Striving for inner peace--the mind-body connection

Jan 03, 2013

One of my goals for the new year is to reach inner peace and rid myself of the 'demons' of my past abusive experiences.  There have been a lot of people in my life that have let me down.  I don't blame them now for any of the abuse that I suffered at their hands, but the past still plagues me.  I suffer from anxiety and I'm striving to achieve a healthy balance on how I deal with stress and anxiety.  I have been researching yoga and meditation and started practicing the meditation.  It definitely calms me down and helps me see a clearer picture of what's really happening. 

I suffer from a chronic back/hip condition and have been in treatment for it since May of last year.  I am in physical therapy (twice a week) and recently, started seeing a chiropractor to try and correct my alignment problems.  I have flat, wide feet (was born that way) and when I was a young child, had to wear orthopedic shoes.  The shoes were so uncomfortable and rigid that I always fought with my mother about it and eventually just refused to wear them.  As an adult, finding shoes that weren't painful has always been an issue for me.  My foot pain is gone now, since I lost almost 200 lbs. with my rny surgery back in April of 2010.  When I was obese, I used to have to get cortizone shots in my feet several times a year because of the horrible pain I encountered every day.  I had plantar farciatis and would hobble out of bed each morning until the ligaments stretched back out again.  It was painful all the time and walking became difficult.  I had custom made orthotics by my podiatrist that were rigid hard plastic that were cast to my feet.  After a while, I got sick of wearing them because they made the pain worse, and then my puppy Sammy (rest his soul--best dog in the world) chewed them up  (and they cost over $300 that I had to pay out of pocket because my health insurance didn't cover it).  My new chiropractor suggested them again, but hers are soft supportive ones and cost a little over $100.  As soon as we recover from being laid of from work for 3 weeks (since the 2nd week of December) I'm getting them made and buying a new pair of good sneakers.

My treatment is going well for my back/hip condition and I no longer need to take my Tramadol pain medication anymore.  It still hurts, but the constant shooting pain down my right leg has gone away (sciatica).  Now, with the combo of PT and chiro, I am confident that I can strengthen my back and heal it completely.  My PT (his name is Jeff) kicks my ass now with all the exercises I do with him.  After, I often feel very sore, but its a good pain and not nearly as bad as it was prior to my treatment.  I do a ton of core exercises with him and he's recently started more work on the hips.  One side (my left side) is definitely weaker than the other and my balance is totally off because my body has compensated because of the back/hip condition.  I am going to also try a few treatments of acupuncture, as it was recommended to help with the back pain (and my anxiety too).  Again, I have to wait until we are more financially sound, but at least I have a plan in place and that makes me feel good.  I also want to get into yoga and strengthen my body that way. 

I'm looking forward to starting up doing my long walks again as soon as the weather starts getting warmer.  Thankfully, where I live (in Nantucket) we have had zero snow but it has gotten pretty cold.  There's no mall here so I can do my mall walking program that I did before.  I'm not sleeping well and suffering from insomnia and I know regular exercise would help with that.  I hope that as I get better and stronger I will soon be able to exercise again. 



Well, it's almost the New Year. What are your resolutions?

Dec 27, 2012

Hi everyone!  I hope you all got through the Christmas holiday season without too much stress.  Sometimes being around family can be detrimental to some and their weight loss surgery journey and people experience a weight gain.  This year, I had weightloss.  Unfortunately, even though I'm almost 3 years out from RNY surgery, I still mess up.  I have a great love of cooking and love to try new recipes, especially during the holidays.  We had a quiet dinner with one guest (our new landlord) and our kitties.  It was so nice not to have to hurry around and worry about going here and there to this person's house and that person's house and there was almost no stress.  I did all the cooking, which is one of my passions.  I made 3 appetizers and about an hour before dinner, sat down with our guest and filled up too quickly on them.  I ate one cocktail 'weenie' that I made with sweet & sour sauce, a small pizza potato skin, and a bite of my fiance's deviled egg.  I enjoyed everything and ate very slowly, making sure to chew everything sufficiently.  I was so full, but hoped that the food would move through my pouch before it was time for dinner.

I made a wonderful new recipe marinade for the lamb chops we got.  It was all fresh ingredients and wonderful spices of garlic, honey, lemon zest, rosemary, salt/ground black pepper.  I mixed it up, and slathered it equally between the 4 large lamb chops.  They turned out so good and were melt in your mouth tender.  I did taste the lamb, and had a bite of each of the sides which were au gratin potatoes, broccoli with home made Hollandaise sauce, and corn.  Everything (except my home made biscuits) turned out great and the three of us were stuffed.  I felt so full and knew I overate.  I really don't like that feeling because it really hurts.  I had some painful gas and was hiccuping constantly.  I walked around our kitchen in the hopes to alleviate the gas pain.  It was a no go.  I waited about an hour in a lot of discomfort and pain until I just knew something was stuck.  Sure enough, I had to get sick.  This is something I really hate doing but sometimes it's necessary.  It was the cocktail weenie--the skin didn't break down and was blocking everything from passing through the pouch.  Lesson learned! 

I've started to really pay attention to my nutrition, water and supplements since then.  I do suffer from low iron/anemia and take prescription iron regularly, but have been lax and not consistent in taking everything.  I upped my protein and water intake and calories because I am still trying to re-gain at least 5 of the 10 lbs I lost being sick last month with the stomach virus.  I have been in contact with my nutritionist and she is helping me try and gain some weight.  I added 2 protein shakes a day back in and am now making them with whole milk, banana, and honey.  I started the shakes yesterday and today woke up with a 3 lb. loss!  URGH!  So today, I'm adding more carbs/sugar back into my diet, temporarily, until I can get some weight back on.  I weighed in at 140 today (my goal weight from the surgeon was 180) and I'm 6' tall so I look really too thin and all my size 4 jeans are too small.  I've gone up another belt notch (the 4th hole) and while 'society' and models always say 'you can never be too thin' I think you can.  I don't have much energy right now and I'm waiting for the list of labs from my nutritionist to come in the mail (hopefully by my Monday morning appointment with my new PCP) so I can get them drawn here where I now live.  I moved in October to Nantucket Island and there is limited healthcare here and I'm very unhappy with my new PCP.  I'm on a waiting list for a different one, and I was lucky to get the PCP I have now to even take me on as a patient as there are only a few doctors here on the island and many have closed their intake of new patients.  I've been working with the PCP and a physical therapist here to help alleviate my level of pain and need for constant pain medication (I take Tramadol 3x a day).  It is working, but its a very slow process.  I am excited to see a chiropractor here on Monday, the 31st and hopefully she will be able to help with the alignment problem in my back/right hip.  Since wls, and getting rid of many prescriptions including 4x a day insulin, I loathe taking prescriptions.  I don't mind doing the supplements because I knew about that going into wls and frankly, took them as a pre-op to try and stay healthy. 

Once I can get my weight back up, nutrients checked with labs, and my pain level is almost gone, I want to try yoga in the new year.  There are a few specials going on here on the island for the 'off season' during the winter and I want to enroll in a beginner class.  I love the idea of the mind-body-spirituality connection and feel that it will help me conquer my body issues that are still lingering.  I do suffer from mild body dismorphic disorder, where my brain doesn't see what is reflected in the mirror.  It has gotten better than it was, I do now see a smaller person in the mirror and not the sad, 320 lb girl that used to live there.  Pictures help me really see what I look like and I have to take a lot of them often.  Another thing I do to get better connected with my physical self is apply lotion every night before bed.  I do this while I look in the mirror and it helps me accept my new size and really love my new body. 

I am also pursuing the opportunity to become a professional chef.  A local restaurant owner told me that after Christmas, he was going to give me a chance to observe the kitchen and restaurant for a day and then we can decide if he wants to train me.  I am a self-taught home chef and have gotten quite good at cooking and would love to work with food because of my new found love of cooking.  It has always been a dream of mine to do this and now I have a shot!

What are your new year goals? 



My Story

Dec 24, 2012

My name is Mallisa Szabo (a.k.a. 'Mal' on  I also go by M'Lane (pronounced mul-lane-ey), which is my name that I go by in real life now.  I have become this other person since having weight loss surgery back in April 2010, so I find it fitting to give myself a new name to match it. 

My background is like many of you here.  I have been obese my entire life.  Been on every diet, pill, potion you name it I've probably done it.  I yo-yo dieted for years and when I got married when I was 23 years old, I lost 80 lbs. by going to weekly Diet Workshop meetings and weekly weigh-ins.  I was determined to be a 'skinny' bride and it took me a year to lose 80 lbs with an extremely careful diet of weighing and measuring, food logging, and calorie counting, exercise every day for at least an hour at a time, and my wish to become a skinny bride in a pretty dress.  It worked and I got down to a size 12.  I wore a 2-piece bathing suit for the first time that summer, and was a gorgeous happy bride the day I got married.  After the wedding, I got comfortable and quit dieting, put all the weight back on in about 6 months time, this time ballooning out to a size 22.  Each time I yo-yo dieted, I would put the weight back on quicker, and an additional 20lbs more than when I started.  I deprived myself of the things I love, and never dealt with the emotional aspect of my eating.  I ate to NOT feel my emotions.  I was irritable, moody, and very defensive.  My marriage was rocky at best from the beginning.  I met my husband when I was 17, a junior in high school (he was 19).  We dated exclusively until I was 20 and we got engaged.  I had a tiny little 1/2 carrot diamond, but I didn't care, it was a diamond.  I dreamed of that day as a young girl that I would find a man who would love me for me.  I thought it was my husband and we tried a month or two later to start a family.  I wanted a baby in the worst way--dreamt of it when I was a little girl playing with my dolls.  I had an awesome cat named Jojo when I was 12 years old and I used to dress him up in baby clothes and wheel him around the neighborhood in a baby carriage.  That cat was so great and he was my only friend, my best friend.  I had him until the 2nd year of my marriage when he was 21 years old, I needed to have him put to sleep.  His organs failed, he lost control of his bladder/bowels and stopped eating.  I held him in my arms when he left this earth and it was the saddest day of my entire life.  That cat got me through some of my biggest challenges.  My home life was horrible.  My mom and dad struggled financially and my dad was an abusive and mean alcoholic.  Mom was a classic co-dependant and the enforcer of his rules.  She was often the 'referee' between my father and I getting in between us physcially when my father went to strike me.  Dad and I fought all the time.  He would lose his job at least once a year (sometimes twice) because he would go out at lunch with the guys and have a 'liquid lunch.'   I was the oldest of 3 and took the brunt of his beatings.  They were extremely strict, an Irish-Catholic background.  I rebelled when I was 16 with my girlfriends and started smoking ciggerettes, lied to them about my whereabouts, and did my share of experimental drinking.  Later on in life I tried marijuana (after I was married) and smoked it from time to time on weekends with my husband and our best friends, another couple we spent a lot of time with going fishing and camping during the summers.  We were in each other's weddings, each other's maid of honor and best man respectively. 

After trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for several years, I asked my GYN to run the necessary tests on me when I really caught what I call 'the baby bug.'  I suffered from very painful periods and after a laproscopic exploratory procedure, my GYN found that I had mild endometriosis.  After more testing, they found out that my right fallopian tube was completely blocked.  These things were not, however, why I couldn't get pregnant.  My husband gave a sperm sample at the lab at it came back with horrible results.  He had a 0 sperm count-nothing.  I always assumed it was me that had the infertility issues (and I did have some) but it was because he wasn't producing sperm that I couldn't get pregnant.  They re-tested him twice more and after 2 weeks of abstaining from ejaculating, his test came back with 100,000 sperm.  They were deformed, some had pin-heads and some had no tails.  So armed with these results, my GYN looked at me and said 'It's time to look into adoption' which was a devastating blow to me.  I had already done some preliminary research at the library about IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) and asked for a referral to a specialist at Brigham and Women's hospital in Boston.  Luckily, they had a local satelite office in the next town over and I made the appointment.  This was my last shot at having our own biological baby and I was still hopeful.  I did my first round of IVF treatment and it was HELL!!!!  I had to self-administer hormone injections three times a day for 3 months.  The hormones made me BAT SHIT CRAZY!  There's no other way to describe it.  I would yell at my husband one minute, then be crying hysterically the next.  We got through it and it was successful the first attempt.  We had our twin boys on Groundhog Day in 1999 and I was so happy.  It was a fantastic, no issue pregnancy even though I was obese.  I had so many visions for the birthplan--a natural, vaginal delivery with the option of an epidural if I wanted it.  I wanted to exclusively breastfeed and I ate nutritionally sound meals with extra protein to help with my two developing babies.  I traveled to go to work into Boston every day on the subway and it was an hour commute each way.  I did that up until the night I went into premature labor when I still had 5 1/2 weeks to go.  The obstetrician told me of the risks, saying it could go either way, they may be born with breathing problems or they may not be.  I didn't listen, was just happy to be meeting my boys for the first time.  They took the babies by c-section and they were born 6lbs and 5lbs, 8 ounces respectively.  My first son was born and my husband got to hold him after they cleaned him up and weighed him.  My second son, the smaller ofthe two, was then born 2 1/2 minutes later and he was immediately whisked away.  I barely saw his face over the sheet and then he was gone.  They wheeled me into recovery and my husband and first son were there.  I attempted to breastfeed him, but he wouldn't latch on.  The nurse came in and took him from my husband, saying they were going to do his footprints and bath and that they would bring him to my room once I got there.  My husband went with the baby and nurse and went to check on our other son in the NICU.  As I was getting wheeled down the hall into my room the nurse came back and told us that our first son started having breathing difficulties and that he too needed to be admitted into the NICU.  I was absolutely devastated.  I started to cry uncontrollably and I was starting to get the feeling back from my spinal block so I was in a lot of pain.  The next 12 hours were a blur as I had a PCA pump with Demerol for the pain that I was allowed to hit once every 20 minutes.  I was numb emotionally and all of my 'ideal' plans for having my babies with me in my room after their delivery and breastfeeding were crushed.  I met with a lactation consultant and they gave me a hospital breast pump to get my milk started.  I met my boys the next day in the NICU and it was horrible.  I wasn't at all prepared for what I saw.  My little babies had been put in two separate areas and they had tubes, wires and monitors everywhere.  It was very noisy and the monitors would constantly go off which scared the shit out of me.  After the initial shock of seeing my children like that, the nurses who were caring for them came over and introduced themselves.  Thankfully I was still pretty groggy and drugged up on pain meds, or I would have been a wreck.  The second day I was in the hospital I got up and walked around repeatedly, determined to go see my babies and get better as fast as I could.  I pumped my breasts every 3 hours religiously but my milk never fully came in.  Whatever I pumped, I would bring to the NICU and give the nurses.  They'd give it to them in their tiny little bottles mixed with formula for premies to help them gain weight.  Whatever they didn't take by mouth (which was very little because they would get tired easily because their breathing wasn't yet regulated) was placed in a tube (an NG tube in the nose) that went directly to the stomach.  They were there for 11 days and came home together.  We had a small family gathering at the duplex where we lived and my immediate family, my nana and a few aunts came over to officially meet the boys.  I went back to work full-time at a different job that was only 1/2 hour commute and my mom and aunt split the daycare of the boys for free.  3 years later, we decided that we were going to try for one more baby, as I really wanted a girl.  I had my 2nd IVF treatment and was only planning on implanting one embryo instead of two.  That didn't happen though because of the embryo cell quality and it was the specialist's recommendation that I implant 5 embryos to hopefully get one baby.  I said 'What are you nuts?' and fought with the doctors.  We compromised on 3 embryos and I had to sign a waiver saying that I wasn't following their medical advice and they didn't predict that I'd get pregnant at all.  I was 30 at the time, and took that risk and implanted 3.  I knew pretty quickly that I was pregnant and two weeks later the blood test confirmed it.  I also knew that it had to be more than one because like the first pregnancy, I was almost instantly plagued by morning sickness.  The morning sickness got much worse, and before I found out how many babies I was carrying, the OB put me on Zofran to help with the constant puking and nausea.  Six weeks after I found out I was pregnant I found out I was having triplets.  To say it was a shock is an understatement.  Thankfully, I was lying on the table or I probably would have passed out.  My husband stammered and over and over again said 'Oh my God!' and started pacing in the exam room.  We got over the shock and I began my prenatal care, seeing a specialist for high-risk pregnancies.  It was an incredibly difficult pregnancy, littered with many scares of miscarriage, so I had to be put on bedrest early on.  Having two little 3 year old boys at home didn't help with my bedrest and our families helped with their daily care.  When I was 5 months pregnant, after many trips to the er for medication to stop my premature labor, I was admitted to the hospital in Brighton and stayed there for 8 weeks.  During that time I couldn't move very much, wasn't allowed out of bed for anything other than to go the bathroom and take a lukewarm 5 minute shower.  I couldn't leave my room and the food was horrible.  I was estranged from my babies and husband and they moved in with my parents during that time.  The triplets were born (a girl and two boys) in 2003 and went directly to the NICU because they were 2 months early.  I was much better prepared this time for the NICU experience having been through it once already.  I pumped and breastfed as much as I could and walked a lot to heal up from my 2nd c-section.  The boys were on intubation/oxygen for 3 weeks but my daughter never required it.  She was the smallest and first born of the 3 and doing the best out of all 3.  Then things took a turn for the worse and she developed an infection in her bowel called Necrotizing Entercolitis (NEC for short) and I had to stop nursing her.  They had to stop all of her feedings and put her on IV nutrition during that time and a strong course of antibiotics.  They warned me that this was life-threatening and she could die from it, end up with a chlostomy bag permanently, or it could clear up with 14 days of antibiotics.  She lost almost 2 lbs which wasn't good because she was only 5 lbs when she was born.  My mom and I held vigil for an entire day while my aunt took care of the twins during the day and my husband was at work.  He would go in at night when I came home from the hospital and take over the watch.  For two days I didn't know if she would live or die.  During the 3rd day of her antibiotic course things turned around, and she started to gain a few ounces.  I used all my breastmilk for her and they didn't mix it with formula once she was allowed to eat again because it was easier for her little tummy to digest.  She was only on the antibiotics for 7 days and then could start eating again.  The infection cleared up and she came home a week before her brothers.  I couldn't go back to work as there was no one who could take care of all 5 babies full-time and there was no way we could afford to put 5 babies in daycare. 

The problems with my husband only increased after the birth of our triplets.  We fought constantly about money and the burden was on him to be the sole provider.  He would work very, very late (sometimes until 1 am) and I would call my mom up often crying to come and help me give the babies all their bath at night.  It wasn't until my mother suggested that he might be cheating on me with another woman that I started to suspect it.  I was so dead tired and did almost all of the baby/childcare as I was the one not working.  He didn't help with housework or baby care at all and it was a tough time.  We were going broke from diapers and formula and daily expenses and couldn't make our bills.  The more difficult it would get, the later he'd come home.  When the triplets were a year and a half old I had had enough and I threw him out.  I was tired of the constant fighting and arguing and I suspected he was cheating.  He never admitted that he did and to this day, denies it even though I walked in on him with another woman in our bed.  I was jobless, income-less, and had lots of past-due bills.  He moved in with his parents and begged me several times to take him back.  I finally had enough though and I never looked back.

I gained more and more weight during all these stressful struggles and sought out RNY surgery when the triplets were 3.  I went through a program at a large hospital in Boston and just made the 40 bmi requirement.  They kept calling me a 'lightweight' and I didn't yet have many significant co-morbs, just really bad back/knee/foot pain and I was constantly tired.  I was required to complete an 8 week support group with a therapist and nutritionist with a group of 10.  I lost some weight pre-op which they recommended based on what they taught us a the support group (I lost 40 lbs at the end of 8 weeks with diet and exercise).  When they submitted my paperwork to the insurance company, I was denied and they told me it was because I proved that I could lose weight on my own.  I argued it and fought, and put in an appeal to the insurance company.  The appeal was denied and then I requested an appeal hearing.  I lost the hearing, and put the weight back on plus an additional 20 lbs.  It wasn't until December of 2009 that I looked into it again with another smaller hospital and another surgeon.  I was 320lbs by then and had several co-morbs and prescriptions.  I was diabetic (with 4x a day insulin), had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea with a CPAP machine at night, and horrible back and foot problems.  I couldn't walk for very long without becoming very winded.  I was a size 26 bottom and a 3xl top and clothes that size were hard to come by and very expensive.  I took 10 prescriptions for all my ailments and felt like shit.  It took 4 months from the start of my program at St. Elizabeth's hospital in Brighton, MA and my surgeon, Dr. Nicole Pecquex performed my RNY surgery on April 21, 2010.  I was already in therapy for a mental health diagnosis I had previously received after the birth of my twins (I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a year later after they were born in 2000 and on several anti-depressants and anti-psychotics for the depression and anxiety).  Despite my bi-polar diagnosis, I passed the psychiatric evaluation and had to submit letters from my providers (prescriber and therapist) and could get the go-ahead with surgery as long as I was in treatment and stable. 

One thing I can say to pre-ops is this--the best thing you can do for yourself is to begin therapy with a licensed therapist you feel comfortable with to deal with all of the emotional issues that crop up after weight loss surgery.  This is far more difficult to overcome than the actual operation.  They operate on our stomach's---not our brains.  I had no self-esteem, and most of my family and friends were against me having surgery.  Everyone 'knows so-an-so who has a cousin who's wife had the surgery and died' kind of stories or, what I see a lot of now is people who know others who have had this surgery, lost weight and gained it all back because they didn't change their lifestyle or relationship with food.  It is a life-long process and even after you get to goal weight or wherever your body is comfortable, it takes a lot of work to keep it off and have life-long success. 

My diabetes is in remission, I no longer take 10 prescriptions and am off insulin.  I do not have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.  My labs are fantastic (except for my iron level is a little low but prescription iron helped that) but I still do struggle with taking my vitamins.  To get back on track and in the habit of taking them, I set an alarm on my cell phone and have to take my vits/calcium and iron every 2 hours.  This actually is helping to remind me to eat, as I take them with food, which is what is recommended (except for iron which should be taken on an empty stomach 2 hours apart from your last calcium dose.) 

I still struggle with my body image, and its taken me almost 3 years to actually be able to 'see' in the mirror what others see.  For the longest time, I'd look in the mirror and still see the 320 lb. girl.  I am now 145 lbs, wear a size 4 jeans and a small top.  I can wear anything now and have lots of muscles!!!  I love my new body and I'm working on getting my back better as I suffer from a chronic back/hip condition (pinched nerve group).  I am working twice a week with a Physical Therapist and I see a chiropractor on the 31st.  Once my back pain is less, I am going to try yoga classes and see if I like it.  I'm also working on trying to gain back at least 5 lbs in case I get a cold the stomach flu again.  I got the stomach flu a few weeks ago and lost 10 lbs from it.   I am going to add some protein shakes back into my diet soon, at least once a day.

Thanks for reading!  My goal is to try and blog once a day in the future, perhaps taking on a specific issue each day that you may be experiencing. 

Good luck wherever you are in your journey.  I'm thinking of staring a weekly telephone support group or individual mentoring of new pre-ops if anyone is interested. 


Have a wonderful, Merry Christmas!!!!



About Me
Jan 09, 2007
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