One year ago today, I was in the midst of my mandated pre-op diet. I was counting down the days until I could schedule my surgery, anxious to hear from the insurance company that I was approved. I was conscious of every bit of food I put in my mouth, convinced that if I splurged even a little bit, the whole shebang would be shot to hell, I wouldn’t qualify for surgery, and it would all be for nothing. I was driving myself crazy with the what-ifs, not fully convinced that getting VSG was practical, feasible, and the right thing to do. I was hearing encouraging words from one side and fear-filled, panic-stricken words from another. My head and my heart would agree, then go out of orbit with one another, pulling me in two different directions. I would stay up most nights, thinking about the positive and negative impacts this surgery would have on my life, falling asleep thinking one thing and waking up thinking another.
What a difference a year makes.
A year ago today, I weighed in at 286ish. Today, I’m down to 201.6 and I couldn’t be more pleased. I’m ready to be in Onederland (that glorious place where your weight starts with a 1), and I’m so close!! I never, ever, in a million years thought I would get back down to this weight–if you’d asked me in high school where I’d be at this stage of my life, I know one of my descriptors would be “overweight” or “fat”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am still those things–clinically and emotionally–but I don’t see them as a bad thing anymore, at least, not like I used to. My BMI is still in the “overweight” range (currently at 36.9, down from 53.4), but I look at my numbers and could cry. For somoene who used to be 292 lbs, 201.6 is amazing.
A dear friend of mine is contemplating this surgery. For anyone else out there who is doing so, please listen to me: this surgery was the absolute best thing I’ve ever done for myself in my entire life. I am so, so glad I did it and would make the decision to do it all over again if given the chance.
But enough about me, dear reader. The rest of this post is about you. Yes, you, the one in the back who has decided to have weight loss surgery.
Please don’t misunderstand; this life choice is anything but easy. You’re going to have good days and bad days; you’re going to have to make major changes to your lifestyle and you’re going to have to confront your inner demons.
If you go through with your decision, here are things you will think:
“Oh man, I”m so friggin’ hungry right now,” (pre-approival insruance-mandated diet)
“Is there any leather lying around for me to chew?” (pre-op liquid diet)
“Is this going to be worth it? Dear God, I hope it’s worth it” (pre-op prep period)
“Holy shit, what have I done to myself?” (in the days immediately following surgery)
“Fucking broth.” (post-op liquid diet)
Don’t worry, these are things everyone thinks. They’re completely normal, and once you get into the swing of things, your thoughts will take a whole different path:
“Hey, where’s my broth?”
“Ooh, peanut-butter flavored protein powder!”
“Man, I can’t believe I only got 60 grams of protein today!”
“Holy shit, where’d that 15 pounds go?” (two weeks after surgery, or thereabout)
“God damnit, time for another new pair of pants.” (every month after surgery)
Eventually (and likely sooner than you think), you’ll hit the point where everyone is going to start noticing you’re rapidly losing weight (my best friend asks me to send her pictures nearly every week because my face keeps changing), commenting, and supporting you. Seriously, the amount of people building you up, standing in your corner, and rooting for you is going to be insane. People you thought wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about you are doing are going to come out of the woodwork with comments like, “Looking good!” and “Wow, you’re doing great!” Those people you friended on Facebook back in high school are all going to pop up and take notice of the changes. You’re going to get so much positive energy, you’re going to want to bottle that shit and sell it on eBay.
You’re going to join Facebook groups and websites for people who’ve had weight loss surgery and make a whole new category with friends. You’re going to be just as comfortable discussing gas, poop, and what you ate today with them as you are your significant other (and honestly, you may be more candid with those random internet people than you are with your s/o–I don’t know if it’s the anonymity of a screen or what).
You’re going to go out to eat and take home leftovers every. Single. Time. You’re going to find yourself stuffed after 4 or 5 bites of everything, and that’s okay. You’re going to learn to love appetizers in a way you never did before, and you’re going to find yourself breaking down the components of every dish on the menu to figure out what you should and shouldn’t eat. You’re going to surprise yourself with your reactions to your favorite foods, too–those chicken crispers at Chili’s look mighty delicious, but you’re not going to want to eat them because they’re full of empty calories and a salad or 3oz of steak are more attractive choices (but you’re going to still get the crispers occasionally because seriously, what is life if you can’t live a little?). You’re going to find yourself drunk after half a cocktail because damnit, when you have a tiny stomach, that shit goes straight to your head (which can be a good AND bad thing–I’ve uttered the phrase “I swear, I’m not drunk” far more times after surgery than I ever did before [and for the record, Anthony, I wasn’t]) and you’re going to hear the phrase “cheap date” more times than you can count–and you’re going to laugh because it’s so true.
You’re going to go to the gym and have fun. You’re going to download all of the exercise apps and all of the music and just sweat it out. You’re going to hate dragging yourself to said gym some days, but that feeling will disappear when you’re done with your workout and you realize that you just ran further or lifted more than you ever did before.
You’re gonna learn to love shopping for clothes, too. You’re going to walk into a store and pick up a dress in a size you last wore when you were in your early teens “just to see if it fits.” And thanks to the aforementioned salads and gym sessions, you’re going to almost cry when not only does said dress fit, but it looks omgsocute! And then you’re going to cry some more when you find another dress that does the same thing. And another. And another. And don’t even get me started on the wonders of going down 4 pant sizes in 8 months.
But most importantly, you’re going to wake up every morning loving yourself and the skin you’re in. You’re going to thank whatever you believe is right and good in this world that you made this incredible, life-changing decision for yourself.You’re still going to have good days and bad days, but you’ll slowly start having more good than bad. You’re going to find an inner strength within you that you never thought possible. You’re going to read things on the internet about “fat people” and you’re going to get mad because seriously, fuck anyone who thinks that being fat is a sickness or a weakness. And then you’re going to take that anger and use it to motivate yourself even more. You’re going to take the words of the trolls and the haters and you’re going to use them to better yourself. You’re going to pound it out on the treadmill, you’re going to wash them away in the shower before you put on that super cute dress, and you’re going to forget all about it when you look in the mirror and see yourself for what you really are: a person who has turned their life around completely, a person who has come so far and still has many miles to go, a person who looked in the mirror, decided enough was enough, and made that leap of faith. And once you make that leap, you’re going to find that there are people all around you who are going to catch you.
You can do this. One year has proven that to me–take the chance and prove it to yourself.
Night before surgery, weighing in at 275lb (down from my highest weight of 292lbs):
Today, weighing in at 202lbs