Coming in July 2018: Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, “The Sleeve”

I’m getting weight loss surgery.

It feels freeing to type those words. It feels freeing to have a rapidly approaching helping hand, a tool in my toolbox to help me get to a healthier weight. It feels freeing to say, “I have done the research.” It feels freeing to know that this minimally-invasive surgery is safer than staying morbidly obese. It feels freeing to know that this body of mine, the body I have fought and broken and challenged for so many years will finally have a chance to be what I want it to be.

This decision has not come lightly. It has been the result of painful moments, of deep disappointment, of medical hurdles , of serious reflection and work. A few years back, surgery didn’t feel right for me. I was also about 50 pounds lighter back then. But babies and life and habits and hormones have taken their toll on this body and metabolism, and I find myself the heaviest I’ve ever been, ready to get to a point where I feel like ME in my skin, not a stranger in a heavy, stiff suit. For years I have tried to live between the dueling worlds of loving myself completely but being so uncomfortable in this skin. Now, I’m giving myself an exit strategy. It’s not the easy way out. In fact, I think making this decision to have an elective surgery that will seriously change my eating habits and life is pretty damn brave. But something needs to happen, and I’m ready. Let’s do this.

Am I scared? Of course. There are unknowns. There are possible side effects. Nothing is perfect, after all. But I am ready — and I’m ready to write the happy ending of the Double Chin Diary, the one where I walk happily into the sunset in a tankini, not self conscious about my stomach rolls, but instead, strutting with the positive satisfaction of a life well-lived and a body and mind that feel good. There will be bumps in this road, but it’s a road I’m excited to travel. My stomach will be reduced in size by about 80%, and the hormonal components that make weight loss very difficult for me will dissipate over time as my body produces less of the hunger hormone. I have an excellent support team — friends near and far that have had success with this same procedure, a loving husband and family. I’m ready.

For the next six months I’ll be working on changing my eating habits and getting back into fitness. Insurance requires that you diet for six months to prove that you’re serious about making this commitment. I have done the hard work of learning to love myself despite my weight. I live a happy life as a plus-sized woman. I honor my body, beautiful in its imperfection, amazing in its creation of two beautiful daughters, two legs that walk, two eyes that see, two hands that feel, a heart that beats that I wear on my sleeve. But, I want more. I want to shop in the women’s department, not the plus section. I want to sit on an airplane feeling less like a sardine. I want to hike the hills, to climb the mountains, to surf the waves, to hide and seek with toddlers, to fully live my life and come alive with physical energy and zeal. For somebody who’s fought this battle for 20 years, it feels good to know that the reinforcements are coming. It’s going to be hard. But it’s going to be worth it — and as usual, I’ll be right here, telling you all about it.

Thanks for reading <3

Body Positivity and Weight Loss: Can you have and want both?

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending BlogHer for the very first time. It’s always fun to connect in person with other members of the blogosphere and learn from their successes (and flops). I was hanging at a protein powder booth at the expo hall, and introduced myself to the brand rep. “Hi, I’m Alyssa,” I said, beginning my usual elevator pitch, “I blog about losing weight without losing my sense of humor, though lately this weight loss blog is more of a weight gain blog because I recently had a baby.” The rep and I chitchatted for a few minutes, and then I turned to leave, when I saw a girl approach me. I knew she was on the younger side as she had that youthful skin that no lotion or potion can give you back. “Hi, I heard you say you’re a weight loss blogger and I have a question for you.” She went on to explain how she struggles finding the balance between being body positive but also wanting to and trying to lose weight. She wanted to know, how did I find balance between the two and what was my perspective on it all? First of all, I asked this girl her age and she’s 17! Seventeen! Wow! Color me impressed for such an awesome, thoughtful query at such a young age.

BODY POSITIVITY

The answer to this question is both simple and complicated at the same time. The question, if we reduce it to one direct statement is “Can you still be body positive if you are trying to lose weight?” To that, my answer is yes, yes, and more yes. I’ve actually had a few bloggers snark on me for not “being body positive” because I want to lose weight, but if you go through my blog, I think you’ll find my body positivity is pretty on-point. The key to this equation for me is that I can love myself just as I am, and I should, because once that weight comes off, there’s a lot of me that will still be the same. But more importantly, it’s about loving my body ENOUGH to know that it deserves the very best. For me, the very best is a lighter body — not just for how it will look in size 12 jeans, but to walk miles without my heel spur aching, to get my blood pressure taken without anxiously spiking it, to not fret about fitting in airplane seats or going ziplining.

 

Now, these two things can exist and both be true, and that said, I’m a big advocate of body positivity and am grateful it’s become a “thing” now that I am a mother. Images like this make me so very happy, to be living in a world where different shapes and sizes are becoming more accepted, just like skin color, sexual orientation, and gender.

However, I have to scrutinize a little bit about the body positivity community if those who are wanting to lose weight are being challenged. If we’re advocating for acceptance of all bodies, wouldn’t it be hypocritical to be against those who are wanting to make a change to their body? I think that you can love yourself just as you are but still want to make improvements; for example, how my husband adores the heck out of me but really wishes I didn’t need 10,000 reminders to empty the dishwasher. I think perhaps the emphasis of body positivity can shift slightly to be just more positivity in general; with your pants size, your religious beliefs, your diet, your hobbies, whatever makes you YOU. However, I suppose a key difference here is if you’re coming at your body and size with negativity, no confidence, and self-hatred while wanting to lose weight, THAT doesn’t really work as body positivity, ya know?

I guess the point of this is, and what I told that girl, is that you can lose 100 pounds, 5 pounds, or 1 pound — and you might look “perfect”, or whatever the meaning of that word of what we’re desiring really is, and if you haven’t done the hard work on the INSIDE of learning to love the person you are, then you’re not much better off than when you started. We all know happiness comes from within, and it sounds cliche, but it’s true. If you hate yourself at 300 pounds there’s a chance you’ll hate yourself at 100, too. So, I say, rock on with your body positive self, but if you’re wanting to lose weight to feel better or heck, even look better, rock on with your self-loving self. Because there’s nothing more positive than believing in the person you are and were meant to be — regardless of what the number says on the scale.