November is the month of gratitude and we each have something for which to be thankful! So I’ve joined the #ThankfulNovember Challenge that has swept the country to acknowledge my many blessings after reclaiming my life from obesity. Every day this month I am among the many people who will Tweet something that I am thankful for on Twitter with the hashtag #ThankfulNovember. Why don’t you join in giving thanks, too?
My Bariatric Life in 2013 (left) and in 2014 (right) after facial plastic surgery.
Reclaiming My Life
Among my many blessings, I want to deeply explore in this share post one thing for which I am tremendously thankful for this year: reclaiming my life! Here is my story: I am a writer on the web and obesity health activist known as My Bariatric Life. I’ve worked very hard to get to the level of fitness and health that I have achieved today. It wasn’t always this way.
As a twenty-something year old I quickly began to go from fit to fat — why? I’ll never know. What I do know is that I became a processed food junkie and couch potato with diabetes, celiac disease, depression, acid reflux, asthma, and hypertension. In my 30s, I was morbidly obese and on ~10 prescription medications for obesity-related illnesses and headed to an early grave. I needed a drastic, life-changing intervention. I had to reclaim my life. My health and my life were literally at stake.
Reclaiming My Life: Weight Loss
Since 2003 I’ve maintained massive weight loss from RNY gastric bypass with Dr. Vishal Mehta (Mehta Obesity Center) and remain free from 9 of the 10 prescription medications. I went from a size 24W to a size 14 following my gastric bypass.
In 2013 I had body contouring plastic surgery with Dr. Joseph F. Capella (Capella Plastic Surgery) and facial plastic surgery with Dr. Catherine Winslow (Winslow Facial Plastic Surgery). My plastic surgeons removed the last traces of my former obesity — the hanging skin that remained from massive weight gain and loss and interfered with my daily living and inhibited my self esteem. The plastic surgery was the completion of erasing the sins of my past, getting rid of the telltale skin that was a constant reminder that I was a failure with regard to respecting my body for so long. I went from a size 14 to a size 2 following my plastic surgeries.
My Bariatric Life had a BMI of 44.6; now its 23.2.
It is hard to look at old photos and reflect back on how I abused my body for so long. But it is a wonderful dose of reality to see how far I have come and reminder that I must now and forever take excellent care of my body. Getting a diagnosis of diabetes was such a turning point in my life. It was a wake-up call that I answered. Had I not gotten diabetes, then I likely would not have gotten bariatric surgery and plastic surgery and turned my health and my life around.
Reclaiming My Life: Plastic Surgery
My words cannot do justice to the life changing transformation plastic surgery has been for me. Having gone through my transformation, I think that I now know how people feel having hit the lottery after decades of living in poverty. The results from my facelift with Dr. Catherine Winslow and my body lift with Dr. Joseph F. Capella are so good, that it is sometimes surreal. After a decade of not having achieved the body and face I wanted to achieve from bariatric surgery, there are times when I feel as if this is just a wonderful dream. And I might awaken from this wonderful dream, lying in my bed in my former puddle of flesh, and not caring much about how I looked.
The physical changes were outstanding. From the plastic surgery I lost 50 inches and 50 pounds and 6 jeans sizes. I look about 15-years younger. Dr. Winslow gave me back a matured version of the pretty face I had in high school – yes, believe it or not, I was thin and pretty before I became morbidly obese in my adulthood.
And Dr. Capella gave me a body better than what I had in high school. Someone told me that they took me from a 1.5 to an 8.5. It is true. Weight loss surgery may have saved my life but it left me with a distorted face and ugly body. I now have the body that weight loss surgery could not give me.
You can see the change for yourself in the video montage I put together (top right column of this page). The side by side photos do not even look like the same person.
My Bariatric Life in 2013 before (left) and after (right) body contouring plastic surgery.
Reclaiming My Life: Diet and Exercise
In total, I have lost 135 pounds and 11 pants sizes. Never could I have done this without my gastric bypass and body contouring plastic surgery. But they aren’t the easy way out. It took dedication to change the behaviors that led me to be morbidly obese in the first place.
Just as important as the surgeries were the changes I made to my diet and exercise habits. I eat very healthy – no processed foods, no grains (that includes corn), no red meat, no sugar sweetened beverages, no “diet” beverages or foods, no artificial sweeteners, no legumes, no white potatoes, no dairy. I eat everything fresh, and organic as much as possible. Following a Paleo diet and running and taking vitamins/supplements have been key.
#ThankfulNovember My Reclaimed Life
I am grateful that I persisted in doing reclaiming my life from obesity. I am thankful that I had insurance coverage for bariatric surgery. I am blessed that I could afford to pay for plastic surgery. I am deeply endeared to my two very talented and relatively affordably plastic surgeons – Dr. Catherine Winslow and Dr. Joseph F. Capella. Most of all, I am so very happy to be the person I am today.
The emotional changes have been magical. Not only did it shame me to look at my naked body in the mirror, but also it kept me from fully being present to living a life I love. It is an amazing thing to experience your body changing so dramatically so quickly. To understand just what that feels like must be experienced for yourself; those whom have gone through it know exactly what I mean.
One patient told me that “plastic surgery is so much more about finding the person you were meant to be.” Another person told me that bariatric surgery saved her life and plastic surgery saved her soul.
Living a Life I Love
After my plastic surgery, I became focused on finding myself and living life fully. I was never a wall flower but there were things that I let hold me back from doing exactly what it is I want to do. Well, no more. I am breaking through all my barriers and grabbing life with both hands. Life is beautiful. I’ve got a lot of life to live and I intend to live a life I love.
Conquering a 4-hr advanced ropes course.
Whoever you are reading this, know that you have within you what it takes to succeed. If it can happen to me, then it can happen to you. And it’s a whole lot more possible than your chances of winning the lottery! It really can and does happen. My wish for you is that you live a life you love and love the life you live.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life