Weighty Matters

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My One Year Surgiversary

on January 25, 2013

A year ago today I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) for weight loss surgery.  As those of you who are long time readers of this blog know, it’s been one heck of a wonderful year.  Even though I’ve lived the journey every day, sometimes the changes and improvements amaze me.  Here’s a brief recap:

At my highest weight before the surgery, I was 386 pounds.   I’m 5′ 5″ so this meant my body mass index put me past morbid obesity into the realm of super obese.  I was on a statin drug for high cholesterol, Metformin for high blood sugar, and two different medications for high blood pressure.  I was diagnosed with sleep hypopnia and put on a CPAP machine.   I couldn’t walk more than a couple of blocks without gasping for air.  My right knee hurt all of the time and I often limped when I walked.  Going up a flight of stairs was a challenge.  My pants size, depending on the cut, was a 30 or 32.  My tops were 4X or 28 and up.

Needless to say, the quality of my life was rapidly eroding and the longevity of  my remaining life was in question.

With the VSG, the size of my stomach was reduced by 70%.   This automatically meant that I could no longer eat large quantities of food.  However, I am a compulsive overeater, so the stomach surgery only serves as a very effective tool.  In order to succeed, I had to radically change my food choices, not just in quantity but in quality.  I also needed to move from a sedentary life to one of activity and exercise.

So, here’s what’s happened in a year.   As of this morning, I’ve lost 141 pounds.  I’m wearing a size 20 pant and it won’t be long before I can get into size 18.  I wear an XL-2XL shirt, depending on the make and style.  (Mostly XL.)

I’m no longer on any medications.  My fasting blood sugar level is in the low 90s.  My cholesterol is in the normal range.  My blood pressure is normal.  Although the pulmonologist isn’t quite ready to take me off of the CPAP machine, my sleep apnea numbers have improved a great deal.  Even though I’m still overweight, my co-morbidities have already resolved!

I’ve gone from someone who dreaded moving around to a person who exercises regularly and with great enjoyment and enthusiasm.  I love Zumba class, long walks with my dogs, and Tai Chi classes.  I have more energy and less pain.  In fact, I physically feel stronger than I have since my 20s.  (I’m 55, by the way.)

I make much healthier food choices with more protein, fruits and veggies and a lot less sugar and crap carbs.  Fresh, tasty, and healthy are the key qualities I look for when I eat.

My spirit and psyche are light and energized too.  Instead of fearing that my future was short, I’m planning, embracing and trying a whole list of new adventures.   I used to feel completely limited and constrained by my super obesity.  Today I feel so fit that nothing seems impossible.  I’m up to trying just about everything!

There have been dozens of Non-Scale Victories (NSVs) occurring, from fitting comfortably in an airplane seat and not needing a seat belt extender to kayaking to shopping in a regular department store and finding clothes that fit.

Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about myself.  I’ve worked hard on my head and emotions, delving into why I overate in the past, why food was my drug of choice, how I used it to cope and, most importantly, what I need to do differently.  The surgery is only one tool in the toolkit to succeed.  The head and heart work are vital to long term success.

I still have a long way to go.  Longer, in fact, than I thought.  I saw my surgeon today.  He wants me to lose another 80 pounds so that I go below where I actually need to be.  In his experience, once patients transition to maintenance, they naturally put back on a little weight so going further will put me right in the long run.  (My reaction to hearing 80 pounds is the subject for a future blog.)

However, initial whining aside, I’m not afraid of the goal, or not much anyway.  I know that I’ve built the tools and confidence I need to get to the desired weight.  It will take diligence one meal at a time, one day at a time, but I’ll get there.  The biggest barrier to progress is complacency so I am determined to not get complacent just because I’m doing so well.

I’ve showed some photos here from time to time.  Today at the doctor’s office I asked for copies of the pictures they took of me last year before the surgery.  Then I asked them to take a couple of me today.  It’s good for me to look at them and see the photographic evidence of my progress.   For years, I hid in the backs of groups whenever someone pointed a camera in my direction.  It’s another indication of how far I’ve come, inside and out, that I’m willing to publically share these photos now. (By coincidence I wore a pink blouse each day.  Different blouses, of course!)

MaryStellaBefore1One Year - 1

MaryStellaBefore2

One Year - 2

This blog has been a big part of my overall progress.  It’s helped me identify and work through issues, kick old secrets out of the dark and into the light, and stay accountable.  I don’t know if I’d have made as much progress without writing about all of the different topics and events.   Thank you all again for being part of Weighty Matters and supporting me with your participation, encouragement and comments.  I hope you’ll stick with me for the days, weeks and months ahead.

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12 responses to “My One Year Surgiversary

  1. Hope says:

    Holy cow! You look great!

  2. What a difference a year makes…WoW Mary!!!!!!! Awesome, I’m so incredibly proud of you!!! The first thing I saw in the “after” photos was how much you resemble your Nana B! ,,, hahaha, I’m speechless! You look so much healthier, more vibrant, and comfortable in your skin 🙂 Congratulations on you successes, here’s to many more!

  3. Fabulous!! Just Fabulous!!!

  4. Egads says:

    Your progress and determination are inspiring. I love your NSVs. Looking good!

  5. Thea says:

    I’ve been following along for the inspiration — and you give off plenty of that! Thank you for all you’ve shared.

  6. inkgrrl says:

    You. Are. Amazing. And so inspiring! All kudos and bravas to you, babe!!

  7. Susanne says:

    That applause you’re hearing? It’s from me.

    Susanne

  8. Dang, girl!! You are looking FINE!!! And sounding even better which is the REAL progress! Take a few minutes to pat yourself on the back. 😀

  9. kipper43 says:

    Wow Mary! I am sooo proud of you! You have accomplished so much this past year! You are an inspiration and I know you will succeed in your goals . I know every day is a new step in the right direction and your positive energy is felt through your blogging. You got it going girl! Thanks for sharing and caring enough to help others❤

  10. Awesome, Mary! A year packed with so much change.. and opening the door to so much new life! I had my 3 mo checkup today and all is well.. You continue to inspire me in every way, thank you my friend, and keep on keepin’ on!

  11. Skye says:

    Yahoo! Wow, you look terrific and you sound terrific and you have made remarkable and significant progress! You are so real and so honest that I get inspiration from you every time I read your blog. Congratulations and here’s to more days, weeks, and months of progress and honesty.

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