I want to thank everyone visiting Sarah’s blog and reading my guest entry. Sarah and I talked about what I should write and I thought today….today I’m going to confession right here on Sarah’s blog! Her blog site is “Creating Better Tomorrow” and that is what I have done for myself over the past year. I’ve kept a large secret that’s made me a better version of me, yet a smaller me. I’m hoping that by writing this post you will keep an open-mind. Maybe it will help someone make an informed decision for themselves and inspire them to look beyond the scope of what they have into what they could have!
I had always been very athletic growing up and in college I ran frequently, played softball, and continued to dance. Would I say that I was ever a tiny person? Nope. I have always had a very feminine figure, sometimes I hated it, sometimes I didn’t. When I left college and started to gain a significant amount of weight both myself and my doctors became concerned. After a battery of tests, I was diagnosed with PCOS. It affects your hormones, endocrine system, and reproductive system. And of course, I had symptoms in all of those areas – lucky me! I’ll leave PCOS to another post because I could go on forever, but in 2014 after seeing how much weight I had gained, even while trying to exercise and diet, things just weren’t working.
I had never looked or felt like this before, I wasn’t myself and I didn’t like it. I spoke with my doctor and made the HUGE decision to have bariatric surgery. I have told very few people in my life this.
I didn’t even tell my own mother about it until AFTER it happened and she came to visit me. Here’s why: I told one person other than my husband when I initially decided on the surgery and their reaction really disappointed me. They began to tell me I just needed to try harder, eat less, workout more, etc etc… They said that type of surgery was an easy fix, but dangerous and I could die. I realized then, that there is such a horribly negative stigma associated with weight loss surgery that I had to keep this a secret from everyone.
I did not want to be defined by this surgery, I was embarrassed that I had to resolve myself to having surgery, embarrassed that I couldn’t just eat less and workout more. Because honestly the weight gain had nothing to do with either of those things! My body was just revolting. My doctor gave me a reality check. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, borderline diabetic, taking numerous medications. I got winded easily, couldn’t wear clothes I liked, hated how I looked, wouldn’t let my husband see me, couldn’t have children. Those are all embarrassing and shameful things.
When you think of bariatric surgery you probably think of Gastric Bypass. There are actually many other options. And with my doctor’s advice I opted for a procedure called Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG). Basically in short, they remove about 2/3 of the stomach, but leave all digestive tracts intact. No rerouting. There is no malabsorption, I can’t get “dumping syndrome” which is common in bypass patients but I would have the same weight loss. It’s called weight loss by restriction rather than weight loss by malabsorption. If you want to know more about the procedure, I’d be happy to post.
Surgery day was June 8, 2015. Man did that surgery suck. But I was so surprised at how quickly I recovered. I followed the doctors’ orders to a T. And I can tell you that every doctor is completely different with their recovery steps. I began walking everyday starting the day I came home.
I did have complications and a week after surgery I went to the ER for possible adhesions. Then 4 weeks after surgery I was having reflux issues (a problem I’ve had since 6th grade) and I had to have another smaller surgery to fix my esophagus. I was off work for 5 weeks and in that 5 weeks I had already lost 40lbs. I continued my hard work and in January had to have an emergency gallbladder removal. My gallbladder decided to kick the bucket and was making me sick AND giving me pancreatitis from a blocked bile duct. Thanks body!
I really want to tell you less about the surgery and more about the recovery and change. In the past 12 months I found me. I mean I’m the same me, just smaller, and way happier and for sure healthier. The physical recovery was a breeze compared to the mental recovery. People really don’t know when to keep quiet and keep their thoughts to themselves. I constantly find out that people have discovered about my surgery, clearly from gossip from someone I know and/or love. Initially I was upset that people knew.
A Better Version of Me
I didn’t want to be defined by surgery, I wanted to be defined by my hard work and success. You learn during orientations that the surgery is NOT a cure, it’s just a tool. And if you use it the right way, that’s exactly what it is. I could continue to eat whatever the heck I want (in smaller quantities) but if I don’t eat things that are GOOD FOR ME, I will not lose any weight or I will gain it all back. This isn’t a moment-choice. It’s a LIFETIME choice.
I think what really bothered me was people’s lack of respect for my decisions, privacy, and progress. Instead of questioning why and how I’ve lost so much weight, why not just compliment me and be happy for me?
I think it’s that whole “misery loves company” thing. You want to believe there is a magic fix for being overweight and hey, maybe Kira found out, so I’ll ask her. But really, I have worked harder than I’ve ever had to work in my life. And mentally, I have had to push myself to the limits to not lash out at insensitive people. I’ve had to forgive a lot of people.
I learned very quickly when you make huge changes to your life that a lot of people won’t be in your corner, but then a lot of people will be in your corner that you never expected. I will say that less family and more friends were supportive. And if any of them happen to read this, it’s not a dig. It’s not blame. Maybe you thought you were supportive but didn’t show it the right way. It’s hurtful to have people ask you exactly how much you weigh and how many pounds you’ve lost. It really doesn’t matter.
The way I feel is what matters.
I ran my first 5k last August, a mere 2 months after my surgery. I work out 4-5 days a week either at the gym or at my home. My husband also joins me and he has made significant changes in his diet. I haven’t had soda or consumed sugar via beverage in over a year now. I don’t deprive myself, because I really have a problem with chocolate. But a little treat is ok. I just choose to eat mine rather than drink. It’s easy to drink a lot of something, but much harder for me to eat a lot of something.
Using this whole new stomach thing as a tool and not a cure. I suffered from depression throughout my journey and think most of it comes from constant change all year and criticism. But when Sarah asked me to guest write for her I decided at that point I will NOT remain anonymous about my surgery anymore. I will be proud of myself for making the decision. I will be a mentor to others who want to possibly make that decision for themselves and most importantly,
I will be successful with my health and my life!
And for the record I’ve lost 115lbs in 12 months. I have NEVER shown anyone this before and after photo. But here is a picture of me now and a picture of me the day after surgery (which is why I’m sans bra). And if you ever want to see my scars, I’ll show you those too.
Please feel free to reach out to me privately OR publicly because I’m not ashamed. Thanks to this blog, I’ve just freed myself of all that guilt.
My contact info should someone need to discuss: firstname.lastname@example.org or catch me on Facebook!
Much love & happiness,
Thanks to Kira for truly opening up and being extremely vulnerable as my guest blogger this week. There is no one way to become a better you…we each have our own journeys and as Kira reminds us, you never know what someone else’s journey might be…so be respectful, be loving, be supportive! I hope you enjoyed her guest post as much as I did!
Get 5 Free Bootcamp workouts!
Free boot camp workouts AND videos!