Monday, September 25, 2017

Weight Loss Surgery

So I've decided to write about a decision that I've recently made to have weight loss surgery. I figured that if you're reading still my blog, you have probably been on this journey with me for a while. And since the "following" on THIS blog is quite small, hopefully this is a safe place to share.

I've toyed with the idea of WLS for years, but never seriously considered it because it's SO expensive and my insurance won't touch it. In January 2016, Clyde and I talked about it and he said he would help me try to get it financed. But I found keto and had pretty good success with it.

But as of last week, I've re-gained 35 lbs and am dangerously close to 300 lbs again. I'm struggling so hard with binge-eating and emotional eating this year for reasons I'm fully aware of and don't really care to share at this point. Just know that there HAVE been issues that I've been using food to cope with. Bottom line is that at age 41, I'm sick of this shit. The constant roller coaster of diets and weight loss. The neverending battle with food. I'm ready to move on to a phase in my life where I can actually reach a body weight that I can live with the rest of my life.

So I started re-thinking WLS. Not as a cure to my battle, but another tool in my arsenal. I know I will still have to work on the emotional and mental aspects of this journey, but I'm hoping WLS will be a tool that can help me with the physical journey along the way. I know so many people that have used this tool to get their life back.

I want my life back.

So after weeks of research, I've decided to go with the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG).

This surgery actually reduces the size of your stomach so that it's about 20% of it's original size. It also removes the part of the stomach that produces ghrelin (hunger hormone). You don't get the "dumping" you get with other surgeries, either. So you're pretty free to eat what you want, just tiny portions. This surgery also works well with the ketogenic diet, which I plan to continue after surgery.

Now, the other think about this decision to have the surgery is the part concerning WHERE I will have it done. Since I'm not interested in financing close to $30,000 in debt for this surgery, I've decided I will travel to Mexico to have it done. Medical tourism is a real thing that I've JUST learned about. Thousands of people travel over the US border for weight loss surgery each year. It's safe, it's common, and after researching it I feel totally comfortable (and excited!) about this choice.

So, basically I will travel to San Diego, CA and cross the border into Tijuana, MX. Although I haven't decided on a clinic just yet (there are about 3 I'm looking into), the procedure for each is pretty much the same. You fly into San Diego, someone from the clinic picks you up and transports you across the border to a hotel. The next morning, you check into a Mexican hospital for your pre-op and surgery. After 2 nights in the hospital, you spend one more night in a hotel before traveling back to San Diego to fly home.

ALLLLL of this for $4000-5000 plus the cost of airfare. Most surgical packages are all-inclusive, meaning that everything is included for that price... hotel, transportation, surgery, medicine... everything. My plan is to save up the money because I don't want to accumulate any debt for it. My goal is to have it done in June when school is out. That will give me plenty of time to prepare and work on the MENTAL aspect of this journey. And also keep trying to clean up my diet and get out of this cycle where the sugar binges de-rail me. Because I'm fully aware that if I don't, surgery can't help me.

So, I'm very excited. Even though it's still a long way off, just the prospect of WLS seems like a light at the end of a very long tunnel. Even if I lose a significant amount of weight between now and June, I will still have this surgery. I believe it will only help me long term. I can only dream of a future where I'm living in a healthy, fit body where good obsession and diets are only a memory. I'm ready for the next phase of my life, where I start LIVING instead of just existing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

No more SkinnyHollie...

Sometimes the universe knows best...

For the past month I have been in a frustrating exchange with Google about the rights to my domain name, They changed my domain to a G-Suite a few years ago without my consent. When I was prompted to log in this year (after not logging in for several years) to renew my credit card information, I couldn't remember the password. It wasn't one of my "usual" passwords, apparently. The only way they could reset my password was to text me with the phone number they had on file, which is no longer my phone number.

So after going back and forth with them for weeks, I've been forced to give up. Since I no longer have the card and bank account that was tied to the account (I closed them last year since it was a local TN bank and I don't live in TN anymore), I have no way to get into the account to renew the domain.

But honestly, I don't know why I was still hanging on to that account anyway. Except for the many posts (dating all the way back to 2008) that I poured my heart into for so many years. The good thing is that I figured out how to import those posts into this blog.

So after that was done, I deleted

I'm done with that chapter. After 9 years.

And it was hard.

But it was time.

My heart isn't into blogging anymore. I had dreams of taking this blog somewhere... making a name for myself and being an inspiration to people on a larger scale.

I don't know if I have that in me anymore. I can barely inspire myself most days. Just being honest.

So for now, I'll stay with But who knows, I may reinvent myself to something totally different in the months and years to come.

I'm still on Instagram, but have changed my name there to @the_real_hollie_j.

I feel like I may delete my Facebook account soon. But I'm TransformingHollie over there until that happens.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Is anyone still here?

I know I don't blog much over on this page since starting a couple of years ago, but every now and again I look at analytics and see that I still get a lot of page views here.

Is anyone still around? Does anyone still read blogs? If so, what do you want to read about?

Just wondering. I miss this community. Back in 2008 when I first got this party started, I made so many friends.

Now I feel like it's all replaced with social media. It's so fast to post a pic and a caption.

But writing is still fun.

Leave a comment if you're still around!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Reminding myself of why… #1 — Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

This past week has been rough… mentally, physically, and emotionally.
I have not been food sober as intended. In fact, I’ve pretty much screwed up in one way or another every day this week.
My body longs to be back in ketosis, but my brain and behaviors are not following suit. My back has a pinched nerve that’s been acting up, resulting in my right leg being swollen and painful. My cravings and hunger have been off the charts so I’ve not been fasting past 16–18 hours daily.
I keep messing up… eating things I know damn well I need to avoid (cereal, for instance). I’m killing my progress. I got on the scale this morning and I’m pretty much back to 286–287. I feel like such a failure.
Which makes me want to binge for the next few days and “start over Monday.”
I won’t allow myself to do that.
This morning I tuned into the Ketovangelist podcast (episode 103) and Amy Berger was on there talking about Alzheimer’s disease and how a ketogenic diet can help prevent this horrible disease. And of course, this information reminded me of one of my biggest “whys”.
I don’t want to get Alzheimer’s. I have to do everything in my power to stop this generational curse in it’s tracks. According to what I’ve learned so far, I’m at high risk since my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all suffered from this disease.
“Alzheimer’s results from a fuel shortage in the brain: As neurons become unable to harness energy from glucose, they atrophy and die, leading to classic symptoms like memory loss and behavioral changes. Medical and scientific journals are full of research showing alternate ways to fuel the starving brain, but no one has been bringing this essential information to the people who need it most — until nowIn a culture obsessed with miracle medications, the pharmaceutical route for tackling Alzheimer’s has been a massive failure. Pills and potions don’t address underlying causes, and regarding Alzheimer’s, they typically fail to improve even the symptoms. As a metabolic problem, the only effective way to treat Alzheimer’s may be a multifaceted approach that fundamentally reprograms energy generation in the brain. The good news is, the secret is as simple as switching to a low-carb, high-fat diet.” This is taken from the Amazon description of Berger’s book, The Alzheimer’s Antidote.
Berger pointed out in the podcast that even if you’re genetically wired for this disease (and I’m sure I am), you can reverse or prevent symptoms in your 30’s and 40’s. I still have time. I must do everything in my power to care for my brain. I can’t knowingly and willingly turn a blind eye to this knowledge. I won’t do that to my children.
Watching my mother SUFFER from Alzheimer’s still causes me so much grief. I lost her years before her body gave out. And even before the symptoms of that disease hit, she suffered from the effects of type 2 diabetes, which I’m also trying to avoid.
It’s not to late for me. I’m healthy. And I’m armed with knowledge my mother never had.
This isn’t about just weight loss. This is about improving my quality of LIFE and taking control of my HEALTH. This is about changing the lives of my children and preventing them from having to care for a mother that is slowly losing her mind. I won’t do that to them. I won’t accept that fate without fighting for a different outcome.

Monday, April 24, 2017

REALLY wanting change

I read a very profound article on here this morning by Benjamin P. Hardy about how being mediocre can stand in the way of success. And it dropped truth bombs all over the place. And I needed them.
After resolving to have a good weekend (with food), I half-assed it. I did well on Saturday, but woke up to a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch yesterday and it was downhill from there. And the whole time, I knew my choices were bad. And I just kept going with it.
I did, however, take some time out to sit outside in the sunshine and think for a little while about how I needed this week to go. Why do I sabotage myself? Why do I settle for behavior that is less than what I am capable of? Why do I keep making excuses?
So I decided that another try at an extended fast is in order. Not only to get back on track food-wise. But because I need to really ponder what I want out of my life right now. I need to pray, I need to get focused. I need to stop convincing myself that I’m ok with the way things are. Because I’m not.
My goal with this fast is 5 days. And when I’m done, I’ve also decided to be 100% ketogenic again. No more playing around. No more dabbling with other things, or allowing carbs here and there. I need to get back to what I know is best for MY body, and that’s keto. I KNOW that once I’m fat adapted, these cravings and food behaviors will go away. I just have to get there.
SO, back to the article… some of the truth bombs that were dropped:
  • What is private always shows itself publicly (food addiction, for example).
  • The first step of evolution is to stop desiring the things that are stopping you from evolving (sugar and processed foods that I hold so dear and don’t want to give up).
  • Change your desires to reflect your values. When your desires truly change, you will adapt your environment to match your new desires. you will no longer justify what you were once ok with (cheat days, meals).
  • Until you REALLY want to change, you won’t. (ouch!)
  • Everything you have in your life is what you want. Your circumstances reveal you. (again, ouch!)
  • Success is taking 20 steps in one direction rather than one step in 20 directions.
Well, it is my goal to take some steps in the right direction this week.
I just downloaded The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan to listen to on commute. I’m also going to re-read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

Friday, April 21, 2017

April progress so far...

At an attempt at being as transparent as possible with my journey going forward, here are my stats for April so far.

When I weighed in on April 3 at 286, I felt so humiliated. Like such a failure. How in the hell did I let myself re-gain 25 lbs since October? As you can see, I did pretty good that week… but then the weekend came. And I binged away all that progress and managed to even add 2.6 MORE pounds to that high weight!
So the following Monday, April 10, I started a OMAD (one meal a day) intermittent fasting plan. I did end up going longer than that and fasted from Monday night until Thursday afternoon… 68 hours. That’s my longest fasting stretch so far. And even though I had a three day holiday weekend, I didn’t binge or go crazy. Even on Easter Sunday (which we don’t celebrate), I cooked a low-carb meal and only treated myself with sugar-free cheesecake and Halo Top ice cream. From Thursday morning to Monday, I was only up about a pound. But coming off a long fast, I thought that was decent.
This week I’ve just been intermittent fasting 16–22 hours a day. I’m really just going off hunger or timing my meal to be whenever my family eats in the evening. I do drink either coffee or tea in the mornings.
Yesterday a co-worker brought me a diet Dr. Pepper, and even though I haven’t had a diet soda in two weeks, I drank it. Big mistake. Cravings took over immediately. So, when presented with ice cream cake after school, I had a slice (a small one). Then, when I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work, I bought 3 vanilla Easter eggs off the clearance table.
What the hell? How does one slide off the rails that easily?
But thankfully, I took my ass to the gym when I got home. And by the time I was done, I decided to carry on with my planned dinner (tacos) and NOT let that behavior continue for another minute. I chugged water until bedtime, and woke up a pound less than yesterday.
Whew. That was a close one.
But eye opening. I need to be very careful not to jump the rails again this weekend. Lots of time at softball means lots of exposure to the concession stand. And even though I KNOW that food is processed and gross, I’ll still want it. Because it’s a trigger. And I’m an addict.
So my goal for tonight is to get home in time to take leftover tacos to the ballpark with me. Tomorrow is my day to actually WORK the concessions before my daughter’s game, so I’ll be at the ballpark from 11:30 a.m to around 4 p.m. I could make a big breakfast, then drink water and fast until dinner. Or I could just put on my big girl panties and fast until dinner… just say no to the junk and make a conscious decision that I won’t eat that concession stand junk anymore this season. I could also just take some food with me just in case. I’m still contemplating.
The biggest thing is not binge eating and being totally aware of my choices. Because I slip into oblivion so easily it scares me. I’ve already been on the bad habit train for so long, I have to reprogram my brain into submission. But I’ve done it before and I can do it again.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ruth's House

Last night on the way home after a delicious Sushi dinner. Clyde and I were discussing our non-profit. We haven’t really shared a lot about it because since being founded in November, we got stuck with developing a business plan and found grant writing and fund raising to be a little overwhelming (to say the least). And then there’s life… busy jobs, busy kids. Plenty of excuses.

But a few weeks ago, Clyde separated from his job and we found that it was a perfect time for both of us to actually utilize his time off to work on our non-profit, Transforming Jax. Transforming Jax is an idea that I conceived on the commute to work one day last summer. My vision is that it can be way to help teach and inform people in the Jacksonville area about nutrition and dietary management of illness. We would also provide opportunities for fitness, of course. I want to address childhood obesity. I’d love to extend education and hands on help with children who are suffering from obesity.

So, that’s how our non-profit was born. From an idea. A passion for helping others that are in the same struggle I’m in. Only I feel like I’ve found an answer. Nutrition. Not the food pyramid bullshit that has got our country fat, sick, and nearly dead. Real nutrition. Real food.

Let’s face it. Sugar and refined, processed food is killing us. If it has a label, we probably shouldn’t be eating it. But this is knowledge that I’ve just really learned over the past few years. I used to think that dieting involved a 100-calorie pack or something that said “diet” or “low-fat” on the package. Lies, all lies. And the more I’ve researched, the more I’ve learned. Most of our diet dogma is based on old, outdated, inaccurate science. Food manufacturers and government hand-greasing dictated most of what our generation knows about food.

And it’s making us sick. Type 2 diabetes is out of control. Heart disease and other chronic illnesses are now also being contributed to poor diet. But doctors are still pushing pills. And nutritionists (using the outdated, manipulated science) are telling people that calories in/calories out is the way, and if they can’t do the SAD (Standard American Diet) way, they need more willpower. Or hell, sometimes it means another (diet) pill.

I’ve been on a diet since 2nd grade. I’ve tried everything except for weight loss surgery, and if my insurance covered it, I would have tried that, too. I’ve starved, I’ve lowered calories to just over 1000 a day. I’ve raised calories. I’ve ate 5–6 meals a day, I’ve went on green smoothie and juice cleanses. They all work for a time, and then they don’t. And I gain all the weight back and then I start over with something else. And I watched my mom do the same thing.

Which is where Clyde and my conversation went yesterday on our way home after dinner.
What would my mom’s outcome have been if she had been able to heal herself through diet?
It breaks my heart that she suffered through Type 2 diabetes for most of my life. Including wound care and hospital stays for complications. She also suffered from Alzheimer’s, also being called Type 3 diabetes. And even if you don’t believe it is (which I do), studies have shown that sugar and lack of dietary fat contribute to it.

What if I could have showed her the way? What if I could have saved her years of doctors visits and taking 10–15 different pills daily? What if I could have saved her from suffering before she died from sepsis, because of a bedsore that wouldn’t heal due to the diabetes?

“Let’s make it a goal to have a community center. Call it Ruth’s House.”

Yes. Because my mom's house was known in our neighborhood for being a refuge. And a community center could be the perfect venue to offer the services I envision this non-profit to provide. The ideas started flooding in.

Ruth’s House would ideally be positioned in a low socio-economic area that doesn’t have access to this type of services. This community-type center would provide:

  • fitness equipment
  • group fitness classes
  • nutrition support/education
  • healthy cooking classes
  • a fit camp for overweight kids
  • dietary management for type 2 diabetes
  • a community garden
  • weight loss support meetings
  • a weekly food distribution with HEALTHY food (no processed food or sugary snacks… whole, real food only)

Services would ideally be free. I think this idea could be life changing. You do NOT have to be sick and overweight. There IS another way. It’s time to stop the generational curse of obesity and related illnesses. 

I believe I’ve stopped the cycle in my family. I’m not perfect. I’m still working on myself and my family. But once you know better, you can’t go back. And I’ll keep fighting for my health every single day. One day soon I hope I’ll be able to inspire others to do the same. I want to to set a nutritional example and show everyone that I know that food can be medicine. And honoring my mom would do my grieving heart some good.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Whole 30... Week 1 recap

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know I decided to do a Whole 30 starting January 30. I needed a reset and a chance to get my bearings when it comes to food. I'd tried several times to get back on strict low carb, high fat, but the cheats were killing me. I just couldn't get back into the same groove I was in last year. Why?

Because I'm a food addict. A compulsive overeater. A binger. A sugar junkie. And those old habits reared their ugly head BIG TIME over the holidays. Besides overwhelming grief and depression, I was also dealing with some other major issues at home. So unfortunately, I turned back to food. Resulting in re-gaining 15 lbs.


So, I decided that a Whole 30 would be a way to get back to whole, unprocessed food with NO CHEATS. Yes, it allows fruit and sweet potatoes, which are not keto or allowed on LCHF. But Whole 30 also eliminates dairy and promotes good fats for satiety. 

I'm THOROUGHLY enjoying fruits and sweet potatoes, to be honest. So much so that the thought of staying Paleo afterward is going through my mind. I mean, giving up cheese and dairy hasn't really been that hard. We will see when it gets closer to the end of February. But right now, the plan is to go back to Keto/LCHF and to phase out the carbs during the last week of the Whole 30.

The following is a journal of my food for week 1. The pic of the boiled eggs is just one I took of ALL the eggs for the week.. I only ate 1-2 per day on the days that picture is shown. I've been doing great at meal prep, too.

I DID make the decision to include my vegan Shakeology during this Whole 30 because it's very minimally processed and all the ingredients are compliant. I need my Shakeology for the pre and probiotics, and also for my hair. Even when I miss a few days, I can tell the difference in my body.