Meet Sandi Henderson, member of the Board of Directors for the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America (WLSFA), co-author of a successful WLS cookbook, and co-founder of WLS Success Matters and Banded Living. Sandi is also a member of the WLSFA Board Executive Committee. Her commitment to the WLS lifestyle… her example of what it means to “Eat well and Exercise” every day, has made her a leader within the community. If you can’t find Sandi, try the local pool where she “gets her swim on” most days – or her kitchen, where she can be found involved in food prep. Fifteen years after her WLS, Sandi is still living the lifestyle and enjoying the rewards of her hard work. Let’s learn more about Sandi!
Question: Where you were born and raised?
Sandi: I was born and raised in Brooklyn New York. I moved to Southern California at age 18. I met my husband of 51 years (on April 4) in California and we married after less than 3 weeks of knowing each other. I have lived in Brooklyn NY, Madison CT, Westchester OH, Culver City CA, (SoCal) Topanga Canyon California (SoCal), Morro Bay California (Central Coast), Nipomo CA (Central Coast) and now reside in Oxnard CA at the beach. I will be 71 years young this September 15th.
Question: That is quite a list of places you’ve lived. Tell us about your family.
Sandi: I am married, have one adult daughter and 3 grandkids.
Question: What is your work experience?
Sandi: I have been in sales for most of my life – owned my own computer equipment company for 22 years and now am co-founder of a Bariatric Education and Coaching Company.
Question: What are your hobbies and interests? What do you like to do in your spare time?
Sandi: I love the beach, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, hiking, biking, lifting weights, reading – and occasionally binge watching Netflix or Amazon shows!
Question: You’ve lived in many places across the country, what are your favorite places to visit?
Sandi: Hawaii is our favorite place to travel, although we loved French Polynesia we return to HI annually. I have been to every island and Kauai is by far my favorite destination. The north shore in particular. I enjoy traveling to warm places surrounded by salt water infested with beautiful sea creatures.
Question: Hawaii sounds great… let’s go! How about education, what did you study?
Sandi: I am a few credits short of my Bachelor’s degree in English and a few French fries short of a Happy Meal.
Question: I bet you don’t eat too many French Fries OR Happy Meals! So tell us about your weight history:
Sandi: I was fat since I was a bit over 2 years old. Pleasantly chubby. At 10 I had to have my appendix removed and the surgeon put me on my first diet… I yoyo’d for years, losing 100 lbs. and then gaining it back and more.
Question: So how old were you when you had WLS surgery? What procedure did you have, who is the surgeon and where did you have it?
Sandi: I had lap band surgery on May 28, 2004 in Ventura CA. Dr. Helmuth Billy was my surgeon. I was 55 ½ when I had surgery. I am maintaining a 250 lb. weight loss and went from a size 28 to a size 12.
Question: Have you experienced any regain over the years?
Sandi: My weight fluctuates typically around 10 lbs. When I have gained more it is due to a problem of some sort which I discuss with my doctor and we get handled. I can lose 10 lbs. in 10 days eating real food when I am strict about weighing and measuring and journaling every single tidbit and planning out each and every meal.
Question: Let’s talk about food… what were your favorite foods before WLS – and what are your favorite foods now?
Sandi: My favorite foods then were anything I could get from the plate into my mouth. Now I like to think I am a bit more discriminating. I have co-authored a cookbook that includes recipes for weight loss surgery meals of all types from Asian to good old comfort food, through chicken soup, burgers, Italian, Greek, Indian, Thai…you name it, we’ve redesigned it to be weight loss surgery friendly.
Question: You’ve certainly put a lot of energy into your meal plans – and it shows. How about the other half of the equation – exercise. Did you exercise before WLS? What do you like to do for exercise now?
Sandi: Favorite exercise – then – was swimming which I did very infrequently and now – my favorite exercise is still swimming which I do 3x weekly and in a warm ocean any chance I get.
Question: What were your thoughts that led you to WLS?
Sandi: A blood pressure crisis in my PCP’s office. I was there for hours after taking a “pill” sublingually to reduce my blood pressure.
Question: So you had a real health scare. Sounds like it was a wakeup call. So after that you looked into WLS, and decided on the Lap Band. What were your thoughts and feelings as a pre-op?
Sandi: I was scared spitless!
Question: Scared spitless! But you went through with the surgery. What were the first days/weeks/months after surgery like?
Sandi: Amazing. Once I decided this was what I wanted I followed the rules to the letter and the weight just kept falling off.
Question: So what advice do you have for newbies?
Sandi: Be ready to change your habits PERMANENTLY…Unless you make the changes you will NOT keep the weight off. Also be ready for the emotional changes and have a good support system- both family and other weight loss surgery patients who are long term successful.
Question: So with your long-term weight loss success, how has WLS changed your life?
Sandi: I have one now. Before surgery my world was getting smaller and smaller. I barely made it to work and home each day. I was not happy. I now can go for hours, and days on end enjoying all that life has to offer from the great outdoors to the depths of the oceans to a bike ride with my husband, time with my daughter and grandkids to helping others reclaim their lives by volunteering and teaching and coaching.
Question: You must have experienced several NSV’s along the way… what is your favorite NSV?
Sandi: Going to Alaska for the 2nd time and instead of having to buy 2 seats on a helicopter to a glacier (one for each cheek), I only needed one and I could get in and out of the helicopter with ease and hiked the glacier instead of standing in one place fearful that if I fell on the ice nobody would be able to help me up. I cried the entire trip – with JOY.
Question: Such a great NSV. I think we can all understand the tears of joy. Congratulations and thanks for sharing. Now you are on the board of the WLSFA. Tell us your feelings about the work of the WLSFA and your role?
Sandi: I have been a board member of the WLSFA for several years and I adore the ability to be able to pay it forward both to those in need of surgery who cannot afford it on their own and to the WLS community as a whole by providing education and celebration at our annual fundraiser.
How to Contact Sandi: By Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Find more on Sandi at www.wlsfa.org and on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sandi.lapbandedliving