I am 49 years old and have struggled with weight most of my life. I grew up in southern California, home of an unusually image obsessed population. One of my best friends modeled swimsuits for teen magazines, and another classmate was on a soap opera. So that was fun. The first time I remember realizing weight was something people thought about or worried about was when I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. My grandmother came to visit from Chicago and took me shopping for clothing. I remember we went to Sears and she asked the salesperson where the "husky" section was. I had no idea what the word meant, but even at that age, I remember thinking it wasn't good.
Some background about my family. My mom has always been normal weight, but was obsessed with dieting and exercise during the 1980s when I was growing up. I blame Olivia Newton John. My dad was normal weight when he was younger, but he gained steadily starting in his mid-30s and was fairly large when he died from complications of a stroke a few years back at age 79. He was also a smoker from a very young age, and I think his weight gain really started when he kicked the smoking habit. My dad took after his mother, the aforementioned "husky" grandmother. She liked to remind me that I was "just like her" a lot, and would always have to diet and worry about my weight. With the next breath, she would offer me a second serving of Polish sausage, which she used to bring us frozen in a massive suitcase every time she came to visit.
In addition to my grandmother, her sisters were obese, as was their mother (my great-grandmother). When people say no one was fat before processed foods and high fructose corn syrup, I have photographic evidence that's a bunch of malarky. The women in my family managed to be obese during the frickin' Great Depression when pretty much nobody had enough to eat. When you have a thousand years of Polish and German peasants in your family tree, your body learns to be really good at burning calories efficiently and storing the rest up for winter. As a side note, both Grandma and one of the two aunties lived to age 92 (although not without health complications). The other died of cancer (stupid cigarettes).
To be honest, I'm not convinced I was all that "husky" when I was little. I think my grandma was the only one who ever bought my clothing in that department, but then again I was a kid, so who knows. Like so many girls, I gained weight when I started my period. That's when the dieting started. First it was no breakfast. A few years later it was plain yogurt and a piece of fruit for lunch and a frozen Lean Cuisine for dinner. Sometimes I would add in some saltines and sugar free fruit cocktail. My mom was cool with it because she was eating the Lean Cuisines, too. Not sure she knew how little else I was eating. I got a lot of praise from friends and family for finally being skinny. I also did dance or aerobics classes 5 days a week along with walking to and from school. On my 16th birthday, I weighed 127 pounds. I know this because I got my driver's license that day and rounded down to my aspirational weight of 125 pounds, which I never did hit.
I spent that summer away from home at a church camp sort of thing, and for the first time I was given "typical" food to eat, and expected to eat it three time a day. I gained 10 pounds in 8 weeks. I also developed a bit of a fear of going hungry, probably because I'd been going hungry for a really long time up until then and figured out I didn't like it. It became much harder to resist lots of food at buffets or the snacks at parties. By the time I started college, I was about 150 pounds and a size 9/10. I gained another 15 pounds in college, and at this point I was officially "overweight." Then I developed hypothyroidism and continued to gain a little bit each year, even with thyroid medication. I was 190 pounds when I finished grad school, which meant now I went from overweight to "obese." 215 pounds when I got married. 252 pounds at my first checkup after I had my second baby, but I did lose about 25 of that with hormonal changes and breastfeeding postpartum.
About 6 years ago, my doctor referred me to the weight management center at Mount Auburn Hospital. I made changes in my diet and exercise and managed to get down to 205 pounds within about 6 months. And then I stalled. I kept trying, but my weight crept up to 212. Then 225. Somewhere in there I tried pills (Contrave, maybe?) and Saxenda, which had limited success but cost too much to continue longterm. Then my father died, Covid hit, I got a divorce, moved, lost health insurance, and life became too crazy for me to pay much attention to anything but survival. Thankfully, life stabilized. I had my physical right before my 49th birthday and I was back up to 251. This time I definitely could not blame it on having a baby. If you put me in polyester pants with a stretchy waistband and permed my hair, I could be my grandmother. If you put me in a housecoat with snaps up the front and a severe bun, I could be my great-grandmother. My doctor referred me back to weight management and I was more than happy to agree.
I went back to the weight management center in June (I would have gone sooner but that was the earliest appointment I could get). This time, my doctor there said she thought I should consider weight loss surgery. With a BMI of 40+, not to mention high blood pressure and pre-diabetes, I would qualify. I jumped at the chance. My younger brother had the gastric sleeve surgery 15 years ago (self pay in Mexico) and has had good results. He went from 300 lbs to 150 lbs at his lowest, though he's regained about 80 lbs over the years. Still, his health is much better (and he admits he doesn't follow the rules he should).
So, that's where I am now. I've done my first meeting with the psychologist and my immersion day at the weight management center was August 17, 2023. I've watched so many videos on Youtube about sleeve and gastric bypass. I've purchased (and read) all of Dr. Weiner's books and started implementing some of the Pound of Cure suggestions into my diet (and lost 4 pounds!). I've ordered a few protein shakes and bariatric vitamins for some taste testing. I have another psychologist appointment, 2 meetings with the nutritionist, and an appointment with the surgeon all on the calendar between now and mid-October. I believe that's when I'll finally get a date, assuming there are no insurance issues. Fingers crossed.
I'm hoping for November, but I would like to have the surgery before the end of this year. I would like to be under 200 pounds when I turn 50 next March. After that, I'm hoping for 150 pounds as a goal weight, but if I can simply never see the wrong side of 200 pounds again, I'd count it as a blessing.
Height: 5 feet 6 inches
Starting Weight: 251 lbs
Weight on Day of Surgery:
Current Weight: 242.2 lbs
Goal Weight: 150 lbs
Weight Lost: 8.8 lbs
Surgery Status: Pre Surgery
First Dr. Visit: 08/17/2023
Hospital Stay: n/a
Surgery Funding: Insurance
Insurance Outcome: n/a