I started my journey in 2003 at 502 lbs
Like most people overweight, I binge dieted; gained, lost, etc. But I was also a stress eater. Being bullied most of my adolescent years, I took to food to calm my nerves and make me feel better. It became so bad that I would tiptoe downstairs in the middle of the night and sneak food from the fridge, then tiptoe down to the basement and consume massive amounts of food. Foods that I loved but would be mocked or chastised for at the family dinner. Foods that I could not eat in public without being stared at as if I was some kind of creature.
I was active for the most part. I went out with friends. I was a performer. Well known for a big booming voice. I dressed well, thought I was cute actually lol. But over the years as the bullying and mocking took it’s toll, 250 went to 330, then 412, then 465, and finally 502, and my knees and back started to show the outer results of my inner damage. I could no longer stand for long periods of time without excruciating pain. At the top of 2003 I met a doctor named Charles Webb who also happened to be on the board of the Ohio Bariatric Association. He began to talk to me about the gastric bypass, or the Roux En-Y as it is formally called. I was introduced to my surgeon Dr. Anthony Udekwo who explained everything to me and they fast tracked me into surgery less than 30 days later (at that time it could take up to a year or more to get approved). When I laid on the table I was just a little under 500lbs. Today some physicians rush their patients back to food but my doctors believed in slow healing. I am thankful because I do not experience any of the issues that so many have faced with digestive tract problems. My first month was brutal, total liquids only; diluted juices and broths or baby food, but 30 days later upon my first weigh in, I was at 428. The graduation into foods was slow. Soft foods, then more firm, and finally at 3 months I was given 2 directives. No beef or sweets for 6 months, and eat exactly what I was craving, no matter the time of day or how peculiar.
That part seemed crazy, right? I mean, who eats a tossed salad for breakfast? I did. And continued to lose weight. It also taught me to learn how to listen to my body. Sometimes I would go on binges, like once I ate nothing but watermelon for 1 whole week. I found out later that my body needed the hydration as well as the vitamins. I learned to tell the difference between a protein or carb craving. That minimized the “dumping” syndrome (vomiting/diarrhea rejection of foods) because my body would consume what it wanted. In 2 years I went from 502 down to 330, and had to have a hernia repair. The apron of my stomach was so heavy it caused a hernia. They did a hernia repair and tummy tuck, and mammoplasty to lift my breasts. Hey now! New figure. But still a long way to go. Since then I have had some health issues and that dreaded Menopause that makes all foods stick to your hips lol, but I have only gained back 20% of what I lost and, now that I am healed, can begin the road downward again.
If I could leave anything for you to take with you if you are doing this journey, I would say 4 things.
- Be sure this is what You want. Not your friends, or family, or even doctor. Exhaust all other options and once you have decided, make peace with it. There is no need to defend yourself to any that disagree. This is YOUR body.
- Journal. Sometimes, the only sane person you will find in the room when you are going thru this transition is yourself. It helped me to heal inside emotionally which helped me physically.
- Take your time getting back to eating. Chat with others who have gone thru it. Relax your mind and heart and remember – this is because of an unhealthy relationship with food. Don’t create another one by forcing yourself to hurry back into eating, even if your doctor pushes you. If you are struggling with it, make modifications, like mashed cauliflower instead of potato, or fish instead of chicken. Take your time and eat slowly, putting your fork down at times and waiting. The new stomach fills up faster than you feel it so wait. It takes months for your body to heal internally as well as adjust to the new digestion process. Love yourself. Check websites and research recipes. Listen to your body once you do start eating. It will tell you when you are hungry vs. thirsty and what to eat. Sometimes I go thru a list in my head until something feels right.
- Exercise and get active. Your body will go thru a lot of transitions when you start losing. Exercise is not just for keeping firm. It will help your heart which has strained to keep pumping, and your joints which have supported the weight. While the lessening of the weight is amazing, the results of carrying it can tell on you.
Congratulations to all that have made the choice! I hope that you will love it. I do!