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.