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Ugly, boring, and weak



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Today is my 2-year surgiversary. I've lost 200 pounds from my highest weight -- a staggering amount when you think about it. I'm literally (less than) half the person I used to be. I should be on top of the world, right?! I don't want to dismiss the many scale and non-scale victories I've had, but it's not all rainbows and butterflies.

When I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, I'm taken aback by two things: how small I am, and how freaking ugly. I was certainly never beautiful -- not even "pretty for a fat chick" or "would be cute if I lost some weight" -- but now, I look downright scary. I probably look 10 years older than when I was fat. My hair was already fine and flat before surgery, and now I've lost a lot of it and it hasn't grown back and it's a mess no matter what I do. Ironically, people often tell me I look great, which is obviously code for "not fat anymore." Sometimes, before saying I look great, they ask me if I'm sick or if I lost weight on purpose. I don't know what the point of that is; if I said I lost weight because I'm sick, would they instead say, "You look like $h!t"?

When I imagined my life after surgery, I thought I would be the same person, but smaller. The same person, but able to wear non-plus sized clothes, fit into an airplane seat without a seatbelt extender, not have to check the weight limit on furniture and ladders. The same person, but without hypertension and diabetes.

I guess, deep down, I knew that wouldn't be the case, because that's a big part of what held me back from having the surgery for so many years. I didn't want my life to revolve around my pouch. I didn't want to give up my favorite foods and think so hard about everything I eat. I definitely didn't want to turn into one of those boring a-holes who never shut up about their diet and exercise regimen.

But here I am, and I feel like weight loss has taken over my life. I spend so much time and energy preparing and eating healthy foods, working out, keeping up with my supplements, that I don't have room for anything else. There was a period of time after my surgery when I felt great and full of energy, but now I'm tired all the time, and despite being in the best shape of my life, I feel weak because I no longer have 300+ pounds to throw around. People used to be surprised by my strength, but now I struggle to open pickle jars and heavy doors. (Yes, I've had my bloodwork checked and everything is great; the working theory is that the bradycardia due to rapid, massive weight loss is what's causing these problems.)

I used to be incredibly devoted to my job, and most people would describe me as the hardest worker they knew (maybe a workaholic), and now I just don't have the same drive that I used to because I'm so focused on my weight. I feel like I'm letting everyone down because I'm no longer up for spending all my free time working. I think I was a better human being when I was fat.

If I -- with the benefit of the hindsight I have now -- could go back in time to two years ago, when my morbidly obese self arrived at the hospital, and still had time to change my mind, would I still go through with having the surgery? 100% yes, without hesitation.

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Posted (edited)

So sorry you have been going through this, Sue. You’re not alone. I also have less energy then I did before. The energy drops come from low blood pressure & low heart rate like you. I’ve wondered if I could have bradycardia too or be close to it. Plus throw in some random hypoglycaemic episodes & it can make for an interesting day.

My BP usually sits around high 50s - 70s over low 40s - high 50s. My heart rate is usually in the 60s but can be lower. When I had the skin graft on my thumb last year, the nurses were very concerned with how low my BP was & my pulse. They even asked if I was an athlete which made me, my friends & family laugh. Nope, just seems to be me I told them.

A difference may be that I used to experience this whenever I was at a lower weight (60-65kg) too but not as severely or as frequently as now. My friends used to laugh back then when I said I don’t exercise much because I could have these drops where I’d almost collapse. They thought it was just a joke excuse until they were with me when it happened. Boy did they panic. So I believe this is really a pre existing condition for me & I experience it all the time now because I weigh less. (A tendency towards low blood pressure & pressure drops does run in my family.) If I put on 10kg it would probably improve but I don’t want to put on weight.

I too was always that person at work before others & still there after most left, taking on additional work, helping others do their work, working on weekends & rostered days off, …. And yes I was very happy with how I worked & my commitment to my job & employer. So I get you feel you’re letting people down now. But I look back & realise how many actually took advantage of my work ethic: colleagues & bosses. I also realised I gave up a lot of my free time, turned down social events & sacrificed my personal life for work & for nothing. Didn’t get the promotions, the pay rises or even acknowledgement. It was like they just expected I would do it. At least your commitment & efforts are recognised. I get a bit angry & sad about it when I look back can’t you tell. It contributed to my decision not to work anymore last year at 56.

I’ve learnt how to manage the low energy, BP, etc. easier because I don’t work though. I pace myself during the day & I’ll take breaks if out. I’m careful when I stand & make sure I have something close by I can grab if my vision goes. If I am doing anything more active, I take hydralyte with me for an energy boost. I don’t always remember & sometimes my day works against me but I do the best I can in the situation.

But like you, I don’t regret my surgery at all. I’m so very happy I did it & wouldn’t change a thing.

Edited by Arabesque

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Hi, Sue. I can relate to most of the things in your post. I was particularly shocked at how much older I looked after surgery with all of the loose skin on my face and neck.

One thing struck me in your post, which is all the time and energy you spend ensuring that you eat the right things and focusing on your weight. I did that in the beginning of maintenance, but I've really lightened up and don't pay much attention to either at this point. By now I know instinctively what I can and can't eat and approximately portions, but I don't obsess about it. I eat more or less normally (but differently than before), don't weigh myself, and don't freak out if I gain a bit. I'm wondering whether you could try doing the same thing, perhaps with the help of a nutritionist and/or therapist.

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First, congratulations on your successes. It was a huge change to your life choosing Gastric Bypass and making the commitment to 'do it right.'

Perhaps it's time for another dramatic change in your life. @Recidivist said most of what I was going to suggest. Weight control does not need to be the center of your life. There are zillions of people that maintain a healthy lifestyle without making it the only thing in their life. You can do it to.

The issue is you can't just decide not to focus on healthy living. Focusing on NOT doing something still makes it the center of your life. If nothing else changes healthy living will fill your life again. No, you need to fill your life with something else. Work doesn't seem to be it. What is it? This will get you away from where you are quicker that anything else.

You are capable. Pretty is skin deep. Beauty is to the bone.

Good luck,

Tek

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a lot of people (most, actually) have a 10-20 lb rebound gain during year 2 or 3 - so if you haven't had that yet, it may help with the drawn look. Also, things sort of shift around after your body settles in at your new weight, so that also helps. Although I also lost over 200 lbs and looked older (well, probably more my age, since I looked younger than I was when I was fat). But I ended up having a face/neck lift, esp since I didn't like my turkey neck.

it sounds like you're overly obsessed with your weight and eating. I've been accused of that as well, and I've backed off a bit - although since doing that, it's been harder to keep my weight in check. It's gone up a bit more, but it's still acceptable (well, at least to my PCP and my surgeon - personally, I'd rather be 10 lbs lighter than I am now). But I think I'm in a better place stress-wise since I'm not so obsessed with my weight and eating.

I agree with some of the posters above that maybe it would help to work with a dietitian and therapist...

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18 hours ago, Arabesque said:

So sorry you have been going through this, Sue. You’re not alone. I also have less energy then I did before. The energy drops come from low blood pressure & low heart rate like you. I’ve wondered if I could have bradycardia too or be close to it. Plus throw in some random hypoglycaemic episodes & it can make for an interesting day.

My BP usually sits around high 50s - 70s over low 40s - high 50s. My heart rate is usually in the 60s but can be lower. When I had the skin graft on my thumb last year, the nurses were very concerned with how low my BP was & my pulse. They even asked if I was an athlete which made me, my friends & family laugh. Nope, just seems to be me I told them.

Thanks for the reply... It's nice to hear from someone who understands. My blood pressure never got as low as yours (at its lowest, a few months after my surgery, it was about 80/50; now it's more like 110/70), but my resting heart rate was in the high 30s. Any time I went to a doctor, the nurses taking my vitals thought there was something wrong with the machine and had to check my pulse manually. Now I have a pacemaker that kicks in if my heart rate goes below 60 bpm.

18 hours ago, Arabesque said:

I too was always that person at work before others & still there after most left, taking on additional work, helping others do their work, working on weekends & rostered days off, …. And yes I was very happy with how I worked & my commitment to my job & employer. So I get you feel you’re letting people down now. But I look back & realise how many actually took advantage of my work ethic: colleagues & bosses. I also realised I gave up a lot of my free time, turned down social events & sacrificed my personal life for work & for nothing. Didn’t get the promotions, the pay rises or even acknowledgement. It was like they just expected I would do it. At least your commitment & efforts are recognised. I get a bit angry & sad about it when I look back can’t you tell. It contributed to my decision not to work anymore last year at 56.

I wonder if this is a common thing with fat people. I always felt like I had to work twice as hard as anyone else just to prove I wasn't stupid and lazy as people would assume because I was fat. When I got serious about my health and stopped working 20ish extra hours per week, I felt like a failure because I couldn't keep up with what people had come to expect from me. I felt like I was slacking because I was only working 40-50 hours/week. Ironically, when I was doing badly at my job for the first time in my life, I finally got a promotion at another branch of my company, and they had to hire two people to replace me at my old job. I, too, feel a bit angry when I realize how much they took advantage of me, expecting me to do two jobs for the salary of one.

19 hours ago, Arabesque said:

But like you, I don’t regret my surgery at all. I’m so very happy I did it & wouldn’t change a thing.

I just wish I didn't have to choose between my weight and the rest of my life. I envy people who have never had to struggle with their weight and don't have to devote their lives to it. I want to have my cake and eat it too!

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11 hours ago, Recidivist said:

Hi, Sue. I can relate to most of the things in your post. I was particularly shocked at how much older I looked after surgery with all of the loose skin on my face and neck.

One thing struck me in your post, which is all the time and energy you spend ensuring that you eat the right things and focusing on your weight. I did that in the beginning of maintenance, but I've really lightened up and don't pay much attention to either at this point. By now I know instinctively what I can and can't eat and approximately portions, but I don't obsess about it. I eat more or less normally (but differently than before), don't weigh myself, and don't freak out if I gain a bit. I'm wondering whether you could try doing the same thing, perhaps with the help of a nutritionist and/or therapist.

I've relaxed a lot on measuring my food because I've gotten pretty good at guesstimating certain things that I eat all the time, and also recognizing things that aren't worth measuring (for example, salad greens -- even if I ate double the serving size, it's a difference of 15 calories; or entering half a peach in MFP instead of weighing it to get the exact number of grams). But my weight has started to creep up, despite the fact that I'm working out like a maniac, and it scares the crap out of me, so I feel like I need to pay even closer attention.

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11 hours ago, The Greater Fool said:

First, congratulations on your successes. It was a huge change to your life choosing Gastric Bypass and making the commitment to 'do it right.'

Perhaps it's time for another dramatic change in your life. @Recidivist said most of what I was going to suggest. Weight control does not need to be the center of your life. There are zillions of people that maintain a healthy lifestyle without making it the only thing in their life. You can do it to.

I know lots of people who manage to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight without making it the only thing in their lives, and I envy them deeply! I am afraid that if I take my eye off the prize, it is a terrifyingly fast road back to 300+ pounds. We've all seen people who have gone through this surgery only to gain back all the weight they lost, and I can't even handle the thought of that.

11 hours ago, The Greater Fool said:

The issue is you can't just decide not to focus on healthy living. Focusing on NOT doing something still makes it the center of your life. If nothing else changes healthy living will fill your life again. No, you need to fill your life with something else. Work doesn't seem to be it. What is it? This will get you away from where you are quicker that anything else.

There actually are things that I would like to do if I could find the time to do them, but by the time I subtract my job and exercise and meal prep and sleep and the bare minimum housework I need to do out of the number of hours in a week, I never seem to have any time left.

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Posted (edited)

19 minutes ago, BigSue said:

I know lots of people who manage to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight without making it the only thing in their lives, and I envy them deeply! I am afraid that if I take my eye off the prize, it is a terrifyingly fast road back to 300+ pounds. We've all seen people who have gone through this surgery only to gain back all the weight they lost, and I can't even handle the thought of that.

There actually are things that I would like to do if I could find the time to do them, but by the time I subtract my job and exercise and meal prep and sleep and the bare minimum housework I need to do out of the number of hours in a week, I never seem to have any time left.

I understand being motivated by fear. I was going to die if I didn't change course. But living in a near fear is not the solution. The obvious course is to use fear to change but not live in fear as a result.

You've changed. Don't let the fear continue to rule your life. I know of what you speak, and of what I speak.

There are things you are doing that do not require your CONSTANT attention. Get rid of those things. Then evaluate.

Then look at the next set of things that don't require your constant attention and get rid of them. Evaluate.

Long before you realize you will have time to build an actual new life. Honest.

Until you accept this you are a prisoner.

Good luck,

Tek

ETA: Perhaps some professional help is called for. It can't hurt.

ETA2: I saw your reply to Catwoman regarding bad shrinks. I can understand. Keep trying. When you give up it's all over, you're screwed any way you go. If you can't solve it yourself, which you should keep trying, then keep getting help... until you succeed. Failure is not an option, as much as it's said inappropriately. It's up to you.

Edited by The Greater Fool

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10 hours ago, catwoman7 said:

a lot of people (most, actually) have a 10-20 lb rebound gain during year 2 or 3 - so if you haven't had that yet, it may help with the drawn look. Also, things sort of shift around after your body settles in at your new weight, so that also helps. Although I also lost over 200 lbs and looked older (well, probably more my age, since I looked younger than I was when I was fat). But I ended up having a face/neck lift, esp since I didn't like my turkey neck.

Yeah, I have regained 10-15 pounds from my lowest, and it scares the crap out of me. But I have to admit my face looks a little less ghoulish. I am probably pretty lucky in that I don't have a wattle from losing my double chin (I'm also pleasantly surprised by how decent my arms look; I'm not wearing tank tops in public or anything, but I'm also not needing an arm lift).

11 hours ago, catwoman7 said:

it sounds like you're overly obsessed with your weight and eating. I've been accused of that as well, and I've backed off a bit - although since doing that, it's been harder to keep my weight in check. It's gone up a bit more, but it's still acceptable (well, at least to my PCP and my surgeon - personally, I'd rather be 10 lbs lighter than I am now). But I think I'm in a better place stress-wise since I'm not so obsessed with my weight and eating.

I agree with some of the posters above that maybe it would help to work with a dietitian and therapist...

We've all seen people who have gone through this surgery and gained back most or all of the weight, and I'm terrified that if I take my eye off the prize, that will be me. I don't know if my rebound is from the malabsorption wearing off or because I've relaxed too much about food, but I don't like where I'm headed and I feel like I need to be more vigilant than ever.

I've tried two therapists and they were no help at all... Unfortunately, it is really hard to find therapists who understand the struggles of bariatric patients.

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I realised spoke a lot about eating in my second & into my third year & wonder if it was just me coming to terms with everything & wanting to talk it out. I do like to verbalise my thinking 😁. I notice my friend who had surgery a year after me is now talking about her food choices a lot more too. I wonder if it’s just something some of us go through. Could some of you thinking you’re focussed on eating be for the same reason: learning & coming to terms with what works for you? Discovering what you need & can eat to maintain your weight & health. I focus a bit on my Protein simply because of my absorption issue & I am always conscious of portion size. And I freaked out a bit when I gained a couple of kg earlier this year. It took me a little while to come to terms with why (increased protein intake & a higher dose of HRT) & accept & manage it. But you know if it’s just learning & understanding or if it’s you being obsessive in your thinking.

All the best Sue.

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I want to add that food and eating ruled my life before surgery. I would wake thinking about what I would eat, and food was constantly on my mind--when I would eat next, what I was craving, where I needed to go to buy the things I craved, etc. I definitely still think a lot about food now as well, which is of course necessary to maintain weight loss. However, I don't feel like my life revolves around food the way it did when I was fat. Quite the opposite: I now view food as fuel, not as reward, comfort or a treat.

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Posted (edited)

K, so i think about food all the time, both before, during, and still now after surgery.

But I “behaved” differently throughout those stages too. The focus before was to eat it, and as much as I could. Now the focus is everything else about it.

I don’t *think* i suffer any angst around this though, so that is a good thing. I am just fascinated about everything that has to do with food. Not sure if this is good for me or not, but i’ve long since learned to just go with it.

I may or not be a minority in this but i do really enjoy eating (or more accurately, tasting) lots of different things. I don’t see food as fuel like the many other successful weight-losers who employ this method. I prefer to enjoy eating what i do eat since I have so little real estate to work with.

Now, I can’t say if this will continue to work for me in the future…but it works for me now, so i’m just gonna go with it until it doesn’t…and will re-evaluate if/when it does (saves me alot of angst).

Now, i sort of digressed there for a little bit, but i actually wanted to respond to OP: while you have navigated the weight loss road (successfully!) for two years (congratulations!), i get the sense that you are still in either weight-loss mode or gearing-up-for-maintenance mode?

If the former, you’ve been at it for a while and it would seem only natural to be experiencing some sort of burn-out or fatigue. You’re tired, things didn’t turn out with what you half-expected. Despite this though, i applaud your attitude and recognition of your achievements.

If the latter, i’ve read enough on here that the transition from wl-mode to maintenance is not easy. Its not the diet changes that are as difficult as the mental mind bending that is required to not only change a lifestyle you’ve grown accustomed to, but also to the reflection you see in the mirror…and whether you like what you see. Alot of folks had some serious energy/strength depletion near the end (myself included…i too struggled to open those effing pickle jars).

Its cliché, but the only thing i can add to all the fab posts above is Patience (though I think you already know this). Do what you need to do to get through the day (talk, exercise, vent, busy-ness, therapy, sleep, medication, etc.)

It won’t always be this way, and even if it is, you may find a way to accept it regardless.

You’ve done fabulously, and even if you don’t sound so terribly thrilled about it (who says we have to be thrilled anyway?!), you are dealing just as fabulously.

❤️

P.S. sorry this was so long.

Edited by ms.sss

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I can totally relate to a lot of this. I was 48 when I had surgery 2 years ago and did not look my age. I have also lost over 200 pounds. Now I definitely look my age or older and I don't recognize myself sometimes. I did not have wrinkles before and now I do. That bugs me. But I just try to remind myself why I did this, and it was to get my life and health back. I do have energy now, so I'm lucky there. I probably have a more relaxed eating approach than a lot of people. I do not believe in good or bad foods. I have no forbidden foods. I pretty much eat what I want. Luckily, even before I did this, I preferred healthy foods like veggies and did not like things like fast food or fried food. I am proof you can be fat on healthy food. Too much of a good thing is still too much. I have "junk" like ice cream when I want it. Like, I am not a chocolate person except during PMS, and then it's like I NEED it and I have some. I just keep my portions of everything much more reasonable now.
I do track food just to make sure I get my Protein and keep my carbs reasonable but I'm not completely militant either. It certainly can be exhausting tracking everything, but I can't promise that I track every single taste. I just make sure to track all my meals and Snacks. For 2 years, this has worked for me. I have eaten this way the whole time. If something changes, I will adjust, but for now it's working. I just started maintenance so we will see how that goes.
I am lucky that I don't work at the moment. I am an RN, but when my son was born I stayed home with him (11.5 years ago! [emoji15]) and I've been planning to go back but something always happened to keep me home. I really do plan to get another job soon.
I know what you mean about work t extra hard as a fat person. I always felt like I wanted people to see that I wasn't lazy just because I was fat, because all fat people aren't lazy! It will be nice not having to worry about that when I go back. I became a nurse in 1997, and I was fat the whole time I worked, so that will be a first.
I do live in fear every day of gaining all my weight back, but I hope that if I keep eating like I'm eating I will be OK. That is all I can do.
When I look at all the loose skin, it can be discouraging sometimes. It's really bad on my arms and legs, but I know how hard I have worked to lose weight and even if I didn't have a weight problem, skin does tend to sag as you get older, and I am going to be 51 in 2 weeks. I would love to have it all removed, but it's just not in the budget right now since I paid out of pocket for my surgery. Maybe it will be when I get a job, but I refuse to be ashamed of my body. I'm proud that it carried me through being so morbidly obese for so long and it's still here carrying me. It has put up with a lot of stress and it has been strong for all of it. I'm definitely weaker than I was but I'm working on strength training now.
I know I'm rambling here but I just want to say you're not alone in your feelings.
You have accomplished so much. Just try to remember that!

Sent from my Pixel 5a using BariatricPal mobile app

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On 7/17/2022 at 8:40 PM, The Greater Fool said:

There are things you are doing that do not require your CONSTANT attention. Get rid of those things. Then evaluate.

Then look at the next set of things that don't require your constant attention and get rid of them. Evaluate.

Long before you realize you will have time to build an actual new life. Honest.

Until you accept this you are a prisoner.

Like what? What would you (or did you) get rid of?

I'm actually pretty good at being efficient -- one of my strengths, I think, is finding better, faster, easier ways to do things. I'm mainly talking about my job, but even at home, I'm always looking for better ways. I do a lot of meal prep, which is easier with a bariatric diet, since one meal often makes 10-20 servings. I time myself chopping vegetables and challenge myself to go faster than last time. There are a lot of tradeoffs between time, cost, and quality, and I increasingly lean toward things that save time even if they cost more or aren't as good (like paying someone to clean my house and buying prepared pico de gallo instead of making it from scratch). But I still feel like I am drowning and there are never enough hours in the day, and I can't help but think how nice it was when I didn't exercise, to have 10 extra hours a week.

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