Thursday, December 29, 2011

Three-Year Anniversary

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:

October 2008 - 350 lbs

December 21, 2008 - 351 lbs

The doctor's office took these pictures a couple days before surgery.

February 2009 - 299 lbs!

Summer 2009 - 250 lbs! (Lost 100 lbs!)

Late summer 2009

Fall 2009

April 2010 - 185 lbs

June 1011 - 171 lbs (lost 180 lbs!)

Dec. 23, 2011 - 167 lbs (lost 184 lbs!)


Cassie said...

You are so awesome!! I'm so proud of you. And you really inspire me. I have a goal that I must lose weight this year and seeing that you can do it really helps because I know how much work you put into it.

Melissa said...

Julie, you are gorgeous inside and out!! You have done awesome! I LOVE your hair in the last photo, it is so cute!! If you ever make it down and have some free time, call me and lets do lunch or something. I miss talking to you!

Cardine said...

I like what your stepmother said. Sometimes I hang out with idiots who say stupid things about people's weight as if it affects their value, and that's really discouraging to me. I really appreciate you and others who have the right perspective of doing things for the health value. I appreciate your good example to me of seeing things the right way, i.e. the positive benefits, not the superficial ones.

Also, it's always crazy to me about how people are just built differently. We now weigh about the same, and yet, we are so different. Our clothes sizes are probably totally different (I think you wear smaller sizes than me - that's how it usually goes), and you are probably in much better shape than me since running sounds painful to me right now.

I am thankful that people come in all kinds of sizes and shapes, and I appreciate your example to me of hard work and determination that got you where you are today. You really are inspiring to me. Thanks for this blog update.

Mellissa said...

Julie, you are amazing. I'm so happy you're happy and healthy. You're a good example to so many for making those changes in your life to be healthy. You've always been beautiful, and your giggle will always cause me to giggle. Especially when either of us are full of root beer! Have a wonderful new year full of wonderfulness! :)

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking the other day how impressed I am that you have lost so much weight and that YOU did it. You changed your habits and routines. It's so inspiring to me!!

I know what you mean about exercise... at some point, though, I'd like to get to a point where I'm not "erasing" so much... in other words, that I'm eating better in the first place!

And... you look FANTABULOUSDERFUL!!!!!

tearese said...

wow! The "Time lapse" pictures are amazing. You look great! But you always did. Like Cardine, I'd say we're close to the same weight now, but we do all look so different! Yay for diversity.