As I look back on my life, I am faced with a reality I think many of us have had to come to grips with. I simply cannot remember a point in my life where I would not have been considered overweight.
Growing up I was what I called a healthy chubby girl. I was a cheerleader and gymnast but I was still overweight. It’s hard doing sports when many girls weigh about half of what you do. But I accepted that being overweight was just my lot in life. My Mom took me to specialists and they would all try help me, but nothing seemed to work.
I owned my lot in life, if I was going to be the fat girl, I was going to have a personality that was just as big. At least that’s what people saw on the outside. On the inside, I was depressed and ashamed of who I was. I constantly feared rejection and doubted myself, and it sucked.
So I tried all the diets and all the fads in hopes of shedding the pounds. I joined Curves, counted points and calories, I exercised A LOT. I tried a bunch of fad diets. Name a diet—I’ve probably tried it. But ultimately they all would fail and I could not maintain the weight loss in the long term. In the short term, I would lose a ton of weight but then when the diet failed, I would turn back to my comfort eating and every pound would come back and then some. I would end up heavier than before the diet, and I felt like a failure every time.
As time passed, I resigned myself to being overweight—a fact I didn’t see changing. I told myself I was healthy, so who cared? In reality I was not healthy.
At my heaviest, I was 346 lbs. No one is healthy at that weight. I simply avoided doctors and didn’t report issues I was having or ignored things like the constant back pain and tiredness and dizzy spells. Later I was diagnosed with diabetes and sleep apnea.
The real issue though, and the reason why I joined the Surgical Weight Loss program was that I wasn’t living my life the way that I wanted to. I have two young sons who are full of energy and I simply wasn’t keeping up with them.
One time, we visited a water park built right into the hotel and it was amazing, but our room was quite a distance away from the fun. Making my way to the park included sitting and taking breaks because I couldn’t walk long distances without stopping. My sons and husband got to have their first moments in the park while I sat alone on a couch in a hallway. I missed those moments with my kids. I will never get those moments back, and that was my breaking point. I did not want to miss any more of those moments or sit on the sideline while my kids grew up. I wanted to be a full participate in their lives. I wanted more, and my kids deserved more. After years of living a life at more than 300 lbs, I knew it was time to make a change.
I had friends who had gone through the Northern Light Surgical Weight Loss program and had a great amount of success, so I figured I would at least check it out, although the thought of surgery scared me. I went to my primary care physician who couldn’t be more excited for my suggestion and talked about a few patients she had that had done well with the program.
I sat for my first introductory class, receiving an educational binder on April 18, 2017. The staff answered all of the questions I had, and seemed to care about me and my feelings in the process. Next came my first support group meeting, where everyone was just as nice and just as willing to answer my many questions. I was in awe as everyone went around the table sharing their stories, both their successes and their pitfalls. The best part was that they were all real people I could connect with and relate too.
I left my first meeting scared, but excited and I knew I wanted to keep going to the support groups. I could see a little bit of myself in every story they told and it gave me the confidence to continue with the program.
Everyone in the program wanted to ensure my success. They gave me tips and pointers that I could use throughout the program and made sure I had every bit of knowledge I needed to achieve my goals and more. I stuck with the tips and suggestions and found success even before I met with my surgeon for the first time.
The path to surgery often takes time. I experienced a wait to get in to a sleep study. At first I felt like my process was so slow, but then I came to realize that I could let it break me or I could take it as an opportunity.
I spent more time working on building the habits I needed for life after surgery. I also spent more time losing weight and getting myself in a healthier, safer place to have surgery. I met with Michelle Toder, MD for the first time on October 30, 2017.
I am a teacher, so I pushed off my surgery date to Christmas break. I had my gastric bypass on December 28, 2017. That meant spending the holidays on a liquid diet, but it was well worth it. I went into surgery at peace with the process and feeling confident that I was forever changing my life in a positive way. In the hospital, the staff was kind, knowledgeable, and very supportive.
Now, I am in the best health of my life. I weigh 156 lbs, which means I have lost 190 lbs total and kept it off for months. This is a feat that would not have been possible without the program at Northern Light Surgical Weight Loss.
But what’s more important is I am fully living my life and doing so in a way I did not think previously was possible. I am there with my kids every step of the way, providing them with healthy exercise driven activities I can fully participate in. I am teaching them about the joys of healthy food and eating right to better prepare them for their futures in hopes they won’t struggle the way I did.
I am exercising almost daily: running, weight training, doing Zumba, and feeling like there isn't anything in life my body will stop me from doing. I have completed two half-marathons, hiked mountains, and rocked climbed--things I would never have dreamed were possible two years ago.
Thank you to everyone at Northern Light Surgical Weight Loss. You have truly changed my life, and there are no words to express how grateful I am.