Weight Loss Surgery Cheating 101

I’m writing this message for people thinking about, and those who’ve had, weight loss surgery (WLS), such as a Roux en Y, or the Sleeve. You (me too, I’m five years post-op) are making life-altering and significant decisions concerning your health. It’s natural to turn to those closest to you to discuss your choices and compare options. And when you do, you’re likely to run into someone who is going to tell you WLS is a way to “cheat” at losing weight.

It might be a family member, friend, co-worker, spiritual advisor, gym instructor, teacher, or even an acquaintance. She may have been your greatest cheerleader during every diet you’ve failed. He might be the one pressuring you to get thin. They may have watched your weight gain over the years and had plenty to say about it. But it’s pretty much assured that someone is going to say to you, “Surgery is taking the easy way out. C’mon, it’s really cheating.”

And after you’ve lost a significant amount of weight the same people will say, “My, you’ve changed. Where’s that sweet person I used to know?”

Okay, let’s take this step by step. In the first place, it’s not easy to realize that repeated failure is inevitable through traditional means. Oh sure, diets work until we reach our desired weight and begin to eat normally again, and compulsive exercise programs may shape and tone…until we get thinner and decide to skip a session or ten. You have stepped out of the box and recognized that it’s foolish to keep doing the same things time and again with predictably disappointing results – every pound you lost traditionally has come back and brought twenty more for good measure.

Secondly, who exactly are you cheating? And precisely how?

Are you cheating the person accusing you by taking their money under false pretenses? Perhaps they’re paying for your weight loss program, diet, and gym costs and think you’re dodging your responsibilities?

Maybe you’re swindling society at large because everyone’s physiology is obviously identical and those who no longer conform must struggle? Is dieting a competition you are fated to lose? Is it really depriving your community of anything if you choose to step out of a race you can’t win, place in, or even finish? Is dieting plus extreme exercise equals weight loss the only honest solution to a compulsory problem?

Or more insidiously, are you being accused of cheating yourself? Out of what; depression, health problems, discrimination, dismissiveness, rude behavior, cruel bullying, or early death?

Nonsense. Cheating, even short-cutting, permanent weight loss is impossible. It is not a game to be won, no score is being kept, no investor is paying for your weight loss and expecting a dividend. And duh, it’s impossible to cheat on yourself. As Yoda explained, you do or do not.

During the miraculous year following WLS when so many pounds melt away, you’ll get reactions ranging from praise and admiration, to curiosity, to shock and jealousy, the whole gamut. As strangers start being nice to you (another topic for another time), the bullies up their bullying.

It could be they’re resentful because you succeeded when they secretly bet against you, counting on you to fail this time as you always have before. Some, like alcoholics, might have thought of you as their eating buddy, the one they could always count on for a pig-out to make them feel better when they lost control because you did too. They may have always measured themselves as ‘better’ than you because thinner is the winner and you always outweighed them. Now they are bigger than you and they don’t like it for all the reasons I’ve mentioned and many more I haven’t. The happier you feel the more miserable they become.

They start saying snarky things to undermine you. The first is usually, “I don’t know you anymore. You’ve changed.”

Uh huh, duh. That was the plan, Fran.

You have changed, a lot. You’ve taken control of your own body and now manage its health in ways you never have before. They don’t know who you are anymore because you’ve made decisions far different than their own and much more difficult than they’ve ever managed.

You’ve learned a lot about your body, self-esteem, and the space you take up and it’s changed you. You’re not the same sad, lonely, self-deprecating, shrinking violet they knew before WLS. The days of pretending to be wallpaper so no one will look at you are over. You no longer hunger for acceptance or feel desperate for approval. You don’t need anyone to know your worth because you know it.

When asked where that sweet person they used to know has gone, I’ve answered, “I’m right here, stronger, healthier, and happier. Where’s that supportive sibling/friend/co-worker I used to know?”

If you’ve chosen WLS and someone accuses you of cheating or tries to belittle your accomplishments tell them, “Listen, you can either hop on board my Success Train or get out of my way. Either way, I’m moving on.”

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a day for answers

Tomorrow is a long-awaited birthday, the one I’ve hoped to attain my entire life, my sixty-fourth. I have literally waited for this day for the last fifty-four years. I know I’m getting old (my grandkids think I’m already there, phht) but it’s a day that will make me feel delightfully young again. I plan to dance and sing loud enough to shake the rafters. Even if it’s snowing and the temperature stays below zero all day, the sun will be shining in my heart and eyes as I revel on this special day.

I understand if you are searching for some relevance for that particular number. It’s not one of the Big 0’s, it’s not three-quarters of a century, or four-score and seven, not even the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. So why, you’re wondering, has my sixty-fourth been such a big deal for so long?

It’s my Beatle Birthday. Allow me to explain.

In 1967 I loved the Beatles, I and every other girl in the Western world and most of the Eastern as well. I mean, LOVED them, and would have happily swooned at any one of their live performances. Their songs spoke for, to, and of a generation, my generation. However, having been born at the tail end of the baby boomers I missed the ‘Revolution’ by eight long years.

As a ten-year-old (don’t torture your brain, I was born in 1957), I wasn’t old enough to be a hippie or Love Child, but I longed to be. British fashion invaded America with the Beatles. Art exploded with color. Songs told stories of righting wrongs, ending oppression, gaining understanding and brotherhood. Television pitted young activists against hawkish conservatives, entertaining both on different days and during varying hours.

Happenings were happening all around me and I longed to participate. I wanted to march against the Vietnam War, sit-in for civil rights, sing folk songs with students planning a social revolution. But instead, I was babysat by them or dismissed as their younger sister’s friend, not accepted as one of their own. Sigh. So it is in every young activist’s life.

1967 was also the year the Beatles released their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. I’d always enjoyed their music but was more fascinated with their personalities, especially John. However, that album changed the way I listened to music forever. It took root in my brain and became the first, but certainly not last, to be played repeatedly wherever I was, over and over, for days to weeks to months. I knew every line of every song, finding depth and human wisdom in their stories of everyday people.

Each of the songs have been special to me at various times of my life, She’s Leaving Home and For the Benefit of Mr. Kite pretty much defined my early teens. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (the song), Lovely Rita, and With A Little Help from My Friends explain a lot of my young adulthood, and then there’s the one I’ve loved most (yes, even more than Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds) over the years.

When I’m Sixty-Four

When I get older, losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine?
Birthday greetings? Bottle of wine?

If I stay out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me? Will you still feed me?
When I’m sixty-four?

Link to entire song

The rest of the song is entertaining, but it’s the first two stanzas that have tickled me for a rather long lifetime, teasing me with questions for my future.

Finally I know the answers. My sweetie still sends me a Valentine, birthday greetings, and if not a bottle of wine then a pricy, fancy, box of chocolates. I never see a quarter of three without her lying by my side. She still needs me. She still feeds me.

And now, I’m Sixty-Four!

who pumps?

In your relationship, who is in charge of getting gas for the car?

Between ourselves, my wife and I joke about being in a Butch/Femme marriage but when anyone asks about stereotypical heterosexual roles we explain, “Whoever gets up first makes the coffee, last one up makes the bed. We take care of each other.”

There are many chores we do together. We take turns cooking, filling and emptying the dishwasher, helping each other when we can, and we always make financial decisions together. However, that said, after twenty years together some ‘household chores’ have become habitual to the point of expectation. I do the indoor stuff while she takes care of the outdoors.

I am not fulfilling some gender destiny, or cultural compulsion to exemplify femininity. Over the years we’ve discovered that I hate gardening. There’s something about bees, dirt under my fingernails, mosquitos, the smell of moldering leaves and weeds, the getting down, getting up again, down, up, and the wasps…well, it’s just not my thing. I found myself avoiding those chores when they needed doing, leaving them to Traf.

But I can’t sit around while she works so I took over the inside cleaning. I love the people who use our bathroom, so I clean it thoroughly to keep them protected. I’m careful when dusting all the treasures accumulated over decades. I move furniture when vacuuming, to get at the cat fur and dust that accumulate in hidden places. And I sort, wash, and dry the laundry keeping everyone in clean clothes, linens, and towels. Turns out, I feel much happier and fulfilled as things around me get straightened, sorted, put away. I love watching my labors produce cleanliness.

All of which makes me grateful my wife loves to get down and dirty, because I surely do not. It pleases Traf to grow a dazzling garden filled with fresh, healthy veggies every summer, delighting both taste buds and our wallets. Her careful lawn care and border of tiger and day lilies delight the neighborhood for weeks, even prompting strangers to stop and take photos. She also keeps the outdoor machines; cars, lawnmower, snow-blower, garage door, and all lamps/lights in good working order.

In relationships there’s a tit for tat, I give you this and expect that from you. If she starts to irritate me or I’m feeling underappreciated, I remind myself of what she does for me, or for us as a couple, that I have taken for granted before. I own it, after all these years we’ve both forgotten to be grateful and hurt each other, and we’ve learned from experience.

But, um, yep, I expect my wife to keep my car filled with gas.

If she starts feeling miffed about it, I hope she thinks of me cleaning the toilet following an episode of unfortunate digestive issues. In the same way, whenever I get pissy about sneezing from dust motes atop bookcases and fur-mice under couches, I think gratefully of Traf mowing the lawn on a hot summer day and up to her knees shoveling snow in winter.

I remind myself who I’m doing it FOR, my wife and family.

It is a privilege to take care of the woman I love.

Merry New Year, everyone!

To Be Read on Very Bad Days

To Be Read on Very Bad Days

Things are tough, everyone knows it. Some of us are back at work, or whatever work looks like these days. Some still shelter at home, some are becoming new techno-wizards-by-necessity. Some people are out of work and hanging on by a thread. Other folks are nervously still working at businesses that are themselves on the verge of bankruptcy.

Politics are heating up and people who have made their choices are busily trying to convince those few stubborn folks who refuse to pay attention to either party (and blindly insist that both parties are the same) that their candidates are superior in every way. Everywhere you look are political ads pointing fingers, yelling out warnings, using the sounds of war, snapping fingers, ringing phones, and even rattlesnakes in the back ground to make you even more on edge and willing to seek safety.

And then there’s the weather. And fires. And social unrest, peaceful protests, rioting, police brutality, white privilege, systemic racism…

…oh, and a little thing we call a pandemic that is killing our fellow human beings at shocking rates all around the world. We try to go about our business while getting used to wearing masks (fogging glasses, smoker’s breath) and no longer getting facial cues to help us understand others.

People are totally stressed out. And as they have always done, they lash out at strangers because that’s so much safer than risking relationships of value by venting at home. People are rude when told something they were used to is different now, they’re vindictive online when their whims cry out for revenge, safe behind screens to write things they’d never say with mouths that kiss their mothers. Stress turns normal people into fretful freaks, or angry avengers, or snarky narcs, and every
one
of
them
shows
up
in
your
line.
Metaphorical line, it could be they’re on your phone, visiting your office, trashing your book reviews (Charles), or staring at you through two car windows and a foot of space between them during rush hour.

They stomp on your day, digging sharp elbows into soft bellies, setting your teeth on edge, challenging you to admit you don’t know what you’re doing and have completely, utterly, failed. Judith Viorst knew exactly what I’m talking about and brilliantly named a picture book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which I used to read aloud to my students, even the sixth graders. Because everyone has them.

Terrible days. Horrible weeks. No good months. And very, very bad years (Yeah, we’re looking at you 2020). You need a way to counter their effects, save your day, remind yourself of your skills and talents, and give yourself a mental hug. So I’m sharing a life hack that has served me well over the decades, but shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.

As an elementary school teacher, I began keeping a file in my desk at work. I titled it: To Be Read on Very Bad Days and in it I kept every little thank you, recognition of my skills, and love note from a student I was given. Any praise from administrators, awards and recognition, photos with kids, were carefully stored. On days that left me ready to weep with exhaustion, low self-esteem, and frustration I would give myself 10 minutes to pull out my file and remember. Re-reading about my successes, seeing the appreciation of those whose lives I’d touched for the better, remembering the strength of my conviction to be my best self, would help. I’d straighten my shoulders, stiffen my spine, wipe my eyes, and carry on.

Over the years that folder grew thicker and just the sight of it would sometimes be enough to help me shoulder through the days when I felt like the worst teacher ever. Even though I’ve been retired a long time now, that folder stays in my desk in the basement. I still read it from time to time.

Start one. Today. Take a half-hour and gather whatever you’ve got lying around in the way of compliments, no matter how small. Birthday cards signed by co-workers, a note, glowing reviews… We need to SEE, visibly SEE our successes to remember why it’s worth going through the messiness of life, especially these days.

Keep adding to your file and over the years it will become just the thing you need on those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days when you need a little self-support. And if you can’t count on yourself, who can?

A Children’s Crusade?

I have an opinion as to why Trumpopo is insisting public schools open during the first wave of a pandemic plague:

He made Betsy DeVos secretary of education for only one reason – to privatize our free public education, ensuring superior access to privilege by the wealthy. I’m not saying he or any human being had anything to do with this vicious virus, but I am saying he’s profiting by it as much as possible.

By insisting we send our young to the raging front lines of our war on Covid-19, Trumpopo plans to provoke outraged, terrified, and exhausted Mama & Papa Bears. Scared, protective parents can (and will) demand alternatives, such as distance learning, smaller classes, shorter hours and diverse settings. Public schools are months, if not years (if not decades) away from providing safe education well and effectively.

But, for a hefty price, imperfect but much safer options are immediately available from private educational providers. In a twist of coincidence, many of these part real life/part online institutions are heavily invested in by members of the DeVos family and friends.

Trumpopo may have resigned himself to losing the election. He seems to be quite publicly paying off debts (Roger Stone sentence commuted) and trying to shift policy in accordance with his nearest and dearest kiss-popos and their pet projects, like defunding the USPS in favor of privatized delivery services and hackable email (which furthers his party’s march to squelch mail-in ballots).

He’s a privateer above all else, setting up/settling up business deals while he’s still got the ‘absolute power’ to act above the law. I find myself more willing than ever to believe the worst of him.

Pushing Buttons

Teens managed THE coup of our times by buying up the tickets of the Tulsa rally, guaranteeing empty seats and low turnout.

Yes, the same teens who sat on pins and needles in classrooms where they trained in the art of sheltering in place before learning the curriculum. They who were raised on the kindness and decency of Obama and now watch corrupt, cruel Trump. Today’s teens skate around the internet like wiry young adults of the 50s once did on roller rinks.
Not politically savvy in the ways of their elders, which might be a good thing, they were nevertheless effective in their strategy and not giving it away beforehand. They embarrassed and deflated Trump, kicking the legs from under this throne.

BTW, I put up a meme about this a long time ago, kind of a ‘wouldn’t it be funny if’ thing about buying out blocks of free tickets so his arenas would be empty. Which, lets face it, seems to be the only thing that really lets the air out of the orange windbag. I didn’t do it, I was re-posting a funny meme of the time, and I promptly forgot it in the wake of ongoing news.
I believe the Zoomers and KPoppers fooled the rally organizers, it fits the circumstances perfectly: the bragging about a million requests for tickets, building an entire outside area with stage and large screen outside to accommodate overflow crowds, and then being caught up short by the actual low turnout.

Sure, the low turn out is probably the result of Covid fears and the warnings from their obviously concerned governor probably kept some Oklahomans from showing up. Fear over possible violence, ditto.

AND a bunch of smart, dedicated, and capable kids who know how to push buttons, literally and figuratively.

Trumpeteers Abandon SHIP

Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump share the same fan base. That’s why Robertson is criticizing the president he’s staunchly defended until now; the old televangelist doesn’t want to lose his antiabortion, anti-LGBTQ rights followers and they are jumping the Trump train with alarming speed. Limbaugh is still applying lipstick to a dancing pig, and McConnell is counting and recounting the congresspeople in his coat pocket. Both are scheming and laying desperate plans to abandon the sinking S.S. Trump they climbed aboard four years ago and have been steering ever since.

Trumpeteers, those who complained about their freedoms being trampled and governmental interference in their personal lives when asked to wear facemasks, have paused. State capital buildings are no longer being stormed by camouflaged but barefaced, MAGA hat wearing, heavily armed citizens demanding the right to give or get a haircut and break quarantine during a pandemic. They have suspended their civil unrest for the time being, contenting themselves with ‘guarding’ “friends” businesses from rumored invasions of antifa, and spreading unsubstantiated rumors via social media.  

But Trump’s threat to turn America’s military against its own citizens finally earned the first rumbles of disapproval from the nothing-if-not-loyal trumpeteers. Well, that and they’re surprised by the military grade weaponry of their armed-to-the-teeth local police departments. And they are righteously pissed about teargassing peaceful protesters to clear the way for his presidential photo co-opting of both bible and church. Well, not so much the teargassing, but that church thing has them boiling.

Promised buses of rock throwing anti-fascist anarchists never materialized but trumpeteers still stand ready if they do. They simmer over lost jobs, failing businesses, governmental overreach, phantom deep states, and a scary disease they can’t see stalking them. They do not like masks, but we’re all getting used to seeing them on TV and that normalizes everything. Itching for a fight, they warn that if a second wave of the virus has governors and mayors demanding indoor quarantining again, they will boil over.

But for now, summer weather beckons, the tedious hours of home schooling have ended, and they want someplace to send their kids while they go back to work. And, when all is said and done, watching a man being murdered repeated on TV between images of your own cities burning cannot be ignored. Watching familiar streets fill with local police, armed with military grade weaponry, chase peaceful protesters with teargas and flash bangs is disturbing on multiple levels.

It must be eye-opening to learn the big, bold leader they elected to make America great is cowering in his basement while not only one but two walls are erected between the White House and the people, while the promised one between the US and Mexico has never been finished. And Lord God Almighty, he can’t even hold a bible upright and facing forward.

Finally, some trumpeteers are waking to the realization our president is unfit for his position. If they hurry, they might join Rev. Pat, Rush, Mitch, Susan, and Mitt diving overboard.

NOT the same

I know you’ve seen the video of the Karen calling cops on a birdwatcher concerned about her off-leash dog. You might have visited Christian Cooper’s Facebook page to see it for yourself (link in comments), along with his record of the events as they unfolded. I’ve lately come across some folks insisting he was as wrong as she was because he threatened her first by telling her he was going to do something she wouldn’t like.

What?

Threatening? If I had a dollar for every man who’s ever told me, “I’m going to do what I want whether you like it or not”, I’d be one of the 1%. I never felt threatened by it, I felt challenged by it. Kicks in the “Oh, yeah?” reaction every time. Looks to me like it did with Amy Christian, too, so she upped the ante and answered with a death threat.

Even if Amy felt scared (which her body language denies strongly, up in Christian’s face, finger within inches of his nose) by somebody saying they’re going to do something she’s not going to like, is it appropriate to immediately phone police, lie about the situation, “he’s assaulting me”, and knowingly, deliberately, put a black man’s life in danger by wielding her white privilege as a weapon?

C’mon. This is conflation of the worst kind. How delicate is she that she hears the term “you’re not going to like it” and overreacts as if receiving a death threat?

Why would anyone consider even a suspicious doggie treat (easily avoided if the dog were legally leashed) of equal stature to the threat of lied-to amped-up cops responding to a (false) report of violence being perpetrated, an all too often instant death sentence?

Suspicious doggie treat vs. lied-to amped-up cop with a gun.

NOT the same.

 

 

Tottering

Photo by Kaique Rocha on Pexels.com

Some business owners are bitching out their governor for economic losses, insinuating a deliberate assault on free enterprise. A few loud hair stylists shower their customers with germs, standing over them as they complain to any and all who sit in the same seat about how scientists use statistics and numbers to scare folks into staying away. Churches, pretty clearly stung at being categorized as non-essential, urge parishioners to gather in violation of state guidelines.


While they make for easy targets, your governor and scientists have not DONE this to you. It’s the very real and reasonable fear of Covid-19 that caused people to stay home, businesses to close, and social gatherings to end in a moment. A brutal, painful illness proven to be highly contagious and very deadly, is sweeping America. Science is the only way to fight our common enemy, a novel, unknown, corona virus. Rational thought, calm reason, and measured, practical steps are the only things that will contain and combat nature’s attack on humanity. And science demands self-sacrifice to fight our common enemy.


Magical thinking doesn’t make sitting, standing, talking, and singing together for a period of time in a small room, safe. Sharing hymnals and bibles, passing collection plates, and (Lord have mercy) partaking of communion is pretty much the perfect storm for contagion. Pining for the freedoms we took for granted is not going to suddenly assuage the realistic fear of bringing death to a loved one with a hug, or contracting same from casual uncaring strangers. And, unfortunately, wishing everything would go back to what it was B.C. (Before Covid-19) will not happen. It is what it is, we are where we are, and there’s no going back.


A disease is our shared encroaching enemy, attacking, weakening, and killing our citizens. If nearly 100,000 people died during the last three months in an active war zone on the home front it would be the only thing on everyone’s mind. We’d be coalesced into a citizen militia, marching in lockstep under the orders of those skilled in the art of this type of warfare. Why isn’t the growing daily death count disturbing EVERYONE?


Governors and scientists are trying to save the lives of as many American citizens as possible, not waging war against them. Saying a governor is ‘doing’ this to the economy and revolting against sensible science driven restrictions seems to me just as mad as accusing principals of elementary schools where students are taught to shelter in place during active shooter drills of tossing hand grenades into classrooms and then encouraging the kids to bring guns to school.


We’re tottering on the brink of utter madness, civil war, or both. It won’t take much to push us over.

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