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We asked this weight loss surgery Mentor Team, ranging from 9 months to 4 years post-op, “What’s on your holiday list?”

What gift would  you like this year, that you wouldn’t have imagined ever wanting, before surgery?

Male, 2 years post-op, Sleeve:
“Kettlebells.  I’m on a roll right now with my workouts.  I’ve been training with a coworker between shifts.  We’re in a remote area, nowhere near a gym, so I’ve been building up my equipment arsenal.  No, three Christmases ago, I would have wanted an iPad or gamer remote.  What I want for myself now, a gift or for my health, is completely different.”

Female, 3 years post-op, Gastric Bypass:
“New resistance bands.  My sister gave me a band a few months ago because I told her I was having a hard time finding creative ways to exercise in hotel rooms – I travel a lot for work.  I loved it.  I started following some You Tube band workouts and now it’s my thing.  Before surgery, I ordered room service, read magazines, talked to my friends, and cried about my weight.  Those days are gone.”

Female, 2 years post-op, Sleeve:
“A hydration belt.  It’s really like a cool fanny pack with compartments.  It holds your water bottle, phone, keys, Chapstick, small snacks, whatever.  It’s not that I’m a marathoner or something, but I’m getting out more on the weekends for hikes or rides and I’ve seen it on other weekend warriors, it looks like what I need.  There’s no way I would have wanted something like this before surgery.  What would I have used it for?”

Female, 9 months post-op, Gastric Bypass:
“MAC makeup.  When I was in college, I still wore makeup and I loved MAC.  But as I got heavier, I didn’t want to do anything to draw attention to myself.  I stopped doing my hair and makeup.  I’ve already lost 60 pounds and I can see my face again!  So I want all new MAC makeup.  It’s time to get some attention!”

What favorite recipe are you looking forward to making lighter?

Female, 3 years post-op, Gastric Bypass:
“My grandma makes Loukoumades with honey-orange sauce.  I told my mom I really need grandma to watch the high sugar in these because last year they almost put me over the edge.  My mom says I’m in for a special surprise this year.  My family has been so supportive of my surgery, I’m so grateful!”

Male, 3 years post-op, Gastric Bypass:
“My mom’s traditional Irish Christmas cake.  It’s really great but it’s super sweet.  She said she’s making a special small one for me.”

Female, 2 years post-op, Sleeve:
“Tamales!  My family and I tried these changes last year and they turned out great.  The family voted to repeat this lower fat version this year because they feel better eating more of them!  We replace the lard with pork broth and canola oil.  Really delicious.”

Female, 9 months post-op, Gastric Bypass:
“Since I was a little girl, my mom, my sisters and I made sugar cookies.  You know, dough into the refrigerator then you roll it out and put sprinkles – and then icing?  I can’t have Christmas without these cookies.  I found the Splenda recipe for sugar cookies so that’s what we’re making this year!”

What are you most looking forward to this holiday season?

Male, 2 years post-op, Sleeve:
“We’ve got some family coming into town that haven’t seen me since surgery.  I’m sure they’ve seen pictures, but when you’ve lost 130 pounds, in person is better than pictures.  I’ve worked hard, I’m looking forward to them seeing me!”

Female, 2 years post-op, Sleeve:
“Staying on track.  Last year I felt overwhelmed and I let exercise slide, along with vitamins, water, and watching what I eat.  Not this year.  I know it’s not going to be perfect, but it’s going to better than last year because I remember how I felt on January 2nd!”

Female, 9 months post-op, Gastric Bypass:
“Seeing old friends.  It’s not just them seeing the new me, but feeling like I can hang out with them and not be worried about how they’re looking at me or what they’re thinking.  They never said anything, and maybe it was just me, but I lost a lot of confidence when I put on weight.  I’m just looking forward to feeling like I can be myself again.”

Male, 3 years post-op, Gastric Bypass:
“I’m a new dad.  This is my son’s first Christmas.  I guess you could say there was a time when I didn’t think I would ever have kids.  Everything is different now.  I have my wife, my son, and my health.  This is good.”