How to Take Body Measurements

Video and instructions on how to take body measurements to track weight loss.

Six Month Body Measurement Tracking Chart
Printable chart (one page) to track measurements of weight, chest, waist, right arm, left arm, right thigh, left thigh and hips for 24 weeks.

Here are the body parts you should always measure and how to measure them properly:

  • Neck – Measure around the smallest part of your neck.
  • Chest– Measure around the fullest part of your bust, under your armpits and around your shoulder blades, include your nipples.
  • Arms – Measure around the largest part of your arms (flexed or not flexed, just make sure to do it the same every week.)
  • Waist – Measure around the smallest part of your waist, if you don’t have a pronounced wasistline and you’re fairly straight, measure just above your belly button.
  • Hips – Measure around the widest portion of your hips. Making sure the tape is level back there isn’t easy, try to do it in front of a mirror.
  • Thighs –  Measure the circumference of the the fullest part of your thigh, usually about three inches from your crotch.
  • Calves – Measure around the largest part of your calf (flexed or not flexed, just do it the same each time).

The video below shows how to measure results during a weight loss program.

Bariatric Support Group

We’re required to attend 3 bariatric surgery support groups before surgery is scheduled.  At first, I thought this would be a waste of time, what could they possibly provide me with, since I already know several people who have had it done.

I realized that having the surgery will create monumental changes in my lifestyle and it’s important to have access and be surrounded by people who will also be living within the confines of these changes.

I know that it’s been difficult for me to have compassion for those who have been going through these changes because I could not relate to them.  I had an uneducated prejudice, I felt that I knew more than they did about the adjustments that they were required to make.  In retrospect, perhaps it was an endeavor to be relevant.  I think it was my attempt to deal with an underlying envy that I couldn’t identify within myself.

I’ve been to 2 groups, thus far.  It’s exciting to hear their successes.  To hear someone who had surgery 6 weeks ago and has lost 45 pounds, 65 pounds in 2 months, at the time of their first “surgiversary” they’re down 150 pounds. To think, that will soon be me!

My current anxiety about after surgery is sipping water.  I love my water.  It’s my favorite fluid.  As a child, I hated water, “it has no taste” I would complain.  Now, I find myself carrying a container of water with me everywhere, enjoying the the flavor and the appreciation of chugging down a pint during a break in housework, during a walk, sitting in a hot car, etc.

It was reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who thinks about this.  There are dozens of people in the group who are post surgical, many have been so for several months or years.  They are quick to assure that it’s an issue which they all have overcome.

The group that I attend is guided by the bariatrics nurse coordinator and/or a social worker who also specializes in bariatrics.

It’s run like an AA or OA meeting, in that who said what stays in the room.  Friends and family are welcomed attend, ask questions and participate in discussions.

Since it is a presurgical requirement, there are a number of people who are waiting for a surgical date.  Many are newly recuperated.  There are a few who are years out there to support new friends and family members. And then, there are those who are coming in for revisions, or have gained weight and looking for support or coming back for a revision.

It isn’t unusual for people to remain actively involved in the surgical support groups years postoperatively.

No Drinking With Meals After Weight Loss Surgery

Why no water with meals after weight loss surgery?

Having a drink of water during a meal, is another luxury I must avoid.  My understanding is two fold, one is food can settle in your stomach, taking up space like a layer of thick sand that won’t immediately absorb fluid, thus the fluid has nowhere to go and you will throw it up.

Second reason not to drink fluids with meals is that it dilutes the food which hastens digestion creating room for more food diminishing the purpose surgery was performed, as illustrated in the video below.

Gastroenterologist Consultation

I arrived by cab, at 9:15 a.m., my insurance provides me with 24 round trips per year.  My appointment was for 10.  When I sat down, I was alone in the waiting room, but there were a few people on the other side of the partition who looked busy enough.

Around 9:50, I was called up and provided paperwork, which took me 15 minutes to fill out.  And at 10:15 I was put into an exam room.

At 11:00 I started getting antsy.  I had scheduled an 11:30 pick up for my 1:00 appointment across town, thinking I arrived early enough to provide plenty of time for filling out first time paperwork, and 90 minutes provided plenty of leeway.  and I went to the nurses station, where they assured me it wouldn’t be long, there  were only 3 more people ahead of me!

True to  their word, the doc got to me at 11:20.  I told him I needed an endoscopy as part of my prescreen for gastric bypass surgery.  He inquired if I had a cardiology consult.  I told him I had seen my cardiologist the day before.

“Did he do an echocardiogram, ekg, and a stress test?” the inquisition continued. I said yes, wanting to get the appointment and get out of there, but he wasn’t going to let me off easy and he repeated his question. ‘Okay, officer, I confess’.  I reluctantly told him that he hadn’t done the stress test.

“You’re going for the whole ball of wax.  If it were me, I’d want to be sure that I was getting off the table, and I’d demand a stress test. But that’s between you and me.”

He went on about all the stress my heart has been through damages the heart.  Guess he doesn’t  believe in the old adage, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

He scheduled the procedure for early next week. “I want to see cardiology clearance when you walk in the door.  Pick it up and carry it in with you.  I will not perform the endoscopy without seeing clearance from your cardiologist.”

I rushed out, no cab.  I called the cab company, who claim not to have me scheduled to go to another appointment and they were going to take me home.  I called my insurance company, they called the cab company, and they weren’t going to be able to get me across town in time. I ended up rescheduling my next appointment.

My 11:30 pickup came for me at  2:20!

When I arrived home, I called my cardiologist and had them fax over my clearance.  I also asked that he call me, and remind me why he felt that I didn’t need a stress test.

I then called the gastro’s office to verify they received the fax and informed them that the doctor wants to see it before my procedure next week.

Cardiology Consultation

I love my cardiologist.  He’s personable.  Wish all my doctors had a manner that allowed me to leave their comfortable with who I am.  But then, my last cardiologist also gave me a shining review of my heart, which was a few years ago, telling me that he would actually guarantee that I would not have a heart attack within the next 5 years.

After an ultrasound of my heart, my current doctor told me that I had a very good and strong heart.  I said, “like a 56 year old”, and he rebutted, “More like a 26 year old!”.   And with that he wrote up my cardiology clearance and sent me on my way with an appointment in 3 months.

Bariatric Surgeon First Consultation

I’m looking forward to having Dr. Bridge as my surgeon.  I feel comfortable talking with him and trust  him with my life.

I’m thrilled that my insurance doesn’t require the 6 month wait. I want to get started on the extreme permanent changes.

My doctor basically asked me if I had any questions for him, but at  the moment, all I was interested in was my insurance requirements.

I showed him my driver’s license picture, when I was 350 pounds, so it’s obvious that I can lose weight and I know how to restrict.  I explained it’s my consistency that I have trouble with.

I told him I had my required consult appointments all scheduled.  He tested me, naming them off and having me respond with the respective dates.

He said that he’d see me in a month.  He didn’t put me to the task of losing any more weight, I hope he’s not expecting much from me, I really want to say farewell to a few of the foods that got me this far.

Then he sent me for the following lab work:

  • CBC
  • Comprehensive metabolic panel
  • Ferritin
  • Folate
  • Hemoglobin A1c
  • Iron
  • Lipid panel
  • Selenium serum
  • Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC)
  • TSH
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1, Plasma
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D 25 hydroxy
  • Zinc


Primary Care Physician

I went to see my primary care physician to let him know that I’m intent on having bariatric surgery and that I’ve decided on the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. I can’t say that he was impressed, or cared either way.

I long for the days that John Shaw, MD, was my physician, he always made me feel like I was his most important patient.  Unfortunately, at the advent of mandatory computer charting in lieu of handwritten notes, he opted to join Doctor’s Without Boarders and have guerrilla soldiers escort him to his patients, it was easier.

In the past 2 years, I’ve never seen the physician who’s name is written as my “primary” on my insurance card, and my current “primary” at the clinic has only personally seen me once before.  He seemed pretty annoyed, thinking that I was there with the expectation that he was going to review my chart and write the letter right there in front of me, since my appointment with the bariatric surgeon was for the following day.  I assured him, that it wasn’t necessary that I have it for my first visit, it’s just to substantiate a chronic pattern of failure to conclude surgery was necessitated to appease the insurance company.

I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care for me, other than the fact that he’s paid to diagnose and prescribe a treatment plan.  I’d venture a guess that  if he saw my face on the evening news, he wouldn’t be able to place it.

Bariatric Seminar

I surrendered to the idea of going for surgery in December 2015.  I contacted Dr. Atwa’s office, calling them every week for over a month, trying to get an appointment.  Unfortunately, his office insisted that they needed to have authorization from my insurance company before they would see me.  After a month, I looked for another bariatric surgeon.

I found South Shore Surgical Specialist, and have been assigned to Dr. Bridge.  The prerequisite to a consult was to attend their seminar with Dr. Cusasatti, who explained the three types of surgeries that they do 1) Adjustable Gastric Band, 2) Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass and 3) Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy.

I was surprised that “dumping syndrome” is considered a benefit, as it’s actually one of the reasons I want the surgery. I haven’t been successful at eating in a healthy way and maintaining a healthy weight, left to my own devices. And, like Dr. Phil says,”How’s that workin’ for ya?”, I only have to look in the mirror to see the answer.

So, now that I’ve attended the seminar, all I have to do is have (in no particular order):

  • Psych eval, to confirm that I have reasonable expectations and am fully aware that I’ll have to eat like a gerbil or I risk becoming ill or worse yet, failing at losing weight after undergoing major surgery and several days of painful recuperation.
  • Primary care doctor write a letter detailing that even though I’m a chronic loser, I get up again (i.e. yo-yo weight loss & gain).
  • Pulmonary consult.
  • Gastroenterology consult, to verify that I have the stomach for the surgery.
  • Cardiology consult, to validate that my heart’s in it.
  • Nutritionist consult, to feed me knowledge about eating.
  • Bariatric Support Groups, at least 3 meetings.
  • Blood tests, chest x-ray, venous sonogram, and whatever else the doctor orders.
  • Oh and of course, visits with the Bariatric Surgeon.

Then, my insurance will be contacted for prior authorization and with their blessing, surgery can be scheduled!!!

It took me a few hours, the day after President’s Day, but I was able to schedule all the consults by March 7.  And so, the journey begins.