Like many people, I was teased horribly during this time. I was called mean names like “Jello”, was excluded from group activities, and kids talked about me behind my back. It was horrible. I felt friendless and even started picking on the few people who WERE my friends to try and feel better. Thankfully, this did not scar all of my relationships. Seventeen years later, I still have one close friend from those days.
The summer between 8th and 9th grade was pivotal. I grew 3 inches and lost 25 pounds due to new braces, new food allergies, and becoming more active. When I started 8th grade, the teasing stopped. The people who treated me like nothing before were now treating me like a human. Even without my realizing it, I began to see the ideal that self-worth was all about looks.
Throughout high school, I managed to stay thin at a size 4/6. I graduated and headed to college at a mere 125 pounds, a normal/healthy weight for someone 5’5”. Yet, in my own mind, I still thought I was fat. I had been teased about it for so long that those feelings refused to go away. I still ate like I was fat. (Well, I did once the braces came off and the food allergies went away!) I wish I had realized back then that it was not about waist size, but health that really mattered. Had I really understood that, then maybe I could have prevented so much heartache in my own life.
Fast forward to my freshman year of college: I was on my own and rebelling pretty hard. There were no more theater class workouts 5 times a week, there were horrible sleep schedules, and there was a lot of cheap, fattening, horrible food provided by the school and restaurants in the area. And then, of course, there was experimenting with alcohol and smoking. I gained the traditional “freshmen 15” that first semester! Then, I met my husband.
We married super quick, and I got even lazier about trying to maintain a healthy body. I gained more and more weight. By the time I got pregnant 8 months later, I had gotten up to 159 pounds (before the baby). In just over a year, I had gained 34 pounds! That’s more than many women gain during their entire pregnancy and I was only just starting mine!
When I had my daughter, I never lost the weight, either. I did not get less than 180 pounds for awhile. A year and 3 months later, I weighed in at 192 pounds when the doctor told me I was pregnant for the second time. The morning my son was born, I tipped the scales at a whopping 217 pounds.
After that, things went well, or so I thought. Two weeks after I had my son, I weighed in at 172 pounds. I had lost fat while pregnant with him, but gained a TON of water weight, which shed off very quickly after delivery. I continued to lose weight for about the first year after his birth, getting back down to 159 pounds!
I was thrilled, I hadn’t been under 160 pounds since before my daughter was born 3 years earlier. I had done nothing special to lose the weight, either. I had thought having my son fixed something in my body. I was breastfeeding, but I had breastfed my first child, as well, without shedding the weight like this! I was also suffering from severe depression and not eating like I should. I did start to slowly gain weight back when we moved from one state to another, but then my husband went on deployment. When he was gone I dropped the weight again and was in the 150’s and feeling great about myself.
When he got back, though, things changed. My depression came back full force and the doctors started trying medication after medication to get it fixed. Finally, a month before my son turned 2 years old, I was placed on a medication that did help but, I had to stop breastfeeding. That first month on the medication, I gained 15 pounds. I thought it was worth it, though, because it was really helping, and mentally, I was doing much better.
Not long after, we had two back to back moves across the country. Between the medication, moving, horrible eating habits, and a year long separation from my husband due to an overseas assignment, my weight skyrocketed to over 230 pounds. I am honestly unaware of my top weight. My highest recorded was 234 pounds, which came MONTHS after I had gotten my eating back on track.
What clued me off to how bad my weight had gotten was when I was on vacation, visiting my husband in the Middle East. We were walking across a parking lot, when I tripped and fell. This wasn’t a horrible fall either, but I fully dislocated my right elbow. I do not think it would have been such a severe dislocation, if I had not been so obese.
When I got home, I started making better choices with my food. Healthier meal options, less snacking, more water. But, I still could not move, I simply had no energy. On top of severe anemia keeping me exhausted, I had a compressed disc in my back (solely due to weight), and previous ankle issues that kept me from being able to walk a whole lot. This limited my exercise options, making it even more difficult for me to get the pounds off.
Finally, in the summer of 2010, my husband came home from his yearlong overseas assignment. He encouraged me to talk with my doctor about my options regarding weight-loss, both surgical and nutritional. My doctor took one look at me and immediately sent me over to the Naval Hospital to start in the bariatric surgery program and to be considered for surgery. During the entire time I was working toward my RNY Gastric Bypass, I did not think I would get approved for it, nor would I actually go through with the procedure. In the end, though, I did go through with the surgical option. Today, I am 117 pounds and wear a size 2/4. My goal was 130 pounds. I still suffer from anemia, but no longer have the debilitating back or ankle pain that I used to have. I am now working on fixing the anemia, so that I can get back the energy needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. One day at a time!
Day I came home from surgery:
3 Months after (61 pounds gone I believe it was, note, this was also the day after I got out from my issues found in this story, I had fallen.)
6 Months later and 90ish pounds gone:
Let me say-I do not hate myself for having the surgery. I am grateful every single day that I did have the surgery. Yet, I hate that I NEEDED the surgery. I hate that I did nothing to prevent the need of the surgery. And now, I hate seeing others who need to take the same steps, but won’t admit it. You are not a failure for getting the help you need. In fact, you can be stronger when there are other people there to support you. This surgery is not about looks. It really is not about becoming at size 2. It is about getting your health back. It is about prolonging your life and fixing your body so you can better enjoy that life.
I look at it like I look at the glasses I wear, my eyes are not working properly and need assistance to function efficiently. When I was overweight and at 57% body fat, it was very difficult to lose the weight. So, I needed assistance, which is what the surgery was all about. Now that I am back to a healthy weight, it is up to me to maintain my body in order to prevent getting back to an unhealthy state. The surgery is not a “cure-all”, but it is a helpful method to get us back on track.