well by Thanksgiving and losing weight through the holidays. Boy, the pressure was on. They did "pencil" me in for surgery and I don't know what I just didn't say no. So after talking it over with my husband, who by the way has lost 27 lbs!!!! - we decided to stick to the low carb way and wait to schedule the surgery after January 1st and then maybe not at all.

So here I am - I am fresh, energetic and will be reading all I can get my hands on. I don't have money to buy the books or CD's or cookbooks but I do have 3 low carb books and I have the internet. My true plan is that this time will be different and permanent. Each and every day I commit to God and myself to make the most of each day, to eat healthy and low carb and exercise in some way. My goal each week is to push my exercise to another level. With Fibro I had to start off slow and gradual - that's still the case but I can push it a little faster now.

Thanks for reading my book of a story. If your website and YOUR story had not inspired me you would have never heard from me. I will somehow make it through your entire site absorbing everything and enjoying the journey.

I'm just speechless. This is too incredible to put into words. Let's just say it makes me happy and proud to do what I do. I sent this dear reader a FREE copy of my book for putting a smile on my face with her story. Utterly amazing!

Share your comments, questions, and success stories with me anytime at

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Blogger BamaGal said...

As a WLSer myself--I had to respond Jimmy-this is for your reader--I hope she sees it

I had the RNY surgery back in 2004--did very well lost 200+ lbs because I follow a low carb high fat way of eating---granted the surgery made it impossible for me to binge anymore due to the size of my pouch but the low carb eating was my ultimate key to success---since I'm now 3+yrs out--I'm doing much more research into the long term effects of WLS--granted the bandits don't have near the nutritional consequences of the RNY---but in my research looking through Obesity Surgery journal---bandits have their own set of serious complications---band slippage, erosion of the stomach where the band sits, plus many more---also nearly 50% of the bandits end up reverting to the RNY due to failed weight loss

You ask why I am saying all of this---give yourself more time following a low carb high fat diet----use WLS of any type only as a last resort-a very last resort

You gave yourself until after the first of the year--I say if you can hold out through the busiest eating season like the upcoming holidays---then the major hurdle has already been crossed

also even with a RNY---50% of the WLSers regain the majority of their weight or never even lose to their goal---all because they refuse to make the lifetime changes---like giving up carb for starters---so the time is now to make those lifestyle changes you will have to have---and forgo having to go through major surgery

10/25/2007 10:26 PM  
Blogger renegadediabetic said...

I agree she should give low carb more time. Since her husband is also on the wagon, it should be even easier.

I have to laugh every time I see the lap band add describing hunger as a roaring lion. It's possible to tame the roaring lion with low carb and without surgery. Whatever she decides, I'm happy for her losing weight.

10/26/2007 4:22 PM  
Blogger Low Carb Band-It said...

Jimmy - as you know I have a lapband and the statistics that are quoted above are simply wrong.

The "complications" of a lapband are minimal. The erosion (the worst thing that can happen - and would mean band removal but certainly not death), happens in 3% of the cases. As for reflux, most find that there reflux goes away, not bringing it on. I have NEVER thrown up from my band, never ever. People who throw up - and it's not a real throw up, it's more like a food that is not chewed enough can't go through the smaller channel and it kind of BURPS up. No stomach acid, not like real vomiting.

And 50% of lapband patients reversing to gastric bypass VERY wrong. It's more likely the opposite, as RNY patients find that 3-5 years out, they've stretched their pouches out and go to a lapband over their stretched out pouch. Not sure where that information came from, but it's incorrect.

There just aren't "many more" complications. We absorb nutrition completely normally, we don't get life or death complications like bowel stritures and bleed outs from staples. It's just NOT the same.

I can tell you from years of yo-yo dieting, coupled with Insulin Resistance and PCOS, that I'm GLAD I have a band that I use WITH a low-carb diet. No matter what anyone says, I've screwed up my metabolism and I have to eat less than many low-carb people eat and can lose weight on. Now I certainly don't have to eat 800 or 1000 calories a day that my lowFAT lapband buddies eat to lose weight (I can eat around 1400-1500 and lose 1-2lbs a week). But I can't NOT watch my calories. It has SAVED MY LIFE.

I just hope this woman gets her facts straight. As much as I LOVE a lowcarb diet and would eat this way anyways, for my health and my family's health, I wouldn't trade my lapband for anything.

A lot of people on yahoo groups ONLY post when they have problems. There are 1000's on one group I'm on, but only the questions and problems surface. Occasionally you'll hear someone pop up and says "Hey I'm 3 years out, have lost 150lbs and am keeping it off". But that's not all the time.

And Bamagal - you know I LOVE you and I LOVE your blog, so PLEASE don't take this personally. But I've lived with a band, been extremely involved with the "band community" and the "problems" we have a very minor. Nothing that an adjustment of our band or our habits can't fix.

I encourage super morbidly obese people to get a lapband if they really need it, if it's a last resort and THEN I tell them, to eat a low-carb diet.

But sadly, even the statistics show only 1-3% of the people who go on a diet keep it off. EVEN low-carb diets.

Jimmy like I reading your blog and you talking about the man on Amazon who had all the question about KEEPING the weight off. It NEVER stops, we have to remain vigilent. It's just with my band I have more like a 50% chance. And for me, I NEEDED that.

Anyways, as always, you are happy for her either way and it's good that you've stayed a bit neutral, because even you know, up close and personal had HARD it is to keep on keeping on! God bless you Jimmy and you too Bamagal!!

10/26/2007 11:28 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for sharing your comments, Yvonne! I appreciate your personal experience on this subject.

10/27/2007 9:56 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

The letter from your reader reads like a novel, you can't put it down. I hope she can keep her resolve to try low-carb first, and to do it correctly. Our experience of failure with diets is due to 50 years of bad medical advice. People would be much more successful with diets if the entire culture would encourage them, instead of discouraging and confusing them at every turn. You must educate yourself and make your own choices, including ignoring doctors' advice if necessary.

10/29/2007 12:56 PM  

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