Before and After VSG to RNY Revision with Tarsha down 210 Pounds!February 28, 2023
Why I decided to have WLS
Food and I have had a love/hate relationship my whole life…UNTIL I said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
My struggle with food started at a very young age. My early memories of being called “chunky and the little round girl” every day as terms of endearment however, in school, the names were much different like “the big, fat girl” and the “Roly Poly” one. Even though the names were supposed to have a different context, they created the same emotion for me…sadness. I didn’t want to look or “feel” different, but no matter what I accomplished – being a good daughter, a good student, on the track team, on the swim team, it didn’t matter. I was still the “ fat girl that couldn’t wear the cute clothes!
At age 10, I was tipping the scale at 150 and at 5 '0', that was “Big” at that time. In my efforts to try and be more fashionable and be cute, I could wear the same size 8-9 shoe, which was a big thing because I was able to wear my mother's high heel shoes. I think that was the beginning of my love for high heel shoes. Walking in high heels made me feel confident and pretty, but of course, at that age, my mother was not having that at all.
My elementary school, middle school and high school years were very difficult. But as I look back now, it was preparing me for what was to come in my life.
The next phase of life was me dealing with being a young wife, a mother of two boys, one with autism, and still having a strained relationship with food was just another step to adding weight to my 5 '4 frame. Being 270 lbs suffering from high blood pressure, sleep apnea, chronic body pain, arthritis, just to name a few. I never wanted to complain (out loud) so food became my friend, my confidant and my motivator! Food never judged me, never said mean things to me, never let me down and ALWAYS made me feel good. But in reality, and tipping the scale at 320lbs, food was slowly KILLING ME from the inside out.
At the age of 30, going through a difficult marriage, then divorce, both sons going through mental health issues, me officially being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II and working a full-time job, my life was physically, mentally and emotionally heavy. And there was NOTHING in my life that was more consistent and comforting than FOOD!
EMOTIONAL WEIGHT CAN WEIGH MUCH MORE THAN OUR PHYSICAL WEIGHT!
For years, I was so tired of being tired. Waking up in pain, not being physically able to do things with my boys and just a feeling of being stuck. One day at age 39, I said this has to stop and I know there is much more to my life than this! I changed my mindset about food, started walking and began a healthier routine. Things took a turn because in the winter of 2012, I fell on both knees outside on concrete. Needless to say, falling at 398 lbs on both knees was more than just painful, it had done some damage to my life.
IF YOU DON’T DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR WEIGHT, YOU WILL NEED BOTH KNEES REPLACED IN ONE TO 3 YEARS!
After my fall, walking was excruciating at times and not to mention, wearing my high heels shoes, which I loved, was very difficult, even though I still tried. I eventually decided to go to the doctors to see what could be done about the pain in my knees. The doctor was very kind and straightforward. I remember exactly what he said that changed my life; “You are so young to be dealing with this”,
“If you don’t do something, you will need to have both knees replaced!”
“And if you don’t do something about your weight or if you decide to have your knees replaced, you will never be able to wear heels again.”
The one statement that made my heart stop was hearing I would not be able to wear heels again. I could not imagine not being able to wear high heels, the one thing that made me feel beautiful, made me comfortable and confident. Now, whether you call me vain or superficial, my next thought was, “ I need to do something about my weight ASAP”, and I did.
Before and After VSG to RNY Revision with Tarsha
Name: Tarsha C.
Total Weight Loss: 210 pounds
Surgery Type: VSG in 2014/ Revision to RNY 2020
Surgeon: Dr. Christina Li
Surgery Center: LifeBridge Health Bariatrics Program
THE BEGINNING OF MY BARIATRIC JOURNEY WAS ROCKY BUT EYE OPENING!
In the spring of 2013, I began my research into bariatric procedures. It was very overwhelming at first, but I eventually found the bariatric program provided at Sinai Hospital. My surgeon, Dr. Li, was thorough, very informative, personable and made me feel so comfortable with the procedure and my decision to have it done. I felt so good that I was on the right track and it was my time to take care of me, so ultimately, I would be able to take better care of my family. I was so excited about this new and healthier endeavor. I shared my plans to have WLS with my family and friends. Sadly, that was the worst thing I could have done. All of their” negative concern”, I called it, made me start second guessing my decision. I heard” You are not that fat, why are you doing that?”, “Why are you going to have a surgery and something could go wrong and you will be leaving your two sons”? “ You are beautiful just the way you are. Just don’t eat and you will lose the weight on your own.” My response was, if it was that easy, no one would be obese! I had lost weight on my own before. I had done all the weight loss programs and tricks, which none of them had long-term results. That was the goal I strived for…Long-Term Success. So I just knew I was ready…I thought.
Per my medical plan and itinerary given to me from Dr. Li, I had six months to complete all the necessary tests and screenings and each month I was to have a weigh in and an appointment with the dietitian to check in on my progress. At my initial visit with Dr. Li, I was told I needed to lose 25lbs in the six months leading up to scheduling the procedure. This would help to start that mindset change, my relationship with food, and start a healthier lifestyle routine. There was no doubt that I was ready for this beneficial and life saving procedure however, I was clearly not ready. In the following three-month check-ins, I actually gained weight each month. I was so frustrated and felt so defeated that I was not ready and dropped out of the program. I thought it would make no sense to try to force this major change, have the procedure and, because I was not ready and willing to change, end up right back where I started. My resolve was to get myself ready physically, emotionally and mentally and then come back with the willing attitude needed to make this life-changing decision with no regrets.
Even though I had dropped out of the bariatric program, it was a stepping stone for me changing how I looked at food. I no longer was living to eat, I was eating to live! Besides my chronic high blood pressure becoming uncontrollable, my sleep apnea had progressed to a new level and my A1C number was creeping up. My final straw was not being able to fit on a rollercoaster with my friends and having to take “the walk of shame” off the ride to watch them from a wooden bench! Lol…That was it. I began my research again and in late summer of 2013, I said, I AM READY!
So on February 28, 2014, I had a Gastric Sleeve Procedure. Dr. Li and her whole team were so supportive and encouraging. The surgery went well. I was feeling good. All the preparation physically and the work on my mindset I did, I was on Cloud 9!
THE JOURNEY GOES FORWARD…
In the first 30 days post- procedure, I lost 55 lbs. My routine consisted of getting my daily protein in, drinking water, exercising four days a week; swimming, group fitness, walking, and boot camp. I was so excited, overwhelmed, motivated and scared, all at the same time! My sons were doing well, I had moved into a new home (all mine), bought a new car and got engaged💍. LIFE WAS GOOD!
18 months later, I hit my plateau…168 lbs!!! I hadn’t been around this weight since I was in middle school and had never been an adult single digit size 8! I totally was flying high and my new husband was flying high with me! I had the BEST SUPPORT TRIBE EVER!
BUT LIFE NEVER STOPS…
Six years post- sleeve procedure, I was still flying high until life started throwing curve balls! My dad passed suddenly, my mom can to live with me, had to have a emergency partial hysterectomy, my mother in law passed away, had to have a total hysterectomy because of cancer cells found and dealing with my own mental status, all happened within a year, my weight took an upward turn. I tried to continue to eat healthier , stay on a workout schedule and tried several different nutritional programs and supplements that just weren't working. My doctors shared with me not to be so hard on myself because my body and my mind was going through a lot and just give it time! Of course, getting older didn’t help. My weight had gotten to 215, the highest I had seen in seven years. I refused to continue to watch all my hard work go away right in front of my eyes.
I called Dr. Li and requested a revision, which would be having a gastric bypass surgery since I previously had a gastric sleeve procedure. Dr. Li , with her loving embrace and attitude to match, agreed and said “ You got this”! So, in 2020, I had the revision procedure. It was just what my then 47 year old mind and body needed to get and stay on track! Basically, it said thank you because I had a renewed source of energy, motivation and accountability! Not only did I feel good, I felt the need to share and support women that were in the same spot in their life.
Because of my passion to help and support other women in this life-changing decision and help build a sustainable blueprint for their long-term success, I created CherLove Wellness in 2019, which provides social, emotional and lifestyle change support for women deciding to have WLS procedures. I also became a DPP Lifestyle and Nutritional Support Coach. By means of awesome collaboration and to help support women on their Journey to Wellness, we provide access to self-care therapies and an opportunity to just relax, reset, and feel energized to continue on a healthier track ,which has been pivotal in my wellness journey!
Special Milestone and Non-Scale Victories
- Being able to cross my legs and keep them crossed without holding them.
- Being able to fit on ANY amusement park ride (even the children’s rides?
- Being able to train for a 5k run!
- Being able to buy clothes off the rack without having to try them on first!
- I am able to wear and walk in any high heel shoe without my legs feeling crushed.
- Being able to go up and down stairs without feeling exhausted and out of breath.
- Being able to sit at any restaurant booth without having to move the table for more room!
From the start of my bariatric journey to date, I am down 210lbs from my highest weight and staying strong! I exercise 3×times a week, try to eat a balanced diet and drink water. Of course, it is still and always will be a journey and not a race, however, I am loving my journey and this is STILL one of my BEST DECISIONS OF MY LIFE!
Like this Before and After VSG to RNY Revision with Tarsha, you too can celebrate your own Before & After WLS Success, milestones, non-scale victories, and inspire others! The OH team wants to hear from you to share your weight loss surgery journey. Visit our Before & After Submission page for details.