Sunday, June 24, 2012

Main day at WLSFA Conference: - the first two speakers:

So the conference kicked off at 8am on the Saturday and I stopped by all of the Vendors and Exhibitors till 10am when the speakers started. I only ended up getting to see 3 of the speakers: Connie Stapleton, Cari de la Cruz  of course Katie Jay.

Each speaker only had 45 mins and no notes or anything were provided, so I have tried to get as much information written down as possible so I can share. 

So let's start with Connie Stapleton. She was discussion Addiction. Now she talked about the criteria for something to be an addiction, and after reading this list I can certainly see that food is definitely an addiction for me. 

The Addiction criteria was as follow: 
  1. Too much or for too long
  2. Desire to stop or cut down - the yo yo effect
  3. Spending a lot of time to obtain food or recover from it
  4. Important activities are given up because of food or obesity.
  5. Have continued to use in spite of problems (health, mobility, diabetes etc)
  6. Tolerance
  7. Withdrawal
 Positive (yes) in 3 or more = a Dependance or Addiction. 

She also highlighted that there are a couple of reasons for addiction to any thing:
  1. Biology - hereditary predisposition, Brain chemistry etc
  2. Environment - Children learn what they live.....then they live what they learn. 
She also highlighted that the age at which is develop the addiction is basically the age that we get stuck at. For example, for me, I started rapidly gaining when I was 9 years old and reflecting on how I deal with food, I am like a 9 year old. 

She also talked about Addiction transfer and how this is where the game of whack a mole addiction can come into play. This is where we whack one mole (addiction) on the head with the mallet just as another mole (addiction) raises it's head. Before you know it you could have a whole range of moles all vying for attention. 

She stressed the need for obtaining support and also supporting others -
'Get support......and then give it away as this will re-enforce your commitment to yourself'

The second speaker Cari de la Cruz is the other 1/2 of Post Op and a Doc a partnership of Connie Stapleton and Cari de la Cruz.  

Cari's topic was Kicking it with Cari and how to get a Kick out of life. This presentation was in true Cari style and she got her message through with fun!!!!!!

She asked the following questions:

What keeps you from Kicking it into gear?
  • Stress/Worry 
  • Bad Habits
  • Work/Money
  • Kids/Family
  • Injury/Exhaustion
  • Gaining Weight
  • Fear of regain
  • Fear of Failure
She said to remember that LIFE is a 4 letter word sometimes but to get out there and make the most of it and if you have any of the above things you need to learn to Kick it to the Curb.

What keeps you from Kicking Butt?
  • Stinking Thinking
  • Saboteurs - don't always mean to , but might just say something like "oh you could just have a little right?"
  • Jealous friends
  • Bad/Old Habits
  • Addiction
She says - you have to choose to Kick it to the Curb - to change your thinking. 
If you think it's too's never to late to use the TOOL.
If you are marinating in Self Pity  " Welcome Pity Party for one - your table is ready" you have to kick it in the pants. 

She reminded everyone about the Gotta do ems (Not Oughta do ems) that Connie Stapleton mentioned in her book Eat it Up.

  1. Make consistently healthy food choices (protein first)
  2. Maintain Portion control
  3. Exercise Daily 
  4. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, but not with meals
  5. Eat Breakfast
  6. Plan meals and follow the plans
  7. Keep food and exercise journals
  8. Get plenty of sleep 
  9. Utilize a healthy support system 
  10. Use group/Individual therapy. 
Cari reminded us that we need to live life on life's terms and that life comes at you fast and sometimes life is a 4 letter word and can be challenging.She said we may feel like we have been
  • Kicked in the teeth
  • Kicked in the gut
  • Kicked while we are down
but life happens and we can't just Kick it under the carpet ....but we can give it a Kick Start!

Next time: Katie Jay and the vendors

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pawn stars, Ricks Restorations and day 1 of the WLSFA Conference

Up early and very excited as I was heading to the Pawn Stars shop. (A program on SkyTV). I had heard bad things about it - mainly being really small but it was bigger than I expected. The 'stars were out the back and apparently they don't come out to meet people unless it is just after filming. Alot of the items are ones from the show & they looked to be overpriced and they appear to have been sitting there for ages. I did buy a couple of souvenirs from there though and it was still fun looking around. 

From there we went to Ricks Restorations & the experience could not have been different. Rick Dale is one of the experts on the Pawn Stars show but then he got his own show which according to the History channel we won't be getting in NZ. 

So anyway, we were met by Brett and he gave us a full tour after explaining where we could could & couldn't take photos. They showed us items that they were working on for the upcoming show, and introduced us to all of the crew. after we bought some souvenirs he arranged to get the main 3 stars to come and sign autographs and take pictures. We even got to watch them filming a little bit of an upcoming episode while we were waiting. 

So cool - here are some pics from that. 

After that we (myself, Jeanne & Sean) met up with the rest of the family (Ian, Jessica, Aidan and Sylvia) and a couple of others at another hotel further away from the strip. It was great. After lunch we headed to Walmart & I got some more gifts and also some protein bars to bring home. 

Back to the hotel and then to get ready for the Meet & Greet opening night. A country hoedown with a great country music band. It was great music, but I didn't end up dancing. The dinner at the hoe down was a chilli and it was divine - a great way to have a protein rich meal. Definitely making it at home. 

I was a little disappointed with the Opening night of the Meet & Greet as it seemed that the MC just didn't pull it together and the organiser did not actually introduce me to the community like she had indicated she was going to. However I do remember how hard it is to remember everything you have told people and that everything just goes by in a blur. 

One of the cool things they had for a couple of hours was a professional photographer. So I got a photo of my roommate Rain and also Lynnda from

After the hoe-down Slyvia and I walked through Paris Hotel & Casino, which is amazing.It really feels like you are walking down a street outside......all the time you are in middle of a casino. 

Next time: the main day at the WLSFA Meet & Greet & Gala Dinner.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

First full day in Vegas and meeting lifelong friends

I so forgot in my last post to post a picture of Ian, Jessica & Aidan who picked me up at the airport. I don't have one of them all together from that time, but will post one of the whole group of people who became my family while I was in Las Vegas. 

Me, Jessica & Aidan

 This is from left : Sean, Jeanne, Ian, Me, Jessica, Sylvia and of course little Aidan

So I woke up after my first full nights sleep - I had asked the guys to help keep me awake till at least 8pm so I got into the timezone as quick as possible, but honestly I don't think I got to sleep till around 10pm. I had been watching American Idol, but spoke to Si somewhere in the middle of it, and then went to sleep. Woke up a couple of times during the night, for the bathroom, but overall woke up very happy and healthy at around 6am - so about 8 hrs sleep. 

The plan was to go shopping on that day, mainly to find some cowboy boots for myself and anything else I found for family. Si's mum had given me a list of a few things she would really like if I could find them. But before I went shopping I met one of the most amazing women I will ever have the privilege of calling a friend. Her name is Janie and she has been involved int he wider WLS community for years. I have watched her videos and spoken with her on phone and Facebook for the last few years. Through her I have even met other New Zealanders sharing the same journey. 

You know when you meet people for the first time when you have had an online relationship with them, that sometimes that connection just isn't there. Nothing could be further from the truth with Janie. She arrived around 10am on the Thurs 17th and she couldn't check into her room until much later so both her and Sally (another fabulous lady from the WLS Community) stored their bags in my room. We ended up talking for about 2 hours and just connecting. 

Janie & Sally 

 Janie & Me

If you want to check out their You tube channels just click on their names here to follow the link. Missjaniehere(Janie) and Cabernetqueen (Sally)

So after catching up with these two for that couple of hours, I went shopping. Now to save money I wanted to uses the buses as much as possible, I asked security where the bus stop was and they say just at the beginning of the next I decided to walk it. Well someone should have told me that the blocks in Las Vegas are about 2km long and I needed to walk about 1.5 was 102 degress (39 in Celsius) at midday when I ventured out. I managed two hours of shopping and only went to two stores. A walgreens pharmacy for some essential supplies like bottled water and some things that Si's mum wanted. I also checked out the cowboy boots, but saw nothing I liked really and the prices were expensive. 

Headed back to the hotel and hung out with more WLS people. Janie & I had dinner of some chicken wings & then we were meant to hang out with one of the girls Vikki- whose birthday it was, but one of the guys who recently had heart surgery had a turn and was taken to hospital. A few of us (the family) decided to head down to Fremont Street to watch the lightshow- outstanding!!!!!!!!!!
 The light show
 Some of the signage
One of the more bizarre street performers (only in Vegas)

Got home to bed after 1am and my roommate Rain had arrived so we ended up chatting till about 2am - She is a Bariatric Support Leader and Certified Coach, and if you want you can check out her page here.  This is Rain and I at the final night of the conference.  


I guess the biggest thing I will actually take away from this conference is the friendships I made with all of these people (okay not the weird guy in Fremont street) and that no matter where in the world I am, they will always be in my heart. You guys made Vegas special for me.

Next time: Pawn stars, Ricks Restorations and day 1 of the WLSFA Conference.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Arriving in LA and onto Las Vegas

So I arrived in LA at 6:35am local time & my next flight wasn't until 12:25pm, so almost 6 hrs to waste. My agent thought we would need time to go through passport control, security & customs etc and had warmed me that it could take up to a couple of hrs, and then of course I would need to get to the right terminal etc.

I had heard so many people say that passport control was intimidating and that the officers would be quite rude but I had a wonderful young lady who was so pleasant. I was then through to pick up my bag and off to customs which they just asked about the food I had declared on my card (Timtams for a couple of people who had heard about Tim Tam Slams) and some other NZ goodies that I was posting onto an American girl for a friend back home. 
I then handed my suitcase over to the transfers desk and headed to the next terminal all by 7am, so could not believe the whole process only took 20 mins. 

I found terminal 4 no problems, I had come from terminal 5, although I was not expecting the level of security for the domestic flights and had to ditch my starbucks hot chocolate and water (doh). Got through security and had to do the whole body scan thing. It was just after 7am and everyone seemed to be ina need for coffee - the queues (oops - I should say lines apparently) were amazing..............

Terminal 4 has no decent food choices at all & is so expensive. I did find a free access point to Facebook so I updated that at one point. The thing that drove me nuts was they constantly changed the fate number of the flight. At first it was 48B then 45 then 42B & then finally at 47A. I did however meet a wonderful couple from Austin Texas who were taking the same flight as me after being rescheduled off an earlier flight. It was fabulous to have someone to talk to. She was amazing, she was almost 65 and she is a Mechanical Engineering professor and she knew lots about Wellington as she was going to go to a conference there a few years ago but it didn't work out. 

One thing that amazed me about LAX is all of the Spanish you hear. It is BEAUTIFUL, but what was really amazing was while waiting to be called to board the plane, I heard a familar sounding voice speaking Spanish.......I looked up in time to see Antonio Banderas & a 'minder' walking to a fate that was about to close. I imagine that the celebs sweep in at the last moment & take their seats in business/first class.

One of the worst things at LAX was about an hour in and I got the worst cramps in my legs. I could barely move and I managed to get myself to the cold tile flooring where I got my shoes off and just managed to stand still until it passed. I think people thought I was nuts.

The flight to Vegas was only about 50 mins long and in fact they didn't have time to serve the whole plane drinks. I managed to get a cat nap of about 20 mins in and it seemed to been enough to wake me up again. 

Landing at Vegas was bumpy (due to the warm air currents I think). I went through the gate not sure where to get my bags but followed the signs which led to high speed trains.......thankfully they took me to the baggage claim area and to where Ian & Jessica where picking me up. I noticed Ian straight away and we got my bags and headed into town. I see now why they have bell boy services - the hotels here are huge and you end up walking through the middle of the casino to get to your rooms. Better to give the bags to the bellboys to bring up to your room. Only costs a couple of bucks in tips.

This is one of the entrances to my hotel at night. 


So after getting settled, my room became a meeting point and at one point there was like 7 of us & 1 child. I had a hard time getting the right SIMCARD for my phone so I could make unlimited calls to the USA & landlines back in New Zealand as well as unlimited texting and data. I wish we had plans like this at home. I ended up having to buy a cheap phone ($17 - on top of plan) & swapped the SIM to my phone. Worked perfectly though and made it possible to call everyone I needed - especially when I got lost......LOL

Next time : First full day in Vegas and meeting some very special people who will always be in my heart. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Recap - Day 1 of first ever trip overseas

So here we are- I have been back home just about a week and I think I have finally caught up with all of the family and the washing and the sleeping. So now it is time to do a recap of my trip. I wrote most of this as I went on the trip but will most likely edit and also add pics as I go. 

So here goes, 

Day 1 - May 16th  2012:

The plan was for Simon to drop me off but due to his back and needing to get back home I stayed at the apartment on my own on the Tuesday night, set the alarm for 3am and caught a cab to the airport.  Everything went smoothly with check in - although the attendant kept trying to get me to self checkin, but I couldn't as I was going on to LA on a different airline, instead of stopping in Sydney. 

Went through security & was pulled aside, which I was kinda expecting due to the medication I had, but what I was not expecting was the security guy asking me about a knife like ornament that showed on the x-ray. We pulled everything out of my cabin bac & we could not find anything. He x-rayed it again and it was still showing. We flipped my bag over and there was two small pockets that looked flat as a pancake. I opened the pocket and pulled out an antique Scottish dagger in a leather sheath. I can only assume it is one that Simon bought in Scotland or even Poland when he was there in 2003. They asked me what I wanted to do, and as the post office section of the airport was not yet open and Simon was back in Palmy by then I told them (Security) they could keep it. They were happy with that, told me I certainly had a story to tell on my first trip and I went through to the next section.

I had developed a head cold on the Monday before travelling and was feeling a little worse for wear. I bought some tissues and water to have on the plane to try and get rid of the damn thing. 

The first flight to Sydney was pretty uneventful after the dagger incident and I had a window view flying over Sydney but completed missed seeing anything relevant like the Harbour Bridge or the Opera House. I only had just under 40 mins at Sydney airport before boarding was called for the Delta flight to LA. 

For that flight I was sitting in the rear section of the plane at Row 46 and I had a centre aisle seat. There was no one in the seat next to me so I could spread out a little which was fantastic, although I was still a little cramped. I was not expecting to be so cold on the plane and I am still not sure if this is done to kill bugs (like my cold) or if is just the way it is being that high up. I had two blankets, was wearing 3 layers and I was freezing!!!!!!!!!!!! I will definitely be buying something warmer for the trip home.

The Gluten Free food on the plane was okay but like most airline/gluten free food was not fantastic. I tried watching TinTin but for some reason I got bored and stopped about 1/2 way. I then swapped over to watching another movie, with Justin Timberlake in it....Friends with Benefits, which was your typical romantic comedy really but passed the time. After that I tried to sleep and managed a good couple of solid hours before waking up and then dozing for the rest of the flight. 

I was aiming to get up every couple of hours to reduce any swelling of my feet etc & to keep good circulation. So I hovered near the back of the plane a bit and got to talk to the cabin crew a fair bit.One thing that stood out was this crew was mainly over 40 and a couple of them had been in their jobs for over 25 years. 

Next time: Arriving in LA and the flight through to Las Vegas....

Till then 


Sunday, June 3, 2012


So, I have been home from my amazing trip since Tuesday night, but just getting my head back into the local space. Started back at work on Thursday and have also been trying to readjust to the timezone. 

I will update all about it over the next few days. I wrote in a journal for some of my time, so I will be able to just type it out although some aspects of the trip are so personal that I am not sure I will be able to share them.

Overall the trip was amazing, but it just goes by in such a blur. There were certainly some highlights and some lowpoints (being sick when leaving was one of them). 

Once again many thanks to both Eatme and Bariatric Advantage for making it happen.