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The 6 Month Mark

November 30, 2016

Allison is at the 6 month mark in her post weight loss surgery journey. Since her surgery, she’s lost 72 pounds and her high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea have been solved. Exercise, supplements and her healthy diet have helped her lose 60% of her excess body weight.

Check out our latest addition of Allison’s Adventure to hear about her new exercise routine and what it was like for her to go on a cruise now that she’s lost all the weight.

Why I Became a Bariatric Dietitian

November 23, 2016

jamie-her-father-thanksgivingJamie Carpenter, MS, RD, LDN
Bariatric Dietitian

I have been asked multiple times why I decided to work with bariatric patients.  Patients often assume that I have never struggled with a weight problem. The truth is that I have personally struggled with my weight in the past (during my college years) and I have a VERY strong genetic background to make me more susceptible to being overweight.   Because of that, I decided many years ago to absorb my studies in nutrition for both undergraduate and graduate school and become a Registered Dietitian with the goal of working with patient wellness and/or weight loss.  I am personally dedicated to lifestyle choices with healthy and mindful eating, regular physical activity, stress management and I believe that a healthy lifestyle is the key to weight maintenance.

On Thanksgiving Day in 2003, I received the dreaded call from my brother with the words I will never forget, “Jamie, dad has passed.” My heart sunk and I couldn’t speak.  My dad had unexpectedly passed away from a massive heart attack.  My worst fear had come true.  He had walked me down the aisle to give me away in marriage and three months later, he passed away.  To this day, I will never forget his shortness of breath when walking me down the aisle. Not only was he short of breath, but his knees were in so much pain from all of his weight. I remember feeling his body weight practically leaning on me. He danced and even sang to me during our father-daughter dance. I’ll cherish that dance forever but I still remember how tired he was afterwards.  I look back at wedding pictures and video and although my dad was so very happy, he was so very tired and sick.

My dad had always been medically obese for as long as I can remember.  During childhood, I witnessed him overindulge in foods and live a sedentary lifestyle.  My dad just loved food! He was overweight, had a high stress job and smoked.  His first heart attack happened when I was in 2nd grade. After he was diagnosed with hypertension and congestive heart failure I witnessed him go on diet after diet. He would lose weight and then rapidly regain it and then some.  He participated in the typical yo-yo dieting that so many of my patients have participated in over the course of years.

Our family was relocated to Memphis, TN in 2008 for my husband’s job. I found a job opportunity for a part-time bariatric dietitian at Saint Francis Hospital Center for Surgical Weight Loss.  I applied and was hired.  Less than a year later, I eagerly accepted the opportunity to work full-time.  Over these past 8 years, I am amazed at how much our practice has grown and how many lives our multidisciplinary team has helped transform in so many awesome ways.

I shared with Dr. Virginia Weaver early on that I wish my dad could have had the opportunity to have had bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery was not a popular option for weight loss 15-20 years ago.  I feel sure that had he been given the opportunity to have bariatric surgery before his diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure he would have been around a little longer on earth to enjoy life and meet and play with all his grandchildren!

This time of year, I always feel a little sad because Thanksgiving Day is when he passed away.  My work reminds me of my dad daily and even though he didn’t have the opportunity to have bariatric surgery to expand his life and improve his quality of life, it always makes me happy to see all the patients that are gifted with this opportunity!  I love hearing patients share their personal weight loss journeys with me.  I love hearing how their health conditions have significantly improved or been resolved. I love hearing when patients are playing with their children and grandchildren when they weren’t able to prior to surgery.  I love hearing all their non-scale victories like crossing their legs, riding in airplanes without seatbelt extenders, riding amusement park rides, wearing high heels, and walking without feeling shortness of breath.  I do what I love and love what I do!  I enjoy being a part of their journey!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am so very thankful that I was led to work in a field of nutrition that I am so passionate about.  I am even more thankful for the opportunity to work with two miracle worker bariatric surgeons, Dr. Virginia Weaver and Dr. Robert Wegner, as well as an amazing multidisciplinary team and most importantly– our inspirational and hardworking patients who have chosen to make healthy lifestyle changes!

Navigating the Holidays

November 20, 2016

anna-bryantAnna Bryant, MS, RD, LDN Program Dietitian

For many of us the holidays are a tricky time.  It can be very challenging to lose weight or maintain weight during the holiday season.  Here are some helpful tips to keep you on track!

  1. Volunteer to bring a dish to the gathering. If you prepare a healthy option to take to the get together you are at least assured one good option.  You may actually encourage others by providing a healthier option as well.
  2. Eat before you go. If you are able to eat before you go to an event then you won’t arrive hungry and you may find it easier to avoid some of the temptations.
  3. Stay on track with your physical activity. Stay active and encourage those around you to join you!  The best way to offset a holiday treat is to get up and burn it off.  Those who remain more active during the holidays tend to make better food choices as well.
  4. Only make one trip to the food table and don’t socialize around the food. If at all possible stay away from the food table after you’ve finished your meal.  If it is impossible to get away from the table then simply move the food out of arm’s reach to help alleviate the temptation to mindlessly “pick” at the food.

The holidays are an exciting time we should all enjoy but that doesn’t mean you have to set yourself back in your weight loss/maintenance journey.  Practice the tips listed above to stay on track this year and every year!

Brandi McWhirter

November 10, 2016

brandi-mcwhirterMy name is Brandi McWhirter. I’m 31 years old. When I was 18, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and insulin resistance. Doctors told me that losing the extra weight would help me out tremendously but that was easier said than done.

On April 26, 2016 I had Gastric Bypass surgery. When I started my weight loss journey I weighed 241 pounds. I’ve lost 66 pounds and now I’m at 175 pounds. I feel so much better and I don’t have to take any medication anymore for my blood pressure or insulin. This was by far the best decision I ever made!


Rosalyn’s Surgical Weight Loss Journey

October 27, 2016

img_20161010_3My name is Rosalyn. When I started my surgical weight loss journey, I weighed 243 pounds. I’m still in transition but now I weigh 186 pounds. My life changed for the better on May 26, 2016 when I made the right decision to take this journey and live a healthier lifestyle. I used to dread getting out of bed due to hypertension and swollen legs and feet. I used to dislike going shopping for clothes because I didn’t like the way they looked on me. I was really in a deep depression and buried myself in food. Today, I have more energy for my kids and husband. I’m now living life at its fullest. Thank you Dr. Weaver!

Top 10 Bariatric Mistakes, are you being responsible?

August 24, 2016

leslie from video 1Leslie Albers, Bariatric Coordinator

Many post op patients struggle with making the changes necessary to be successful long term.  Many say that the surgery “failed them” and yet they are not taking vitamins, drinking water, and avoiding carbs.

Even if you have early success, down the road these 10 things will derail you:

  1. Drinking with meals:  This washes food out of your pouch and then enables you to refill your pouch and overeat. This is critical to long term success. No drinking with meals.
  2. Drinking soda: The biggest problem with drinking soda is that it is something many did before surgery.  Some of our patients were drinking liters, 6 packs, or 12 packs of soda before surgery.  The mindset change is the most important thing along with the temptation to drink soda with meals (see # 1), the possibility that it will stretch your pouch, not to mention that you do not need sugar, aspartame, or caffeine.
  3. Not making good food choices: Your mantra should be Protein first followed by lower carb vegetables. Wash, rinse, repeat.  Do not reward yourself with food.  Do not return to making the bad choices that got you to where you were when you needed weight loss surgery.  You knew we would say that, you knew this was the deal.  It is worth it to stick with it.
  4. Not understanding alcohol:  After surgery alcohol is directly deposited into the small intestine and sucked into the bloodstream and can cause you to be dangerously intoxicated very quickly.  Never have a drink unless you are with someone you can trust with your life.  The load on your liver and other organs is substantially increased as well.  Some cocktails can have up to 50 grams of sugar which is something you need to steer clear of as well.
  5. Not taking your vitamins and supplements: After having most of your stomach removed along with some of your intestines bypassed, it is silly to think you would not need vitamins.  Most Americans who have not had the surgery are undernourished and should be on a vitamin regimen but for post op patients, it could mean your health, or your life.  There are serious conditions that can occur when you are deficient in vitamins, protein, and or minerals.  Also, there are neurological conditions caused by not taking vitamins (especially the B12) that are irreversible and can even lead to death.  If you have questions about a post op vitamin regimen, visit our website or call us today.
  6. Not drinking enough water: Dehydration is one of the biggest causes for hospital admission and is preventable.  We were not kidding when we told you to “keep sipping.”  If you get dehydrated you may get dizzy, nauseated, have a headache, lose focus, and feel sleepy.  Stay ahead of the problem and drink!  Keep a log if you have to in order to ensure that you are drinking enough quality H2O.
  7. Grazing: You need to plan and eat actual meals.  If you graze, eating a bite here and there and never really filling up, you consume many more calories and you are not using the “tool” of your pouch in order to feel full and satisfied. If your grazing is due to “head hunger” then find something else to occupy you until it is meal time.
  8. Not exercising: Eat less and burn more still is the mathematical formula that works for post op patients.  Even exercising 10 minutes a day will help with your weight loss.  Not only does exercising help you lose more weight faster, it can help you KEEP it off, make you LIVE longer, and help you FEEL better.  All of those things create a cycle of you being a healthier and happier you living a higher quality life. So, get moving!
  9. Eating too many carbs: Carbs add to weight gain and create more hunger.  Protein will crowd out the carbs and assists with weight loss.  Carbs will burn off quickly and leave you hungry and processed food is “dead food” and has no nutritional value.  Pick foods that nourish your body, keep your blood sugar steady, and fill you up for a while!
  10. Assuming surgery cured your morbid obesity:  There is definitely a “honeymoon” period.  The first weeks and months after surgery may make you feel that all is right with the world and you could never struggle again.  Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and after the honeymoon, the work begins.  If you do not stay on track, do the things you know you should do, and avoid the other 9 things we have just talked about, you may find yourself gaining some or all of your weight back.  It can happen.  Create a long term plan and follow it.  This is a marathon after the sprint.  Create a new you and a new life filled with choices that help you keep your weight steady, your health good, and your quality of life AMAZING.



3 months out – Allison’s Adventure

August 17, 2016

Allison Clay is back and is joined by a very special guest, her mom and inspiration for her life-changing surgical weight loss surgery.

Allison is down 57 pounds since starting her journey three months ago and her mom, Melynda, is down 88 pounds after a year.

Check out our latest addition of Allison’s Adventure where she and her mom discuss their journey together and how they are inspiring others to join in their new healthy lifestyles.

Preschooler Nutrition & Eating Habits

August 11, 2016

Being a mom is tough. Meal planning can be challenging and it is always tempting to grab fast food.  Moms who have bariatric surgery are likely to have a positive effect on the eating habits of the entire family, especially the children.  As they put more thought into planning their own meals, it is easy for them to rethink the snacks and meals they plan for their children.

It is important to impress good eating habits on kids when they are young. Preschool-age children (ages 3 to 5) are still developing their eating habits and need encouragement to eat healthy meals and snacks. These children are eager to learn, especially from other people. They will often imitate eating behaviors of adults. They need supervision at mealtime as they are still working on chewing and swallowing skills.

The following are some helpful mealtime hints for preschool-age children:

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Picnic Potato Salad

July 27, 2016

Warm potato salad with green beans and bacon

(Gluten-Free, Gout-Friendly)



  • 1 pound red potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 1/2 cup red onions, thin-sliced
  • 1/2 pound green beans, snapped in half
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomato halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Rosemary vinaigrette:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. When oven is hot, put 1 teaspoon olive oil onto baking sheet. Heat for about two minutes and spread potatoes in one layer on pan. Roast for 10 minutes; turn with spatula. Roast 10 minutes more, or until golden brown. While potatoes are roasting, prepare beans for steaming. Cook about five minutes, or until bright green. Drop sun-dried tomato halves into the boiling water used to steam beans. When tomatoes are plump, cool and cut into bite-sized pieces. Sliced red onion can be put into cold water for milder taste. Drain. To prepare rosemary vinaigrette, put all ingredients into small jar. Shake until combined.

Assemble all ingredients, including fresh rosemary; top with rosemary vinaigrette, mixing well.


Serves six

Each serving contains about 131 calories, 19 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 5 g fat, 111 mg sodium, and 3 g fiber.


To make this recipe gluten free, use only spices or condiments that are gluten free. Read food labels carefully and contact the company if you have any questions.

Our Former Patient Reflects on Losing 365 Pounds

July 20, 2016

Carlos-Before-AfterCarlos came to us as a last hope to get his life back and gain a new life he could only imagine.  At almost 700 pounds, living was almost nonexistent. As a young man of 25, he was experiencing sleep apnea, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, back, ankle, and foot pain and a severely decreased quality of life.

Carlos is famous around here for being the largest patient that we have ever operated on.   Dr. Weaver and Carlos considered the risks and potential benefits of surgery and decided to proceed with Gastric Bypass on January 17th, 2013.   We are all glad they did but no one is happier than Carlos himself.  Carlos is a pastor and passionate about sharing his story.  He gave a heartfelt speech at our 10 year anniversary in 2013 about how much the surgery had changed his life.

Fast forward to the present, Carlos is an astonishing 365 pounds lighter and living the life that he always wanted to.  He participates instead of observing.  He encourages. He motivates. He helps. He smiles. Carlos is such an example of what makes what we do so rewarding.  To even have a small part in his transformation means the world to everyone in the center. We celebrate Carlos!

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This (These) testimonial(s) reflect results achieved by this (these) patients. As each case must be independently evaluated and managed, actual weight loss will vary.

This surgery is designed for those with a body mass index equal to or greater than 40, or equal to or greater than 35 with serious co-morbidities.

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The Saint Francis Center for Surgical Weight Loss is proud to serve patients from: Brownsville, TN; Dyersburg, TN; Hernando, MS; Jackson, TN; Jonesboro, AR; Olive Branch, MS; Southaven, MS and West Memphis, AR from our location in Memphis, TN.