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Heather Traska – A One Woman Disney Magical Musical Moment

We are, in case you hadn’t already noticed, a Disney family.  The one very annoying but endearing habit my husband has is that he likes to learn the lyrics to all of the songs in a Disney movie before we go, then he likes to sing out loud in the theater when the songs he knows pop up.  And yes, we do still take him to the movies.

While browsing YouTube recently, perusing the Disney music videos, my husband came across this absolutely amazing video of a young girl, covering all of our favorite Disney songs from all of our favorite Disney movies.  I got goosebumps watching the video, and just knew I wanted to contact the maker of this magical musical moment!

And now that I know her and how wonderful she is, I wanted to introduce her to all of you.  She is talented, engaging, a huge Disney fan, talented, beautiful, and oh, did I mention how talented she is?  AND she reads the Walt Disney World Moms Panel!  AND this PHENOMENAL young woman is only 18 years old!!

Heather was kind enough to allow me to ask her a few questions so you could get to know her a little bit better.

Q. What is your favorite Disney movie?

Heather:  My favorite Disney movie (this is EXTREMELY difficult) is Mulan. I grew up watching it almost every week.  I love the characters. I love the story. I love the songs. It’s beautiful.  

Q. Have you had formal makeup training?  Your makeup changes are amazing!

Heather:  I haven’t had any makeup training. It’s just something I’ve always had “a knack for,” if you will. People used to make fun of me in middle school for taking risks with makeup, but I liked doing it. Eventually I started a YouTube channel and unleashed all of the looks that I had always been to shy to wear in real life.  

Q. Did you do the video yourself?  Have you considered a career in video production?  It’s amazing!

Yes, I did do the video myself. Believe it or not, it was shot with a basic digital camera. I was sitting on the floor for all of the filming too. It sounds strange, but it works. I record in my bedroom, so I make do with what I have. I’ve definitely considered making a career of it, but singing is my first love.  

Fun fact: I had no idea that I would learn how to edit video whatsoever when I first created my channel. I intended to do one-take, basic videos forever, and then one day I bought Final Cut Express (software) and found an unexpected passion for editing. Editing, for me, is like painting, but with screens. I like using colors and effects to enhance the video visually and emotionally. Perhaps that sounds silly, but that’s how I think. 

Q. Do you ever find yourself singing aloud in the movie theater during Disney movies?  (UGH, I do, and I don’t have a fraction of your talent!)


In all seriousness though, I went to see Beauty & The Beast: 3D a few weeks ago, and sang along the whole time. Thankfully there weren’t too many people in the theatre, but I couldn’t help myself. 

Q. Have you ever entered the American Idol Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?  How about the real American Idol?  You’re very talented!

I have! I performed at the American Idol Experience last year and sang “Reflection” from Mulan. I had an unbelievable time, and ended up winning the finale show that day! The stage itself was breath-taking. 

As far as the real show goes, I auditioned two years ago, and was rejected the very first round. It was discouraging, but a great experience, and I learned a lot!  (WHAT?  What the heck was wrong with those people??)

Q. Who is your favorite Disney character? 

I was torn a bit with the first question, but this one is just brutal! I guess I would have to pick Rapunzel from Tangled. She is sassy, but can also be extremely caring. She can fend for herself, regardless to what she had been told all her life. Most importantly, she had a dream and wouldn’t let anyone or anything stop her until she got it. 

Q. What is your favorite Disney song?

My favorite Disney song? Why is this so difficult?! Well, all of my favorites are in my Disney medley, so that’s my top 20(ish), but my favorite has to be “Reflection.” The first time I heard it, I couldn’t stop singing it for weeks. There was something in the lyrics that I instantly connected to emotionally. I still sing it regularly. 

I cannot thank Heather enough for doing this with me!  To subscribe to Heather’s YouTube channel, you can click http://www.youtube.com/user/heathertraska – which I promise you, you’ll want to do RIGHT NOW!  She offers tutorials on how to do the amazing makeup she’s done in her video, and you can enjoy her incredible voice in some of her other music videos (her Whitney Houston tribute is a MUST SEE!).  


What Happens When You’re Gastrically Altered – Dumping Syndrome, The Fun Never Ends!

While the common term for what we’re going to talk about today is Dumping Syndrome, I much prefer the alternative term – rapid gastric emptying.  As a fat chick, it sounds like the closest thing to exercise I’m going to get.

So here is essentially the deal of why dumping happens.  You’re happily eating away, ignoring the Eating Commandments of the Gastrically Altered (that’s another post for next time), and the food decides to completely bypass that whole annoying stomach thing ya got going and heads straight for the duodenum (which is that hard to pronounce funny thing also known as your upper small intestine).  The duodenum expands very quickly to accommodate the food, and, well my good gastrically altered friends, that’s when all hell breaks loose.

And now you want to know WHAT happens when this happens.  I know you do – you’re just curious little buggers!

Basically, the duodenum declares mutiny.  It recognizes that you’ve done something completely unacceptable and it’s pissed the hell off!  It rounds up its friends – the pancreas, the stomach, the lower intestine – and the revolution begins!

Sometimes, the symptoms begin mildly, with some nausea and maybe some dizziness.  Gradually, the Bodacious Bowel Brothers join the madness – you’ll recognize them when they arrive – cramping, bloating, and diarrhea.  Somewhere between all this nonsense, I end up laying on the bathroom floor, because accompanying all this happiness going on, you get so tired, so quickly, you can barely pick your head up in the most extreme cases.

But wait, there’s more!

There’s something called “Late Dumping”, which happens usually an hour or more after you’ve eaten (whereas plain old regular dumping is a fairly quick process – within a few minutes).  Late dumping is usually accompanied by just a complete body weakness, sweating, and oh yeah, more dizziness.  Remember that bathroom floor I spoke of?  It becomes your very best friend.

And as if you haven’t had enough fun yet, order your Dumping Syndrome now and we’ll include at no extra cost a hypoglycemic reaction!  (shipping and handling charges apply)

Now that you know what it is, how do you NOT get it?

You’re gonna hate this answer.  You have to watch your diet.  Bummer, right?

The main triggers for dumping syndrome are fats and carbohydrates.  Early dumping (the nausea, cramping, bloating, etc.) is generally associated with eating fats.  Because you are gastrically altered, fats don’t digest the same way they used to, and it can cause dumping.  Late dumping is often a carb related event.

If you are a frequent dumper – or if you have concerns that you might be – the solution is easy.  Skip the simple sugars and limit carbs and fats.  Spread your meals out over the course of the day into six smaller meals.  Oh, and don’t drink with your meal.  Taking some big swigs of water or tea or whatever your drink of choice may be can actually facilitate the rapid gastric emptying.  Drink after your meal has had time to digest or drink before (although I don’t recommend that, because you will fill your pouch with non-nutritive liquid as opposed to food).

In extreme cases, you may be required to take medication or worse – there are some sufferers who eventually require surgical intervention.

So there, in a nutshell, is Dumping.  You don’t want it.  Avoid it at all costs.

Oh, and learn what it feels like in your body at least once.  I mistakenly thought I was dumping when I actually had a life threatening bowel obstruction that required emergency surgery by the time I got to the hospital!

Disney’s The Secret World of Arrietty – Opens Friday!

I read The Borrowers so many times when I was a little girl, the book was falling apart by the time I finally parted with it.  That’s one reason I am beyond excited to share that we only have two more days to wait for the opening of The Secret World of Arrietty, the Disney movie based on The Borrowers.

Run, take your kids right after school, and relive this amazing story of the mysterious little people who borrow those little things we always find missing.  It’s a story every child should see.

What Happens When You Are Gastrically Altered? The Truth About Stuck

It’s stuck.  When I say that to someone, you have a pretty good idea of what stuck looks like.  Something is lodged somewhere and it won’t come out.  It might even conjure up humorous images.

You may even have an idea of what stuck feels like.  Maybe you’ve had a ring get stuck on a finger.  Or you’ve been washing dishes and momentarily had your hand stuck in a too small glass.  It’s not a comfortable feeling.

Imagine something is stuck on the INSIDE.  You swallow a bite of chicken, a forkful of spaghetti, a spoonful of rice.  You chew it, and it goes down, so it’s not that you’re choking, but then it stops.  It doesn’t feel like it goes into your stomach, it just kind of sits there, right around mid-chest, and makes you feel like freakin’ shit.

I’ve talked a lot about slider foods, and for me, part of the comfort of those slider foods is I know they won’t get stuck.  And for me, stuck is the worst feeling ever.  Part of what’s bad about “stuck” is that I don’t always know it’s going to happen.  I mean, sometimes, I can take a bite of some dry beef and know just by how long it’s taking me to chew it that the outcome is not going to be good.  But I have days where I can eat pasta without giving it a thought, and other days where pasta is my mortal enemy.

Stuck is very much a reality for many gastric bypass patients, but I never knew about it before surgery.  I went merrily along, re-learning how to eat, doing my best to get protein in, and had my first stuck encounter with a piece of chicken.  I didn’t quite know what was going on, and found myself laying on the bathroom floor, cradling the toilet, praying for death or vomit.  I would have happily taken either, but neither came.

I tried drinking water, thinking that whatever was going on, the feeling could be washed away.  Uh-uh.  Because something is stuck, what you end up with is a throat full of foam – and this is gross, so turn your head if you don’t want to read the rest – that gags you and chokes you as it foams up in the back of your throat.

For me, there is only one cure for Stuck.  That’s puke.  And it’s not even an easy puke.  You might think that if something upsets your stomach, you head for the toilet and it comes back up.  But because this doesn’t make it to your stomach, it’s not your stomach that will react to it.  So in you go, armed with something that will make you throw up.  For me, it’s a finger.  And I feel awful doing it, especially after watching numerous episodes of Intervention dealing with eating disorders.  But if I don’t get the food unstuck, I can’t function.

The worst part of stuck for me is that it seems one episode leads not only to pain for a few days, but also a tendency for other things to get stuck over the next few days.  This week alone, for example, we had rice on Wednesday, which got stuck.  Then I had beef on Friday, which also got stuck.  Then I had noodles on Saturday.  Yep, stuck.

You’re starting to see why nothing but chicken soup seemed a good idea to me for some time.

The best way to avoid Stuck is – chew your food slowly and thoroughly.  Don’t swallow pieces that are too big.  If something is dry, it’s not going down.  And be careful with things like rice and noodles.  Because they are easier to chew, we tend to eat them faster and they get stuck.

And if you’re out dining somewhere with someone who’s had gastric bypass surgery and they suddenly turn green and run from the table, don’t think it’s your lackluster conversation.  I’ve run from the table in some of the nicest restaurants and at some of the most inopportune times.  Don’t be offended.  It’s not your cooking, it’s my esophagus!

What Happens When You Are Gastrically Altered? A Slightly Off Track Story

There are reasons we want to lose weight and put ourselves through the surgery and the side effects.  I’d like to say I wanted to feel better, decrease my chances of heart disease and other obesity related illnesses, have more energy.

Honestly, when I weighed over 300 pounds, I didn’t know I lacked energy.  I still functioned and got everything done I needed to do.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I wanted to look better.  I wanted to look in the mirror and find a body that I was happy with looking back at me.  There were no delusions that I would suddenly be 5’10” tall and 120 pounds with gorgeous flowing blonde hair.  But I didn’t want the body I had glancing in my direction.

So now it’s Award season out in Hollywood, and all the celebrities I used to curse as I sat eating my bag of Cheese Curls in bed are dressing up and strutting their stuff on the red carpet.  They’re all glammed out, wearing designer gowns, thousands of dollars of borrowed jewelry, and looking, well, looking…..

REAL!!  Oh my feckin’ God!

I cannot tell you how exciting it is for a girl who grew up in the era of Twiggy to see some of the celebs walking the red carpet!  These are bodies I want my daughters to see!  These are the women who are truly breaking ground in Hollywood.  Forget it if you think it’s awesome that a black woman winning an Oscar is big news.  It’s a whole ‘nother level of freakin’ fantabulous to see a big girl walk up on that stage!  And they are GORGEOUS!

Not only are they strutting their stuff, the gowns have been really and truly beautiful!

They’re not all dressed in black, trying to camouflage their bigness – they are showing pride in their bodies, pride in themselves, and honoring all of us big girls by doing it up right.

And I gotta tell you, I get much more excited to see these big, beautiful women than I ever could looking at this:

You know those people that always say things to fat chicks like, “She’s got such a pretty face…”?  Yeah, well, so does she – give the bitch a sandwich.

Skinny is one thing – I don’t mean to dis you if you’re trim and fit and beautiful.  But for someone who grew up thinking I might not ever be good enough because I wasn’t tiny, I think I’ve FINALLY reached a new level of liking myself after comparing this

to this:

You go, girls.  I’m so proud to be big.