Four Years Ago Today — My Life Changed!

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I’m much healthier and happier now in 2015 at age 62 than I was in 2011 at age 58.

I’m much healthier and happier now in 2015 at age 62 than I was in 2011 at age 58.

Four years ago today I had no idea how my life was about to change. On October 28, 2011, at age 58, I was wheeled into an operating room in Frankfurt, Germany, and like many of the readers here, a big part of my stomach was removed and a huge hope for the future replaced it.

My hope for a healthier life — where I looked and felt better, had more energy, and could move easily — not only came true but far exceeded even my wildest dreams.

It seems only appropriate on this anniversary date that I look back on these last four years and tell others how grateful I am to have had this shot at such a magical life. I know there are still many people who read my blog who have not yet had the surgery, and it’s important to me that this might be the push they need. That this is not just another diet that will last a few months. I’m living proof that you can have this surgery and four years later live life as a normal-weight person without dieting.

I was limping around Europe with my tall, slender husband.

In 2011 I was limping around Europe with my tall, slender husband.

Let me rewind a bit to the first of October, 2011. My husband and I were in the middle of a year of travel after retiring, coming from Hawaii, traveling across the mainland USA, and then spending a few months in Amsterdam. It was here in the land of tall, beautiful, healthy people that my weight problems became more apparent as I limped and waddled around in sandals or tennis shoes while I watched thin Dutch women pass me by in their stylish boots. But even as I soaked my swelling, aching feet at night, and even when I looked around at all the other slim people around us, and even when my knee gave out, still I didn’t know what to do to lose weight. It seemed to me I was always eating less than people around me, and God knows I tried every diet on the planet and I could measure my weight loss in ounces.

It wasn’t until my normally quiet husband told me (let me tell, you I didn’t see THIS one coming!) that if we didn’t do something to figure this out, he wasn’t sure he wanted to be a part of it anymore. Who could blame him? He had always kept himself in great shape, but I had gained over 50 lbs on top of an already heavy body in the time we were together. What if he were 85 lbs overweight? How would I feel?

So, unlike the previous 20+ years when we barely brought up the subject of my weight, we decided to start talking about this problem. But just like the previous 20+ years, we approached this problem together, and figured it out TOGETHER.

After some drama and tears and profanities (mostly me being pissed at him as if he caused my weight problem!) we decided to tackle it like we did all of the challenges that had come before us. We started to have really honest conversations and to look into all our options. Sort of the brainstorming approach where no idea is a bad one — just get it out there and let’s take a look at it. One of his first ideas was to cut our year-long trip in half, go back to the USA, and figure this out. WHAT? No way would I go back to the USA and try another diet — no thank you! Been there, done that. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Atkins, personal trainers, you name it. Those did not work back then and I knew they wouldn’t work now, not in the USA, not in Europe, not in my body!

Enter the weight loss surgery option! We hardly knew anything about WLS but I knew that for my body type to lose weight I would need to eat about 800 calories a day, and I think anyone reading this blog knows that is not sustainable for a normal, active person for more than a week or two. And we won’t even talk about the crankiness factor or the fact that it all goes back on once you stop eating nothing.

But removing most of my stomach — that made sense to me. I could wrap my head around it — smaller stomach, smaller portions — and everything I read was so positive. Yes, it might be drastic, but I had dug myself into a big hole and needed something drastic to get out. I didn’t really even have to think about it for very long, maybe 30 minutes! Once I knew it was an option I said, “Where do I sign?” I was self-pay so all I had to do was schedule a date, and we decided there was no time like the present. From the time the decision was made to the day of surgery was probably three weeks.

As I said, that day was exactly four years ago TODAY. I had just turned 58 years old. I am now 62. How has my life changed in four years? WOW. Where do I start?

Queen of Crop cover

Paperback and Kindle versions available on

First, as most of you know, I wrote this blog every Sunday to document the changes in my body, my mind, my health, and my life (my wardrobe!) for the first year. And I am SO happy I did, because looking back now it was a bit of a blur — so many changes in such a short time. This past spring, my husband and I turned the blog into a Queen of Crop book because we wanted to inspire others to consider surgery, especially if you are older. We recognized that the Vertical Sleeve is a relatively new surgery and even now, four years later, WLS is still an “alternative” weight loss option despite its successful track record.

The happy author with her first book!

The happy author with her first book!

And hey, we were traveling to lots of cool places, so the blog became a Travel/Weight Loss story! We feel very proud of our book — and I say “our” because my husband put as much if not more work into the book as I did! If you haven’t read it yet, you can click on the link to buy the paperback or Kindle version.

The first year was so exciting for us! For the first time in my life I was losing weight consistently. My knee, hip, and foot problems disappeared, my high cholesterol disappeared, I was more energetic, and I finally felt like my body was starting to match how I thought I should look. We were still traveling, so besides the changes in my body we were also experiencing new places and seeing old friends. For the most part, I didn’t come out of the closet to many people, but that has definitely changed now. Funny how your perspective changes; I’m no longer embarrassed by it, but proud of it.

And like clockwork, exactly one year later in October 2012, as we were moving from Hawaii to Amsterdam permanently, I hit my goal weight of 139 lbs.

Three years later, I am still 139 lbs.

But oh, have our lives changed! I don’t think we’ve changed, we’ve just been able to express ourselves more openly because of the changes we went through — weight loss, talking more, living in Europe. During one of our deep discussions we realized that we could “design” a life that works for just us, even if it isn’t a traditional life. And that’s what we have done. I believe we have become more interesting people — to our new friends in Europe, our dear friends in the USA, and most importantly, to ourselves as individuals and as a couple. We now feel much more comfortable becoming our true authentic selves. And trust me: I didn’t see that coming four years ago!

We are both happier and healthier now and we love living in Amsterdam

We are both happier and healthier now and we love living in Amsterdam.

If you notice, I use the words “we” and “our” a lot in this post and especially the paragraph above. My weight loss and my dream life have been a true joint effort between my husband and me. When he finally broke down four years ago and told me how difficult it was to see me so heavy and all the related things that go with that (health, looks, sex, ability to move around, social situations), he knew it might be the end of our marriage. I have a very strong personality, and because I had tried (and failed) so many times before and had no idea how to lose weight by conventional means, I came very close to telling him off and going our separate ways. I give him so much credit for being brave, taking the chance to get it all out in the open, and then together finding a solution. And all along the way, he gave me the support I needed, and he still does.

In 2013 I had breast reduction surgery — one of the BEST decisions ever! An overnight hospital stay, no big deal, and I now have breasts that match. (They had to remove 150 grams of tissue from one but only 9 grams from the other to get them to match.) They look pretty decent — more than decent for a 62-year-old — so I’m happy with that decision, too! This coming January I will have some extra skin removed from my stomach and torso — a more involved surgery than the breast reduction — but I am very uncomfortable with how it feels and looks and I know I will feel so much better after that’s done. I was overweight since the day I was born and hated my body every day for 59 years, so while I can I’m going to try and get a body that resembles something I like.

One of the BEST and most surprising aftereffects of all this has been that for the last four years we now talk about everything. The weight problem started the open discussions, but over these years we made the commitment to talk about all things that matter to us as a couple, no matter how intimate or uncomfortable. We learned so much about ourselves and each other, and we have twisted and turned in unimaginable ways. We have become more open-minded and more kindhearted than we were before.

0810 awards lunch

Feeling very fat in paradise, 2010.

Four years ago I left Hawaii (where my weight hit an all-time high of 223 lbs). I was in my late 50s, definitely looked it, was often short of breath, and although I didn’t want to admit it, I was very unhappy, and my husband was too.

Feeling very fit and happy at Vondelpark in Amsterdam, 2015.

Feeling very fit and happy at Vondelpark in Amsterdam, 2015.

We have been living in Amsterdam since October 2012, the quality of our lives is fabulous, and we are grateful every single day. We bike and walk everywhere. We have coffee and a cookie almost every afternoon and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. I do watch what I eat now, but I watch it like a normal-weight person. I don’t obsess about it and I go to the gym 3-4 times a week, like any normal person who wants to keep healthy.

One story I tell often: If someone would have said to me many years ago that the happiest time in my life would be my 60s, I would have thought they were nuts! But guess what? I’ve had a good life for the most part, but I have never been happier in my entire life than I am right now, today, October 28, 2015, at age 62. And I know there are still many more good years left in me.

And it all started four years ago today.

Wishing each of you your own fascinating journey and beautiful, magical life.


Queen of Crop — The Book!

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QUEEN OF CROP is now a book!!

Happy author with book

The happy author in the garden of her Amsterdam home with her first book!

Not long after I had my vertical sleeve surgery in October 2011 and started writing this blog, readers began to tell me that I had the makings of a book. Originally, I intended to write weekly entries for my first year after surgery and then stop. By the time that year was up, I had reached my goal weight, we had moved to Amsterdam, and our wonderful new life here took off at warp speed! I didn’t entirely stop my blogging, but I did slow down. I have written a few blog entries since then, but our life is full and my weight is no longer a major issue in my life, so other interests took priority.

I kept hearing that I should turn my blog into a book, but I figured there were so many weight loss books out there that the world really didn’t need another one. Then when I looked closer I found that there were not that many books on weight loss surgery, despite the fact that the number of surgeries done every year keeps rising exponentially, and certainly not one like my blog, written by someone in her late 50s and with the added element of travel throughout Europe and the U.S., including Hawaii.

And the books I did find were focused on the details of planning, having, and recovering from the surgery. Who should get the surgery, how to get insurance approval, how to prepare for the surgery, vitamins you need after the surgery, recipes for post-surgery meals, problems you might have after the surgery – all very important information but I knew mine was different. I couldn’t find any books that were inspirational, encouraging, and talked about so many beautiful places. And I knew I wanted to share what life was actually like (or could be) once you had the surgery. I wanted to inspire people (especially people in their 40s and 50s) that it wasn’t too late, that this surgery could help transform your life so you could live the life you always imagined.

My wonderful husband who is the ultimate captain!

My wonderful husband who is the ultimate captain!

So I decided it was time to create the book, and I wanted it to include many of the nearly 200 photos from the blog. But I knew I couldn’t do it alone. In fact, I could never have started my blog or turned it into a book without the dedicated help of my husband, who spent as many hours on this project as I did. He is the one that keeps our lives interesting, moving forward into new directions, and is my personal hero. And we owe a big thanks to Alex Brecher of, who recommended a talented editor named Kelly Andersson; she worked with us to bring the book to the public.

If you’re new to Queen of Crop, I have left a few blog posts up on this website so you can get a taste of what the book is all about. You can also peek inside the book in the listings on and other bookseller websites.

Queen of Crop coverThe book is available from several online booksellers:

Queen of Crop on CreateSpace (best site to support authors)
Queen of Crop on
Queen of Crop on (Amazon Great Britain)
Queen of Crop on (Amazon Germany)

It will also be available soon on Kindle.

My life since this surgery has been one great big adventure. I have appreciated the support of each of you who have been faithful readers of my blog. And who knows? The way my life is twisting and turning and the new adventures I am having … I may not be done yet!


Today I Choose To Be Happy

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OK, I had a temporary moment of insanity last night. It happens. But I just need to write a post script to last night’s rant because I really should have waited to send it out.

I had a long talk with myself this morning about how I was feeling about my body. I do have moments when I feel (fill in the blank here) too short, too fat, bad hair day, too ugly, too…. But everybody has those days! It’s normal, it’s natural, it’s what we call life!

Most days I choose to love myself and I am happy with the person I am. Even though I wouldn’t mind being a bit younger, I love that I was born in the ’50s in a life unconnected by anything wireless, I lived through the freedom days (and the Beatles!) of the ’60s, bought my first house in the ’70s where I had a $300-a-month mortgage, had good career opportunities and got to work in the first crazy days of the dot-com era, and stopped traveling for work before 9/11. If I were in my 40s I would have been born in the ’70s and missed so much.

I’m fine. As I said, 364 days of the year I am so very very grateful for my life, my health, my marriage, and for having this surgery. If I hadn’t had the surgery and this amazing adventure I would be feeling the way I felt last night every day instead of just one night.

indexLife is good and I am happy again…

Queen of Crop

Will We Ever Love Our Bodies????

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Photo from

This is not me, and I don’t look like this, but I feel like the woman in the mirror! (Photo from

I’m coming to the conclusion that I just will never love my body. No matter how far I have come or how far I will go, the fact is, my body image is ingrained in my brain as much as I know 2 plus 2 equals 4. Sadly, it’s not a good body image, and it seems in some ways it’s gotten worse since I’ve lost weight. I managed to get away with being heavy for many years. Either I was in denial, or I was just living my life and feeling happy with the way I was living it—my career, my friends, my marriage, and yes, even my sex life. I was confident, had lots of good social skills and friends, and my career was pretty good; I was complimented often on my work, promoted regularly, and given more responsibility as the years went on. I knew my husband wasn’t happy with my weight, but as I have mentioned many times, we just didn’t talk about it and I never doubted his love for me.

As the years went on, so did more weight. As my weight ballooned, I couldn’t deny any more that it was affecting my life, but I still managed to be happy even though I tried every possible diet out there—never with any success.

Interesting to note, though, that during the last 10 years of my obese days, I did not own a full-length mirror. I just realized this the other day. I guess I never wanted to see just how bad my weight really was, probably because I felt it was a hopeless cause.

Now I do own several full-length mirrors, and for the most part it’s been fine and even fun. I mean, I’ve lost 85 lbs, I’m not officially overweight, I can wear normal clothes, and I should be so proud and happy, right?

Well at the moment I’m not that happy. I was for the first couple of years. But right now, I not only don’t feel thin, I feel really fat, old, wrinkly, unattractive, and I don’t feel very good about myself in general. It’s been coming on for a few months now. For the first two years after I lost all the weight, I felt like a small person and I even felt a little bit pretty at times. I felt petite, I felt feminine and desirable. Now I just feel like crap, and the insecurities that come along with that can really mess with my mind.

19 Months Post Op – Amsterdam – 60 kilos (134 lbs) – May 2013

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Queen in flowersHallo everyone! I’m baaaaaccccck! I said I would post when I had something really juicy to write about after my first year of weekly posts was up. And now I do have something I think would be of interest so I’m here to share!

Just to recap quickly since it’s been several months since I stopped writing weekly. At 58 years old I had the vertical sleeve surgery; this was the end of October 2011 and I wrote each Sunday until the end of 2012. My highest weight was 223 lbs when we lived in Hawaii; when we retired in 2011 and started traveling for a year, I managed to lose almost 20 lbs but at 5’3″ I was still seriously overweight and my knees, feet and hip were all going haywire on me. If you want to know more, take a look at my ABOUT ME page.

The first year after my surgery was truly an adventure of the mind, the soul, the body and many countries! How many people have this surgery in a foreign country (for me it was Germany) then travel for the next six months? As the weight came off, I logged many miles through many different countries and states in the US as we made our way back to Hawaii to get organized for our move to Amsterdam!

In front of our new home in Amsterdam... yes, that is my bike!

In front of our new home in Amsterdam… yes, that is my bike!

Most of you who have followed my posts from the beginning know that my weight loss journey (as well as my traveling journey) was a positive one and that I told very few people about my surgery. The summary of that first year was that I lost over 85 lbs, reaching my goal weight of the mid-130s at about one year after surgery, and I have maintained that weight for the last nine months. Right about that time, we moved from Hawaii to Europe, bought a house in Amsterdam, and spent the winter moving in and getting settled in our new home. The best parts, though, were that not only did I drop the weight, my health issues went away and my husband and I became closer than we had ever been. Life indeed has been great and we love living here and enjoying our retirement and each other!