If you are not ready to do whatever it takes, do not have Bariatric Surgery. However, if you do, you’ve got to PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES!

Hold on!
When I had Gastric Bypass surgery in June of 2001, it was not big in the media at that time and few if anyone knew anyone who had done it. It was shocking when Carnie Wilson (of 80’s pop trio Wilson Philips) had Bariatric Surgery, which people related to as Stomach Stapling, in a Live Internet Broadcast. It was a novelty, a sideshow, a curiosity, but it did bring attention to a serious problem and a pretty drastic solution. It sure caught my attention!


Practice makes perfect
While I was digesting the idea of bariatric surgery, I read everything I could find regarding surgical outcomes. If there were ways for me to make my surgery safer or have it turn out better, I was all over it. I wanted the best surgeon; one who had performed the procedure many times, and at that time bariatric surgery was only being done on a large scale in certain regions like California, New York and Florida

Will they be removing anything Mr. Peabody?
I learned that after having a gastric bypass called a roux en y or RNY, I would need to live on a modified Atkins diet for the rest of my life. What exactly would they be cutting? What would happen to my stomach? What could go wrong – I was perfectly healthy other than being morbidly obese. (sarcasm off) What were the bad things that could happen after I woke up and down the road. What protein drinks did I need? What vitamins were the best and why?

I figured the good stuff would take care of itself, but the bad needed to be marginalized. If I were going to do this, I would need be the best bariatric patient ever.

Euuuuuuuu… yuk!
Never once did I think “What do the vitamins taste like?” or “I hope the protein shakes taste good.” It did not matter what they tasted like, I had to take them! When I did buy protein that tasted awful, I still used it and became great at fixing up shakes in the blender. I never considered NOT drinking a shake because I didn’t like it – I had to have protein, the surgeon told me so. The chewable brand of vitamins back in 2001 was horrible, but I had the mindset that I did not have a choice so just made an ugly face and chewed them. I took the deal and had to do things I didn’t like as the trade off. That is often how life works!

Cut and run!
The dynamic has changed where todays bariatric patient does not appear to be intimidated by what will be taking place in that operating room – maybe they don’t feel anxious about a procedure that can be done on outpatient basis. Since new post ops know so many who have ‘the sleeve’, some are in a rush to do it too. In all our years of support groups, we’ve never dealt with so many who know so little about nutrition or what changes are critical for success. Our BariatricEating Support Group on Facebook has an uncomfortable number who don’t know even the basics. We are happy to hug them and help them, but some would be in a very bad place if they hadn’t landed with a thud in front of us.

But I just have a bandaid on my belly!
These days you wake up with a couple of band aids on your big bloated belly and go home the next day. The perception is VERY different from 20 years ago when procedures looked a lot worse on the outside and the hospital stays were much longer. A smart friend gave the analogy that if you woke up with a giant bolt through your leg, you would be reminded that serious surgery had taken place, but a bandaid, meh!

My stomach is WHERE?
The Sleeve is in vogue – but do people really know they are having most of their stomach removed? Many comment that it’s non-invasive! Hate to be bearer of bad news but having 85% of your stomach removed from your body is pretty invasive. While the bariatric surgery itself is very safe with low mortality, you can be gravely affected by things that take place in the months or years after surgery. Many complications are caused by non compliance – not doing what is necessary – not taking care of ourselves.

When can I have KFC & sweet tea?
Twenty years ago, when the medical team told us to ‘jump’, we asked ‘how high’. Today there are too many internet experts singing different songs than the bariatric team and since the tune is easier, some happily follow down the wrong path.

The trend for ‘sleeve people’ to use sugar or sugar ‘in the raw’ under the guise that Splenda is bad for them is mind-blowing. While artificial sweeteners are not ideal, NEITHER IS BEING 400 POUNDS! Their bariatric doctor or nutritionist certainly did not recommend sugar over Splenda or okay honey. People create this mythology to take themselves off the hook so they can do what they want to do and not be the ‘bad patient’. They say ‘yes’ to the doctor but push the limits as soon as possible because they know others who have and still lost weight, in the beginning when its the surgery doing all the work.

I ate chicken nuggets and *nothing happened*… AWESOME!
There is a duty to do our part but as time passes, more are not keeping up their end of the deal. SOME OF YOU ARE MAKING US LOOK BAD. Knock it off. Bariatric post ops can become sick, snap bones, lose teeth or even die from deficiencies, gain all their weight back because they continue eating Subway and drinking Coke, get ulcers because they take meds they shouldn’t, spiral into alcoholism and suffer needlessly with iron so low they can’t lift their heads, embarrassing hair loss, sickly paleness, bruising, leg cramps and things that can be prevented by paying attention and simply following a few rules of the road.


The Rules. (short version)
Drink protein shakes to supplement what you are unable to eat, chew the darn vitamins you are supposed to take and it doesn’t matter what they taste like. There are no proper gummy bear or Skittles vitamins – the ones you need are always going to taste like you are sucking on a penny. Always eat Protein First followed by softly cooked Vegetables. Take a fast walk or jump rope even just 3 days a week. Don’t drink when you eat. Don’t use sugar. No bread, rice, pasta or tortillas. Pay attention to your body and if something hurts or isn’t right… see a doctor. If you are compelled to drink way too much wine or overeat when you are full, get help by calling your surgeons office and telling them about it. Therapy is a good thing!


These simple rules prevent a lot of heartache and are much less painful than the consequences. Bariatric surgery will either slap a backbone in you or make you cry. 


24 thoughts on “Put on Your Big Girl Panties!

  1. Sherry says:

    Amen! I’m only 3 months post op, but I went into this knowing my whole way of eating and thinking about food had to change! I see people on my Facebook bariatric support group constantly asking, when can I eat this…when can I have alcohol…ughh. I don’t think about eating like I use to…I think about living! I think about all the things I can and will do! I take my vitamins, supplements, protein and liquids, I try to follow the nutritional guidelines and doctors to the T! It’s not easy, it’s a challenge every day…but the way it feels is awesome! Thank you for your posts! They inspire me every day!

  2. Bridget says:

    I ask a lot of questions in the support group because well….I have the handout that the surgeon’s office gave me, but honestly..I like hearing it from those that have been there! I want answers from “the pros” that have succeeded and lost and not regained, OR even if they have regained they got a grip on things and learned from it. I want to do this the right way and be a success,(doesn’t everyone?) and I would much rather ask others so that I not trip and fall instead of learning the hard way. Hope I don’t sound uneducated in the group, I am not..but in today’s world with the internet, almost immediate feedback is a blessing instead of having to wait to see my doctor and ask questions then. I am also reading a lot about post op life, but hardly have the time to get through even ONE book much less the library of books I now have. All in good time, right? =)

  3. Jeri-Lynn Kellogg says:

    I love  reading  these  posts  they are always right on . I am 3  1/2 years post  op and have seen so many people  who have had the surgery eat right through it. I don’t use a straw  and don’t  drink  with  meals.  My diabetes. Is much better  but I  have bad genes and will probably  always  be diabetic  I was one it didn’t cure (no meds after surgery) I still  take Em just not as much.  You have some very  helpful  tips here I share  with fellow  bariatric  patients.  My Dr always  said if you do exactly  what we tell  you  to do you will he fine. I have  and I still do.  It is a lifestyle  change not just a quick fix!!!!

  4. Mary Ann says:

    Finding this site is an answer to prayer. I am 11 months out from VSG, lost 40#, now gained back 7. I needed to see that yes, I do have to remain focused and vigilant, and no, I cannot handle cookies and candy. I never could, so, why did I think I could now?? Definition of insanity…doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
    Thanks much and look forward to visiting this website often.

  5. Dolores Garrett Newman aka Dee walkintall says:

    I had surgery in May 24.2001 I had the ryn gastricbypass,
    I quit smoking with in a yr out and gained 40 lbs. it can be don
    by eating THE WRONG KIND OF FOODS. take it from me,it is a life time
    oof eating right.ur surgery is only a tool. but like all tools. they have to 
    be used right. dont fool yourself. (just one donut wont hurt) ok 
    well surprise ethel it does and did.so if u start now with a lot of u
    just new to ur surgery.start now. it will work. if u work it. I weighed 340lb 
    had 3 strokes before surgery. and after surgery. thanks to DR.GOROSPE. 
    TOLD I’D NEVER WALK AGAIN. surprise ethel after some physical therapy. 
    and my open rny i was now (WALKINTALL) so gals and guys u can do i, if i
    being in a wheelchair. can do it. (GETTER DONE)  thanks for ur time. DEE

  6. Beth says:

    Honestly the guidelines that my doctor, through his recommended nutritionist, gave me are far more liberal than the ones I’ve heard in the Facebook Group. 

    I am very willing to freely admit that I entered this process far more lackadaisically than I should have! The last year of my life was extremely difficult and I wasn’t sure I really cared whether I lived through the surgery or not. (Makes you wonder about the psych evaluation, doesn’t it?) But at 400+ pounds, having lost 200 on Atkins and then gained it all back over the next 10 years, and rapidly losing all mobility … I was pretty much out of options! I’m pretty sure the nutritionist had doubts about my commitment to the program as my average appointment lasted 15 minutes! At my 5 month nutritionist visit I had gained 20 pounds (from the beginning) and she told me I had to lose it over the next month or I would not be cleared for surgery! The next month held Christmas, New Years, my birthday, and a 20 pound weight loss! I almost talked myself out of doing the surgery, at the last minute, but my life was so out of control … this just seemed like a way to grab some of it back!  

    Would I have done this if they had told me, or if I had paid close enough attention to hear them, that I would have to eat low carb forever, when I had already proven to myself that I couldn’t do that? I’m not sure! I think I would have because something had to change but I’ll never know for sure!

    At my 6 week post op nutritionist appointment I told her that I was eating oatmeal for breakfast and had eaten Subway (3 inches on flatbread) and she didn’t advise me that either choice was less than wise. And I was listening, and paying attention, by now! The appointment lasted an hour though it was mostly me telling her what I was eating and her murmuring approvingly. 

    I don’t know why I’m even sharing all this. In my case I accept the blame for being woefully unprepared for the changes that would be required to make a lasting and successful change. But I’m not sure I would have been sufficiently prepared even if I had been more proactive. I wonder if maybe part of the blame, for the vast number or of uneducated newbies, doesn’t belong with those who are supposed to be providing that education? 

    • Susan Maria Leach says:

      I have the advantage of having interacted with you before in our Support Group on Facebook, so I can read more into this. You had that kernel inside where you wanted to survive. Life can be terrible at times but some of us have the nature to fight, even though reluctantly at times.

      Its not your fault no one told you how to live with this surgery. You probably knew on some level, but it doesn’t appear you had a very active nutritionist. The GOOD NEWS is that it’s not an all or nothing proposition. Now you know and you can fix it. So no blame needed… lets learn and move on. You have a pouch that you can use for the rest of your life to control your portions if you choose the right foods.

      Feel free to email me at any time. I like you and want to help you! Susan

  7. Beth says:

    I have a question regarding “I used a straw and I liked it”

    I was told that straws would be no now following surgery. Then every time they brought me a drink … They brought a straw. Took me a day and a half to figure out that THEY were making the mistake and I was repeating it by using the straw! No harm done! 2 months later and I have seen various theories regarding the straw issue. And realizing that I will drink more water through a straw! I started using one! No problems. Two months out. Do I need a firm talking to?

    I’m going to have my nutritionist check out, and approve, Journey Vitamin capsules when I see her in May. I’ve tried Centrum and Bariatric Advantage and I’m just not loving them! 

    • Susan Maria Leach says:

      The straw issue is a NON issue as long as you give some thought to it. There is a column of air in a straw and when you draw the liquid into your mouth, the air fills your mouth too. If you gulp the air with the liquid you will have to burp up the air and its not comfortable. The next time you drink with a straw you can THINK about this and you will get it and not swallow air. Sometimes docs tell us to NOT do something because its the easy way to get the most people to not hurt themselves. That is where blanket policies such as NO STRAWS come from.

  8. Holly West says:

    How do I join you. I am starting the process of preparing for surgery and I need the support and information. I have so much to learn and suffer from deep depression. Let me know please.

  9. Cindy says:

    I found the article Put  On Your Big Girl Panties.. Pretty much right on point.  I did my research and together my surgeon and I made the right choice for me to have the  Vertical Gastric Sleeve due to my health conditons. I too have  choked down some pretty nasty tasting pills (during the chewed,crushed or liquid only phase) ..I knew this was coming and in order to NOT screw up my surgery or develope a LEAK ( leaks are very bad) I followed my doctors orders.  I have come to far and lost so much (weight) to not follow the rules.  In my opinion if your not going to adhear to and follow these simple  rules for life… DONT do the surgery plain and simple, obviously your not ready or at that turning point in your life to make the necessary changes to improve YOUR quality of life.  I just can’t see becoming to noncompliant at this stage of the game to use straws,  or drink with my meal,  use alcohol, chew gum.  I plan to stick with the rules and become a winner for myself and my health. Thank you for the very informative article, all the great products your site has for sale, the wonderful recipes as I become very bored trying to find something to eat, and all the great advice from staff and from all the  site memebers. We are all on this journey together.., Let’s get healthy and stay healthy together !!!!! 

  10. Mary says:

    Good article Susan! I am7 yrs post RNY and was compliant for the first 2-3 yrs. Then I got “comfortable” with eating again. My biggest mistake was starting to drink with my meals again. Now it’s extremely hard for me to eat without having some sort of liquid. I re-gained much of my weight lost after surgery in part I believe to this very bad habit. I caution others to follow your bariatric rules faithfully!! I am working at it slow and steady but it’s been hard and almost (for me) like starting over again. I could kick myself for not following and continuing with the guidlines.. live and learn… I hope others read this and do the same (learn that is) thanks.

    • Teresa says:

      Mary… I am right there with you. I am about 5 years out. I have done the exact thing. It is REALLY hard to not drink with meals especially when it is something dry or something you really don’t care about that taste yucky. I look back everyday and wish I would have continued on the right path. I am a emotional eater. I have had some deaths in the family the last couple of years and other things going on. I am also sooooo mad at myself for gaining the weight back that I just can’t get over it. I am also trying to take small steps and start over but I just hope that it will work.

  11. Margaret says:

    I am preparing to start BOT. I had RNY in 1999 and lost 170 lbs. I kept it off for 5 years with the aid of lots of exercise but slowed that down due to severe cramping. Since then I’ve gained back 100 lbs. and am down to 0 exercise. I am beyond ready to get restarted since I hate what I’ve done to myself. I have a fear of serious exercise due to the cramping …. does anyone have any recommendations in regards to the cramping issue. My doctor has done all the blood tests looking for deficiencies but hasn’t been able to find a solution. I was diagnosed with seriously low iron just last week and have started taking supplements. I think I stopped the vitamin regimen when I increased my food capacity. My thoughts then were that I was eating healthy foods and was getting my vitamins from my food.

  12. Esperanza Gonzalez says:

    I am new to this group and I love it! I am learning so much and my motivation is way up there! I started a week ago and did the reset with my own supplements, I lost 6 lbs and I just ordered some inspire protein,I will share more of my story as I go along.

  13. BONNIE says:

    HI my name is BONNIE I had renin 2001 I lost 60 lbs but then stopped and started eating foods that were bad choices . Back in 2001 there was very little support in my area I live in western Pennsylvania I had my surgery in pittsburgh pa. RECENTLY I started seeing your site on Facebook and I have been trying to do the back on track program. PLEASE tell me if it is ok to use a top or 2 a day of stevia?? Other than that I have been following the program pretty good and making the recipes for my evening meal. I am so glad I found this site. Thanks Bonnie

  14. Sandra says:

    I feel like a failure. Had my RNY 8/25/15, HW:298 SW: 255 CW: 206 I feel as though I should’ve lost more. I’m at a complete stall. I tried a restart but it didn’t work. I have a very stressful job and I’m thinking I’m probably those people that gain weight from stress. I try to eat all the right things, and take my vitamins daily, and drink enough water. But I don’t have time to exsercise so, I’m thinking that’s why I’m at a stall. I think this is it for me ☹️

  15. Janer Smith says:

    Thanks so much for keeping us on the right path. It’s so easy to become lax on the “little” things that eventually become big problems. I needed to read this today. B

  16. Mary says:

    I had my surgery Nov. 12, 2012 an lost 90 pounds. I have gained 15 pounds from my lowest weight of 150. I have read the stories and have been encouraged and don’t feel like I’am the only person that gave in to my bad habits. I have a sweet tooth and my head plays games with me and I think just one cookie or a little ice cream is ok, but it isn’t. I now know from the stories, a person has to follow instructions to be successful. Thanks to all of you for being real and sharing .

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