Describe your behavioral and emotional battle with weight control before learning about bariatric surgery.
I have been overweight for most of my life. I was chubby by the time I was eight years old, and from that time experienced painful comments from other kids, and overheard comments from adults around me. It affected my self image, making me feel like I was inferior to everyone around me.
I tried every diet that came out, which gave temporal, limited success, but required more effort than the success it gave. I would watch people around me eat no more than I ate, yet I was the one who gained weight. I felt helpless and at the same time, a failure. I wore baggy clothes to camouflage my obesity, but as I gained weight, I filled the baggy clothes out until I had to get larger sizes.
While a college student, I was prescribed "diet pills." amphetamines. They worked like a charm. My weight dropped to normal for the first time in my life, but I was aware that the minute I went off the diet pills, the weight would come back, and it did. It almost felt like I cheated myself into a size that I had no right to have. I could not escape the feeling like I was thin on borrowed time.
I liked the diet pills better than the diets because I didn't have to struggle so hard to lose the weight. The problem was that the diet pills were no more effective than the diets in the long run, and as soon as I discontinued them, I inevitably would have to go to the back of my closet and get my fat clothes out again.
As I hit my 40's, my weight ate away at my self esteem even more. I travel often, and found every airline seat a tight fit. Without exception, I had to request a seat belt extension on every flight I took. I could not put down a tray table so it would lay flat without hitting me. Going through a turn style was embarrassing. All my clothes came from the big and tall shops. If I was traveling, I worried that if I needed to buy an emergency shirt or pants, I wouldn't find my size in the local stores. If I visited someone, I hoped their furniture would hold me. I had to use baby powder to absorb the moisture under the rolls of fat that were part of me. I never went swimming because I wouldn't be caught dead without a tee shirt, and I'd watch my friends, the "normal" people have a good time while I sat on the side feeling inferior.
The reality is that even though I felt like a total failure, I was not a failure. I have a doctoral degree and am a respected leader in my field. My friends said they didn't think of me as "fat," just as Michael. That was great, but its not how I felt about myself.
Medically, my health was taking a downturn. My blood pressure was high, cholesterol and blood sugar were elevated. I was taking medications for all these things. I could not climb a flight of stairs. I needed to use electric carts when shopping. I used wheelchairs at airports. My physician told me I was in a downward spiral and that if I didn't lose weight I would probably be dead in five years. He suggested weight loss surgery.
What was (is) the worst thing about being overweight?
Feeling tired all the time, having to buy clothes is a big and tall store, having to sit at a table in a restaurant and never in a booth, always having to ask for a seat belt extension on a plane, never being able to put the tray table down because I got in the way, the way people would look at me and then look away, having to use a wheelchair at airports and an electric cart in stores, and having man boobs.
If you have had weight loss surgery already, what things do you most enjoy doing now that you weren't able to do before?
Being able to buy clothes anywhere, sitting in a booth in a restaurant, sitting on a plane and not having to ask for a seat belt extension, being able to put the tray table down, looking good in my clothes, and feeling normal, and not being ashamed to put on a bathing suit and go swimming.