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Zoe on Weight Loss Surgery Podcast

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Hello from Amsterdam! Yes, I know it has been a very long time since I posted anything here on my blog. Years in fact. So that means most of my readers have had their surgery or are now, like me, veterans. I sincerely hope your journey has been as positive and exciting as mine has been.

I am now almost six years out, with a breast reduction (so happy about that one!) and tummy tuck (glad I had it done, but not as happy with it as the breasts). I managed to stay at my goal weight for most of that time, but this past 18 months I put some back on … gained 8 lbs but have now lost 3 of that, so I feel confident I can get back there again.

I’m writing today because I was invited for an interview with Reeger Cortell, who produces the Weight Loss Surgery Podcast. Reeger is a Nurse Practitioner at a weight loss clinic in Oregon and an all-around wonderful and funny woman! We had a great time on the podcast, and if you are not already listening to her weekly podcasts, I encourage you to do so. They are fascinating and informative—her guests are always interesting and she is so knowledgeable in this field. I learn something every time I listen. And please support her podcast if you can!

You can click on the image below to hear my interview. If you haven’t read my book, it will give you an overview of my weird journey into this life-saving decision.

By the way, I’m still living in Amsterdam and loving it here. Hope you have found your own joy as well.

Weight Loss Surgery Podcast with Zoe Belle

Four Years Ago Today — My Life Changed!

I’m much healthier and happier now in 2015 at age 62 than I was in 2011 at age 58.

I’m much healthier and happier now in 2015 at age 62 than I was in 2011 at age 58.

Four years ago today I had no idea how my life was about to change. On October 28, 2011, at age 58, I was wheeled into an operating room in Frankfurt, Germany, and like many of the readers here, a big part of my stomach was removed and a huge hope for the future replaced it.

My hope for a healthier life — where I looked and felt better, had more energy, and could move easily — not only came true but far exceeded even my wildest dreams.

It seems only appropriate on this anniversary date that I look back on these last four years and tell others how grateful I am to have had this shot at such a magical life. I know there are still many people who read my blog who have not yet had the surgery, and it’s important to me that this might be the push they need. That this is not just another diet that will last a few months. I’m living proof that you can have this surgery and four years later live life as a normal-weight person without dieting.

I was limping around Europe with my tall, slender husband.

In 2011 I was limping around Europe with my tall, slender husband.

Let me rewind a bit to the first of October, 2011. My husband and I were in the middle of a year of travel after retiring, coming from Hawaii, traveling across the mainland USA, and then spending a few months in Amsterdam. It was here in the land of tall, beautiful, healthy people that my weight problems became more apparent as I limped and waddled around in sandals or tennis shoes while I watched thin Dutch women pass me by in their stylish boots. But even as I soaked my swelling, aching feet at night, and even when I looked around at all the other slim people around us, and even when my knee gave out, still I didn’t know what to do to lose weight. It seemed to me I was always eating less than people around me, and God knows I tried every diet on the planet and I could measure my weight loss in ounces.

It wasn’t until my normally quiet husband told me (let me tell, you I didn’t see THIS one coming!) that if we didn’t do something to figure this out, he wasn’t sure he wanted to be a part of it anymore. Who could blame him? He had always kept himself in great shape, but I had gained over 50 lbs on top of an already heavy body in the time we were together. What if he were 85 lbs overweight? How would I feel?

So, unlike the previous 20+ years when we barely brought up the subject of my weight, we decided to start talking about this problem. But just like the previous 20+ years, we approached this problem together, and figured it out TOGETHER.

Queen of Crop — The Book!

QUEEN OF CROP is now a book!!

Happy author with book

The happy author in the garden of her Amsterdam home with her first book!

Not long after I had my vertical sleeve surgery in October 2011 and started writing this blog, readers began to tell me that I had the makings of a book. Originally, I intended to write weekly entries for my first year after surgery and then stop. By the time that year was up, I had reached my goal weight, we had moved to Amsterdam, and our wonderful new life here took off at warp speed! I didn’t entirely stop my blogging, but I did slow down. I have written a few blog entries since then, but our life is full and my weight is no longer a major issue in my life, so other interests took priority.

I kept hearing that I should turn my blog into a book, but I figured there were so many weight loss books out there that the world really didn’t need another one. Then when I looked closer I found that there were not that many books on weight loss surgery, despite the fact that the number of surgeries done every year keeps rising exponentially, and certainly not one like my blog, written by someone in her late 50s and with the added element of travel throughout Europe and the U.S., including Hawaii.

And the books I did find were focused on the details of planning, having, and recovering from the surgery. Who should get the surgery, how to get insurance approval, how to prepare for the surgery, vitamins you need after the surgery, recipes for post-surgery meals, problems you might have after the surgery – all very important information but I knew mine was different. I couldn’t find any books that were inspirational, encouraging, and talked about so many beautiful places. And I knew I wanted to share what life was actually like (or could be) once you had the surgery. I wanted to inspire people (especially people in their 40s and 50s) that it wasn’t too late, that this surgery could help transform your life so you could live the life you always imagined.

My wonderful husband who is the ultimate captain!

My wonderful husband who is the ultimate captain!

So I decided it was time to create the book, and I wanted it to include many of the nearly 200 photos from the blog. But I knew I couldn’t do it alone. In fact, I could never have started my blog or turned it into a book without the dedicated help of my husband, who spent as many hours on this project as I did. He is the one that keeps our lives interesting, moving forward into new directions, and is my personal hero. And we owe a big thanks to Alex Brecher of, who recommended a talented editor named Kelly Andersson; she worked with us to bring the book to the public.

If you’re new to Queen of Crop, I have left the original blog posts up on this website, but for a better reading experience, read the book! You can peek inside the book in the listings on and other bookseller websites.

Queen of Crop coverThe book is available from several online booksellers:

Queen of Crop on
Queen of Crop on (Amazon Great Britain)
Queen of Crop on (Amazon Germany)

Queen of Crop, kindle version
Queen of Crop, iBooks version

My life since this surgery has been one great big adventure. I have appreciated the support of each of you who have been faithful readers of my blog. And who knows? The way my life is twisting and turning and the new adventures I am having … I may not be done yet!


Today I Choose To Be Happy

OK, I had a temporary moment of insanity last night. It happens. But I just need to write a post script to last night’s rant because I really should have waited to send it out.

I had a long talk with myself this morning about how I was feeling about my body. I do have moments when I feel (fill in the blank here) too short, too fat, bad hair day, too ugly, too…. But everybody has those days! It’s normal, it’s natural, it’s what we call life!

Most days I choose to love myself and I am happy with the person I am. Even though I wouldn’t mind being a bit younger, I love that I was born in the ’50s in a life unconnected by anything wireless, I lived through the freedom days (and the Beatles!) of the ’60s, bought my first house in the ’70s where I had a $300-a-month mortgage, had good career opportunities and got to work in the first crazy days of the dot-com era, and stopped traveling for work before 9/11. If I were in my 40s I would have been born in the ’70s and missed so much.

I’m fine. As I said, 364 days of the year I am so very very grateful for my life, my health, my marriage, and for having this surgery. If I hadn’t had the surgery and this amazing adventure I would be feeling the way I felt last night every day instead of just one night.

indexLife is good and I am happy again…

Queen of Crop

Will We Ever Love Our Bodies????

Photo from

This is not me, and I don’t look like this, but I feel like the woman in the mirror! (Photo from

I’m coming to the conclusion that I just will never love my body. No matter how far I have come or how far I will go, the fact is, my body image is ingrained in my brain as much as I know 2 plus 2 equals 4. Sadly, it’s not a good body image, and it seems in some ways it’s gotten worse since I’ve lost weight. I managed to get away with being heavy for many years. Either I was in denial, or I was just living my life and feeling happy with the way I was living it—my career, my friends, my marriage, and yes, even my sex life. I was confident, had lots of good social skills and friends, and my career was pretty good; I was complimented often on my work, promoted regularly, and given more responsibility as the years went on. I knew my husband wasn’t happy with my weight, but as I have mentioned many times, we just didn’t talk about it and I never doubted his love for me.

As the years went on, so did more weight. As my weight ballooned, I couldn’t deny any more that it was affecting my life, but I still managed to be happy even though I tried every possible diet out there—never with any success.

Interesting to note, though, that during the last 10 years of my obese days, I did not own a full-length mirror. I just realized this the other day. I guess I never wanted to see just how bad my weight really was, probably because I felt it was a hopeless cause.

Now I do own several full-length mirrors, and for the most part it’s been fine and even fun. I mean, I’ve lost 85 lbs, I’m not officially overweight, I can wear normal clothes, and I should be so proud and happy, right?

Well at the moment I’m not that happy. I was for the first couple of years. But right now, I not only don’t feel thin, I feel really fat, old, wrinkly, unattractive, and I don’t feel very good about myself in general. It’s been coming on for a few months now. For the first two years after I lost all the weight, I felt like a small person and I even felt a little bit pretty at times. I felt petite, I felt feminine and desirable. Now I just feel like crap, and the insecurities that come along with that can really mess with my mind.