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A Lesson in Distracted Eating for WLS Fitness Contest Winner

Guest Blog
By Dawn Brell 

Dawn Brell rocking her vampiress for Halloween 2013

After a week with a few set backs Pandora asked me to write a blog about my experiences.  I have to say that anyone who has been through this have my sympathies and respect and for those who haven’t I hope that you never have to.  So we are going to talk about distracted eating and the consequences of that.  Star Date OCT 17 2013 (lol star trek humor) I was having a wonderful rib eye steak for supper. Normally when I eat I don’t do other things.  I focus on my food and eat slowly.  But this was the first time that I was going to miss my hockey team on TV. So I was trying to find it on the internet so I could listen and I was Facebook-ing and messing with paperwork.  So I was not watching how I cut my food. I was not thinking about my chewing.  You may guess where this is headed.  After a little bit of eating I knew that I had a problem.  I could tell that I had a piece of steak caught in my pouch.  It was a pain that I have never experienced.  I finally pushed my plate away and sat for probably an hour with my head on the table and rocking back and forth in my chair.  It didn’t do anything.  I finally decided that I was going to sip on some Powerade and hope that it would move.  No luck at all.  It did not move. I finally decided that I was going to put my hockey game on my phone and go to bed.  I laid in bed and just had pain, pain, pain. I decided that if I could get sick I would feel better. But no matter what I tried it was not going to move.  I couldn’t even force myself to get sick. It was stuck and it was REALLY stuck.  I couldn’t lay on my back at all because I couldn’t breathe and it felt like I was being ripped in half.  All I could do was roll side to side and cry.  It was awful.  It took about 14 hours for it to move.

My advice is to not partake in distracted eating.

I did try to do the right thing and the next day for lunch I had soup. This was the right thing to do but I didn’t stick with it long enough. For dinner I had a small grilled chicken sandwich.  I ate light all weekend but I was eating solids. I was not having pain so I thought I was ok to do that.  Fast forward to star date Oct 22. I had a half a cheeseburger for lunch and then dinner rolled around.  We were going to grill pork steak for supper.  I had a strange “don’t eat it” feeling but I had been feeling well so I thought it was going to be ok. I cut all the fat off and get rid of it.  I ate a little of the meat. I made sure that I was cutting it very small and chewing and chewing and chewing.  I thought it was going well.  I ate until I felt full.  But about 30 minutes later. I had that same horrible pain as last week.  It was horrible.  I decided that something might really be wrong and was going to go to the hospital.

 No food is worth dying for. No food is worth being in pain for. No food is worth a permanent problem. – Dawn Brell


Dawn pausing for a moment for one of those epic “Selfies” that remind us how far we have come.

As I was heading outside to go, the cold hit me and I got very very sick.  But after all of that I felt so much better.  So I went back inside and tried to relax.  But every 20-30 minutes I was still getting sick. I was so sick and finally got empty and was just bringing up foam.  I could not even hold down a sip of water.  After about 5 hours the pain was unbearable and I had no choice but to go to the hospital.  I was not excited about that at all. I have small fragile veins so for me the hospital is basically cruel torture.  But given that I may have been having a huge complication I was going to have to endure that torture.  They had a hard time getting an IV started and blew a few veins.  They finally got the IV going and I was given anti nausea and vomiting medicine.  I was given a lot of pain medicine.  I finally started to feel a little better and was able to get a little sleep.  I am now covered in horrible bruises but a small price to pay.  I did email my surgeon to tell them what happened. I was still worried that I had something stuck.  They didn’t do any x-rays at my local hospital. They basically said I hurt my pouch and it needed to rest.  My surgeon called me to get all of the details.  I told them everything and what had been happening.  Basically they told me that I need to go liquids for 3 days and then mushy for 3 days. I am also back to taking antacids everyday to aid in the healing also. I did have the right idea in doing soup after the first episode but I gave up on it fast. I enjoy eating now.  I used to inhale my food and never tasted it.  Now I have a new appreciation for it however I still have rules to follow. I am blessed that I can eat almost anything and everything post surgery I have very limited problem foods.  But I know that I have to do this because I can do permanent damage to pouch.  I didn’t let it rest and just kept irritating and irritating it until I had another problem.  A blockage or obstruction is a common complication for us and people do get sick and sadly some of them do pass away. I have experienced that in my life actually.

I couldn't help but throw in these photos of our "How do you celebrate success" Contest Winner Dawn Brell, showing off where she has been as she swims in her old jeans. Congratulations Dawn, I can't wait to run with you in January!

I couldn’t help but throw in these photos of our “How do you celebrate success” Contest Winner Dawn Brell, showing off where she has been as she swims in her old jeans. Congratulations Dawn, I can’t wait to run with you in January!

My advice is to not partake in distracted eating.  You never want to experience this pain.  You don’t want to have to worry about having a serious complication. You don’t want to have to give up eating.  I will tell you it is hard.  Its only day 2 and I hate it about as much as I did a year ago pre-op.  So be mindful of your eating, be mindful of the size of your pieces, be mindful that you are chewing. It sounds simple and I can say I took it for granted until this happened. But I don’t want to repeat this. I don’t want to do permanent damage after the gift I was given in my surgery. I hate pain and don’t want to go through that again. I know that I need to always stick to the rules because no matter how well things are going a bump in the road can and will happen.  But acting and treating it properly can be the difference in healthy and sick and sometimes life and death.  No food is worth dying for. No food is worth being in pain for. No food is worth a permanent problem.


Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

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All of Me Movie Screening – A Post RNY Patient Perspective

All-of-Me-Poster-smallI used to think I put “All of me” out there. I used to believe that my life was an open book and that everyone was allowed to read each and ever chapter through my blog and this website. The other day I had the pleasure of watching the screening of the movie “All of me,” and you want to talk about putting yourself out there, these women left nothing about themselves and their journey unexposed.

The movie is about a group of women who started together as a Big Beautiful Women ( BBW ) Group that participated in Fat Acceptance ( FA ) parties together and then later began embarking on a journey to lose weight together through different Bariatric Surgeries. The movie focuses quite a bit on the change in the relationships not only between these women, but with their significant others as well.

We talk often about how our decision to have Bariatric Surgery changes us. How it changes our friendships and how it changes our relationships. Very rarely do we see it unfold in front of our eyes on the big screen and manifest itself in a way that actually makes these thoughts and feelings portrayed in a way that we can see them happening. This movie did that.

DawnI had the pleasure of meeting Dawn, one of the stars of the film. I wish I could express how much I identified with Dawn in the movie. I often say that at 420 lb., I was invisible in the world. I was huge and yet nobody noticed me. It is very obvious when you meet Dawn, and get to know her through the movie, that she is passionate about helping make sure that people whose voices are not necessarily loud enough are heard.

ZsalynnThe truthfulness in this documentary film amazed me. The open and candid approach to things like past BBW adult oriented modeling that some of the women in this film participated in, quite honestly made me smile. I do however think that the film included a little too much of the actual modeling content than it needed to, and I think some of the points the film maker wanted to make got lost to some of their audience in the shock factor response to this. Mentioning it is one thing and showing a few examples another. But the scene where one of the women was actually plopping down on her partner in bed was one of those moments where the audience made a lot of shocked sounds and I think that particular vision stayed with some of them for so long that they missed some of the more important relationship aspects of the film because of it. Though I think there was a little too much of it included, I still applaud the film maker and the women in the documentary for including it. The Bariatric Community as a whole can be very judgmental and so much like high school that to see this documentary where these women were completely honest about their pasts and their journeys with no regard or care as to whether or not they were judged for it, made me smile and think to myself, “This is a group of women I could be friends with.” But I’ve always been of the opinion that this community is far too judgmental to one another and far too un-accepting of one another and our vast differences.


Watching the audience responses to the film intrigued me. Watching what characters they liked verses which ones they didn’t was interesting to me from a psychological standpoint. It seemed many in the audience didn’t like one of the characters in the movie that had successfully lost her weight, changed her attitude quite a bit, and seemed to distance herself most from those that were not on the same path that she was. It appeared that many found her cocky, arrogant and didn’t like her. I on the other hand found myself understanding the need to remove yourself from situations that are not necessarily mentally healthy for the path you are on and not aiding in getting you to your lifestyle change goals whether they are weight related or not.

I often feel within the Bariatric community we live in a bubble where EVERYTHING is about weight loss, weight loss surgery, support groups, conventions and our weight loss journeys. The thing is, for those in our lives that are not weight loss surgery patients or are not trying to lose weight, this can be a very annoying issue. I’ve seen in it my own personal relationships. My family wants nothing to do with the WLS community, they don’t want to attend events because they feel this community is all-consuming. I have been told on more than one occasion “I want to have a friendship with you, but we have nothing in common anymore because all you are about is WLS, weight loss, fitness, and exercise.” – One of my closest non-op friends told me just recently “You know your Father wanted you to have a happy healthy life. Not a sheltered one where 100% of your life was about weight loss surgery.”

At 420 lb. I was defined by my weight. It held me back from things I wanted to do. Today at 165 lb. my life revolves around my weight still, and I’m so busy doing things with and for the WLS Community that its pretty hard to get time with me outside of that. I remember not to long ago, I made the decision to come to Dallas to attend the NKOTB concert with my chosen sister, and when it meant me not attending a weight loss, exercise oriented convention I was going to attend I was ridiculed a little for it. But my life can’t always be about weight loss or I’m letting my weight control my life just as much now as I did when I weighed 420 lb.

We all change, people change as they get older, as they gain more life experience, and interestingly enough that seems to be one of the big fears people have when it comes to weight loss. “I don’t want to change who I am on the inside because I changed who I am on the outside.” I always want to ask them, if who they are on the outside is a true representation of who they are on the inside. Because when I started this journey, I wanted to change. I wanted to live a happier, healthier life. As I started making those changes, my relationships changed, a lot of them. My business relationships, my friendships, my intimate relationships, they all changed as I changed and became more confident in myself. The things I wanted out of life changed and it caused me to separate myself from people who were unhealthy for me.

As I watched this film I asked myself, if I had been in this group of women, would have remained friends with this group of women or stayed with the men that the women in this film were in relationships with and my answer, because I am honest, was no, I would not.

Dawn-and-GuyIf prior to my decision to lose weight I had been a part of a Big Beautiful Women group where the theme of the group and the friendships in it were, “I’m a big woman and I believe that I am beautiful and there are plenty of people out there that believe that I am beautiful as well.” I would have distanced myself. I would not have found that sort of mindset helpful to where I was trying to go. I was always the girl who looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. I still have issues with what I see in the mirror sometimes because of the excess skin issues. But I was never ok with being morbidly obese, I was never accepting of it in that regard. When it comes to the men in the movie, to be honest I sort of felt that they were unfairly painted in a negative light. Would I have stayed with a man who wasn’t happy with my decision to lose weight and seek a happier, healthier life? No I wouldn’t have. I would have left someone who didn’t support my decisions. That said, if I had married someone who was specifically a “Fat Admirer” or someone who had a fetish for big girls, and I suddenly decided that wasn’t who I wanted to be anymore, I would leave out of respect and love for them. I would look at it and go “Who am I to expect him to give up what he wants and what makes him happy because I have suddenly changed my mind about what I want and what makes me happy and our wants and needs in the relationship no longer parallel each other.”

I wrote down a couple of quotes from the movie that stood out to me as I was watching it and there was one thing in particular that I took away from this movie that really touched me. One of the women talked about how she felt about herself when she looked at her before and after photos. – I have often discussed that I feel completely disassociated from the woman in my before photos. I think one of the biggest relationship changes that we go through in our weight loss journey is our relationship with ourselves. The thing that stood out the most for me in the movie was one of the women saying that when she looks at her before picture, she is thankful to the woman in it, grateful to her for finding a way to protect her. This was one of those lightbulb moments for me. I always looked at my before picture and thought “What was I thinking, why did I ruin my body like that, why did I let me addiction to food get so out of hand.” Today as I am packing up for the OAC Your Weight Matters 2013 Convention, I pulled out the before picture I usually take with me and as I looked at it for the first time I thought to myself…

“What an amazing woman I am that I found a self-defense mechanism that could get me through the horrible abuse I endured. I learned to have relationships with food because food didn’t hurt me when everyone else around me did” We talk about building proverbial walls around ourselves when we have been hurt and having to take them down brick my brick when it is time to start letting people back in. Fat cells were my bricks and I built a very thick wall around myself to protect me from the physical, sexual, mental and emotional abuse that I went through as child and later, a teenager. The truth is, that wall of fat cells probably saved my life a dozen times over. It protected me during a time that I didn’t have healthy people in my life and when the time came, and I was ready, I started taking those fat cells down just like we talk about taking our walls down brick by brick. I don’t think I will ever look at my before picture the same again. I don’t ever think I will look at the woman in those photos with so much disdain, disgust and dislike. That is probably one of the move valuable things I could have learned and this documentary empowered me with that.

I’d definitely recommend the film to anyone who fights a battle with Obesity. It’s a different perspective than I think we are used to seeing, but I think that is healthy. Seeing things from different perspective sometimes helps us see ourselves more clearly. Putting ourselves in other people’s shoes and asking ourselves what we would do, often times gives us a glimpse into who we are that we might not have seen before.

In closing I think All of Me is a documentary that can open doors and discussions about relationships with others and with ourselves and how they change as we battle obesity. It also made me realize that even though I think I am an open book for everyone to read, I am sure I haven’t quite put “All of me” on there… and that’s probably a good thing. I have to save a few things for the book I’ll write someday, right?


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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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BariLife has decided to send me back to Paris to represent the WLS Community as I attempt to find my love of running again.
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