Soooo much has changed in my caffeinated world. My job, mainly. I went from being an Editor to a Blogger, to a Writer/Artisan/Thirty-One Consultant. The most important thing to me, though, is that I'm happy and I'm still working with words on a regular basis. I've been incredibly lucky with jobs lately, as far as doing things I love, but the money part's not great right now. I'm still trying to make a name for myself out in this crazy world, and we've all got to start somewhere, right??
Why, after all these years, have I decided to come back to my own, personal blog? Oh, I'm so glad you asked! ;) I'm actually on a journey, and I'd like to document it in hopes my experiences can help someone else some day. Isn't that why all blogs exist, though? We all want to share our experiences to sway the opinions of others.
My story starts way back in the 80's when I was a youngster. I was always taller and bigger than most of the kids in my class. I didn't really start to notice anything until middle school. I had a poochy belly area, and kids used to call me names and occasionally ask if I was pregnant. Kids truly can be evil. Those names (several I still remember to this day) have stuck with me since, and will probably always stick with me. That was about the start of my self-esteem and weight-related issues. At least, that's the place in my life I always go back to when someone asks when my weight issues started.
Luckily, things got better for me by the time I reached high school. Still taller than most, I was now right on target with everyone else, or at least it looked that way. I was lanky and skinny, but it worked for me. The only problem was, I was still a size 12. I was given an opportunity to model and go to Italy, but it never came to light. I always say it was my decision, and that I didn't want to break up my family, but deep down, I know it was because I wasn't a size 6 or smaller. I looked it, but I wasn't.
By the time my graduation rolled around, I had started to gain a bit more weight. 15-20 pounds didn't seem like much at the time, until it just kept adding on. When I peaked at a whopping 327 pounds, despite being 6-inches shy of 6' tall and having a large frame, I knew I had to do something to change my weight issues.
A couple months after my 30th birthday, I really started to buckle down. I'd been working with my doctor in the past to try and find the best weight loss options for me, and we decided an 800-1000 calorie/day diet would be the best. I joined the Medifast program and lost 34 pounds in 8 weeks. I felt great and was really motivated to continue on. Unfortunately, my budget did not allow for me to continue being on Medifast. My husband, being the incredibly supportive man he is, helped me, and together we got it so my daily caloric intake was still right around 1000 calories where my doctor recommended. I stayed on this "diet" for a year. Yeah, there were splurge days here and there, but my average was where it needed to be. My weight maintained a bit, but I still got back up to 301. Only a 7 pound gain in a year, but it wasn't a loss.
Everything I read and researched said I should have been back down to my high school weight by only eating 1000 calories a day and exercising (yeah, we even joined a gym, and I really enjoyed going). I didn't lose a pound. What was wrong with me??
Suffering from weight issues is not fun. It's even less fun when your husband is skinny, your friends are skinny, and you're already suffering from depression issues due to weight issues from the past. Then, add in that your parents and brother (who are also LARGE (tall and big) people are just now starting to develop health issues related to their weight. The depression you can sink into with all that on your mind constantly is a pretty dark place. The hopelessness you feel is indescribable.
My husband and I got to a financial point where we could join Medifast again. He joined with me, on a different plan than mine. He had a bit of weight he wanted to lose as well, and Medifast could help him, too. In the first week, Husband lost 10 pounds. I didn't lose an ounce. Again, I wondered what was wrong with me. I'd done everything the same as I had the first time around, but wasn't losing. I kept chugging along. Week 2, no weight loss. Week 3, no weight loss. In the middle of Week 3, I started to get really light headed and dizzy. I had absolutely NO energy, and all I wanted to do was sleep all day, every day. If I ate "regular" meals and food during the day, I felt fine. Medifast wasn't hurting me, but my body was rebelling for some reason.
Earlier this week, my husband and I went together to see my doctor and let him know what had been going on since I was in there last. My doctor was proud of the fact I had lost 20 pounds since my last visit. When I explained it was weight I had lost last year and I hadn't been able to lose a single pound since, he realized what I was afraid of. I was out of options.
We'd tried all sorts of diets (my original reason for visiting him years ago was that I GAINED weight following a Weight-Watchers plan to an absolute T). We'd even tried prescription-only pills. We'd tried cutting my calories down significantly. Short of starving myself (literally removing all food from my life), my doctor told me I really only had one choice left to make - which bariatric surgery I wanted.
Prior to visiting my doctor this week, I'd had a feeling that was the route I was headed down. Previous discussions with my doctor let me know he was not a fan of the surgery route unless it was truly a person's last option to help them with their weight. Since I tend to obsess and research the heck out of things, I wanted to be prepared if I went to see my doctor and he told me surgery was the way to go. My insurance company had already been called. I had already checked all of my benefits to see what, if anything, was covered. Several friends came over to our house the day I made the initial hour-long phone call to my insurance company, and I let them know what I had just learned. Almost immediately, I regretted mentioning anything to them. Like me, they were a bit overweight. One was trying to better himself, too, and has started eating healthier and going to the gym. This one friend, who truly is a very good friend, shared his opinion on weight loss surgery and let me know he felt many people used weight loss surgery as an "easy out." I couldn't get it through to him that day that this was NOT an "easy out," and I understood the risks and life changes associated with it. It also really bothered me that all I was doing was RESEARCH and I was being berated for educating myself. It was like the fact that I was looking into something so "taboo" was just completely wrong and I shouldn't even be wasting my time.
The next day, I cried. All day. Lots of things went wrong that day, which didn't help me much. But I felt like I had hit the bottom, and no one would support me if it came down to me having to have a bariatric surgery of some sort. What was I going to do?
I mentioned on Facebook (social media can be a double edged sword, if you aren't already aware) that I was headed off to the doctor Monday morning to see what was wrong. I mentioned how I was taking in less than 1100 calories a day and exercising, but I wasn't losing weight.
More belittlement started.
"Friends" began chiming in, lecturing me about how I shouldn't be eating less than 1200 calories a day, how I needed to try their diets, and I was doing everything wrong. I didn't need a doctor, I needed to do what my untrained, non-medical friends told me to do.
After my visit to my doctor, I was actually feeling pretty good. He let me know I wasn't doing anything wrong. I was making good choices, actively trying to lose weight, and I had made progress. The reason my progress had stalled was because my body didn't want to metabolize more than 800 calories a day, which meant if I wanted to lose weight, I needed to make sure my caloric intake was LESS than that per day. Knowing this could be incredibly unhealthy, my doctor advised me NOT to lower my caloric intake, but to seriously consider weight loss surgery. *I* wasn't doing anything wrong. I felt better. I couldn't control what my body chose to do, no matter what I tried. Even though I was down to my last option for weight loss, it wasn't my fault.
Heading back to Facebook (that sword again, I'm tellin' ya!), I shared with my friends and family that after my doctor visit, I had learned the only option I had regarding weight loss was which bariatric surgery I wanted to get.
Oh. My. Gosh. The backlash I received was devastating. I cried. All day. Again, everyone was telling me I was taking the "easy way out" and surgery was bad, blah blah blah. I had so many "friends" telling me I was "giving up" if I had surgery, and my doctor was wrong. Oh, and obviously, my doctor was getting kick-backs from recommending surgery, despite the fact he never actually gave me a surgeon's name and he knew I had limitations of where I could go due to my insurance. Yup. My DOCTOR, who had actually gone through, passed, and graduated from MEDICAL school was WRONG. Are you freaking kidding me?? I even had family members tell me my doctor was only recommending surgery because he was getting something from it. These same family members that go to the very same doctor and recommended him to me! So now we don't trust our doctors when we don't like the answers, but we trust them when they tell us what we want to hear? How is that supposed to work??
The more and more I thought about things, the more I cried. I didn't want to be a disappointment to anyone. If I decided to have any kind of surgery, I couldn't imagine the number of friends I would be losing because I was doing the "wrong thing." Wrong thing for whom, though?
I finally posted my version of a "public service announcement" to my Facebook family and friends. I'll even share it with you, word-for-word.
"After I seemed to have opened a GIGANTIC can of worms, I feel I need to further explain my situation. I truly appreciate everyone's ideas and options, but this is not a new thing for me. As many of you know, I've been struggling with my weight for YEARS. I've had test after test after test done, because the ONLY thing wrong with me, medically, is my weight. NOTHING else. My doctor has been working with me closely for several years, and we've tried everything he knows that works, and a few things I've brought to his attention, as well. He knows me, knows my medical history, knows my background. Metabolism CANNOT be changed, no matter what anyone tells you. Yes, you can assist it in getting started and working, but if your body only metabolizes a certain amount of calories per day, you CANNOT change that. I ruined my metabolism's ability to function regularly with eating disorders. I can boost it all I want, but even without eating disorders in my past, my body does not metabolize more than 800-1000 calories per day. After that, I gain weight. The only way to lose weight FOR ME, according to my doctor, is either starve myself (like, literally - stop eating completely, which of course, is a sarcastic response), or get some sort of bariatric surgery. Neither my doctor nor I want to go the surgery route, but if it's going to improve my overall health and KEEP me healthy, it's something I have to seriously consider. I really, really appreciate how much everyone cares and wants me to succeed, but right now, I need prayers and kind thoughts sent my way. Jeff and I have a lot of thinking and researching to do before any decisions are made."
After this post, the backlash started to die down. I began receiving positive messages from people who actually knew me and knew my struggle. Even positive messages from people who didn't know quite the extent of my struggle, but knew I had been trying very hard to get healthy.
I still get the occasional message from those who want me to jump on their bandwagons and essentially become their proteges, but I've learned one really, really important thing from those people. They aren't my friends.
They are acquaintances. They are people who only like people who are just like them. They are people who don't want me to succeed unless I've done it the way they told me to. They are people with ZERO education on this topic, but who are self-proclaimed experts. Yes, there are one or two who really do have my best interests in mind, but they don't want to hear past a certain point. They hear that I can't lose weight, and they stop listening. They don't pay attention to the barrage of tests I've had done or the plethora of "treatments" I've tried to lose this excess weight. They just know I haven't done things their exact way, so I haven't done enough.
Yesterday, it finally dawned on me. The people who actually care about me will love me, no matter what I weigh. They will still care about me if I choose to have a weight loss surgery. They are the ones who have been by my side through my struggle from the beginning. They are the ones who will continue to love me and want the best for me.
Don't get me wrong, there are people who care about me and love me that don't agree with surgery as an option. Should I decide this is the best route for me, only time will tell if those people who are against surgery will still be there for me after I get home from the hospital.
My struggle does not end with surgery, if that's what I choose to do. It will be the beginning of a new life, and an all-new battle with food.
No matter what I choose, I WILL overcome this weight. I WILL prevail.