Please meet my beautiful and inspiring friend Gina.... inspiring because she has one of the best regain success stories out there and she has graciously accepted my request for an interview. We have a long history and it began at the Obesity Help event in Texas in 2004. We're pretty OK for a couple of old broads. I'm 56 and she's 53! (we are young in our minds) This picture was taken at the recent Houston Obesity Help event where there were actually four members who also attended that event in 2004. I hope that Gina's story will resonate with everyone because it doesn't matter where you are in your journey. This will help you understand what it's like if you don't know and it will help you if you are in the middle of fighting regain. Perhaps it will especially help someone to continue to make good choices.
Yvonne: Gina please start by telling your story. When did you have surgery, how much did you lose at first?
Gina: I first started seriously researching surgery in the summer of 1999. That was when Carnie Wilson went "public", had her WLS on the internet, etc. I found an obesity website thru "Ask Jeeves" (remember HIM???-before Google), and was hooked from there. I read everything I could get my eyes on. I finally took a job, in the summer of 2001, with the number one objective being to have WLS (they had the RIGHT insurance, etc). I went to 5 different seminars, of 5 different surgeons, before I chose the one I "clicked" with-a real "no nonsense/straight from the hip" little guy. It took me until 9-14-01 to make my appt with my family doctor. Fear? Self loathing because I couldn't lose/keep weight off "on my own"? At first my doctor was VERY reluctant-remember this was 2001 and WLS was not as "popular" as it is now-but my doctor knew me well and trusted ME, so he gave me his support. He had ME write my own referral letter and then he signed it. He ordered the blood, etc the surgeon asked for. It took 5 months from PCP visit to surgery-5 very stressful months of "hoop jumping" for insurance. I should have lost 200 pounds from the exercise of all that jumping!! I lost 102 pounds the first 6 months...effortlessly (as you know-a "trained monkey" could do it-you CAN'T screw it up at that point). Over the next 6 months I lost another 40..then....OOPS...I was in "ONEderland" for about a hot minute...
Yvonne: When did you start to regain and how much? (I like that ...a hot minute)
Gina: At about 1.5 years out I took a weekend, overnight (8pm-8am) job, doing one on one bedside nursing with dying people. I didn't really "test the waters" as much as I just "dove right in". I'd give most anything to have never, ever done that. But-I had no idea what I was really doing. I gained probably 40 pounds within a few months. This was around the time of my first big "conference", where I met other post-ops, and found out things I SHOULD have done (and met YOU!)
Yvonne: What happened that caused you to decide to get back on track and what did you do?
Gina: I had joined a local support group-my first. I felt like such a HYPOCRITE. I was telling newbies "what to do", but sure wasn't doing it MYSELF...but nobody there had known me at my lowest weight, so I could keep my "secret". I finally got SICK OF MYSELF. I think it was turning 50 that was "turned me around". I made up my mind, that month, that either had to GET A GRIP, or give up. By this time I had gradually gained ANOTHER 30 lbs...so that made for 70 lb regain..after having NEVER made it to "goal"--being 30 pounds shy of first goal before the REGAIN ever began...Sigh...
Yvonne: How much have you lost so far?
Gina: As of when I weighed on 12-1-10 (I only weigh on Tuesdays), I have lost ALL the regain, plus MORE, and am now NINE pounds from that elusive goal "number" set all those years ago. I have now lost 161 pounds. I TRY not to get hung up on numbers....but I WANT this one...I really, really want it. I want it badly enough to train for the White Rock 1/2 Marathon, bad enough to track my food and exercise every day, I want it badly enough to drink my water-even when it's cold outside. I'm happiest to report that, in training for White Rock, my 21 year old son has lost 50 pounds-just my hanging with me and logging HIS food (he's a non-op).
Yvonne: If you could share something with a post-op that has regained and feeling like it just can’t be done, what would you tell them? (how to get started and what you believe help them get started)
Gina: At first it feels SOOOOOO overwhelming and TOTALLY hopeless.
My best advice:
1. Pick a day to "start"-and not a Monday-we've done that a million times-try a THURSDAY
2. Get SUPPORT. I just cannot IMAGINE trying to go this alone. As humans we NEED those kudos
3. Have a WRITTEN PLAN-for the WHOLE day-even if you have to change something-you HAVE a plan to work from, so you're not "snatching and grabbing"-that GRAZING is probably what led to REGAIN in the first place
4. Contact me-I'll help ANY way I can
Yvonne: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Gina: Anyone who has NOT experienced regain (and KUDOS to them, too!) just CANNOT understand how truly awful it makes you feel-MUCH worse than being fat pre-op. It's tough, but regain CAN be lost. I did my second half marathon two days ago-at age 53-and FINISHED THIS ONE!!! I can't begin to put into words how I feel. No cracker/pizza/cookie could make me feel the way that finish line and looking at my metal does.
Thank you Gina!
The written word cannot begin to show Gina's incredible personality so if you'd like to see more, click on the link below where I interviewed Gina a couple of years ago. She is SO funny that I still laugh every time I see the video. Gina probably doesn't know this but no matter what size she was....she was always "Gina" and I loved her dearly. I never saw her big or little....I saw her heart and soul.
Interview with Gina on the WLS Channel
Gina's Obesity Help Profile (you can send her a message there)
I hope this will open a forum for those that wish to ask her questions or leave a comment here.
Gina will be celebrating her 9 year surgiversary in April. It's never....ever....too late.
Click here to see the blog post on my site