The Weight-Loss Story So Far
My Gastric Bypass Story From the Beginning to Now
Letting Go of the Old and Embracing the New Me
Making the decision and actually having Gastric Bypass surgery to lose weight has been a lifechanging experience for me. So far, this weight-loss journey has been difficult, rewarding, challenging and the best choice I’ve ever made. This is my story, from the beginning of my weight problem to now.
I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember. I don’t really know what it feels like to not be. Like everyone who has found themselves in this position, I’ll readily admit that I had an addiction to food. I was raised on fast or restaurant food nearly every single day and very few healthy choices available at home. I don’t blame anyone else for my weight. But, I also understand how fundamental healthy eating habits are from day one. Having a healthier foundation of food may not have saved me from obesity, I don’t know. But I do know it didn’t do me any favors.
When I was about 10, my mom (250 pounds) started to lose weight. She had been overweight most of her life, as well, and wanted the weight off. She read a book about weight loss and all its seductive freedom, and was motivated enough to keep it off. I remember being jealous of what she was accomplishing, wondering why I couldn’t do it myself. Tips my mom gave me were readily accessible. “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips!” or “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels!” were common. We still went out every night, she would just choose lower calorie items that kept her within her daily allowance.
Especially as a teenager, I hated myself. I was bullied, which led to self-deprecation that I didn’t have the capacity to handle. My weight, the food, my general coping mechanisms were all so contorted, and definitely anything but healthy. Although this point in my life was one of the darkest, it also tightened a resolve within me. Even if it didn’t do it today, or tomorrow, or even in a year – someday, I was going to lose this weight. I didn’t know how, or when it would happen, but I never lost hope that I could be healthy, and I have always referred to it as a certainty. “When I lose weight,” or “When I’m smaller.”
I was in such a deep denial about how big of a problem (literally!) I’d gotten myself into that I allowed all of those “when”’s to be pushed back, time and time again. I’d be so afraid of failing, that I would sabotage myself. Or I would get so upset about something and begin to justify eating those feelings as though it was an emergency situation that no one could blame me for. Food helped me keep that switch turned to OFF, and helped keep those feelings at bay. Of course, when I was empty again, I felt even worse, as well as stabbing pangs of guilt for using food to mask my feelings. And then I’d have to make those feelings stop, too, so I’d eat. And then I’d give up, convinced I could never do this.
Through every hard time in my life, food was always there, and always made me feel better. It’s not something I’m proud of, but that doesn’t change the fact that food comforted me. The weight had to come from somewhere, and given what my triggers for eating are and always have been, it’s become pretty clear that emotional eating is my biggest hang-up that’s always hindered my progress in the past. It’s where I always seemed to get tripped up and, as a result, give up.
I knew, in a general sense, what Gastric Bypass surgery was, and I had remained adamant for my entire adult life that I could lose the weight on my own if I tried, and I didn’t need to have my stomach stapled to see results. I just needed to have the willpower to resist the temptation to eat that came along whenever I was feeling particularly stressed. My weight had yo-yo’ed somewhat through my life, and while I’d always remained obese, I’d lost up to 100 pounds at one time. Granted, not in a healthy way, but this became my bargaining chip with myself. Putting it off because I could just do it later became my way of justifying trying to fill up that emotional space.
There was never any one event that pushed me over the edge, so to speak. It was a gradual build up of things, but most of all just being sick of my life. Living life at almost 450 pounds certainly wasn’t what I’d imagined my life to be. I never would have guessed when I was 20, that I’d still have all the weight I’d resolved to lose and then some by the time I turned 30. I just felt trapped by where I was, not sure where to summon the strength to try again when I knew that I was always my own worst enemy, always making the wrong choices.
Initially, the reason that I decided to look up more about Weight Loss Surgery was sheer curiosity. I had no idea how the different procedures worked and what kind of lifestyle was expected afterwards. I did an online seminar before I even called, soaking it all in and allowing my own mind to settle on this surgery as a possible solution for me. Would I benefit from it? Would I succeed? Would there be complications? Would I be able to give up everything required of me?
From the first day I walked into my surgeon’s office, I felt an assurance that this was the right path for me. I wanted to do this, I wanted to give myself this chance, because I have wasted enough of my life being tangled in something that’s done nothing but hold me back. There was a light at the end of the tunnel when I considered what my life would be like with Gastric Bypass. Even though I knew it wouldn’t be easy, and I wouldn’t be perfect, I also knew that this could be the missing piece. This tool could be exactly what I need to push me through into real success. I remember my surgeon looking shocked that I seemed so knowledgeable and sure about everything from the moment I walked into his office. I was ready for the change, because my solution hadn’t been working.
As difficult as it was (and believe me, it was – I gave up everything that was high in carbs, sugar, soda and cigarettes), I did it. I surprised even myself with how dedicated I was. My 6 month waiting period was full of self-reflection and learning. I started to listen to my body, and what it was telling me – if I needed to add more water, or eat some protein, or stop eating the carbs. Once I understood how my body worked and what it was trying to tell me, it was easy to hear it. I noticed things about my body that I never had before. That carbs tricked my body into making it think it was hungry when it wasn’t, for example. Or how much more awake and focused I was able to be when I had stayed away from the carbs.
From the first appointment with my surgeon until the morning of my surgery, I don’t think I lost more than 20 pounds in total. But I gained so much knowledge. Every time I cheated, and regretted it, I gained one more lesson about why I’m only hurting myself by cheating. I also learned very quickly that mentally beating myself up every time I screw up doesn’t do any good either. It’s all about picking yourself up and trying again, not losing the resolve for success. When I ate according to my surgeon’s plan and stuck to my diet, I learned quickly how much healthier I felt and how the scale reacted to it. I learned how important celebrating the small victories is. From the moment I was wheeled into surgery, I felt ready and prepared for this change. I knew what was required of me, and I had faith in myself that I could accomplish my goals – for the first time, I truly believed it. I’d already accomplished more than I thought I could.
It’s now been nearly 2 months, and in that time, I’ve lost more than 40 pounds. I’m not eating that much now even though I’ve been cleared to eat most foods. All of the nutrition I need, I get from my protein shakes and my daily vitamins. Anything I eat past that is just extra protein, calories, etc. I still eat sometimes, things like eggs, yogurt or cheese, tuna or vegetables, but I don’t eat even a small percentage of what I used to eat, and some days I don’t even eat. Part of the surgery involves decreasing the hormone in the stomach that makes you feel hungry, and I definitely have noticed that, but it feels good. I feel like I have more room to find myself and figure out who I am under all the weight. And that’s so exciting for me.
My only regret with this surgery, as cliche as it may sound, is that I didn’t have it done earlier. I look back at all of the life that I missed out on, both as a teenager and then the entirety of my 20’s, and I definitely feel that sting. I missed out. It’s time that I’ll never get back. And even though I’ve made my peace with that, and decided to look towards the awesome future I’ll have instead, I really wish I would have stood up and taken my own life back sooner. Maybe there is a reason I was supposed to wait. But even as long as the road ahead may be, it feels so incredible to know that I’m finally traveling it. I’m here, and I’ve made it this far.
It’s hard not to be impatient when it comes to getting all the weight off – I struggle most with feeling frustrated that it’s not all just vanishing! – but it’s helping me to learn the extent of damage that I caused my body by being so big, and giving me lots of time to dream about what my future will be like. Healthy and happy, and I won’t settle for anything less!