Fat girl in a skinny body…

Ok, I guess I should re-phrase it to indicate that in no way was I what normal people would consider skinny! My lowest weight was 150lbs, and yeah, I thought I looked damn good, but definitely not skinny. You might think that a former fat girl would LOVE to be inside that new slimmer body and for the most part you’d be right. I did love that fact that when people looked at me they didn’t see fat anymore, they just saw me and I was, for once, unremarkable. There was no need for a double take anymore, no need for THE LOOK, no need for smug smirks in my general direction. That was all wonderful while it lasted. There were some issues with being inside that new body though. For this post we’ll stick to the first two that come to mind.

The first is having a fat girl inside who feels guilty for liking that the body isn’t fat anymore. I can remember a conversation where the people I was with started talking about fat people. They weren’t being overly mean, but neither were they being complimentary. I immediately blushed and started sweating. They were talking about me! How could they?!? But then I realized they had never known me when I was fat. So they couldn’t be talking about me. They were just having a normal conversation and it never occurred to them to edit themselves because I wasn’t fat!!!! That was one of the weirdest moments post op for me. To realize that I LOVED the fact that they felt comfortable enough around me to talk about fat people cuz I (finally!) wasn’t fat enough to qualify. I was elated, but at the same time totally eaten away with guilt. I mean, since I didn’t say anything to defend fat people that made me a horrible person, right? Plus I felt ashamed of myself for liking being in that group. You know the saying,” I don’t want to be a part of a club that wants me for a member.” That’s how I felt. I felt that to be grateful to be part of that conversation I was betraying every poor bullied fat girl everywhere. That was my identity for so long that it felt like I was joining the dark side when I didn’t defend fat people everywhere.

The second issue that I discovered was a huge amount of rage just simmering under the surface. During that conversation, when all I did was listen, it started to bubble. What right did these people have to be talking that way?! They had NO IDEA what it’s like to live as a fat person. A fat person’s biggest flaw is right out there for all to see and judge. These people were so smug and self-righteous as if it was their God-given right to judge, snicker, giggle and degrade this section of our society. I mean, what if we had monthly prejudices? One month is designated the “bad with money” month. For the whole month, those people would be talked about with derision, looked at, pointed at, every purchase scrutinized by strangers. They would have to tolerate being told they are just lazy and don’t care about their families or children. They would have to go to humiliating support groups, have their bosses question if they could do their job correctly with their “money problem.” Fat people don’t have the luxury of hiding their worse problem from the public or trying to keep it private. So where do those people get off?!? This rage surprised me at first, but after a while I realized it had been there all along. It’s just that fat people aren’t supposed to be mad about their situations. It’s just considered to be their own fault and they should just lay in the bed they made and be quiet about it.

Those were two of the issues I came face to face with about a year after the surgery. Maybe if I had been in therapy from the get go they would have been easier to deal with. I don’t know. If you are considering the surgery that is something you need to think about. There will be things that come up that you could not possibly predict that are different for each of us. If you have had the surgery, tell me what you have come up against that surprised you.

Ultimately, I had to change my thinking about those things. I had to come to terms with the fat girl in my head and find a way to merge her with the new body. And as this most recent 50lbs has come back on over the last 3 years, I’ve had to yet again, change my thinking. I had to finally realize that the girl in my head (fat or thin) needs to be loving and know her own worth. That she can’t let other people’s opinions of her define her opinion of herself. That journey is ongoing but the most important part of it is that I finally DECIDED to change my THINKING about myself. You can too. Trust me, you can!



Why choose weight loss surgery?


We’ve all seen the People magazine cover’s with those people that have lost huge amounts of weight (we’re talking 50-100’s of pounds here!) all on their own. The magazine makes sure to point out in big letters that these people did it all WITHOUT SURGERY. As if they need some kind of medal or something. Don’t get me wrong now! I believe that anyone who loses weight, never mind over 50lbs of it, deserves a medal. It’s just the fact that the whole WITHOUT SURGERY part is supposedly the most important part of it all. It’s a big life changing deal to lose a lot of weight – no matter how it’s done. Plus I believe that the people who choose surgery don’t necessarily make a bigger choice then those that don’t choose surgery, but I do believe they make a much more desperate choice.

When I was facing that choice I was most certainly desperate. Desperate, depressed (near suicidal in fact), panicked and defeated. I truly saw no other way for me to live out even the next ten years, never mind make it my to son’s high school graduation! That’s the kind of spot I was in mentally and I believe it’s probably true for others that choose the surgery route. I personally think that if you are considering having a potentially life threatening surgery done, then you should probably be in a life threatening situation with your health. That’s where I was. After a checkup I received a letter from my doctor. This letter was an eye opener. I knew I was hugely overweight and that I was courting disaster health wise. But this letter blatantly stated that if I couldn’t get my weight and Diabetes under control I would be facing amputation within a few years and probably death within ten years. Time to do something drastic, right?! When people are considering this surgery it’s NOT for vanity or cosmetic reasons usually. Think about it this way, does someone just decide to have cardiac bypass surgery because they think they may have a heart attack in a few years but don’t want to stop eating sausages? Um, no way! Nor would they be allowed to – I hope! Same goes with weight loss surgery.

I really envy those people in the magazines that lose all that weight and get healthy and don’t need to have surgery to do it. I think they are in a MUCH better state of mind than I was at the outset though. They may have some of the same problems even, like diabetes, or a hypertension diagnosis that triggered them to solve the weight problem once and for all. But the fact that they felt even remotely capable of solving the weight problem sets them several important steps above where I was.

I think mind-set is maybe the single most important factor in play here and I will be spending a lot of time on how what you think affects your reality. But for now, if you are seriously thinking about having weight loss surgery (friends and family listen up!) then you are probably thinking all day, every day how impossible this problem is for you to solve, how you’ve been fighting this battle for sooo long and you’re battle weary and scarred. It’s hard to tie your shoes because it’s hard to bend over because there is too much fat in the way. Or if you have already given up on tie shoes, it’s hard to bring your foot to your opposite knee to even put your shoe on. Maybe you have had to just give up and use Crocs or some other slip on. Getting dressed is just covering up as much fat as possible cuz for sure you don’t have any clothes you get excited about putting on, or if you do, they never look quite the way you want them to. What’s of vital importance here is that I was so tired of living in that situation that I felt there was no other way out. If I had been able to believe in myself enough for long enough (beyond the first two weeks of every new diet, that is) I would have never gotten as bad as I had. The person who had that surgery was a different person than I am now. I had been verbally and mentally abusing myself pretty much since puberty and there was no universe where I felt that I was capable of losing the weight on my own or that I even deserved to!

When a person has put themselves in a mindset like that for years and years, well I think it’s laughable for anyone to actually look at that poor wrecked person and say,” Well if you just stopped eating all the junk and went for a walk once in a while.” What can they be expecting from a statement like that other than to shame? Do they really think this morbidly obese (100 pounds over his/her ideal body weight) is going to stop and say, “OH geez! Really?? It’s just that simple?? I NEVER knew that! Thank you so much! I’m going to go home and clean out my kitchen and pantry right now! No! Better yet, I’m going to jog there! My life is transformed!” Um, no! Someone who is 100lbs over their ideal body weight has bigger issues surrounding weight than just cutting out junk food.

Also, it should be pointed out, especially if you’re reading this and considering the surgery or if friends and family are reading, that you can’t just walk in and say, “I want weight loss surgery.” and have surgery scheduled ASAP. There is a long process, or was for me anyway, and many screenings and informational meetings that have to happen before a surgery date is scheduled. I had to meet with a nutritionist, my regular doctor, the surgeon, and a therapist. Not to mention the huge amount of lab tests that were done. So, when people just dismiss it, yet again, as only the “easy way out”, it’s really not.

The mental state of mind I had allowed myself to descend into prior to surgery was one where on a daily basis I told myself that I and my son and husband would be better off if I died on the table, rather than continue to exist the way I was. I truly felt that for my son, my baby boy, to grow up with a 300lb plus mother was way worse for him than losing his mother when he was 4yrs old.  I even wrote him a letter that he could have in case I didn’t make it or there was some huge complication. That’s where I was mentally.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone who considers this surgery is in that same mental state, or even partly in that kind of state. What I am saying is that generally speaking anyone who is big enough and with enough other possibly life threatening issues going on is probably NOT being cavalier with their life. There are serious, serious considerations to major surgery and I believe that most people that have gotten to the morbidly obese stage have a lot more going on inside than anybody knows about. I think anyone who gets to a point that they are willing to risk death for an operation that permanently changes their insides should be given a healthy amount of respect and not be treated like they cheated their way into health!

If you or someone you know is considering this surgery or just have some questions about what happens after when the weight comes off…..or when it starts to come back on….This is the place. Anything you want to know – anything at all – we need to start talking about it. Only when you bring something into the light does it break free from the hold of darkness. This is a very dark, shame filled issue in our world. We need to light it up.



“Fat people are lazy”

“Fat people are just lazy.”

Grr! How often have we heard that one? I believe that statement is one of the reasons that fat discrimination and prejudice are still acceptable in our society. I would like to think that we have evolved beyond such narrow thinking, but in a culture where we have to remind each other that “all lives matter”, that’s not the case. This happened today, in one of my classes. We were discussing weight management and the effect that movement/exercise can have on obesity and diabetes and cardiovascular health. This course is about becoming a personal trainer or coach and focuses mostly on exercise. The professor asked why people don’t exercise more in today’s world when we know so much about how good it is for us. The first answer he got was from a 19-20yr old guy sitting in the back. This guy clearly spends a lot of quality time in the gym – he is very fit and has obviously never struggled with his weight. His off the cuff response was, “Because they are lazy and don’t want to do the work!” This is going to be a person who works to help people get fit?? I’m sad for people like me who want to get help and end up with a trainer who holds them in contempt.

But a lot of people have that view of us. We haven’t yet reached the place where it’s PC that we call it a “disease” like we do for alcoholism now. And I’m sure there are a fair amount of people who think having a drinking problem is not a disease but just plain undisciplined. However, it’s acceptable to view overweight people that way. Why? I think it’s because obesity is such a multi-faceted problem.

Think about it! How many different elements or issues go into making a person fat? Genetics? Sure, there’s DNA that’s against us. Environment? Of course! Did we grow up in a fat family or a fit, active one? Personality? Yep. Are you the type of person who deals with life with addictive behavior or are you one of those (people we love to secretly hate) who needs to go for a run when life gets stressful? Ultimately though fat comes down to, at its most basic level, what we eat and if we exercise. And that is something we control. No one but me holds the fork or makes up excuses why I can’t work out today. That’s what people who think we are lazy see. They don’t have trouble controlling that so can’t see how we do.

It’s a tricky issue and hard to combat because most people who think we are lazy don’t say so to our faces. Also we have to overcome that opinion in ourselves too. We’ve all heard it growing up. “If you’d just try harder and have some will power!” I think that’s where the real damage can happen. We know inside that there is some part of this problem that is about our being able to control ourselves. That’s where the shame comes in (and oh boy is there shame!). We should be able to control or fix this with just our will. That’s one of the reasons that gastric by-pass surgery is looked at as an easy way out. We alter our body from the inside instead of conquering or controlling it through force of will.

The people that call us lazy don’t see us, not really. They just see the fat or that we are wasting our body. They don’t see what it takes inside us to try yet again to beat this demon. They don’t see how much work and effort it takes for us to go out in public sometimes with our biggest flaw on display for the world to see. They don’t see that of course we know there is some part of this that’s about our ability to control ourselves. They also don’t see that it’s just a small piece of the whole and that obesity is an all-encompassing pervasive problem that affects every single aspect of our existence.

So next time you hear that fat people are lazy, first, pray for the patience to coexist with idiots. Then be comforted that I see and know that lazy has very little to do with it. If you have friends or family that see it that way, send them here and have them read. They may just get a different perspective on the whole thing. And if you’re struggling right now with believing you’re lazy or don’t have enough will power, don’t panic. There is a fix for that. It may be the most important fix there is for weight problems and we will get to it soon I promise!

The First Year…Easy?

How do you talk to the people in your life about this stuff? All this sticky, uncomfortableness that’s under the surface about the Bypass surgery or weight in general. If you’re like me and slightly prickly (understatement!) about it all, they don’t ask you. They may, in fact, contemplate moving to another state so they won’t have to. This should help. Send them here. Have them read and maybe it will help them understand and also help you start to share some of the dark with your people.

Surgery is done so now comes the miracle, right? That’s what I thought anyway. The surgeon came in to see me later that same day to see how I was doing. I took one look at him and started bawling my eyes out, thanking him and saying how now it was possible now for me to be normal. The slightly hysterical tone to my thank you may have had something to do with the lovely morphine pump next to my bed, but the sentiment was for real. I truly believed that because there was no doubt that I would lose weight that would make me normal. That lovely golden tinted world where I could (finally!) walk into a room and just be there. NOT walk into a room and have people look at the door way, look me up and down and look away quickly as if they had seen something they shouldn’t – or worse, look me up and down, and quickly look to the person next to them with a smug, superior smirk. I figured if I could be unremarkable because I was a normal size that would be about as close to heaven as I could get.

I was released from the hospital after three days which remain a blur due to the morphine bubble I was in. My diet post op was like many out there and each doctor has their own nutritionist (or they should!). I was allowed protein shakes and water and had various meds to take, which had to be crushed up and put into the shake or water. Let me just say EEWW! I wasn’t feeling very hungry which was awesome, but I almost burst into tears on my first night back over….wait for it….toast! Toast!! How silly is that? My mother, who was staying with us to help out that first week, made herself some peanut butter toast and the smell….Well let’s just say that it really brought home to me what I had willingly done to my body. Never again would I be able to just eat something without thinking about it. It would be months before I was even able to TRY to have some kind of bread and I was told pre-op that most people are unable to eat bread easily or at all after the surgery. FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES! Sound like the easy way out to you?

I was very lucky in that I had no physical complications from the surgery until about a year out. There are major complications possible and they are no joke. According to the Mayo Clinic just a few of the major ones are: blood clots, leaks in the GI system, infection, bowel obstruction, gallstones, hernias, low blood sugar, malnutrition, ulcers and vomiting. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/bariatric-surgery/basics/risks/prc-20019138) I ended up with gallstones and I can tell you I’ve never had such pain in my life! I had my gallbladder removed and all’s well. We will talk more about the malnutrition and torture that is Dumping Syndrome in another post. For now, suffice it to say that I was lucky. A lot of people aren’t. Easy way out, huh?

Everything I’ve just gone over for you guys is serious stuff, but to me it’s not even the scariest part of that honeymoon year (up to two years for some). For me it was the actual weight coming off. Ok! Ok! I can hear you saying, “I call BS! It’s what you wanted!! What you risked your life for!” And that is all true. It was one of the most exhilarating rides of my life to see the weight come off. To realize that when I only have one of them, my chin is actually a bit pointy, and that no, I am not really “big boned” at all! If fact, when they are slim, my wrists and ankles seem a bit delicate to me. All of the wonderful clichés you hear about happened to me. Shopping was fun, I could tie my shoes without gasping for air and turning bright red from bending over. Certain intimate portions of my relationship with my husband improved a hundred fold (hey! I said we would talk about it ALL didn’t I?) and I could play with my son at the playground or on the floor with his trains. But…

But as much as I loved seeing myself in the mirror looking like someone else, it was also creepy and scary in a weird way. I mean, it was me, no doubt, but at the same time I had never seen that face before – ever. I starting putting on weight at puberty, so I had never seen what I should actually look like as an adult. I told myself it was a good thing to see me but not actually recognize that person. It’s what I wanted all along. But…

But I expected things of that person that she was not equipped to do and I didn’t give her any time to adjust. Since the weight had come off, all those other problems should be gone too. I know it sounds childish, and I knew in my head that all my other problems weren’t caused by my weight. I had been telling myself that the reason I wasn’t successful in some career was because I was too fat to try. My weight blocked and protected me from a harsh world. The reasons for my failings always somehow came back to the fat on my body. Dreams I wanted to pursue I never really started at because ultimately I felt if I couldn’t even control/conquer and be at peace with my own body, then how would I ever do what’s necessary to achieve anything great in this world? So when the weight came off and all of a sudden I was faced with the fact that some of my problems came from the weight, but in fact, MOST did not. So what was my new excuse? Shedding all that weight brought me face to face with the fact that I didn’t really know myself, what I was capable of or what I really wanted out of life. None of which has a whole lot to do with the pounds I put on my body. I think, looking back now, that those pounds were a perfect way for me to hide all that. Maybe people that lose the weight naturally and in a slower fashion have a chance to deal with those issues as they go. But I was terrified. So given that state of mind, what happens when crisis hits as it so often does. Someone dies, or a marriage falls apart, illness strikes, the “problem child” has even more problems? Easy way out? Really?

I hope this helps and I also hope it’s something maybe you can refer people to when you have a hard time trying to explain that losing all that weight can be both Heaven and Hell at the same time. Let me know what you think! How did it go for you? Tell me it all and maybe we can shed (lol – no pun intended) some light on this for friends and family and even curious bystanders. More importantly, we can start to talk about what happens when you have gained some (or all) back and still have to live life. What do you do, how do you not descend into a black hole, or if you do, how do you climb back out? Your black hole may look vastly different than mine, but I bet it’s covered with the same embarrassment and shame that makes it hard to gain a foot hold. Let’s start climbing.

Gastric Bypass Surgery – The easy way out?


I’m laying down on a very uncomfortable hospital bed in one of those horrible jonny’s that I swear is designed to make you feel awkward. It’s scratchy and drafty in the back. I have hot and cold chills and feel slightly queasy as I contemplate what’s about to happen. I’m going to have surgery. No, that’s not right. I’m going to have SURGERY!!! The big, life changing kind. I’m going to have someone cut my stomach apart and attach a small part of it directly to my small intestine and I’m not even sure it’ll be a good thing for my life. Something could go wrong on the table, there could be awful side effects that could last my whole life. I could be nauseous forever. That would be REALLY bad cuz I’m the biggest baby ever when I’m feeling pukey. But I weigh over 300 pounds and the alternative of staying that way forever is way worse than even dying on the operating table would be. The reasons that I believed I would live out my life in the “beached whale” category are for another post, but at that time, there was no other hope.

Think about that for a second! If a person has come to the point, that they believe there is no other hope for them than to have surgery to fix a weight problem….Well, what does that say about their life and state of mind? Just to get to the point where I was willing to have surgery was hard enough that I would never consider it the “easy way out!”

I don’t know if it’s still like that now (leave comments and let me know!) but when I had the surgery 10 years ago, you had to be pretty bad off. Morbidly obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control is having a BMI of 40 or above. It can also be having a BMI of 35 or higher with several other health risk factors like Diabetes or Heart Disease. So for a person who is 5ft 9in tall, that’s a weight of somewhere between 230lbs and 271lbs or above. (https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/defining.html) That’s pretty big and there are lots of risk factors to someone’s health (that we will talk about later) with that much extra weight on them.

I’ve heard it said that having surgery to lose weight is the easy way out and I’m sure whether you’ve had the surgery or you are a family member, that you’ve heard it too. Let’s just nip that notion right here and now at the outset of this blog! It doesn’t matter what the circumstances, if you had or are considering having that surgery you have already passed the “easy way out” a long while back! If you’re friend or family then you know what your person has gone through to a certain extent. If you are casual acquaintance, co-worker or even bystander understand that in no way, shape or form is the surgery option the easy way out of a lifelong problem. If you still think the weight just melts off without any side effects or problems, THINK AGAIN! In my next post we will talk about that first year after surgery. It’s a honeymoon in many ways, but like I said before, I’m here to talk about ALL of it – the stuff no one tells you. So if you can’t or won’t ask your loved one or friend or co-worker, ask me. I’ll go there with you. For those of you who had the surgery, I want to know what your experiences were – and are so …Talk to me!