Monday, June 16, 2014

The View from Here: First Year Anniversary of Weight Loss Surgery

Some of you knew me before, and many of you didn't. Either way, I've been told by people that they didn't recognize me upon seeing me for the first time in a long time. It's been a pretty big year, with some pretty big changes. As you read this blog post, you'll see words that link to the other blogs posts from the series I've written. Feel free to catch up by reading those as well, if you missed them. It definitely gives more perspective to the before and after pictures.

June 17th, 2013 I took a leap, and changed my life by combining Roux-en-Y surgery to my tool box of tools to aid me in my weight loss struggles. So I am one year out from having had gastric bypass. It has been quite the year. This is a really good spot to take stock, of where I am now, and where I am going. This for sure though, is not the destination. 

When I began I was over 300 pounds, and have lost 145. I have literally lost a whole person. I have dropped from a size 26 pants, to a size 8. My shirt size went from a size 4x to a size large.

Now all of those numbers are impressive, but what really counts is the following:

  1.  I am no longer in constant pain in my back, hips, legs, knees, ankles, neck
  2. My balance is improved. Before losing the weight and increasing my movement, I couldn't right myself.  If I tripped over something, I went down.
  3. I now rarely wake up tired, before I woke tired,  trudged through the day tired, and often needed to nap when my children napped, just to get through the day.
  4. Where before, I was so miserable that I wasn't able to be the person I am down deep inside,  now I am experiencing the joy that comes with being able to participate more fully in life.
  5.  I can keep moving with no troubles now.

I have a ton of what we call Non-Scale Victories, and if you missed them, you can read them here in Non-Scale Victories: A few of my Favourite Things. There are so many things I got to take back during this process.
Changes I never anticipated

Sure, I knew I would lose weight. I knew I'd be raising the chances of being around for my kids. I knew I'd be able to move better. I was taking a fighting chance of gaining everything that actually ended up on my list of victories. But so much came out of this that I had no way to foresee:

1) My ideas about this tool were challenged.
I had to challenge everything I thought was true about gastric bypass. I found out just how much was under the surface, beyond the pretty and inspiring before and after pictures.  I had to make a pretty complicated choice  I had to challenge my, and other people's ideas about gastric bypass being the 'Easy way Out.' I talked about it in two posts here (Where I talked about the pre-op process) and here  (Where I told the story of my early post operative period). Now I know that there is a lot that goes into the process, and that this is a tool to be used in conjunction with other tools, to give the obese a fighting chance to get the weight off. There is no shame in using this tool. There is nothing easy about it.

2) Changing social circles completely.  

 I had friendships change for the most wonderful reasons. I began to chase down the opportunities to spend time with positive and inspiring people. People who shared my vision, and could see my goals, and chose to help me approach them with hope in trying to reach them. Some of those people were reaching for the same goal. Some of them were in-person, and some solely on-line. That made all the difference, to have the privilege of walking beside them.
I also had some people that chose to show unconditional support to me during that time, and it was such a gift. 

3) How differently people would treat me.
I had my suspicions and ideas in advance of surgery as to how people would respond to my surgery. Because I was afraid, I chose to keep it quiet until after it was done. The only people that got to know in advance were on a need to know basis.
I didn't realize some of the fat bias until I was being treated differently. It's just plain weird how fast chivalry from strangers comes back when you're not huge. How much smarter you're given the credit for being (or maybe it just removes the stereotype of being dumb and lazy when you lose the weight- who knows?)

4) How differently I would treat me. 
I was down right mean to me at times. I said negative, self-defeating things to me. I didn't believe anything positive anyone said about me. I chose to believe negative things that others said about me, true or not.  My misery had affected my outward behavior and it wasn't until I lost some weight, and started being happier, that I realized what an unhappy person I had become. When I started to be happier, people also responded to that, I think. 

5) How much this journey had everything to do with my head.
My focus changed- I developed a focus on being healthy and stronger, instead of being self-destructive. I became happy about not only every ounce I lost, but also in regaining the little things.  These things are now a novelty to me. Things that most people, never having been morbidly obese, take for granted.

I learned that I need to stop caring what others think so much. 
I talked about this more here in Don't Submit to the Court of Public Opinion 

How much gratitude would become one of my daily tools. 
I decided along the way that I never wanted to go back to where I came from. I appreciate the woman that got me to this point, but I need to maintain the growth. 
 That required taking inventory on many stops along the journey. I had the wonderful opportunity to share each of the small 'wins' with my support system.  I was so grateful that they played along, and not only cheered me on, but started sharing theirs as well. 
We were able to measure success in more ways than just our relationship to gravity.

It's one reasons I took so many pictures during the journey. I needed a reminder at each of the stops along the way how far I had come.

I'm enjoying the view from here, and looking forward to the work of maintaining what has been achieved.


  1. Absolutely beautiful Jen! You look radiant in both the 'before' and 'after' pics (to be honest), but you can see the extra added confidence radiating from such an accomplishment in the 'after' pictures :) What an inspiring story of perseverance!!

    1. Thanks for your support Rachael. It has meant so much this past year!

  2. Jen, I had never read your blog before! What an awesome blog. You inspire me and I hope to keep coming back to it and reading it over and over. You not only have an amazing testimony to your WLS journey, but you can really write. I love the way you explain things and the way you put across your perspective. Words that a lot of us cannot get out. Words that explain how it really is. Love it. :)

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I really appreciate the feedback. I wanted very badly to be able to portray this journey well, in the proper context, without people coming to the conclusion that it was involved wasn't worth it, or that conversely, it was easy to achieve. It means a lot that you've said, in essence, that I did a good job of communicating it.

  3. Wow, just amazing Jennifer. A thousand congratulations. And hey, we have something else in common--scrapbooking! (I have a goal to actually get some done this summer! We should have a scrapbook 'date'. :-)

  4. I love it! Congrats lady! Obesity runs in my family. My aunt died from being morbidly obese at around 600 lbs. My mom had the same surgery at 320 lbs... it was a big commitment and journey, but she's so glad she did it. She's now 125 lbs. It is stupid the way society treats people based on their outward appearance, but unfortunately, that's the cold truth and there's not much we can do about it other than do what we can for ourselves to be happy. Thanks so much for sharing your story with the rest of the world! I'm sure this will inspire others as well. Peace, Love, Blessings!

    1. I am so sorry to hear about your aunt. Obesity really is an insidious disease, and it is so difficult to over come. Congratulations to your mom on being ready, willing, and able to make the sacrifices required. May she have continued success in her maintenance!

      If one person overcomes their fear of what society thinks about this tool, and makes a choice for health because of this blog post, then I feel as though it's been worth it to put myself out there.

      Thank you.

  5. Wow! You must feel as incredible as you look. What a journey. Thanks for sharing Jen. I know many can relate!!


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