5 year surgiversary - life is better, but food is still a struggle...
Unofficially, when someone is five years out from surgery, they are considered a veteran (vet) on this site. When I started this journey five years ago, I had no idea what was ahead of me.
If you take one thing away from this post, it's that you have to remain vigilant. You can read my posts I am linking to at the end - all the excitement of losing 100 lbs, 200 lbs, reaching goal, having plastic surgery, and more. I was the model WLS patient! I had surgery at 351 lbs and lost down to my goal of 160. Then I was in "maintenance", but what does that really mean? Although it feels momentous to see the number on the scale you have been striving for, the truth is, nothing actually changes. Ideally, you continue to do what you have been doing. In my case, that was:
- Eat high protein, low carb
- Weigh and track my food
- Get on the scale everyday
Notice, I said "ideally". I should have continued to do those things, but then life happens. Your weight is your new normal. You?re not dropping pounds every week. People aren't astounded at how you look. You're in a routine of life.
But then in year 4, looking back at my posts, I had a little regain. I was struggling to decide how badly I wanted to lose 12 lbs. Because losing 12 lbs in year 4 is not like year 1 or 2. I can no longer subsist on 600 calories a day. I am no longer full from half a sausage. It takes real dedication and commitment and frankly, discipline. So I teetered around in the 170s all through 2017. When I look in MFP, the first day of 2018 I was 177 lbs. I was more or less comfortable at that weight, my clothes still fit, and I was ok with that.
I was in the 170s all the way until my recorded weight of 179.8 on April 10th. And you know what? I got complacent. I had a bunch of work travel. I had some vacations. I was eating "normal" food, just less of it. I would make fettucine alfredo or chicken quesadillas or grilled cheese for the kids, and I would have that too. I wasn't logging my food. I sure as hell wasn't weighing it. And apparently I wasn't weighing myself, because my next weight was 191 on July 2nd -almost three months had passed with me not weighing and logging!
You may have gasped out loud reading that! I almost did. I mean, I was creeping up to 200 lbs. And I vividly remember when I hit 199 in 2015 and I thought "NEVER AGAIN! Never again will my weight begin with a 2". And I meant it. Yet, in July I was 191. That should have scared me ****less, right? I joined a nearby gym and really stepped up my exercise. I felt a lot more hungry on workout days and began eating a bag of microwave popcorn as a "snack".
My next recorded weight, and I can't believe I am admitting this, is 202.4 lbs on November 19th. I had stuck my head in the sand all summer and fall. Seeing 202.4 on the scale was when something switched in my mind and I said to myself, I can't do this anymore. I can't eat the food my family eats and not track it. I can't use copious amounts of flavored coffee creamer. I can't ignore the fact that I am a food addict and I require daily vigilance.
So since November 19th, I have been doing what I always tell the newbies to do! I weigh my food on my kitchen scale. I log every bite in MFP. I make myself different food from the family. They have pasta, I have ricotta cheese baked with ground turkey meat sauce on top. They have orange chicken on rice, I have a bowl of crockpot chicken. I recently made a batch of chicken meatballs that only I like, and froze half of them. My lunch is tuna salad or egg salad made with cottage cheese - no bread or crackers. And how unsurprising - when I eat dense protein, I see that I still have restriction.
I am proud to say that today, my five year surgiversary, I weighed in at 199.8. I am going to get back to 175. I have some amazing role models on this site who have fought the battle of regain and won, like Citizen Brit Kim, Amy R, Birdiegirl, Laura in Texas and others. I feel like I am worth it and I am finally willing to prioritize myself.
So, as a "vet" - here is my advice to you (if you could read this far). Come to this site. Get support. Give support. Listen to the advice of those who have walked this walk before you. Eat dense protein. Weigh your food. Log it somewhere so the calories don?t sneak in. And stick around.
Additionally (sorry for how long this is), get lab work done. Track trends. My ferritin was in the single digits in year 4 and I had iron infusions, which got it up to 60. Whenever I see someone whose "labs are perfect!" at one year out, well yes, but make sure you know what your levels are every year. I keep mine in a spreadsheet so I can pick up on trends.
Thanks to all of you who have given me such great support over the years. RNY was still the best thing I have ever done in my life, and I plan on continuing to be active on this site. I almost feel like a fraud to be called a vet, but hopefully some of you can learn from my mistakes. This site has been an invaluable source of advice and inspiration and truth, and I plan to keep on keeping on and helping in any way I can!
Oh, and since people love before and after pics - here is a before pic next to an at goal pic, and then two from last month (one at the gym and one from when I was in Israel). I cringe when I see my most recent pics - obviously I look better than five years ago, but all I can see are those 25 extra pounds?
Pre-RNY (351 lbs) and at goal (160 lbs):
Most recent pics: Trend weight - stay vigilant is all I can say!
Plastics: http://www.obesityhelp.com/forums/plasticsurgery/5309071/X-p ost-Everything-I-wished-I-had-known-and-everything-I/
Two year surgiversary: http://www.obesityhelp.com/forums/rny/5445401/My-two-year-su rgiversary-with-a-before-and-after-picture/
Three year surgiversary: http://www.obesityhelp.com/forums/rny/6014459/Three-year-sur giversary-before-and-after-pics-included/#50165149
Two years post LBL:
You look amazing!!
Congratulations on your successes and thank you for sharing the good and the bad, so those of us that are still very new can learn. I suspect everyone will have to learn the hard way, no matter how alert we try to be, but your willingness to be candid and open is an incredible gift.
I learn so much from you and all the vets that you thanked!! I am to give back as much as you all do as I progress!
HW: 306 SW: 282 CW:144.8 GW: 145 (reached 2/6/19), next goal - 132.9
Thanks, Jen! I swear, I was the poster child for how to eat post-WLS. My weight went in a straight line down down down to goal. I would NEVER in a million years have said, I will weigh 200 again. The first three years weren't really a struggle but then as you can see, I got complacent and stopped weighing and tracking. That did me in! I hope you stick around to share your success and advice! I normally see a huge drop-off when people reach their goal weight...but I know how grateful I am to the vets on here who helped me along the way so I hope to stay here and give advice too! :)
on 12/17/18 7:48 am
thanks so much for your honest post. I also am working on regain. I gained from year 2-3 which the 15th being my 3 year anniv.
I've so far gotten off about 5 pounds and want to tell everyone- it is VERY SLOW to lose regain!!!
I'm working on my next goal of 5 more pounds then will take stock in where I am.
Hi Hilary - happy surgiversary to you too! I hear you on the "I am so much smaller and healthier but not happy with my current weight" feelings. Losing is so much harder now! I see that you still come here and log your meals and do your part in planning your menu - I think that's so important. For a while there, I wasn't posting on the menu thread because (in my mind) "no one needs to see what the menu of someone five years out is"...which is actually (in reality) "I am not planning, weighing or tracking my food". I can see it so clearly now!
Thank you for your wise words. I had a slip up (18 months po) last week but am right back at it. I don't want to waste my honeymoon, although I gotta admit the last 30-35 lbs were no honeymoon. When I hear from people like you (real ppl who lost the weight but for one reason or another had a rebound/regain)it makes me more vigilant and I appreciate that.
SW:261 6/26/17 GW:150 10/6/18
Thanks, Sheila! The great news is that you can lose well past the 12-18 month honeymoon period. Gwen from the VSG board lost her dad about a year after surgery and plateaued, and now she is back to losing and I think she is 4 years post-op! It's possible, it just happens at a slower rate. I suppose if you take anything from me, it's that a slip-up isn't major...it's burying your head in the sand and not getting back to what you need to be doing until you've gained 25+ lbs! Ugh, I hate even typing that. It would be much easier if I was facing 10 lbs! :)
And I think you're doing great. You also look phenomenal - in one of your last pics I was amazed at how young and bright you look - I had a lot of saggy skin after my weight loss and definitely did not look younger after I lost weight. And you definitely do!
It's gotta be the genes. I remember going out with my grandma and people thought she was my mom. That woman didn't age after 50. She was in her 70s and I was 15-16 and ppl thought she was my mom. I used to get upset but now I'm grateful for those genes.
SW:261 6/26/17 GW:150 10/6/18
Congratulations on your 5 years and welcome to the "vets club"
Becoming a vet is a serious rite of passage because honestly, anyone can be a "perfect" WLSer for a year or two, but surviving 5 years without a hiccup is ... unusual. You have so much experience to share - great, good and oops!
YOU are, and should be, a huge inspiration to those coming after you; not just because you lost a **** ton of weight and have kept almost all of it off, but you are still here supporting everyone else. So many people hang out on OH for a year or two while they get support for their weightloss but they drop off once they've lost and it's time for them to give back. Then we'LL see them back for support when they've regained. Sad, but true!
2013 was a vintage year, with so many of you still here. I hope all the newbs and honeymooners appreciate who you are and what you bring to this site because you really are a gift xoxo
Proud Feminist, Atheist, LGBT friend, and Democratic Socialist
Thanks, Kim...I do sometimes feel awesome about having lost a **** ton of weight, and I try not to focus on the 25 lbs I regained and have to lose! I definitely know that hearing from people who have been through the initial weight loss, the regain, the regain loss, etc. has led to me a. feeling supported, b. knowing I'm not alone and c. having ideas of how to tackle this problem. I agree - too many people disappear after a year or two and then come back either to pop in with a pictures and say "hey look at me, I'm hot" or "help, I've regained". I wish more people stuck around to help people understand the ongoing challenges and successes of life after WLS.
I hope that continuing to participate here will lead me back to my comfortable weight. Being under 200 has done a lot for me, mentally. This past month has been a struggle of beating myself up.
And, YOU inspire me with your loss this year - you're up to what, 50 lbs lost this year, ten years after surgery?!?! Hot damn, that makes me think 25 is possible! XOXO right back atcha!