Issue #195 October 15, 2010

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In This Issue

* Hormone Replacement Therapy for Men
* Back on Track with Barbara: Internet  Mentoring
* DUI Warning
* Your Help Urgently Needed 
* Recipe: Crustless Pumpkin Pie 
* Success Story: Debbie Sturdevant

Hormone Replacement Therapy for Men

Following the recent articles in this newsletter regarding hormone replacement therapy for women, I received the following email from one of our male readers. My husband Frank felt compelled to answer this email offering his perspective.  Please read each perspective carefully, and remember to get the advice of your doctor.

Dear Barbara,
I would encourage you to discuss hormone replacement therapy for men. I began testosterone therapy about a year before surgery, using a gel which was applied to the chest. I later switched to pellet implant therapy where small rice-size pellets of testosterone are implanted under the skin of the hip area. The results have been great, and have countered the loss of energy and muscle strength I was experiencing before. The therapy may have also helped me manage my weight loss. Although I was 61 when I had surgery, I recovered, healed, and lost weight without much difficulty. I lost 150 pounds in the first 12 months after surgery. The testosterone also helped to counter the buildup of weight which occurs naturally as a man's hormone level drops. Best wishes.

Larry Jones, Sr.

Hi Larry,
I am Barbara's husband, Frank.  I wanted to respond to you about the testosterone issue.  I did not have weight loss surgery, but I did use the same gel treatment that you are using.  I did not use the small rice pellets that you also describe.  I was about 57 when I started the treatments, and am 62 now.

To make a long story short, I am cautioning you that testosterone treatments, while definitely giving you the energy and vitality of a younger person, can have bad side effects.  About 3 years after I started using the treatments, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer which eventually led to the removal of my prostate.  As soon as I was diagnosed, I was instructed to stop the treatments.  I was told that testosterone treatments do not cause cancer of the prostate, but that the treatments can rapidly increase the spread of the cancer once it appears.  I have my suspicion about that statement.  I feel that the treatments may have caused the cancer.  I must say that I am not a doctor, but I am an experienced patient.

If you continue your testosterone treatments, I would highly suggest that you have your prostate checked by digital examination at least semi-annually.  The PSA test, at least for me, did not alert to the forming of the cancer.  I had slowly rising readings, but the doctors felt this was the normal advancement for a man of my age.

As far as recommending it for weight loss surgery patients, I would not.  While the treatments gave me a wonderful reprieve from the hazards of growing old, the resulting cost was way too much, in my opinion.

I hope that this helped you. 

Frank Thompson

Back on Track with Barbara:
  Internet Mentoring Program

Hi Barbara
I had my original surgery in 2000, and went from 285 pounds to 167 pounds. In 2007 my weight was close to 200 again and I was very ashamed of myself. 

The doctor who took over for my original surgeon said I could obsess about the fact that I gained back 35 pounds, or focus on the 85 I had kept off.  She had your Back on Track brochures in her office, and your program was such a big help.  The lessons  helped me get back to basics, get over the guilt and shame, stop feeling sorry for myself, and start again. 

Last month I went back for a checkup, got on the scale, and guess what?  I was back to exactly 167 which was my lowest post-op weight.  This month, I'm down to 158, lower than I've ever been in my adult life. 

Those who say weight loss surgery is the "easy way out" don't know what I've been through. I've lost all this weight on my own, at age 42, after having had a baby.  I had two choices, to gain it all back and say the surgery "didn't work" and feel like a failure again, or try a different way. That's what I did-with your help!  So THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! 

I told my surgeon I highly recommend your program to anyone who either never reached goal weight, or had regained or both. Thanks so much for all you do to help this community!  You really made the difference for me!


For more information on the Back on Track with Barbara Internet Mentoring Program, and to start seeing the results that Stephanie had, click here

DUI Warning

Hi Barbara,
I had gastric bypass surgery about six years ago and lost 130 pounds, and have kept 120 pounds off.  I had a great experience having gastric bypass surgery and, fortunately, have not had any major problems.

Unfortunately, 2 years ago, I got a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) citation. I had 2 glasses of wine that resulted in a very high blood alcohol level. Thankfully, no one was injured, but I flipped my car several times. Since then, I have been doing research on alcohol and gastric bypass, and see that there are many other people that have had this happen to them.

I hope that my experience with this DUI will reach someone who may think they can drink and drive as a gastric bypass patient. They should not--not even after 1 or 2 glasses of wine.

I hope that you will consider printing this in your newsletter because it is important to me to get the message about drinking and driving out to others that have had this surgery. Perhaps this will provide support to someone else if they have experienced a DUI. I want them to know that they are not alone I felt like I was alone for a very long time.

I hope that you will help me turn this negative experience into a positive one, and help others.

Thank you for the continued wonderful newsletter. They are a true source of inspiration.

Best Regards,
Cary Lamey

Hi Carey,
Following surgery, especially gastric bypass surgery, we are very susceptible to alcohol affecting us quite differently than before surgery.  We absorb alcohol differently, and considering that we are eating less food, we don’t have food to help absorb the alcohol that we are drinking.

According to a study reported in a 2002 issue of the British Journal of Pharmacology, we are quite susceptible to a much faster buzz following surgery, and our blood alcohol level is much higher with far less alcohol. The study found the following:

* Lower blood alcohol level. 
* Blood alcohol level peaked in 30 minutes

3Years Post-Op
* 50% higher alcohol level
* Blood alcohol level peaked in 10 minutes
* 90% of patients reported being more sensitive to alcohol post-op
* 5% received a DUI after only one drink

Thank you for this reminder that drinking alcohol and driving after having had weight loss surgery is an extremely dangerous combination.

Your Help Urgently Needed

Sign the OAC's Petition to the FDA Urging a Fair and Balanced Decision on the Medical Treatments For Obesity

Prior to our surgery, it would have been so important to us to have had an entire effective tool box of strategies to help us to get our weight under control. We needed counseling, we needed an understanding that diets don’t work, and gradual lifestyle changes do. We needed easy access to affordable exercise, and we needed effective medication.

The FDA currently is considering 3 medications to treat obesity.  And while we do not want to repeat the disaster that we had with the Fen Phen drugs, we do want and desperately need medications that will help fight obesity.

The problem is that the FDA, that is normally very cautious in approving medications, is being even more cautious with these diet drugs, and is applying an even more strict standard to the point that no drug could ever pass their road blocks.

Considering this, I as Chairman of the Board of the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), along with Joe Nadglowski, the CEO of the OAC, wrote an open letter to the FDA which appeared as a full page advertisement in the October 12th issue of the Washington Post. All we are asking is that the FDA use the same standards when looking at these obesity drugs as any other drug, no more lenient and no more strict.

You can help. Please sign the petition to ask the FDA to use the same standards for approving these obesity drugs as approving any other drug. Click here to sign the petition and add your voice to those concerned about getting the obesity epidemic under control.

  Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Many thanks to Alida Turner for this holiday favorite


2 cups of canned skimmed evaporated milk
1/4 to ½ cup of sugar, can substitute or add Splenda
1 standard size can of plain packed pumpkin
½ cup egg substitute (equal to 2 eggs)
1 tsp vanilla
2 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
Spices to your liking, such as 2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice.

Bake at 325° if using a dark baking pan or 350° if using a glass one. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour depending on your oven. Cool well before refrigerating.

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

Barbara Thompson's

Inspiration to Lose Weight

Weekly Email Messages that Will Keep
You Motivated to Lose Weight and Stay Healthy

Staying in the proper frame of mind to continue losing weight can be hard when life's challenges always lead you astray.  Weekly messages will keep you on a steady track to lose weight.

Start receiving weekly motivational messages today
to stay on track with your weight loss.

Click for more information

Success Story:
  Debbie Sturdevant

My supply of success stories is EMPTY.

Please support this newsletter by sending your story.

If you have reached your goal weight (or close to it), you have a success story to tell. But you also have a story to tell even if you aren’t at goal weight. You may not think of yourself as a “success,” but if you are able to do things that you couldn’t before, if you are able to play on the floor with your children or grandchildren, or if you have thrown away medications, then YOU ARE A SUCCESS. Let us rejoice with you. Be proud of your wonderful achievement and let the world celebrate with you.

If you are one of the many support group leaders who use my newsletters in your discussion groups, please encourage your members to submit their stories.

Send your success story with before and after photo files to me at and I will include your story in a future newsletter.

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

The OAC is the ONLY non profit organization whose sole focus is helping those affected by obesity.  The OAC is a great place to turn if you are looking for a way to get involved and give back to the cause of obesity.

There are a variety of ways you can make a difference, but the first step is to become an OAC Member.  The great thing about OAC Membership is that you can be as involved as you would like.  Simply being a member contributes to the cause of obesity.


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