Wow, Week 52. A year ago I started writing this blog and have faithfully written it every Sunday.
In the past year I have been in 7 different countries, lived in 9 different places, lost 83 lbs, reached my goal weight, and have been living a new, healthier life. WHAT A YEAR!!!
Two passport photos taken EXACTLY ONE YEAR APART, one last October, one last week... need I even say more???
When I started this blog last year I didn’t know what to expect. Unlike many people I have met on the forum, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about weight loss surgery before I had it. In 4 weeks, I went from learning about WLS, thinking I would get the band, changing to the Vertical Sleeve, reading the forum every day, to having the surgery and then BOOM! My life changed week by week after that. I was self-pay so there were no pre-approvals needed. I paid the money and off I went!
It all started here in Amsterdam exactly a year ago, and although I wasn’t at my highest weight of 223 lbs, I might as well have been; I was 203 lbs and the fattest person in the room everywhere we went. Worse, my hips, knees and feet hurt all the time, which doesn’t work well in a city of tall, thin beautiful people and a place where you walk, bike or run to catch the tram. Then there were the pity parties of wondering why I was so fat when I was eating like all these thin healthy-looking people??? I was happy to be on a European adventure but conflicted at the same time.
Fast forward one year. After being ‘sleeved’ in Germany on October 25, 5 days after my 58th birthday, we then spent a couple of months traveling through Europe, then to the US mainland traveling there for another couple of months, then back to Hawaii for the last 6 months. Now here we have relocated to the Netherlands… but this time, I can MOVE!!! We walk or bike everywhere. It’s great because I can tell already that being here is going to help me keep my weight off; I even lost another lb. this week! What a difference this surgery has made in my life. Now when I see a steep flight of stairs? No problem! We walk to dinner, to shop, to anywhere… and it’s FINE; it feels great to walk at a nice clip and even in shoes with heels that look good (read: not ugly tennis shoes!). The best part is my self-confidence is strong again and my husband is happier to have me so much healthier as well. I’ll never be tall, but at least I’m not the big self-concious blob I was last year.
A YEAR IN THE LIFE… I said I was going to blog my first year, and if that were the case, today would officially be the end. It sure has gone by quickly! I have been asked by a number of readers to continue, and I think I will; I’m not quite done yet. I’m still learning, I still read the forum regularly, and because I chose not to tell most of the people I know, I feel compelled to encourage those who read this who are still trying to decide if this is the right choice for them (and for some people it isn’t the right choice but learning as much as you can is important). I also know life here in Europe will present some different challenges and opportunities. So for now, I’ll continue each Sunday. (And thank you to all who asked me to keep writing!)
For those who are considering weight loss surgery, or in particular, the Vertical Sleeve (which in my opinion is by far, the best option) here are the TOP TEN things that come to my mind as I have embarked on my journey in the last 12 months:
- For me, I am absolutely convinced beyond any doubt that I could not have ever reached a healthy weight without this surgery. Period. My body type, personality, eating habits, and metabolism were not the kinds that responded to normal diet programs and then when I failed, it just f#@!ked with my head.
- I felt very well taken care of during my surgery. I feel fortunate to have had it done in Europe where they kept me in the hospital for a week; however, I have been amazed to read how well people do with shorter stays. The Vertical Sleeve Forum has been my number one resource for answers to my questions and encouragement and I have been so grateful it is there for me and others.
- I rested the first month, and looking back, it was a bit of a blur. Then I traveled the next 3 months, which I don’t necessarily recommend, but it worked out fine. It was hard not having my own kitchen, but it just goes to show that you can continue your normal life in a very short time (and believe me, your ‘new normal’ will be much more fun!).
- At about 3 months post-surgery, I had lost about 40 lbs and felt like a million bucks. I would have been happy to stay right there… but the weight kept coming off and the more I lost, the more I felt I could lose; it was so exciting to see the changes every week. I stalled a few times and started losing slowly around 6 months, but I NEVER FELT DEPRIVED OR LIKE I WAS ON A DIET. My tummy was often upset and I sometimes things didn’t stay down, but it was a small price to pay for the satisfaction of seeing the weight come off.
- At about 4 months, right on target, I started losing hair. I freaked out like everyone else… but it lasted only a few weeks and then it started growing back again. No big deal.
- At 5 months, I started exercising faithfully. We were finally living in one place so I could get into a routine, BUT! For the first time in my life, I could move easily and push myself a little more each day! It felt good to finally be able to move aerobically and now it is just part of my daily life.
- During the first 6-8 months, I never really knew what my stomach would tolerate so I tried lots of different things. I have never followed the recommended diet of 60 grams of protein and no carbs. But I do try to get as much protein in as I can (which is usually 30 grams or less), I have something sweet like a cookie or chocolate every day, and I always have cream in my coffee. I have become a ‘dainty eater’ and have lost weight consistently without giving up some things I love. I like living this way and it’s my new normal. By choice, I eat very little bread, no pasta or rice (but I do eat crackers at each meal as it seems to keep my tummy settled). I eat pretty much whatever I want, and the nice part is that I never want much! I still have cravings, but something small always satisfies me.
- I have had complete blood work done twice (especially since I’m not a great protein eater). My blood work has been textbook perfect. And I am faithful about taking all of my supplements each day.
- I personally chose NOT to tell most people and have been happy with that decision. I selected a few friends that I trusted and felt close to and let them know. This has worked for me, but it’s a completely personal decision. Believe me, there are times I want to tell everyone, because I believe this surgery can not only save lives, but also certainly make a life fuller, richer, healthier.
- And last, outside of the positive physical changes that have gone on with me over the last year, the ability to explore the emotional, intellectual, and self-awareness of my flaws and strengths has been fascinating. My relationship with my husband and my relationship with myself is far better than it was a year ago. The support from my friends and my sister has been wonderful. For those I have told, it feels good not to have kept this important part of my life from them; still I am happy to have been selective about who knows.
People keep saying how ‘proud’ they are of me, and I always feel so funny when they say that. Because I mostly feel ashamed that I got myself in the position of being so fat in the first place. Even though I have gone through this interesting process and one of the most incredible years of my life, I don’t feel pride or shame, but I do feel happy and healthy and that feels good enough for me!
I’ll keep writing a while longer, letting you know how things go as we settle into our new home in a new city and a new country on a new continent and with a new body! I’ll be turning 59 next week and never would have thought this would be the most exciting time of my life, but we’re having a lot of fun, so for those of you who think you’re too old to make any changes… think again!!!
Tot de volgende keer! (Until next time…)
Queen of Crop