Well, tomorrow is the day! I started this journey on November 20th, when I had my first consult with the doctor at the weight management clinic where I live. Throughout the past six months (one week shy), I have lost 108.8 lbs. These are my thoughts, reflections, and advice based on my (very limited) experience. (Warning: Long Post!)
I didn’t go to the first consult with the expectation that I would be starting the process for surgery. The doctor felt that weight loss surgery was my best chance at becoming healthy. It was startling… I felt numb after the conversation. I couldn’t believe that I had gotten myself to this place. So, I started the process just in case I went that route and decided right in that moment that I was going to do everything she told me to…. Hell, I was going to be the best effing patient she has ever seen!!
When I got home and told my husband about what the doctor said he was shocked. I asked him why and he said, “I thought surgery was for people that were in really bad shape as a last resort?” It was at that point that I “came clean” to him. I had never shared some of the toughest things about being this size to him and I have certainly never told him my weight – ever! I remember tossing a BMI chart at him (400 lbs max) and I said, “See this BMI chart? I’m not on it…. I’m literally off the charts. I weigh 444 lbs… I am in bad shape… I am at the last resort.” It’s kind of strange, but telling him what I weigh was kind of freeing. In fact, I’ve told a lot of the people that know I’m having surgery (which isn’t a ton) what I weigh. For some reason it feels like a way to take accountability and responsibility for my situation. I like how it has made me feel “lighter” in a sense.
When it came to the supervised diet, I’ve done so much of what I was told to do. I immediately started using the LoseIt app to track every bite of food. I stayed under 1600 calories every day, stopped drinking soda, stopped drinking caffeine, started drinking 100 ounces of water per day and completely avoided sugar and simple carbs. I found that after about 2 ½ weeks, the cravings subsided and I began to feel the physical change. I no longer craved those things that I loved so much. I thought to myself, “Wow! I don’t want to have to get this crap out of my system again… I’m going to avoid it altogether!” and that’s what I did.
These past six months have been met with some ups and downs though. I’ve experienced stalls, I’ve gotten tired of the healthy eating, I’ve been in a funk or two. Then of course, I faced the social situations that kill most eating plans – Thanksgiving, Christmas, weddings, work functions, Easter, the “evil” girl scouts and their damn cookies! However, I knew that slipping up meant a backslide in the cravings department and I resisted.
I’ve also struggled with the mental aspect of this journey. I’ve asked myself “Is this the right choice for me?” I don’t think that you lose as much weight as I have during the six month supervised diet without questioning whether or not you really “need” surgery. I did a lot of self-reflection, I looked at the statistics, and I looked at my past history and I asked myself, “What is going to give me the best chance at losing all the weight and keeping it off for life. What is going to help me to truly change my lifestyle?” For me, the conclusion was surgery. Maybe if I had 100 or 150 lbs to lose, I could have done it on my own. But, I don’t think that’s my journey now after having gained 270 lbs in 10 years. It is truly difficult to lose that amount of weight on your own and keep it off for the long run. I need to get to a place where I’m healthy and I need to do it fast.
I’ve also struggled emotionally throughout this journey. One of the reasons that I started the process to becoming healthy was the loss of my father-in-law on November 1st. He passed away (what felt like suddenly) from colon cancer and he was only 62. I was there for his final days and felt the pain and anguish of knowing that a loved one was going to be leaving you forever. I watched my mother-in-law (who is the best MIL ever), hold the hand of her husband of 35 years and say goodbye to him in his final moments. I held my husband (the most non-emotional person on the planet) as he sobbed. It was terrible and heartbreaking. When the dust settled, I really started to think – my god, this could be me. I’m putting myself in a position where I’m looking at an early death. That could be me lying there, with my husband and children (if I could have any) grieving and for what purpose? Because I couldn’t get my head on straight and take care of myself? It was a really eye opening experience.
I also struggle with the fact that while having children at this size may be physically possible (but probably really difficult) it was not something I was willing to do. I do want kids… I thought I would have kids already. But, I REFUSE to have children before I’m healthy. It’s not safe, and I don’t feel as though it would be fair to my children to not be able to be the kind of Mom they should have. The kind of Mom that has energy and can physically pick them up and carry them around. I want to set a good example for them as well so that they never have to feel what I have felt all these years. I personally did not feel capable of being a good Mom at 444.2 lbs along with the mental health issues that still plagued me. I always said that I wouldn’t get married until I was a healthy weight (vanity reasons) and that didn’t happen… the kids issue is non-negotiable.
So, I thought I might pass on a few things to all of you that I have learned along the way and my friendly advice. First, I learned that for me, there is no room in my journey (at this time) to “plan” for off plan eating, cheat days, or whatever else you want to call it. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I didn’t slip up a couple (literally) times during the six months; however, what I’ve come to know about myself is that I cannot just have a “little bit” of something. You have to get back on the wagon immediately. Do not wait for tomorrow… do not wait for Monday. You HAVE to get control over it right away. For me, I have to be militant and plan to be “on course” 100% of the time. Maybe someday this will change… but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. What I’ve learned about myself is that I have a serious issue with food and I would be kidding myself to think that continuing to do what I’ve done in the past will yield a different result. Isn’t that the definition of insanity, lol?
I would also recommend to anyone out there that is just starting their supervised diet to take advantage of this opportunity to truly work on changing your habits. I was inspired to lose as much weight as possible by acbrown (Allison) and to her I say thank you!! Initially, I looked at the supervised diet as a nuisance and a curse… but I’ve come to realize that for me it has been a blessing and an opportunity. I’m in such a better physical and mental place and I feel ready to take on the world! I think that it has set me up for a successful future, but we shall see. What I do know is that when I see posts on the OH boards about people not wanting to lose too much weight before surgery because it will “slow down their loss for after surgery” or something like that, it makes me cringe. I realize there are some circumstances where patients are asked to maintain, but not wanting to lose weight slower AFTER surgery is the wrong mindset IMHO.
Another key to the success that I have had so far has been seeing a therapist. I had a lot of issues that I needed to work through and although I’ve come a long way over the years on my own, I needed to have that outlet. It’s so nice to have a supportive therapist that listens, acts as a sounding board, and gives me a few tools here and there to deal with certain situations. I’ve found that therapy has helped me by just giving me the opportunity to talk about what’s bothering me to someone that doesn’t know me.
Sometimes, just explaining a feeling or situation to my therapist – who essentially is a stranger – makes me realize just how stupid I sound when I say it out loud! I come to a lot of conclusions and resolve a lot of things on my own through this therapy process and “talking it out.” I have to thank SleeveGirl (Candy) for my decision to finally talk to someone. She doesn’t know it, but when I first joined the boards, she made a post about how seeking out a therapist was one of the best things she’s ever done in her weight loss journey and if you have ever seen her before and after photos, you know that she has come so far! I thought “Wow, this chick has been super successful, she must know what she’s talking about – I want to be like her!” and it was a driving force in me finally making the call to a therapist. So, if you read this post – THANK YOU!
I also learned that the “food funerals” really weren’t worth it. I was diligent and didn’t not stray from my plan 99% of the supervised diet. However, after I got my date on April 23rd, I had 5 days before starting the two week pre-op liquid diet and I thought, “Ok… I’m going to eat my normal, breakfast, lunch, snacks, etc. but I’m going to eat whatever I feel like having for dinner.” Even though in the weeks prior to this time, I had been craving food that wasn’t good for me and looking forward to a couple of tasty meals before the liquid diet…. these meals turned out to be really unsatisfying. I don’t know if it’s because I had been sick with a cold or if I had just gotten used to eating healthy, but it really didn’t do anything for me. Afterwards, I just felt gross and frustrated. I didn’t lose any weight in those 5 days and gained a couple of pounds from the lowest I weighed in at on the scale to that point (though I had been sick). It really just wasn’t worth it at all. I’d rather have satisfaction from the smaller clothes, shrinking body, and feeling good than food – at least at this point in my journey.
So, to conclude the novel that I’ve written here (lol)… I’m excited about what the future has to hold. I feel great so far and I can’t wait to see what is to come. There are a lot of things that are already easier to do (walk, play golf, clean, fit into clothing, etc.) after 100 pounds lost and I know that I still have a long way to go. I’m nervous about tomorrow’s surgery and really scared. I feel as though I’m making the right decision, but you just never know what could happen. What I do know is that finding the ObesityHelp.com message boards and connecting with people that truly understand me has been eye opening, informative, and crucial to my success. Thank you to all of those people that have offered me advice, encouragement, and have shared their own successes and failures along the way. It has all been instrumental in my success so far! I hope to talk to you all soon from the other side!