Tuesday, January 27, 2015

6 Years With My Lapband...and This Showed up in my feed

Today marks my 6 year bandiversary.  And I don't know about you guys, but old post from blogs I follow are showing up in my feed today.  And this is one of them.  I believe we were righting these posts to get ready for our first meeting of lapbanders in Chicago in 2010.  Crazy how time flies. There are other "band rockstars" featured...you can find that blog here .  It's a trip to look back and see my answers then as they would compare to my life now.  While I think about my lapband everyday, my identity is tied less and less to it as the years pass.  It's always there...always helping a little...but it doesn't drive me or control my behaviors very much.  I believe come March it will be either 2 years or 3 years since my last fill.  I am thinking just 2 years.  I don't have much restriction, but it still makes itself known a couple times a week.  Knock on wood, everything seems to be running smoothly.  The lapband was the right choice for ME...but that doesn't mean it's the right choice for everyone.  

If you are considering weight loss, always do your research.  Know your doctor.  Ask questions.  Educate yourself.   Here are some interesting statistics:

 The LAP-BAND® has shown Long-Term success when patients are managed with appropriate aftercare (This is Amy talking now...aftercare is a big part of lapband.  I am pretty sure without the aftercare from my doctor, and our relationship, I would not have been as successful. But aftercare also means YOU taking care of your band, being honest about your restriction, your eating habits, your exercise, your mental and emotional support outlets, etc)

Long-Term Outcomes After Bariatric Surgery: Fifteen-Year Follow-Up of Adjustable Gastric Banding and a Systematic Review of the Bariatric Surgical Literature
Annals of Surgery , Volume 257, Number 1, January 2013,
Paul E. O’Brien, et al.

·        50.5% EWL at 3 Years
·        49.6% EWL at 5 Years
·        47% EWL at 10 Years
·        47.2% EWL at 15 years
·        3227 patients, 714 with 10+ years follow-up only  5.6% removal rate for the entire group

The LAP-BAND® has been shown as safe or safer than any other bariatric procedure (me again.  It does seem there are so many "lapbanders" that are now former banders.  It seems to me like there are a lot of people in blogland having their bands removed or switching to other WLS.  There are many of you who read this blog that I have switched.  The percentage of those of us in social media though doesn't seem to line up with the percentages reported below.  I wonder if that is because we are a more "vocal" group out here in cyberland...and perhaps the 94% of bandsters with no complications are off doing other things?  I just don't know...just think it's interesting to compare)

There are a number of databases that healthcare organizations and professionals use to monitor bariatric procedures after surgery.

A recent review of data from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and the American College of Surgeons databases showed the following:

Total Complications
Reoperation Rate
Hospital Stay After Procedure
Less than 1 day
Approximately 3 days
Approximately 3 days
Illness After 30 Days

·        75% lower 30-day morbidity compared to sleeve (ACS – Hutter 2011)
·        1/3 the complications compared to sleeve through 1 year (BOLD – DeMaria 2010)
·        68% lower readmission rate than sleeve (ACS – Hutter 2011)
·        1/3 the reoperation rate compared to sleeve (ACS – Hutter 2011)
·        Shorter length of stay than sleeve and bypass (ACS – Hutter 2011)

So, with all of that interesting data hurting your head...let's take a look back to Friday, May 7th, 2010.

The Oprah of S.O.B.s! Our very own Band Rockstar: Amy W.!

I am beyond excited to report that our S.O.B. of the week is none other than the famous, beloved-by-all,  Amy W.!!!!!!! 

Amy -- who is now known as a true Skinny B*tch --  has been a major inspiration to untold numbers of Bandsters.  How many of us have said to Amy, "Your blog is the one that inspired me to get the band?"  How many of us have cried (or wanted to) reading one of Amy's posts?  (Is it even possible some of you have never read Amy's blog?  I doubt it, but just in case, she is over at Once Upon a Time, in the Land of Cheese and Sunkist).

I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that Amy, with her one-of-a-kind personality, genuineness, sense of humor, and fabulous blog posts -- together with her undeniable success --  has truly changed lives.  So many of us look to Amy as one of our very best Band Role Models!

And honestly, I am trying not to editorialize too much on this blog -- these Superstars' results and stories speak for themselves.  But I really love Amy's outlook and approach to losing with the band.  Don't we all?  I especially love how Amy is always kind to herself -- even after a major run-in with Sunkist!  I bet this is one of the big secrets to her success....

Amy has shrunk from a 327 starting weight to 184.5!  Yes, you read that right!  She is down 142 pounds and looks amaaaaaazzzzing!  Bikinis, Victoria's Secret Pink sweats, cheerleading outfits.....Nothing is off limits for this Hot Chick!  Amy is rocking it all these days.  Hopefully I will have here Before and During pics to post soon. 

Listen carefully, Girlfriends.  Here are some tips you do not want to miss!  Take it away.....our Rockstar, Amy......
1.  All about You!  Tell us a little bit about yourself (age, how long you have had the band, etc.)

Greetings lovely readers!  My name is Amy Workman and I am the young lady that fell from a star (Kansas) and landed in Pensacola, Florida.  I am 30.6 years old, a forever fatty, and what some might call a dreamer.  I let my heart lead me, I ramble a lot, and...what was the original question?  Oh yeah.  I have had the band for 15 months.  I was banded on January 27th, 2009.

2.   Your Weight Loss --

Please let us know your starting weight and/or size, and current weight and/or size

I started at 327 pounds, a size 26/28.  I am 5'4" inches tall.  My size 7 right fit jeans from lane Bryant were starting to get tight.  Currently, I am STILL 5'4" (waiting on that vertical growth spurt), and weigh 184.5 pounds.  I am a size 14.

How long did it take you to get to your goal weight (or first 100 lbs. lost)?

I forget how long it took me to lose 100 pounds.  Maybe 9-10 months.  My first year I lost 120 pounds and I am now 142 pound down.

As you got closer to your goal, was your weight loss slower?

You know, not really.  But what has happened is I have to work HARDER to make the weight loss the same.  At first, I could just enjoy restriction and lose weight.  Now I enjoy restriction and have to workout and watch the types of food I put in my mouth.

Did you experience plateaus?  What did you do to shake up weight loss stalls?

Uh.  YES!  Yucky poo.  My first one was only 2 weeks after surgery. I like to tell newbies to expect this and don't lose heart.  You just have to up your game at that point.  That's when I started walking.  Sometimes it seems there is no rhyme or reason to why the scale stops.  I just try to refocus, watch my salt, drink my water, watch my sugar, workout, and hang on until that damn scale starts to move again.

How did you decide on a goal weight? 
170 sounded far enough away from 200 to me.  I had no idea what it would look like to be under 200.  I havent been there since I was 13.  I want to be healthy but still be curvy.  I want to be able to shop with more ease and to walk without pain.  

Is your final goal weight considered "normal" on the BMI charts? 

Sadly.  No.  It would still be "overweight".  I don't look at the BMI charts really.  I think I would have to be in the low 140's to be normal.  I dont know if I am built for the low 140's.  People have started to tell me to stop losing.  I have to remind them that I am still 184 pounds, and that is technically "obese"

3.   All about Food!

Do you follow any of the band rules religiously?  (For example, no drinking with meals, etc.)

Nope.  I think they are guidelines really.  Every doc is different.  Do you know why?  Because someone has made up the rules.  To me, they are recommendations.  I drink pop (diet now), it doesnt bother me to use a straw.  I drink right up until my meal, and if I am thirsty during a meal, i will take a sip.  I eat soups for lunch.  I am a rebel.  One thing I guess I do try to adhere to when I am playing by the rules is protein first.  I know that protein holds me longer and stays in my band.

Which band rules do you think are most important?

Oops.  I just covered this.  When you have restrictions, eating solid proteins is how the band works the best.  It fills you up and stays with you. 

Did you track calories or log your food while you were losing weight?  Do you do this now?

No.  I didnt get the band to have to do be on a diet.  But I will say that I keep a loose running total in my head everyday and I like to stay around 1200-1400 calories.  I do think tracking can be helpful though when you are lost or have stopped losing.

Did you measure your portions?  Do you do this now?  

Again, No.  Wow, I suck.  I take my lunch to work in a one cup Tupperware bowl, does that count?  I still put way too much on my plate and can never eat it. 

Describe a typical day of eating for you, both during your weight loss phase and now.

Breakfast is usually a protein or fiber bar.  Today for breakfast I had Cheetos.  Sigh.  I might snack midmorning on white popcorn or peanuts.  Lunch I usually bring from home and its either homemade soup, or leftovers from dinner.  Dinner might include turkey burgers, chicken breast, pork chops, spaghetti...dinners for us have only changed in the sense that they are healthier.  More color, more veggies, fresh produce, organic, less salt. 

Some lap band practices tell patients to eat only 3 small meals a day; some say 3 meals plus 1 or 2 snacks; some say 5 or 6 small meals.  What did you do when you were losing weight, and what do you do now?  

When I have really great weight loss weeks, I snack less for sure.  I make myself eat just 3 meals OR...here is the toughie...just eat when I am actually hungry (gasp!)

Approximately how many calories per day did you eat during your weight loss, and how many now?

The same then and now.  Around 1200.

What are some of your favorite band-friendly foods?

Oh man oh man.  This is a funny question bc I think of band-friendly foods as foods that go down easy.  You know..chips, chocolate, Sunkist.  But if we are talking healthy foods that work with my band...when we go out to eat I usually always go with a soup.  I can't justify spending $9 dollars on a hamburger that I have to pick apart.  I have been known to order a steak and go real slow.  Just dont do dry meats.  Marinate the heck out of them. 

Did you drink protein shakes during your weight loss phase?  Do you now?   
Double yuck.  I did a few during my pre-op.  Now...no.  I do protein bars instead. 

Did you follow any special "diet" plan during your weight loss -- for example, low carb, counting points on Weight Watchers, etc?

 I watch my sodium.  I look for unrefined grains and pastas.  I look for organic fresh produce.  I watch my sugar.  I look for protein.  I dont think it s about saying NO to anything, but knowing how to say YES more often to the good stuff.

Are there any foods you cannot eat with the band (like meat, bread, etc.)? 

With my tightest restriction, pasta is a no go.  I think it sets in my pouch and swells.  I cant eat a sandwich with bread, but I may be able to eat a roll.  Leftover meat usually doesnt go down well either, unless its ground turkey or beef.

What would a “splurge” day be like for you? 

With restriction?  Candy and chips.  I love me some salt. 

4.   All About  Fills!

What size band do you have, and what amount of fill do you have?  

Well, I have a 10-12 cc Lapband.  I am probably around 6ccs right now.  It has been over 4 months since I have had a fill...so I forget.

How many fills did it take you to get to your “sweet spot”?   

At least 4.  I am so thankful my doctor let me decide how often I wanted to come back for a fill.  My first fill was 6 weeks after surgery and he gave me 4ccs.  I felt nothing so 2 weeks later I went back in and he gave me more.  Still nothing.  So I called again and was back in ONE week later and he gave me another fill.  I felt some restriction and it lasted a little while.  It probably wasnt really until my next fill though that I found my sweet spot.

Approximately how many weeks or months after surgery until you reached the “sweet spot”?  

Looky!  I did it again.  I will say that once I reached my sweetspot, I have only had to have 2 fills in about 6-7 months.

Did you ever have to get a un-fill?  

Oh yes.  I think we all have to experience being too greedy just once.  I was really tight and pbing every day.  We were gettng ready to go on the cruise so I got a teensy unfill. 

Can you drink water and other fluids easily at your fill level?  

I can still chug water like a champ.

Do you get stuck and/or slime and/or PB very often?  

Yes.  Depends.  On average..2 times a week maybe?  Stress plays a big part I have noticed lately in the tightness of the band.  It is crazy.  But true.

5.      Share Your Secrets!

Tell us your best tips for losing weight with the band.  What do you think contributed most to your success?  

I think you have to be real.  I was under the impression that after I got banded, I would be full and satisfied with 2-4 ounces.  For me, its really around 4-6 of solid protein.  But it is important to know that restriction does not just magically appear.  You will have to wait for it, and most likely...depend on that dreaded word...WILLPOWER...for just a little while.  I don't beat myself up too long if I make a mistake.  Just because we get the band doesnt make us eat perfect every day.  I work out.  I eat right.  I drink water.  I love myself.  All of those things help.

 What advice do you have for Newbies?  Is there anything you would have done differently if you could go back to the months right after your surgery?   

First, make sure you like your doc BEFORE you get banded.  I love my doctor and I know that I owe much of my success to him.  Sometimes I see people who have not lost much and they admit they haven't seen their doctor in months, have not stayed on top of their fills, etc. Listen, you have to do your part with the band.  Expect the weight loss to stop sometimes.  Expect to feel discouraged.  But feel that for a day or so and then pick yourself back up.  

Listen, if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got (someone really smart said that...not me...maybe it was Oprah).  The band is not the quickest weight loss surgery.  Listen to your body.  Fight head hunger. That has been the hardest part for me.  

If I could go back and do something differently...hmmm..I would have embraced working out sooner maybe.  But that desire came in time, and now it's part of my life.  I still don't love it, but I love what it does for me.
Blog.  If you don't already, start one.  Don't worry about being funny.  Don't worry about being entertaining.  Just be honest.  Blog about your good days and your bad days.  

What is the best band-related advice you received?

From my doctor:  "My biggest fear with any band patient is they might not lose weight".  That was not really advice, but it scared the poop out of me and I went into this knowing that I was ready.

How did you deal with “head hunger”?  

Ah.  My arch nemesis.  During preop I discovered a very strange phenomenon.  Real hunger.  I realized that I couldn't remember the last time I had been HUNGRY.  I still struggle with head hunger but at least  now I recognize it and rarely do I feed it.  But sometimes I do.  But I ask myself at least once a day..."are you actually hungry"...if the answer is no.  I try not to eat.

Did you find the mental aspect of losing weight difficult? (Including, for example, no longer relying on food for stress relief, getting used to seeing yourself as a “thin” person, or anything else)?  How did you deal with this?  

You know.  Not really.  I didnt see myself missing or mourning a lost friend.  I didn't find myself seeking a replacement.

6.               The Dreaded “E” Word:  Exercise!

How long after surgery did you start exercising?

Right after surgery...okay...two weeks...I started walking.  I started with a mile a week and added 1/2 a mile every week until I was up to a 5k.  We completed our first 5k two months after surgery.  Then I took a little break.  Probably for months I didn't really exercise.  After that, we started bootcamp and the rest is history.

What kind of exercise do you do, and how frequently?

I do weight training 3 days a week for 50 minutes at a time.  Then I do Zumba once week. 

Do you think exercise is important to your success?  

Yes.  Well...yes.  I know for a fact that this regular weight lifting has shaped my body in a way that I LOVE.  It is so awesome to feel muscles and see them change and grow. 

7.    Issues with loose skin/plastic surgery. 

Have you had any issues with loose skin?  

Well, somewhere on my blog you can see my pooling boobies and belly.  If I am upright...not so bad really.  But when I bend over....holy saggy titties and droopy belly!  But after 142 pounds, I really thought it would be worse.

What are your thoughts about plastic surgery?  

If I had the money I would have my boobs lifted like...yesterday.  I am too afraid to get a tummy tuck.  I think whatever makes you feel better...go for it! 

8.   Anything else to tell us?   
At any weight, love yourself.  At any weight, you can be fabulous.  This ride is hard.  But it is beautiful.  I have found friends that I love and haven't even met.  I have found myself a little more...and that is scary sometimes.  One of the hardest things about losing weight and blogging is that you compare and want to get to the next goal as soon as you reach a goal.  I dont know how to do it, but if you can enjoy the moment...do! 


  1. You were one of the most inspirational bloggers to me (still are) when I was prebanded. I think part of the statistical issues is more lapband studies only go 2 years out. I am 4 years out and needing my band removed due to erosion. So would I be included in most stats? Who knows? I will say that the lapband works great for some people and it worked great for me for the first couple years. I've been able to look back and pinpoint the exact DAY (troublesome, I know) where things turned bad for me.

    That was really rambly. Congratulations on your 6 years and your success! You're amazing and still inspire me with every post you write. :)

  2. you remembered me from the other week :) it sucks how many people I know having to have re-surgery, but I think we made the best choice we could at the time with the information we had. I don't think anyone ever thinks they will be one of the "5%" that has to have another surgery.