CrackerJack of the Month: Michelle Vicari

CrackerJack of the Month: Michelle Vicari

When I first started CrackerJack Nutrition in 2013, an industry insider told me, “The most important thing you need to do is connect with ‘Eggface’; she’s a real EF Hutton in the bariatric community. When she talks, people listen.”

‘Eggface’ is the blogging name for Michelle Vicari.

Michelle is a successful gastric bypass post op as well as a bariatric food blogger, Social Media Manager, Marketing Communications expert as well as a national board member for the education and advocacy group, Obesity Action Coalition.

Despite all the hats she wears and the incredible influence she has over thousands of her social media fans, when you meet her, you’re instantly smitten with this very kind, conscientious and extremely warm-hearted survivor.

But first,  I know you’re dying to know, what’s the story about that name??

Michelle explains, “When I was researching my weight loss surgery options I went on a few message boards and I didn’t feel comfortable posting my before picture so I used a bacon and egg smile avatar. From time to time, I would share a recipe online and people started to say “Oh it was that Eggface girl’s recipe.” Eggface was born. It stuck.

Michelle honors me by sharing her story with CrackerJack Nutrition readers.

1.Was there a defining moment when you decided you had to  get WLS?

I had two big “straw that broke the camel’s back” defining moments. The first was my Dad dying at 67 years old of obesity related conditions: sleep apnea and heart failure. I knew I needed to make some changes or I was more than likely doomed to the same fate and maybe even earlier.

Michelle before WLS.

The second “straw” happened while watching the news coverage during 9/11. I remember listening to Charles Gibson on Good Morning America reporting that people who worked in the towers were having to evacuate the building, that some had to walk down 86+ flights of stairs, trudging down floor after floor, in single file, having to squeeze past firefighters in full uniform carrying hoses and emergency equipment on their way up to help those on upper floors. He said with no cabs, subways, or buses running to the area the workers were walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.

I remember thinking I can’t walk the length of the mall without needing several breaks…

there is NO WAY I could do that. It started me on a quest to address my weight again, 5 years later and after insurance issues I ultimately was able to self-pay for weight loss surgery.

I had gastric bypass surgery in 2006 and the 158-pound weight loss I achieved resolved all my health issues including the two issues sleep apnea and heart (high blood pressure) that my father had succumbed to as well as severe Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.

 I was able to eliminate 8 medications I had been on prior to surgery (many of which had weight gain, fatigue as side effects.)

It was the best decision I ever made and the helping hand I needed to make permanent life changes.

2. What’s the greatest misconception pre ops have about WLS?

I think many of us don’t recognize obesity as a chronic disease and don’t expect it will require lifetime monitoring and treatment.

We get hung up on reaching goal weights or clothing sizes and use that as a measure of success but there is no finish-line.

Having surgery is the beginning of a lifetime journey. Every day it’s waking up and making the best choices you can that day. From time to time, assessing what is working, what isn’t and what changes need to be made.

3. What online supports are available to WLS post ops?

There are so many great online supports from apps and websites that will help you remember your vitamins and water or find the healthiest restaurant options to online forums to chat with fellow post-ops.

Websites like this one with the convenient and helpful services CrackerJack Nutrition offers. Blogs from fellow post-ops documenting their journey.

When I was first having my insurance issues I stumbled on the Obesity Action Coalition website which has great resources and information.

Each year they host an event that I wouldn’t miss for the world called the Your Weight Matters National Convention. It’s a weekend of speakers on topics like nutrition, fitness, sleep, stress, emotional well-being and how those all effect our weight. It’s a great chance to meet people too. Attending it each year is a big piece of my support system. Hope to see some Crackerjack readers at this year’s event:

August 10-13 in New Orleans

If I can stress one thing to fellow post ops its to utilize everything at your disposal, build your support system, ask for help when you need it. We teach children if you need help, ask– and not to be ashamed –it is a lifetime lesson we need to remember

Michelle at Walk from Obesity event.

4. What’s been your greatest post op challenge?

By far, the emotional journey.

Counseling before and after weight loss surgery is so important and if it’s not part of your bariatric program seek it out.

For years, I blamed my weight on everything bad in my life. When the weight was gone, a light starts glaring on issues in my life that contributed to my obesity. Not wanting to deal yet, I did a little hiding and denying because that was easier and I wasn’t quite ready to do the work but difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. I just needed to decide it was time.

5. What’s been your NSV that blew your mind?

Years ago, I was with a group of friends, we attended a movie at a theater a few blocks from the ocean. After the movie, my friends suggested we walk to the ocean, physically it took its toll but I did it–thinking I’d have some time to recover as everyone watched the waves crash before having to head back. When we reached the ocean, my friends suggested continuing the walk down the length of the pier. I was hurting and that extra 1,954 feet to the end, and 1,954 feet back and the few blocks return trip was just not going to happen.

 I made a lame excuse and told my friends to walk the pier and I’d be waiting for them.

My NSV was the day I walked the length of the pier and several more miles on the same day without pain and ready for more!

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About the Author:

Elizabeth began her career in… broadcast journalism as a reporter, producer and anchor in her native state of Maine. She decided to get a Master’s Degree in Nutrition after realizing health science was more her style than covering crime stories, snowstorms and (snooze-fest) board meetings. Elizabeth has been a registered and licensed dietitian for 15 years and loves every energizing minute. Her passion for weight management and bariatrics was born out of her own struggle with food, weight and that inner critic. Elizabeth strives to listen deeply, without judgment and help each person set free the glorious being held hostage by weight wars. Elizabeth's philosophy takes the best from evidence-based science and mixes it with love to make the world taste good!

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