Tall Americano with a shot of SF Cinnamon Dolce Syrup and Room, please

I just discovered this drink a couple of nights ago when our bariatric (weight loss) surgery support group wound up meeting at Starbucks. A bariatric meeting at Starbucks? I’m sure you’re thinking what I was, that is a far from ideal situation. We spend a LOT of time counseling our patients about liquid calories – basically, don’t drink them and also avoiding simple carbs (if you live on Pluto and have never been inside a Starbucks, you are surrounded by carbs screaming, “eat me, eat me”.)

Our group meets regularly on the first Monday night of the month. January 2nd, it was cold, cold, cold in middle Tennessee and there was a mixup with our meeting place which is right across the parking lot from Starbucks. Our options were go home or meet at Starbucks so we headed for the warmth. After navigating the endless maze of 13-15 year olds with frappacinos bigger than they were, we found the nice large community table free. Since it was cold, we all got something to drink. You know what? not a one of us made choices that weren’t on our program. I normally get their regular coffee with a shot of one of their SF syrups, but I learned something new Monday night. SB does not brew decaffeinated coffee after 12 noon. Call me crazy, but wouldn’t the afternoon and evening be when you want to drink decaf? Oh well, they offered a decaf Americano which is decaf espresso and water to which I added a shot of SF syrup, splenda and a splash of skim milk. For a great article on how much caffeine is too much caffeine, please check out this article by my friend and fellow OAC board member, Ted Kyle.

It's always coffee time!

We had a GREAT meeting and we had it in a calorie laden social setting. You know the type where you typically cave under peer pressure and have “just one” or “just a bite.”  We were able to practice something else we preach. Make the social setting be about the socializing, not the food. 

On that note, I’m heading to the kitchen for my second cup of fully caffeinated coffee. Want to join me?


Out with the Old, in with the New?


I am a bit of a hoarder by nature. I don’t have boxes and stacks blocking a pathway through my home or office, but my closets and drawers…well that’s a different subject. Since I tend to be a packrat, at least once or twice a year, I go in total purge mode. If it doesn’t get tossed then, well it’s destined to be there for at least six months or so. I’m also a bit of an overzealous organizer…so when you open my closets or drawers, it’s a type of organized, overstuffed chaos.

Friday I worked cleaning out and re-organizing my office. There was an entire drawer containing obesity journals that last year at this time I had sorted by journal and placed in order by date lined up with the spines showing so you could easily see the month, year and topic theme. When I opened the drawer Friday, there they were, still lined up nice and neat and never touched since last year. I figured it was pretty safe that if I hadn’t touched a single one of those journals in the last year, I’m not going to touch them this year (and did I mention I also have online subscriptions to them?) out they went!

The next drawer had gift bags, tissue paper and oh, 6 or 7 pair of shoes. I also found 6 jackets, 1 blouse, 2 purses and three agendas. Yes, that’s in my office. Not my home office, at my work office! Out it all went to the car. Suffice it to say, seven hours later there were several bags of trash outside my door and the shred-it bin is stuffed. 

Last week I started on the annual purge of my closet. Usually I take this on as an all day adventure and end the day exhausted, frustrated and embarrassed. This year, I’ve decided to tackle it in pieces. The first step was to go through the shoes…all the shoes (well, minus the several pair I found in my drawer at work)! Instead of just randomly moving them from one spot to another, I took my time, cleaned them, moisturized the leather, set them all on the bed and sorted them by style and color (yes, there’s a little OCD coming out – more on that later.) After I lined them all up in rows, it was funny, I could really identify and analyze my shoe “personality.” I had my cute work shoes (the ones I wear in the morning that match the outfit and have heels), my cute comfy work shoes (the flats that come out later in the day that I can actually walk in), my cute sandals/flip flops (that I live in on the weekends, even in the winter because they are so comfortable), my cute boots (that I live in when it’s to cold to handle the flip flops), my cute party shoes (the ones that are truly adorable with heels I can barely walk in but I just had to have because I party soooo much-hah!) Notice the recurring theme? They’re all cute! Why do I have so many shoes? Well, all those years before bariatric surgery when I wanted to go shopping and treat myself and I couldn’t find anything to wear, nothing fit or it was just plain ugly, a size 9 shoe fit every time! Unfortunately, now that I can wear cute clothes, that lust for cute shoes has not gone away. Maybe I’ll show you a photo of the “shoe lineup” when we talk about addiction.

Why do I hoard stuff? Maybe it’s because there’s always been a bit of concern it will be taken away. Why do I organize to the Nth degree? Maybe it’s so I’ll feel like I’ve gained some control over the situation. Why do I have so many shoes? Maybe it’s because when I believe I deserve it, it no longer has to be food. Maybe it’s because no matter what I have, I always wonder if there’s something better that will make me look better or make me happier.

Well, all that’s a little deep for starting off the New Year, so I’m going to go tackle that closet, purge some more clothes and think about what is it I keep thinking I deserve when I already have so much.


Will this year bring a “whole new you?”

Happy New Year from BariBelle!

Happy New Year! I hope 2012 brings you everything you want. Have you thought about what you truly want? What would make you happy? Have you “resolved” to make it happen? How about instead of making resolutions, you determine exactly what it is you wish to achieve in 2012 and then set your goals  planning step by step how you’ll reach them.

If your wish is for a “whole new you.” Why is that? For as far back as I can remember, every year when school would let out for the summer, my mother would put me on a diet and state, “When school starts back, you’ll be a whole new person.” Whether it was meant that way or not, I always wondered what, besides a few pounds was wrong the way I was then?

Now, I’m not a psychologist, although I do know several great ones, but it does seem to me that may have had a bit of an effect on my self esteem, my personality, and my relationship with food. It’s taken me a very long time to finally realize that  what I like about me, I like and I don’t have to change for anyone. What I don’t like, well, I don’t have to change it all at once and since I’m changing it just for me I can work on those changes at my pace. I can set my own goals and I am the only one responsible for me meeting or not meeting those goals. As I work on those changes, I won’t become a whole new me, nor do I want too. Maybe I’ll just become a better version of me.


Year in Review-A Look Back

ImageOn the last day of 2011, it’s only natural to reflect on the year. Where did the time go? Weren’t we just complaining about 100 degree days in June? Guess what, by the time we blink twice we’ll be complaining about 100 degree days in June again. I’ve always heard people talk about how the older you get the quicker time flies. I absolutely believe it. I look at my two sons, ages 23 and 21 and on one hand it seems they should still be in middle school with me shuttling them between football, soccer and baseball practices on a daily basis. But then I look at the handsome, responsible young men they’ve become and I think wow, they may actually make someone a decent husband some day. Some day, far, far away in the future. I joke about never knowing what an empty nest will feel like because they are never moving out! Reality is, they’re really nice to have around. They know how to carry a conversation whether about politics, religion, or of course, sports. They are polite. They help out at home. They will still be seen in public with us (when we pay, of course.)

In review, 2011 has been at times a very challenging year, but if life were always easy, what fun would it be? I had many career highlights this year. I had the opportunity to speak at the annual ASMBS conference. Twice I went to DC with the Obesity Action Coalition to speak with our legislators about the dire need for inclusion of obesity prevention AND treatment in the Essential Benefits Package. I spoke at one of the Health and Human Services listening sessions on the same topic. Most exciting for me, the Board of Directors of the OAC elected me to become the new Chairperson beginning tomorrow! I take a lot of satisfaction from my career. It’s never failed that on a day when I was tired, frustrated, and wondering, “Why am I doing all of this? What’s the point? No one cares, no one understands, UGH!” I would receive an email, a call or see a post on Facebook from one of our patients about how much I had helped them. I think we all know it means the world to us when someone takes the time to say thank you and truly mean it, so why don’t we say it more often?

One of the more challenging times this year was when we had to put our 12 year old Chow mix, Tubby to sleep. He had developed the canine equivalent of Parkinson’s and his health and quality of life went downhill quickly. The day I took him to the Williamson County Animal Hospital for the last time was one of the saddest in my life. While I know there was no other option (he was to the point we had to carry him outside to use the bathroom), I still felt like I was murdering my best friend. I stayed with him the whole time and I hope that brought him some comfort. The people at the hospital were so very kind to both of us. Tubby was a pound puppy. I love pound puppies. I went straight from the animal hospital to the pound and nearly walked out with six dogs and three puppies…so, I decided that wasn’t the best time to adopt! Instead we waited three weeks and went to the MARS Petcare adoption day where we adopted Geordie (the cute one on the left with the red and white jingle bells around his neck) from Bonaparte’s Retreat. He is a one year old Scottie/Basset/Lab mix. Basically, 46 pounds of love wrapped up in black fur. When Geordie came to us he was house broken, crate trained, very intelligent and extremely adorable. We call him our rotten-wiler because he is quite literally spoiled rotten. 

Earlier this week I was on Geordie’s Facebook page (yes, that’s correct and no, I don’t have a life) when I saw this adorable 4 year old Cocker Spaniel on the Tennessee Death Row Dogs page. He was at the Montgomery County shelter and on “the list.” Not the good list, you know the one. We were already discussing getting Geordie a brother or sister next year and this little guy tugged at our heart strings so all three of us went to check him out and well he came home with us that day. Dillard (new name pending) is the cute ball of fluff on the right. We call him our rotty-wiler because well, we’ve only had him 48 hours and he’s already getting spoiled rotten. He’s 4 years old, house broken, 24 pounds of fluff. Honestly, it’s like snuggling with a moving bag of cottonballs.

The point of this rambling post? It’s December 31st. At times 2011 was a crappy year. I could focus on that, drown my sorrows in as much sugar as my bypass will allow, hang my head, hide under the covers, become pessimistic and miserable OR I can re-read this post and think about how this is just a fraction of the great things that happened in 2011. And honestly, is there anyway to look at the two adorable fluff balls in that picture and not smile? They think I am the greatest thing on the planet and I know they are.

As you reflect on your version of 2011, cut yourself some slack for any shortcomings, pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments, thank those who mean the world to you, smile at those who don’t, get over the negative and focus on your highlights. Enjoy the evening, celebrate life and the entrance of 2012. 

See you next year!


What’s in a Name?

You may not believe it, but I actually did not put a lot of thought into the name BariBelle. Just like many of you, I’ve had many different “user IDs, email addresses, etc.” over the years, usually relating to some type of sports team. When I first entered the world of email (do you remember what year it was when you first sent an email?), I was “ukmomma.” I am Kentucky bred, born and raised. I’ve been a Kentucky Wildcat fan forEVER, so that seemed like a natural email choice at the time.

After the Titans came to town, I became obsessed with all those good looking guys in the tight, white pants, err, I mean the outstanding displays of fine physical prowess of professional athletes at their best. Yea, that’s it, that’s what I meant… so the natural email choice at the time was “titanschick.” My pattern tends to be whatever I’m currently really interested in finds it’s way into my email addresses.

While I was born and raised in the south and still live in the south, I’ve never thought of myself as a Southern Belle. I mean hello, SB’s are thin, rich, with a Scarlett O’Hara accent, right? Well, no and to make that assumption or any generalization about any group of people is uninformed, uneducated and just downright wrong. Pretty much like when the general assumption is that if you have obesity and especially if you have severe obesity, you must be stupid, lazy and well, just plain gross. We all know that is NOT the case and as a matter of fact, we get pretty darn tired of hearing it.

Earlier this month, I was honored to be interviewed by Erin Akey and Ben Akey on Fit Living Radio when Erin made a comment about my “soft, Southern Belle voice.” Let me tell you, I have never been described as either having a soft voice or being a Southern Belle. It was one of the sweetest compliments I’ve received. Fast forward a couple of weeks to when I finally decided to create my own personal Twitter account and was trying to figure out a cool (read KEWL), at least to me, Twitter name. I so identify myself as first and foremost a bariatric patient, also as a bariatric nurse, and a bariatric advocate that I obviously had to have Bari in the handle. But what to put with it? I remembered Erin’s comment and I thought, “Hey, that’s it! BariBelle!”

What do you think about the name?

How did you come up with your ID/email/handle/etc.?

In the Beginning…there was my first post!

After talking about it for a long time (mainly to myself), I decided to stop talking and start blogging. The final push to motivate me? A dear friend and one of the busiest women on the planet has recently found the time to start running (gasp) and to begin a personal blog. I rationalized if this super busy lady can find the time to share her perceptions and realizations with us, I need to stop procrastinating and do the same. If you would like to check out the most fabulous Dr. Jacqueline Jacques blog about running, please check out “Not born to run.

Of course me writing it and anyone reading it, well that’s two different things. If anyone finds my idle ramblings, (composed primarily of stray thoughts I have while driving to and from work) insightful, funny or enlightening then that will most definitely make me smile.

Where will my thoughts take me and this blog? Well, my husband and I recently adopted a one year old shelter dog, Geordie. He is quite honestly, the cutest and smartest dog on the planet, so there will be some Geordie tails (yes, I meant to spell both his name and tails that way.) I love, Love, LOVE to shop, so there will be some adventures in shopping. I am a bit of a coffee freak, so there will be coffee comments. I am also a bariatric surgery patient. I had gastric bypass surgery March 2nd, 2001. I lost 160 pounds. In 2004 I was fortunate enough to begin working with other bariatric patients, so there will be many references, ideas, hints, tips, and resources related to bariatric surgery. Most exciting for me, on January 1st, 2012 I will begin my role as Chairman of the Obesity Action Coalition, so there will be many updates and announcements about this wonderful organization.

Thank you for checking out my first post. Hopefully, you’ll cuddle up on the couch with your own warm puppy, hot cup of coffee and come back to read more.  That’s how I’ll be writing.


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