As many of you know, on December 23, 2008, I underwent weight-loss surgery. My doctor had urged me to choose gastric bypass but I stubbornly stuck to my choice of Lap-band. Dr. S warned that I probably wouldn't lose as much weight as I needed to with Lap-band, but I didn't like the idea of my insides being rearranged and figured that any weight loss would be better than none. At my heaviest the thought of losing even 100 lbs (or even just 50) sounded like a miracle.
Three years later and I have lost 184 lbs! Yep, a whole person! What's great is that I'm still losing weight - very, very slowly. In June 2010 I reached my personal goal of losing half of my body weight; I weighed 175 and had lost 175 lbs. To celebrate, I went skydiving with my cousins Alyson and Cassie. Since then I have lost another 9 lbs and now weigh 167 lbs (before this week of Christmas overindulgence). I'm very pleased with how I look (except the excess skin) and am beyond thrilled with how I feel. I feel GREAT!
A few weeks ago, I went in to see my surgeon after not seeing him since June 2010. I needed a slight adjustment to my band - it felt too tight - and the timing worked out to be able to go to St. George for an appointment with him. I'm so glad I went in! Not only do I feel better since having the adjustment, but also because Dr. S said seeing me reminded him of the reason he does weight loss surgeries. He said that he sees so many patients fail to make the lifestyle changes needed to lose weight and keep it off. To see me lose more weight than he thought I would and to have kept it off for so long made him feel really good about his job. I told him that having the surgery saved my life and it really did.
I was morbidly obese. I hadn't developed some of the health complications that come with being morbidly obese, but I'm sure they weren't far off. I had noticed my blood pressure start to creep up just past normal, diabetes was probably at my doorstep, and who knows what else was going to develop if I didn't lose weight. My mom had said numerous times that she worried I'd die before I was 40. I kind of worried about that too, but I didn't know what to do about it. Sometimes I felt so utterly hopeless that death held a sort of appeal - then I wouldn't have to worry about being so large any more.
My stepmother was the one who had the idea for me to have weight loss surgery. My half sister's babysitter had lap-band surgery and had lost 70 lbs in a few months. Paula and my dad discussed the surgery decided to offer to help me pay for it if I chose to have it done. When I finally decided to go ahead with it, six months after their initial offer, I talked to Paula about my weight. She said she thought I was beautiful no matter what, but she worried that I had stopped living life, that I held back on really enjoying it and on doing things I wanted to do because of my weight. It was so true. I'm blessed with a naturally positive and happy nature, so it wasn't like I was miserable, but I could see how I had changed as my weight steadily increased. I will appreciate Paula's insights and for her and my dad's willingness to help me for as long as I live.
Losing 184 lbs has saved my life! Not only because of the weight-related illnesses that have been avoided but also because of the life I now live that I wouldn't otherwise. I'm married, for crying out loud! I would never have dreamed of joining an online dating site if I had stayed at 300+ lbs, so I would never have met my husband, the most wonderful man I've ever known. I have had many adventures that I would have skipped because of my weight, I have been able to do things like bike riding that I hadn't done since I was a kid because I was too heavy to do them. Even simple things like going to the movies or sitting in a restaurant booth are easier and more enjoyable because I don't have to squeeze into the seats! Even though it's been 3 years since my surgery, I still got a spark of joy when Steve and I went the the Nutcracker ballet and I fit easily into the small theatre seats - with room to spare!
Someone recently said to me that they kind of missed the old Julie. I'm not sure what that means, since I feel like the same person just with less body mass, but if I am different, I don't miss the "old" me. I love how I look and how I feel. I love how much healthier my body is. If there has been a non-physical change in me, it's how much hope I feel now, how excited I am by the future, how happy I am. I don't limit myself any more because of what my body looks like. And, I like shopping more now. Otherwise, I'm still me.
Weight loss surgery isn't an Easy button; it is a tool. It is effective only as much as you use it to help you change your lifestyle. There's always ways to circumvent it, but why would you spend all that money to do what you've always done? One definition of "crazy" is doing the same things you've always done and expecting different results. I definitely am not perfect with my eating (I LOVE chocolate!) but the band helps me control how much I eat and most of the time I do eat responsibly. Exercise, though, is uber important to me! It helps "erase" some of the chocolate, ice cream, etc. that I eat and it really is good for the soul as well as the body.
In conclusion, I can't believe it's been three years since I had my surgery. Back then I had no idea where I would be today, but I had hope that the results would be worth it. They are!
Here are a few pictures of my weight loss journey: