On January 13, 2020, my life changed exponentially for the better. Beginning a year before, I had made the decision to take control of my own health and explored the possibility of weight loss surgery – specifically, gastric bypass. Making that decision was in no way, shape or form easy. It was the farthest thing from it, actually. I had just been diagnosed with hypertension and type 2 diabetes and was at the highest weight of my life. I had this wonderful husband who supported me and loved me no matter my size and I had these two beautiful little girls who watch and copy their mama and who want to be just like me, so I needed to make some serious changes in my life! I would occasionally catch myself thinking “Oh, I hope I get to see them in their school years” or “I wish I could see them get married” or “I want to be there when they graduate from high school”. NO mother of young children should ever say or even think those things to herself. Putting my thoughts to paper this way makes me cry as if I’m reading someone else’s words and not my own. I feel terribly for this mom who is trapped in her own body. But this was indeed me and those were definitely my thoughts. I realized that I needed to not only be alive for my daughters, but also, demonstrate healthy behaviors if I wanted to break the cycle. So. The decision was made for me to undergo gastric bypass and begin the process. It was a long process that was filled with visits to the nutritionist, the social worker, the surgeon’s office, group classes, etc. etc……. Part of the approval process includes losing at least 10% of your body weight, which is not easy at my age and my weight. But the gravity of the situation was not improving. I was so serious about making this change, I made a silent promise to myself and my children and family and I lost, in earnest, 40 pounds pre-operatively.
I was supposed to stay in the hospital overnight only. Surgery was on a Monday, and I definitely didn’t go home on Tuesday…… Or Wednesday…..No, I went home on Friday. You see, I had what is called the nurse’s curse. What that means is that nurses tend to be the ones where if something goes wrong, it will be with the nurse as the patient. I passed out in my bathroom the first night, which was a result of an internal bleed I had at the surgery site that I didn’t know about, and then ended up with two blood transfusions, the second of which gave me a massive transfusion reaction with rigors to terrify me. The recovery at home was slow to begin, but I have the most incredible support system, the least of which included my mom (who moved in with my family, helping with childcare, let’s not forget my dad who gave up my mom for that time!), my husband (who took amazing care of me) and my two daughters who called themselves my nurses, placing band aids wherever (not necessarily at the surgical sites), bringing me water, giving me the best snuggles (the most therapeutic thing I could ask for!) and covering me with a blanket when I was cold. I couldn’t have asked for a better care team! About four weeks post-op, I got up the strength to return to the gym. Starting slowly, I worked out minimally. Let me make it clear that I did not work out on a regular basis leading up to the surgery – or really much ever, for that matter. I worked out when I could. Which, let’s face it, could have been more. For certain, childcare was one area that hindered my workout ability. I couldn’t just leave my girls home alone while I go work out. So post-op, I went on weekends, both days when Seth was home. Working out suddenly became a priority and about four-ish weeks into a regular workout routine, COVID-19 hit hard. My gym closed. I was devastated. Terrified, really. I was scared I would lose my momentum I had worked so hard to maintain, I was scared I would be one of those unsuccessful stories with my surgery…… but I think that the closing of the gym was actually a blessing in disguise. That fear is what fueled my drive in finding other sources of activity and exercise. Starting out with YouTube videos, I had a 10 lb. kettlebell and some resistance bands, and did a bunch of workouts on there. Then I was introduced to Beachbody on Demand. This was the clear game changer in my life. Unsure of where to begin and which workout to choose, I began with 21 Day Fix, Real-time with Autumn Calabrese. This was exactly what I needed. During all of this, I was also home schooling my oldest daughter, who was in Kindergarten. We quickly developed a routine. Get up with the girls, make them breakfast, workout while they eat and watch something on their tablet, make a smoothie for all of us, home schooling, then, as the weather was getting nicer, we wanted to get out more, so we would get out and go for a trail walk, discovering that the girls could handle a max of two miles at a time, so discovering all of the greater Portland area trails (and there are MANY!!) was easy with an app that showed me how long each one was. So we would take a nice hike in the afternoon. This became the daily norm on my days off from work. On my work days, I would take the stairs from the ground to the floor where I work (six flights in total) at a minimum of three times during the shift. Soon, the trail walks were becoming easier and easier and one day I wanted to try running on one of the trails. So I did. And I was amazed at how far I was able to go. Actually, I wasn’t able to go too far, as my youngest was already tired and wanted me to hold her and made my life miserable if I didn’t, so she would walk and cry and walk SLOWLY. So, in order to not leave her behind, I couldn’t go far. Once I realized I COULD actually run a bit, I waited until I was alone and left the girls at home with Seth and found a trail and ran. It was a quick loop, so it was “only”0.61 miles. Well, that’s 0.61 miles more than I could have done pre-operatively, so……… I’ll take it as a win! I was flying so high after that! Once I knew what I was capable of, I brought the girls to the local cemetery (where many people go to walk, run, ride bikes…) with their bikes or scooters or whatever they wanted at any given time and I ran. Note that each of these times, I ran without stopping. Not once. This is something that many would take for granted, but that, for me, is unreal. 0.61 miles turned into 1 mile, turned into 1.75, turned into 2.15 miles…… no stopping, up hills, I would run wherever I could. Running in my neighborhood was also a fave, as I could go after getting the girls to bed. Put in my air pods and hit the road. What a freeing feeling. As the time went on, I sped up my pace by a lot and became healthier cardio-wise.
Lest we forget the whole food component of this process….. It’s funny, my exercise has become the shining star, but that’s not because I’m not focusing on dietary. It’s just not really a big issue anymore. Like, I’ve become very used to what I can eat and what I can’t eat. I steer clear of foods high in fat and high in sugar. It was a challenge at first, but has become so much easier as I go along. If I’m craving pizza, I can still have cheese with sauce in small amounts (remember, my pouch is small) and get the pizza flavor, just with no crust, and let me tell you, it is satisfying. I haven’t felt deprived one bit.
So, you’ve read this far and I haven’t even told you how I’ve done. Like numbers-wise…. Here goes. I’ve never told anyone this. My heaviest weight was 338 lbs. On my surgery day, I was 297.4 and I am currently at 236.6 lbs. So, for those who struggle with math, that’s 60.8 lbs lost since surgery and ………………….. wait for it ………………..101.4 lbs lost since last year. That’s a lot. And I feel it. I feel amazing. And, unless there are other plans for an early demise, it WON’T be because I’m unhealthy. Nope. So when I look at the girls and think about the future, I can think like other parents and say “I can’t wait to see………..”