A journey of many miles starts with the first step. What a journey it has been the past 18 months. From the informational meeting with Blue Point Medical Group, to my first visit with Dr. Amir Mozzaez, surgery, recovery, hair loss, dropping 14 sizes and many inches. I have experienced anxiety, excitement and growth plus many other emotions that are related to such a journey.
As I look back while moving forward, I think about the process to get to the point of surgery. Here are some questions that I have answered for myself and am asked by people inquiring about my process and progress.
Why did it take so long for me (you) to decide? In short, I wasn’t ready. I kept thinking that I could lose weight with another fad diet, more exercise or not eating as much. Prior to making the choice to go this route (and yes, it was a choice), I spent hundreds of dollars on weight loss programs, personal trainers, bigger clothes and diet food (and pills). Choosing to have 85% of your stomach removed (reminder: I had the sleeve form of surgery done) is not a quick overnight process. I had to wrap my head around the fact that I would only be able to eat about a cup of food a day for the rest of my life in order to be successful. I had to grasp the fact that I wouldn’t be able to “grab and go” when on site producing a conference. I had to make sure that I was 110% committed to a new lifestyle of taking vitamins, making sure that I got in 80 grams of protein daily and was willing to give up sweets and other junk food that I liked to “treat” myself to from time to time. I wanted to make sure that I was willing to do this and more…exercise regularly, eat on a regular schedule, drink 64 ounces of water or non-carbonated beverages daily, be committed to working on the things that triggered me eat comfort foods, be willing to do the work….and yes, it is work. I had to accept that my obesity was much like any other disease and that I needed to treat more than just the symptoms – I needed to treat the root causes!
How do you survive? This one is a bit easier to answer – like anyone else – with smaller amounts of everything that I consume – less food, less drink. As the doctors and dieticians told us in prepping us for this journey “you will become a cheap date”. Those words ring true just about every time I go out. A regular entree purchased out can be up to three meals for me. And alcohol – well, that is where I really save money – usually one drink will do it. I didn’t think I would survive without drinking (after all I am in a profession where entertainment is a central part of what I do) – but I can nurse a glass of wine for about two hours now! Back to the question…there are days when I look at foods that I used to eat and want them. And sometimes, I try to eat it. However, I am founding (still) that my taste buds have changed drastically. Those french fries just don’t have the same taste as they did before and they upset my stomach too much to indulge. Just like any addict, I take it one day at a time. Fortunately, I find that I am winning this time.
What is the biggest change? My Quality of Life! I am more positive than ever now. I find joy in getting up every day. I am not tired or exhausted after a night’s sleep. I don’t have to take five medications to cope. I don’t need my cPAP machine to make sure that I am breathing while I sleep. I have fun shopping (well, sort of as I have never been a big shopper) but now it is nice to run into a store and grab something off the rack and know it will fit without a struggle. I still enjoy cooking and entertaining – just don’t eat all the food – and I still bake treats from time to time. I am learning how to modify favorite recipes to make them more healthy.
What foods do you miss? If I were to say there is one thing I miss … it might be pasta. I haven’t eaten pasta for close to 24 months now. And I used to have it at least three times a week. I always enjoyed a good plate of spaghetti with my homemade sauce – well maybe two plates or macaroni and cheese. I don’t crave it but I do miss it. It was an old friend that gave me comfort when I was stressed out or feeling down.
What is your biggest challenge? This question varies from day to day. One day it could be resisting a scrumptious-looking treat in the office or at dinner. Another time it could be not wanting to exercise. Or having more to drink than eat which means low blood sugars and fainting. And some days it is myself…old tapes playing in my head that I work to erase or remove regularly. Learning to accept compliments from strangers and friends.
For those who are reading this blog and have been considering (or know someone who is) bariatric surgery of any kind my recommendation is simply this…find a surgeon that is part of a Center for Excellence practice, talk with them and jump in with both feet! It will be work but it will be the best work you will ever do for yourself – and – most of all – the best present you will EVER give yourself.
Dream big. Dream often. And live each day to the fullest…I do that every day now!