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    Went to the seminars, saw the Nutritionist and still have to see the GI Doctor and do the sleep study and then 2 weeks of Pre-Op Shakes. I was given a booklet of what I will need on my road to Bariatric Surgery. The vitamins, the protein shakes, and what to expect. I have always been a Big Guy so I expect to be thin or at least thinner ergo Healthier. I'm still on the fence about the type of surgery. Sleeve or Bypass? They say Bypass is the "GOLDEN STANDARD" I hope I can choose what is best for me but I don't know. Chime in any info will be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  1. So Last Dec I was at 307. this was my highest weight ever and I had managed to creep back up there. UGH. So As of today I am 108 pounds under that. Does it seem real ? NO . I've cheated a bit every now and again. but I know I will never ever be anywhere near that again. Does it seem real NO. I look in my MIRRORarrow-10x10.png and I still see the other 108 pounds. I told a co-worker I've lost a super model and they said no you've lost a super model wearing steel toe boots. (THANK YOU my brain screamed) And I said Thank you ..... It's been hard more mentally hard than anything because I still go to the same stores and I've gotten nicely kicked out by my favorite sales clerks who in the past have helped me choose things. I took a picture in my swimsuit. And it showed my problem areas that I need help with during my transition and I thought gross. then I thought it was grosser before. At least now I can better fit things. And I am ok with this. Mentally as I said I look in the mirrorarrow-10x10.png and I see the other me. And I know it won't go away. I know that physically I've changed but mentally it's harder. But it's good the mental picture flashes up because it reminds me of where I don't want to go back to. And I THANK GOD everyday for this chance at change. Also I forgot. the biggest thing to bug me is people saying oh you look so pretty now..... Well so I've really found out my fat phobia that I thought ppl had is real. So I wasn't pretty before ? I'm not saying I was or wasn't but this is how you think. UGH... Second ppl talk to me that I passed in the hall everyday at work and now they speak. Before I spoke and they kept going. Wow what are they going to do when I loose the other 50 pounds ? SMH

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    kpodnar
    Latest Entry

    Tomorrow is my last weigh in required by insurance! I am nervous, excited, and scared! I have done well on my pre-op diet and met both my surgeon and PCP's recommended weight loss for the six month period. This time has been invaluable to me. I feel like I am already in the gastric bypass mind set as far as my food choices and my entire way of thinking about food. My husband and I went out to eat for Valentine's Day and I over ate and I still feel sick because of the large portion I consumed. Wish me luck tomorrow as my info goes on to the insurance company for approval!

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    gamzap
    Latest Entry

    Today, for the first time since my surgery 6 weeks ago, I came face to face with that part of me, almost an alter ego, that got me to morbid obesity. I had been so relieved and grateful to not hear from her; I almost thought that miraculously the surgeon had somehow removed her on the table.

    One of my dearest friends has been going through a catastrophic loss....by inches. While she was in the hospital having surgery, her husband suffered a stroke and was being cared for by hospice in their home. When she recovered and returned home, she fell and suffered a spinal cord injury and is now partially paralyzed in the hospital. Yesterday I got the call that her husband was not expected to last the day. I went to see her, and then to their home to sit with her husband through his last hours. I was there for 8 hours and then the minister came so I went home to get some rest.

    I arrived back at their home early this morning and no one was there. I knew that he had passed in the night. I knew how devastated my friend would be as they were the most devoted married couple you can imagine. I wanted to go to the hospital to hug her and be sure her children were there with her.

    As I put the key into the ignition......my old alter-ego said to me LOUDLY......."First, let's go get an egg, bacon, cheese biscuit and a large diet coke at McDonald's. Then you will be ready to go face your friend's grief and be emotionally available for her."

    Emotional numbing. Food has been my coping and numbing medicine ...........This is just a dramatic example of a pattern that has been repeated over and over thousands of times in my life. How many fast food trips, how many brownies to get through the vagaries of life and still keep moving. Eat something to calm down, to cheer up, to hide the pain, to soldier on.

    What I needed was a little time to experience the moment, to take some deep breaths, to let some tears fall. I took a short walk, and even stopped to fill my gas tank on the way. I needed time to process, to allow myself to feel the depth of my sadness and acknowledge my feeling of helplessness that I could do nothing to take away the suffering of my friend.

    I felt those feelings.....and they hurt as much as I feared they would. But bearing them gave me a sense of strength, of solidity. I went to the hospital to hold my friend.....to be present with her in her grief, even knowing I could do nothing to change it.

    Many people share about grieving the loss of food and overeating - the loss of sensual pleasure, the fun of indulgence, the shared feasting with friends and loved ones. For me, life without emotional eating takes away my ability to hide from my feelings and the world.

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    duckster43
    Latest Entry

    Well here I am roughly 9 weeks post surgery and I am still adapting to my new "tool." I've lost 82 pounds and roughly 4 pant sizes!! I thank God for giving me the strength to go forward with the surgery. I also thank God for my loving and supportive family, who are helping me every step of the way!!!

    I am learning how to work this tool into my life style. It hasn't always been easy but it has all been good. My children have been the most amazing through the entire process!! They've been helping me adapt our menu to a healthier one AND they'be become so much healthier because of it.

    Even though my journey has just started I still have a long road to go.

    Have a great day.

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    You are everything that is bad, you are everything that has made me sad, you are everything that is life altering.

    No matter how accomplished I am in life, no matter how much I have, because I am fat I feel worthless-and because I feel worthless I allow other people to treat me as though I am worthless.

    Its time to make it all stop. Its time to gain control of this beautiful gift that God has given me and do something with it.

    So many years have gone by, so many opportunities missed, so many chances not taken because I am overweight.

    The freedom of being a normal weight can give you trumps over all the deliciousness in food

    I cant do it anymore-your not good for me-I walk a few blocks and im huffing and puffing, I attempt to put my shoes on and I start to sweat, I spend days letting life pass me by because I am too tired to get out of bed.

    It is not worth it. I am worth more then what I consume. My Life would be so much better if I could control what I eat.

    You are my drug, always lurking in my head, always present. My car has become a comfort zone because its one of the places where no one has to see me eating the unhealthy food that I eat, and I wont have to feel criticized when Im eating it. I know Im doing wrong so my car became a place where I can shut off the world while I commit a crime on myself.

    I want it to stop. I want to see the world in a different way. I want people to see me for who I am not what I eat. Because if they don't see shoveling it in my mouth they will surely see it in the weight Ive gained.

    I want to be present in the world. Not in the shadows where I stay now because I feel unworthy but in crowd of beautiful women that are being admired.

    Its time to take charge...so...my love...food...its over. I will no longer use you to fill that void in me that is missing. I will only use you to preserve my beautiful life I will be living.

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    I choose life
    Latest Entry

    So I am 1 week and 1 day from surgery and I thought it would be good to write down my thoughts so that if I am ever asked or curious, I will be able to remember some of my early lessons. To be completely honest it also helps me to have a place to clear out all the thoughts that jumble inside my mind.

    Firstly, all the preparation for the change was never going to prepare me for all the things that are changing inside me and around me. Excitement does not begin to explain what I feel when I think about the future. My true regret is that I have waited so long. I know that I am only 35years old, but it seems that living a day without this kind of commitment to health and life, was such a wasted opportunity. Don’t get me wrong I understand that there are many things that I have my life that I would not have had if not for each of those days, namely my husband of nearly 10 years and our amazing 9 year old daughter. I just wish that I had done this earlier so that I would not have wasted so much time, I could have spent enjoying them and our lives together. I am just so grateful that I have not wasted anymore time, because every moment with them is and will continue to be worth the work that has and will continue to lay ahead of me.

    Another thing that has occurred to me in the last week is that in all my years of dealing with food I have had no real idea of what my relationship with it was. I have heard a lot “grieving for food”, because you in a sense are losing a close friend and something that you have come to depend on for comfort. While I completely can see that this is something that a person could struggle with and honestly I imagined it would be something that I would struggle with. However, oddly enough that is not something I feel. It seems like ever since the surgery I have a great feeling of relief that I don’t have to deal with food and the torment that I have always had with guilt and gluttony. It almost feels like I have been released from the clutches of a bully. I know that sounds nuts to me to think of food and my addiction to it as a bully. I am sure I am not the only person to feel this but it is a feeling that I never expected. It is like leaving an abusive relationship, only you are the one who is abusing yourself. (Let me express that I am not belittling the trial of an abused woman.) I just never thought of my relationship with food in this way. I always thought that like an addict I would somehow miss the food and the eating, but I really don’t. I love the fact that there is something that there is something that is giving me time to learn how to build good and healthy habits.

    So those are 2 of the thoughts that I have had in the last week. I know there will be more in this learning process. I’ll keep typing and you can keep reading if you like. :)

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    ToadBelly87
    Latest Entry

    I find that it's important to keep a food journal. While I have a hard copy of my emotional journey, I also have found it helpful to post on sites like this as well as Blogger and Tumbler. I have a private site on Penzu and I often write a list of what I'm eating at the time that I eat it. I note how much it is as well as my liquid count. At the end of the day, I add up ounces and grams and configure what I need to be working on. My doctor here in Las Vegas, NV (Dr. Darren Soong/Atkinson), recommends 80-100oz water per day and 70-80g of weighted out protein, but believed to be more for men. I'm up about 60g and I am working on eating more nuts and more fish cutlets and chicken rather than rare steak (which I love). If I really want to have an occasional carb, I'll dip some whole grain crackers in hummus or put cream cheese or peanut butter on a piece of nine-grain bread.

  2. I saw my GP for the infections and everything is under control. But since I've also come down with gastroenteritis and the constant vomiting less than a month post op is really taxing my tolerance for pain and general stress. My weight loss has slowed down, even while I vomit everything I eat so I can't say I appreciate the double slap that it feels like.

    I'm ready for all the obstacles and issues to pass by me now so that I can hopefully look forward to further weight loss and an enjoyable life, because it's been anything but since surgery.

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    I'm right behind you!! :) Can I ask what your "liver cleanse" diet consists of?

    Yes Breakfast: 1 high protein meal replacement shake and twelve oz of water or sugar free beverage, Lunc: 1 high protein meal replacement shake with one food item from list below and of course the twelve oz of water. afternoon snack 1 food list item Dinner four oz of lean turkey,chix breast,ham,roast beef, or fish, baked grilled orbroiled. plus one half cup of raw/cooked green vegie, or one half cup of low sodium v8 juice.

    eve snack 1 high protein meal replacement shake. drink 64 oz of non carbonated sugar free lbeverages aday.examples inc. h2o, propel,crystal light,g2, sugar free kool aid , sugar free pop scicles,sug free jello, fatfree chix or beef broth. food selection is 1/2 cup plai oatmeal, or 1/2 cup unsweetened app sauce, 1/2 cup sugar free pudding, 6 oz light yourt that is less than 90 cals or 1/2 cup non fat cottage cheese.

    Source: Two weeks before the sleeve surgery., what is your dr having you do?

  3. duffman27
    Latest Entry

    My Wife picked me up mid morning for the 90 minute drive to our home. I made myself a spot on the recliner and watched some tube and read. I walked and walked every chance that i could as I did not like the gassy feeling....waking really works to get rid of it. I am happy eating yogurt, cream soups and sugar free pops....My wife and youngest son are leaving for the weekend so I will be home for the weekend with my oldest son. He will be working off and on so I will ahve plenty of time to rest and relax. I did not take any pain meds once home.....

  4. PCB's Blog

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    PCB
    Latest Entry

    What I didn't know last week that I wished I had known.

    How hard it is to actually drink and eat 100 oz.'s daily.

    To check the sugar content before spending $100 on vitamins, softener's, protein supplements and to buy chewable and not something that needs to be crushed as they may taste bad!

    Head hunger.

    The surgery and post op pain was not existent except for the shoulder pain the first two days.

    Exactly what would be prescribed at discharge for the next 30 days before my first check up. Prior to discharge I had an opportunity to ask questions but thinking I would get what most other bloggers got did not ask surgeon. Talking to his nurse is not making me feel secure that I am getting the best advice and I am self medicating to prevent stomach ulcers.

    Looked into what foods to have to varied diet. Seems my diet from Mayo is much different than others. I think more lenient.

    Protein shakes really suck after three weeks.

    I produce enough gas to fill the Good Year Blimp every day.

    How full I stay from morning until I go to bed.

    That a meal would be considered 1/2 cup with 8 oz of skim milk.

  5. I was sitting on the subway while on my way home from work and a "normal" sized girl (wasnt skinny or fat)who looked about my age came and sat right next to me. I caught a glimpse of our reflection in the window across from me and I was surprised at what I saw. I didn't look bigger than her. We both looked like two regular sized girls. It was such a good feeling.

    I just moved from California to New Jersey, but I am working in NYC. this is such a great change,I honestly feel like I am getting anew start.

    As of today I am 209 lbs. I started out at 255 so as of right now I am 46 lbs down,I had my surgery November 19.

    This is truly amazing and I really do love this sleeve. I feel MYSELF again. I have a new found love of life,and it's just the beginning.

  6. I just created an account with this site, and mostly because I have just made two of the biggest changes in my life. I lived in Columbus Ga my entire life and on Feb. 18th 2014 I had Gastric Bypass. Everything was going great, until May 2014 my husband of almost 10 years and in the military and stationed in Fort Benning GA for 11 years received the orders that I dredded and knew would come. PCS orders. I was leaving the place I was born and raised and more importantly just had major surgery and was going to need the biggest support system for at least the first year. We moved, thank God, only 6 hours away to Fort Campbell KY in July 2014. I thankfully was able to continue eating healthy but with 3 kids and the move and my husband going away as soon as we got here to school for 2 months I didn't get much time to exercise. I have been able to continue to lose weight since ive been here and fortunately reached my goal weight of 135. but I realized in the past 2 months, starting November, I have been eating like my old self again. The holidays came and here without mom, brother, grandparents, etc really hit me hard. I have been eating cupcakes, cheesecakes, cookies (Otis spunkmeyers 100cal each!), and even been to krispy Kreme twice and had about 3 donuts over a few hours. This type of eating has put me in a deep depression. I eat these things in a frenzy and so fast to where im like getting it stuck and feeling uncomfortable because I tried to get it down so fast before I can even stop myself. I used to be like this, but in recent years have really put a lot of effort to think things through before I just shoved something in my mouth. I feel like I have really screwed up. I went for the first time to the assigned nutritionist here on post since ive been here and he told me I was eating way too much. That me eating a cup and sometimes a lil over that, at only 10 mos out at the time was terrible. that the most should be 3/4 of a cup. I have been trying to do that but if I don't measure and eat say eggs , like 2 of them I will eat something else like half an apple and before you know it im uncomfortable because im too full. I really need some good guidance. I don't want to be that patient, we all know that patient that lost so much weight and 3 years later full blown obese. Does anyone have any rituals they'd like to pass on or good advise? sorry for this extremely long, detailed book.

  7. blogentry-52788-0-29316700-1420692241_thEven though today was a "good day", I've stopped twice at Dairy Queen in the past week (it's on the main road in my little town), and eaten ice cream.

    And so I keep walking around thinking that I might be this way after I have surgery, I worry that I'll be one of "those people" that go through the pain of recovery, but don't change their habits and don't loose the weight.

    I know I've made huge improvements since starting this lifestyle, but gosh, why can't I just do it with full conviction and give it 100% effort?

    I've attached a photo of two shirts: the blue one is the size I've worn for years (2X). The green is one I bought on an Alaskan cruise in 2012 (we went on bike rides in all the ports). The green shirt is labeled XXLarge - HA HA HA! Someone's idea of a cruel joke?

    What ever. I just want to be able to FIT into the green shirt, I don't give a **** what size it says it is.

    2012 was such a good year for me fitness wise. But like so many things, I didn't finish what I started, so am I just programmed for failure?

    NO NO NO. Must not think this way. Must think positive. The past is just that - the past.

    I'm going to have slip-ups in the future, but they WILL be fewer and further in between.

    OK, I think I'm going to be okay.

  8. Within my dieting history, there has been an era of mindful eating. I had a mindful eating coach, books and ceremonial vessels. None of that intensity compares with my first week as a sleeved person. Even without hunger hormones, I am learning so much about my stomach, sure. More importantly I think, is the knowledge of how far I am willing to go to make the most nutritious ounces, the extra steps on my pedometer, both while lightheaded. I am a painter and my current canvas will surely have some bolder strokes.

    I know there will be bad days, but I am FINALLY mindful of every bite, and the yin yang of being present/long term consequences.

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    VolMommy
    Latest Entry

    Well, I am less than a month from my surgery. Today I was looking at myself in the mirror, and thought here I am now weighing in at 246 lbs and I feel like a disgusting monster. Will I really be able to lose weight with this tool? I haven't seen successful weightloss since my son was born 5 years ago. I have tried it all... except bulimia and anorexia. I have learned that I am addicted to food, and I have been working on this for years. I am ready for this change, but I know it is going to be a hard road.

    I wonder how long it will be before I notice weight loss, I have such major body issues I can see that being a problem for me. I am sure I will never be happy with how I look, but it is something I am working on daily.

    I wonder if there is a group where spouses of those of us that have had surgery can go and learn. My husband does not understand, but I know that he wants to.

    I think that is what I will work on... finding information for him. Maybe if he is positive.....it will make me feel better.

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    Jilibird
    Latest Entry

    I am about 10 years out.. 2 days ago I ate a orange and it got stuck as I call it and I threw it up.. I delt as tho I couldn't keep anything down yesterday.. I did eat a little bit but I didn't feel right and threw up again last night about 5 hours after I had eaten.. Today I feel a little better but not great.. I have been drinking a little but I just ate some cheese toast and it has stayed down but I felt like it wasn't.. Has anyone every has this happen.. I have thrown up quit a bit but this has never happend where I feel I can't eat 2 days later.. Thank u in advance..

  9. WOW! What a year it has been! I read through my blog entries from earlier in the year. I had forgotten just how far I have come! I remembered the obvious – like pounds, meds, etc. I had forgotten the relationship with food. I had forgotten just how limited my mobility was. I had forgotten my initial fears and worries.

    I am a couple of weeks past my one year mark. As of this morning, I have lost 149 pounds since the day of surgery. (113 pounds of that has been fat!) I have lost 172 pounds since the journey began. Additionally, I am off all meds – at one time I was taking 4 BP meds and a cholesterol med. I am on none of those now!

    Since surgery, my BMI has dropped from 62.7 to 40.1. I am still considered obese by the BMI chart, but I am so much closer to a normal weight/BMI than I was. And I have hope of getting there now whereas before I did not.

    Hope is a great word to describe this process for me. Reading those early entries, I was filled with hope! It was amazing to go back through those early posts and see how much hope I had, and the little things that gave me hope. Within a couple of weeks, I was able to wipe my own @ss. I had never even admitted (until TT) that I could no longer handle that very simple, very personal chore. That was how low I had sunk! But that is also what gave me so much hope so early in the process. Honestly, I had trouble even setting goals early on. My goals and dreams were so small. But the more I lost, the more I dared to dream, to hope. And I am seeing those dreams realized! And finding new dreams!

    Another word I would use for this last year is active! I now go and do anything that I choose to do. When I began this journey, I was unable to stand long enough to clean my kitchen or cook. (I had forgotten that!) I would sit in my desk chair and roll around the kitchen to clean or cook. I was unable to walk to the mailbox, too. Now, I do not even think about that; or taking out the trash; or walking the dog; or going to the grocery store; or any of those other daily chores that I was no longer able to do just over a year ago. This summer, I was doing my own yard work. I was cleaning the pool myself. Just this week, I painted a room in my house. I moved furniture, did the ladder work, cleaned up the subsequent mess and moved the furniture back - all in one day - all by myself. And was fully recovered by the next day! That told me even more! Not only that I was able to do all of that, but I did not even feel it the next day. WOW!

    Along with these feelings of self-confidence have come a lot of other intangibles that I never even expected. I have met a wonderful man and have been dating him for several months now. That was certainly never on my goals list for this year! LOL While I do believe that some of it is a result of the weight loss, not all of it is strictly weight. I would never have had the nerve to even step out, let alone accept a date. I think more of it can be contributed to the internal changes in me - the confidence, the hope, the strength that I have found since WLS. The feelings of embarrassment and inadequacy that were there when I was at my highest weight are gone! I am confident and self-assured. I am no longer self-conscious about my body, my weight. Even the sagging skin is not an issue for me. I have been fortunate – and worked hard – and a lot of the skin has bounced back. I have very little sagging on my legs or arms. No more than what I would expect on a 50-year-old arm anyway. I don’t expect to look like a 20-year-old! LOL My stomach sags but I think of it as a badge of honor - as a reminder of where I was and where I came from. My feelings about all of this may change as I continue to lose weight and get closer to my goal - or if/when the time comes for my new fellow to see me naked! LOL

    What a year it has been! I have had my struggles as well. It has not all been a bed of roses. I have lost three close family members this year. I dealt with illness early after my surgery (flu – not complications). I have had health scares that I am still dealing with (not surgery or weight related). I have felt so much better equipped to deal with these issues over the course of the year, though. It was difficult initially. I had to find a new way to deal with my problems, something other than turning to food, stuffing down my feelings. That was scary at first! And frustrating! But I have learned to feel this year. I feel all emotions now! That’s not to say that I like them all! LOL But I do feel them, I live with them, and then I move on. If I need to process something, I hit the gym instead of eating. My life is truly unrecognizable!

    And speaking of unrecognizable – I have posted photos here. The before photo was taken the day of surgery. The after was taken Dec. 28 (54 weeks after surgery). The weight loss is obvious, but I what I notice and love even more is the facial expression. I look – happy! I AM happy!

    blogentry-45193-0-29110700-1419982295_th

    blogentry-45193-0-07791400-1419982332_th

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    I had my surgery on January 28, 2013. January 28th is my birthday and I felt that this was the best gift I could ever get. It has been. Things started a little rough - I got dehydrated,blood pressure fell and so did I! I got sent to the closest hospital not the one at which I had surgery by ambulance and their ER staff decided I had an embolism (have a history of blood clots). By the time they filled me with Heparin and had to put a line in my neck because no other veins were accessible, they decided to send me to the hospital at which I had surgery. Straight to the Resuscitation Room (got scared all over again afterwards when I figured out what that meant!)and after they got me stable, off I went to emergency surgery and had 1 gallon of blood clots removed from my stomach. 5 days in ICUon a ventilator and 5 on the regular surgical recovery floor.

    BUT....it was not due to the surgery...it was due to me not driniking enough fluids. In the ensuing 11 months I am down 100 pounds and a total 0f 140 pounds since I first joined the Bariatric program. People that haven't seen me in a while don't recognize me and I am having a great time shopping for smaller clothes. I can wear boots AND zip both of them up for the first time in 20 years!!! Ooops...maybe I am having too much fun?!!

    It has been absolutely worth it - there were parts that were very hard and recovery was hampered by my own foolishness. BUT - it is the best thing I have ever done. Just remember...when they say...sip...sip...sip.. they MEAN it!!

  10. jilliebeanmn
    Latest Entry

    I've slacked off. I admitted that in my last post---then did nothing about it. Well, it's time to re-focus. I've not gained any weight, but I haven't lost anything either, and I REALLY want to get to goal.

    So, I am re-focusing again.

    I am going to start tracking my food again and get back in the gym. Starting today! I got a fitbit flex to help me get accountable to myself again.

    I can do this!

  11. Well, it's been what, ummmm couple of months now since my surgery and i have lost 19 pounds since then, 33 pounds since after my pre-op diet and 44 pounds since i first went in to talk t my surgeon about this operation. I have gone from size 3X to an 18 and measure more than I weigh. I feel great and can do so much more than I used to be able to do before my heart makes me take a break. I pretty much have my eating down and the only thing I still have great trouble with is getting all my fluids in...I have never been one to drink much of anything and never drank while eating......it's something i have to work on constanly

  12. Yesterday, I came home from the hospital and immediately stepped on the scale. There it was, in front of my eyes, the number saying I'd lost 100 pounds in the past eight months. That's about 25 pounds more than I'd set as a goal. When I set the goal, it never occurred to me that I could be a normal size. I was happy at the idea of being almost normal.

    I read a lot, almost obsessively, about what to expect from weight loss surgery, and what not to expect. The basics were there in the teaching and literature. I know what and how much I can eat and drink. I know about vitamins and how to order in restaurants. What I couldn't have known, and what I'm still trying to figure out, is how to act like a normal sized person. I can do almost anything physically now, but I will tell myself I can't. I look normal, even, with my body frame, tiny, and I'm finally believing that I look okay. I've spent a lifetime wondering how normal people think about food, how they dress, what they think about everything, as though their size really had anything to do with any of that. And now I find myself wondering if I'm acting normal. Am ;I obsessed about this weight thing, this looks thing? I am, after all, 62 years old. I have aged. I don't have fat to pad the wrinkles anymore.

    I am truly like a baby in so many ways. I am discovering my body just as an infant does. I lay in bed and feel bones I didn't know I had. I have ribs and can count them. When I look in the mirror, I see bones in my chest that I've only seen on women in slinking low cut dresses. I can feel my hip joints. Sometimes I run my hands along my cheekbones, marveling at the new contour of my face. I can wear a turtleneck sweater without fat bulging from the neck. My arms, except for loose skin at the top, are really small. I can put my fingers around my wrist. I can look ok in any hair style.

    Lest I forget where I was, I can also lay in bed and feel the loose skin where my stomach was. In a grotesque way that only someone who's lost this much weight would understand, I can fold ;my stomach vertically. My naked body is not a pretty sight, and I know that the next guy I sleep with will have to love me for more than my body.

    I mentioned that I just came home from the hospital. It was the second bout of pancreatitis in a month brought on, they think, by stones in my bile duct caused by the rapid weight loss. I've lost about half the hair on my head, again due to the quick weight loss.

    When I had my six month checkup after the surgery, they took my "after" picture. The side view in particular was someone I did not recognize, I looked like a teenaged hoy. No @*#. No boobs. But I was normal. I would no longer be stared at. People wouldn't not automatically think I'm a slob, no matter how impeccably I dressed. They could not look at me and assume I'm lazy or disabled.

    I'm no longer diabetic or hypertensive. I can walk pretty much as far as I want to. If someone invites me on a hike, I don't beg out. If someone asks me to dance I'm still no good at it, but I'm not embarrassed to try.

    Of course I have more energy. It amazes me that people really ask that question. Would you have more energy if you'd been carrying around 100 pounds and got rid of that burden? I have a job as a nanny which involves carrying a two year old up and down stairs several times. I would not have that job if I hadn't done this surgery. I couldn't carry myself up stairs. I could tell you where all the department store elevators are.

    Am I a different person? I am and I'm not. Thankfully, I expect to live a lot longer. But I still spend more money than I should, especially on clothes. And yes, I still struggle with food and using it for something other than energy. If I'm in a bad mood I want to eat the wrong thing. If I'm celebrating, I want to eat the wrong thing.

    I'd ;be lying if I didn't write that I wanted to lose weight simply to look better and, more specifically, at attract men. I had this notion that, since I was this incredible person wit so much going for me other than what I looked like that, once I lost weight I'd have them knocking my door down. That hasn't happened. First, it's hard to meet decent guys at my age. Second, maybe I'm not that incredible person who's so irresistible. Maybe, just maybe, I'm just normal.

    For now, I'm working on normal, and everything that means. The good, the bad, the lessons, the trials. Of just being normal. I've never been normal. I'm learning how to be normal in every sense of the word. And it will probably take a lot longer than it did to simply become a smaller person.

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