So someone doesn’t just out of the blue decide to have gastric bypass surgery.
I call this my “before” picture. Honestly, I have been overweight since childhood, despite my parents’ best efforts to indoctrinate me to Weight Watchers at the age of 11. My weight gain was gradual over the years, and I swear all through college and beyond I was always on one kind of diet or another. I actually have a stack of Weight Watchers passbooks from pretty much every city I have ever lived.
Talking to my doctor in 2009, I was connected with a weight loss center called Obesity Treatment Center (OTC), now the The Hernreid Center for Medical Weight Loss. I started that program, a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD), which consisted of protein shakes and one small meal a day. I did great on that program. I lost 75 pounds which I managed to keep off for a while. I started running and did half marathons…then I realized the more I exercised, the harder it was to keep my weight off. I maintained about 50 pounds of the total loss over the next 5 years, going back on the VLCD several times over the course of time. My lowest weight was 150 pounds, which doesn’t even move me from the medical classification of Obese Class I to Overweight. At 4’11” — I don’t have a lot of room to hide a few pounds.
A series of events starting in 2015 set me on this path. I was a caregiver for my dad as his health declined in January 2015, I was stressed, I was tired, I wasn’t paying attention to what was going in my mouth, and suddenly I was back to almost 200 pounds. There is nothing more demoralizing than failing at weight maintenance. I started back on the weight loss phase of the diet to try to get that under control, and of course, that program works and my weight was coming down again. When my father died in June 2015, that was a trigger for a free fall into a bad place. I was stressed, tired, had horrible depression, was unable to sleep more than 6 hours a night, I wasn’t exercising, but I was still eating about 1,000 calories a day and gaining weight. My doctor at Hernreid told me that there was nothing else medically they could do for me, so she was going to refer me for a vertical sleeve gastrectomy.
I was devastated. That made me feel even more like I was a failure. Let me just leave this here for a minute. This was really the start of the journey.