Monday, March 4, 2013

My Weight Loss Surgery Journey Part I - A Little Background

WARNING: Weight loss surgery post (WLS).
No, this is not permanently turning into a weight loss blog, but since it's my personal blog, hey, I decided to use it as a posting place. I sincerely hope that my ponderings and ramblings will help someone on his/her journey. Even if no one ever reads this except for me, it feels awesome to get it out into the universe and therapeutic to write about it. This first WLS post contains a bit of background and a wee bit of ranting :-)

Yep....I've tried tons of diets.....since I was 11....yes.....11 years old. Believe it or not, I can actually still hear the doctor's words as he told my mother that I was fat and needed to go on a if I were not present or somehow didn't understand what it meant.

Yep....I do exercise, though not religiously and not enough. Nope...I don't sit around eating cakes and pizza or snack on bowls of Dixie Crystals.
I am only a bit of a "grazer". (Love the world map on this cow? LOL!)

Weight Watchers? Yes, twice. Low Carb? Yes. Medi-fast? Yep. Even Opti-fast and 6 months of eating ONLY puddings and shakes (blech). Slim-fast? Of course. Salads only? Yes.

Exercising with all or some of these? Yes: in recent years, just walking, but previously, I'd walk 3X per week and play tennis 2X each week. I used to be on a swim team (and won awards!) and I used to train racehorses (In SC, but for the Hialeah race track in Fla.) As a teen, I biked 20 miles per day.

The most successful thing I ever did was exercise and eat a healthy diet of about 1200 -1600 calories per day and I would stop eating after 2:00 p.m. every day for a year and a half. I lost 33 lbs. I just could not keep that going. Another time I lost weight was when I was hospitalized for food poisoning. Not the most glamorous way to shed lbs. and certainly not on purpose.

Doc says I am healthy. The last eight times they took my blood pressure, it was 110/65. A couple of times, including today, it was 102/65. That doesn't mean too much, but it's not an unhealthy pressure. I admit, sometimes, I do eat the wrong things and I eat late sometimes and ok, I don't eat enough fruit. I have a feeling that I'm not the only one. So why should it make me so unsuccessful? Everyone seems to have some advice which he/she thinks will work for me or that they assume I have not tried. Because I am large, many people automatically assume that I'm either lazy, constantly eating/drinking largest portions, complacent, not energetic, and that I am somehow hiding behind myself on purpose....that I psychologically "want" to be a certain heaviness.

Diabetes. I am extremely worried that this will be my fate unless I do something more drastic than dieting and exercise. To again be clear, I have no medical issues except morbidly obesity.......yet.  I know it will catch up with me eventually. So, after twelve years of loosely thinking about and then dismissing weight loss surgery, mostly due to lack of funds, I have spent the last 28 months, significantly re-studying, discussing, pondering, and more actively pursuing this option. The decision to move forward came after two major efforts which were, sadly, ineffective. The first, was the eight weeks I spent abroad in 2010 and teaching for UNO in Innsbruck, Austria. The second was becoming a patient of The Aspen Clinic for six months and losing about seven pounds.

While in Austria, I ate a daily, decently-balanced cafeteria lunch and I shopped for veggies and soups from the market. Occasionally, a pizza was had because it was thin, and cheap. I walked a mile to and a mile from the university every day and most days, walked several more miles while exploring the city. One trek had me hiking the Obergurgl glacier which was eight miles for that day - a fairly decent portion of which was UP . On my weekends in Italy, all I did was walk, constantly, take pictures, and swim. In the town of Rovereto, I did almost six hours of hiking/walking and then realized I'd missed the bus and had to walk another two miles back to the B&B. The pool was a personal rule of mine -"don't stay at this B&B unless it has a pool."  I had tripled my exercise and that summer - I lost one pound. ONE. The Aspen Clinic had me on an appetite surpressant and I only took it because while I was already eating a balanced caloric intake w/ colorful fruits & veggies and exercising on my treadmill, I was hoping that it would make me forget to eat and that I would drop pounds... WRONG. I lost seven pounds in six months. I had lost more weight than that before....what was different? My age....I'm fairly certain. So, after those two experiences, I gave up again and when I say that, I mean  G  A  V  E    U  P.
You know what? It's BIGGER than eating. This is a problem I've struggled with since I was eleven. I'm 42 now so that makes 31 years of my life that I have been disappionted with this 90% of the time for something that I have come to believe is honestly related, in part, to my heredity/metabolism. Why is it a problem if I'm healthy in spite of the weight? It has taken its toll psychologically and emotionally at times.  I am positive that at some point, health-related issues will catch up to me. Some of you have walked this road. Some of you haven't, but you can probably understand it.

I will elaborate that having experienced real examples of being considered less important, less attractive, and less intelligent by members of the general populus creates a root system of low self worth. These are my shoes. How can I explain to you what it was like in grade school? How can I explain what it's like to feel invisible (restaurants, stores, career)?  How can I truly explain what it's like to see or receive sighs of disdain in airplanes, buses etc. when someone has to sit next to an oversized person, or what it's like to not be able to cross your legs anymore? How can I explain what it feels like to see that someone is grossed out or uncomfortable that you might like them / be interested in dating them, regardless of whether you actually were interested? I cannot. You just have to trust me on's not pleasant. It can make you crumble and doubt everything that is good about yourself. Luckily, I'm happy to say that, believe it or not, I've overcome much of this through the years with great friends, humor, success in grad school and an awesome  career path and I am a very happy person!  In fact, sometimes I literally wake up smiling or laughing at something silly. I love my jobs and love my life! I definitely know how to have fun and have certainly not avoided travel just because I'm by myself or because I'm overweight. Still, weight loss surgery (WLS) will be part of my personal process at this stage in my life and I am really starting to look forward to this journey! In fact, after years of research, reading, and prep., I am downright excited about it!

In my next post, I'll share what I have done to prepare for this surgery, insurance land, and going for it!

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