Reflections of a Two-Year Post-Op

nicole bullock 2 year gastric bypass

February 7th was my two year “surgiversary” of my roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery. I’ve been trying to decide how to commemorate this anniversary on my blog for a few weeks, and nothing felt quite right. I’ve got lots of pictures on Facebook, Instagram, and my blog that show my weight loss progress, so I didn’t want to focus on my external/physical changes. I wanted to touch on some thoughts and feelings about how I’ve changed on the inside…and how I’m still the same.

Reflections of a Two-Year Post Op:

I would like to lose more weight, but I am happy with where I am at: When I embarked on my weight loss journey, I had the ultimate goal of losing 200 pounds. On my absolute lowest day, I had a total of 131 pounds lost. That means that I’m still 70 pounds overweight, and I’m not completely satisfied at my progress. But setting the scale aside, I like ME a lot better. I can look into the mirror and like who is smiling back at me. I can find clothes that I feel comfortable and attractive in. My weight doesn’t hold me back from things that I’d like to do (biking, skiing, swimming, 12+ hour days of walking during travel, etc). I’ve got my problem areas that are managed by shapewear, but I’m not horrified by my bulges and loose skin. I like ME, and even if I don’t lose any more weight, I feel like my surgery was a success.

I still have my taste buds: Just because I had surgery to restrict the amount of food I can ingest, that doesn’t mean that I care if it tastes lousy. I do care. I love food, and willingly admit that I focus a lot of time and money on good food. I tried to get into the mindset “Eat to live, don’t live to eat,” but it doesn’t work for me. I have an emotional attachment to food, and I don’t think that any amount of therapy will change that. I like to celebrate with food, I like to be social around food, and I make better food choices when I just accept those truths. I am not as restricted by the types of food I tolerate as I was right after surgery. I can handle a small dessert without dumping. I eat more carbs than an average RNY patient to avoid reactive hypoglycemia. I usually don’t feel sick after having something rich or fatty. I can’t rely on my “tool” to limit the foods I eat by making me feel sick, so I have to think about the foods I eat. However, now that I’m eating more calories per day, I MUST be active. I feel lousy on days that I haven’t exercised, and I know that eating too much will make it tough to keep my weight in check.

Weight loss doesn’t fix everything: Surgery and the subsequent weight loss have helped me get my blood pressure under control, reduced edema and helped circulation in my legs, and has allowed me to be much more active. But the major disappointment with my pre-surgery comorbidities is that I still have obstructive sleep apnea. I had a sleep study in November that revealed that I have significantly improved my apnea, but I’m still advised to use a CPAP machine (at pressure 5). I have struggled with depression and anxiety since my teen years, and weight loss hasn’t changed those mental health challenges. If anything, I think I have more problems with anxiety. I’ve had some nutritional deficiencies that require ongoing management. I had mono last year, which made me feel tired and lethargic all the time. I consider myself MUCH healthier than I was in 2012, but I’m still not normal or perfect.

Forgive regain, to a point: For the first 10 months after surgery, the numbers on the scale went down consistently. But since December 2012, I’ve been in a constant struggle with my scale. On my absolute lowest weight day, I was at 242. But I was working out like a maniac at that point, having RH crashes too often, and I felt weak. Once my RH was under control, I came down with mono. And peritonsillar abscesses. And I had to go on steroids. And I had surgery. And my doctor restricted my from rigorous exercise for 2 months. On my worst day with the regain from surgery and steroids, I weight 261, 19 pounds up from my highest. For the last 2 months, I’ve been hovering between 248 and 252. I could freak out about what I’ve regained, but I have other things to worry about. However, my RED ALERT weight is 260. If I hit it again, I will be fighting it like gangbusters.

taylor and nicole 2 years


Relationships change, friends come and go
: WLS is like a magnifying glass on relationships – it makes the good things better, and the bad things worse. Taylor and I went through some tough times in our relationship prior to surgery, and I wasn’t sure how our marriage would fare post-op. Luckily, he has been an incredible support, I know how much he loves me, and my increasing health has only made our marriage stronger. But not all people can say the same.  It’s been interesting to watch my friends go through relationship changes since WLS: divorces, infidelity, marriages, serial dating, moving across state lines to be with the ones who make you feel loved. Those in abusive relationships tend to finally have the courage to move on, whether it is a romantic relationship or just a friendship. I’ve lost friends, but have gained many more. And some of the friends I’ve made since surgery have already moved on. You have to do what is best for your sanity, and sometimes that means that you rely on different people than you did in the past. It’s hard to move on, and I’ve shed tears over people I no longer have in my life, but I am so grateful to the ones who continually support me.

I’m not ready for plastic surgery: With all of my blogging and social media connections to the weight loss surgery world, I’ve seen some amazing transformations over the last few years. For many of them, they hit their goal weight in less than a year, and have reconstructive plastic surgery soon after. I’ve been fortunate to have minimal skin sagging and need for major reconstruction, but that may change as I lose more weight. And I haven’t ruled out the possibility of having another child yet, so I will wait for any additional surgery until I have a baby or decide to keep my family as is.

I’m not sure where I’m going with my blog next: I’ve had some pretty awesome opportunities through blogging about my weight loss. I’ve spoken at conferences, I’ve been on TV, I’ve been featured on health websites, and have a loyal group of followers online. But I’m in a bit of a “blog life crisis” – I don’t always feel like blogging about my health, I get offers from brands to review products and want to take advantage of those opportunities, but then I get behind with writing for me. I will probably be writing here less and less. I’ve got a time-intensive job that demands my attention more than past positions, and getting back on a computer after work rarely happens. I’ll post when I have something important to say, and not pressure myself to post for the sake of posting.

Comments

  1. Danna Lockerby says:

    Great update Nicole. My 2 year anniversary is on the 16th of this month. I started at 347.5 and am sitting at about 180 right now. And like you, I can eat far more sugary and carby foods than I’d like to be able to and I still really like food. However I’ve found that I really like exercise and being active. I’m 46 years old and have 2 very young sons (5 & 7). I love being able to be active with them. We live in Phoenix so we are just heading out of our hiking season (as it will be too hot to hike in another 2 months) and my boys have LOVED being able to hike with me this winter. I too had hoped to have hit my goal by now (135 is my penciled in goal), but I’m generally happy with where I am. I’m still working on getting down a bit further though. I’m also not ready for plastic surgery. Odds are I’ll need some on my stomach and wow do I have some serious batwings, oh and my thighs have a bit of a sharpee dog look to them. But I’m finding that with time and exercise even the saggy skin is getting better. I’ve decided that I won’t pursue plastic surgery until I’ve hit my goal and maintained it for a year. I haven’t had any significant changes to friendships or my marriage. But, my husband also had RNY (2 years ago this June….and he is at goal). So we did it together. He doesn’t exercise nearly as much as I do, but oh well.

  2. You always inspire me when I visit your blog. You are really amazing because you did a good job; you look sexier and healthy. I decided to go also on surgery because I know it will help me to lose weight. Just like you, you inspire me to lose weight not just because of people around you who keeps telling me that you’re “fat” but it’s all because of yourself. Build more self-confidence and keeps you make healthy and to avoid diseases. Me, I’m scheduled to go on surgery by the end of April2014 by the help of PlacidWay. I am very nervous but I know I can do it. Thanks for inspiring and congratulations on your “surgiversary”, keep it up girl!

  3. Looking forward to celebrating my first and second surgeversary too! I just had mine last December so I still have a looong way to go but excited to compare my before and after photo. Perhaps, soon I’d also put it on my blog. Congratulations and keep up the great work. You look amazing and happy, and healthy.

  4. I’m thinking about getting this done. A friend of mine went abroad for it as it was cheaper. A little too risky for me. In the meantime I have had some counselling and recently discovered an app which is helping loads. It might help others so thought I would share. I found it at http://www.getweightless.today the mindful eating tool has really helped to slow my eating down.

  5. Kimberly Adams says:

    You look AMAZING!!!! lost for words to describe how happy i am for you. Being overweight is a horrible horrible disease! I can not wait until I am blessed with the opportunity to have the surgery.. Insurance is paying a portion of it but I still have a lot to pay that I am not able to pay. I decided to set up a GO GUND ME PAGE to see if I can get help with it. Everyday I struggle for my daughter. Kids pick on her at school. Also adults can be rude also but I am so happy happy happy for you. You are a GREAT INSPIRATION TO ME. Love your blog.

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