I Fit In at FitBloggin Because I Had the Courage to Show Up

Jul 11, 2014


Living Life 11 Years Post Weight Loss Surgery

Apr 07, 2014

Today marks 11 years since my weight loss surgery, so of course that deserves a blog post. As most post-ops would I delved into my computer files to find a good “before and after” picture. Yet, I seem to have many after pictures, actually I have many before pictures as well. April 7, 2003 wasn’t the beginning of my journey, I had already began years earlier to improve my health, surgery was merely a step in what was and continues to be an incredible unpredictable journey.

In the past 11+ years my life has been filled with moments of great accomplishments and moments of even greater challenges. And I can honestly say I would not change one moment of my journey so far. I am healthier, wiser, happier, funnier (is that possible?), cuter and definitely stronger!

So as I’m scrolling through various pictures of me at different stages of my journey, highest weight, pre-op weight, pictures of my legs, lowest weight, pre reconstructive surgery, slight regain, a lot more regain.

Then it hit me. No, no, no. No before and after pictures!

First of all this is my LIFE, there is no before and after, it’s always in progress. I’m in the midst of completing a Masters in Health Law, I have two new articles about my Lipedema and Lymphedema Advocacy scheduled to be published in the upcoming months, and I have five conferences on my schedule for 2014.

Second, my entire message is that weight loss surgery success is not about weight, not about a number on the scale, not about how I looked then verses how I look now, it’s about health.

My journey is not about how I look, it is about how I’m living!

But Sarah according to the WLS rules you MUST post a picture on your surgiversary!

Fine! Here you go…a more realistic BEFORE….and to be continued…..



Admit It, You Drink Diet Soda!

Nov 11, 2013

I'm participating in the National Health Blog Post Month on my blog and I thought I'd share  this entry.

Day 9:  Just admit it!

It’s taboo. Write about something that people do but don’t like to talk about or won’t admit to doing.

With a STRAW!
With a STRAW!

Nothing stirs up debate within the weight loss surgery community like a discussion about drinking diet soda. Rumors and scare tactics surround  the consumption of carbonated beverages from being the cause of regain to causing pouches to explode. Surgeons' post-op protocols vary on whether or not weight loss surgery patients should consume diet soda. Some surgeons say NEVER, some say whenever as long as the bubbles don't bother you.

My surgeon's protocol was the latter, actually my nutritionist's recommendation was I could try diet soda, and if it didn't bother my stomach I could have it in moderation. So I did, and I do drink diet soda. The moderation part....um not so much.

My name is Sarah and I'm addicted to Diet Mtn Dew.

There I said it. I admit it. I do not deny I drink diet soda. It is probably my one unhealthy habit. I do not drink alcohol, I do not smoke, let me have my diet soda!

I'm not the only one. Yes, I do know many post-ops who have forever given up their bubbly soda. Kudos to you. You are stronger than I, although I'm sure there is something you enjoy, and enjoy probably a bit more than you should. Don't we all have something we over indulge in?

Drinking diet soda is so taboo that many post-ops hide their drinking. Which is odd in a community that so opening partakes in drinking alcohol. At an event a few years ago I actually had a fellow post-op question why I was drinking Diet Coke, when I should be well aware of it's relation to regain. He was drinking bourbon or whiskey on the rocks. Really?

It's interesting watching fellow post-ops "hide" their diet sodas at events. I've seen it poured into cups to hide, or taken in grocery bags  to rooms for private consumption. As if there is an "image" to uphold and we must not let others see us being real humans who drink diet soda. When I attend events I drink my diet soda straight from the original bottle or can, and in public. It's interesting to see others reaction, I was even asked "where I got the contraband?" Seriously, it's diet soda, not crack. Are we not adults capable of making our own choices?

It could be worse, it could be regular soda. Right? I know, the studies say..............

But there are so many chemicals. Excuse me but take a look at the ingredient list on your protein shake.

So let's be real each other, we are humans, we are not perfect...actually I have a confession to make. The other day I mentioned that I took a couple Advil for pain in my legs. I was asked if I ate something with them since NSAIDS are also a supposed "no - no" in the WLS world. I assured the person I take proper precautions, as I also take a daily aspirin for medical reasons.

The truth is yes, I ate something...I washed the Advil down with Diet Mtn Dew and two cookies.

So tell me, do you drink diet soda? Energy drink?



Support me in the Walk from Obesity

Aug 07, 2013


Mom, I Learned It By Watching You

Jul 02, 2013

Remember this PSA from the 80s?

The tagline of the commercial came to mind as I read this article about how self hate is passed on to young women by their mothers.

The author, in a form of a letter to her “mum”, describes how she saw her mother as a “beautiful – in every sense of the word” until the day her mother called herself “fat, ugly and horrible”…and it had to be true because “mothers don’t lie”.

Tears streamed down my face as I read the article, and not for myself or for my own daughter (as I have no children), but for the many women I know who struggle with loving and accepting themselves. I was blessed to have a mother who was able to instill in me a very high level of self confidence. This was quite an accomplishment given I was an obese child. I honestly do not know how she did it, nor does she. She even ponders where all my confidence comes from, typically when she questions my decisive life decisions aka when we get in an argument. I’ve actually said to her “I learned this by watching you” or “you created this, you deal with it”. My mom managed to balance making accommodations for me as an obese child while still acknowledging my weight was a problem. Most importantly she never let me use my weight as an excuse, and she fought for what she believed was in my best interest. I took note of that, and that developed the advocate within me.

I am the youngest of five children. My mom, being the good Catholic mother she was, enrolled us all in the local Catholic school system. One problem, at age 5 I was already obese to the point the school uniforms were not available in sizes to fit me. My mother made arrangements for a family friend to make a uniform jumper for me. There was no fuss over this, I remember wearing a plain blue jumper to school until my special jumper was ready. I only recall one classmate asking me why I didn’t have a uniform, and it was a friendly inquiry. The next year when it came time for my First Communion, the same family friend made my dress. It was “Especially Made” for me for a special occasion of course, no fuss or comments about my size.



Some people may think that by making such accommodations my mother was enabling my weight problem. I assure you, she was not. This very same year, 2nd grade, was actually when I first learned I was fat. I guess my older siblings telling me I “weighed 100lbs” never sank in as a reality. But then again I was a child, I had no concept of what a normal # weight was and I was active. We didn’t have 24 hour cartoon channels or video games, I rode my bike a lot, I loved recess! The school nurse attempted a weight intervention with me, but she was unsuccessful. Mostly because even though I now knew I was FAT, and I looked different than my peers, my FAT didn’t bother me. The following year my mom signed me up for a 6 week kids weight loss class at the local hospital. I remember the discussion about the choices we make for lunch, and it was assumed was all drank chocolate milk, I think I was the only kid in the course who already drank white milk, who liked vegetables, and who was somewhat active. Years later my mother told me the course instructors told her I’d “always be fat”. I was a bit stunned, but I guess their rationale was the reality, my weight did not bother me enough to change.

My mom still did not waiver, I had to walk to school, I had a paper route, and sometimes she just bluntly told me “you cannot eat the same as your friends”. In middle school my Girl Scout uniform had to be made. In high school my marching band uniform was altered to the point no more changes could be made and I eventually wore an alternate uniform. When I got my first real job, at Taco Bell, again there was not a uniform immediately available in my size so I wore a solid color shirt until a uniform was available. As an adult weighing more than 500lbs, when my best friend asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding I did as I knew how to do and had a dress made in the same fabric and color as the other bridesmaids.

My participation in an activity or major life event never hinged on my appearance. My mother saw the importance of my participating in LIFE verses trying to make an issue about my size. After all, the reality is my weight DID indeed keep from many other activities, I would have loved to have participated. Show choir is one that instantly comes to mind, I never even attempted to audition because I knew I could not dance, reality might be I didn’t not sing well enough either. I also never auditioned for the high school musicals, even through I had performed in several children theater plays. I did however, work the front of the house, or backstage for all the musicals. When I got the job at Taco Bell, my mother firmly told me that if I quit the job as might as well not even come home. So despite the difficult time I had being 400lbs and on my feet for 6-8 hour shifts, I worked and I was a good worker.

The point is, already being limited by my weight in many activities my mother made sure I was able to participate in life, the alternative would have been to do nothing? To sit at home and watch TV? If you think telling me I could not do something because I did not have the right outfit was going to motivate to change my appearance, HA! It was just going to motivate me to figure out a way to get it done despite my appearance.

Going back to grade school. Once in my Brownie Girl Scout troop the activity was crab walk. In order to get the in crab position the leader told us to do a back bend until our hands touched the ground behind us. I tried but was unable to do a back bend, the leader quickly told me I’d just have to sit out of the activity. Instead, I got down on the ground and pushed myself up into the crab position. There was more than one way to get to the goal. Tell me it can’t be done, I’ll figure out a way to do it. I am an excellent problem solver, perhaps that’s due to a life time of accommodating my weight, but it’s an excellent skill much needed in today’s society.

It seems I developed a lot of my current “fight” at a young age. It was also during second grade that I saw my mother stand up for what she believed was in my best interest. I had been placed in the lowest reading level group, during class one day the teacher told me to stand up and turn around to read aloud to the class. I did not face the direction she wanted me to face so she grabbed my arm and turned me. She squeezed my arm as she did so, and I began to cry. She immediately made me write a note home to my mother stating I was crying in class. Upon reading my note my mother asked me why I was crying and I told her that the teacher had pinched my arm. My mom wrote a note back to the teacher stating that I had told her the teacher had pinched my arm. The teacher was told me “You right a note back to your mother and tell her you lied to her, your arms are TOO FAT TO PINCH.” So I sat there sobbing writing another note to my mom telling her I lied, yet I was not able to correctly spell the words for the note. Once my mother got the second note, she was more determined to get to the bottom of  not only the incident but why I was in the class and not being taught at the level of my real potential.

But here is the key, she did not storm into the school and raise hell, she followed the procedure, she spoke to the Principal, discussed her concerns with my overall treatment and asked what it would take to get me out of that class. The answer was I had to be tutored over Christmas break so that I could be moved to the intermediate reading class. Now, my mom did not believe I needed tutoring, but she did as requested. After the new year I was in the intermediate class, and I was getting high grades. Actually, at the end of the year I was one of the outstanding scores on the standardized test for second grade. But that was not the end of it, my mother moved me and my two sisters to public schools after that year, and we all flourished in the new environment.

I can tell many stories of my mother taking the same approach and attitude when something needed TO GET DONE. No, she was not an overprotective or “helicopter mom” (that term or idea didn’t exist back then). She just took the reins when needed, sorted out a situation, and got decisions made.

I am proud to say I am a lot like my mother! She taught me the important things in life, appearance should not keep you from enjoying life, and be strong and stand up for what your believe is right.


Ready for Summer?

Jun 01, 2013

My Guide to the Perfect Beach Body


Are you ready for the beach? I am! Last weekend I unpacked my summer wardrobe and found no fewer than 10 swimsuits! My best friend pointed out that I have equal number of sunglasses and beach towels to match each suit. She knows me so well!

Since I am more than prepared for the warmer weather I wanted to share my advice for how to get that PERFECT BEACH BODY:

1. Pick out a cute swimsuit – I suggest trying on various styles to find the suit that flatters your figure and features. I know many women default to skirted bottoms to “hide” their legs and hips. In my case, skirts do not flatter my hips, and lets be honest nothing is going to hide my legs…and be safe to swim in. There are however many options, out there, swim board shorts, rash guard shirts.  And of course this season’s FATKINI by Gabi Gregg,  if you are lucky enough to get your hands on one.  I found the halter top neckline looks nice on me, draws attention to me face which is one of my BEST features.

2. Put on your cute swimsuit – add a nice pair of sunglasses and sun screen!

3. Go to the beach – or the pool, lake, river, water park (I love Typhoon Lagoon…and looking forward to OAC at AZ Grand)

4. Smile – have fun, enjoy your day.

There is no such thing as a PERFECT body, no shake, or DVD is going to make you perfect. I learned long ago that people will comment on my appearance whether I am in a swimsuit or fully clothed, so I pay them no mind. Life is too short to keep worrying about what others think, ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!


I wish I could bottle my confidence and have Dove sell the sh!t

Apr 26, 2013


I wish I could bottle my confidence and have Dove sell the sh!t

They say women will argue about anything, and that was evident this past week as an online battle brewed after the release of Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches video. I wanted to write about the video sooner, but I’m glad life got in the way and I waited, because the chatter and discussion that has occurred makes me wonder, why do we care so much about what other people think of our looks? Why is there so much talk about the definition of beauty when everyone has different tastes and preferences?

When I first saw the Dove video I shared it on my Facebook page and commented that my picture on the left would probably look BETTER than the one described by the stranger. I’m beautiful, I know I’m beautiful and that is all that matters…to ME. Do I think everyone thinks I’m beautiful? No, I’m not vain. I’m realistic. My features do not appeal to everyone, but I learned long ago that I can only control what I was given and trying to please or impress EVERYONE is not possible, so I focus on what makes ME feel beautiful and not worry so much about what other people think of my appearance. Especially people whose opinions mean NOTHING in my daily life.

OMG, look at her socks!

Yes. Socks. It was the first week of my Sophmore year in high school, I probably weighed 350lbs, if not 400lbs. Wearing stylish clothes was not an easy task, options were limited due to my size, and family income. However, my mom always made sure we had a few new outfits to wear back to school. This day I was proudly wearing navy slacks (securely pegged and cuffed), and a rugby type shirt with navy, green, and hot pink stripes. I loved my outfit, I thought I looked stylish. We had to order the pants through a special Plus Size catalog and I was relieved they fit! During history class I was talking with my friends and overheard “oh my god, look at her socks” and noticed the girl was pointing my direction. I thought, what’s wrong with my SOCKS? They are JCPenney socks! They are just typical white socks???  I was so proud of my outfit, yet this girl found SOMETHING she didn’t like about it and made negative comment.

At that moment I realized no matter how hard I might try to impress others there will always be someone, or something negative to be said. I was not bothered by the comment, actually the rest of the year my best friend and I had a running joke when we saw this person, my friend would say “Sarah, are your socks ok?” Really, no tears were shed over someone judging my socks.

And from the other perspective, I do not give much thought to the positive comments and compliments I receive. Why? Because people often lie just to make people feel better and I do not need boost myself up on fakeness and lies. Growing up as an obese child I heard the phrase “You have such a pretty face, it’s such a shame.” Wait? What? Was that a compliment or a put down? What’s a shame? It’s a shame that I have a pretty face? Or it’s a shame that I’m fat?

Of course not everyone who gives a compliment is lying. And I often struggle to accept compliments, and not question the intention of the person giving it. It is hard. What I am talking about it not easy, even for me. The looks I get from others do sting, being judged negatively in the workplace because of my appearance hurts beyond emotionally but financially.

I learned not to value or devalue my self worth based on what others thought about me…period. I do not think I’m beautiful, I KNOW I’m beautiful. I am confident, smart, funny, and I have pretty eyes, a bright smile, and cute dimples. Those are the FIRST things I notice when I see a picture of myself. If prompted to find negatives I could comment about the break-out on my chin and my overgrown eyebrows. It’s funny, I took this no make-up picture specifically for this blog post to show the REAL me, then I realized I was still wearing my blue contact lenses and promptly took them out and retook the pictures. The REAL natural ME.


Saying I do not care about what others think of my appearance does not mean I do not take pride in how I look. There are also times when appearance matters, such as, work or special occasions. Self-confidence and pride in oneself allows for the inner beauty to shine through.

Self confidence is REAL beauty.

Of all the beauty posts I’ve seen in the past week, Colleen Clark comic gets it right: Our bodies do not define us.


In honor of Pi Day! Simple No Bake Cheesecake Pie!

Mar 14, 2012

Simple No Bake Cheesecake Pie

1 - 8oz cream cheese*, room temp
1 - small tub of whipped topping*, thawed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar substitute such as Splenda
1 9-inch graham cracker crust

Fresh strawberries and blueberries for topping.

With hand mixer blend cream cheese, sugar substitute, and vanilla extract until creamy. Blend in whipped topping until smooth and light, try not to over blend. Spoon mixture into pie crust and chill in refrigerator for 3 hours or until set. Add fresh berries and serve!

 *you can use reduced fat versions of cream cheese and whipped topping but fat free is not recommended.

 For the base recipe, fruit additional depending on what and how much you add.

 16 Servings

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 132.6
  Total Fat 8.4 g
      Saturated Fat 4.4 g
      Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g
      Monounsaturated Fat 2.6 g
  Cholesterol 11.1 mg
  Sodium 141.6 mg
  Potassium 41.9 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 12.3 g
      Dietary Fiber 0.2 g
      Sugars 8.4 g
  Protein 2.4 g


Happy Belated Birthday to Me

Sep 20, 2010

I've been overly reflective lately, but for good reason. I celebrated my 33rd birthday on September 10th. I have been through more challenges in life than some people twice my age, but I wouldn't change it for the world.  I spend my birthday on cruise with my boyfriend. I came back with a check from the cruise line. I had not only stayed within my budget I had money left over. It felt good. See it's not all about our weight. I think many people would admit there are several areas of their lives that need attention. I lost my full-time job in June 2009. It seems I can best stick to a budget when there isn't much money to hand out. My birthday cruise was paid in full by money I earned helping a friend move, and junking my old car. For spending money I sold items on eBay. Vacation was much more enjoyable knowing my bills were paid, and I wasn't going to get a huge credit card bill in the mail upon my return.

Instead upon my return from vacation I received a call for a job interview. I've lost count of the number of resumes I've submitted and applications I've completed. This job was a bit different, I knew someone who worked for the company. Networking is important, but I felt because of my weight it was even more important that someone could vouch for me that I am a good worker. This felt right. It was the type of job I was searching in order to transition into a new field. It was the level I wanted and I felt a connection with the people with whom I interviewed. It was nice for them to recognize my desire to improve my skills and educate myself on the field I wanted to work in, and my desire for experience to which I volunteered at a local hospital.

Today, I was offered the job. IIt's eerie because 10 years I was at my all time low. I was also unemployed at that time, having been fired from a job based on my weight. I had devoted so much of my life doing for others I had ignored what I needed to do for myself. I had not completed my education, and my world spiraled down to rock bottom. This time 10 years ago I was slowing starting to pull myself back up. I eventually finished my education, had WLS, and moved to a new state for a job. I then had a tidal wave of new health issues, and a boss who was threatened by me and held me back from advancement. As I had done before, I did again...I improved my health, and I worked to improve my overall situation. I made my plan and set the pieces into motion. I've often been told that my path in life is neither quick nor direct. But I do keep moving on that path. I worked on a second college degree in healthcare, and made sure to allocate a safety net if I had to leave a job before having a new one. It's been another rollercoaster of a year but all the pieces have fallen into place and in a couple weeks I begin a new chapter in my life. This story just keeps getting better!!!

De ja vu

Jul 16, 2010

It happened again.

On the way home from the gym I stop at the grocery and someone makes a rude comment. Last time it was a woman in an electric cart laughing at my "cankles". Yes, I have cankles, and thankfully these cankles are able to walk my nearly 400lbs body around the store and I do not need the assistance of a cart. For the record I have never used an electric cart, not that I never "needed" one, but they scare me and I'd either not go shopping or I'd endure the walk and rest myself against a normal shopping cart.

This time I didn't hear the comments, my boyfriend heard and saw the giggles. He was far more bothered by it than I am. He was actually so bothered than he was unusually quiet during dinner. I even asked "what are you thinking about?" and he declined to say. On the way home he finally came clean. It seems the three tweens who were standing in the checkout lane and quickly excused themselves as got in line, huddled in the next lane and giggled about "her".

It happens more times than I care to admit. I've been asked how am I so strong to not let that bother me. Well, of course it bothers me. Every time I get a stare or hear a giggle it stings, but only for second. After that initial sting, I remember that these people don't know me. They don't know what disease I have, how hard I work to fight it, or how much I've overcome in life.

Maybe I should tell them? Nah, I will save my energy for my priorities in life and just blog about it here.

I will say I hope those young ladies grow up to have as much self-confidence and strength that I have to deal with life's challenges.


About Me
Portsmouth, OH
Surgery Date
Jan 28, 2003
Member Since

Before & After
rollover to see after photo
September 2000 - My 23rd Birthday...on my way to being one of my last. Highest weight ever, way over 500lbs, but 502 was the highest I ever saw on a scale.
February 2007-Post-op Panniculectomy...I've lost half myself!!!

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