Thank you for joining me for the final piece of my journey. If you are just now checking out my blog, please make sure to check out the first five parts of my journey on my blog site.
The sad truth is that there is an underlying problem when a person is overweight. Being overweight is one of the most challenging obstacles to face in life and not something I would wish on anyone. At least it was for me, and I didn’t think I had a problem. I knew I was overweight and unhealthy, but I guess my mind’s eye still believed I was just a curvy “real woman” and not a morbidly obese one. I still hate that term, and I have never been a fan of the traditional BMI chart that goes by how tall you are and how much you weigh. Which is not very realistic, and it does not tell you how healthy you are.
When I found out I was approved for bariatric surgery, I was relieved as I thought it would fix everything. I have never been more wrong in my life. My doctor informed me that I would need to continue losing weight while waiting for my surgery day, attend a seminar about the surgery, and meet a new dietician. I was sad to leave mine behind, but he informed me that this person specialized in bariatric procedures and would help me succeed.
After getting back home, I was motivated to stick with the program and lose weight. However, I did not anticipate gaining any, which I did precisely. Remember, in my last post, My New Life, I mentioned that I did a no-carb diet the previous week to be sure to get the weight off. Well, as soon as I went back to eating normal, I gained it back. A week later, and six pounds added back on, I started to question if I should have surgery because I felt like I had not learned enough. I do not recommend a no-carb diet for many reasons that I will discuss in a different post.
I went through the seminar and learned everything about the different types of bariatric surgeries, the risk, and what would be best for me. I had decided to go with the sleeve like the surgeon recommended. I was packing up when the surgeon speaking that day explained a few things that everyone needed to know before having weight loss surgery. I remember this list like it was yesterday.
Weight loss surgery does not:
- Take away your cravings for sweets
- Stop you from overeating
- Change your mental health
- Make you love yourself
- Guarantee you won’t gain the weight back
Guarantee that you will lose a lot of weight
- Stop you from finding a new addiction
- Mean you never have to work out again
They told me that sleeve surgery typically loses about 25% of their body fat. I stopped dead in my tracks when I realized I could gain it back. Why go through something this major if I could gain it back? Next, I headed to see the dietician, a woman named Kathrine, who I loved right away. She was blunt and funny, and she told me she could help me be very successful, but I would have to want it, and I did. I wanted so badly to be healthy and to look on the outside the way I felt on the inside. She explained that most people stop losing weight about 18 to 24 months after the surgery, and then their bodies go back to normal as far as metabolism. They booked my surgery, and I left, realizing I still needed to think it over. My amazing and supportive husband reassured me that I could change my mind if I wanted to, so I should think about it.
I was still trying to decide if I wanted the surgery when my mom told me she was going in for open-heart surgery because her main valve was deteriorating. I was shocked and scared that I would lose her. I was also afraid because I knew I had diabetes and high cholesterol, but I wasn’t thinking much about heart disease. I started to think over my family tree, and it hit me like, a truck. My dad had open-heart surgery a couple of years before, and his mom had open-heart surgery. On my mom’s side, her dad and one of her brothers died of heart disease, and one of her sisters had already had multiple heart attacks. I realized just how serious it was for me to become healthy.
I continued with the program, and it was the day before my surgery. I had created a small group of friends and family to support me through this. I didn’t tell many people because I was afraid I would be judged or accused of taking the easy way out. If you have ever had or known someone who had weight loss surgery, you know how hard they worked to get there. However, many ignorant people in the world don’t take the time to learn, and they are the ones who will judge you the most. I knew that would not be good for my mental health, so I only told ten people.
I finished the program and did the horrible two-week pre-op diet of shakes and broth, and it was the day of my surgery. This program ended up taking me an entire year to do, but I had lost a total of 31 pounds and 48 inches in my body. I was feeling good. To be fair, I lost 15 of those pounds in the two-week pre-op liquid diet, but I was feeling good. I was nervous but so excited to see the changes that would happen. I was ready for my new life, and I would not look back. I would love to say that is where it ended and that I lost a bunch of weight and was very successful with the surgery. Sadly, that was not the case for me.
I started to lose weight right after the surgery; most of it was muscle. I could begin to see a change in my body, and I was happy. I was slowly learning to introduce myself back into my body, and I felt like I was going to the doctor every couple of days. By my two-week post-op appointment, I was down another 12 pounds. I was ecstatic, and I felt like I was going to lose so much. By week eight, I was down another 7 pounds. I took it easy and healed, and by month three, I was back to normal. I went in for my appointment feeling like I must have lost a bunch and was ready to see the scale under 200 pounds. You can imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale and found I had only lost 3 pounds. Even my dietician was surprised, and we started going over my diet and exercise to try and understand what had happened. She ran a large blood panel to see what it showed. It showed good things like my A1c being lower and my cholesterol going down. However, my thyroid was more out of wack than ever. She immediately set me up to see an endocrinologist to see what could be done.
I met with the new doctor who changed my medication and told me not to get discouraged as many people have had a thyroid condition and weight loss surgery with no problem. She also warned me that just because I had surgery didn’t mean it would fix my hypothyroidism, and I could still struggle to lose weight. Talk about your fine print. I went home and reassessed everything, and I was feeling good. I figured I would be happy to get down to 199 pounds and a size 14 pair of jeans. I still had at least 18 more months before my body would go back to normal, and I was confident I would get there.
I kept up with the program and even joined a bariatric support group, but it turned out hearing everyone talk about how much weight they were losing was not doing my mental health any good. By six-month post-op, I was only down 3 more pounds, and I could not believe how slow it was going. That was it; after that, I stopped losing weight altogether, and by my first post-op anniversary, I was starting to gain the weight back. I was devastated. To this day, I am not sure why this surgery was not as successful for me as it is for others. I don’t know why I didn’t keep losing after that. I knew with my preexisting condition that it could be more challenging, but I had no idea it would be like this for me. After that, I sunk into a depression, and by January of 2020, I was back up to 215 pounds. I knew it was time to take matters into my own hands, so I sat down with my husband, who was starting to put weight back on, and we both agreed we had worked so hard and had already come so far to go backward. Even though the surgery only resulted in a 23-pound loss, most of which I gained back, I knew I had learned so much from the program. I also know that bariatric surgery can be very successful for some people and don’t consider my experience the same as someone else’s.
It was then that I realized my biggest mistake was telling myself I would never look back. I had to look back at my life, or I was never going to know how far I had come. I set my new year’s goals and decided my word for 2020 would be to Grow as I would grow as a person and live a healthy life. We decided to quit the gym because of the distance and time it took to drive there, and we ordered a treadmill and a home gym because, honestly, you only need the basics to be successful with workouts. I was ready to start again, and then the world fell apart.
As you know, 2020 was horrible all around as we were hit with the coronavirus all around the world. The pandemic hit, and everything shut down. I was glad we had already quit the gym by then. I was finding it hard to stay motivated in such a dark time, and with it being winter and cold, I did not want to get up early and work out. To top it off, my business came to a screeching halt because of the pandemic. I was writing books about traveling on a budget during this time, and I was a part-time substitute teacher. Overnight I went to having no income at all, and that was scary.
I decided to create a fitness group on Facebook for my husband and me and invited a few friends to join who were looking for some tips on weight loss and being healthy. I figured this would be the perfect motivation to keep up my health regimen, and I could help a few friends along the way. That ended up changing my life entirely as I learned and took a class on nutrition and health. My fitness group started to grow with more people looking for tips and help, realizing my true passion for helping people. I have always loved helping people, but this was different, and the amazing thing was as I was helping others, I didn’t realize I was helping myself. I started finding fun workouts and challenges to do. The weight and the inches started coming off, and the great thing was I didn’t even notice. By July of 2020, I was down to 199 pounds, so I decided to get certified as a weight loss coach, open Mighty Great Fitness, and really help others.
Today, I am 100 pounds down and a size 10 in jeans and loving life to its fullest. My cholesterol is good, my diabetes and sleep apnea are gone, and my thyroid levels are normal with medication. I feel great and love teaching others about health and nutrition, and I recently became certified in advanced nutrition. My journey has been a long one that has been hard and scary. I have often wanted to quit and almost did, but I realized that my past is an essential part of me that I can’t ever forget. I will never again go back to that unhealthy and unhappy lifestyle, but I will always look back and remember where I started.
Author/ Weight Loss Coach
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