The decision to have weight loss surgery was a long-time coming. It was first mentioned to me as an option when I was at my highest weight of 221, back in 2003. I was not in the right psychological frame of mind to make that choice. Instead, I chose to try once again to lose the weight on my own. And I did lose 40 pounds. But, since I’m only 4’10”, weighing 181 pounds is still considered severely obese. It was another 10 years before I finally admitted to myself that I would never be able to lose the amount I needed to all on my own. That I couldn’t do it on willpower alone. In addition, I knew I needed a permanent solution because otherwise I would just gain back whatever I lost. After seeing a close friend of mine lose a significant amount of weight having weight loss surgery, I finally made the decision to at least look into weight loss surgery for myself. This was in August of 2012. It took another 8 months before I actually had the surgery.
Like I wrote in My Own Journey to Change, Pt 1, my main focus was on getting healthy. And in my mind, the only way I could get healthy was to lose 100% of my excess body weight. The only gauge I had for what that number would be, was the BMI scale. According to that, for my height, my ideal body weight is anything between 89-118 pounds. Quite a range! The 89 number sounded ridiculous to me. Even the 118 sounded like a pipe dream. After all, I didn’t even remember passing 118 on my way up to my high of 221. I weighed 200 pounds on my surgery date. The idea of losing 82 pounds was overwhelming. In addition to that, I knew that I was fighting a battle of time, as you lose the majority of your weight in the first 6 months after surgery and after that, the losing slows down tremendously. AND, add in the fact that the average weight loss after gastric sleeve surgery is only 70% of your excess body weight. For me, that would have only gotten me to 140 pounds. Still way too high for 4’10”. So, for me, I was losing all 82 pounds. No ifs, ands, or buts.
To be honest with you, before this, strong determination was not part of my make-up. But, something happened to me when I started this process. I knew that having weight loss surgery was a drastic, last-ditch effort to lose weight. That if this didn’t work, there was nowhere left to turn. I felt like I had no other choice but to work harder than I ever had before. I very quickly learned, though, that surgery was only a tool that I had to use to get what I wanted. That I had to work that tool with everything I had. With that in mind, I did everything absolutely “right.” I ate no carbs. I ate no sweets. I ate only protein with some vegetables. I worked out 4 times a week doing cardio kickboxing with a 150-lb heavy bag. I also worked out with a personal trainer one day a week. Now, mind you, before this, I was a total couch potato. Hated to sweat. Hated to be out of breath. Hated any and ALL forms of exercise. Until I found kickboxing. I realized that in order to keep up with the exercise that is absolutely necessary to lose weight, I HAD to find a form of exercise that I enjoyed. Otherwise, I would just quit. Thankfully, the exercise I wound up loving was also one of the most intense, high-energy workouts out there. Suddenly I wasn’t only losing weight, but I was getting stronger. I was building muscles that I never even knew I had. I found myself wanting to push myself harder. Wanting to do things I had never even thought of doing before. I found a strength inside of me that I never knew was there.