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Everyday weight management tricks used by successful WLS Veterans

Successful long term weight management for bariatric patients takes an extraordinary amount of commitment and discipline. I am 27 years post op this year and I must say – It’s awesome out here – meaning life beyond surgery, recovery, and initial weight loss,
It has been my great privilege to know and work with several outstanding WLS veterans who are getting it right year after year, after year! I reached out to this remarkable group of long term losers and asked them to share their real-world experiences and the number 1 trick they use regularly to maintain their weight. Here’s what they said:
“Know your limits. I stick to my eating plan when I go out by mindfully ordering exactly what I want and ONLY what I want. For instance, I order a hamburger – hold the bun and 4 French fries – not 3 not 6, but 4!  I know myself well and know how much of what kind of foods I can enjoy.”

20 years post op

18 years post op
“My trick is meal planning! I keep an inventory of all of the proteins I have in my freezer on the side of my refrigerator and all I have to pick up for the week are vegetables and eggs!
Really simple but stress free and a huge time saver!”
“Staying hydrated is one key to keeping both physical and head hunger under control for me. I do not allow myself to make my morning cup of coffee until I have 24 oz of water down, usually herbal tea. This helps me get and stay hydrated which in turn helps me feel good and stay focused.”

18 years post op

27 years post op
“Though I am not diabetic, I have learned how to improve my metabolic health by
controlling my insulin. For the last year or so, I have embraced Intermittent Fasting and daily apple cider vinegar”

WLS Success Since 1995!

An enduring inspiration, for 27 years Colleen Cook has educated and motivated audiences all over the world. She is a successful weight loss surgery patient from 1995 and President of Bariatric Support Centers International  Named “Bariatric Professional of the Year” in 2009, and honored by the International Federation of the Surgery for Obesity for her research. Colleen is the author of the internationally acclaimed, bariatric best seller, The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients book and is a sought after speaker for both professional healthcare conferences and weight loss celebrations. As an obesity education advocate, Colleen’s research-based presentations are a valuable addition to any healthcare conference for nurses, dieticians, or mental health professionals.

Fat Adaptation & Metabolic Switching

I didn’t know when I started but apparently, I did things just right. I began with 3 months of very strict Keto eating. Started with 50 grams of carbs per day – then moved to 30 grams per day. I began tracking my macro-nutrients, blood glucose and ketone levels. I lost weight quickly (mostly water weight first) and had the ‘keto flu’ for a day as my body switched into a new metabolic state.  

After 3 months, I went off keto by increasing my carbs and lowering my fat. And I began an intermittent fasting routine of 16/8 – 3 or 4 times each week and continued to monitor and test. I continued fasting, with low fat – moderate carbs or a month – then went back to low carbs, high fat, then off again a few weeks later. I found that through it all and with the addition of intermittent fasting, I was able to keep my blood glucose down and my ketone levels up and continue to lose weight.

I had no idea there was a term for what I had accomplished but it’s a big deal! I have become Fat Adapted! Meaning, my body now knows how to convert fat into fuel quickly and efficiently. Fat adaptation has resulted in decreased cravings, increased energy and stamina and improved sleep. Wow!

By changing things up often, (my eating, exercise, and fasting routines) and going in and out of ketosis, I have kept my body alert and responsive. Apparently, there is a term for that too! It’s called Metabolic Switching.

As I have come to understand it, the body can use glucose or ketones for fuel. There is some significant research suggesting that ketones are the preferred fuel for brain and body. I must say that for me, I have found this to hold true. Whenever I eat too many carbs, too often, I feel bloated and crampy, sluggish and not too on the ball. But after a day or two of low carb, high fat eating – or 16 or more hours fasting, insulin goes down, ketones go up, I feel better, have more energy, I am more alert and think more clearly.

If you would like to learn more, do a Google search on these terms, read the research, listen to podcasts and watch videos. Click here to Download the Fat Adaptation & Metabolic Switching  

References and Recommendations

The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients

Dr Becky Gillaspy

The Obesity Code,  Jason Fung YouTube Channel

Thomas Delauer

Dr Benjamin BikmanInsulin Resistance – Fat for Fuel

Dr. Mindy Pelz


Why and How I Intermittent Fast

I love food! You? And there are some things I am not willing to sacrifice. Baking and eating cookies with my grandkids, my husband’s homemade bread topped with my daughters peach jam, and my grandmother’s clam chowder on Halloween. We love, we mourn, we celebrate with, and we live with food. There are some memories that I am simply not willing to let go of. But I have learned how to shall we say “have my cake and eat it too”

As I have shared in other videos, articles, I have recently come to understand that the weight loss game is not played by counting calories – but controlling insulin. There are number of ways to do that. Keto or low carb dieting and Intermittent fasting.

A few months of Intermittent Fasting has repaired my metabolism, corrected insulin resistance, and helped my body become fat adapted, meaning my body has relearned how to burn fat, and how to switch from storing to burning.

The eye opening – life changing work of Dr Jason Fung (The Obesity Code) has taught that humans exist in one of two states – storing or burning. Our bodies are not designed to eat all the time – We must STOP eating and allow our bodies to burn what it has stored. Our hormones are in control. When we eat insulin goes up. Its job is to store energy from the food we eat. When we stop eating for an extended period of time –glucose goes down, causing the body to search for another energy source – found in our fat stores. Then another hormone – glucagon stimulates ketone production allowing us to burn fat for fuel.  

There is an abundance of science and research on Intermittent Fasting. The more we know, the more exciting it gets. Links in the handout below – but in the meantime, I would like to share with you a few things I have tried, experienced, and learned.

  1. Start slowly. Honestly it is as simple as STOP eating after dinner (7pm or 8pm) and eat a late breakfast. Eat nothing. (That alone is a 12 hour fast) Try that for a few days, then expand a bit. I regularly fast for 16 hours – from 8pm to Noon the next day.
  2. Exercise while fasting.  When you first begin, as your body switches gears, you may feel especially tired, but once your body gets used to its new fuel, you’ll have more energy than you can imagine, so exercise!
  3. Break your fast with protein! Best practice, lots of research on why. Follow the links.
  4. Drink! I drink herbal teas throughout my fasting time, I also drink water with my vitamin supplement and electrolytes and sometimes caffeine. The most widely recommended drink during fasting is coffee.
  5. Take vitamins and supplements. I have added Magnesium, Vitamin D, and zinc to my bariatric vitamin routine. See Success Habits

I use fasting to mitigate the times when I eat sugar cookies with my kids, go out for pizza or overdo on Halloween candy. Sometimes I have a bad day, I eat waay too many carbs, and feel bloated and uncomfortable. When I find myself there, I STOP eating – I’ll fast for 16- 20 hours – eat low carbs for a few days and I’m easily right back in the game. Give Intermittent Fasting a try – it works and its free!

Download Video Handout – How and Why I Intermittent Fast

References and Recommendations

The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients

Dr Becky Gillaspy

The Obesity Code,  Jason Fung YouTube Channel

Thomas Delauer

Dr Benjamin BikmanInsulin Resistance – Fat for Fuel

Dr. Mindy Pelz




Bari Keto Details

I had had it!  You know the feeling. Pants too tight to breathe, refusing to go up a size, feeling awful, discouraged, and disappointed. But what to do about it. Last spring, I found myself at 168 pounds – knowing I had to do something, but what?

My life’s work has been spent researching the details of long term success for bariatric patients. I am a patient myself from 1995. I lost 125 pounds, but my weight has fluctuated up and down through the years and the battle with the disease of obesity continues. At my wits end, I knew that I had to tell myself the truth about my habits aligned with what I know about The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients.  The picture was clear. Several were out of whack – some easily restored like drinking more water – being more consistent with my vitamins and exercise.  My eating however was out of control, and I was not making myself accountable.  So…what to do?

I came to this point in time knowing several things about myself.

1. For permanent change, I had to engage my mind in a big way. I had to read, learn, study, listen to podcasts, watch videos and keep my head in the game. I had to keep myself motivated and my thoughts focused on my weight and health goals.

2. I already knew what my metabolic rate – (trial and error and had it tested years ago) 1147 calories; that’s it!

3. I knew carbs were my greatest challenge. And most importantly,

4. I knew I had to log and track my progress.

I had good success with our Back on Track Program (6 weeks including 2 weeks of Ketosis) but wanted to learn, understand and do more. I started researching Keto Diets and wow; I had no idea! there is so much research, information, food, recipes, articles, and groups. The more I learned, the more interested in it I was. So – I began.

  1. Tracking – Though there are several ways to track and record I have found that for me, MyFitnessPal has been awesome. I learned to track, not just calories but macronutrients. Through the months, I adjusted with percentages and found my sweet spot. Yours will be different, so I will share with you the ranges I use. Calories – 1,000 to 1,200. Carbs 30 to 50 grams, Fat 85 to 115 grams and Protein 90 – 120 grams.
  1. After a few days, I did experience what they call the Keto Flu. I was happy about it honestly, because I could feel my body changing from burning carbs to using fat for fuel. Awesome! And the weight started to come off – quickly.
  1. I started stocking up on foods I love like shrimp, avocado, zucchini, seeds, and nuts. I tried many different recipes using alternative flours and sweeteners, but I found some keepers, but I have learned that for me, I would rather do without than have keto bread, pudding, ice cream or honestly, low carb anything.
  1. Knowing that game is staying in ketosis by keeping my insulin levels low – I started measuring my glucose and ketone levels with a Keto-Mojo Meter. I homed in on exactly how and when my insulin rises and falls. What foods effect it, what exercise does to it.

After about 4 months – and a weight loss of 18 pounds, I deliberately went off of keto. And I felt it. My weight loss stalled for a bit – but then….I learned how to keep my insulin levels down and my body in ketosis with Intermittent Fasting!! I have continued to lose weight, my energy levels are up, my mind is clear and I can’t imagine ever going back to eating all the time.

Stick with me for more details on my experience with Intermittent Fasting.

Download handout here: BariKeto?

References and Recommendations

The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients

The Obesity Code,  Jason Fung YouTube Channel

Thomas Delauer

Dr Benjamin BikmanInsulin Resistance – Fat for Fuel

Dr. Mindy Pelz

The #1 Thing I Learned to Lose 28 Pounds

If you are ready to fix your broken metabolism, teach your body to burn fat, increase your energy and lose those stubborn pounds read on! Here I will share with you the #1 lesson I have learned about controlling the way my body burns energy.

Old thinking about how to treat the disease of obesity has simply not worked! The counsel to eat less exercise more, and that a calorie is a calorie and fat is bad has proven, in this day and age to completely miss the mark. Weight management is not about controlling calories – it’s about controlling INSULIN!  

And now I get it – I’ve spent months learning, experimenting and wow! Now I know what to do, I am in control, and my body has relearned how to burn fat – not just food! Below you will find a list of some of the people I recommend you follow and learn from. You’ll find scientific research, links to YouTube Channels, articles, and books. I invite you to learn more from these thought leaders in metabolic medicine and weight loss. But first, here are a few highlights from what I have recently learned

  1. Insulin is a hormone its job is to store energy. Whenever we eat – anything – whether it be a carrot or a cookie – insulin goes Some foods of course, cause insulin levels to rise more than other foods, but eating at all activates insulin. And remember insulin’s job is take the nutrients from the food we have eaten and store them in our cells. When that job is done – insulin production stops. Think for a minute what happens if you eat all day? Even small meals, or a quick snack now and then? Eating at all keeps your insulin levels up and energy being stored.
  2. When we stop eating for 6 – 12 hours insulin levels decrease – something awesome happens. Once the body is out of the stored glucose from what we have eaten, (glycogen) – the body triggers another hormone called glucagon Glucagon’s job is the exact opposite of insulin; Insulin stores – Glucagon burns. When insulin is up glucagon is down – when insulin falls glucagon goes to work.
  3. After 12 – 24 hours of not eating – Even more miraculous things happen in our bodies. Glucagon directs the liver to produce ketones which allows fat stores to be burned for energy. Inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body decrease and something called Autophagy begins. Autophagy is our body’s way of cleaning up and removing old cells & debris.

As I have learned and come to understand for myself that for me “it’s all about insulin” I have found several different ways to control my insulin levels – allowing my body to work properly. I have lost 28 pounds and feel awesome!  I have experimented with several new habits that I will share with you in my upcoming videos. Stay tuned for more on my low carb and keto dieting experiences, how I have learned to track not calories but macronutrient, how I test and monitor my blood glucose, and the power I have found in Intermittent Fasting.

Download Handout Its About Insulin

References and Recommendations

The Obesity Code,  Jason Fung YouTube Channel

Thomas Delauer

Dr Benjamin BikmanInsulin Resistance – Fat for Fuel

Mindy Pelz



What I did to lose 15 pounds of ‘Corona’ weight and repair my metabolism

And I don’t’ mean Corona the city or the beer! So many, I believe will be able relate to having gained a few pounds through our crazy COVID year. New research shows that over 35% of Americans gained weight during the pandemic! And I was no exception.   Uncertainty, stress, new environment, several deaths, mom moving in with us and the reasons, “excuses’ have gone on since we moved to Star Valley in 2017.  Finally, in April, when I put on my favorite pair of jeans and could not breathe for most of the day, I thought, Enough is ENOUGH!” The was the last straw. As a weight loss surgery patient from 1995, I know this road, and I know it well. And, I know when it is time to refocus, re-commit and get back on the wagon. 

While BSCI’s Back on Track Program is a successful go to, I have also had success with Intermittent Fasting so, I began by immersing myself in learning some of the new research, especially as it applies to those over 50. I love learning and am always motivated by the science of it all. Knowing how my metabolism works, how I burn and store fat has helped me make positive, effective changes as I have customized a program to help me repair and restore my ‘challenged’ metabolic health. Daily I read articles, watch videos, consider reports, track, monitor and learn about my 61 year old self. Here are some of the highlights of what I have recently learned and how I implemented what made sense to me and lost 15 pounds. Seven more to go and I am as motivated as ever! 

  1. For the first time in my life, I track everything I eat and drink, including vitamins. I have tried a few different apps and online programs and have settled on myfitnesspal.com
  2. I track my ‘macros.’ Meaning, number of carbs, protein and fat as well as calories, keeping my calories under 1200 per day (I know my BMR is very low). If you don’t know what your Basal Metabolic Rate is – find out! 
  3. My goal each day is to consume 10% carbs (no more than 30 grams) 30% protein and 60% fat. I follow a Ketogenic diet, for the most part. Except when I don’t, let me explain…
  4. After 4 weeks or so in ketosis, I felt an undeniable decrease in my hunger and cravings, my mental clarity and my weight. Then at about 10 weeks in that changed for some reason. After some research, I learned the importance of regularly changing things up, keeping my body in tune and focused.  So I went off Keto, kept my calories the same lowered my fat, and increased my carbs.  My weight stayed the same over that 2 week period then I went back on Keto again. As I had become ‘fat adapted’ (look it up) I went back into Ketosis very quickly and began losing weight again. Love it! Taking a ‘diet break’ really did help. And the truth is, I couldn’t wait to get back that great Keto feeling of being full and energized. 
  5. Throughout it all, I have also experienced many of the great benefits from Intermittent Fasting (see my article here). I fast 16 / 8 three to four days each week. I feel great, and most importantly to me, I enjoy eating this way! I enjoy feeling full, (Keto does that do you). And I enjoy being motivated by learning, trying and succeeding at so many new things.
  6. Oh, and I play Pickleball! Love it getting good at it.  Kind of obsessed really! 

I am 26 years post op from bariatric surgery. I will be forever grateful for my surgical tool and resulting 125 pound weight loss. However, new research, new thinking, new science has changed the way I understand my obesity and how to better manage my metabolic health. I have come to understand the essential role that insulin plays in how my body burns or stores fat. I have also learned that I struggle with insulin resistance and I am pre-diabetic. All great reasons why the important changes I have made are essential and working. 

Since my surgery in 1995, my focus as been on long term success. My book, The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients has helped thousands learn embrace the bariatric lifestyle.  There is one thing, however that I would like to correct. One thing that I know now that I didn’t know when I wrote it.   I used to say “If you want to burn fat, don’t consume fat.” I was wrong about that. May I encourage you to learn more about what, when and how to consume the right types of fat for your ultimate health.

I am so pleased to see so much new research, so many articles, features, blog posts and podcasts throughout the bariatric community, now talking about and touting the great effects of keto and fasting for bariatric patients. I hope you will give it a try. And honestly, the best way I know how to help you get back on track is to encourage you to begin is to first read my book, then consider our Bariatric R.E.S.E.T  or Back on Track programs.  Just what you will need to take back control of your life, your health, your weight. 



Effort, PA

Last week, as we were preparing orders for shipping, I noticed that one of my books was going to a town called Effort, Pennsylvania. What a great place, I thought! I wondered does it take extraordinary effort to get there? Live there? Or are the people of Effort were “extra milers”?

Thinking about Effort called to mind a very powerful principle that I have tried to consider often in my daily life. It is the power of simple, small extra effort. Author, S.L. Parker in his book, 212-The Extra Degree (great resources, google him!) he encourages all to be Two-Twelve®*. Let me explain. At 211 degrees water is hot…at 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water comes steam, and with steam you can power a train! Hmm one degree! Similarly, there are many, many stores of accomplishments, wins, successes that hinge on just a small about of extra effort. For instance:

In professional golf, there are 4 major tournaments each year. The average margin of victory was less than one stroke a day! Yet, the first place winners took home 77% more than the 2nd place participants.

In racing, the Daytona 500, the average margin of victory was .175 seconds! First place, $1,354,368. Second place – over a half million dollars less.

Many Olympic event winners are chosen by a measure of time or distance. The difference between the “Gold” and no medal at all is minuscule! For instance: The Women’s 100 Meter Speed Skating – .07 seconds!

I remember learning to water ski. Holding on for one more split second makes all the difference in a fun time skiing, or a discouraging crash. Think of how your life might improve if you gave just a little, tiny bit more effort.

  • If you were to eliminate 30 minutes of TV watching or online browsing each day, you would have an extra 182.5 hours each year to accomplish something. That’s like four and a half weeks at work!
  • What impact would it have on your health and your weight if you were to exercise 10 more minutes each time or add one more day each week?
  • What if you were to pay just one mortgage payment extra each year? Do you know that it would cut a 30 year mortgage down to 22 years!

With all of this in mind I am recommitting to care a little more, give a little more, Stay focused on the little things that can make such a big difference. Join me?

Oh, and by the way, according to tradition, the community of Effort was named for the considerable “effort” it took townspeople to agree on a name for the place.


Own it!

It’s been 25 years since my weight loss surgery, and I am quite proud that I still wear a size 10 jeans. However, yesterday when I put on a pair of my pants fresh from the dryer, I found myself holding my breath, sucking in, doing a few kicks, dancing around and zipping them up with all the strength I could muster.  (You are smiling aren’t you. You know what I am talking about)!

Hmm. My first thought was, well shrunk in the dryer… my next natural go to explanation was… must be water weight week, and of course, darn this corona virus weight gain! But then, like a flash came a hurtful dose of reality as I recalled this thought from a billboard:

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t the consequences of my own actions!”

Yep, it was in that moment that I finally told myself the truth. My habits are all out of whack! I knew exactly what I had been doing and I owned it! All of it! Taking personal responsibility, a very difficult, but essential step to change.

When I first read this billboard, I thought about some of today’s generation of kids who seem to lack any sense of personal responsibility.  Everything is someone else’s fault. They fail to see the connection between their own choices and the inevitable consequences of those choices. Forever placing the blame for their own circumstances on anyone and anything but themselves. “It’s his fault, it’s her fault, I had to because they…” Some adults are like that too. “It’s my boss, the weather, the government, the neighbors, how I was raised.” On and on it goes, placing blame on anyone and anything to avoid owning and taking responsibility for their current circumstances.  

Then, there are the ones who, in my mind, really ‘get it.’ I have always admired those people who, though they make mistakes, are very quick to own up to their responsibility. To step up and say, “Yes, I did that; I knew better, but I did it and now I own the consequences.”

My book, the # 1 Bariatric Best Seller, The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients, highlights our research into the habits of the most successful long term weight loss surgery patients. When comparing those most successful, with those who have struggled through the years, the desire and the ability to take responsibility for daily habits varied greatly. Those most successful are personally accountable every day, in every way. Readily owning their choices and consequences; both good and bad. They make quick adjustments as needed, not only to maintain a healthy weight long term, but also in other areas of their lives.

I think of myself as a pretty responsible person, but surely want to do better, more often. Today, I am renewing will my commitment to be more accountable for my choices, and to own my actions and their outcomes.

Now, about those tight pants… I’m on it!

Surely We Can Do Better!?

Seriously?! They say a picture is worth a thousand words but this one… oh my. I really think that we can be better neighbors; don’t you? Our world and so many lives are in such chaos these days. There are so many who are suffering and living day to day in fear and uncertainty.  The challenges faced by some are obvious however, “in the quiet heart is hidden sorrows that the eye can’t see.” Never before in my lifetime has there been a greater need for us all to express simple kindness, love and concern for one another.

Kindness can be so simple. A smile, a compliment, a note in the mail, or a quick text of encouragement. Taking care of our neigbors. May I invite you to look around and know that as Mother Teresa shares, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

A few weeks ago, my husband traveled to Casper, Wyoming to spend a few days visiting his parents. One evening, we treated them to dinner at a favorite Chinese restaurant. As we were finishing our meal, the waitress came to our table and said, “your meal has been paid for.” The service had not been so hot, so my first thought was that management was compensating for the many mistakes made by the rookie waitress, but no. She explained that our meal was paid for by the couple in the corner that just left!  Roger and I were pleasantly surprised, but his father was not. He simply pointed to his Veteran hat and said, “this happens to us all the time.”

Outstanding! I have been so consumed and discouraged lately by the news of our day, that this simple act really renewed my faith in the goodness of mankind. That led me to re-read one of my favorite books, by Gordon B. Hinckley Stand for Something – 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal our Hearts and Homes

It speaks of such simple principles like “do unto others” and “love one another.” It champions the need for honesty, trust, forgiveness and gratitude. Most of all has instilled in me hope and optimism for the future. Perhaps you will enjoy it too. 

Through challenged by this COVID crisis, we are doing ok. But we see neighbors, friends and family members who are not. All the more reason, I am recommitting to stop obsessing over the news, look up from my phone more often, ‘see’ people and do more to provide comfort and support for those within my reach.

We have a lot of snow here. I think I will go shovel my neighbor’s steps.

The Weaving

For so many reasons and in so many ways, the experience of weaving a rug on a 100 year old loom was very special to me. For months I have been collecting strips of fabric from shirts, skirts, old sheets and tablecloths from various family members. My friend, Karen, a 4th generation Star Valley, Wyoming Weaver, instructed me to on how to sew the strips together and roll these family memories into a big ball, then invited me to her home to weave my rug.

I recalled many years ago, meeting Karen’s grandmother at the county fair, as she displayed her beautiful rugs. I knew then, that I would relish the experience.  Years have  gone by, but last week, I bundled up my ball-o-family memories, and my mother and headed to Karen’s home. As I caught my first glimpse of this priceless antique loom, I was a bit intimidated. Hundreds of strings, shuttles, foot pedals and a pounding bar, and of course I knew nothing! Karen was kind and patient as she showed me how to load the shuttles, work the foot pedals and use the bar. So cool! Awkwardly, I completed several rows, honestly, just to be able to say I did it. Then, turning the loom over to the master craftsman, Karen, we watched as she continued, finishing my rug in less than an hour. I am impressed with and inspired by her timeless skill, and her respect for and commitment to all that she has learned from those who have preceded her. To show my gratitude for both the rug and the experience I shared with her and now you, one of my favorite poems. Enjoy! 

The Weaver”
“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”
― Grant Colfax Tullar