Y’all…this is nuts. In a good way. I’m probably about to use A SHIT TON of words, so I apologize in advance…but there’s just no short way to share all this. Grab a cuppa and sit your ass down with me.
If you’ve been a fan of my blog for a few years, you know I had gastric sleeve surgery five and a half years ago. There are plenty of people who look at bariatric surgery as the easy way out. I was one of them not too many years before I had a change of heart. I could use all the words in the universe to explain the pros and cons of bariatric surgery, but that’s not what this blog post is about today…so I won’t. I will just say this: having surgery is not a guarantee that you will lose weight or keep it off. In order to do that you have to change a lot about your life…mostly the behaviors that led you to be so overweight in the first place (which starts the debate of “Well, if you can do that why do you need surgery?”). We’ll talk about that another time.
I had sleeve surgery in November of 2013. It was an experience of a lifetime for a lot of reasons, but it was also heartbreaking in many ways. Most patients are about 100-ish pounds overweight. I was nearly 200 pounds overweight. At 398 pounds I was rapidly squeezing my way out of a size 34. The elastic waistband on the hideous polyester pants I wore to work were leaving red welts on my skin by the time I got home. I was pre-diabetic. My doctor had put me on high blood pressure medication…and just taking a shower had me out of breath. Surgery changed my life in miraculous ways, but after a year the weight loss slowed down (as it usually does for everyone). I had lost 131 pounds and then everything just sort of…petered out.
Although I was so happy with my success and had so much more energy with 131 fewer pounds on me, I had grown used to getting attention for my ability to shrink so quickly. It wasn’t long before people stopped asking me if I’d lost any more weight. Glances were stolen at my plate during office potlucks and family gatherings. People around me were silently trying to figure out what was going on without actually asking. That was the heartbreaking part. I was barely squeezing into a size 20, which was awesome on many levels, but I wasn’t done yet. I didn’t want to be done. I wanted to keep going. But I also felt myself losing steam. I didn’t know how to get going again.
So I fizzled out in late 2014. I tried to focus on the joys that I’d achieved. I’d lost 131 pounds. I’d dropped 8 sizes in clothes. I’d lost over a foot off my waist. There was a lot to be thankful for, but the sniff of failure was always lurking in the back of my mind. Was I ever going to get to my goal weight? I still had a hundred pounds to go. How would I get there?
While I was floundering around, I got caught up in the fun of life…which is another miracle. I started to travel. I fully embraced my addiction to needlework. I had so much more energy…there was a lot to do, and plenty to keep me busy and distracted from the fact that I wasn’t losing any more weight.
Then it seems like I blinked and it was 2019…and OMG…I’d gained 20 of those 131 pounds back. What the hell?
I am many things, and one of those things is STUBBORN. I was not going to be one of those people who gained all their weight back after surgery. So…I turned to something that’s helped me reconnect in the past: something called a “pouch reset”. I have no idea why it’s called a pouch…because I’m not a damn kangaroo. Gastric sleeve surgery is just a surgeon removing 85% of the stomach and leaving it shaped like one of those tiny bananas in the exotic section of the grocery store that no one knows what to do with. It’s not a pouch!
Anyway, I dug up the patient handbook from my surgery…and I put myself on the post-op liquid diet. Protein shakes only, peeps. For a whole week. Then I graduated myself to the pureed stage…just like after my surgery. Another week. And then soft foods for a week. Then I allowed myself regular food, but I committed to logging everything so I didn’t lose track.
I also joined a couple bariatric surgery support groups on Facebook so I could reconnect with the fears, trials, and issues I faced back in the day.
It worked. I reconnected with the new me in a way that was highly motivating. I went from puffing my chest out in defiance when faced with the idea of humiliating myself by gaining all the weight back to actually believing that I could grab control of my emotions, reign in my bad habits, and steer the car back on the road.
Looking back, I’m super happy for the “Progress” section of My Fitness Pal. It reminds me of where I’ve been and when I was there. Here’s a snapshot of the road I’ve traveled:
398 pounds November 20, 2013. Highest weight ever.
299 pounds June 1, 2014. Two-derville at last!
267 pounds November 11, 2015. Stalled out.
293 pounds April 9, 2019. Yikes…I gained some back.
278 pounds June 18, 2019. Well on the way to losing what I gained.
I’m proud of myself…and highly motivated to continue. In the next blog post, I’ll share more about what I’m eating…and what I’m doing. People keep asking me. I don’t mind sharing, but please know that what works for me may not work for you. We’re different people. I have literally never said this sentence: “I’m dying for a salad.” My menu might be ridiculously gross to you.
Let’s leave it here for now, but I’ll be back soon to share those food logs and a bit more. I’m a big believer in doing what works for you…and there’s a lot that’s been working for me lately.