Weight Loss Surgery. My honest advice 10 years later…

A dear friend sent me a message today, asking my advice, and I felt like I needed to share my response.

They asked, “I am seriously considering a lap band or gastric bypass, Can you please give me your advice and hindsight?”

My response:

Dear Friend,

Somewhere in the 450 range, before I stopped letting people take my picture.

Somewhere in the 450 range, before I stopped letting people take my picture.

I’m going to be blunt, and give you the worst of it straight up, because these are a few of the things you MUST know to succeed in this.

First of all, it’s very, very hard.

I had the roux-en-y gastric bypass about 10 years ago. It’s a rough month or two of recovery, and my recovery was considered very successful and free of any major complications. There will be pain, fear, a lot of work, a complete change in your cooking, eating, and social habits, and throwing up will likely become a normal part of your day for several months.

I lost about 2/3 of my excess weight (after a little bounce back), from a size 58/60, down to a snug 36, maintaining at 40. These are textbook normal results. For me, I would say the hardest part was mental…understanding that it wasn’t a “quick fix” (even when it felt like it) and that I couldn’t go back to my normal eating patterns even when I started to feel really good about how I looked. You won’t be able to eat the amounts you can now, ever again, but you CAN find other ways to sabotage you weight loss. Many do.

The ability to “melt away the weight” almost effortlessly falls into a finite period of time (12-18 months, typically), and you’ll want to do everything you can (healthy and with your doctor’s supervision) to lose as much weight as you can before your body acclimates and this window narrows. Have a plan!

At my lowest weight, around 220.

At my lowest weight, around 220.

Also, people, both close to you and strangers, will treat you differently, and that can take some getting used to. That was the hardest part for me. Who I was in most of my social circles (the funny fat guy) changed, and I struggled with my identity, even though I would have told you, pre-surgery, that I hated being “that guy.” You may stop being invisible, and possibly even be a threat to some folks who have taken your presence for granted in the past. There will be judgement and jealousy.  Hard-lines will say you wimped-out and took the easy road, doom-sayers will anticipate your return to obesity. Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, will have advice.

I spent a lot of time feeling like I was on display, and that the only subject of conversation from my (very well-meaning) friends was my weight loss. This may sound wonderful now, but I found myself wondering, “What did these people think of me before? What did they like about me, if this is all we can talk about?

Overweight people are typically insecure, and that’s not going to change, at least for a long time. It simple transfers to other issues of insecurity. Your focus will, by necessity, turn inward, and if you’re the emotional “giver” of your social circles (and many of us are to feel accepted), people who have been enabled by you may become resentful and drift away

Their problem, by the way, not yours!

It can be expensive too. If I had to do it again, I’d hit some thrift stores in advance and buy 2-3 sets of closes in every two sizes down from my pre-surgery weight to my goal weight. Some of these you’ll only wear once or twice, some sizes you’ll skip entirely.

You may lose interest in some of the (non food) activities you do now, and eventually realize that you were living life doing the things you COULD do, instead of the things you really wanted.

You will lose some acquaintances, and make new ones (I didn’t lose any real friends, tho.)

There will be new fears to deal with, both about eating, and gaining back weight, and there will be times when you regret your decision to have surgery, especially when it feels like EVERYONE else celebrates EVERYTHING good with food! You have to become pretty disciplined, and stay that way for the rest of your life. This is still hard, as I’ve never been particularly well disciplined anyway.

There will be mood-swings, and there will be times you wonder, “If THIS doesn’t make me happy, will anything?” By necessity you will be selfish and self-focused for a time.

Probably the most important thing I would say to anyone considering it, looking back, is that you MUST wrap your mind around the fact that weight-loss surgery will NOT “make your life better”…it’s simply a tool that can give you the POTENTIAL to make your life better. Weight loss can’t be the goal, a better life must be, and you need to fix firmly in your mind what you want that better life to look like, and plan goals beyond weight loss to achieve it.

11044514_10204486022883851_5730981656447212837_n - Copy

Currently 260 (ish) and still working on it!

Your medial facilities should offer you both pre and post-surgery counseling. Take it! In fact, I would say that anyone who won’t commit to taking full advantage of ongoing counseling, shouldn’t consider weight loss surgery, as they will likely fail.

That said, the surgery saved my life, allowed me to improve it vastly, and I would totally make the same decision again. There are moments of joy that can’t be described…the ability to play on the floor with kids or grandkids, buying clothes you like instead of just what fits or conceals, walking your first marathon, not having to “squeeze” into a booth or seat, and many, many more.

I hope that helps, I’m here to talk any time.

Just Perry

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Deleting the AddThis Floating Link Bar – a Solution!

Oh my god…I think I fixed it!

Okay, so here’s the deal…I’ve been trying for a month to get rid of this link bar that floats on the left side of my SimplySmartDinnerPlans (WordPress.org) website….to no avail.

AddMe Floating Links Fix

Searched and searched, and no one seemed to have an answer (but lots of folks had the same problem.)

AddMe Floating Links FixIt wasn’t such a hassle on the desktop version of my page, by totally fubar’d my mobile versions, as the link bar wouldn’t disappear, so no one could read, or more importantly SUBSCRIBE to my site!

(Are you starting to feel my pain?)

Hovering over the “Share” button showed a reference to “AddThis”

Naturally, I deleted every reference to AddThis, and the AddThis plug-in I could find, I changed my cache plug-in, even changed my theme…everything that anyone even remotely suggested might work…nothing did.

Then…today…I was cleaning up and reorganizing some of my widgets, and I didn’t like the way the Facebook Like Box (Jetpack) widget looked in my sidebar, so I opened it up to explore my options.

Look what I found…

AddMe Floating Links Fix

Except…where it says, “Enable Other Social Buttons”, mine was toggled to “Yes”.

I switched it to “No” (because there wasn’t a “Oh, HELL No!” option…) hit “Save”, and then refreshed my page. BOOM – floating link bar GONE!

Opened up my iPhone and iPad and checked the pages from there, and there was my beautiful, unobstructed website in all her glory!

Now, I don’t know if this is THE fix, but I can say that it worked for me, and I hope it does for you as well. Now, I’m off to share this link on about a hundred forums, lol.

Just Perry

PS – Oh, and if this works for you, and you find yourself just dying to show your eternal love and gratitude, please go to my website www.simplysmartdinnerplans.com and sign up for our free weekly dinner plans and recipes. It’s free, and it helps support some great causes! – P

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Moma Dixie’s Hibachi – a project

KushiyakiI love Kushiyaki (Japanese-style skewer grilling), and one thing I’ve always wanted in my outdoor kitchen is an old-school Hibachi (not one of those crappy sheet-metal ones you see on the shelves these days, but the beautiful old cast-iron jobs) so when Moma Dixie told me I could have hers, I was pretty freakin’ happy.

Quick aside: Moma Dixie is Vickie’s mother, my mother-in-law, who’s been in Heaven almost a year, but as she was my mom for almost exactly the same amount of time that my own mom was my mom, and accepted this loud, weird, and often obnoxious guy her daughter brought home eighteen years ago, with open and loving arms…she will always be Moma to me.

‘Nuff said.

Now, just to be clear, Moma was not an “outdoorsy” kinda gal, either in recreation, or cooking (if you knew her, you’re laughing right now.) Smart, funny, a classy sharp-dressing lady of the fifties and sixties, BBQ and grilling were not in Dixie’s wheelhouse. 🙂 This Hibachi was probably owned and used by Vickie’s dad, or maybe her grandfather, and sat in Moma’s shed unused for decades, before I discovered it while dispatching wasps (a whole ‘nuther story.)

Restoring a Hibachi grill

Post shop-vac, it looked a lot worse before. 🙂

Greasy, rusty, and thick with cobwebs…it was love at first sight, which is kinda evocative of how Dixie made me feel, lol. As she had, I saw the potential buried within the mess.

So, all of that to say that, while much of this project is about my love of grilling and restoring a cool grill to its former glory, much more of it is about my love for Dixie, who filled a very special place in my heart.

As you can see, there’s a lot of work to be done (I’ll do you a favor and dispense with the metaphors here) and this post will be the first in a probable five-step process covering surface cleaning, deep cleaning, repairs, “beautification”, and finally of course…grilling.

Let’s get started…

Restoring a Hibachi grillFirst thing, I removed the grill and ash grates (I’m missing one ash grate…if anyone has a lead on one or two of these, you’d be my hero!) and have the interior a good scrub with a wire brush. As you can see above, there’s a ton of baked on gak, and I’m a little scared about what I’ll find underneath.

Hopefully all that crud isn’t the only thing holding it together.

Restoring a Hibachi grillAs you can see, that alone made a huge difference. The interior looks to be very solid, no pitting or major corrosion. The bolts and wing-nuts holding the legs and handles in place are in pretty bad shape and will likely need replacing. That hole to the right of the wing-nuts (below) is one of the air vents, which has some corrosion, but is still functional.

Restoring a Hibachi grillFlipping it over, the bottom is pretty rusty, and you can barely make out the word “Taiwan”. The feet appear to be solid, those they’ll need to be sanded and varnished.

Restoring a Hibachi grillIMG_0436 (800x598)Next, I removed the legs and feet (the screws and wing-nuts will have to be replaced for sure, but I think I’ll need to refurb the leg spacers – upper right in the pic above – as I’m not sure where I would find replacements. Some degreaser and high-heat silver pain should do the trick)

Then I took the wire brush to the bottom and sides, which are in really good condition. You can see the outside view of that air vent (below) and both sliders work perfectly. I’m concerned that I may not be able to get the handles off without damaging them, so we may be doing some taping during the painting process, and again when I sand and varnish them.

Restoring a Hibachi grillThat done (for now) I stated work on the grill grates, which were caked with grease and dirt, but looked to be in good shape.

Restoring a Hibachi grillIMG_0440 (800x598)Brushed and ready for deep cleaning, the grill grates are in excellent shape. The grate handles, like the main handles will be scrubbed, lightly sanded, and varnished to maintain the original color.

IMG_0441 (800x598)On the shopping list now:

  • High heat chrome paint
  • Black stove polish
  • Engine Degreaser
  • New screws, wing-nuts, bolts
  • Wood sandpaper
  • Steel wool
  • Clear lacquer

FYI… When translated into English, “hibachi” means fire bowl. It is a heatproof container designed to hold charcoal.

The use of the Hibachi as a kind of “space heater” is recorded as far back as 785 AD in Japan and China, by the samurai classes and aristocrats but gradually spread among the general population. Adding the grill and using it as a cooking device came centuries later. If you replace the open grills with a flat iron plate, you go from a hibachi to a teppanyaki, another very popular Japanese cooking method (think “Benehanas”.)

Next post: Deep Cleaning!

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Fantasic Customer Service from Amazon.com

Amazon.comI think, much too often, we’re very quick to share a negative customer experience, but don’t shout out the good ones nearly enough.

I do a lot of shopping, both physical and digital with Amazon.com, and I’ve had a snarky comment or two about them in the past.

For the sake of fairness, here’s the transcript from the six-minutes of exceptional customer service I received from their online chat support, today…

(Note the “above and beyond” highlighted in red.)

Sometimes, good stuff happens, too…


My Initial Question: Last summer, I pre-ordered the instant movie, “Chef.” A while later my wallet was stolen and I had to cancel my credit cards. Before my new one arrived, Amazon tried to charge me for the movie and the purchase was declined. Now, when I try to buy the SD movie (with a new card on file), I get an error message telling me that I can’t because I’ve already purchased that title, but I didn’t!

Is there any way to fix this?



07:30 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): Hello. Thank you for contacting Amazon customer service. My name is Vinit. I’ll be glad to help you today. Please give me 2 minutes to check your account details.

07:31 PM PDT Perry Perkins: Thank you!

07:31 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): You’re welcome.

07:32 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MH78URE Please go to the above link and try purchasing the HD copy. Let me know what happens.

07:32 PM PDT Perry Perkins: Okay…

07:32 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): Thank you.

07:33 PM PDT Perry Perkins: Will the HD version play on my ipad?

07:33 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): Yes Perry . It will also include the SD version as well. Let me know once you place the order.

07:34 PM PDT Perry Perkins: Done!

07:34 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): Great! I notice that the order has been generated. I also notice that you have rented this video a while back. Let me issue you a refund for that.

07:34 PM PDT Perry Perkins: Wow. Thank you!

07:34 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): You’re welcome 🙂  I have made the necessary changes. The refund has been issued and now you have the SD and the HD copy in your video library 🙂

07:36 PM PDT Perry Perkins: That’s awesome, thank you so much for your help!

07:36 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): You’re welcome 🙂 Have a great day!

07:36 PM PDT Perry Perkins: You too!

07:36 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): Thank you. Bye!

Thank you.
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A fantastic day of fishing with David Johnson’s Guide Service

David Johnson Guide Service

I had a fantastic day of salmon fishing on the Oregon coast with David Johnson’s Guide Service last week.

David Johnson Guide ServiceNow, admittedly, I had a couple of solid advantages in that, one: I spent the day fishing with my best friend, Chef Chris, who in compliance of our grand twenty-five years fishing tradition together caught both more, and much bigger fish that I did (it’s an unspoken understanding that we have) and, two: we’ve had the privilege of knowing David Johnson for almost the same amount of time, back before he was the unspoken authority and premier fishing guide here in the Pacific Northwest.

Our friendship goes all the way back to when he was just that nice kid who fished every single day.

I’m pretty sure that’s a habit he’s maintained during the two and a half decades since, as well. I’ll leave the personal anecdotes for some other time, and try to stick with a straight-up customer review.

First of all, David really goes out of his way to provide an exceptional fishing experience. Bait looking slightly worn? Run a line of over the rocks? Maybe just a little too much (or too little) weight on the line?

Dave is in constant motion making sure that everything is new, fresh and in top shape.

Fishing with David Johnson“Some guys,” David confided, “are really concerned about the overhead and will let clients run bait until it falls off the hook. I don’t do that. I want my clients to catch big fish and lots of ’em, because that’s what brings them back. Saving a couple of dollars by skimping on fresh bait isn’t how you make money in this business.”

What’s his biggest issue with clients?

“It’s getting the guys to keep their rods on the rod holders,” he laughs, “the men always want to hold the fishing rod and them WHAM try to set the hook on the first nibble. You’ll miss at least 90% of your strikes if you don’t wait until a salmon had solidly taken the bait and starts swimming away. Guy’s just wait for that. Listen to your guide, he WANTS you to catch fish ! Leave the rod in the rod holder!”

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the fishing circles of the NW you’ve probably come across David Johnson in magazines, TV or radio. He’s written or been featured in over 50 local and national magazines, hosted half a dozen TV shows and has been a regular guest on Portland and Seattle radio.

With a degree in Fisheries and a life time of fishing the North West and Alaska David knows the ins and outs of salmon, steelhead and sturgeon fishing. (From Dave’s website)

I couldn’t agree more. Although, in all fairness, I probably can’t give David all of the credit for the fact that our ship-mates, Don and Teri, were completely delightful people whom became boon companions by the time the first fish was landed. I’ll just attribute it to the fact that the level of quality service David provides attracts awesome clients, lol!

David Johnson Guide Service4 beautiful silvers and a couple of big Chinooks is a day well spent!

Fishing with David Johnson

David in the middle of the most impressive fillet job I’ve ever seen. Leave a little meat for the stock pot, Dave. Sheesh!

Fishing with David Johnson

              See what I mean?

Follow a fantastic day of fishing with dinner at one of my all-time favorite brew pubs, The Pelican Brewery & Tap Room in Tillamook.

Smoked Cheddar Burger, beer-battered fries, and a Tsunami Stout with good friends old and new…can’t imagine how you could end a day much better than that!

Find out more about scheduling your own amazing trip at David’s website: David Johnson’s Guide Service

-Just Perry

PS – You didn’t think I was going wax poetic about these lovely salmon and not give you some bait to plate ideas, did you?

Here a few of my favorite recipes to go along with those lovely fillets you’re gonna bring home…oh and be sure to subscribe to our blog over at SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com, as I’ll be posting a couple of new recipes there soon, including an amazing salmon chowder, a teriyaki salon collars, and how to make a delicious simple fish stock.


Dill Salmon with Lemon OrzoSimple Poached Salmon with Lemon-Parsley Orzo

Citrus Poached SalmonCitrus Salmon and Honey Glazed Carrots

Broiled Salmon, Thai Cucumber Basil Salad & Furikaki RiceBroiled Salmon, Thai Cucumber Basil Salad & Furikaki Rice

Oh, and here’s a helpful post to read before you try any of the above…
How to remove salmon pin bones  How to remove pin-bones from salmon

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It’s funny how we live so much of our lives based on snapshots. Still photos of an instant in time, a specific location, looking in one direction with our attention focused on just a tiny corner of the viewfinder…and that snapshot becomes our reality.

This morning I’m sitting in a restaurant eating breakfast. At the table in front of mine sits a woman and her young daughter, who is wearing a pink hat. I only notice the hat because it was exactly the sort of thing my own daughter would wear.

Across the aisle from my table sits an old man, staring out the window, a cup of coffee held, as though forgotten, in his gnarled hands. His face creased and canyoned with years, mouth drooping slightly at the corners, a bushy white mustache and matching stubble gives the distinct impression of a moody walrus.

He looks tired. Worn.

As he sits, slump-shouldered and lost in his own thoughts, the little girl whispers something to her mother, which I cannot hear. Her mother responds is a hushed voice, “I don’t know, maybe he doesn’t have any family or friends to have breakfast with.”

Another undecipherable whisper.

“Yes, I think it’s sad too, but sometimes that what happens when we get older.”

Then their breakfast arrives, and they move on to another subject. The moment passes.

Their snapshot.

What the mother (my assumption) and the girl in the pink hat don’t have, can’t have, is the picture from MY perspective. My view from just a few minutes earlier, a few feet away, a slightly different angle…a wholly different reality.

My snapshot.

When I arrived at the restaurant, roughly a half-hour earlier, there had been a dozen old men, sitting at three adjoined tables

They were loud and joyful. The room rang with their gravelly unrestrained laughter, sometimes bawdy jokes, and much back-patting and leg-pulling. I overheard (yes, I’m a shameless restaurant eavesdropper) plans to meet up for a round of golf later that afternoon, an invitation for “dinner with the wives”, and even talk of a deep-sea fishing trip this summer.

One man had shared about a recent business trip to Florida, another (our old man) about a trip to Greece with his granddaughters.

One by one his friends had finished their breakfasts of eggs, and thick bacon, and coffee with heavy cream, dropped bills from nearly identical creased and weathered leather wallets onto the tables, and excused themselves (several handshakes and a couple of hugs), most of them flirting with the young waitress, who appeared to know all of them by name, on the way out.

Finally, only the old man remained.

The tables were cleared and separated and, as his cup was refilled, he turned towards the window to watch the geese waddling around the rain speckled parking lot.

Just then, the bell above the door jingled and a woman walked in with her daughter, who wore a pink hat.

They saw an old man, seemingly lonely, perhaps embittered, obviously reflective and cognizant that his better days were behind him. Alone. My snapshot, however, showed a man full of joy, a life rich with friends old and dear, a loving family, a man of appetite who laughed freely and embraced life.

What a strange thing perspective is…and what a powerful force on how we perceive this thing we call reality. Each of us fashioning our worlds in our own little snapshots.

I hope I remember this…that life is not always what it seems in my viewfinder, that some things may be gold even if they don’t glitter.

That the grayest bare walls may shelter the most beautiful gardens, ones that are just around the corner from my view.


– Perry

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iPad Volume Not Working – A fix

HT2371_04-ios_700-settings_general_international-enHere’s an odd iPad fix I learned today…

If your speaker suddenly stops working (but you still get notification sounds), reset the language from English to something else.

Once the change is in place, set it back to English, and your speaker should be back on!

No idea what the glitch is, or why this fixes it, but it does!


UPDATE: If the fix above doesn’t work, check and see what version of iOS you’re running.

Apparently, iOS6 has device mute connected directly to the dock connector, and if there is the tiniest bit of corrosion on it, or some kind of grit in there, it can “auto mute” your device.

Try cleaning the dock, replacing the charger, or updating to the latest iOS. – P

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Yet another blog…

Riding home on the train from the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle this week, I was talking to my friend and business partner Chris Renner about a growing frustration.

I currently maintain four blogs (some better than others): hautemealz.com, perryperkinsbooks.com, burninloveblog.com, and perryatehere.com, the first three being niche blogs for my businesses, and the fouth strictly a resturant review page.

However, each is focused on an individual brand and area of interest, and while there is occasionally crossover between the three, I really have no place to post stuff that doesn’t relate to one of those businesses. Stuff about my awesome family, what God is talking to me about, what’s pissing me off at the moment, things my amazing daughter says, hanging out with friends, my life (good and bad), fun stuff I find online…you know, that ever-shrinking gray area I call  my “personal life”.

Stuff like the food bloggers conference I just attended…I’m bursting with excitement, new information, ideas…all kinds of stuff…but where do I share it?

So, I’ve decided that I want a place just for me. Not a site I’m trying to promote a business of product from, or even particularly trying to drive traffic to. Just a place to let my thoughts and ideas flow, unencumbered by any concerns of branding or target markets. This is all the “other stuff.”

A place for, as my old buddy Lindy so eloquently puts it…Random Brain Spew.

Much of the “old” content on this page will be cut & pasted from my first blog, before I started my businesses and their related blogs. Originally titled “Cubeville” (I was working for Xerox, at the time), it’s been a awhile since I’m posted much there, so there will be a bit of a disconnect from the old posts to the new ones, and a little dust in the corners, but it seemed like a shame to waste all of that old content (lots of great stuff about The Pickle’s arrival and first few years, as well.)

For the sake of disclosure, I’m certain there will be some overlap, as I’ll have things from my other sites (recipes, ideas,  announcements, etc) that I’ll want to share here, so don’t be surprised if you’re following my other blogs and occasionally see a duplicate post.

But mostly it’ll be, well…justperry.

So, feel free to pull up a chair, say what you want, be occasionally inappropriate (I will), and just hang out.



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