Friends who have known me for a while, know that I’m a strong-willed, dedicated person. I’m smart and I’m disciplined. And most of all…I don’t like asking for help. Even when I need help. I wanna do it myself, for myself. This year, I’ve learned how to ask for what I need, and to own my choices. This is going to be a story, so…pls get comfy.
I’ve was a chubby kid, an overweight teenager and eventually became an obese woman. Morbidly obese for a period of time. Damn labels. I hate them. They just push on my emotional buttons, the sensitive, soft spots that got me here to begin with. Anyway…what this indicates is that my life was a series of small incidents of indulgence. Of excess. Repeatedly. For years. Eventually, I became 277.2 pounds. My Weight Watchers log says that was March 20, 2010. That was my highest weight. That was the date I got scared. I don’t know why it took that long for me to realize….there is no upper limit to my weight…..Nothing was going to stop it. Unless I changed.
Enter the strong-willed, disciplined driver. ME. The one you don’t usually see. The one I hide inside and weild on myself. To the outside, she looks positive and strong and admirable. Trust me, she’s a punisher. …and I began to work the problem. Hard. I joined WW on March 20, 2010 when that weight record began. I began eating better, and I began walking. Which over time became running. I ran so long and so far and so much, that I ran the Disney Marathon on Jan 13, 2013 — the day I achieved my lowest weight (post 2 children) of 197.2. That was 80 pounds! Pounds that I ran my ass-off (literally) to lose. I was a success!
Or was I?
What happened next was a crash and burn. I was so physically and emotionally tired from all that I had put myself through…that I stopped. I stopped all the habits I had taken on. Well…it was OK to stop, right? Because the marathon was over, so let’s let all this bullshit be over. Yea, that’s how it went. Slowly, week by week..through a series of consistent excess, I regained 62 pounds. By December of 2015, I was sedentary, fat and angry with myself again. Again. So much hard work, and I lost it all by gaining it all. Again.
Here she comes again….the driver. The type A, dedicated to do IT Diane. She’s back. Only this time I was 1 knee surgery older and couldn’t run anymore. So I had to find another way. This time, I joined a kettle bell gym. I found another balls-to-the-walls, punishing way to kick my own ass everyday. So it began again. I thought at the time that this was how it was done. I thought this was me being strong. It was many years later when I finally had the clarity to see how punishing this all was. I didn’t love these workouts. (I guess I loved some of it…..but then I took it too far). They were supposed to deliver my goal. They were supposed to be the means to my weight-loss end. They were supposed to help me be thin and to stay thin. Didn’t I make that clear? That’s what I wanted. But my behaviors weren’t in line with that goal. Forget the fact that I was a sugar addict and often bingeing on cupcakes and donuts that I would buy and eat in secret in the car on the way home. I was a mess. But I as a kick-ass strong mess…that’s good, right?
Um. No. I was so fucked up. A jumble of inconsistency. An emotional bully to myself. Don’t get me wrong, I had successes. But h.o.w. I was achieving those successes was wrong. It was harsh. I was hard on myself. Creating more new scars, when I should have been healing old ones.
On Feb 8, 2020, I had done it again. 75 pounds gone…one swing and one burpee at a time. Many many swings and burpees later. Hooray..I was 200 pounds again…just as COVID 19 shocked the world. Like everyone everywhere, I went into lockdown at home. My workplace went remote. My gym closed and went remote. And somehow it seemed to be a civic duty to get Mexican food and margaritas via take out to help our local favorite restaurants stay open. Oh this was JUST what I needed. A boat load of fear, isolation and depression…PLUS a good cause for which over-eating all the wrong things was r.i.g.h.t.e.o.u.s ! By spring of 2021, I had gained 60 pounds (AGAIN) and was struggling to fit into my work clothes when the call to come back to the office was beginning.
Really…I’m here again?
Motivated by the fear of no clothes to wear to the office…I began again to get my sloppy self together. It was up and down. Just like my emotions and my heart. The roller coaster was real, and as hard as I tried to be positive and to coach myself into new lifetime habits…I was losing faith. No, no, real honesty Diane…after 12 years of d.r.i.v.i.n.g. myself as hard as I could…I had lost faith. If all that work and punishment hadn’t worked, what would work? I just didn’t know.
In December 2022, I sat in the chair in my doctor’s office for a checkup. Oh yea, by this point I was T2 diabetic, with emerging high blood pressure, asthma, my knee was very strained again. I was in a place where my health was at risk. This wasn’t just vanity. The fact that I was wearing a size 22 pant is what hurt my spirit, but the fact that my health was at risk is what was hurting my future.
It was in that meeting with Dr K (my primary care physician) that I asked him if he thought I would be a good candidate for weight loss surgery. I walked out of that appointment with a referral and hope, wrapped in a bunch of nerves and questions.
Late December, I phoned the bariatric center and made an appointment for Jan 26th. That day, I decided to start eating with health in mind. Made a New Year’s Resolution to do 4 things: 1) Keep a food journal everyday, 2) Drink 80 oz of water daily (and no more alcohol), 3) Focus on protein in every meal, and 4) to walk every day. 1-3 miles. I got on the scale every day for accountability. And for the first time, I wasn’t driving myself, I was just living. But that was just the start.
I began a daily affirmation habit with my #365daysofhappiness on Facebook. I challenged myself to begin to deal with the emotional stuff that drove my food choices. Just a little bit every day. By the bariatric appointment on Jan 26th, I had lost 6.5 pounds (from NY day) and gained a lil h.o.p.e.
Through the weight loss center, I met a wonderful nutritionist Julia, who began to teach me how to eat. I had to complete a nutrition program, which really taught me things I never understood through years of dieting. As good as WW is, what I needed was a food lesson and someone who would review my food log and talk to me about how to refine what I was eating and how much, so i could learn to properly fuel my body. I began to see what portion sizes should really be and what calories were behind my food. I gave up Weight Watchers tracking (sorry, I needed more transparency) and began MyFitnessPal. It was good for me to see what my foods really were in macro and nutrient form. How could I own my choices if I couldn’t see what the choices were?
I went to therapy. I did behavioral therapy and started the work to understand how my fat brain and my skinny brain were at war, and how my choices were driven by a life time of body dysmorphia and fat shaming. Over the next three months, I lost 37.5 pounds. I was doing the real work. The head work. The mental work. And did I say…my happiness was growing every day. I began rediscovering who I was, without food. Would you think me crazy if I said, that before this year, I rarely could think about myself without some tie to food shame? I learned to be my own friend. To see myself, with clarity and love. And I kicked the sugar addiction. No sugar, no alcohol, no bad carbs. I was cleansed. At least for the moment. And I feel so much better. Unburdened.
So, on April 26th, I went through with it. I had bariatric surgery. I had the procedure call the Sleeve. This is going to sound severe but they removed 80-90% of my stomach and created a pouch that looks like a small banana, LOL maybe a cheese stick. I took 2 weeks off from work, and recovered well. My husband and my daughters could not have been more supportive. I’m really lucky.
Beyond them, I didn’t tell anyone. I wasn’t hiding. I wasn’t being secretive. I was just focusing on me. I was giving myself time and attention. I was resting and learning and eating and breathing. I had a new baby stomach and this time I was going to be patient and kind with myself. Time was going to be my friend. I had no expectations. I am working for myself, not in spite of myself.
Many people in the bariatric community are afraid of telling their friends they had surgery. Many so-called friends are quick to judge and say…”you took the easy way out”, “you cheated”. Well, let me tell you, there is nothing easy about this. It’s a new, different kind of hard. But no regrets. I have a calm about me that I have never experienced before.
Today, I am 9 weeks post op and my weight loss has been steady and consistent. I still have to do the work. I’m preparing healthy meals, eating 3 meals and 1 snack a day. Drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day. I walk a 5K every day. I take multivitamins. And I continue the therapy and the mental work. THAT work is the only thing that is going to help this metabolic reset I am undergoing….be a forever change in my life. The time to do that, while losing weight, without the punishment….that’s why I took the leap.
So, here I am. I own my choices. And I chose to ask for help and take the help.
I think I am still a Weight Watcher. I hope I am. Because all those lessons I learned for the past 12 years are really coming in handy now. But now I’m able to execute on all those behavior changes without a constant food craving and metabolic drive pulling me down.
I’m in the honeymoon phase now, but nothing comes for free. What I do now will determine my success or failure. I had blood work this week and my A1C is totally normal. My T2 diabetes is gone. Health. It’s real. 33% of weight loss surgery patients regain all of their weight within 5 years. I’m going to try my best not to be one of them. I’m going to work on me, on my choices, on my thinking and the issues that drove my choices all my life….and learn to be different. A different me.
That’s what this year is all about.
If you made it this far, please know this….I’m grateful for you. My circle is small. My friendships are real. Know that I carry with me memories of how you and I met. How our lives intersected for a time. I remember you. I cherish those memories. And I am who I am because we spent some of our lives together.
My heart is full. I hope the same for you.
Ciao for now….Diane