Creeping out of the weight loss surgery closet… could it be worth it?

The topic of whether or not to share the decision to have weight loss surgery with others is often brought up in weight loss surgery forums and blogs. It’s a personal decision and I usually find there are two “camps” 1) people that stay incredibly private about their decision or 2) people that are an open book.

Since beginning this process 20 months ago, I have remained pretty private about the whole thing. I told limited family and friends about my decision – basically only the people I absolutely knew would provide me with support. I’m a sensitive person and I care what people think of me. I wish I were a bit more evolved and didn’t care at all (I envy those kinds of people), but I have enough self-awareness to know that being the recipient of judgment and negativity was going to hinder my ability to stay on course (as an emotional eater that hasn’t completely conquered my issues).

When people ask me what I’m doing to lose weight, I jokingly respond with “I don’t eat a thing that tastes good” and the subject usually changes. Nobody has ever really pushed the issue. I have never been asked if I’ve had weight loss surgery, although people do ask my mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and closest friends. I made it clear to these individuals that they are free to answer the question however they would like… as I do not expect them to lie for me. That’s a terrible position to put somebody in and when asked, these individuals respect my privacy by saying “I don’t know, you’d have to ask her!” – which of course, nobody ever seems to do.

I was asked a few months ago by someone on Facebook in a private message what I did to lose the weight. I knew this person to be a trustworthy person so I confided in her my decision to have surgery because she is someone that could potentially benefit from it, though she would be a lightweight. She was very supportive and told me she was proud. I have been much more likely to put pictures on Facebook lately and so of course, I get more questions about what I’ve been doing.

Two days ago, a girl I graduated high school with asked me what my secret was… and I know this girl to be overweight enough to qualify for surgery. I had an internal debate on how to answer her. On one hand, I desperately wanted to share with her my experience and to be completely honest… and on the other hand, I know she lives in my small hometown and that when you tell one person, you might as well tell everyone. I started a conversation with her this evening just simply offering to her a list of what I eat everyday… but we got to talking and I could almost feel her desperation (that’s a bad word, but I can’t think of anything more appropriate) to regain her health and happiness.

I threw out the idea of weight loss surgery by saying something along the lines of, “I think a person needs to do whatever they can to get where they need to be… I think weight loss surgery is great, doctors, nutritionists, therapy, etc.” When I said this, she said she thought she could do it on her own and that “The idea of surgery scares the crap out of me… too many bad stories about that” Immediately I knew that she had this idea in her head of the neighbor’s, uncle’s, best friend’s, brother that had surgery and died! I immediately felt compelled to say “NO, WAIT! LOOK AT ME! I had surgery and I am great!”

Honestly… that’s kind of how it went from there. I told her that after losing 100+ lbs in a supervised diet, I had a long way to go and I needed more help. I told her that I had a surgery less invasive than gastic bypass, but very effective. She immediately started asking me genuine questions and the information started to pour out of me. I shared with her my first progress picture and the pic of me at 18 months out from the start of the supervised diet wearing the same clothes. She was amazed. She asked more questions…. I could literally feel her hope and energy coming through the computer. She’s about to take a trip to Disney and has already asked me if we could talk when she gets back. She wants to know more about the doctors I used, the surgery I had, and all of my experiences. Like I said, I could feel her hope and energy through the screen… and I was immediately glad I shared the information.

I’m not ready to tell the world I have had surgery. I am not ready to make some kind of Facebook announcement or to be the poster child for the VSG; however, with the way I am feeling in this very moment after this conversation…. if the entire town I come from finds out I’ve had surgery and the “secret” is out, then so be it. The idea that within just a few minutes I could give someone like her… who is in the exact some position I was in less than 2 years ago, hope for the future (regardless of whether or not she goes through with it), then it has become 100000% worth it. I actually never expected to feel that way about it and who knows maybe I will change my mind if everyone actually does find out and start questioning me HA HA! But right now, I am so very glad I made myself vulnerable!

Rollercoaster NSV (w/ pics) & Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted… but things have been going well. Like so many other people that have surgery, lose weight, and then sort of “disappear” from blogs and message boards, I’m just living life and finally experiencing all of the things I’ve felt that I’ve been missing for the past 7 or 8 years! I’ve been trying to keep busy this summer… maybe a little too busy (with work), but I’ve also been trying to have a lot of fun!!

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to cross a “30 by 30” task off of my list in the form of a rollercoaster NSV! The last time I was on a rollercoaster was almost exactly 9 years ago. My husband and I had just started dating and we decided to spend a weekend at Hershey Park in Hershey, PA. At the time, I would estimate that I weighed about 260 lbs (since I was about 245-250 when I met him and later that year in November, I was 274 at a doctor’s appointment). We had a great time on that day 9 years ago, but I will admit that it was a little bit upsetting (and a bit of an eye-opener) when it became apparent that I was on the verge of not being able to ride any of the rides due to my weight. Some of the rollercoaster seatbelts and fasteners were pretty close to not latching like they should. Needless to say, we haven’t been back since that day because my weight continued to climb until I hit my heaviest of 444 lbs in November 2012!

I’ve been bugging my husband for the last couple of months to go back so that I could ride on these rides. Finally, we did that yesterday and it really was a great time! Although, we did find that now that we’re older… we’re not as “care free” and are a little more afraid of dying on these rides than we used to be hahaha!

It truly is an amazing feeling to be able to walk around the park for hours and stand in line without being in pain… it’s amazing to sit in the seat without worry of having to get off due to my size… and it’s amazing to finally get to do something I’ve been longing to do for so many years. Focusing on being able to do things like this have become really important, since I’ve been in the same weight window of about 194-200 lbs for the past 4-5 months.

Now, for the pics! At the entrance of the park, they have measurement signs to show you how tall you have to be in order to ride certain rides. To be goofy, I stood next to one.. you know… just to make sure at almost 5’10” I would make the cut LOL!

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Here is a pic from the “Stormrunner” roller coaster of my husband and I from 2005. We were 20-21 years old in this pic lol! I was about 260 lbs in that pic.

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Here is a pic from the same “Stormrunner” roller coaster of my husband and I from yesterday. Feeling comfortable in the seat at around 198 lbs! :)

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Can 29 Beat 28? One Year Until 30!!

Woohooo – today is my birthday! I’m a person that really likes birthdays…. as my Dad would always make a big deal about it when I was a kid. It was my “special day” – where we got to do what I wanted, when I wanted, eat whatever I wanted for dinner, and usually the gift was pretty nice too! Honestly, in our household, birthdays were always a much bigger deal and have many more happy memories than Christmas. It felt like the one day of the year that I got whatever I wanted and didn’t have to feel guilty about it!

I will admit, since moving away from home, birthdays haven’t felt nearly as special. Add in the fact that my husband’s family never really got too excited about birthdays (they are big into Christmas though) and he doesn’t really make it special in anyway… they have almost lost their appeal. Last year I had a root canal on my birthday for crying out loud! It’s wasn’t a good time, that’s for sure.

Last year, I declared that 28 was going to be “my year” and boy was it! I took a look back at my food tracking app and noticed that at my birthday last year, I was 307.4 lbs… already down about 137 lbs from the 7 months prior. I was on top of the world at that point and couldn’t imagine things getting so much better…. but here I am, living and loving life… weighing in at 194.6 this morning and celebrating getting another year older.

I decide to do something that I never do today and that was take a selfie and post it on Facebook. I’m not entirely open about my surgery with people in my real life, so drawing the extra attention to myself by posting selfies was never really my thing. But, I decided I was going to embrace the attention and compliments on my “special day” and just go for it! Plus, maybe if people on Facebook see pictures of me online, then they won’t be so shocked to see me in person and they’ll calm down a little about how I look haha!

Posting the picture though made me realize that I have a longgggg way to go in the mental aspect of this whole thing. I look at the picture below and although I think I look nice it… I’ve noticed myself focusing in heavily on my mid-section! I can’t stop looking at the bulge in my dress and feeling so frustrated that it’s there. I mean, I know I need to get a grip…. but it’s bothering me that I’m focusing so heavily on it. Maybe most people can’t even see it LOL – why do I do this to myself?

I am having plastics at the end of September, but my body will never be perfect… so I really need to figure out how to get a better attitude about the way I look. It’s something to work on at the next therapy appointment, that’s for sure! I know I’m being ridiculous… but it’s not like feeling are always rational, right?

So anyway… I’m 29 today and looking forward to the upcoming year. I hope it’s even better than the last. The name of this blog is Flirty by Thirty because I had a desire to get back to feeling good, looking good, and being healthy by the time I hit 30 years old. I have one year left, and I think I can make it happen ;)

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Trying to appreciate the little things when weight loss has stopped! (w/ pics)

I’m like most people. I love losing weight. The high I feel when I get on that scale and see the number go down has always been something I’ve always craved and enjoyed! The real down side is that the feeling is just as intense, in a bad way, when you see the number go up. I’ve always wondered how mentally difficult it would be to maintain weight and I’m finding that so far, I’m not very good at it!

I’m not very good at it because my weight has very dramatic swings on the scale. As you may recall, I wrote a post not that long ago about gaining 13 lbs in a single week! Of course, that weight came off quickly… but with me, it seems as though just as soon as I get the weight off, I’m gaining back up and sometimes slightly over my “comfortable weight limit” and it really takes no effort at all to make that happen. I’m not sure what it is about my body that makes it so easy for me to gain and then to lose it quickly… but it’s been mentally tough to work with, that’s for sure! The good news is that I’ve come to understand that this is how it’s going to be and so controlling it has been something I’ve been improving!

So anyway, I don’t really get the high too much anymore, because it’s rare that I see a “new all-time low” on the scale. That number was 193.8 and this morning I was 195.4 – down from the 202.2 I was on Saturday (I know, right? I lose it just as quickly as I gain it sometimes). I’m not actively trying to lose weight due to all the things going on in my life, though I wouldn’t complain if the weight loss continued to happen. So, since I’m in this “temporary, but possibly permanent, who really freaking knows” maintenance phase… I’ve been trying to focus on the NSVs and little things to try and get myself in a mentally positive place!

This morning, I realized I didn’t have to teach any classes or have meetings at work so I could wear jeans – woohoo! I only own two pairs at the moment (any weight loss surgery patient knows that buying too many items of clothing for the first couple of years could be a waste of money!) and so I grabbed a pair and put them right on and I had an epiphany.

When was there ANY time in my life, where I didn’t dread or avoid washing/drying jeans for fear that they wouldn’t fit the next time I went to put them on? The answer is that there hasn’t been. Even when I was this weight in high school, I was always losing/gaining and never maintaining and so this lack of worry about my jeans fitting is completely new to me. I took a moment to stop and appreciate this very little victory!

The me in the pictures below on the left was always worried about things like this – fitting in chairs, restaurant booths, airplanes, seatbelts, breaking things, fitting into clothing, having to order clothes online, and washing/drying jeans (just to name a few). It’s so freely to not feel that way anymore!!

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Plastic Surgery Scheduled!!

It’s been way too long since I’ve posted an update. I haven’t spent much time online in blogs, Facebook groups, or OH in awhile because live has just been so busy, I can’t seem to keep up with everything. I always have exciting things I want to share and I want to be able to get back to people that write to me, but I’ve been lousy at keeping in touch! :/

Some exciting news that I did want to share is that I have scheduled plastic surgery – woohoo! I had a second plastics consult on June 6th with a doctor in the hospital system where I had my surgery. He was a nice guy that seemed to have decent skills, but I decided to schedule surgery with Dr. Capella in New Jersey for a few reasons. First, he was amazing and the work he does looks like it’s top notch. His price was reasonable and I trust him.

The doctor I met with a week or so ago said that he could do two procedures at a time – since my priorities are my arms and lower body, he said he could do a lower body lift and arm lift together. I was a little disappointed with this, since Dr. Capella had said that he could do a lower body lift, breast lift, and arm lift all at once. This leaves me potentially with no other surgeries needed (well…. not “needed” but you know what I mean). If I don’t think I want implants or an inner thigh lift afterwards, then I won’t be doing anything else… because at least the breasts will be lifted! The last thing I want is a somewhat normal looking body because my arms/lower body looks good and then saggy boobs! Another selling point? The doctor from last week said doing just those two procedures would leave me in the OR for 11 hours – what!? 11 hours! lol…. I am much more comfortable with the fact that Dr. Capella can do those 3 procedures in 6 hours…. I think his OR time speaks to his skills… but of course, I could be wrong!

One thing I was surprised by with my consult last week were the example pictures the surgeon showed me. To be honest, it looks like he does decent work but I found it a little hard to tell since ALL of the patients he seems to operate on are still very heavy. I know that I’m not in a “normal” BMI and that I still have some extra weight on me too…. but his patients started out in the “before” pictures very heavy and so in the after pictures… they of course looked better… but still very heavy, and it was hard to tell if that was the reason they didn’t look as I thought they would or if was the surgeon’s skill? I don’t know…. I’m not really sure!

Either way, I’m happy with my choice and excited that I’ve put down a deposit and have a scheduled date of Thursday, September 25th. I’ve requested the time off of work and everything is falling into place! My 29th birthday is coming up soon…. so that leaves one more year until I’m “flirty by thirty” lol (that’s so corny) and I think it’s not going to be a problem at all :o)

So… gainining 13lbs in a week isn’t fun!

Things have been pretty busy lately. It all started the weekend before last when my friend and I decided to visit another friend of mine that lives in the Philly area. The weekend was full of girl-time and shopping… I had a blast! During this trip, I thought a lot about how if my friend had suggested the visit 18 months ago, I wouldn’t have gone. Why? Well, there are a lot of things I would’ve been concerned about because of my weight that would’ve prevented me from going, here are a few:

  • Riding for 3 1/2 hours in my friends tiny car – would I even fit? I KNOW the seatbelt wouldn’t have.
  • Sleeping on a full-size air mattress with my friend – we wouldn’t have fit and I probably would’ve popped it… literally!
  • Walking around ALL DAY at the outlet malls and being in physical pain
  • Are people in the “fancy normal size people” stores be looking at me and wondering “What is she doing here?!?!”
  • Going shopping at the outlet malls all day, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to buy anything.
  • Breaking my friend’s toilet, dining room chairs, hell – even her living room furniture

The list could probably go on and on… but the good news is that I’m living a life now where I don’t need to worry about these kinds of things and let me tell you, it’s incredibly freeing!

The bad news is that this girl-time (with lots of eating/drinking wine) set off another 5 days of eating/drinking whatever I wanted while I traveled for work. I ended my week long road trip in south-central PA with my cousin’s wedding last Saturday and finally I drove myself home.

When I left for the girl’s trip in Philly on a Friday evening, I had weighed in at my all-time low weight of 193.8lbs. When I weighed-in on Sunday (something I really didn’t want to do, but I forced myself to do because I REFUSE to put my head in the sand and ignore my weight), the scale said 206.4lbs. That’s right… an  increase of 13 lbs!

Seriously, how in the hell does a person gain 13 lbs in a single week? This is the story of my life! I realize this isn’t 13 lbs of fat, but I do know some of the weight gain was real. I made an observation on a forum thread reply earlier this week that I think is worth repeating.

What I’ve learned about my body is that it is incredibly sensitive to poor eating and I believe this is a major factor in why I’ve given up so easily in the past on previous attempts to lose weight. I would lose maybe 20 lbs… have a few bad days and get back on the scale to find 6 or 7 lbs gained back. At the time, I got upset, irrational, discouraged, and didn’t consider the fact that these lbs could come right back off if I could just get right back on track. Instead… I gave up!

I’m grateful to know this about myself now. When I saw the 206.4 lbs on the scale, I didn’t panic… but I was worried enough to say “Ok… get yourself together!” and I got right back on plan on Sunday. I feel as though I became just the right amount of “worried” – I didn’t panic and feel guilty, but I didn’t just shrug my shoulders and say “Oh, I’m just retaining water!”

I’m happy to say that when I weighed in this morning, I was 197.6 lbs. So, just like the weight shot up, it has shot back down about 9 lbs in the last 4 days. The goal now is to try and get back to that 193 lbs and then go back to my plan of maintaining my weight during my stressful summer. I’m going to focus on being more consistent in maintaining – rather than either being strictly on plan or completely “off the rails” with my eating and drinking of calories!

Here is a pic of myself and my little cousin at the wedding and also a selfie in the mirror the other day!

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Plastic Surgery Consult #1

Yesterday was my first plastic surgery consult. Although I sent pictures to Dr. Sauceda in Mexico for a quote, I haven’t actually spoken with a plastic surgeon directly regarding body contouring surgery. My appointment yesterday was with Dr. Joseph Capella in Ramsey, NJ. I have heard so many great things about him and his work looks excellent (from the pictures I have seen online) so I thought I would check him out! Ramsey isn’t necessarily CLOSE to me, but I figured the 4 hour drive would worth it if I could finally feel whole again after the removal of all of the excess skin!

I have heard so many great things about Dr. Capella as a person and how he has an excellent bedside manner. Still, I was not prepared for how absolutely incredible he was in person. No joke… I may have fallen in love with him a little bit HA HA! I haven’t met too many physicians in my life that are down to earth and friendly – let alone a surgeon. He was so incredibly kind, patient, and encouraging. He was so pleasant and smiling the entire time I was there and he was just so genuine. Clearly he is a very talented and intelligent man.

The good news: he thinks I’m an excellent candidate for surgery. He estimated that he would remove about 10 lbs through the breast lift, extended arm lift, and lower body lift procedures. I realize that is not just pure skin, some fat will come off with it… but after losing 250 lbs, my body is a mess and I’m so looking forward to feeling good about myself with the clothes OFF! Dr. Capella was very impressed with my weight loss and the fact that my body was in really good shape – especially considering I’ve lost 250 lbs. He doesn’t feel that I need to lose any more weight either – regardless of my “overweight” status on a BMI chart. I was happy to hear that since I was worried he might say “You need to lose 20 more lbs before I’ll operate on you!”

He said he would do surgeries in two stages. First, the surgeries I mentioned above. Although he doesn’t think I’ll need more than a breast lift and that I may not want/need an inner thigh lift after the first round, he said he could do those two procedures separately after 3 months of healing from the others. If I end up being the 34C he anticipates when all is said and done, I wouldn’t care about implants… I guess my only worry is that my breasts would be lifted, but not look “full” – fullness is all I care about, not necessarily having a bigger chest. I’m unsure as to what I think about the thigh lift… I think I still might need it… but we’ll wait and see.

I was so convinced I would have to take the trip to Mexico and have everything done – but to be honest, I think I’d rather stay close to home and have my work done by Dr. Capella earlier – even if it means I can’t get a thigh lift done due to money and time off work. That’s how great he was and how great his work looks – at least in my eyes. He was also just so enthusiastic about giving me great results. He said repeatedly (with a huge smile), “I think you will be so happy with your results, I really think we can get you exactly what you’re looking for” and it really was very comforting. Comfort isn’t enough though…. if his work wasn’t amazing, I wouldn’t let his charisma alone convince me lol!

I’m hoping to have this done at the end of September – earlier than the December timeframe I originally planned. If I didn’t have to travel all the way to Mexico and go when my husband could be off (he’s a teacher) then there is no point in waiting – in my opinion. Like I said in my last post, I want to have kids within the next couple of years… so I have to finish with the “me time” and self improvement projects before priorities change lol!

So excited!!