Warning…this is long.
Here I go again. Ugh…now I’m singing that 80’s song in my head. But really, who doesn’t think of Whitesnake when they are trying to figure out what to write in their blog? Seriously I can’t get the song out of my head now…I must play it! Whew…okay that’s better. Back to the business at hand.
The past 2 1/2 years have brought about big changes in my thinking. I burned out on this blog back then. I felt like I was continuously writing about,”restarting” my plan. I am about to become very unpopular with some weight loss surgery folks. Honestly this applies to non wls people as well. I am not judging, I am not saying that my way is the only way. I am saying that for me and MANY people who have struggled with their weight for any length of time, things have to change. We didn’t get to be obese by doing all of the right things. We didn’t tip the scales because, we are good at “moderation”.
I started this journey at 325 pounds in January of 2012. I had a family member who was very ill due to poor choices he had made in his life. I saw my family, myself, grieving for him before he was even gone. I didn’t want to be the reason my kids, my husband, my parents, etc, felt like that. On New Year’s Eve of 2011, after visiting with him, something clicked and I changed. I spent the night in prayer and got very little sleep that night. I got up the next morning and made my plan. By mid February I had lost about 25 pounds and enrolled in a wls program at my local hospital. I continued to cut portions, walk, limit carbs and by the time I had surgery during the summer of 2012, I had lost 70 pounds. The decision for wls wasn’t an easy one. The process wasn’t easy. The surgery and recovery weren’t easy. Every hoop you jump through is worth it, if this surgery is necessary to change your life. It’s no different than the changes you must go through when losing weight any other way.
2012 was the hardest year of my life. I encountered too many losses and things to mourn that year. If not for God, I am not sure how I would have made it through that year. I was so focused on what was going on, that I couldn’t really focus on what I needed to do to make myself a successful postop. I had been overweight since I was 6 years old. Sure I’d lost 100 pounds a few times but, I also put it right back on. There was almost this wall I’d hit. I’d get to a certain weight, people would start noticing and boom…back to old habits. I liked the invisibility of being overweight. Sure there are always jerks who will make some comment about you. Still for the most part, people don’t approach you. You are barely on their radar. My anxiety likes that feeling, craves that feeling. So when it went away I would just eat myself back there.
I never truly changed my eating. I changed the quantity but, not the quality of the foods I was eating. I worked out obsessively and then I didn’t. I ate pretty well and then I didn’t. I was still on my old merry-go-round. It wasn’t working. I spent the first 3 years after surgery, lying to myself. I told myself and others (sorry to any of you who read that garbage 2 1/2 years ago) that I could have any food “in moderation”. I told myself that I could control it. If I just stayed within my calories I was fine. I told myself that my workouts were fine, I didn’t need to do more. None of this was the truth.
In August of 2015, I joined an online support group. I spent the first few weeks just rolling my eyes at their little programs to restart your weight loss, their hardcore attitude about bread, treats, pretzels, pasta, etc. I thought they were ridiculous and no one would ever want to eat like that. It would be miserable. Then in mid September I stepped on the scale and realized just how much weight I had regained. Twenty six pounds had found their way back. I had never hit goal. I had never passed 181.6 pounds on the scale. Every time I hit that weight, something inside of me got scared and back up I went. I felt like an incredible failure. I had this surgery to change my life but, I wasn’t willing to let it help me. I was tired of feeling like that. I swallowed hard and read the website’s “reset” plan. I followed it and it sucked. It also worked. I realized that I still had good restriction in my sleeve. I could be successful, I was just choosing not to be.
I gave up added sugars, I eliminated, snack foods, bread, rice, pasta, crackers, and the like. I focused on protein, and carbs from veggies, fruit, beans, dairy, etc. No more “low carb” or “fat free” products. No more counting out just a serving of pretzels with my lunch. NO MORE LYING TO MYSELF. Moderation is a four letter word to me. If I could be successful at eating in moderation, then I wouldn’t have been overweight in the first place. The first couple of weeks without the carby goodness and the sugar highs were MISERABLE. My husband and kids were probably plotting my slow painful death. I was grouchy, there were massive carb cravings, I had headaches, my mind was fuzzy, basically I was a total joy to live with. I was coming off of carbs HARD. I know, I know, I’m making it sound super fun and now everyone will want to do it. Anyway one day a couple of weeks later, I was cooking dinner and I realized that I didn’t have to talk myself down from grabbing a piece of bread. I realized that for the past couple of days, I’d felt pretty amazing. No cravings, no crabbiness, no death stares from my family, no headaches. It felt completely surreal and I know you can’t completely understand that statement if you’ve never had to give up something that you depended on. To not desire the things that my life had revolved around was…strange and a little scary.
I stayed on track through all of the 2013 holidays. I didn’t ask Big Guy to lock the Halloween candy up so I couldn’t get to it, I didn’t eat a roll at Thanksgiving, or grab one of the gazillion Christmas treats in the house. I was fine around those things. That had never happened before in my life. I kept waiting for the ball to drop and the cravings to send me into a carb frenzy. It never happened. Then I got really sick in late January, 2014. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t keep things down and had swelling in my tummy that made it impossible to swallow anything solid. I was constantly dizzy and nauseated, everyone kept saying, “Eat a cracker it will settle your stomach.” I resisted because, I was so scared of losing the control I had gained. I made it through without empty carbs and was prescribed some medication and finally after about a month I was able to eat again. I was so sick of protein shakes and yogurt that I wanted to scream!
After I recovered, I was thinking about how stubborn I had been about eating a cracker, or a piece of toast, when I was sick. It struck me that I was willing to be ill rather than have those foods. I decided I was being silly. I needed to allow myself a couple of carbs…in moderation of course…and just get past the fear. Please refer to the paragraph where I talked about how well moderation works for me. All of a sudden I was sneaking carbs here and there. I am not completely sure who I was being sneaky for…I’m pretty sure I knew I was eating them. I had allowed them in and my mind just wouldn’t let them go again. It took me several weeks and several restarts to finally get back to eating properly again. I feel good again and feel like I’m in control. Is this mentally healthy? I’m not sure. Probably not if I’m honest. Is it necessary for my success? Yes.
I said all of that to say this, you won’t find me preaching moderation. You won’t find me talking about high carb, sugar filled, treats. I will post some low carb goodies that I enjoy making. I will give you my alternatives to the things I don’t eat anymore. If I post a recipe and you think it would be great with some brown rice or garlic bread, by all means, grab yourself some and enjoy. I feel like it’s too accepted by the wls community and any “dieter”, to try and twist their day to fit around empty calories. I can’t put that out here anymore. I have felt how miserable it made me. I see the people who are struggling with regaining their weight. I will never again be someone who encourages someone to just eat small quantities of their trigger foods. Sure, there are people who can be successful like that. The vast majority of us cannot maintain weight loss long term by going back to old eating habits in smaller quantities. Again…my opinion. Just remember I thought I was a successful wls postop. I thought the struggle with the scale was totally normal and I thought that losing control with food was just something we will always deal with. Now I know that there is a way around that. I know that even though it stinks, I am not going to be eating certain items anymore. I’m okay with that. I didn’t go through all of the emotions, medical procedures and struggle, to try to find ways to eat around my surgery. It just took me 3 1/2 years to realize that!
Today I am at my lowest weight since elementary school. I am hovering around 170 and I am still losing and heading toward my goal weight. I just am not really sure what it is. This is totally uncharted territory for me. I suppose I will know when I arrive.