At 27 years old, I weighed 486 pounds and decided to have Gastric Bypass Surgery. I know, many times people think “oh, you took the easy way out”.
Let me tell you, having WLS (weight loss surgery) is far from the easy way out. It involves a total commitment to lifestyle change, psychological counseling, exercise, proper nutrition, and a commitment to living this lifestyle.
Before surgery, I met with my surgeon, nutritionists, exercise coaches, and a psychologist. I went to classes and learned about meals, exercise, how my body would change, and plastic surgery. I was prepared–or so I thought.
And on November 23, 2011 (the day before Thanksgiving), I went under the knife. And as of today, I’ve lost 268 pounds.
But the thing they do not prepare you for, is how you change, emotionally. At first, I thought I would just have this new found confidence. I’d be “thinner” and want to run around naked. I would only crave the “right foods”. People would accept me more because I wasn’t seen as obese and unhealthy. Dating would get easier. Clothes would fit better. I wouldn’t be judgmental because I was once huge. Boy was that wrong.
First off, even though I feel amazing and I am starting to like the way I look. There are days in which I hate my body. I hate how it looks in a certain outfit. I hate the way my excess skin hangs down on my arms, and thighs, and stomach. I hate that if I could afford $15,000 in plastic surgery, this last 30-40 pounds would be off of my body.
I am also self-conscious. I have wrinkly skin because of the excess skin, I have stretch marks, and surgery scars, so being intimate with my boyfriend can be intimidating at times.
The day I had my first natural period in fourteen years was exhilarating. It means that my PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) was going into remission and in fact, 8 months after surgery all of my cysts dissolved and left my body. But it also meant that the week of PMS I want nothing but chocolate and peanut butter.
Dating is just as difficult. When I first had my surgery, the guy I was with had been a best friend of seven years who found me attractive at 486 pounds (not sure why), but once I lost my first 68 pounds he got scared and ran. My surgeon explained that this is very common. But, it hasn’t made dating any easier. Guys generally get scared because they are afraid to take you to dinner, afraid they will break you, and when they see a picture of what I used to look like, their mind goes back to that’s what I looked like at one point in my life, what happens if I gain a few pounds.
And trying on clothes is always a struggle. Although I am in a normal size 14 (I used to wear a women’s 30/32), clothes fit weird now. Maybe it is is because I actually have curves and don’t feel like I have to hide my body, but they fit weird.
And now, I have no tolerance for excuses when people make excuses on not being able to eat healthy and exercise. It makes me look like a judgemental jerk, but I used my surgery as a tool to save my life so that I wouldn’t develop diabetes, have a heart attack at age 35, have a stroke, and hopefully to help prevent a chance for cancer. But I was home for Christmas and my dad asked me for advice on eating better and exercising and when I shared tips and tricks with him, he had every excuse in the book as to why he couldn’t eat right or exercise. It was he travels too much or his bad knee. I had to look at him and say, “look, every restaurant you go to has grilled chicken or steak and vegetables and soup on it’s menu and your knee is a poor excuse. Use the peddler your wife has and put it on the floor and peddle while you watch TV–there’s no impact and you can burn a ton of calories in an hour…” it fell on deaf ears.
No one ever told me that it would piss me off when severely obese people would want special treatment because they are choosing to be heavy. For me, being heavy wasn’t a choice. I ran four miles a day, quit eating fast food and drinking pop, and went on a 1,200 calorie/day diet and still couldn’t lose weight.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all about body love and body acceptance and most importantly a clean bill of health. I know at my current weight I am still medically obese, but I have a clean bill of health and that is what matters. I just don’t know why people would choose a life like the one I had.
I might sound like I am contradicting myself here, but the biggest thing that no one told tells you about losing weight is that eventually, the number on the scale no longer matters. What matters is how you feel, how you look, and how happy you are.