Here I sit, dealing with my emotions, after two years, my surgeon calls me a "success". Many who have followed my long process will cheer for me, which I TOTALLY appreciate, but I still feel a certain amount of failure in my weight loss. For those who do not know I lost over 200 pounds in two years, I look like a pre-surgical fat woman, who appears to exercise daily, but is still fat. Obesity is NOT cured with any bariatric surgery, lifelong changes only bolster our health, and possible "normalcy" of BMI.
I feel a certain amount of responsibility for putting myself "out there" as an example of what can be achieved with weight loss surgery, but who will take me seriously, as I am STILL FAT?! In my life before super, morbid obesity, I was a very active, very healthy "fat chick" (I have always detested the term BBW, just a personal opinion). Life growing up an active fat person wasn't always easy, mainly because there just weren't as many of us active fat folk out there. It took a catastrophic event (injury) that changed my active fat chick status to: Growing FATTER without activity. Sigh. Well, I went from the mid 200's, which I seemed pretty good at carrying (I am 5 feet 7 inches tall) to at the highest recorded weigh in of 474 -- I believe my weight actually it was higher, as I spent a YEAR trying to lose weight, before conceding that I needed surgical assistance.
It still took longer to get surgery, as I was then in an auto accident that pushed back my process, but I still worked daily to swim & build strength and stamina. I lived a modified diet waiting for the "date" for surgery, so my surgeon did not require a full fast two weeks prior to surgery. Why am I reliving all this back story? To let folks know, two years after surgery, I lost and kept off my losses of over 200 pounds. So, I am considered a "success" in terms of weight loss surgery. Okay, I need to deal with my own emotional shortfalls, and face folks - even if it is just online, or at support meetings. I am still struggling, but NOT giving up.
If you seek surgery for a number on the scale, the chances of seeing that number, or even staying on that number, or less likely if you start at a higher then 50 BMI (my official BMI was 74.4). If you expect to see a clothing size, you will have to work at it, and not just rely on surgery. Sure, there are folks who attain amazing weight loss, but to keep those numbers, you will have to continue working on your health. Yup, I am proof it is a daily struggle to be a "normal fat chick," as my daughter lovingly refers to me as,
Last year, I set a goal to swim 600 miles. I surpassed that number by 42 miles. I am proud of that achievement. This year that number is 750 miles - and I am certainly on my way, as I have returned to swimming with gusto! I am adding other physical goals, but planning on trying to add more weight (number) goals, even though I tried to stay away from making a certain goal weight. The reason I exercise is not for a weight or clothing size, it is for my overall health & emotional well being. I have excellent numbers when looking at the health -- blood pressure, blood values, and activity level. Sure, I still have a leg that causes me to limp, but I had that before surgery. The reason for being healthy is my goal of living a long and happy life.
Before surgery, and even starting my whole process of regaining my health, I was emotionally miserable. The physical limitations seemed to grow over the years I was continuing to gain weight. Nothing like having to get the dealership selling me a vehicle to include extender belts in the deal, as I was too damn fat to fit in the generous "one size fits all" seat belts. I spent years trying to justify that airplanes just have smaller seats, that it was the airlines fault for being greedy that I was forced to purchase two tickets because my hips wouldn't fit in my assigned seat with the armrest down. As I grow larger, I tried to reason that, "if I can still buy clothing (mostly online only), I am not TOO fat..." When you are forced to search for clothing manufacturers for swimsuits beyond a size 32, you are possibly in need of help, or just a wake up call for personal change.
Being a woman wearing a 7X didn't make me hide from the public eye, but I was also aware that I could be INVISIBLE to some people. Dealing with stares, comments just made me more aware I had to have a thick skin. Being invisible hurt me more emotionally than the rude comments & stares. Wearing a size 7X, I decided I would really need to get down to serious business, and make a plan, or I would need to consider weight loss surgery. I actually went to see my doctor and told her my plan: ONE YEAR OF SERIOUS WORK, then decide if I really could lose weight on my own.
Fat folks KNOW how to lose weight, but the trick is keeping it off, right? Well, after that year of work, I did see I was able to fit into smaller sized clothing, and I was getting around better, but damn it, I was down to a BMI of 74.4. Who can get excited after a year of HARD WORK, just to see the scale saying 474 pounds? How long of a journey has this been? I started January of 2008, only to decide in February 2009, I needed surgery. With a year off for an auto accident, I started working toward getting surgery in 2010 - when I joined support groups, an started writing my thoughts and support of others on here. I finally got my gastric bypass on November 16, 2010. Now, over two years post-surgery, I am still working everyday to be healthy.
Face yourself, admit to the things that you can change, and except the things out of your control, but strive to be healthy. That is what I have learned from my journey so far. Oh, and that you get support by giving OTHERS support. Upon having my two year follow up, I still felt mixed emotions, and just seemed to hide away from my weight loss surgery community, as I felt like I was a failure. Just remember, you are always your worst critic, so learn to support yourself, and not deny reaching out for help. We can all find excuses to not go exercise, go to support group meetings, avoid friends online (waving at many folks who I haven't talked with!!!) -- it is the strong who do NOT let this happen. I swear to anyone reading my blog, if you are open - to yourself & others - that you need help, you will continue to work on the issues you need help with.
Okay, I feel emotionally drained, but I also feel like I finally got a "dirty secret" off my chest. I cannot hide behind my weight, I will face it with every day, and live a healthy life. Surgery alone will not fix you, it is just part of the process. Go to support group meetings, see your doctor regularly, weigh yourself, measure & journal your food intake, and be happy in your own skin!
Brenda : )~