Six years ago on January 2nd, I took a picture. The day before that picture, I had turned 38 years old. I’d celebrated that birthday by devouring a boatload of crappy, yet delicious food at The Cheesecake Factory, which included, of course, a most delightful slice of red velvet cheesecake!! I’d promised myself, like so many times before, that this was my last hoorah. The next day would be the official start of a New Year, a New Resolution, a New Me. And so, that photo was my documentation for the start of a weight loss and fitness journey that has had some ups and downs, but still continues today. My starting weight was…
Gulp…Hold on a freaking moment.
This is a real test of how vulnerable I’m willing to be. You know, I’d sometimes imagine going on The Biggest Loser and totally kicking ass, except for that first moment at the beginning of each season where the contestants have to stand there all bare-bellied, beat down, and pasty white looking, and get on a scale and reveal their starting weights. The thought of that was always too much to bear. Forget random strangers seeing that number pop up on the TV screen…I couldn’t even imagine my friends and family knowing how out of control my weight really was. Everyone says the scale is “just a number,” but sweet mother of sticky buns there is so much shame associated with it when that number is something you feel like you can’t control, but totally know is a result of poor choices –I chose to eat foods (in copious amounts) that were unhealthy, fried, full of fat and I chose not to exercise…not even a little bit. Sure, my genetics play a huge role in it, too, but I wasn’t doing anything to mitigate those effects.
I looked awful and felt awful. Also at this point, my husband and I had suffered years of unexplained infertility and we were prospective adoptive parents. I couldn’t help thinking, “Maybe the whole reason we never got pregnant was because I was just too damn fat and didn’t try hard enough to lose the weight and improve our chances,” which was then followed by the thoughts of, “I’m too fat and unhealthy looking. What expectant mother will ever pick me to mother her child?”
So… after a lifetime of stinkin’ thinkin’ and fad diets and emotional eating and pigging out and avoiding any type of real exercise (you know, the kind that makes you legitimately break a sweat) and watching my weight yo-yo up and down…and up and up and up, I made a commitment to myself. My starting (and heaviest) weight that shone back at me that day from the display on my scale was 269 pounds. I was disgusted. I was sad. I was embarrassed. But as I stood there staring at that number, I swore I would never let 270 ever happen.
Whew…and there it is. The number. Out there. In Writing. For all to see. I’m still breathing. I think. Ok, let us continue.
So I started eating smarter, then began walking. I lost 30 pounds in about 3-4 months and then maintained it for the rest of that year. I thought I was looking pretty good. I mean, I was still totally overweight, but anything was an improvement from where I was. In early 2012, a good friend “dared” me to run a 5K with her. Clearly I was delirious from lack of food or something, because I agreed. Until this point, I had a strict rule that I would only run if I was being chased by a psychopath, and even then chances were good I’d just lie down and let the murder happen. Anyhoo, I began shuffling along the pavement until I was able to run 3.1 miles. In April 2012, I ran my first 5K. Motivated by that little success I kept going. In April 2013, I ran my first 1/2 marathon. It took me 2 hours and 42 minutes and when I finished, I felt like a Kenyan! Or maybe two Kenyans because sadly, even with all the running I was doing during that year, I had only managed to lose another 11 pounds. Yes, I dragged 228 pounds (or two Kenyans) 13.1 miles.
Lesson 1: Don’t ever say “I can’t do it!” If this fat girl can jiggle her way across multiple finish lines, so can you. It may be ugly. It may be slow. It may look a lot more like walking than running, but if you’re moving forward that’s all that matters.
From that point on, my weight plateaued for a long while, then fluctuated up and down. When we were so blessed to finally adopt our son in 2014, I was so focused on him, and was totally in that happy-love place where you just do what feels good. It was a 24/7 celebration to have this sweet little cherub in my arms and I ate to my heart’s content and just spent hours sitting and holding him while my metabolism pretty much came to a screeching halt. On top of that, I’d developed a significant case of plantar fasciitis, so I had little to no motivation to even go running. And then I was 230…235…242…251.
In April 2015, I had a moment where I thought to myself, “This is it. If you don’t do something now, you’re going to see 270 on the scale in no time…and then some!!”
Inspired by a work friend who’d had weight-loss surgery… she’d said, “it was the best decision I ever made,” I began doing my research.
I was 247 pounds in September 2015, the day I found myself at a consultation with Dr. Elizabeth Dovec at GBMC. I was so inspired by her practice and their approach, and was so ready to finally, once and for all, achieve the healthy life I dreamed of, but never really thought possible.
My insurance required 6 months of nutritional education and counseling and some other “fun” stuff and studies.
My surgery was approved in April 2016, and I was scared shitless (well, I was also shitless because I was on a pre-op diet of pretty much nothing but liquids and protein, but I digress).
This was real!
This was happening!
I was nervous about what other people would think. I was nervous about the results. I was nervous about whether or not I was really committed to the truly new and foreign lifestyle this procedure demands you adopt to be successful. I had a million worries, right up to the point on May 2nd when the anesthesiologist gave me the IV that made my tummy all nice and warm and fuzzy feeling and told me to count backwards from 10…9…8….
When I woke up, my stomach had been turned from a football into a garden hose. No turning back!
Lesson 2: What is done cannot be undone. But use the knowledge and experience of what was done to make the undone done right!
I don’t want to say the last 8 months have been “easy,” but boy have they been worth it! I just think I was ready to make a real commitment– I just needed help. I’m so grateful that I found the help I needed and accepted it.
I’m amazed by how much weight I’ve lost, certainly. I reached my goal weight of 155 pounds this week (That’s 114 freakin’ pounds, y’all!!!!). The last time I weighed 155 pounds was in 10th grade after I went on a liquid diet for 2 months (which means that weight also only lasted 2 months because I’m sure the minute that diet ended I was eating fast food within the hour). But I can tell you, I’m way healthier now than I ever was then!
I’m so excited to be able to wear clothes that don’t come from a specialty store, though my mind still has some catching up to do on this front. I still don’t “recognize” myself often when I pick up and put on clothes that a short time ago were in a store or a size that I would have never considered a realistic option, like EVER, for me. I find myself sheepishly looking in racks of clothes where I feel I don’t possibly belong. It’s a weird head game, for sure.
Lesson 3: Having your boobs and butt basically up and disappear on you is a small price to pay for all the other perks a fit and healthy lifestyle brings you.
I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with this, and while my surgeon definitely helped make this happen, I’m still the one doing the work everyday to see the results. The choices are a little easier to make thanks to having a garden hose for a stomach, but I’m also literally running my “mass” off.
I’m so inspired by others who are on this same journey, keepin’ it real! And I hope maybe my journey inspires someone else to consider or do the same.
Lesson 4: Be proud. Be honest. Be real…and pay that shit forward!
I’m overflowing with joy to know that I’ve found a healthy place where I can get down and dirty playing with my son and then pop up and run around the house or yard without feeling like I’m going to collapse. It’s a whole new and exciting world keeping up with my very active boy!
Lesson 5: Experts often talk about “putting yourself first” so that you can create lasting changes in your life, but sometimes you need to look at how much others need and rely on you for the motivation to do so. It’s a challenge to see both sides of that equation at times, but incredibly inspiring when you do and make it work!
I know I’m still fresh and new to this… my weight-loss honeymoon, so to speak. But I truly believe this is something I can and will maintain, and I’m encouraged and motivated to see what new things this fit, middle-aged body can accomplish!