I met Nikki earlier this year at the FitBloggin’ convention. She was friendly and very open about her weight loss via gastric bypass surgery, which she blogs about on Bariatric Foodie: Play With Your Food. From time-to-time I get emails about this procedure, so I thought you might be interested to hear about it first-hand from a very charismatic lady. Enjoy
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Nikki Massie and I am a professional writer for a non-profit organization by day. I live in Baltimore, Md. with my two daughters who are 11 and 14 presently. I am a generally curious person but some of my hobbies include cooking (obviously!), Scrabble, music, etc.
Why did you choose weight loss surgery (WLS)?
I had just turned 31 and I weighed 327 lbs. I was pretty aware that I was a food addict and that to overcome my weight problem, regain my health and manage my addiction I had to radically change my relationship with food. I went to a WLS seminar with a friend who went on to get Lap-Band and it seemed like WLS would give me that radical change I needed. I chose gastric bypass because I perceived it to have the most negative reinforcement for undesirable behavior like excessive snacking, consuming sugar, etc. I’d heard you can get really sick from sugar after gastric bypass and I remember thinking, “Yep! That’s the surgery for me!” I was apprehensive about WLS because I thought I’d eat boring food for the rest of my life and at that point in my life that thought scared me a lot. Ultimately, I looked at my children, then 6 and 8, and decided that I had to make a change not only for me but for them. If I didn’t have good health habits, they would not develop them!
How has eating changed for you after this surgery?
WLS in general causes you to be able to eat a lot less than you could before surgery. You also become very aware of the inner workings of your digestive system and, if you’re paying attention, you can actually tell what’s going on “in there” and when something is going wrong! So I tend to eat slower, more mindfully.
So far as the content of what I eat, I’m required to maintain a high protein, reduced carbohydrate eating plan. This isn’t very hard as my surgery greatly reduced my sweet tooth and I mostly crave savory things like meat.
Now that I’m five years out from surgery, I can eat a lot more than I could fresh out of the operating room. So nowadays it’s more about my choices. Some things that made me sick before no longer do. And some things, like sugar, are more tolerable in certain situations. But I think because of the first few years when I habitually practiced a very compliant meal plan, it’s just second nature now. I am a creature of habit and eating this way is now a habit for me!
Why did you start the blog?
Well Bariatric Foodie had three significant shifts. I had a blog where I just wrote about life. But after WLS “life” became “my surgery.” As I began to experiment with recipes (mostly owing to the fact that EVERYTHING made me sick at first) I started documenting what worked, what didn’t. In the process of sharing all this with other post-ops I started doing cooking demos for surgical support groups. It was through this process that I started Bariatric Foodie. The second shift came when I partnered up with a friend and fellow post-op named Jennifer. It was during this time that I refined the philosophy of the blog – Play With Your Food. It’s simple but so important. There really is no food that can’t be made WLS-friendly. You just have to figure out how! The third shift came after Jennifer left Bariatric Foodie and I decided I’d no longer do cooking demonstrations and instead focus on my online community which was growing and, I discovered, international! At the heart of my blogging is my desire to save post-ops from the turmoil I experienced after surgery. I didn’t know anyone else who’d had surgery and didn’t know about online communities so I had nowhere to go to ask questions or just read and see what was normal. It is my sincerest hope to provide a safe space for post-ops to do that.
What is your favorite post-op recipe?
Hmmm…I’m not sure I have just one. The most popular recipe on the blog is Taco Casserole. (Here is the link to the recipe: Taco Casserole.) I like that but I also love cheesy mashed cauliflower. It’s comfort food! I also genuinely love the protein shakes i make. I wrote my protein shake book because I knew that if folks could learn how shakes work, they could find a shake they love.
What advice would you give to someone considering this surgery?
Read, read, read, research, read, ask questions, read..and read! Just hang out where post-ops hang out and listen as well as ask questions. Sometimes observation is the best way to get “the real deal.” Also be honest with yourself about WHY you are overweight. That might affect which kind of surgery is most appropriate for you. Lastly, don’t apologize to anyone for considering WLS. It is a tool to improve your health!
What exciting things are on your horizon?
Without letting out information I shouldn’t, I will say Bariatric Foodie is going in some new directions in 2014. We’ll be switching to a Word Press website and there will be more voices in the mix than just mine. I’m excited about where this community is going and I look forward to sharing more about that soon!
Also, I’m on the cusp of publishing my second book, “The Bariatric Foodie Holiday Survival Guide.” It will be available on Amazon sometime in November!
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Nikki!
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