With my extensive social media involvement, I have many people that I interact with who I’ve never met. I post a fair amount of pictures of myself online, and I always pick the pictures where I think I look good. I’ll tilt my head the right way, crop out my arms or belly, and avoid showing my whole body. I hide my problem areas along with my insecurities.
The truth is, I’m very large. Technically, my BMI of 51 puts me in the “super obese” category, which is one step above morbidly obese. I have a plethora of health problems including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, severe obstructive sleep apnea, elevated blood pressure, polycystic ovaries, hormone imbalances, chronic anxiety and depression, edema and circulatory problems. My joints constantly ache, and I have difficulty exercising without injuring myself. I take pills to help with many of these problems, and I’m usually in a doctors office at least twice a month.
Now, you might be thinking “She doesn’t look THAT huge.” I get that all the time. I was blessed with good genes. I’m 5’10”, so my weight doesn’t show as blatantly on my frame as it might on other people. But as stated above, I have a lot of health problems and excess weight. When I stepped on the doctor’s scale last week, I weighed 357. It’s not the most I’ve ever weighed, but close. When I hit 300 three years ago, I could not believe I’d hit that point. But when have disclosed my weight to others, I usually get a depreciating statement like “That’s not possible….you don’t look anywhere near 300 pounds.” As much as I appreciate people telling me I don’t look my weight, the numbers on the scale do not lie. And I’m very self-conscious about it.
I’ve come to hate group photos. All I end up doing is comparing myself to the other people in the picture. Especially arms – my upper arms are 2-3 times as large as a fit woman’s arms, and no amount of toning ever seems to help. I’ve done a fair amount of weightlifting over the years, and all it’s ever done is bulk up my big arms. Or so it seems to me.
I honestly believe I have a more healthy diet than the average American. I’m a pro at the lean protein/whole grain/veggie and fruit way of life. I have been putting myself on restrictive diets to lose weight since age 11, which was when my weight problems began significantly effecting my self esteem. I’ve memorized nutritional information for most foods that I consume, including calories, fat grams, carbohydrates, and protein. Until last week, my main guilty pleasure was excessive consumption of soda and caffeine, but I’m overcoming those addictions and am on day 7 totally soda free.
As I’ve started telling people about my surgery plans, one of the first things that people ask me is “Wait, have you tried _____ diet/supplement/pill/shake?” Honestly, I’m DONE “trying” things. The short list of my weight loss attempts include Weight Watchers (8 times), South Beach diet, Atkins Diet, American Heart Association diet, calorie counting, fat gram counting, high protien diets, liquid diets, personal training, online diets and support groups, hypnosis podcasts, Curves, Intuitive Eating, Thrive weight loss, and physician-assisted weight loss plans with prescription weight loss drugs (both phentermine and the naltrexone/bupropion combo).
Twenty years of failed weight loss attempts has significantly affected my endocrine and digestive systems, not to mention my self-esteem. I’ve spent the better part of 10 years on a therapists couch, and much of it has to do with my body image issues and addictive behaviors. I have such a skewed relationship with food. Although I do “eat emotionally,” it is not my main issue. I am a social eater. I can stick with a strict eating plan when I’m on my own, but as soon as I’m around other people, I can’t keep up.
I love the experience of indulging in food with love ones. Many of my happiest memories in life include delicious food with friends and family. It’s so easy to lose control when I’m eating with people I love, no matter what the food item is.
So much of my relationship with my husband has included food. When we only have an hour or two for a date, we almost always go out to eat. When we first got married, we ate out all the time and each gained about 35 pounds. While my husband was able to lose it through diet and exercise, my weight has crept up through the 7 years of our relationship, despite my best efforts. My weight and health have affected our relationship, and I know that it stresses my husband out to no end. Because he is away from home for half the month, it’s been hard to come up with a consistent diet/exercise routine that doesn’t stop when he comes back into town.
So, for these reasons and many more, I’m going under the knife. It took two years to come to the decision to have surgery, with the approval process taking another year. I’ll blog about the approval process for me next, but believe me, it was a tough year of paperwork, health histories and exams, appeal letters, and countless phone calls. I’ve been scheduled for laparoscopic RNY gastric bypass surgery on February 7th.