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Nik Manifesto: Three Ways of Thinking that Can Hurt Your Weight Loss

Every once in a while, when the stars align correctly, I get in the mood to write a manifesto. The disclaimer here is that these are my thoughts. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a registered dietician. I’m not a psychologist. But I am a post-op who comes into contact with a LOT of other post-ops on a day-to-day basis and so when I see trends, I speak on them. I always expect that my manifestos will get me cursed out but somehow it usually turns out ok.

Today I’d like to talk about our expectations out of this process. Because from where I sit some of our expectations can be a little…interesting.

In jest, I call some of these expectations “fallacies,” mostly because the thinking behind them can be potentially harmful (and when I say harmful I mean both emotionally and, in some cases, physically). So I’ll dive right into the three most common ones I see.

The Fallacy of Equity

This is a fancy way of saying that I see many post-ops who believe that if everyone follows the same rules after surgery, everyone should get the same results. Some folks even believe that because they feel they work harder than other post-ops they should see better results.

These are FALSE. I’m living proof of that! I followed the rules of my surgery to a “t” for the first two years post-op. I exercised like a demon (there is documentation of this), I ate the proper number of calories, I was a protein champ. I never, ever saw this so-called “normal” rating according to the BMI. In fact, most of you will get an average of 20-40 lbs. smaller than I was at my smallest!

That’s not a rant on my part but I am saying this. Like most other statistical measures, WLS results are measured in broad trends, not individual numbers. Surgeons expect a certain percentage of your body fat loss based on the general trends they see, along with any influencing factors that apply to your body. But, again, that is relating you to you. Not to anybody else. So just because so-and-so lost a hundred pounds in four months does not mean you will NOR does it mean that you are a failure if you don't. Your body is your body. Don’t compare to anyone else!

 Bottom line: We are not all the same. And we, as post-ops, aren’t always the best equipped to make apples-to-apples comparisons. So instead of worrying about so-and-so, stay on your plan.

The Fallacy of Graduation

I see this one a lot. I practiced this one from years 2 – 4! This is the fallacy that allows mid- to longer-term post-ops (and sometimes even very ambitious newbies) to believe that they have “graduated” from obesity. Perhaps they’ve reached a certain weight, their labs look fine, they feel great and they think, “Ok, I’m not obese anymore! I don’t have to live by any rules anymore. Yippee!”

That is FALSE. I hate to be the bearer or discouraging news but once a post-op, always a post-op. And to go even deeper, science is starting to tell us that even when our bodies get to be a normal size, our metabolism will probably always be that of an obese person.

Now you can choose to interpret this information as discouraging. You may feel hopeless. I personally don’t see that as the point. To me, the point is that, on some level, we have to continue to work at our health for our entire lives. This should not be discouraging to any of you because even healthy non-ops have to work at their health for their entire lives. It’s a fact of life. The body takes maintenance. For us, that maintenance includes being aware of what we eat, how much we move, taking vitamins, drinking water.

Bottom line: While your life won’t always be centered on the WLS process, the WLS process will always be at least a small part of your life. You don’t graduate, pass go or collect $200.

The Fallacy of Similar Consequences

This one is similar to the Fallacy of Equity but slightly different. Again, this is one I have been especially guilty of throughout my process. The thinking goes a little something like this.

“I exercise and do everything I am supposed to. Jane does not. In fact, I see she eats cookies and still maintains a great weight loss. So I should be able to eat cookies.”

Now…first, divorce yourself from the specific example because cookies could be anything, even stuff that isn’t food. Cookies could be exercising enough, taking your vitamins or myriad other things. The point here is that we sometimes see others doing things we want to do (and believe me, I get the desire to just let loose, I really do!) and think that because that person didn’t have any visible negative consequences, you won’t either.

That is FALSE. The thinking is at least. You could very well not have many adverse consequences to relaxing your personal rules (although I can say with confidence that eventually not taking your vitamins usually catches up with you!). BUT you should always make those decisions based on factors related to you, not anybody else. Jane is Jane and you are you. Just because Jane can eat cookies every day and maintain her weight does not mean that’s what you should (or even want) to do. Am I making sense here?

I’ll give you another personal example. Not only have I always trended higher on the scale than most other post-ops but I’ve almost always been able to eat more. And there was a time when I followed the Jane’s of the world into some new habits. In and of themselves said habits weren’t so bad, but they weren’t the right decisions for me or my body. So they did not have favorable results. I had to learn that even though Jane was doing things I wished I could do, I could not do them. I don’t get the same result as Jane. Why? Because my body is different from hers!

There are many, many more of these so-called lines of thinking that I see, but these are the ones I see most commonly. I think in general this is a learning process. And far too many of us (present company included) have to learn this stuff from the School of Hard Knocks. Insofar as I can give a little insight that may help you recognize these patterns and act on them (if need be), I feel my mission is accomplished!

Keep playing with your food, Foodies. :)

Release Date AND Sneak Peek at the cover of "The Bariatric Foodie Breakfast Book"

I am ridiculously, tremendously, over the top happy to announce that I can FINALLY announce that…

The Bariatric Foodie Breakfast Book will go on sale April 28! At this point I can only guarantee the hard-copy version will be available on that date. You will be able to purchase the book on Amazon!

My “e-book guy” and I are working hard to get the e-book versions done. When they are done the book will be available for Kindle on Amazon and for Nook/iPad on Smashwords. The price for the book is the same as all other Bariatric Foodie books: $12.95 for hard-copy, $8.95 for e-book (no matter which version of the e-book you buy).

For a preview of the yumminess to come, check out the “BariatricFoodie Breakfast Book” board on Pinterest. I’ll be adding more pictures as I get them snapped. In June, there will be an opportunity to ask questions and do a special Q&A with me about the book and the recipes. Stay tuned for information on that!

Until then, THANK YOU for your patience. This was the first time I was so open about the process of developing a book and I thought I was getting on your nerves BUT you all gave me great insight and kept me enthusiastic to make it to the finish line. I really hope you all enjoy this book!

Tilapia Verde

I'm literally eating this as I type. I don't routinely upload recipes this quickly after sharing them (read: don't go getting spoiled) but I figured since it's a quiet day and I have the time, why not?

This dish started with me having a random assortment of vegetable-type stuff to use up. A few days ago I sacrificed two zucchinis and an eggplant to my co-worker's compost pile. While I'm glad they will still get good use, that hurt my heart!

Now I feel especially passionate about using up my veggies since I read this statistic in Women's Health Magazine. 

I also needed something quick to prepare. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I go to a 5:45 a.m. weight lifting class which lasts an hour. In order to get the divas to school on time I must leave by 7:20 a.m. So, this morning (having not prepped anything for today) I had to get back from the gym from a class that ends at 6:45, get un-grossified, dressed, make sure they are un-grossified and dressed, and get us all out the door in 35 minutes. Oh...and make lunch. 

So this is to say if I could pull off that feat with a great lunch, I have confidence in the rest of you!

Nik's Tilapia Verde
(Makes numerous servings. For me, two, for you, who knows?)
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/2 a small onion, cut into slivers
  • 2 c. spinach
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced (luckily I don't kiss anyone during my workday!)
  • 1/2 a yellow squash, cut into rounds, then halved
  • 2 - 4 oz. tilapia filets
  • 1 c. salsa verde (mine was homemade...I'd imagine pesto would work well too in this situation to keep the whole "verde" theme although pesto something of a caloric bomb with all the oil...tasty but very caloric!)
  • Salt, pepper to taste

Set a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add water. On top of it add all the veggies and garlic. Top with fish and sauce. Cover.

Go get un-grossified and dressed. Return to kitchen and check on it. At this point it should be REALLY watery. Remove the cover and go back upstairs. Do your hair, make-up, yell at your pre-teenager to hurry up, relent to fixing the hair of your teenager ("Because it never comes out right unless you do it, Mom!). Get dog and cat situated then return to the kitchen. (Yes, this is ALL a part of the recipe! Men, you do this too!)

Remove from heat while you get your purse/briefcase/smart technology together. Empty contents of skillet into a plastic container, snap the lid on and get to gittin'! 


Did I mention La Grande Diva turned 15 on Tuesday? I baked her the cutest cake. I hope you don't find me mean cruel or some other horrible adjective for sharing it with you. It's called an Ombre Coconut Cake (Ombre being a style of dyeing things where you use one color and go from darkest to lightest hues). I got the recipe/method from Food Network Magazine. I posted the pic on their Facebook Page and it's getting lotsa love. It's a HUGE cake. I could only eat a few bites. I'm not a big sweets person. I've not touched it since then. summary...I had time to make that fabulously healthy lunch up above AND this beautimous cake (which I made from scratch, by the way). I am Nik, hear me ROAR!

April 1 - Go Green for Peace

If you are participating, right-click on this image and choose "Save As" to save it, then upload to your Facebook profile!

So this is short notice BUT I think it's a good thing.

Bariatric Foodie is committed to upholding a safe environment for ALL post-ops to share their experiences. This includes BF's Facebook and Twitter communities as well as here on the blog. That means I try to be as helpful as I can without judgment to you and I expect the same of anyone who participates in any of BF's forums.

Because honestly, we need one another. We gotta stand together!

Which is why I thought of this "Go Green for Peace" thing. It's a way to show our solidarity toward and support for one another.

So if you'd like to participate (you certainly don't have to!) here's how you can join in. If you use Facebook, tomorrow, April 1st, change your profile picture to the above image. could pair that with a status update (I'm going to write, "I support my WLS community. That's why I'm going Green!") or you could just do the picture (understandable especially if many of your friends aren't WLS folks).

It's a small way of showing that we support one another through the ups and downs, in the spirit of peace and non-judgment. I said, take part if you wanna. If you don't that's fine! But I want to give the opportunity for us to show each other that we're all in this together!


Edited to add: (I got this question a few times) NO this is not an April Fools joke. I will be changing my picture. I think because I primarily think of April 1 as my oldest daughter's birthday I sometimes forget what it means to the rest of the world! But it's not a joke or a prank! I'm doing this! If you'd like to you are invited. :)

Nik's Stuffed Zucchini

Quinoa & Tilapia Stuffed Zucchini

So I think I should stop calling Meatless Friday, Meatless Friday. It’s sort of misleading. More than once I’ve been told if I eat fish it’s not a true Meatless Friday and, thinking about it, that’s kind of right. I think it’s much more a function of my Catholic grandpa’s conception of “meatless” that I ever came to think of fish as part of Meatless Friday.

All that is to say I’m going to try going forward to only use the term “meatless” for true vegetarian meals and mark my Lent meals as such. Cool? Groovy!

That being said, about 10 p.m. last night I remembered today was a “Lenten Friday” and, as such, I was abstaining from chicken, beef, pork, etc. I eat fish, seafood, veggies, whole grains and dairy on those days.

Now I could have gone out to lunch today. Lord knows there are TONS of meatless (and Lent) options. BUT. I am trying to stick to my budget better so I decided to whip something up. (Yes, at 10 p.m. last night!)

My mind immediately went to this dish I had at a Greek restaurant called Ikaros in North East Baltimore. Baltimore is known for having very rich, cultural neighborhood traditions. This part of Baltimore is informally known as “Greek Town” and there are some great restaurants with excellent food!

The original dish I had was called named (wait for it…) Stuffed Zucchini Squash! (There was a name in Greek which I could probably attempt since Greek is similar to Russian and, fun fact, Nik can READ – not always understand – perfect Russian and the alphabets are similar BUT…I respect my Greek brothers and sisters way too much to try. K? Moving on.) It had ground beef, Greek spices and rice and the zucchini was HUGE. It was a few meals for even me!

In this instance I decided to replicate the spirit of the dish so much as imitate it. Mine isn’t Greek. It doesn’t subscribe to any particular tradition, although if I were pinned down I would probably (and inaccurately) say it’s more French provincial. But enough of my imagination. Let’s get to the dish!

Nik’s Stuffed Zucchini

  • 1 zucchini (mine was about 7 inches)
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp. chopped green pepper
  • 2 tbsp. diced onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt, pepper, your favorite spices (I used Herbs de Provence, but you can also use Greek seasoning or any other seasoning you like)
  • 2 tbsp. quinoa (I used red quinoa – tastes the same to me)
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 4 oz. tilapia filet (or other white fish filet of your choice)
Sauce ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. soy flour
  • ¾ c. milk (I used skim)
  • 1 tsp. garlic
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. goat cheese (or other sharp cheese of your liking)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cut off stem and base of zucchini, then cut in half length-wise. Use a knife to score a ¼ inch channel down the middle of the zucchini then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Set on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.

Put a dry skillet over medium heat and let it get hot. Add oil.

Add all vegetables and saute for two minutes or until softened. Add garlic and spices, stir and cook an additional minute.

Add quinoa and stir through the vegetable mixture before adding water. Top with fish and cover the skillet.

Cook about 12-15 minutes or until fish is done and white rings have popped out of the quinoa, signaling it is done. You want to cook your quinoa extra tender since it’s going to go in the oven.

Making sure your fish, veggies and quinoa are all mixed together, spoon the filling into the channel of the zucchini, then bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until zucchini has softened.

Meanwhile, in that same skillet that you made the filling, melt the butter. Add the flour and mix until a dough-like paste forms.

Add the milk and garlic and whisk it into the butter/flour mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil. It will froth and begin to thicken.

Add the lemon juice and goat cheese and any spices and stir until it bubbles, then reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer until the zucchini is done.

VERDICT: I loved it! Somehow the dish tasted like there was bacon in it but there was not! It was savory and fragrant and...not a bowl of tuna! (Which is what I was going for. I wanted a lunch that felt like lunch.) I love the stuffed zucchini concept so I'm going to play around with it some more.

If you've made one, share how you stuffed yours!
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