Barbara Thompson

Weight Loss Surgery


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Hosted by Barbara Thompson
Author of:
Weight Loss Surgery:
Finding the Thin Person Hiding Inside You.

Issue #135

February 15, 2008


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In This Issue


* Am I Blue
* Back On Track Sale
* Your Medicine Cabinet: Safe Remedies for Colds or Flu
* Artificial Sweeteners: Doing the Opposite of What You Think?
* Recipe: Simple Apple Dessert  
* Success Story: Debbie Sturdevant

Am I Blue?

It's a gloomy time of the year, with days shorter and often overcast.  You're tired of the cold weather and yearning for Spring.  This time of the year we are particularly vulnerable to depression. To deal with that depression many of us turn to antidepressant medication.  However, many of the antidepressants cause us to gain weight.  And the extra weight can cause us to be depressed.  It's a vicious cycle.

The reason that some antidepressants cause us to gain weight is that some of them block the histamine receptor.  And when histamine isn't working our appetite increases we get hungry and we eat.

The antidepressants that may cause the most weight gain are Paxil, Zoloft, Remeron and Luvox. Cymbalta is advertised as not causing weight gain. Prozac and Wellbutrin sometimes cause weight decrease. For a more thorough list of antidepressants and their effects, go to If you are taking an antidepressant that is known to cause weight gain and you are gaining, talk to your doctor about the possibility of switching.

It is widely recognized that depression can be effectively treated with exercise so you may not need an antidepressant. Even a little bit of exercise will help how you feel. What better reason to exercise?

Remember that in a little over than a month Spring will be here and your depression might lift without the use of medication.

Love Yourself

Valentine's Day Sale


First Month is 50% off!!

If you want help with controlling your weight regain, then join the Back on Track with Barbara Program. You will relearn what you need to be doing and get the support from people just like yourself. The lessons work and the message board is awesome. Hear from someone from the Program right now:

“I must say that when I post and talk to people on this message board, I am much more aware of what I am eating. I eat less and it lasts throughout the day. If I reach for food, I remember what was said on the message boards and I feel like, "I can do this", I have friends here to help me. And I also say a little prayer for everyone struggling with the same thing at the same time I am.”


Special Offer For the Month of February

As a special incentive, for the month of February, anyone who enrolls in the Back On Track with Barbara Program will receive the first month at 50% off!  This offer applies to both the 6-month and the 12-month programs.

Click here for more information and to enroll

Your Medicine Cabinet:
  Safe Remedies for Colds or Flu
We are in the middle of cold and flu season. If you have caught a bug, you may be confused about which over the counter remedies are usually acceptable or not for us to take. This article from my book, “Weight Loss Surgery; Finding the Thin Person Hiding Inside You” will guide you through.

Taking Pills Post-Op

It is important to continue your prescribed medications  post-op. But you may be concerned about taking pills that are large fearing that they might get stuck.  You can try crushing your pills and putting them in something like a little bit of applesauce.  Or you can buy a pill splitter to cut them in half.  However, be careful if you take timed or sustained released medication.  Check with your doctor or pharmacist to determine if the medication you take falls into this category.  These medications are not designed to be crushed and can release medications too quickly into your system. 

Timed and sustained release medications may no longer be the best choice if you have had gastric bypass surgery.  These are designed to slowly break down in the stomach and intestines.  Because of the change in your anatomy, they may not be absorbed correctly.  Immediate release medications seem to be better suited for gastric bypass patients.  Talk to your doctor about this.

Also, be sure that your primary care physician understands how rapidly you will be losing weight.  Many conditions are drastically improved soon after weight loss surgery including high blood pressure.  Your physician needs to monitor your medicationsso that they are correct for your changing needs.  A patient from my local support group was on blood pressure medication and about a month or two after surgery started complaining of dizziness and feeling faint.  When her problem was isolated, her doctor discovered that her high blood pressure medication was now too strong for her, causing her blood pressure to drop too low, making her feel faint.

In general, any non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug is not acceptable because they tend to cause bleeding and stomach ulcers. 

The following list is a general guide to over-the-counter drugs.  Be sure to check with your own surgeon to ensure that he or she agrees with these recommendations.

Medications to Avoid














Medications That Are Recommended For Colds






Tylenol Cold Products


Medications That Are Usually Well Tolerated
(Try to obtain sugar-free or diabetic formulas for any of these products




Tylenol Extra Strength




Dulcolax Suppositories

Fleet Enemas

Glycerin Suppositories

Milk of Magnesia



If you do not have your copy of my book “Weight Loss Surgery; Finding the Thin Person Hiding Inside You,” what are you waiting for?  It is recommended by surgeons across the country and has been dubbed the “unofficial bible of bypass patients” by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Order your copy at

Artificial Sweeteners:
Doing the Opposite of What You Think?

A new study from Purdue University indicates that artificial sweeteners can cause us to gain weight. In this study researchers used two groups of rats.  The first group of rats, Group A, was fed yogurt with sugar in it.  The second group of rats, Group B, was fed yogurt with artificial sweetener in it.  The Group B rats, which ate the artificial sweetener:

  • Consumed more calories
  • Gained more weight
  • Put on more body fat

The researchers concluded several things. One is that when you consume an artificial sweetener, your body expects that you will be consuming something sweet that has calories in it. When the calories aren’t there, your body looks for those calories that it missed. This causes you to be hungry and to have cravings. So it is the sweet taste followed by no calories that is the culprit.  The study was done using aspartame which is Sweet and Low, but researchers believe that the same results would hold true for Splenda and Stevia, even though they are natural non-caloric sweeteners.  This is because in all of them there is the sweet taste followed by no calories.

Something else that the researchers discovered is that when we are ready to eat, our metabolism revs up.  When the Group A rats who were being fed sugar were given something high caloric to eat, their metabolism increased and they burned more calories.  When the Group B rats who were accustomed to eating the artificial sweetener yogurt were given the same high caloric food to eat, their metabolism didn't rev up, and they burned fewer calories.  This is because their bodies had grown accustomed to a sweet taste followed by no calories.  So that when they were given something sweet with calories their bodies didn't react naturally.

Artificial sweeteners have been around for a long time.  Scientists are now wondering if the increased use of artificial sweeteners could be one of the causes of the increase in obesity in our country.  The use of artificial sweeteners directly parallels the rise in obesity.

Artificial sweeteners have been looked at for a long time.  One very large study involved 18,000 people over a five to nine year period of time.  This study found that those who drank as little as one diet soda per day gained weight and were at a 30 to 40% more risk of developing a metabolic syndrome such as diabetes.

This is terrible news for those of us who've had weight loss surgery and especially for those who experience dumping. Most of us are dependent upon artificial sweeteners in our diet.  Eliminating artificial sweeteners is not going to be easy.  Just think of all the products that we consume that contain them, such as diet soda, Crystal Light, diet pudding, light yogurt - anything and everything that we can seek out that has fewer calories.

I don't think we can ignore this study.  I think it's important to take a good look at what we eat and how much artificial sweetener we consume.  We can't eliminate artificial sweeteners immediately from our diets, but what we can do is to try to cut back.  Eliminate the diet soda and replace it with water.  If we use two packets of artificial sweetener in our coffee or tea, cut back to one packet.  If we use one packet try to cut down to one half packet.

It won't be easy.  We've become accustomed to an intense sweetness.  Sucralose which is what Splenda is, is 600 times sweeter than table sugar.  Think where you might be able to cut back on artificial sweeteners. That may very well help you to lose more weight or at least to maintain your current weight more easily. 

Good luck!

Simple Apple Dessert

Simple Apple Dessert

Toast 1 slice of light bread. Spread with 1 teaspoon of butter.
Peel and core 1 apple, slice and microwave with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Place on toast and add 1 teaspoon of sugar
May add 1 slice of cheese and microwave until melted.

If you have a recipe that you would like to share in future issues of this newsletter, please send it to me at

Success Story:
  Debbie Sturdevant

I want to offer a special thanks to Debbie Sturdevant. Here is her story:

Dear Barbara,
I have been enjoying your newsletters and have also used both of your books to help with the many situations that come up through this life altering process.  I read them before my surgery, kept them by my side during those first few weeks of post-op uncertainty, and continue to refer to them.

As far back as my memory goes, I have been fat. Actually, I was over ten pounds at birth and my mother continually told anyone that would listen. I am the stereotypical person that gained and lost a thousand pounds over the years and tried any diet that came along. Each time I would lose motivation, or something would happen and the weight would come back, plus more.  Eventually, I found myself weighing 365 pounds and wearing just about the biggest size you could get - 5X top and size 34 pants. Intellectually, I knew about nutrition, exercise, emotional eating and what needed to be done. Actually making it happen was a different matter entirely. While I seemed to have control in other areas of my life I had no control over my food addiction.

Many unusual circumstances have happened to me over the years that I could easily blame my weight on. I could write a book and no one would believe it. In the end, I know it is in my brain, and I, to this day, am unable to change it. In 2002 I fell and did serious damage to my spine and hip. I ended up having spinal fusion surgery on four levels of my lower spine. Again more strange circumstances made my recovery extremely painful and very slow. I was in a clamshell brace for eight months and gained fifty pounds that got me to my all time highest weight.

There was physical therapy for more than a year and constant pain continues for me daily. I was headed for a wheelchair and knew it was only a matter of time before I would be entirely bed-bound. The surgeon told my husband that if I didn’t lose weight I would die. I started doing an in-pool exercise program at the YMCA. It actually seemed to help me more than anything I had tried to that point. I also credit Cranio-Sacral Therapy for keeping me out of a wheelchair.

I had been thinking about gastric bypass surgery for years, but was too scared to do anything about it. The failure of the spinal fusion surgery was the final straw and I started studying to find out more about the surgery. I knew it would be a life changing event and what if I failed at this, too? I honestly like food too much and didn’t know if I could really give it up to save my life. The program at the Bariatric Center in Syracuse, NY accepted me and they have a fairly strict protocol pre-surgery. That is a good thing, and I would tell anyone to not rush into this. Do the training before surgery. It is so important.

Two years ago I finally went for my bypass surgery.  It went fine and they took out my gallbladder at the same time. I knew it had been full of stones for at least the last ten years. My primary doctor had told me that one of these days it needed to come out, but they wouldn’t touch me at my weight.

I came home a day and a half later. I did everything I was told, get up and walk, etc. My second day home I had excruciating pain and ended up calling my doctor at 4:30 in the morning when I couldn’t stand it anymore. He said I had to make the hour drive back to the hospital. After spending twelve hours in the emergency room in horrible pain I was admitted. They did all kinds of tests and discovered that the clips used to seal off the gallbladder surgery had somehow slipped and residual bile was pouring into the abdominal cavity. The short story is I spent another five days in the hospital. The gastric bypass surgery was perfect, but the gallbladder surgery really got messed up.

The weight started coming off and I continued to follow the program faithfully. It was truly easy at first. I recognize that I am still an emotional eater and was trying to deal with that, too.

My fourth month out the unthinkable happened. My mother-in-law died and ten days later my only son died just after his 28th birthday. While that is truly another story, it is important that I somehow found the strength to continue to take care of myself in my unbelievable grief. There was no choice, it was too late to go back and I could literally no longer use food as my emotional crutch. The first week I could not make myself eat, but somehow got liquids into me and protein.  The grief of losing him continues to be crushing and I do the best that I can. Today I am physically healthy, still in pain, as the surgery did not help my back, and have lost 200 pounds. I wear a size 10 for the first time in my life. I believe I skipped over those little sizes completely as an adolescent.

The new me becomes real when I am folding laundry and wonder whose little jeans I am folding. I have to remind myself that, “Oh yeah, they are mine.” I actually fit into those.

I continue to go to the pool, but have graduated from the water walking class for arthritics to the deep water jogging aerobic class that is high intensity. I have even taught that class several times when the instructor was unavailable. Who would have ever in their wildest dreams believe that I, the person that hates exercise, could teach an aerobics class?

My husband of 37 years has stuck with me throughout everything. It didn’t matter to him if I was fat or thin. He accepted me through all the ups and downs. My only regret is that I waited until I was fifty-two years old to get my new life. I wish I had been smart enough to have the surgery twenty years ago. In all honesty, now that the honeymoon phase is over and hunger has come back, I do struggle every day. The difference is this wonderful tool gives me that extra edge to not give up or give in. I have maintained at my size 10 for a whole year now. Having this surgery saved my life and I try to appreciate it every day.

Debbie Sturdevant

Congratulations Debbie


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