Deciding to undergo WLS is one of the biggest decisions I'll ever make in my lifetime. The mental journey that accompanies this process is so very interesting. I'm finding that it is not just about the food choices; it is a deeply personal experience that creates the need for much self-reflection in order to have the maximum chance for long-term success. Here are some things I've uncovered about myself in just a few short months (I am lucky in that my insurance situation is such that once I was motivated enough to go to an information meeting, following the steps made this a relatively short process, compared to what I've read that others have had to endure...feeling very fortunate on this).
I have spent a large part of my adult life utilizing socially acceptable constructs to allow me to hyper-focus on food. I have been a vegetarian, not a vegetarian, cookbook collector, a food politics advocate (say no to GMOs!), a CSA (community sustained agriculture) participant, a farmers market faithful, pinterest recipe queen (having categories as specific as Scones), a foodie, a canner, and the family member who loves to host big family gatherings and express my "love" in the form of massive, delicious meals that people couldn't stop raving about or eating. My identity, aside from my profession, has been almost completely wrapped up in food. While it seems very obvious now, I never realized I was doing that until now.
While my aforementioned best friend, Food, and I were keeping ourselves busy, I was at the same time isolating myself and neglecting my health. Over time I felt less and less worthy of spending time, energy or money on self-care, and that I shouldn't subject people who weren't family to have to spend time with me. I felt like my body didn't deserve to wear things like jewelry or make-up. Clothes had become as utilitarian as possible, both from lack of options and interest.
The more diet plans one tries and the older one gets, the harder it is to gear yourself up for another one. We know where they end up, ALWAYS with a net gain. As I contemplated whether to have the surgery or not, this was a huge deciding factor. The pre-op diet was very easy for me; I did not feel deprived or hungry (I should disclose that it was only 8 days long compared to the months or longer required by some drs or insurance companies I've read about on TTF), but I kept having the thought that if I can do this now, why can't I just do this without the surgery? Since my surgery, I've noted various situations or encounters with food and thought, had I not had surgery and was just on a restrictive plan, I would have gone off of it at these points, reaffirming that this was indeed a tool that I needed.
I had to face the fact that I have successfully accomplished most of the other goals I have ever set for myself and the weight loss battle remained elusive. What were the chances that someone with a middle aged metabolism and a long history of unsuccessful eating programs was going to succeed without this bigger step? Less than 5%...
The odds not in my favor for going it alone, I decided I needed to go for it even though I have spent the majority of my life seeking alternative medical solutions; my chiropractor was essentially my PCP for most of my life. I did a lot of research, read blogs and forums, watched YouTube videos, had a moment when I found out about the probable hair loss and a few other things, but ultimately made it to my surgery date feeling ready, calm and dare I say, excited about the possibility of success.
My surgery and hospital stay went very well. I was surprised at how it felt to be cared for by nurses, my husband, my friends and family. That is usually the role that I play, so receiving that from others felt foreign at first and I had to reassure myself that I was worthy of that care. I have found that the intense focus on caring for myself after surgery, the routines with meds, nutrition, exercise, are contributing to that rebuild of worthiness as well.
So my next step is to properly frame a new relationship with Food. It can't be eliminated; so it must be dealt with. Instead of depending on Food to help me fit in to areas in life I thought I wanted to be in such as food preservation groups and best meal preparer for those in need, it must take the role of providing some of the care I need to take of myself. It has to provide true nourishment and not be exploited as a temporary emotional buffer or way to focus on eating without signing up for something gross like a hot dog eating contest.
Today is my first day off of clear liquids. Starting today I get to choose each and every day what the new food relationship will be.