Be Thankful Be Mindful

Be Thankful, Be Mindful
The average weight gain over the holiday season can range anywhere from 1-10 pounds. It’s all about what you eat AND how you approach the table this holiday season. Here are some tips to consider while trying to keep your healthy habits and avoid gaining weight.


Eat a balanced breakfast and maybe a light lunch or snack depending when your dinner is. This will allow you to approach the meal with more control and less hunger. Do not skip meals all days to “save room” or “save calories” for the big meal later. This is basically setting yourself up to overindulge.
Be mindful when eating appetizers. They will spoil the meal for you and can add hundreds of extra calories.
When is the best time of the day to eat? The optimal time to eat your meal is between noon and 3 o’clock. This gives your stomach time to empty and your body time to digest the food. This also gives you the option to wait a while before enjoying dessert.


Sometimes we can’t control what shows up on the table around the holidays. What we can do is know what the best choices are.
First look at all the options.
Start your plate with non-starchy foods first. Avoid filling your plate with stuffing, rolls, macaroni and cheese. Begin with a protein then add some vegetables and see where things may go from there. Wait to see if you are even still hungry before diving in to those carb loaded foods.
You could also take extremely small servings of everything to get a taste and maybe go back for a slightly larger helping of something you really enjoyed
Use a dessert plate over the large plates to help keep your portions in check.
Choose sweet potatoes over mashed potatoes…that is if the sweet potatoes weren’t made with 20 pounds of sugar!
Avoid drowning your turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and whatever else in GRAVY… a little can go a long way.
Avoid vegetables cooked in creams, gravy, or butter…these are very fatting and full of calories.
Limit the carbs. Either choose your favorite or consider taking very small servings of different things.
Choose apple pie over pecan pie…try sharing a piece with someone!
DO NOT over eat! Listen to your body. When you get to the point of fullness, you are probably OVER FULL. Stop when you feel comfortable or satisfied. This is not your last supper, nor will it be the only time to enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes, or stuffing this year.
Get up from the table when you are finished. The longer we sit with food right in front of us the more likely we will keep helping ourselves until we can’t button our jeans.
Avoid wandering around and picking at the food after the meal. There will be leftovers for you to enjoy for days to come (especially if you’re hosting). Brush your teeth, pop in a mint or gum to freshen your mouth and hopefully steer you away from eating any more.


Get up after you’ve finished your meal. Go help clear the table or with the dishes. Stand up while having a conversation or go throw around the football outside. Slouching or laying on the couch after eating can increase your chance of having heart burn and really slow things down digestively. Stay active to keep things flowing!

Helping Your Family Become More Active

Hiking FamilyHave you been trying to increase your physical activity, but all your family wants to do is relax by the fire, watch a movie or play a game instead of something physically active? It’s all too tempting to spend your time doing what they want to do because of course you want to spend quality time with your loved ones.  You also need to exercise. What if you could get in your exercise WHILE spending quality time with your family? How can you get your family to join you in your efforts to become more active?

You might start by just having a casual conversation during dinner about why it’s important to be more active as a family. You could focus on it will help everyone feel better on a daily basis, help prevent future health problems, it can help promote a healthy body image and it’s just overall good for the whole family. You may have to adjust this conversation depending on the ages of your family members and what they will understand.

How do you actually get the whole family to exercise more? Nagging your family to exercise more does not usually work, so you often have to look for ways to be active and have fun at the same time. If you can find something that appeals to everyone’s sense of fun, you’re much more likely to get them all on the same page. Maybe you can all go hiking, biking, ice skating or canoeing on weekends. On weekdays, try to squeeze in a walk around the neighborhood or play tag in the back yard. Keep a soccer ball, baseball, baseball bat, baseball glove, jump ropes, hula hoops and other active equipment handy so you can play in the back yard or at a local park whenever the mood strikes.

Limit time spent in front of the TV, playing video games or staring at a computer screen. The more time you spend in front of a screen, the less time you have to be active and your health risks rise.  Limit the screen time for everyone in the house to no more than two hours per day. Your children will need to use their imaginations to keep them occupied and may find themselves naturally being more active because they cannot plop in front of the TV all day. If your family has a tough time giving up the video games, consider allowing them to play only ones that require them to be jumping around or dancing while playing the game.

While this all may take a little time to get everyone on the same page, you’ll probably find that everyone enjoys the change. It’s nice to have a little more family time and being active is not only good for you in your weight loss journey, it’s great for the health and well-being of the entire family.

Portion Control Tools

Measuring CupsWhile your surgery changed your stomach to help you choose smaller portions, sometimes you may find yourself piling up a little too much food on your plate. Your brain may not have caught up with what’s happened in your stomach. There are many tools that can be used in order to help you through this process.

  • You can scoop your food onto your plate or into your bowl using a measured serving spoon or a measuring cup to give yourself just the right amount, no more and no less.
  • Weighing your food with a food scale can be helpful, too. Are you trying to get in 3 ounces of chicken, but you don’t know what that looks like? Set that chicken on the scale and cut it to the appropriate size.
  • Eat off the salad plate or a baby plate instead of the dinner plate. You won’t be able to fit as much on this plate, so it automatically helps you put less on it.
  • 2 and 4 oz. Tupperware containers are great especially if you’re taking your lunch to work. You can bring the exact number of ounces you need each day!
  • Eat from a small bento box. Again, you can only fit so much in there, so it will help you consistently serve yourself less food.

In time, your brain will catch on to what’s happening with your stomach and you will naturally start putting smaller amounts on your plate without thinking too much about it. In the meantime, the above tools can be very useful!

Fitness Roadblocks and How to Bust Through Them

Free weightsThere are lots of reasons that getting your exercise in can be a challenge. Sometimes we get in our own way and sometimes outside factors affect our exercise. Below we have outlined some of the main roadblocks that could prevent you from getting the exercise you need and some ways to bust through those roadblocks and make exercise happen anyway.

  • You have a major deadline coming up at work, your kids have to be taken to and from various sporting events, you have to keep the house clean and somehow you also have to find the time to exercise? It sounds impossible, but during times of stress, taking 30 minutes to get your exercise is actually one of the best things you can do. Exercise can actually help alleviate that stress, boost your mood and just make you feel better able to attack the big to-do list that you have. Even if you can only find 15 minutes, do it. It beats nothing and it will help with that stress level.
  • Do you expect that working out 150 minutes per week is going to give you six pack abs and 20 pounds of weight loss in the first week? By having such unrealistic expectations, you are sure to be let down because that just doesn’t happen that quickly. It generally takes six weeks or so of regular exercise to start to see changes. Just because you don’t see major results after a week or two of exercise is no reason to throw in the towel and give up. These things take time to pay off, but the reward for sticking it out is great!
  • If you feel self-conscious going to the gym, find something you can do in the comfort of your own home. There are lots of great free workouts online that you can do at home without any special equipment. You could also invest in some fitness DVDs or maybe some exercise equipment, such as kettle bells, free weights, stability balls, a treadmill or a bike.
  • If you just haven’t found an exercise that you like, try something new. Have you ever tried Zumba? Or hiking? After trying new exercises and you still haven’t found anything you really like, you can always find some music to listen to or watch a TV show while walking on the treadmill to keep you having some fun during the workout. By making it fun, that motivates you to want to exercise again.
  • If you’re trying to do too much exercise right off the bat, you’ll find your body getting worn out rather than getting stronger. You’re unlikely to see great results either. Give yourself a day or two per week to rest and recover and you’ll actually see better results.
  • You planned to exercise after work, but then you realized you had to run an errand before going home and you won’t have time between that and dinner, so you say “forget it” for that day. The next day, you are asked to work later than usual, so you don’t have time to exercise then and also just skip it. Life gets in the way and there are always other things you could do, but you need to make time for exercise. Do you find that you always have things come up after work? Maybe that’s not the best time to plan to exercise. Can you do it before work? Or maybe on a break during work? Figure out a time that you can consistently get your exercise in and stick with it. Don’t let other activities get in the way.
  • When you say things like “I’ll never be fit” or “I can’t get this weight off” or “I only exercised once this entire week,” it can destroy your confidence and motivation. Instead, replace those negative thoughts with something positive. Maybe you can say “I’m proud of myself for getting in 30 minutes of exercise today.” By replacing the negative thoughts with something positive, you’ll notice your motivation increases and you’re more likely to get that exercise in consistently.

It’s Time to Get Back on Track

low section view of a man standing on a weight scaleThe holidays are officially over, so there should be no more excuses for making poor food choices or not making the time for exercise. Now is the time to refocus your energy on yourself and getting the weight off.  Fortunately, many people are on a bit of a health kick this time of year and make a resolution to lose weight, so there are likely lots of people around you making the effort to lead a healthier lifestyle.

First, take a little time to think about your plan of action.  Take a look at your diet and ask yourself where you can make improvements. Do you need to quit snacking? Do you need to quit picking up a cappuccino on the way to work in the morning? Do you need to incorporate more lean protein into your diet and less carbohydrates? Make a list of all the improvements you need to make to your diet. Pick one or two things and begin implementing them. Once you have made these changes to your diet, pick the next item on your list and begin to work on that issue. Work on your eating habits one by one and eventually, you’ll have cleaned up your diet.

Next, take a look at your exercise regimen. There are several questions you should ask yourself regarding your exercise regimen. Are you doing everything you could be doing? Are you pushing yourself hard enough? Is there any way you could improve?  Could you perhaps add in an extra 30 minutes of exercise each week? Set yourself a workout schedule that is realistic and works with the rest of your life. If you can get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning, maybe try getting your workouts in before work so you don’t have to worry about it at the end of the day when you’re tired and want to relax. If you know that you won’t exercise at home, perhaps it’s time to get a gym membership and a gym buddy to keep you on track and motivated to go to the gym. Or perhaps you could invest in some fitness equipment for your home, like a treadmill or free weights, so you can do your workouts in the comfort of your own home. Decide what is most realistic for you and what you will be able to stick with, write down your plan and start doing it.

Another option to help you get back on track is to consider going to some support group meetings. You will have the opportunity to meet and talk with others who have previously had weight loss surgery that may be struggling with the same issues as you.  Perhaps you will learn something or become inspired to make some improvements to your lifestyle. These meetings are free and usually meet once per month. If you’re unsure where to go, feel free to call our office for more information about various support groups in the area.

And let us leave you with one final piece of advice.  Avoid falling into the trap that this time of year always brings – fad diets and diet pills. There will undoubtedly be some new products on the market. They may sound so amazing and promise great things, but the reality is that, even if they do work, they likely provide only temporary weight loss. And why should you need those things anyway? You had a surgery that provided you a wonderful tool to make weight management more manageable. Remember that in order to successfully lose weight with this weight loss tool, you have to use it correctly. No matter what, you still need exercise and to make appropriate choices with your diet in order to be successful. No magic pills or fancy diets needed.

Rewards for Success

PresentYou work hard to lose weight and, let’s be honest; achieving your weight loss goals can take an awful lot of perseverance. To help you stay focused and make the weight loss journey interesting, it’s important to reward yourself for reaching those goals. While the ultimate goal of achieving a healthy weight and improved health is what you’re striving for, sometimes it’s difficult to stay focused on the goal when you know you have quite a journey to get there to lose 100+ pounds. That’s where these rewards come in.

Set small goals that can be achieved in a week or two, maybe 5 or 10 pounds. Have small rewards once you have achieved each of these goals that are free or maybe up to $10 each. These small rewards could be movie tickets to see that movie you’ve been looking forward to seeing, a spa treatment at home, a new shade of lipstick, a relaxing bubble bath or taking a short road trip to see an area you’ve been hoping to see.  Mid-level goals should be set that can be achieved in a month or two, maybe 20 pounds or so. For these mid-level goals, have somewhat bigger rewards to give yourself. These could include new workout clothes, new running shoes, a massage, or tickets to a sporting event or play. Finally, you have your ultimate goal weight which will take several months or even years to achieve.   For this, you want to have a major reward in mind. This could be some sort of jewelry, a new vehicle, a new tattoo, a weekend vacation, a makeover or a new wardrobe. Make your rewards something you really want so you’ll work even harder to achieve your goals!

Another way to reward your success is to ask your family members or friends to sponsor your weight loss. There have actually been studies that show that having a monetary reward for weight loss helps you lose weight! Sometimes the reward of better health is not enough to keep you focused and motivated to make the right choices from day to day. Certainly your loved ones want you to be successful and, if they can spare a few dollars, that might help you stay focused and make healthy changes. Maybe they can give you $3 for every pound you lose. If you gain weight, you pay them $5 for every pound you gain. Nobody likes to lose money, so as long as you stay focused, you’ll keep losing weight and earning money. While earning $3 per pound may not sound like much, it adds up. Once you lose 100 pounds, you earn $300. Another way you can do this is to go online and bet on yourself. Visit to see how you can potentially win a significant amount of money just for losing weight! The possibilities are endless. You have worked hard to achieve your goals, so be sure to reward yourself accordingly!

Healthy Muffin Tin Meatloaf

Healthy Muffin Tin MeatloafFall is here and that means it’s time for some fantastic hearty recipes! But not all the fall favorites are a good choice for patients after weight loss surgery or for anyone who is trying to eat healthy for that matter. Not to worry though, with inspiration from one of our favorite Pinterest finds ( and a favorite meatloaf recipe from Better Home and Gardens Big Cook Book, we’ve put together a healthier version that is weight loss surgery-friendly and pretty much guilt-free!

Why we love this recipe:

  1. It is made into perfectly sized portions.
  2. It includes lean meat and starchy veggies all in one.
  3. It is low in calories, but packed full of flavor.
  4. It is easy to make ahead or make to enjoy right away.
  5. It can easily be frozen to enjoy later.
  6. It’s also perfect for large crowds because the recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.
  7. And let’s just be honest, it looks GORGEOUS!

Meatloaf Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup skim milk
  • 3 slices whole wheat sandwich bread (torn into small pieces)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion (sweet yellow onion is the best!)
  • 2 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 lb. ground turkey

For the sauce:

  • ½ c. ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. dry mustard powder
  • 2 Tbsp. regular mustard (or spicy mustard if you want a little kick)
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar

For the potatoes:

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp chives (+ more for garnishing)
  • Splash of skim milk (to desired consistency)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.Healthy Muffin Tin Meatloaf2
  2. In an electric mixing bowl, combine your eggs and milk. Then add your bread chunks, onion, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add your ground meat and mix till it’s all combined. Do not over mix or beat at too high of a speed or your mixture could be too runny.
  3. Spray your muffin tin thoroughly and scoop your mixture into each compartment. Use the back of a spoon to pat the scoop down into the tin well. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until meat is cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, wash, peel and dice your potatoes. Place in a large pot and bring to a boil. Boil for about 7 minutes or until tender enough to smash with a spoon. Strain your potatoes and place in an electric mixing bowl. Add the Greek yogurt, butter, and chives and mix well. Add milk till you reach the desired consistency.
  5. Also while your meatloaves are cooking, mix the ketchup, dry mustard, regular mustard and brown sugar together until mixed well and set aside.
  6. Remove muffin tin from oven and spoon about 2 tsp. of your sauce on top of each meatloaf. Then, using either a spoon or a bag with the tip cut off (USE CAUTION – Potatoes will be HOT) place about 3 Tbsp. of your mashed potatoes on each mini meatloaf. Return muffin tin to the oven for another 7-10 minutes to caramelize and give your potatoes a nice “twice baked” consistency.
  7. Carefully remove each meatloaf from your muffin tin and serve warm. This goes really nicely with either steamed green beans/Brussels sprouts/asparagus or served over a bed of warm spinach.Healthy Muffin Tin Meatloaf3

Recipe makes 12 servings.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 225 Calories, 5 g Total Fat, 2 g Saturated Fat, 1 g Monounsaturated Fat, 0 g Polyunsaturated Fat, 0 g Trans Fat, 72 mg Cholesterol, 357 mg Sodium, 29 g Total Carbohydrate, 3 g Dietary Fiber, 4 g Sugar, 15 g Protein.

Why Exercise?

HikeExercise plays a major role in helping you lose weight, so of course that is our primary reason for recommending it. But what happens once you reach your weight loss goal? Why should you continue to exercise at that point when you’ve already lost all your weight? There are, actually, many benefits that come from exercising beyond weight loss. No matter what your weight is, you should maintain a regular exercise regimen. Here are just a few of the reasons you should be exercising regularly no matter what the number on the scale reads.

  • Weight Maintenance – Just because you’ve lost all your weight does not mean that you’re guaranteed to stay there. It takes work to maintain that healthy weight, too. Once you’ve hit that magical number, exercise can help keep you there.
  • Psychological benefits – Did you know that exercise can make you feel better? It can boost your mood and actually help to manage depression.
  • Improve Metabolic Factors – Weight loss can help manage hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many other diseases. This is fairly common knowledge, but did you also know that exercise helps to manage those conditions as well? It’s true!
  • Maintenance/improvements in body composition – When you lose weight quickly (like you typically do with weight loss surgery), you tend to lose more than just fat. You’ll also lose muscle mass. Exercise may help minimize the amount of muscle you lose and it can also help maintain your bone density.
  • Energy Boost – Even if you don’t feel like exercising because you’re tired, at the end of your workout you generally get a boost of energy. This energy boost can really help you get through the rest of the day.
  • Better sleep – Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. But if you exercise too close to bedtime, that energy boost may still be in effect and you could have a difficult time falling asleep. Be sure to get that exercise in early enough in the day to reap the benefits of better sleep!
  • Fun – Exercise is not typically described as ‘fun,’ but it definitely can be. One idea is to get a friend or two to go hiking with you. You get some fresh air, catch up with one another and see some beautiful scenery all while getting your daily dose of exercise. Swimming, biking, rock climbing and many other activities can be exercise and fun all rolled into one package.

With so many benefits to exercise, everyone needs to make an effort to make it a regular part of their lives during the weight loss journey and beyond.  Now get out there and do something active! 🙂

Unexpected Changes After Surgery

JugglingBefore you have weight loss surgery, you likely have all sorts of plans about when you will exercise, how much, what you’re going to have for lunches, etc. You have it all planned out and it’s going to be perfect! While we always hope life will go according to your plans after your surgery, what happens when life throws you a curve ball and things don’t go as planned? We have talked to a number of our patients who have gone through something unexpected after surgery, whether it be a job change, job loss, unexpected pregnancy, marriage, divorce, a relative comes to live with you, etc. Sometimes life gets in the way of your best laid plans. These changes typically alter your schedule and how you handle that will make a big difference in how successful you will be with weight loss.

Do you let this life change get in the way of your exercise and making healthy food choices? Or, do you find another time to exercise and pre-plan some quick, healthy meals? Consider this scenario: You have just been promoted at work (congratulations!), but now instead of working 8 hour shifts, you’ll be working 12 hour shifts. You also have to sleep, run some errands and cook a healthy meal when you get home after each of these shifts. And you also have to squeeze exercise in there somehow. So how will that fit in? Does that mean you have to go to the gym at midnight and sacrifice sleep? No, not necessarily. If you have a spouse or older children living with you, perhaps they could help with the meal preparation to buy you a little time to exercise. Or, maybe you could exercise during your breaks at work. Some places of employment have gyms on site or you could probably walk on your break.

Consider whatever life changes you are going through and prioritize your activities. Sure, family and work should always be top priorities, but there is certainly a way you can work in a few other priorities. Changes make it difficult, but no matter what, there is almost always a way you CAN make it work. You might have to give up your favorite TV show or skip browsing on Facebook that day. How badly do you want it? What are you willing to sacrifice to make your weight loss dreams a reality even in the face of a difficult schedule?

Sometimes life changes can be good, but they are almost always stressful! Be sure to resist the urge to turn to food as your form of comfort in times of stress. Turn to exercise, meditation, knitting, talking to a friend, sleeping, watching your favorite movie or reading a book instead. It’s bad enough if you are so busy you can’t find the time to exercise, you don’t want to make the situation worse by turning to junk food to manage the stress. You can gain weight easily in that situation and then you will have a new source of stress and frustration. If you’re struggling to figure out how to make a new schedule fit with your weight loss efforts, don’t hesitate to contact us and we would be happy to help you brainstorm.

Making The Most of Your Weight Loss Surgery Tool

Tool BoxHere at Heart of America Bariatrics, we can surgically alter your stomach to help you eat less. The surgery affects your stomach – NOT on your brain. No matter what surgery you have chosen, you still have to make appropriate lifestyle choices in order to be successful. If you eat fried foods, drink sugary beverages and you don’t exercise, for example, you won’t see great results.

As you have heard us say a number of times, your surgery is only a tool. It is one very helpful tool in your weight loss toolbox, but you really need to use it in combination with other tools in order to achieve excellent results. You wouldn’t build a house just with a hammer, right? You couldn’t. In addition to the hammer, you would also need nails, a saw, a level, and a variety of other tools in order to get the job done properly. If you just have the hammer, you’re not going to get very far. If you only use surgery as a tool and don’t use other tools (like appropriate food choices and exercise), it is just like trying to build a house with only a hammer. It is not an efficient way to reach your goal. Realistically, you won’t achieve your goals using surgery only.

Your surgery may take away the physical hunger, but it does not have any effect on head hunger.  It does not force you to make healthy food and beverage choices. It does not force you to exercise, either. You have to consciously make those decisions to eat healthy foods, avoid snacking, drink only sugar-free beverages and exercise regularly. All of these “tools” put together will provide you with the results you want to achieve. It can be difficult to always make the best use of all of these tools, but as always here at HOAB, we’re here to help. We want to see you succeed! If you find yourself struggling, we’d be happy to lend an ear and share some advice with you on how to use all your weight loss tools in the best way possible.

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