A Pep Talk.

Are you still making excuses for yourself? Are you still downplaying and sabotaging your success? Did you forget how badly you wanted (needed) this weight loss? Are you finding it hard to make the changes you have to make?

Me, too. Time for a pep talk.

Back when Mr. Stuck started his journey toward surgery, I said, ‘You go first.’ It had not been very long since I’d had two major surgeries, total hip replacements, and I was in no hurry to go under the knife again. I wanted to see how it went for him before I decided yes or no. He was my guinea pig.

But that wasn’t the only reason. Even though I was unhealthy and unhappy, I was also unconvinced. Sure, I thought, maybe the Mister’s only option was to have that drastic surgery where they rearrange your insides, but it wasn’t mine. I didn’t really need something that extreme. Since he had to make huge changes in his diet, and I was the one feeding him, I’d have to make some changes myself, right? Then I could avoid having surgery, because it would be up to me to revamp our whole way of eating and I would lose weight as an added benefit. Win-win!

I saw how laughable that line of reasoning was as he got closer and closer to surgery. I made salads and chicken and substituted fruit for desserts. I tsk-tsked at him when he dared express a craving for chocolate or wanted a beer. I nannied and nattered and nagged. I told myself (and him) that it was for his own good – I was just trying to help.

I am ashamed to admit that I watched him like a hawk, but I was still living and eating the same way I always had. What a surprise – I didn’t lose like I thought I would – no, like I was certain I would. As I saw him losing, but not me, I realized that I wasn’t able to do it alone. That’s when I decided to seek WLS for myself. I wasn’t going to lose weight as a side effect of Mr.Stuck’s efforts — I had to do my own work.

And I did. And when I had my surgery, I promised myself, like everyone else does, that I would not be one of those folks who regain after surgery. I was DONE being obese. I was DONE with the unhealthy habits, the sedentary lifestyle, the unrestrained snacking, the bad choices. I was putting my life on the line; surgery was no off-the-cuff decision. This time, it had to stick, and I had to be the one to make it happen.

So here I am, ten months post-op, with the majority of my extra weight gone, and I have experienced tremendous benefits from this change. But in the last couple of months my weight loss has slowed down, even plateaued, for a number of reasons: I’m not exercising like I should; I’ve allowed myself too much leeway in my diet; I’ve stopped measuring portions and returned to the ‘eyeball’ method; I haven’t been drinking enough water; and the number one reason – I’ve fooled myself into thinking that all of these things are okay.

The sad truth is that Mr. Stuck and I are enablers for each other: I love cooking the foods that he loves to eat, and he loves to bring home treats. We have to be on our guard all the time, lest we ‘enable ourselves’ right back to where we started. No way, we say — there’s no way I’ll ever be obese again! 

But I can see how it happens. You get comfortable, you get lazy, you get overconfident. Right after surgery, you’re elated at the pounds in freefall — every time you step on the scale or go clothes shopping, the number is smaller. It’s intoxicating! You look better, you feel better, and you begin to feel invincible. Where before you felt restricted, later on you’re embracing the new mantra of WLS: I can eat whatever I want, just in smaller portions.

You tell yourself it’s okay to hover over the hors d’oeuvres tray at the party because they’re small, and your tummy is small, so no big deal. You go ahead and have that beer. Don’t even get me started on lattes or Halloween candy. It’s all part of the big story you’re telling yourself, because all that you’re doing is making excuses and setting yourself up. Sadly, I know this from experience.

So it’s time to fall back and regroup. For me, this means remembering what it felt like to be obese and miserable: my feet hurt every single day. I was always tired. My back ached. I didn’t sleep very well. My skin was awful. My clothes didn’t fit very well, and I resisted buying new ones because I hated trying them on and I hated how they looked and I hated the size I wore. It means remembering how I never wanted to be in front of the camera and how futile it felt to me to dress up, wear makeup, or get my hair done — I’d still be the same fat, dowdy chick as before. And it means remembering the desperation — the tearful pleas and deals I made with myself, the promises, the threats — all of that.  It means remembering the struggle of trying to diet, denying myself in an effort to see a quick loss, which never worked for very long and made me grumpy, besides.

It means remembering how I blamed myself for my failure and saw myself as worthless, lazy, helpless, and stuck, refusing to look beyond the fat – and then being resentful when other people followed my lead and did the same.

I remember all of that. I never, ever want to forget. It seemed like it took a lot of time and determination to finish all of my prerequisites for surgery, and then – finally – it happened. Now, that part – the easy part – is behind me, and the rest of my life lies before me. It’s up to me which direction I go.

I didn’t come all this way to make a u-turn. None of us did.
Relapse is not an option.


photo credit Lauren Lionheart

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Aging like a fine wine. ;-)

8 thoughts on “A Pep Talk.”

  1. “I have walked through many lives, some of them my own, and I am not who I was, though some principle of being abides from which I struggle not to stray.

    When I look behind, as I am compelled to look before I can gather strength to proceed on my journey, I see the milestones dwindling toward the horizon, and the slow fires trailing from the abandoned camp sites over which scavenger angels wheel on heavy wings.”

    These are the first two lines of the poem I recently committed to memory (“The Layers” by Stanley Kunitz) and I thought of them as I read this lovely blog. I decided to type them out, and think of you as you look behind and gather strength to proceed on this beautiful journey. Day by day, hour by hour. With love, Christi

    1. Thank you, Christi.
      Thank you also for introducing me to Stanley Kunitz and that poem, which I also love. I am flattered that reading my post brought it to mind. It is a compelling piece, and I may end up memorizing it, too. I saw that you recently refreshed your memory of Jabberwocky, one of my all-time favorites, and that gives me inspiration to find more poetry to love and remember.
      Kunitz’s words are poignant and meaningful, and I truly do understand them. I do see myself as looking behind in order to move confidently forward. Thank you for coming along with me; it is good to have a supportive friend beside you.
      Hugs. xoxoB

  2. I am just so in awe of your absolute, unvarnished, raw honesty. I’ve told you before when I’ve commented on your writing, but it bears repeating. I truly believe that as long as you are able to maintain this level of honesty, not only with yourself, but with ALL of us, that you will be okay. Relapse is not an option. Thanks for the reminder my friend!

    Sending love and support your way!

    1. Stacey, you are so kind. Thank you so very much for your unwavering faith and confidence in me! I really appreciate your perspective, especially as far as recovery and addiction are concerned. I am glad that I can voice those feelings. With you in my corner, how can I be anything but okay? Love you! xoxoB

  3. This. This needs to be posted in every WLS forum. On every WLS facebook page. To not only get the prospective patients something to consider, but also give the post-surgery clients hope and inspiration.

    Honestly, I really fear for the future of WLS. It is being viewed by insurance companies as a one-trick wonder. When faced with leveraging the rest of a patient’s life of obesity, or paying for WLS, the ins. companies are sending many people under the knife in the COMPANY’S best interest. Then, once the deed is done, the clinics that do these surgeries aren’t doing a very good job of following up.
    The process needs some serious streamlining and intensive work in terms of how to holistically serve patients. There needs to be more done for pre-surgery counseling/nutrition therapy and post-surgery follow-ups and “keeping on track” visits.
    The management of WLS will be life-long after the fact, but insurance companies see it as “You got your surgery, now leave us alone.” They aren’t interested in paying for any additional therapies.

    I believe this is wrong. And by golly if I don’t go rockin’ some boats as soon as I have my degree in hand. The lack of long-term maintenance offered by the medical community regarding this life-changing surgery is astounding and frustrating.

    1. Thank you. I do think it’s important to understand the reality.

      Like with anything else, people who choose WLS providers must do their homework and learn what the prerequisites are, what the insurance coverage is, and what the followup care will be. Every clinic and every insurance company is different.

      My provider has been wonderful regarding pre-surgery and followup care; my insurance coverage isn’t the best, but it’s not bad, and we make it work. I was required to have six months of pre-op nutritionist visits, a psychological exam, a sleep study, labs, a barium swallow, and EKG. I was required to lose weight before surgery to both shrink my liver and to demonstrate my readiness and willingness to follow the doctor’s instructions and follow through with the process. The nutritionist works side-by-side with the surgeon, and the bariatric RN does a lot of one-on-one with the patients and hosts the monthly support group. When I have my followup visits, I get labs done and see the nutritionist as well as the surgeon/PA. They are always looking for ways to make their program better, and they use the feedback from the support group to do so.

      I feel very strongly that it is in a person’s best interest to seek out quality providers instead of those who may charge less but who also offer less. After all, this is your life we’re talking about here! Of course, insurance companies, like every other company out there, are in business to make money and will do things for their own benefit. I wish more of them offered bariatric benefits, but that is steadily getting better. We can’t expect them to look out for our own health. That is part of taking responsibility for your own actions and results (which is one of the lessons of this surgery), and that is why it is so important to use the resources available to you: talk to people, go to meetings, join websites, ask questions. I do agree that it would be nice to have better coverage for the long term.

      While I don’t necessarily think that WLS is being widely viewed as a one-trick wonder or fad, I do think that we are seeing its rise as an industry, and I don’t think it will retain the high popularity that it enjoys now. I think that as more folks have the procedure, the public is more aware of its real benefits and drawbacks: it’s not magic, and it still takes work. But people will always need to lose weight and they will always look for what seems easiest.

      People looking for instant happiness through WLS are looking in the wrong place. In addition to diet and exercise, followup care, therapy or counseling, and a support system of some kind are the keys to long-term success. There’s no getting around that.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Education is so important!! I appreciate your passion and willingness to speak up. 😉

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