At 278 pounds, Susan Maria Leach couldn't lie in bed without gasping for air, wasn't able to fit into a restaurant booth, and could barely buckle the belt in an airplane seat. It would have been easier to allow life to pass her by than to continue fighting her weight problem, but she made the difficult decision to take back control. In 2001, Susan underwent gastric bypass surgery and started on a journey that would not only cut her body weight in half but would change her life.
Before & After is both a memoir and a cookbook—an intimate account of Leach's own transformation as well as a guide for those who have undergone or are considering the procedure. As Leach has learned in the six years since her operation, weight-loss surgery is not an event with a finish line or a goal weight—it is the beginning of a new way of life.
This edition of Before & After has been updated with all that Leach has learned on her post-op journey. It includes a foreword by Leach's surgeon, advice from a nutritionist, answers to more frequently asked questions about weight-loss surgery, a whole chapter on meal plans for different post-operative stages, suggested menus for early food stages, additional questions and answers affecting longer-term post-ops, and new information about products that have entered the marketplace.
Most notably, this edition showcases a wealth of new recipes that utilize the latest in light and healthy ingredients for smart and savory results, including everything from Asian Meatballs with Peanut Sauce and Turkey Tenderloin with Apple Chipotle Chutney to sugar-free Pistachio Gelato and Lemon Almond Sponge Cake. Each recipe makes about four servings, but includes a measured serving for WLS people along with a calorie/carb/fat/protein count. Leach has recipes for every step of the way, from tastes-like-the-real-thing milk shakes for those first post-op days to an entire Thanksgiving menu.
Before & After is a journal of Leach's own inspirational story, where she shares her ups and downs, her tips and techniques, but mostly it's a book of hope for anyone who has a serious weight problem.
Weighing 278 pounds and unable to tie her bathrobe closed, in June 2001, Leach had her stomach reduced to the size of an egg. But her battle with food didn't end there. Like all those who undergo weight-loss surgery, Leach must diligently watch her food intake; eating more than a few bites of a dish or ingesting too much sugar will result in "dumping," a bodily reaction as unpleasant as it sounds (it involves food emptying from the stomach too quickly). Leach's journal of her post-operative year (which followed her loss of 143 pounds) shows that she remains just as obsessed with food as she was before surgery. Leach isn't exceptionally self-reflective and doesn't analyze what readers might find most helpful: how her relationship with her husband has changed. He grows jealous of her girls'-nights-out and tries to force her into eating key lime pie, even though it will make her sick. Later, in a q&a section, Leach matter-of-factly answers such inquiries about weight-loss surgery as "Does insurance cover it?" and "How fast should one lose weight?" In the book's final third, Leach provides more than 100 tasty (and dump-proof) recipes for protein shakes, main dishes and holiday meals. Many of the recipes can be found in other low-fat cookbooks, but Leach's recipes for desserts are unique (e.g., Lemon-Almond Sponge Cake). Although her journal may paint an overly rosy picture of post weight-loss surgery life, those who have undergone or are considering such surgery may find it helpful.
Its Just Ok
I found this book to be the least helpful of all the books I have read on this subject. I much preferred the Weight Loss Surgery for Dummies book. I felt Susan's book was very self indulgent with more stories about her "faulous" life and travels than anything else. I also felt like she does a disservice to others thinking of having WLS when talking about having bites of dessert, alcholic drinks etc.. because food is addictive for many people and I dont think she is the average weight loss patient. Most WSL patients need to avoid heavy carbs and especially dessert that is not, at the very least, sugar free. Most weight loss patients would have problems eating any dessert and having alcohol which can wreak havoc on your new stomach arrangement and for many can cause a slippery slope back into bad habits. Can some post WSL patients eat sugar and carbs? Sure. Should most avoid them? Yes. One of the major issues post WLS is transfer addiction and writing about drinking and eating even small portions of sugar and carb laden desserts is irresponsible in my opinion.
Her recipes are good and you can get those for free (most of them) on the web site or her forum board. I will credit her that. If the recipes in the book are indeed hers, they are good ones and look really tasty. I just did not feel this book gave me any information I could not get somewhere else in a more straighforward, practical form.