I cannot believe the changes I’ve gone through in the past year. It’s truly shocking. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have this amazing do-over that is WLS. Long story short, one year post-op and I’m where I want to be: 135 pounds, healthy, and happy. The losing phase is over (well, I want it to be, we’ll see how that pans out).
Thank you everyone at TTF for your nonstop and sometimes even relentless support. I have received kind words, insightful advice, interesting facts, heartfelt congratulations, and sharp yet timely reminders when I've needed them. Your nonjudgmental and sympathetic ears have perhaps been bombarded by a bit too much about me from time to time, but I thank you for listening.
One year ago, I was in Mexico, waiting for my surgery appointment. I was fat, depressed, desperate, afraid, but hopeful. My surgeon, a WLS patient himself, made me feel OK about seeking help and being the “before” picture. I felt like he was going to take away some of the burden of my previous failures and give me what I needed to be successful. I felt taken care of.
Before I started down the WLS path, I had stopped looking forward to the future, as it seemed like it didn’t hold anything positive or fun, but the idea that this surgery could turn all of that around and give me my life back was like a shining beacon of hope. I didn’t quite trust that WLS would be the magic bullet for me, but I knew that it was my best bet. I’d done all the reading and researching, and the stories were amazing - but in the back of my head, I held on to the thought that there wasn’t a guarantee of success. I might not be one of the successful ones, the ones whose blogs were so inspirational, the ones whose YouTube videos made me tear up with joy. I might end up like the remorseful, desperate, bitter people with their stories of why WLS “failed them.” This thought was so frightening. I’ve done the whole “lose a ton of weight and gain it right back” thing before, more than once. I didn’t want that to happen again.
Because of these dark little doubts in the back of my mind, I swore to myself that I would be *perfect* after my surgery. I would do *everything right*. I knew that this do-over was a one-time-only offer, so I wanted to make sure everything I was in control of was *absolutely perfect*. I knew my metabolism was crap, but I also knew that my will was strong, my desire to succeed was strong, and my ability to follow the rules on a diet was strong. Maybe my crap metabolism would not allow me to get to GW, but I wanted to be sure I was doing everything in my power to give myself the best possible chance. I didn’t want to look back on my first year out and think, “Well, I guess I could have tried a little harder.” So I made sure that I tried as hard as I could. I was basically perfect for a year. Not everyone has the fortitude to do this, but tapping into my own psychological strengths/weaknesses, I knew that drawing some hard lines in the sand would be my best bet. I haven’t had a piece of bread since early January 2017. Or pasta. Or rice. Or sweets. Or soda. None. It was easier for me to say flat-out no, so that was my approach.
My surgery was an unqualified success. I had a relatively easy recovery, and despite some initial doubts about whether I was losing fast enough (OK, we all think we’re slow losers at some point, thank you for talking me down, TTF fam), I lost steadily and well (one more time for the newbies: yes, I felt like I was a slow loser and I was going to fail!). My feelings after the first month were positive enough to give me back hope for my future, so I interviewed for and was offered a job back in the place I wanted to be, doing what I wanted to be doing. The future started looking like a fun place where I could enjoy myself and live my life as a happy and active person.
For my first few months, I was unemployed (well, and technically homeless, but that was by choice, so can’t really feel sorry for myself there), so I had plenty of time to make sure I was taking the very best care of myself. I measured. I weighed. I counted. I tracked. I made spreadsheets. I ate between 600 and 800 calories per day every day until I got to GW (with the exception of maybe 5 days at around 1000). Fitbit and My Fitness Pal became my obsessions because hey, that’s who I am. I was meticulous. With a twinge of shame, I will confess that I sometimes weighed myself multiple times per day “for science.” <— not recommended but sort of interesting to me - I usually weigh the least right before lunch!
Eventually I started to feel like a normal sized person again. I was down to a weight that made me hang my head with shame (and eat to comfort myself) when I was there on the way up, but on the way down, it felt fantastic. I had to buy some new clothes. They were still drapey, and I was still working hard to cover up my fat, but I felt better about myself. I was able to exercise and be more active, too.
I moved to the other side of the world at six months out. It threw my rhythms into quite a shock, but instead of resorting to food for comfort, I doubled down and took comfort in being in control of what I was eating. Many of my normal foods were not available (no cottage cheese, omg, tragedy strikes!), so I had to find new things and be resourceful. In previous moves to new countries, or even back to home from abroad, I always always gained weight, every single time. This was new: I was still losing. Within about two months of moving, all of the clothes that I had brought with me were too big. This was the beginning of my wardrobe worries. I fretted that I was going through sizes too fast. I fretted that I didn’t know what style I would seek out for myself when I started shopping in earnest. I fretted that I wouldn’t ever get to a place where I was really pleased with myself. This was all silly, of course - I managed to find things to wear just fine. I found a tailor to take in my clothes. I bought a few things. I started figuring out my style. And I’m totally happy with my current state.
All the new people I’ve met here think of me as being a thin and fit person (I feel a bit like I’m fooling them or like I’m an impostor, but I’m not). I mean, many have noticed that I’ve lost a lot of weight since I’ve been here, but they know I’m active and that I’m a health-food low-carb whole-foods protein-shake freak. I’ve taken up hiking again - I had always loved it but finally quit doing it when I got too heavy and it just became painful and unpleasant. Now, I’ve joined a hiking club and do it regularly (every week!). It’s not hard to haul myself up a steep hill. I don’t get wheezing out-of-breath tired. My heart doesn’t pound. I don’t have to stop and “admire the view” twice as often as anyone else. All a part of the new persona. Moving to a new country has actually probably made it easier to be a "new person."
In December, at just past 10 months out, I hit my original GW of 150. Woo hoo! I celebrated by buying a few outfits that are now too big for me That’s OK, though - they were a fun way to spend the day, and I probably would have spent that money on food previously, so all in all it wasn’t a total loss. I do need to get those clothes to the tailor, though, that reminds me. Anyway, there I was, at GW but not really certain I wanted to stop. What would I look and feel like a little bit thinner?
Because I cannot simply let things be, I spent the next two months fretting about when to stop. Thank you for your patience, support, kind words, and excellent advice, TTF fam. Finally, at 15 pounds below my original GW, I had my husband take some pictures of me, and hey! That’s what it took. Yes, I need to stop losing now. That was a week ago. Since then, I’ve upped my calories to about 1200 per day. That may need to go up, but I’m experimenting. I have now had the life-changing experience of NOT TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT. Yes, for the first time in my life, I’m actually NOT trying to lose weight! I’m not planning a diet, figuring out how to sabotage myself or rationalize cheating on a diet, berating myself for failing on a diet, or in any other way dieting. I’m still tracking like a crazy fool, but I’m tracking to make sure I eat ENOUGH, which is hard.
I bought myself a pair of bright orange jeans yesterday afternoon. Because I can! For all of you pear-shaped ladies out there, I know you’ll understand. From the waist down, it’s been skirts or dark “flattering” colors my whole life. Please don’t look at my booty or thighs! However, I now have a small (absent?) booty and thinnish thighs, so to celebrate, I bought bright orange jeans. I’m wearing them right now. I also bought a pair of bright coral pink trousers. I hereby retire from the all-dark-clothes-all-the-time club. I don’t remember who on the forum said their shopping mantra was “If it’s not black, put it back,” but that has been my go-to color all my life. Well, navy blue or charcoal to spice things up occasionally, right? I’ve decided that I will wear funky bright colors and flashy stuff if I want to because I can.
While my eyes still do not always see a thin person in the mirror (I look fat to myself about half the time), I know that I am now a thin person. My sense of identity is growing to include “thin person” now, although my inner fat girl is probably here with me forever (you know, the one who thinks of excuses not to do xyz because it’ll draw attention to her various issues, or else thinks of excuses to do something food-adjacent to cash in on the treats). I can’t for the life of me pull a piece of clothing off the rack that’ll come close to fitting correctly, but I’m starting to learn the numbers game with sizes, anyway. I’m that person who always takes the stairs. I always have a food contingency plan - a carefully packed lunch and snacks, an emergency protein bar, and my ever-present water bottle. I go to the gym instead of watching TV or having a cocktail. My priorities are just very different. I’ve taken this year to cement into place some very different new habits that I hope will stick with me forever.
TTF fam, thank you so much for your support and friendship. They have meant so much to me this year - whether in awesome NSV moments or when I’m hanging my head over the toilet because I’ve eaten something that just didn’t work, you’ve been there for me when I’ve needed it! I love you all.