Category Archives: Background

The Scale Says What?!? – A Journey to Better Health

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Once upon a time…so all fairy tales begin…however, this is not a fairy tale.  This is my journey to having better health, adding years to my life, increasing my self-worth and maintaining my career. In an effort to share my journey of weight loss with friends and family and people looking for insight to make take their own journey, I am going to blog about it.  I welcome your comments and input as you read my journey.  Thanks for taking it with me.

Let me take you back a few years and give you the background to bring you up-to-speed so you understand the seriousness of my journey.

I think it was 1970 or there about when I realized that not only was I the tallest girl in my class but also the heaviest.  While I maintained friendships and participated in activities, it seemed that I wasn’t quite as coordinated or pretty as other girls in my class.  I was the chunky friend who learned very quickly to take my personality and put it to work winning friends and creating relationships.

Fast forward through many,many years of diets – Jenny Craig, Nutri System, Phen-Phen pills, Physician Weight Loss Program, Weight Watchers (multiple times), fad diets, trainers, gym memberships, more fad diets, and much, much more I am sure.  At some point, I simply lost count of how many ways I had tried to lose weight.

Approximately, 10 – 15 years ago the medical journals started publishing studies that weight and genetics were possibly tied together along with a person’s culture and environment.  I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs – DUH!  I could simply look at my family and see that genetics played a part in our struggle to keep weight off.  I have always said, that if you lined up all the women in our family and not show our faces, you would quickly see that we were related just by our build – there were very few exceptions to the group.

As I think back over the last 30 years of my life, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t trying to lose weight in some fashion.  However, at some point, I accepted that my weight was my ‘cross to bear’ and ‘accepted’ that I would always be overweight.  I compensated by working hard, being funny (in my strange way) and developing skills like creating amazing relationships with friends, vendors, exhibitors, suppliers, and co-workers.

As I advanced in my career, so did the internal pain of being overweight.  Have you ever tried racing from one side of an exhibit floor to another only to have to stop multiple times to get there?  Or race up a flight of stairs only to be so winded that you couldn’t breathe?  Well, that is where I was about seven years ago when my highest weight hit about 300 or so.  It was at that point I wanted to cry every day.  I was tested and diagnosed with PCOS (poly cystic ovary syndrome) and was told that my extra weight only added to the side effects – excessive hair growth, menstrual cycles that came and went when they wanted or not at all, but the best was testing positive with testosterone at 4x the level of most women.  Now that is just want every girl wants to learn she has an issue with…not this girl.

Solution?  Put me on pills to slow hair growth, keep sugar production down (which was turning to fat) [and I wasn’t diabetic], an anti-depressant to help with anxiety caused by all of this information and worrying.  Saw an endocrinologist on a regular basis who put me on high blood pressure medications as well.  I hate taking pills so this was not an answer for me.  So I went back to trying diets again, exercising as best as I could with the weight and trying to be normal.  Results?  Lost a few pounds but not enough to get off any of the medications.

It was at that point that I started following the bariatric programs that were being developed. I read with vigor every article I could get my hands on, talked with my doctor about it and thought about having surgery from time to time.  My doctor encouraged me to considered it but also warned that it was so new that all the risks were not known.  As I trusted him, I decided to continue following it and watching as more and more positive results were being reported on people.

So that brings me to 2010 and present day….more info in my next post.

I learned how to cover up my weight. In June 2010, I was about 285#.

Who is the girl in pink? This is me with my dad and step-mom on Labor Day 2011. About 278#.

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The Scale Says What!?! More Information…

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Anything worth having is worth working for…or so the saying goes.  Well, having a desire to be the pretty thin girl most of my life – I was  ready to do just about anything ergo all the diets and attempts to get there.  After I heard for about the ten millionth time – don’t worry, you are just large-boned – I was ready to scream!  But that is where I settled and lived for many years.

In 2007, I had the opportunity to move to Virginia to advance my career in meeting planning and exhibit management to a national level.  Moving, in my opinion, was one of the best things that happened to me as I met an amazing nurse practitioner, Harriet Greenfield, who began to help me get my high blood pressure under control, sent me to have a sleep study only to be diagnosed with sleep apnea and when I went in with severe back pain helped me discover that the spine was not doing well.  All those years of being on my feet with my weight was finally taking its toll.  Sleep apnea diagnosis was a pain in the rear and taking more medications was not something I was fond of.  But I decided that if it would help, I would give it the old “college try”.

Physical therapy helped to some extent on the back pain; but most importantly, I was beginning to be in the space of having bariatric surgery.  Scared didn’t really enter my mind; however, I wondered if I could do it.  Nothing else ever seemed to work for any length of time.

I sat down with Harriet and shared with her where my head was in all of this. She listened and heard the pain that I had kept in for so many years.  This was April 2011.  She suggested that I attend an informational meeting at Potomac Hospital to learn about the process, what to expect, etc.  I carried that note around for almost 2 months before I finally got the nerve to reserve a time to go.

What if I failed?  What if I couldn’t live without pasta and bread?  How would I deal with not being able to drink as much or  be the life of the party with my friends?  How would I ever make it through a meeting having to eat ‘special meals’?  How would I ever eat out again?  These questions and a few hundred others swarmed through my head.

June 9, 2011: OMG. Scary as I walked in and registered to hear from the team at Blue Point Surgical Group about how they have successfully performed hundreds of bariatric surgeries. Yes, they shared the good, bad, the ugly but most importantly they gave me HOPE.  That they provide ongoing support to ensure that their patients are as successful as possible.  When I looked around the room, I looked pretty ‘normal’ compared to many in the room.  But I also saw individuals that had that same ‘pain’ in their eyes asking ‘is there hope for me to be healthy?’

From the beginning, they talked as a team.  They shared the good, the bad, the ugly and the hope that having surgery can change your life – they were talking about my life.  BUT… (isn’t there always one)… it would take work, commitment and a desire to be successful from me.  That they could provide the tools but I needed to be able to do the work, learn how to re-eat so that I could be successful, that I would need to talk about how I was feeling, look at trigger foods, etc.  Piece of cake (no pun intended) I thought compared to being miserable, in pain and having more health issues beginning to rear their heads as I aged.

About this time, another friend was having bariatric surgery.  I happened to mention it to her – and low and behold – she was with the same practice. On her suggestion, I moved from the Woodbridge office to the Fair Oaks office to meet with Dr. Amir Moazzez.  She was right – what a cutie (well I think the words we use are ‘great eye candy’)!

As is typical of me, I put off the appointment in order to get through a couple of conferences.  The one that moved me to the point of tears was the one that reminded me that if I was to stay in this business, I needed to go meet with Dr. Moazzez and get details on how this was going to work.  I was in so much pain that I was literally taking very strong pain medication simply to make it through the day.  Not the way I wanted to live every day.  And back surgery (which had been presented as an option) was out of the question for me!

July 29, 2011: I arrive at Blue Point Surgical Fair Oaks office. I was greeted by some of the friendliest medical staff I have ever met.  After filling out a sheath of paperwork, I met the doctor with whom I was placing my faith to help me be successful.

After a long chat and lots of questions from both sides…Dr. Moazzez agreed that I was a candidate for the “sleeve” bariatric surgery.  Essentially, he would remove a portion of my stomach to make it smaller. Oh wait, I am getting ahead of myself…there were weeks of work to do before we get to the operating room.

Oh dear…in order for him to do surgery he wanted me to lose 15 – 20 pounds to help improve my liver function and to ensure that I had a commitment to being successful.

Stay tuned … amazing updates coming soon!

 

With my cookbook collection...and just about ready for surgery.