1 year anniversary from starting the journey - a reflection

Sep 01, 2022

September 1, 2021 was the day I started my fast to prepare for surgery.  So today, I commemorate that important decision and the results arising from it.  The actual surgery date was September 14th, a date I will never forget as being very special, as it has changed my life.

My starting weight was 294.  My weight today is 165.8, for a 125.5 pound weight loss over the last year.

My highest weight ever was 307, for an overall weight loss of 141.2 pounds (46%).

My original BMI was 42.8

Today, my BMI is 23.2

Over the course of the last year, I set three weight goals, somewhat readily blasting past each one.  Starting with 207, then 199, then an absolute lower limit of 170.  The lower limit was based on published data for the healthiest weight for my age/height.

As of May 20th, 2021, I achieved that lowest (170 pound) goal.  Actually, the goal was to never vary more than +/- 5 pounds of 170.  This is an entirely different exercise, trying to track to a fixed weight, when, during my entire life, I was always trying to track to a weight loss goal.  Hence, weight stability has been the current goal for ~ the past 90 days.

Frankly, it has been a struggle, as this BPD/DS surgery is so effective, that after having attained my most optimistic weight loss goal, I have had to eat to excess, sometimes, even, to discomfort, in order to stabilize my weight within the desired range.  I am fairly confident, that if I was not intentionally working hard to keep my calories up, that I would easily shrink to 150 or 155 pounds.  My wife would have none of that.

What a strange journey.  It's like living on the other side of the looking glass!  To a very large extent, this new norm has taken away much of the pleasure of eating.  (food isn't supposed to be meant for that purpose anyway, when you have had a life of being overweight, though.)  Right?

With a base metabolic rate of about 1,700 calories, and absorption of only 20-80% of calories depending on if it is protein or fat, one can quickly do the math and realize how hard it is to maintain weight without eating a HUGE number of calories.  With the reduced size of one's stomach along with the abbreviated intestinal tract, it means there is only so much food you can cram in and process.  Hence, its a major challenge to get all of those calories to stabilize the weight.  Of course, there is always that beast - sugar - with over double the calories of fat and protein, and 100% of it being metabolized, it is a way to top off your calories to get to goal.  HOWEVER, with a BPD/DS surgery, carbrohydrates play havoc with your system and how you feel, so chasing the balance of how many carb calories I can get away with before having adverse symptoms, seems to be my new hobby.  Miscalculate, and either the scale goes lower (don't want that), or you get very uncomfortable for up to 24 hours.  Weird balance.

When I was morbidly obese, my limits on taking a walk were "how long can I go before I run out of energy?"  Now, with literally boundless energy, and not a lot of weight to carry around, the new question is "how far away from home can I get, without having to go to the bathroom?" unless I've managed my carbs really well.

Still, I'd take the new life over the old.  There is no question.  I no longer feel like I'm trying to carry 3 bags of rock salt every where I go.  My knees are not throbbing.  Its easy to tie your shoes.  You can fit in spaces where your mind says "don't even try it, its not even close", then you easily go right through them.  Airplane seats - NOT A PROBLEM!  I always flew first class so I could physically fit in the seat and not impose, embarrassingly, on the person(s) on either side of me.  The other day, I was on a connecting flight in an RJ.  In coach.  Those seats and the leg space - are TINY.  NOT A PROBLEM!  I could have sat in one of those seats all the way to Hawaii if I had to.  And frankly, people do look at you differently.  Its not to much a look of acceptance, but definitely not one of rejection, which would have been more common a year ago.

One other thing I noticed, which I had anticipated, but now I live with this reality - you can't lose 140 pounds without becoming deflated - even - emaciated.  This means that I look ten to 15 years older in the face than I did a year ago.  I see some people defer and make way for me, as they see me as a very old man.  This is disheartening.  But maybe this is what people who are NOT inflated look like at my age.  I'm still finding out.  And, when your body sheds weight - it does not discriminate - it eats the muscle along with the fat, which took away my muscular strength.  So I have been working hard on pressing weights and walking.  It's fairly amazing how fast one can add muscle with lots of weight lifting.  Like one to two hours a day, three days a week.  But I also found that if you are in a caloric deficit, your body CANNOT gain muscle.  Hence, the need to always try to take in a little more fuel than you need, in order to promote muscle growth.

But it's working.  I have skinny arms with significant, defined muscles and almost no fat.  So definitely a different look.  Kind of what I imagine a farmer working out in the field might look like.  Shredded, but with limited bulk.  Except for all of the loose skin around the middle.  That's depressing.  So, I will be looking to get plastic surgery for the floppy neck and the floppy belly next spring.  I am not thrilled with the anticipated scarring, but I accept that it is a reasonable expectation that this needs to be done.

Oh, and now I can buy clothes anywhere, and the look REALLY good on me, and I actually have a silloutte (when dressed) that I can be proud of.  And that's what I get to experience every hour of the day.  And nothing else feels as good as that!

In conclusion - I would do it all over again in a hearbeat.  No question.  It's different than I would have expected, but i'ts manageable.  Being flexible, having energy, fitting into clothes and seats, and society, and not running out of breath, and being largely free of joint pain (the damage was done, but its 90% better), makes it all worth it, and I would never, ever, accept going back to all of the comorbidities and loss of freedom and embarrassment the extra weight represented. 

I hope this too-long essay helps you decide what you want to do, based on what you can tolerate and what you want to achieve.  If you have any questions, get in touch!