Cameras weren’t my friend. Or mirrors, or big storefront windows where I could see my reflection when walking by. The person reflected back to me didn’t match up with who I was in my mind. I couldn’t be that big, could I? I know I had gained weight and struggled with weight for the last […]
Cameras weren’t my friend. Or mirrors, or big storefront windows where I could see my reflection when walking by. The person reflected back to me didn’t match up with who I was in my mind. I couldn’t be that big, could I? I know I had gained weight and struggled with weight for the last 10 years or so…but really? That was me? So it’s not with pride that I show you this picture, but with hope that maybe my story, the journey I am on, will help just one person know that there are options for them.
I had always been thin through high school and college with minimal effort on my part. I didn’t start to gain weight until after both of my boys were born. Over the last several years I have tried every diet out there… from pre-packaged foods, shakes, points, meetings, Beach diets, points again, group meetings, exercise tapes, classes, diet supplements, prescription diet drugs…I was successful for a few weeks or a few months, but nothing ever seemed to stick. For some reason, I would go back to old habits and feel the sting of another failed try. I am a Registered Nurse, an educated person. I knew what I needed to do, but for some reason I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t ever able to find “The Thing” needed to flip the switch to turn my life around. I am a believer that overweight people have reasons for being where they are. Some eat to soothe a pain, because of a death, a birth, an illness, a life altering event. We eat because we are alone, or with a group, because we are happy or we are sad. I say this because I was not looking to blame anyone, or blame events that life had thrown my way. I took full responsibility for my weight gain. I was, after all, the one who ate those Little Debbies, the one that made and ate the cookie dough, and the one that avoided exercise at all costs. I believe life happens and we do what we can with the knowledge and tools that we have at the time to get through as best we can. So after a while, I became resigned to the fact that I was just going to be a big girl. And I became ok with that. I was a happy person, I had a loving family, great friends, and I still participated in life… I was funny, made jokes about my weight or my size to ease the pain that was there. I was a healthy person too, except for the excess weight I carried around. I didn’t have diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea. But I also knew that was the path that I was blazing down. So I was the big girl, and I was ok with that…until one day I wasn’t.
I had never really considered having weight loss surgery. I had only seen or heard negative things about it. I thought I didn’t need it. Honestly, I thought it was an easy out. But one day, I woke up just sick of what I had become. Sick of the weight, the uncomfortable reality of just being too big to get around in life easily. I had always thought I could do the weight loss on my own, but that morning I realized that I needed help. If I had been able to do it by myself, I would have done it by now. There were a lot of tears that day, a lot of feelings of guilt and sorrow, not only to my family for becoming this person, but to myself. A close friend of mine said she had gone to the NKCH Bariatric Center informational seminar and told me about it. She was going to have surgery! Of course then, I needed to find out about it too!! I couldn’t let her get skinny by herself! I went and opened my mind to what possibilities were available. Surely I had tried enough other things, that I needed a new option. So through the information Dr. Berghoff gave me, the expertise of Jackie the dietician at the clinic, research I did on my own and prayerful consideration I made the decision to have Gastric Bypass surgery. There are some key things I remember that really made an impression on me that Dr. Berghoff had shared at the first meeting:
- #1 Studies have shown that most obese people are not successful at weight loss with diets alone, and are even unsuccessful with a combination of diet and pharmaceuticals (diet pills).
- #2 He said that he could do the surgery, and it would be a successful surgery, because not to brag but he was a really great surgeon (my words there, not his!) … so he could do his part of the job…but if it was not accompanied by the lifestyle changes that were needed (right food choices and exercise…my part of the job) the surgery would be basically useless for weight loss.
- #3 In combination…surgery PLUS lifestyle changes, obese people could be successful in losing AND maintaining the weight loss. So what I had initially thought was an easy way out, was actually not easy, but a lifetime commitment that I was ready to make. I had to do the work, make the right food choices, commit to the exercise…but making these lifestyle changes in collaboration with the “tool” Dr.Berghoff had given me…my Gastric Bypass, I could be successful with losing weight and keeping it off! I became hopeful and excited for the journey!
I had my surgery on October 14th, and I couldn’t be happier with the decision I made. I told several people, family and friends included, that I was having the surgery. A few people were not on board with my decision, my mom at first being one of them. She exclaimed, “Absolutely NOT!!” when I told her I was going to have weight loss surgery, but I knew what I needed to do for myself and was committed to my decision. (On a side note, my mom came around and was an excellent support all through my recovery process, my prayer warrior and has been a great cheerleader!) I did hear a lot of whispers from people concerned with my choice, whispers of not being able to imagine going through a liquid diet or couldn’t imagine changing the way they ate for a lifetime. I countered those thoughts with a knowledge that most people saying this probably couldn’t imagine going through life being my size anyway, so their misgivings about weight loss surgery were from a perspective that I didn’t share, but that I understood. My husband and boys were my #1 fans. They supported my decision and have been incredibly awesome. I came home from the hospital to a giant homemade card that said “The road to Slim-ville has begun! We, your family, will support and experience this journey with you. We love you and want to encourage you! We want to be a healthier family, and your example will take our family to the next level. May God bless our family. We love you!”
I am now 4 ½ months out of surgery and have lost about 70 lbs! S -e- v- e- n- t- y!! Isn’t that crazy??!! I am eating “normal” foods just in small portions and I am not hungry. I am going to the gym. I actually have energy and moving around is so much easier being lighter. I remember that Dr. Berghoff had said back pain, knee and joint pain will go away when you start to lose the weight and he was 100% right! I am down 5 pant sizes and am having so much fun shopping in smaller sizes! I still have weight to lose, and my transformation isn’t complete but I am absolutely loving the way I feel and enjoying every step of this journey. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been smooth. There were some foods that I tried and they didn’t feel good going down, and yes, they came back up. I remember Jackie saying, “We are not doing surgery on your brain, we are doing surgery on your stomach. So all of your thoughts and feelings, the habits you have about food will still be there.” So it shouldn’t have come as a shock when I had that first meal that I got full and then got mad because I really wanted to keep eating!! So much of my “hunger” was really in my mind. I am still learning a lot about my new self and still a “newbie” at this but I wanted to share my story because it has been such a positive experience. The support of the staff at the Bariatric Center is awesome and I really feel that they have become my friends, and my champions. If reading my story will help just one person open their mind to the idea that there are options for them for weight loss, if my story will give just one person hope knowing that they don’t have to spend another minute being uncomfortable in their own skin…then it was worth it to post my “before” picture.
PS…My girlfriend that I mentioned earlier that had told me about the NKCH Bariatric Center had her surgery the week after me. She had the Gastric Sleeve. She is also doing amazing!! See what trouble friends can get you into!!