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Hi there! If you’d like to see ONLY my extensive research on Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, bariatric diet and managing GERD (reflux), you can filter out all my other posts and see just those by clicking HERE. You can see my vlogs about my VSG journey here.

To see any category (recipes, for instance), use the drop down menu to the left labeled “View Posts by Category” and select the category you’d like. Thanks for stopping by!

Chicken & Mushroom Doenjang Soup

This is a variation of the other doenjang soup I make, but it is so good, I just wanted to jot down the recipe. This calls for some specialty items that you may not find, but I suggest you try. The pickled mustard stems are worth the search.

Chicken & Mushroom Doenjang Soup

2 chicken thighs, bone in, skinless
4-6 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1/2 sm package cremini mushrooms, diced
green tops of 3 green onions, cut in 2″ pieces
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbl doenjang (Korean soybean paste)
1 tsp gochujang (Korean chili paste)
3-4 Tbl memmi soup base (by Kikkoman)
1 package pickled mustard stems (see photo)
chicken stock
remaining green onions, cut on the bias for garnish

Cook the chicken thighs at low simmer in 2 qt saucepan in water with bay leaf and salt until a broth is made. About an hour, water will reduce by 1/3. Remove chicken to cool, discard bay leaf and reserve broth. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken.

In same pan, put a little oil in the bottom and sweat the shallots and garlic until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook for about 5 mins. Add back in the reserved broth and bring to boil. Dissolve the doenjang and the gochujang into some broth then add to pot. Add shredded chicken, memmi, green onion pieces and pickled mustard stems. Add chicken stock to about 1″ from top of pot. Bring to a simmer for about 4-5 mins then turn off heat.

Serve with green onions cut on the bias as garnish.

VSG Q&A

People ask me ALL the time what I’m “allowed” to eat. The answer is “any damn thing I want!” Then they look confused and usually ask me what kind of diet I’m on. Answer: NONE. Then they still look confused and think I just don’t want to talk about it. Ha! Me? The Queen of Oversharing?? Not even!

So in the vein of TMI, here is the second installment of Things People Ask Me About VSG:

1. What are you allowed to eat?
A: Anything I want, just not much of it.

2. So what kind of diet are you on?
A: NONE. I just eat like a child, portion-wise. I do, however, take very few carbs other than crackers and chips. Carbs fill me up like crazy, so when I eat pasta or rice, I can only eat a couple of ounces. And it’s hard to eat anything else with them. Which is why I don’t drink a lot of beer, it simply fills me up.

3. How much can you eat?

A: I can handle about 8oz of liquids at a time and I can handle 3-5oz of what I call “hard” proteins like chicken, beef, whatever that is not ground. I can eat a little more ground than not, but not much. For instance, I can eat 3, maybe 4 chicken wings at a time. I can eat a small chicken thigh. I can eat about 3oz of steak. I can eat a 3-4oz burger patty. And if I do eat mostly protein, I won’t eat much of a side.

4. How big is your stomach now?
A: The pouch can hold around 6 oz, I’m told. As I’ve described, it depends on what it is. I don’t really know the actual size, but it’s 80-85% less than it was pre-VSG.

5. Wow! You better take vitamins since you don’t eat!
A: Well, YES, all VSG patients should take vitamins! Hell, EVERYONE should take vitamins IMO. But VSG in particular requires that you take a LOT of B12. Why? Because it’s absorbed in the stomach and guess what you just lost 80% of? YOUR STOMACH. I read a study that indicated B12 deficiency may lead to dementia, so yeah, just take the B12. I take a full regimen of vitamins and supplements every day. Details in this post.

6. Do you exercise?
A: Yes I do. I began exercising at the 6 month point. I walk on the treadmill (I’ve just started jogging and I didn’t die!!), I do Kathy Smith DVDs (aerobics + dance + kickboxing) and I started lifting weights – Kathy Smith again, her stuff is great.

7. No, really, what is your diet?
A: Sigh.

I generally get two reactions from folks who’ve not seen me in a while: “Hey! You look amazing!” or no reaction at all. I’ll admit, it does disappoint me when people don’t seem to notice. I mean, really? I’ve only got ONE chin now! You can see my eyes! But I try not to take it personally, I guess some people are just oblivious. Meh. But if you are afraid to say something to a lady that’s lost weight: DO NOT BE AFRAID. Trust me, we WANT to hear about how good we look. It makes it allllll worth it! Anyone who says otherwise is a LIAR.

I’ve just broken a 2 month stall and gotten below 190#. As of the other day I’ve lost 62# since the beginning. I feel great and I’m liking the way I look. I’ve still got about 20# to go to get rid of this stomach, but I’m getting there. With appropriate undergarments I can get everything smoothed down pretty well. I’m in a straight 14 and mostly L sizes, which is fucking amazing.

One other thing that no one asks about, but has been a whole new thing for me is the lack of inflammation. When I went into surgery, I had terrible inflammation in my wrists, hands and shoulders. The day after surgery, those issues disappeared. I’m not joking, the inflammation stopped dead. And it is still gone. THAT has made a HUGE difference in how I feel day to day. I no longer take naproxen every day. I’ve even cut back turmeric to every other day – I don’t think I need it at all now, but I hedge my bets. THIS has been probably the most important benefit of VSG for me. The weight loss is secondary. I kid you not.

This is why I’m keenly interested in the research regarding gut flora. Since my experience with completely rebooting MY gut flora, I strongly believe that we’re going to find out that gut flora is the root of many of our inflammatory diseases: IBD, colitis, Crohn’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, etc. I think it’ll turn out to have something to do with cancers and other diseases that are not exactly inflammation, too. This is the area we should be spending millions to research, IMO.

VSG benefitted both myself and Nick, too. It changed our lives. We took a big leap of faith going to Mexico and getting this done. We thought it was just for me, but turns out, it has been huge for both of us. Nick started diet and exercise and has lost 35#!! It pushed both of us out of our comfort zones and it propelled us into pursuing our side business with gusto as well as being just more fearless in general. This surgery has energized us in ways we never imagined it would. I recommend it to people all the time, but not ONLY for weight loss, but for the surrounding benefits. I firmly believe that sometimes you need to be fearless and just DO SOMETHING. Just PICK a direction and DO IT. It will change your fucking life.

I see SO MANY people who just wallow in their ruts. They are miserable, fat, unhealthy and on a ton of meds. Just like we were. I’m not saying everyone needs to do VSG, but dammit, do SOMETHING.

When I preach the gospel of VSG, what I’m really preaching is doing something different to change your life and get out of your rut.

That is message I’d like to give to EVERYONE: if you want to change your life, sometimes you gotta go big. We did it and we are different people than we were this time last year.

So get out there and DO SOMETHING. I promise you won’t regret it.

IBD Diet Similar to my VSG Diet

A friend posted about this Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) diet and as I read the study, I recognised the diet immediately: it was very similar to the VSG diet I created for myself! I was surprised, but after thinking about it, it makes sense. You want to present food in the way that it will be best absorbed and with as many nutrients as possible. MY goals for post VSG surgery!

This is the study: An anti-inflammatory diet as treatment for inflammatory bowel disease: a case series report.

Here is part of the foods chart from the study. It is strikingly similar to my plan (click to embiggen, go to study to see the whole chart):

As you know, you start off with purees then progressively go towards “whole” foods that have not been ground, canned or otherwise altered. I went from purees to canned things like tuna and chicken, then to ground meats then to solid meats. I was on “regular” foods by around 2 months. I wrote all about that in my early posts.

I just thought I’d make a post about this to strengthen my assertion that you do not have to eat yogurt and canned meat for 3 months after VSG, as the Mexican nutritionist would suggest. I did give the info to her, in the hopes she might rethink her approach to VSG patient nutrition, but she probably won’t.

Anyway, I hope that this study’s findings and their method of getting the most nutrition into the body in the easiest way for the stomach and digestive tract is helpful to VSG patients who just want to eat something besides yogurt smoothies. Fruit and yogurt is not nutritionally dense enough, IMO. You need vitamins along with that protein to heal. Fruit is not vitamin dense, it’s just sugar, and canned meat is just fat. So if you’re doing VSG and don’t agree with the diet you’re given, look over this IBD plan and my recipes and make your own diet that suits your tastes. You’ll be happier and I promise it will not ruin your VSG healing – despite the drama you’ll hear from your nutritionist and team for going “off plan”. It’s my opinion that you’ll heal up faster when you are eating vitamin dense foods and lots of protein. I was on to regular foods at about 8 weeks, a few weeks faster than their plan and I feel that this is because I was eating a better diet, which got me healed up faster. As always, your mileage may vary. :)

Hosting Company Reviews

Since we have so many sites (9 as of 2017), we need Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting. We’ve had reseller accounts which make every site a separate account and we’ve had standard VPS. I tend to prefer just standard VPS because you can admin all the sites from one control panel. I’ve written about our experiences with these hosts, but I decided to condense our experiences into one post for Google and for my reference.

We’ve had VPS type hosting for a decade+ and we’ve had several hosts. First, let me give you my opinion on the hosts we’ve had; their pricing, their uptime and their support. Those are the three main factors that everyone looks at when trying to find a decent host. Nowadays, things like SSL certificates and ddos attack prevention also factors in. I’m just going to review the last three hosts we’ve had: InMotion Hosting, Wiredtree Hosting and Zweeko Hosting. We are now on Siteground. I am not linking to these hosts, because I don’t want to hear any whining from them about my negative reviews.

InMotion Hosting (inmotionhosting.com)
We were with this host about 4-5 years ago. They were fairly new at the time and things started off great, as they always do when a host is new and hustling for clients. We had a reseller VPS account that was around $50/mo. The first coupla years was good, when I called I got the owners on the phone and they helped me with lots of technical stuff. As they grew, they had a handful of support people who were trained and did a good job. But somewhere around the 3-4yr mark, they started buying other companies and expanding, but they didn’t expand the tech support team. Then they started hiring support staff that wasn’t trained. The support degenerated into the usual bullshit excuses when our sites were down: it’s WordPress, it’s not enough RAM, it’s Bigfoot, etc. What was happening was our sites were getting ddos attacks and it was killing the server. Things kept escalating until our sites were hacked and the support people had NO IDEA what to do. They actually blamed us for the attacks and tried to tell us that there was nothing they could do to fix the SERVER HACKS. Uh, isn’t that the definition of a host’s JOB? I don’t recommend IMH if you need good support. We started looking for a new host and ended up with the next one.

WiredTree Hosting (wiredtree.com)
We were with WiredTree for about three years. They were very solicitous and moved all our sites from InMotion for free – even tho they usually charge for that many sites. We had about 15 sites at the time. We had a reseller account with these guys and it was about $60/mo. The biggest issue with WiredTree support is that they really loved to use geekspeak when answering tickets, which is annoying when a) you are not a server geek and b) you just want a straight answer in ENGLISH. Their service was actually pretty good, it was the support that was annoying. They also had a habit of fixing things, but never telling me what the problem was in the first place. I want to know what is going on, but I don’t need to know how to build a watch when I ask for the time. They did not have the ability to tell me what an issue was in non-geek terms. They also charged out the ass for an SSL Certificate, which I was interested in putting on our sites, but did not due to their exorbitant fees.

Towards the end of our tenure there, our sites were again suffering with ddos attacks that would bring down the server. They did nothing about these attacks. They didn’t even offer or use Cloudflare, which is pretty standard these days. They blamed us for the attacks, with the usual excuses: it was WordPress, it was not enough RAM, it was Bigfoot, etc. They talked me into an upgrade to SSD ($65/mo) and they SWORE that would do the trick, but alas, it was just their lack of giving a shit that was the issue. Much arguing ensued and they didn’t even refund the last month that I paid for and didn’t use. I felt swindled by WiredTree and I don’t recommend them. I was bitching about WT on Twitter, looking for a new host and that’s when the owner of Zweeko offered to move all my sites for free to his center in London. He was a sweet talker and convinced me that he’d take care of us. Beware a strong sales pitch…

UPDATE 1.31.17: WiredTree has been acquired by LiquidWeb. Don’t waste your time with it.

Zweeko Hosting (zweeko.com)
So Feb 2015, we moved to the brand new company Zweeko in London. They moved all the sites and put me on a standard VPS (not reseller, which is what I prefer) and all was good. They are $70/mo. They have us on SSD servers, nicely tricked out, and they use Cloudflare for all sites at the enterprise level. They also offer SSL Certificates for $18/yr, which is a very good price (NOT as of 2017. Now good hosts offer free SSL.). Unfortunately, despite the nice hardware, it wasn’t long before the outages began. As early as two months after we moved to Zweeko, we had server issues. At this early time, the owner was always on Twitter and he’d get things up again right away. But that, of course didn’t last. He got some tech people to run the place and he was off to travel around the world hustling big businesses to host. When he left the asylum to the inmates, support became nonexistent.

The outages started to become regular, about once a month the sites would be down for a couple of hours. Apparently they have no monitoring software at Zweeko, since they never knew when our server was down. Rather than fix the issues which were ALL on their side, all they could figure out to do was restart the server. Nothing was getting fixed, they would just restart.

One time, they insisted it was my WordPress configuration (WP is the whipping boy for hosts across the land!) and they went into my WP and fiddled with the plugins to make my site work. This is NO BUENO. They also could not tell me what they did, I had to go in and ferret out their stupid plugins, which I removed immediately with no discernible detriment, proving that they had no business in my WP install in the first place.

The latest incident was a couple of months ago. Our sites were down for NINE HOURS on a Sunday and they did NOTHING about it. Absolutely NOTHING. I put in a ticket and the B team support people apparently didn’t know what to do, so they just left our server down for the A team to fix on Monday. THEY JUST LEFT IT DOWN. I was apoplectic with rage and demanded to know why our sites were left down despite a ticket. Of course, they had nothing to say. Apparently the support people at Zweeko are not trained well enough to THINK and actually solve problems. All they know to do is what is written on their support software screen and if it’s not there they are like “WHATEVER!”. I was given a little reimbursement for the downtime, but NEVER got reimbursement for any of the myriad other times THEIR server failed.

For these reasons, I do NOT recommend Zweeko. They are pricey and they do not have strong support.

UPDATE 11.25.16: The owner of Zweeko is bugging me to take down this post. I will not. It is an accurate depiction of my experience at Zweeko. Since the outage in July, they have straightened up and given me the credit I demanded. We’ve had no big issues since July. There have been a couple of hiccups, but overall, the service has been OK. It’s still pricey, but it’s solid for now. I don’t recommend them if you have lots of sites or are not very well versed in web server issues, however. Their support team is still weak and they will do things without explanation.

THE END 1.30.17: The owner of Zweeko began to troll my personal FB page and started bugging me (see above). Twice in the last 2-3 months, we’ve not been able to get into CPanel due to Licensing issue errors. This tells me that they are either not paying their fees or they are overusing the licenses. The server has also been slow, which is the usual log problems that they’ve never, in over a year, fixed. So I called out the owner for trolling my FB (where I was looking for a new host and discussing the SHIT service I’d gotten at Zweeko) and he then pitched a fit like a small child and threatened to delete my sites – he gave me 72 hours to move. And then he sent another yammering email calling me a horrible person because I called him an asshole… Well, if the shoe fits! Fortunately for us, I’d already begun prep to move to our new host: Siteground.

Siteground (siteground.com) 1.30.17
I’ve got two clients on Siteground already, so I’ve been monitoring what’s up. No issues whatsoever. They have CHAT support like a grownup company and their support people are trained. I’ve never had a bad experience with these guys. They are in Bulgaria, but don’t let that put you off. Their English is perfect and they TAKE THEIR TIME with you. I was on chat for 45 minutes with one of their guys discussing the move and deciding which service to use. EXEMPLARY support.

I’ll update this as we get into Siteground, but I can tell you so far: everything is peachy. We are on the $80/mo VPS system. We did have to pay to have our sites moved, but whatever. They all work and everything is great. So far, so good.

Other Hosts To Avoid
One of my clients was using Bluehost for their WP site. They’ve been there about a year. The database blew up and WP was unusable, so I contacted support. After much back and forth, they finally admitted that the server was having issues and it would be fixed. But of course, they would not tell me WHEN. So this went on for a few days and they continued to lie, blame WP and put me off, meanwhile the site was up, but WP was hammered. Bluehost is a flaming piece of shit. DO NOT USE THEM. At this point, I started doing research for a new host, both for my client and for myself.

I asked the hive mind of Twitter to give me host recommendations and I got a couple of lame ones. Then this company Webhosting Ninja (www.webhosting.ninja and @ninja_hosting) said I should check them out, so I did. I did not like their plans, so I said “thanks, but no”. Then they started attacking me, assuming that *I* used Bluehost (my CLIENT does) and told me I was an idiot for not switching to them. Ninja Hosting is clearly run by a bunch of misogynistic nerd hey-bras and I DO NOT RECOMMEND THEM.

Sources for Host Reviews
But I found @HostReviewHell (www.reviewhell.com) during this, so it was worth it. This site has tons of useful info! I especially like the list of EIG hosts to AVOID (Bluehost is one).

I found Siteground (https://www.siteground.com/) on this site and I decided to try them out with my client’s WP site. So far, so good. Siteground is out of Eastern Europe (you can choose your server location, I chose Chicago), but they seem to have their shit together. They offer chat, email and phone support (I love chat support!) and it’s always manned from what I can tell. They moved my client’s site with no issues and we were up and running the next day. (Proving that it WAS Bluehost’s fucked up server that hammered WP, NOT US.) We’ve been with Siteground for a few weeks and I’ve no complaints. They offer Cloudflare with all packages and they use CPanel (a MUST).

UPDATE 11.26.16
I have put two clients on Siteground and had complete success. The first install was better than the second, but overall, I’m pleased. They have very fast CHAT support (thank the gods) and despite this being an Eastern European company, all the employees seem to be fluent in English. Siteground will be my goto if Zweeko drops the ball again like they did a few months ago. Done and done! LOL

Welcome to Dumbfuckistan!

Welcome to Dumbfuckistan (formerly the United States of America)! All brown people, please proceed to your left to the detention area. No, having a green card makes no difference, please go to detention. All white people please proceed to the Citizenship Police windows with your passport, ID and all social media accounts open.

Once you are cleared by the Citizenship Police, please deposit all compassion, intelligence, fact checking, common sense and patriotism in the designated receptacles. You will not need these things in Dumbfuckistan and furthermore, they are frowned upon.

Please proceed to the kiosks to pick up your gun and bible, along with a complimentary copies of “How to Properly Utilize Hate Speech and Alternative Facts”, and “How to Identify a Terrorist: It’s As Easy as Looking at Skin Colour and Clothing!”. Included is an essay by our esteemed President on the proper way to deal with females entitled “Bitches 101: Just Grab ‘Em!”.

Now that you are prepared to enter Dumbfuckistan, please exit through the gift shop ($50 minimum) where you will buy Presidential merchandise to make Dumbfuckistan great! (100% profits go to our esteemed President.)

Have a nice day!