Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

Three years ago today, weighing 409, down from a high of 506, I was wheeled down the hall for my gastric bypass surgery saying, “I want to go to PARIS. I want to go to MILAN.” I hope you all don’t mind taking a look back at these three years with me, at the ups and downs of massive weight loss. And please accept my apologies for its length. I promise to keep future posts short.

My surgery was easy. Others aren’t so lucky, nor do they have the great results I did. This is just one person’s experience.

Perhaps the biggest post-op issue I had was fear, and I don’t mean of dying. I mean the fear of eating the wrong things, of this drastic measure not working, of screwing it up. In short, the fear of failure. So, I read, and re-read, and memorized, the handbook that the surgery center had given me. Get that protein in. Drink water. Exercise. Chew chew chew. Learn to read your body. Figure out how to make this work.

So, I learned that I needed 15 grams of protein every 3 hours or so to stay upright. I didn’t get actually HUNGRY, but dizzy. Another friend gets cold. Learn your body.

For the first 6 weeks, I lost about 10 pounds per week. That’s 60 pounds in 6 weeks, folks. I stopped recognizing myself. The day soon came when I walked up to an office building, with long glass doors, and reached out to open it and stopped dead. That wasn’t my reflection. Who was behind me? Who was IN FRONT OF ME??? I felt like Lucille Ball reaching out, then pulling back, testing that reflection. Thank goodness no one was around!

And where were my boundaries? You KNOW what I mean. You walk up to a narrow space and you eyeball. Subway turnstiles are notoriously narrow. So are hallways at work, with shelving and that inevitable mail cart left randomly around. Can I fit? Can I fit? And when I did, guess how many times I went back and forth in the same space just out of shock? Let’s not discuss the fact that clothes had to literally fall off my body before I’d admit that maybe they didn’t fit — and bought clothes that were 3-4 sizes smaller!

My doctors were impressed, and several of them asked what my ‘secret’ was. That was surprising, because for once in my life, I actually had done EXACTLY what they’d told me to do! But I said one thing that they said made all the difference: I never thought about where I would be in 6 months, or a year, or longer. I kept focused on TODAY. That one step, today’s protein and water, one meal, today’s exercise.

People’s reactions to me are so different. Before, few really looked me in the eye, or acknowledged me as a human being. They’d slam doors in my face, or make animal noises, or not let me move past them (rather funny when you consider that people with backpacks on have no concept of their boundaries, but they resent the space that heavy people take up!). Nowadays, strangers talk to me, and smile if they catch my eye. It’s nice, but I can’t trust them. Not really. Not yet.

A wise woman once told me that heavy people have absolutely no sense of their bodies. She’s right. How many of us literally rise above the pain we’re in? How many of us ignore the discomfort so that we can simply get on with our lives? I’d also add that I’ve never met a seriously overweight person who put themselves first in their lives. It’s always about someone else: the children, the parents, the job, the spouse. We pay attention to everyone except ourselves!

Have you noticed I haven’t said anything about the food? That’s because it’s not really about the food. Don’t get me wrong, eating right is critical to the success of this process, but it’s not THE KEY. Nope. The key is to relearn everything you knew about emotions, coping, choices, body hunger, stress management, triggers, and what food is REALLY about in your life.

And then figure out how to handle your life in ways that are healthy and happy. Relationships have to change in order for this to work. It’s not possible to be a people-pleasing fat person (Thank you, Karen in SF!) anymore. Those people who brushed me aside, or took me for granted have to deal with the fact that I’m dealing with them, my life, my stresses much differently. It’s not always pleasant, but let’s face it, I didn’t do this to hurt them or to make their lives more difficult, but rather to save myself.

So what’s next? It’s maintenance, with a minor obsession of losing another 20-30 pounds the old-fashioned way. Something to spend the rest of my life doing on a low simmer. But the most important, and hardest, task is to connect mind and body so that each part can take care of the other in balance and harmony. So far, this path seems to require massages and core-type exercises.

Oh. And let’s not forget the plastic surgery. The 15-20 pounds of excess skin around my middle MUST go. Followed by a shopping spree. Perhaps that trip to Milan or Paris when all is said and done!

19 thoughts on “Three Years Ago…

  1. TLo says:

    What a wise and wonderful piece! And how very brave and caring of you to share such personal stuff so honestly.

    Thank you.

  2. jappy says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I couldn’t do the surgery simply out of fear of dying and fear of failure (my psyche isn’t reprogrammed to succeed yet). But it’s nice to see what when on inside your head! It’s wonderful that you were able to focus on the day and not the future.

    You obviously have the right type of caring for yourself to have accomplished this successfully. Congratulations and again, thanks for sharing this!

  3. Mary says:

    This is a good site – thank you!
    I read it everyday. It contributes to my support network. In it I’ve found repetition and reinforcement of behaviors which are empowering – like the food journal. There is a small list of things to be vigilant about in weight loss and its helpful to have others to keep me in remembrance of them! I feel empowered and very in control of my eating. I will let you know about my weight loss – for I can feel the pounds dropping of me already! God Bless… Mary

  4. victoria says:

    Beautiful honesty. I love reading your thoughts as a WLS patient. My life partner had it done almost 2 years ago, and has worked hard to do very well. If I hear one more person say that she (and others) took the “easy way out” I’ll scream. You all have to work just as hard, and more so in my opinion because you have the self image issues to re-evaluate. Thank you for such a honest and insightful post. Hope to hear more.
    Victoria

  5. Quinn says:

    Wow. Just, … wow.

    Thank you so much for posting this. Really.

    I particularly liked this part: “Those people who brushed me aside, or took me for granted have to deal with the fact that Im dealing with them, my life, my stresses much differently.”

    Many, many years ago a therapist told me that as we change, our relationships with others also change. And that, I think, is the biggest stumbling block for any of us who are trying to change ourselves in any way. Change can be so scary! And it is so easy and “safe” to just keep the status quo.

    Jane, you are so brave! You are my hero! 🙂

  6. Lauren says:

    In one of your previous pieces, you mentioned the importance of focusing on RIGHT NOW and that’s a theme that came out in this contribution as well. I have found that message really enlightening. The idea of making your next choice a good one and not worrying about what came before is amazing to me. Thank you for sharing your unique story and voice.

  7. Quinn says:

    Wow. Just, … wow.

    Thank you so much for posting this. Really.

    I particularly liked this part: “Those people who brushed me aside, or took me for granted have to deal with the fact that Im dealing with them, my life, my stresses much differently.”

    Many, many years ago a therapist told me that as we change, our relationships with others also change. And that, I think, is the biggest stumbling block for any of us who are trying to change ourselves in any way. Change can be so scary! And it is so easy and “safe” to just keep the status quo.

    Jane, you are so brave! You are my hero! 🙂

  8. syd says:

    This is good stuff. I especially like, “I never thought about where I would be in 6 months, or a year, or longer. I kept focused on TODAY. That one step, todays protein and water, one meal, todays exercise. ”

    Thank you.

  9. Denise says:

    Happy Anniversary!!! And thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  10. cherie says:

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts…..I weighed in at 282.5 on July 21st 2004…..last week I weighed in 28 lbs. lighter (following the Weight Watchers plan)…..I too have been trying to focus on THIS DAY!…..tomorrow I will do my very best……
    I had thoughts of trying to see about the surgery, but knew several people who suffered the side effects…..and that scared me away…..plus other issues….like the cost and no health insurances…
    God being with me and looking at suceess stories like yours and others…..I WILL MAKE IT!
    KEEP UP THE WONDERFUL JOB!

  11. jane says:

    WOW … just WOW – to borrow Quinn’s comments!!! I figured a few of you would stop by to say ‘congratulations’ but i never dreamed that this would resonante so strongly with so many of you!!!!! and believe me, that’s an honor!

    thank you all. i hesitated to post this, to tell you the truth, because some people I know view my statements as an indictment of their own lives and views. And, as you can see, I hope, that’s not what I’m doing.

    we can all succeed, one way or the other…

  12. JuJu says:

    Jane, Jane, Jane! Can’t WAIT to post the pics of you enjoying your life and your new body in Milan and Paris.

    I’m just so happy for you.

  13. Christine says:

    This brought tears to my eyes! I am such a big picture person and that often works against me making the everyday good little decisions that will get me to my goal. I put your quote about only being focused on today on my fridge and in my food journal. You are my inspiration!

  14. Fiona says:

    Just read your story . Got just one thing to say :
    Thank you for sharing ! It means a lot to me .

  15. Christinegail says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. You’re a strong and inspirational person to many. This entry was a great eye-opener. I look forward to hearing about your near and well-deserved travels (Milan and Paris).

  16. Cassey says:

    Jane,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I am now in my 7th month of maintenance after losing 215 lbs. I didn’t have the surgery, but my loss was very dramatic none-the-less. What you spoke about is VERY MUCH what I am dealing with.

    I have learned over the past 7 months that my problems had very little to do with food itself. It was (and still is) my mental and emotional issues that take the most work. And where do other people fit into all that… well they have to come second. What they think of me… can’t have the power they wish it had… and doesn’t have the power it once had.

    I say… let’s hear it for the big girls that are now living in smaller bodies.

    Smaller bodies… bigger dreams. No matter what the struggles, one day at a time is my mantra… and no matter what the struggles, it will ALWAYS be worth it!

    Thank you so much for sharing Jane!

  17. Connie says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations to you! I love the honesty and insight you provided. I struggle as an emotional eater and I’ve discovered that food isn’t the key issue – instead I find myself making bad food choices (or binging) in reaction to overwhelming feelings of fatigue, stress, hopelessness, etc. that I experience. Sometimes the pressures of being the “ship’s rudder” to the various members of my family leave me feeling adrift at sea. I’m working on taking better care of myself – learning to say “no” to others when I can’t possibly meet all the demands made upon me. I’m discovering that in order to be fit both physically and mentally, I need to listen to what my body is trying to tell me and give more priority to my own needs.

  18. candi says:

    Wow – I loved your story. I’m a 9 month post-op gastric bypass patient and I can relate to EVERYTHING you said.
    Congratulations on your success and Thank You for sharing your experience.

  19. Mom says:

    Read after my email about gastric bypass….

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