I just spent the last two hours reading comments in various forums here and you seem like people I'd like to know, so - hello! I'm totally new to this and still reeling... I hadn't weighed myself in years, but just went to see a doctor with a sinus infection over the holidays (like, 3 days ago!) and when we were discussing a bunch of other health concerns I've been dealing with (severe asthma, chronic back pain, chronic fatigue, depression, etc), he gently pointed out that all of these things can be linked to obesity and asked what I've tried as far as strategies go so far. I'm actually pretty active, as I don't have a car - depending on the day, I walk anywhere from 2-6km (Canadian, sorry for the metric!) and I swim for about an hour usually once per week, depending on my work schedule. I LOVE food but think I have a pretty healthy relationship in terms of eating well, not snacking, generous but not grotesque portion sizes, etc. I document all of my eating and exercise daily, etc. I've been a chef in the past and love working with food, etc., so when my doctor pointed out that if I'm not losing weight with the way I'm currently living, that I might want to consider weight loss surgery, I was taken aback. I guess I hadn't weighed myself in years and was shocked to find how much it was (around 350lbs). I'm very muscular and have genuinely big bones (like, size 10-11 shoes, shoulders like a running back, etc!), wear about a size 20-22 in most stores, and kind of thought that I was definitely overweight but not like, morbidly obese. After having doing a HEAP of reading these past few days, I'm trying to wrap my head around the concept that I am, in fact, morbidly obese, with a BMI of around 60 (depending on the website, it seems). It's hard to process but I'm trying to adjust my view of myself. I always sort of thought that gastric bypasses and the like were reserved for people who wore at least size 30, etc. It was my birthday the next day and I was out for dinner with my family and had this surreal moment of looking around the restaurant at all of the other overweight people and wondering if they were all going through the same process as I am right now.
Anyway, not to ramble on forever, but I'm leaning strongly toward the vertical sleeve procedure. The permanence scares me, as do a few other things: I'm worried about saggy skin (I'm poor and definitely cannot afford plastic surgery), I'm worried that this will forever ruin any joy I've had in either cooking, shopping for, or eating food, I'm worried that I'll regret it (I've been reading regret threads and see that there's definitely precedent there!), and I just sort of worry that it's a weirdly unnatural thing to do to oneself. I'm curious to hear some frank, totally honest feedback. I mean, there are also things I would look forward to seeing: less risk of becoming diabetic (it runs in my father's family), less back pain, asthma, acid reflux (I take medication for that as it is). I also, honestly, look forward to wearing normal sizes, but if I'm drowning in my own elephant skin after, it's not like I'd be "hot" anyway, right?? As I am now, as a happily out bisexual, there are definitely women and men both who find me attractive. I don't suffer from crippling self esteem because of my current weight. But there are definitely health concerns, and honestly, who wouldn't prefer to be thinner if it's an option? I'm thinking that I'll take six months to make this decision, and see if I can't adjust my diet and exercise first to see what I can't do to get serious about losing weight the natural way, and if I still think it would be a good option, then I'll go for it. So I'd really welcome your most candid thoughts and reflections, whether you're pre-op or post! Thanks in advance! :)
A few random thoughts about your post, in no particular order:
Not everybody has ridiculous amounts of saggy skin, and quite a few of us (myself included) get by just fine without plastic surgery. Improved health and a longer life span is WELL worth some extra jiggle.
Most of the "OMG what have I done" threads are from people who are less than a month post-op. It's a pretty major adjustment, and there can be some serious buyer's remorse in the early stages. Many, if not most, folks who've worked our tools and been successful have zero regrets about the surgery.
You can absolutely still find joy in food, as long as you've got a healthy relationship with it. (And you may be surprised to find your relationship is less healthy than you thought; I sure know that I didn't get to a size 24 with sensible eating and portion control.)
Six months is a reasonable time period to evaluate. But be advised that it doesn't give you a good insight into life-long maintenance in a way that surgery does. The scientific research says that surgery is our best chance at reaching a healthy weight and staying there in the long term. That is the hard part!
Given that you're in Canada, it may make sense to start the process sooner rather than later, given the usual wait time for the procedure (according to other Canadians here on the forums). You can always back out if you change your mind.
You may find it helpful to reach out to a therapist or other mental health professional. Surgery fixes your stomach, not your head, and understanding your eating habits and the like can be tremendously useful, whether you eventually opt for surgery or no.
Don't feel compelled to compare yourself to others, or the hypothetical type of person who should have surgery. I had my VSG at a BMI of 47 and wore a size 22/24, and I absolutely think it was the best choice for me.
Welcome to the boards, and good luck!
I always love reading your comments! They give me a definite reality check and I like the logic you present.
I was in denial about my weight for so long. I also had a BMI of 60 like the original poster when I began considering WLS. It wasn't a problem...until it suddenly was! I was completely healthy, even at 300 pounds, and then I hit 27 and suddenly I had diabetes, joint pain, etc. And now...I see how much of my life was affected. I've lost less than 50 pounds so far but I FEEL so much better. :-)
Congrats on your progress so far, that's great! Isn't it amazing how much better you feel even after you've lost even a bit of weight? That was a HUGE motivator for me, and I hope it is for you too :)
Thanks so much for your response! I really appreciate your helpful feedback!
I'm worried about saggy skin (I'm poor and definitely cannot afford plastic surgery),
Everyone has a different tolerance for saggy skin, and everyone ends up with a different amount. Most of my weight was in my hips and thighs, and I have a bit of saggy skin, but it's nothing terribly noticeable to anyone but me. And I have spanx when it matters. LOL. I do have more batwing in the arms than I thought I would, and my poor boobs have deflated. So if I had money for plastics, it wouldn't be a body lift, it would be arms and a boob job. But none of it is so bad that I can't stand it, and good lingerie resolves most of the issues.
I'm worried that this will forever ruin any joy I've had in either cooking, shopping for, or eating food, I'm worried that I'll regret it (I've been reading regret threads and see that there's definitely precedent there!),
I don't think this has to be the case. Yes, there are rare occasions when I wish I could eat more because what I'm eating is just so darned good. But I'm also learning to eat much more slowly and so I enjoy smaller amounts for the same time I used to wolf down large quantities. I also am embarking on an effort to home cook all my meals except for special occasions (grad school had my house in a bad habit of drive-thru and frozen meals a lot) and after sleeve I focus on quality instead of quantity. So I buy higher quality ingredients and am really enjoying cooking more than I used to.
I also still enjoy eating out with friends/family. I don't see that WLS negatively impacts enjoyment of food. If anything, it makes me more appreciative of really good food, and less tolerant of pure crap in my diet.
and I just sort of worry that it's a weirdly unnatural thing to do to oneself.
Well, lots of things we do are "unnatural". Makeup, for example. VERY unnatural. ;) Antibiotics, surgery or any kind...
I mean, there are also things I would look forward to seeing: less risk of becoming diabetic (it runs in my father's family), less back pain, asthma, acid reflux (I take medication for that as it is).
I have several chronic illnesses... asthma, migraines, auto-immune arthritis. EVERY one of them is better after VSG. I also had to be put on 2 blood pressure meds a few months before surgery, and got off both within a month after. My BP is now textbook normal to normal-low. I move easier, breathe easier, and recover faster from things than I used to. Health-wise, this is the best thing I've done for my body in ... well, ever. As you'll likely hear from a lot of people - the ONLY regret I have is that I didn't do this years sooner.
One note... since you already have reflux, you may get a lot of people saying you shouldn't have the sleeve. You and your doc need to discuss why you have reflux and whether the sleeve is likely to make it better or worse. There's data going both ways, but it does appear that more people have new reflux after VSG than after bypass. And some people who have it before VSG have it much worse after. But some people see it resolved with VSG. It appears to have more to do with WHY you have reflux. If you have an ulcer or hiatal hernia that's causing it, those can be treated/repaired prior to or during the VSG surgery, and should resolve. I had mild reflux before surgery, and it appeared to be caused by the obesity. That has held up, as it has disappeared after surgery. I do take a PPI because of some of the meds I take for my auto-immune, so that may be suppressing some mild reflux, but I'm certainly one who had VSG and/or the weight loss resolve my reflux. (I posted an article on the main board about the recent research.)
I also, honestly, look forward to wearing normal sizes, but if I'm drowning in my own elephant skin after, it's not like I'd be "hot" anyway, right?? As I am now, as a happily out bisexual, there are definitely women and men both who find me attractive. I don't suffer from crippling self esteem because of my current weight.
I wasn't having self esteem issues either. Hubby was happy with me larger. (In fact, he misses my booty, he says... but he prefers having me healthier and able to join him on walks and go out and do things together.) I dressed well, and most people had no idea I was as large as I was (topped out about 306#, I'm 5'9" and my BMI was around 47).
But I will tell you that I used to DESPISE clothes shopping. It's actually rather fun now that I'm in straight sizes. Though I keep grabbing stuff that's too big off the rack and have to go back for a smaller size. :D
I'm thinking that I'll take six months to make this decision, and see if I can't adjust my diet and exercise first to see what I can't do to get serious about losing weight the natural way, and if I still think it would be a good option, then I'll go for it.
That's a good approach. Here in the States, we often have to have a certain amount of monitored diet for insurance to pay for the operation. Don't know if it's the same in the frozen tundra up north (LOL, I'm kidding, I grew up in Alaska...) but all it would take is having a physician monitor you during that 6 month period if it is.
I found having a therapist to work on food issues before I made my decision very helpful, but I also had distinct food issues I was already aware of. You may find that once you're measuring & logging every bite you take (and I recommend logging things like mood/boredom as well) you are eating more than you think and there may be some emotional issues behind it. I can't stress how much therapy has helped with this whole process.
BTW - there's a link in my signature to a post about "The Easy Way Out". My reasoning behind having WLS is in there, along with what I have to say to people who are nay-sayers.
Hey, thanks so much for your response! And also the link to your blog post - I read it and found it really helpful!
Oh no, your boobs! Can I ask what kind of a size change you experienced? I usually find that my boobs don't change at all when I lose weight, but I've never lost more than about 20lbs at a time!
Thanks for what you said about your relationship with food/eating, too. It's not even the food itself that concerns me, but things like going out with friends and feeling like I shouldn't or that I'll feel cut off from certain social things because of this, you know? But you did reassure me a goodly bit. Happily, I already really like cooking (used to cook in restaurants and such), so I'm with you there!
I'm pretty sure that my reflux is just related to my weight, but thanks for the head's up! I'll definitely ask about that down the line. It's now looking like the one hospital in my city which does the surgery for free (Canadian coverage) requires your BMI to be between 40-55 to qualify, so I have some work to do on my own in the first place, but that actually works out just fine because I'll only be moving to "my city" (my home city, I should say) in July, so I have six months to get my BMI down at least 5 points or so before I can even apply for the program. So... yay. Otherwise I'd have to pay a crapload and I'm poor, so that's just not an option for me.
That's great, that you have to go back for smaller sizes! What a great feeling that must be! Congrats on getting to that point, and thanks again for responding to me!
Re: boobs. I said the same thing about mine never changing size. I was a 46H at my largest and I'm currently a 34C. I am having a breast lift next month and he said he can make me a middle B without augmentation. So yeah, they waved goodbye a little while ago!
I went from a 42D/DD to a 36C. It's not like they're completely gone, but they do need more propping up than they used to. LOL.
My random thoughts to your post (without reading other's responses):
I was really worried about loose skin and have always planned on plastic surgery. But, now living with the loose skin I can say it's 1000x better than living with obesity.
I didn't know that my level of activity was dismal and that everything was hard until I lost some weight. I thought I was a pretty active obese person, and maybe I was, but I wasn't really an active person in general.
My top BMI was 44 and my BMI was only 36 when I had surgery. I still think it was totally needed and totally worth it.
VSG (Vertical Sleeve) is often times not indicated for people who already suffer from acid reflux as it can make the problem worse. I believe, also, that it's rather hard to get VSG in Canada as RNY is still considered the gold standard. Be careful about forming a snap opinion that RNY is somehow 'more drastic' (as I know that's what I did at first).
I still find plenty of joy in food. But, I now enjoy the quality of food over the quantity. I eat things that fuel my body and really, truly make a conscious decision about what is worth consuming.
You can take 6 months and you can lose a significant portion of weight, but your best shot of keeping it off is WLS. I lost 100lbs on my own, and then gained back 30lbs. Then lost those 30lbs and gained back 40lbs. My problem wasn't losing it, it was maintaining it.