Meet Jim “JD” Daniels

Last year, I had the opportunity to meet with Jim “JD” Daniels and discuss my weight loss journey. Today, I’m proud to share his story with you! Way to go, JD! So happy to hear that your health has improved and proud of the fitness goals you’re setting and accomplishing! -Sam

I have a family history of obesity and have struggled with my weight over the last 15 years since retiring from the United States Air Force. The good looks and slenderness went to my brother and sister from my mom’s side of the family, and the personality and the heaviness I received from my dad’s side! About two years ago, I was hiking with a group in the Eagle Cap Wilderness in eastern Oregon and was always the last person that everyone was waiting on. I was taking numerous breaks and it was a struggle! I was not happy and the realization hit me that I was extremely over weight, taking blood pressure and cholesterol medications. I was not happy or able to enjoy life to the fullest.

I have talked to numerous people who have had weight loss surgery, but the person who finally helped me with my choice was Sam. It was incredible to see his transformation, hear his story of how the “sleeve surgery” was the right weight loss surgery for him.

September 24, 2014 was my “born again” day from a physical point of view – the day of my sleeve surgery! The process leading up to this point and preparing for the surgery was just as important as the surgery. The staff at the Surgical Weight Control Center was fantastic in making sure I was prepared and ready for my surgery day. The staff at the hospital from pre to post operation were fantastic, and I was able to go home the day after surgery. I believe my preparation prior to surgery helped reduce my stay at the hospital and emphasized the importance of following the directions provided by the clinic staff.

It is important to understand that weight loss surgery is a tool and not an end solution! The surgery has helped me control the amount of food I eat, but I still have to make good choices! My biggest obstacle was my fast eating habit and realized this was an important lifestyle change that I need to make.

I have lost more than 70 pounds in the last 11 months and I am no longer taking my blood pressure or cholesterol medications. I am sleeping through the night, and, according to my wife, my snoring has been reduced significantly. My energy levels are through the roof and it is pretty cool picking out new clothes!

This year, my wife and I went to our favorite vacation spot (Kauai, Hawaii), and for the first time I was able to do a 10-mile run along a beach front that I thought would never be possible. This year I have registered for the Las Vegas Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon and will be running my first half marathon (13-miles) in November with my brother. My weight loss journey could not have happened without the support of my family, friends to include the Surgical Weight Control Center staff and Drs. Atkinson and Soong! Thank you! -JDScreen Shot 2015-09-02 at 4.42.15 PM

Passing the torch…

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over two years since I underwent gastric sleeve surgery. I’ve reached my goal weight by losing 137 pounds. I can sit comfortably in an airplane seat, movie theater seat and, earlier this month, a gymnasium seat as I watched my oldest son graduate from college. It reminded me of why I decided on surgery – I want to be around my family and watch them achieve many more milestones.

Now, I’m passing on the torch to a young family, also from Las Vegas. Tysha and Aubrey Jones underwent weight loss surgery so they can keep up with their four children. To date, Tysha has lost 194 pounds and Aubrey has lost 120. We recently filmed a TV commercial and extended video for the website regarding their story and commitment to healthy living. Be on the lookout for them this summer!

In the meantime, I wish you the very best as you begin or continue your weight-loss journey. Thanks for the reading my blog and for all the comments you’ve shared with me over the past two years.

‘Tis the Season….To Be Thankful

I can’t believe Hanukkah begins next week, followed by Christmas and the start of 2015. Therefore, I’ll just wish you a “Happy/Merry Everything!” No matter where you are in your weight-loss journey – thinking about it, in the process, or post-surgery, you’re taking big steps to make an important change in your life.

As you work your way through a variety of holiday celebrations, I know it can be challenging with temptation around every corner. I know you can appreciate this email Brittany Schultz (surgery on July 7, 2014) wrote while she was flying over Thanksgiving:

Prior to my surgery, I hated flying, because I never could fit in the seat comfortably and had to be that embarrassed passenger that 1) I needed a seat belt extender and 2) prayed that no one sat next to me cause my hips where so big I couldn’t put the arm rest down without it bruising me from pushing the whole flight. Thanksgiving Day marked my first flight since the surgery……and I didn’t need a seat belt extender! I’m down 98 pounds in five months.

Someone asked me how I felt about the holidays since they are my first post-surgery celebrations. I loved Thanksgiving in the past, mostly because I love to cook. I still love it, but the sound of all the food doesn’t excite me like it did before. My plan is to go into the dinner with portion control on my mind. A little turkey and few others but no potatoes because I try to stay away from breads, pastas and potatoes period because they fill me up in a second. I’ll stick to to what I know my little belly will handle. Don’t get me wrong – my inner fat girl is screaming for pie, lots of turkey, mashed potatoes and all the yummy stuff. I know my limits, but I won’t deprive myself of things I really want. I want to start the New Year off on the right track…..down over 100 pounds and increase my exercise regime.

I hope people see that this is the best decision you can ever make for yourself if you suffer from obesity.

I think Brittany hit on a really important point – she referenced her “inner fat girl.” It’s a terrible phrase but when you’ve been overweight for so long, it’s really hard to leave that mind set. Be sure to check out the support groups at Surgical Weight Control Center to help you through those times.

See you in 2015!

PS – Here is a picture of Brittany and me pre-surgery (June 3, 2014) and today (December 11, 2014). Great job!

 

Checking in….12 weeks post-sleeve

How is everyone? It’s been a busy two months, especially with the Jewish holidays. Remember when I mentioned my parents owned a deli and celebrating with food was a way of life? It still is – it’s just very small portions for me because I’m not hungry, even when it’s time break our fast. There are more high-calorie holidays and parties on the horizon for all of us, so be careful. No one will fault you for just loading up on veggies and water.

Now, I wanted to check in with Brittany Schultz on her weight-loss journey. I like the websites she finds – there are so many great tools to help with weight-loss post-surgery.

Twelve weeks have gone so fast! It is definitely not an easy process, but you do adjust. It is a lifestyle change and really, it feels like everything in your life changes. I am now down 70 pounds!

I found a great website called www.ilostwhat.com and discovered that is equal to 75 footballs. This website makes me think about the weight I carried around. Last check it was the same as three tires, which is a big strain on your joints and your heart.

The cravings still happen, mostly for soda, and I think it’s mostly the carboBrittany, 12 weeks post surgerynation. I have found options to try and curb it but seeing an ice cold soda makes it difficult. I have been using things like Crystal Light, Crush Packets, and other items to add to water to try and get my water in, and take away the soda craving. I have found a few awesome high protein snacks and even delicious pretzel breading for meat or fish. Kaysnaturals.com has high protein snacks and breading that are worth every penny. I can now eat anything but really have been staying away from carbs, and found zucchini pasta is my new favorite food.

I also go to Pinterest and Instagram for my recipe ideas since there are weight loss groups on them both. On Pinterest, I just search “gastric sleeve recipes” and browse through them. Instagram is where I go for a lot of ideas and a ton of motivation. I use the search engine and look at the hashtags “gastricsleeve” or “vsg” and there it is – food, weight loss pictures and even motivational quotes. Some days, I have bad days, so I just go look at other people and return to my motivation.

With graduation only a couple of weeks away, I am so close to hitting my goal of losing 75 pounds! Ordering my cap and gown was rewarding, especially when the sizes were by weight and I didn’t have to pick the biggest one! I am looking forward to flying for the holidays to be with family, whereas before I would have been dreading it.

Great job Brittany! I’m down 134 pounds, so according to the website, I’ve lost the equivalent of a two-month old horse (100 pounds) plus the Stanley cup (34 pounds).  Pretty cool.

You can also follow Brittany’s https://brittanysweightloss.wordpress.com/

 

Checking in…eight weeks post-op

We’re checking back with Brittany Schultz to see how everything is going since her gastric sleeve surgery on July 7, 2014.

Well, it’s been almost eight weeks post-op and here’s my latest update. The weight is still coming off (54 pounds total), but at a slower pace. I have been trying to exercise three days a week, and hoping to keep that on track. With my hip issues, it hasn’t been easy, but I have great support now.

I can pretty much eat anything now but am staying away from breads and pastas. I have had horrible soda cravings but have been using the Crush brand flavors for water, which has really helped. I had issues with protein shakes, and it was almost a dumping reaction so I switched to soy protein and feel MUCH better.

My biggest challenge is the mental side of it all. Your life changes so much and in so many ways. The urge to eat more is crazy. Like when I make something good, it tastes good and I want more but I know I can’t or I will get sick. It’s hard! I have been out to eat and have found little things to order, or will eat off my boyfriend’s plate and will be satisfied.

I had a few alcoholic drinks this past weekend which tasted good but, of course, filled me up and had way to much sugar for my belly. My goals for September are to increase my protein and exercise to a minimum of three days a week. I want to hit my goal to lose 75 pounds by my graduation in October!

When I read Brittany’s post, I realized she didn’t mention her Facebook support group – it is called Gastric Sleeve Support Group. And for those who prefer an in-person support group, there are several monthly groups available at Surgical Weight Control Center. These may help you deal with challenges such as “mind over eating” as well as receiving good advice and emotional support from others on their weight-loss journey. For more information, visit  http://www.surgicalweightcontrolcenter.com/seminars/.

You can also follow Brittany’s blog at https://brittanysweightloss.wordpress.com/

And off goes another one….

No, I’m not talking pounds, although that is always a nice feeling! I just delivered son #3 to college. As all parents of college-bound students know, it’s a workout to get everyone prepared, packed, driven to their destination, unpacked and organized. Good luck to those who have yet to tackle this challenge!

I consider the new school year a time for new beginnings and a r1new-beginningsoadmap to finish out the year. I always set some year-end short-term goals. Brittany Schultz, who had surgery in early July, wants to be down at least 75 pounds by the time she walks across the stage to accept her college diploma in October. Another gentleman wants to donate his excess skin to help burn patients, so he’s taking steps to see if this is feasible (more about his story in a future post).

If you’re concerned about paying your surgery deductible, take steps to talk with the Surgical Weight Control Center to learn the cost. It may be different due to the Affordable Care Act. They can also offer suggestions for payment options. Or maybe you can tweak your budget a bit to save for a future deductible.

The important part is setting a goal and taking the next step. It’s easier said than done but take advantage of this start of the school year – even if you don’t have kids – and do something that will improve your life.

Four Weeks Post-Op – What to Expect

I’m turning this post over to Brittany Schultz, who had gastric sleeve surgery on July 7, 2014. Now four weeks post-op, she has some words of wisdom to share about what you may experience during the first few weeks after surgery.

Take it away, Brittany!

Brittany before (right) and 4 weeks post surgery
Brittany before (right) and 4 weeks post surgery.

I never thought I could lose weight like this! I am 42 pounds down in just four weeks.

The first week I was shocked that I had lost 19 pounds.  It sure hasn’t been easy though. The first two weeks were hard for me. You can only eat thick liquids and it is hard to find items that actually taste good. Many people told me that your taste buds change and I never really thought about it twice, but it is true. I lived off sugar free popsicles, sugar free jello, and broth.

The recovery was not bad although that gas pain they talk about is serious business so my advice would be to WALK, WALK, WALK! I went back to work one week after surgery and felt great although a little tired by midday. There are, of course, challenges when you watch others eat yummy things but I just think about how I cannot have it or it will make me sick. I had my first “getting sick” experience when I started soft foods and it was because I ate too fast. Taking 30 minutes to eat is a hard thing to do. Try it!

Now into week four, I am able to eat foods and take my vitamins. I feel the best I have ever felt. I went on a family vacation one and a half weeks ago to Knott’s Berry Farm and was able to ride many rides I couldn’t before, and also walk the park for 12 hours.

It is just the beginning of my journey and I am already seeing things that I never thought I would. I hope that by October, when I graduate, I walk across the stage 75 pounds lighter and with all the energy in the world! 

Heading Out of Town

Just a quick note to say “Hi!,” and thank everyone who has been sending me notes. I’m headed to SoCal for our annual medical executive retreat later this wee449px-California_134.svgk. What a difference a year makes! This time last year, I was happy that I had already lost about 50 pounds three months post-op. Now I’ve officially lost 134 pounds. Every day, I’m thankful I took control of my life through surgical weight loss. It’ll be nice not to haul the CPAP machine along since my sleep apnea is no longer an issue.

I also want to give a shout-out to Brittany Schultz, who works with me at Valley Hospital. She had her surgery on July 7 and is down 35 pounds. She is done with the two-week, post-op all-liquid menu and is now enjoying soft foods. Way to go!

If you have a particular topic you’d like to see me address in a future blog, be sure to leave a comment below. Have a great week!

What’s for Dinner?

One of my employees recently asked me what I ate during meals, knowing that I often have breakfast, lunch and dinner business meetings. I told her, “I can eat what I want; it’s all about the portion size.” Now that my stomach is literally about the size of a banana, I make sure my calories count and I’m eating enough protein, fruits and vegetables. I eat a lot of salad and drink a lot of water. I don’t eat sweets or drink carbonated beverages. Sometimes during the day, I’ll have a few almonds as a snack.almonds 7.9.14

I know it may sound simple but when you have gastric sleeve surgery, it removes a hormone that stimulates hunger. Now I can eat or drink about four ounces at a time. I need to chew really well and eat much smaller bites to help with my swallowing and digestion. Since I’ve reached my weight goal, I can do things more comfortably – like sit in an airplane seat or at the Thomas and Mack for my son’s graduation. Having weight-loss surgery can transform your life, but you need to be psychologically ready to make the change, too. You can’t splurge at the buffet or overeat at Thanksgiving – your stomach simply doesn’t have the capacity.

Because I was so open about my surgery, my business colleagues also understand why I eat how I do. They don’t say “Get the porterhouse!,” or “You’re just having a salad?” They’re supportive and that helps, too.

So if you often have to dine out for business purposes or do a lot of socializing, just know it can be done.  Your health is what matters the most – not what other people think about your meal order.

Here Comes the Bride’s….Dad

Today, I’d like to introduce you to David Bohl of Lake Havasu, AZ. A retired executive from the communications industry, David had to constantly travel overseas for business, with regular business breakfasts, lunches and dinners and little time for exercise. His weight ballooned to 387 pounds and due to his weight, he took 22 pills a day, had high blood pressure, diabetes, a host of medication side effects, two pulmonary embolisms, and one heart attack. He suffered from a “who cares” mentality and truly thought he would be dead by age 50.

But all that changed when a young man won his only daughter’s heart.

“My daughter was engaged to be married and I asked her, ‘What would you like for your wedding? House, car, whatever you want.’ And she replied, ‘Dad, I just want you to be around for my wedding.”’

“That was it. From that moment, I made a 360 degree change in attitude. I posted motivational signs in the bathroom, gave myself a pep talk and didn’t look back.”

David spoke with a neighbor who had undergone weight loss surgery earlier, and on August 28, 2012, Dr. Darren Soong performed gastric sleeve surgery at Desert Springs Hospital. Since that date, David has lost over 180 pounds and he transformed his life.

Now a silversmith and jewelry company owner, he gave up his car for a year post-surgery. He rode a bicycle six miles a day, six days a week, which aided his weight loss. He took up golf – previously, he could not see the ball or swing a club – and is on the links several times a week. Meals took on an entirely different meaning. David now has his own garden and prepares all the meals for he and his wife.

David knows the struggle we’ve all endured. “Truly, if I can do this, anyone can. I will do anything and everything I can to share my story and motivate people to make a change for themselves.  It is the greatest feeling on the planet to be on the other side of this.”

In October 2014, David will walk his beautiful daughter down the aisle…her only request, his greatest gift to her. Maybe they’ll send us a picture!

David Bohl, Before & After
David Bohl, Before & After