All Creatures Great and Small…

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Knowing in our hearts that it would be impossible for our little dog Zoey to survive the -21 degree temperatures, our hope was that someone picked her up and decided to keep her. After 3 subzero nights, that was the only scenario we could live with.

On Friday, January 16th, 2016, amidst one of the coldest and snowest winters on record, Roger and I were on our way from Alpine, WY to Jackson, WY to stock up on food and supplies. The week ahead was to be treacherous. When we stopped for gas at the Alpine Junction Chevron station, neither of us noticed that our 2-year old little Morkie had jumped out of the car. It was only 20 miles up the canyon that we realized that she was not in the back, as we had expected, but that she must still be at the gas station.

In a panic we called the Chevron station. “Yes, she said, “we saw a little dog running around the parking lot.” Please bring her in.” I pleaded. “We are on our way!” We quickly made our way back down the icy canyon road to rescue our Zoey. Our hearts sank when we arrived and she was nowhere to be found. We called, searched, drove, walked and hiked for 4 ½ hours. Asking anyone and everyone if they had seen her. People were kind and sympathetic, offering to “keep an eye out” and “spread the word” and “pray for her.”

Surely someone has picked her up. But why haven’t they called? She had a tag on with her name and my phone. We called the vet, the sheriff’s office and Lucky’s Place, the local humane society.  All were kind and sympathetic, but I could hear in their voices that at this point, it was likely that we would never see her again. And with the temperatures, well…

Our desperate prayers were pleas for help that she would be safe and if not, that our hearts would be healed from the loss.

By Saturday afternoon, the hard truth began to set in. There was no possible way she could have survived the night and if someone had her, surely, they would have called us by now. With each passing hour, the prospects grew dimmer. Saturday passed into Sunday and we began to feel the emptiness.

img958367On Monday, beyond all comprehension, and in disbelief we received a call from an awesome family that Zoey had been found! They had seen her running through their field and assumed that she had found shelter under their shed. She was wet, cold and scared and would not come to them or let them catch her. She just kept running. They took photos and tried to zoom in to see if they could read her tag, but to no avail.

This great little family, The Dales, went above and beyond to rescue her. Adam & Gretchen put out a wild animal trap with some food on Sunday night.img_8397

They caught her on Monday morning and brought her in to warm her up and called us. We, of course dropped everything and through roads were closed, schools had been shut down and the county was calling for no unnecessary travel, we went to pick up our Zoey. She was about 1 mile north of the Alpine Junction where we left her. Safe, but frozen, exhausted, hungry and thirsty.

20170110_085354Today, she is bundled up on the sofa with her little toy lamb, warm, fed and loved more than ever. Words cannot express how grateful we are for the power of prayer and for this kind family who knew how much this little dog needed help. They refused our reward asking us to pay the kindness forward.  What a great lesson they have taught their two daughters, Juniper and Hazel. Thank you for your example of goodness and caring.

As I close this remarkable story, may I share with you a poem that I learned when I was little. “All creatures great and small, the good Lord watches over all.” Indeed! And please enjoy this song that has been playing in my head this morning. Consider the Lilies of the Field. We are beyond grateful. May we show our gratitude and do as the Dale’s asked and pay it forward at every opportunity.

 

Activate Your Own Auto-Correct

 

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I have been thinking about typewriters. Both of my grandmothers had typewriters. I remember my Grandma Gwen, typing out letters and invoices for my grandpa’s construction business.  I also remember how cool it was that my Grandma Pearl had an electric typewriter. When I was a young teen I was able to use it to retype a letter and it was pretty great.

Back in typewriter days, if you made a mistake you had a few options. 1. You could completely ignore the mistake and act like it didn’t happen at all and then finish your document. 2. You could backspace and X out the wrong word or letter, or 3. You could backspace and type the right letter over and over again until it was darker than the wrong letter. Option 4. was to use erasable typewriter paper – (I think it was called onion skin).  If a mistake was made, you could take the paper out – use an eraser to erase the error and then put the paper back in, hoping that everything would line up ok, but often it didn’t.

Then along came the infamous ‘white out’ Great stuff. If you make a mistake, you could use white out to cover it up. At first white out came in a liquid, then correction tape, and eventually some typewriters included a white out key to type over the mistake, like my grandma Pearl’s. I learned quickly how important it was to let the white out dry before starting again to type the right word or letter or it would smear and make a terrible mess.

As we look back, the evolution from typewriter to word processor is truly remarkable. Today, we are fortunate to have word processing programs with spell checkers! Right now I am typing in a Microsoft Word Document. If I make a spelling or a grammatical error – it marks it accordingly. And, it suggests possible corrections.  That’s cool. But what is even greater, is the auto-correct feature. I have used this program long enough that now it recognizes some of the words I use often and it automatically completes my words and sometimes my sentences – without me!

What a great feature – auto-correct. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could train ourselves to auto-correct our bad behaviors, before we made a mistake? I personally would love to be able to engage an auto-correct feature that would prevent me from eating the wrong thing or making a bad choice.  I think that is possible. Somehow it seems to me that thin people have great control over their auto-correct feature.  So how can I?

I suspect that each one of us is at a different point of being able to engage our ability to auto-correct ourselves.

Take our eating habits for example. When we eat the wrong thing, some ignore it and move on. Others try to X it out or cover it up with miss-placed beliefs like – if I eat it fast the calories won’t count. As I have thought through this analogy, I have challenged myself and now challenge you to spend some time thinking not just about your mistakes and wrong choices, but more about what you do about it ‘after the mistake has been made and what it might take to activate your own autocorrect feature for next time.

Next time you eat something that you consider a mistake, pause a moment as ask yourself these questions.

  1. How did this food get here in the first place? Likely it was a conscious choice when shopping. Auto-correct with more mindful shopping.
  2. Was it in-sight or did you have to search for it, deliberately go for it. Auto-correct with out of sight or hard to reach placement.
  3. Were you really hungry? Auto-correct with using the HALTS technique. Ask yourself am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired or Stresses? Then act accordingly.
  4. Was there something else I could have eaten instead? Auto-correct by surrounding yourself with better choices – again that decision is made in advance.
  5. So now that you have eaten that cupcake what are you going to do now? Auto-correct by coming to understand your own metabolism and know that if calories went in you need to work them off!

Like you, I have come too far to allow myself to repeat mistakes over and over again without making an effort to understand and correct them. I don’t want to ignore my mistakes or attempt to cover them up, “X” them out, or white wash them.  We all make mistakes, but we also all have the ability to mindfully engage our own auto-correct feature. Here’s to lessons from a typewriter!

What Ever It Takes (Or going out on a limb)

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One of my favorite walking routes is to follow a dirt road next to a canal. The canal flows between residential backyards and farmland and I always enjoy seeing the animals and watching the farmers as they tend to their early morning chores. One Saturday, I stopped along the way to admire a beautiful tree loaded with hundreds of perfectly ripe, delicious apricots. The tree had grown over the canal and there appeared to be no way to reach them. Apricots are one of my favorite foods and I knew I just had to find a way. As I surveyed the situation, a fellow canal road walker stopped to chat with me about her experience trying to pick some of these un-reachable, but oh so desirable apricots. She said wading into the canal was not a good choice. Apparently, she got stuck in the mud at the bottom of the canal and decided it was just not worth it.

All the way home, I discovered that I indeed, wanted them badly enough to find a way. The words of my BSCI partner Janean Hall, came to me – “What’s another way?” The minute I walked in the door, I told my husband Roger about my plan. I would put a plank over the canal, walk out onto it and reap my rewards. He looked at me as if to say, “You’re an idiot” but just smiled and said that he did not think I could heave a board all the way to the other side. We might be able to use the extension ladder, he suggested! That is what we will do. So we loaded up the ladder and off to the canal we went. My daughter, 9 months pregnant and her daughter 4 were amused to say the least, and decided to join us on this adventure.

apricotpickingRoger surveyed the situation and decided that the ladder would not work either. He suggested that the only way would be a raft. A ha! Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that? A float tube would do just fine. So back to the house we hurried as if someone else would claim our prize before we could return. But alas, success! My granddaughter Baylee and I floated down the canal until we reached the apricot tree. I grabbed a limb and we started picking apricots by the armloads – we would fill our bags and they would reel us back to the shore to offload our take and back again for more. What fun!

Many of our neighborhood friends have mentioned how they, too admired the apricots. And one said he wondered what had happened to them. One day they were there and the next day they were gone. Hmm, like magic – yeah right!perfect apricots

In life, whatever ‘it’ is for you, you must want it badly enough to do those things that others are not willing to do. You must be willing find another way when your first, second and third attempts fail. It takes courage, creativity and sometimes a little insanity to reach further, dream bigger and aspire higher in order to reap life’s greatest rewards. And sometimes it is not what we are thinking. The true reward here was not really the apricots – it was having bread and jam on the porch swing. apricots and B

Lessons Learned?

 

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Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Dug, our adventurous, 10-month pup met his first porcupine. Not only did they meet, but they scrambled, tangled and ran in and out of the bushes over and over again.  Not sure why, but he did not seem to grasp the simple principle that all actions have consequences and some of them hurt! He kept going back and back and back. Finally, my daughter and son in law were able to pull him away from the porcupine. With quills in his paws, his mouth and nose, off we went to the nearest country vet. With sedation, a few hours and of course, $200 all is well. But lesson learned? We don’t think so.

Truth is, I can relate. Perhaps you can too. From time to time, I find myself doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. Isn’t that Einstein’s definition of insanity? Some of us are just slow learners, I guess. Unfortunately, the results and outcomes of many of our decisions are beyond our “here and now.” They are in the future far enough that we fail to make the connection.

I do wonder, however if timing doesn’t have something to do with it. We seek for instant gratification without considering the connection our actions have to our long term outcomes. We love to eat things that are not good for us, often without thinking of the consequences. Maybe, if we gained weight instantly! Or got sick immediately, we would be less likely to  make that choice again. Sometimes we buy things we just have to have in that moment and if we can’t afford it, we charge it! Ignoring that the time will come when we need to pay the fiddler. If the bill was due the next day, would we make that same choice?

I would like to think that I would do better if my choices had immediate consequences. You know, like chase a porcupine get shot with painful quills.

On a good day, I get it. I make smart choices.  Other days, well, I am just a Dug.

 

 

 

Embracing Moments That Matter

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Excited to share this great new book. Honored to have had the privilege to collaborate with such extraordinary people! In this Anthology, you will find uplifting, inspiring and engaging stories from me and a select group of my fellow professional speakers. You may laugh a little, cry a little, find yourself deep in thought, or just simply relax as you read and enjoy insights from some of my favorite people. Get your copy today and pass it on!

 

Our Why

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Our decision to leave the city and build a log home in the mountains of Star Valley, Wyoming was brave, drastic and life-changing. As we have shared our plans, many of our friends and family members ask “Why?” “How can you leave your grandkids?” And my personal favorite, “Really? At your age?”

This decision was made with our family in mind. To create a peaceful, comforting retreat from the crazy busy of life. A sanctuary to connect with self, family and a loving Father in Heaven who has created this beautiful world.

May I refer you to this photo I took about 20 minutes ago. It is of our grandson’s first experience Kayaking. This week he has hiked, (saw a deer this morning) rode a 4-wheeler, learned to make a proper wood pile, ate s’mores, enjoyed fireworks and earned a BB Gun. He has a new appreciation for the outdoors.

These experiences and the many more we will have, explain our “why”don’t you think?

 

5 of 5 Ways you know the WLS Honeymoon is Over

Even at 20 years post op, I still clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the fifth of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

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#5 You stop attending support groups, telling yourself “They are just for the newbies anyway.”

We always suspected that those who regularly attend support groups after weight loss surgery are more successful than those who don’t. Thanks to our collaboration with Stanford University Medical Center, we now have the hard data to prove it.  Put simply, “Successful WLS patients are 3 times more likely to participate in support groups than their less successful counterparts.” (Read Research)

Unfortunately, sometimes we find that support groups focus on and cater to the newbies, leaving the veteran patients bored, un-motivated and less likely come back. If the topics in support group are not of interest to you, suggest some that would be.  Work to be part of the solution. Perhaps offer to do some research, share your experiences or even prepare and teach a lesson.

If you have found that you have lost interest in your support group, please consider that if you don’t need the support group, perhaps the support group needs you.

I, for one am so very grateful to the two WLS patients who at 10 years post op volunteered month after month to share their story, coach, encourage and teach those of us coming along behind them. Perhaps it’s time to give a little back by paying if forward. (Become a BSCI Certified Support Group Leader) There is nothing more motivating than having people look up to you, learn from you and help keep you on track as a good example.

For many, support groups go way beyond, “What is the topic?” People view support group attendance as a commitment to themselves to stay connected and accountable. Support groups offer opportunities to connect a network of like-minded people who understand your journey as many do not. So many life-long friendships are established at support groups.

Make support group attendance a must do on your calendar to help you stay on track and accountable. If you are unable to attend a live group, web-based forums, Facebook groups and telephonic groups are easily found. BSCI’s DreamTeam of educators host free telephonic support groups every week. Fun, easy and a great way to stay connected. Telephonic Support Group Schedule

Read our  Support Group Survey and gain insights and perspective from over 1,000 bariatric patients and how they view their support groups.

4 of 5 Ways you know your WLS Honeymoon is Over.

Even at 20 years post op, I still clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the fourth of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

Learning

#4 You Realize You Should Have Paid More Attention to your Bariatric Team

It seems that through the years the bariatric medical community has made great progress in ensuring that prospective patients are better educated and more prepared for surgery. As many of you know, there is a long checklist of todo’s prior to surgery. Consultations, evaluations, exams, tests, support groups and the list goes on and on.

An interesting thing happens though. When surgery is imminent, our focus is primarily on the details surrounding the actual procedure, hospital stay, pain management, how it will feel, etc. The classes and information are helpful, but unfortunately, we are not really listening. We are trying; we nod our heads at what our dieticians, nurses, mental health and exercise professionals are telling us. We commit to being compliant, eat right, exercise, take our vitamins and attend our follow up visits.  But are we really listening? Are we learning?  Perhaps not.

Following surgery, it’s “Whew, I am alive!” And once we are released from the hospital we begin our journey, sticking closely to what we have been advised. We start to really pay attention. Then, something magical happens. Our  surgical tool starts to work, just like we had hoped. The weight starts to fall off!  But, then we learn that no matter what we do, whether we follow the rules or not, the weight still continues to fall off.  A dangerous realization.  You see, once we think of ourselves as invincible – we stop listening.

Sadly, we see that it is only when people reach a plateau or heaven forbid, begin to gain weight that they are really ready to listen and learn. We are told so often, surgery is a tool, it’s a tool, it’s a tool. Again, we nod our heads. Now that our honeymoon is over we must be ready to learn. I mean really ready to learn.

We have “graduated” or are have been “released” from our bariatric clinic and may wonder if we missed our shot to learn. Surgery was a success; we have lost weight and now we need to learn how to maintain. Wishing we would have paid more attention earlier on, we might wonder where can turn.

For me, I turned to all of the successful patients I could find, to learn what they knew and do what they did.  As I expected, there are very particular habits that those most successful have made part of their lives. In fact, I have spent the last 20 years seeking out the most successful wls patients, identifying their habits, learning from these long term losers and sharing my research all over the globe. Read research here:

Learn more about The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients.

So often, we hear struggling patients comment that they did not learn these important principles during their initial weight loss. If that is the case with you, it is not too late. Read the book, take a class, participate online. Remember your surgical tool will serve you well for a lifetime as long as you learn to use it properly. Learn what you might have missed, learn what successful patient have to teach you, learn all you need to know about your own body, metabolism and food addictions. It’s never too late.

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3 of 5 Ways you know the WLS Honeymoon is Over

Even at 20 years post op, I still  clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the third of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

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#3 THE SCALE STARTS TO GO IN THE WRONG DIRECTION

Perhaps like me,  you spent many years not knowing what you weighed. I hated the scale and would avoid it at all costs. But, I loved nothing more than weighing myself during the first year after my surgery.  It seemed as though I could weigh in the morning and lose even more weight by the time I returned home in the evening! Talk about motivating.  For the first time in almost forever, the scales were tipping in my favor and it was exciting!

As many do, I reached a plateau a time or two on my way down to my goal. So, perhaps you too have plateaued along the way, but this time, you sense it is different. You have reached your goal, stayed there and celebrated your success, but then, your weight starts to climb back up. Panic sets in and you know that glory days are over. Thoughts like, “I was afraid this was too good to be true.” or “I knew this couldn’t last.” keep surfacing. Self- doubt sets in and you worry that like so many times in your life, you lose, then gain. (And often with a bonus). You hoped it would be different with a surgical intervention, you hoped it would be easy. And in some respects, it has been but now reality hits and you know it’s time to pay attention.

At this critical juncture. it is time to ensure that you have put into place the Success Habits you must rely upon every day for the rest of your life in order to maintain your weight. We all know how to lose weight, we have spent so many years on diets, off diets, thinking about a diet, researching a new diet, cursing diets, getting on and falling off diets. But learning how to maintain weight is a completely different mindset. Take this time as you transition from losing to maintaining to remind yourself that obesity is a disease. And one that you will struggle with for your entire life; surgery or not. You have a remarkable surgical tool to help you manage it as long as you learn to use it properly. Commit the time and effort to learn about your own personal metabolism, your triggers, and your relationship with food. It is up to you to evaluate your behaviors, stop doing what you might have gotten away with during the rapid weight loss phase and focus on everything you have learned. Memorize and internalize Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients.

Subscribe to blog for #4 You Realize You Should Have Paid More Attention to your Bariatric Team

 

2 of 5 Ways you know the WLS Honeymoon is Over

Even at 20 years post op, I still  clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the second of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

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#2 PEOPLE STOP RAVING ABOUT HOW YOU LOOK

Boy, do I remember this. Of course I would, it was all about me! Like many of you I enjoyed months and months of friends, family neighbors, work associates and even strangers, raving about how great I looked. One of my favorite comments was “Look at you, you are going to blow away!” Loved it!

I think I even walked at little taller, and had a new strut and swagger as I showcased my success. When I knew would be seen by someone who didn’t know about the new me, I was ecstatic!  Then over time, people started to get used to my new size. I slowly began to fade into normal, the newness wore off and all of the attention nearly stopped. I missed the rave reviews, I kept wondering to myself, “Do I look fat?” Am I gaining weight?” “Why doesn’t someone say something!” Messed with my mind to be sure.

If that has not happened to you yet, trust me, it will. And it is important to be prepared for the emotional and mental grief it may cause. When it does, it will be a good time to do a little evaluating of your true motives for choosing weight loss surgery. Ask yourself why you made this decision in the first place. Did you do this for someone else? To look feel better for yourself? For revenge? To improve your health? This is a time to reconnect to your personal why. Remind yourself of what motivated you in the first place. Pat yourself on the back and learn to improve your ‘self-talk.’

Then, move on. Rather than having it be all about you, now is a great time to turn and support those coming along behind you. Opportunities abound for successful patients who want to give back by paying it forward. Motivate, encourage and support new and prospective WLS patients.  Help with an event or patient celebration, work as a hospital volunteer, become a Support Group Leader. Share your successes online and participate in one or more of the many Facebook Group discussions. You look great – now be great by helping others.

Subscribe to this blog for #3 THE SCALE STARTS TO GO IN THE WRONG DIRECTION

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