My WLS as a Family AffairJune 1, 2016
Like so many others who have had WLS, I’ve been overweight for most of my life. I was pretty normal until I reached the 5th grade. We moved to a new town and a new school, and I became very sedentary. My free time was watching tv and playing video games. I hadn’t really realized that I was the “big” kid in class until 6th grade until I was unanimously voted to be the anchor for the tug of war on field day. By the time I started high school, I was over 250 lbs. During my Junior year, I joined the swim team, and I was able to get down to a pretty “normal” weight of 215. I was able to stay pretty slim through the rest of high school, and before graduating, I met my future wife.
Along Came College and the Weight
Little did I know that disaster was about to strike. I started college, and the “freshman 15” was more like “freshman 45” for me, and another year later, I was over 300 lbs. A couple of years later, I was probably around 380 lbs (I never really weighed myself at my largest). I gave Atkins a try, and lost a decent amount of weight, but it all came back, and I bounced back up to around 350 lbs. I would stay at that mark for the next 20 years.
After years of dieting, exercising, and failure, I was still hovering around 350 lbs. I could lose weight in the short-term, but it would come right back. When my daughter was born, I set a goal of losing weight to set a good example, but unfortunately, I was unsuccessful. Although I was not happy at all with my weight (and the health problems that started to happen because of it), I had accepted it, and I thought I’d be heavy forever.
From Humiliation to Change
It finally took my obesity to affect my family to get me to take action and do something about my weight and health. We were on vacation at a water park, and I walked my then-five-year-old daughter to the top of the waterslide. She was so excited, bouncing up and down, and couldn’t wait to go down the slide with me. When we got to the top, I saw the sign that said, “Weight Limit: 250 pounds”. At the time, I weighed over 350 lbs. One of the most humiliating things I’ve ever had to do was walk her back down the stairs, past all the people there, and to my wife, who had to then take her up to do the slide. While they were having fun in the park, I sat over against the wall and was really in a very dark place. At that time, I decided I was going to get WLS and I was going to lose my weight.
About a month later, I met with my surgeon for a consultation. Based on my weight and my diabetes, he recommended the RNY, and I agreed. He told me that I could expect to get to 250 pounds after surgery. This sounded good, but I knew that I wouldn’t be satisfied.
After meeting with my surgeon, I went home, talked about it with my family, and told them that I was not going to stop at 250. They agreed and assured me that they would support me the whole way. Ultimately, I was successful, and the morning that I started this article, I weighed 193 lbs. I am over 18 months out from surgery, and things have been awesome.
My Journey Became a Family Affair
But I think the biggest positive from my surgery has been the impact on my family. As soon as I started my WLS journey, my wife, Stacey, decided that she was going to get healthy as well. When I decided to make the necessary changes in my life to get healthy, she was behind me 100% and was ready to make a change as well. Although she could’ve qualified for the surgery herself, she decided to do it by making non-surgical changes in her life. She started watching what she ate. She started exercising, following Zumba videos online, and exercised quite a bit. And she worked her butt off (literally!). So far, she has lost almost 90 pounds and is very close to her ultimate goal.
And my daughter, Aleena, who is now seven years old, has also been positively impacted. Her own weight is actually down a couple of pounds from where she was two years ago while she has continued to get taller. Her doctors before were a little concerned about her weight, but at her last visit, her doctor was ecstatic about how good her weight is now. She is very aware of the importance of exercise and good nutrition (much more than I was at seven years old), and she makes very healthy choices in her own life.
Dinner time looks very different now, compared to what it was like before. Gone are the days of take-out food 3-4 times a week, lots of fried foods, lots of pasta and bread, and the stuff that enabled me to get to the size I was. We now eat healthy which is a lot of lean protein, green vegetables, and healthy whole grains.
My daughter is amazing since some of her favorites are pink steak (medium), asparagus, zucchini, squash, shrimp, sushi, Brussels sprouts, and pretty much anything you wouldn’t expect out of a seven-year-old. This makes me so happy, because she’s learning the healthy eating habits that will stick with her for her entire life.
Our home life is also completely different now. Before, our leisure time revolved around messing around online and watching television. But now, we love to be active. One huge activity we now enjoy are family bike rides. Every weekend (weather permitting), we’ll load up the bikes and find a trail. These family bike rides are usually a highlight of the week, and we really love them. On Easter Sunday, the weather was really nice, and as we were just sitting around waiting for dinner, we decided to load them up and go for a bike ride. We never would’ve done that before! We also participate in other healthy activities. We recently completed a race weekend. I ran a 5K, and my wife and daughter both participated in the 1K.
On Easter Sunday, the weather was really nice, and as we were just sitting around waiting for dinner, we decided to load them up and go for a bike ride. We never would’ve done that before! We also participate in other healthy activities. We recently completed a race weekend. I ran a 5K, and my wife and daughter both participated in the 1K. Afterward, my wife exclaimed, “Wow, I’m not even winded!” It was an amazing feeling for us all to be there with our participation medals and a real testament to how far we’ve come in our lives.
I am also able to enjoy hiking again, now that I’m not carrying an extra 150 pounds around. And now, my daughter loves to go hiking too! It’s a great bonding experience with just the two of us in the woods.
I am so thankful for getting my WLS. It has not only helped me immensely but also my family. They are more active, healthier, and enjoying life much more than before. I wouldn’t have had the success I have without them.
When I look back on my life, I feel horrible about how much of my youth I wasted. But I’m encouraged for the future. I’ve got a lot of living ahead of me, and best of all, I know my daughter’s life will be much more fulfilling with an active lifestyle.
ABOUT THE AUTHORBill Daniels is a high school teacher, a loving father and husband, and a huge Star Wars fan. He had his RNY on October 6, 2014, and has never looked back. Bill has lost a total of 159 lbs since the beginning of his journey. He enjoys exercising, hiking, reading, and spending time with his two favorite girls.