Thinking About Weight Loss Surgery

I’ve been thinking about weight loss surgery. In typical Alyssa fashion, it’s probably something I don’t need to share with a small corner of the Internet, but also in true Alyssa fashion, that’s just who I am and as Popeye says, I am what I am and I be what I be. A few years ago, I didn’t think I was a candidate for weight loss surgery. I’d ask my doctor and he’d shrug saying, “Well, you’re borderline. You COULD, but you don’t really need to.” My endocrinologist recently told me he didn’t feel it was necessary for me, as I’m obese but healthy as a horse in terms of stats like cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. However, seeing some of my friends in the midst of their transformations following weight loss surgery has me wondering: is it a good option for me?

I used to think weight loss surgery was a quick fix. Before I knew what it entailed, I remember I once said to a friend that had bypass surgery that I had to lose weight “the hard way”. Thankfully, I knew I had my foot in my mouth immediately once I said it, and I apologized for minimizing her hard work and struggle. Becoming friends with several remarkable people in the WLS community has enlightened me that it’s not a quick fix, but rather, a tool. And lately, I’m wondering if I need to add a tool like the Sleeve to my weight loss toolbox. I’ve been thinking about this for a long while, more specifically, this year as I began to really work on my fitness with a personal trainer. With intense exercise five times a week and following the Weight Watchers diet, I’d see a loss of 1-2 pounds a week, but then the next week, I’d gain it back. This is my whole history of dieting: losing and gaining the same five pounds, over and over, and I can confirm that doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result leads to insanity.

Weight Loss Surgery

I recently did a full blood panel and health work up with a metabolic specialist. She was convinced I’d have metabolic syndrome, or a low thyroid, or Cushings disease, or something that explained why my body refuses to let go of its cozy outer layer. We found no smoking gun, other than low Vitamin D, mild sleep apnea, and my ongoing imbalance of testosterone and estrogen, my hallmark symbol of PCOS. She sent me to the dietitian, apologizing as she wrote the referral, saying she knew that I knew “this stuff,” and that I wouldn’t learn anything new. I’d been numerous times to a dietitian, in addition to trying Weight Watchers, The Zone, Atkins, Diet to Go, on and and on and on. I went, because I firmly believe you can always learn something if you ask a lot of questions. However, I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t admit that this whole weight loss thing is hard, duh, but it’s harder than it should be, for me. I recently told my husband that the reason that weight loss surgery is beginning to be appealing to me is that I want to turn the page on my constant hamster wheel of trying to lose weight. For the last 18 years of my life, I have been in a constant state of needing, wanting, and trying to lose weight. But you see, I don’t want to do that for another 18 years. I want to move on. I want to actually LOSE weight. I want to try and actually see results as an effort from trying. Maybe the only way to do so is to trim a little bit of my stomach.

This is a decision I don’t intend to make for several months, possibly years, as I am once again trying the only diet that ever works for me, low carb and low glycemic, in addition to tracking with Weight Watchers, attending meetings, and working with a personal trainer. I know many of my family members and friends have strong opinions about wether or not weight loss surgery is right for me, and I respect the difference of opinions, but also remind myself that at the end of the day, it’s my body, and my choice. There are also other factors to consider about the timing of a surgery like, if I chose to do it, would I do it before my second pregnancy, or is it best to wait until after? (Don’t get excited now – I don’t plan to bake any more buns in the oven for awhile, yet.) There are also things about the surgery I’m just not sure about, like, am I ready to go under the knife for my weight? Am I ready to measure things meticulously and to sip water instead of chugging it? Could I be at peace with any potential side effects from the surgery? (From my research, though rare, it can happen.) These are all changes I need to consider seriously, because as a highly analytical person, I need to be 100% confident in a decision, especially one that will drastically change my life. I’ve loosely discussed some of these things with my new doctor, and she’s agreed I’m an excellent candidate, but that we should give it another “one last go” before making a decision.

I know that in regards to losing weight, my efforts aren’t perfect. I fully eat too much popcorn at the movie theatre, reward myself on weekends with food (a habit I’m working on breaking), overeat, and sometimes skip the gym in favor of being a sloth. However, I also know that realistically, healthy habits should not require perfection to see tangible change… and that’s where I need some help. While I can feel the strength in my body from working out and eating well, I don’t see the reduction of my body weight that I’m really yearning to see. And that’s frustrating, when you put in so much sweat equity and moments when you got a salad with dressing on the side, when everyone else ordered fries. I love myself and I fully recognize that my body is remarkable and beautiful at any size – walking 60 miles in the fight against breast cancer, carrying a beautiful and healthy child to 40 weeks. In honor of my body and myself, I want to make it stronger, and above all, healthier. My vitals are strong now, but what happens as I age and continue to carry around an excess 100 pounds?

If you’ve had weight loss surgery, how did you know it was the right choice for you? If you’re thinking about it, why? Chime in, but please, be respectful of both my opinion and those who have opted to have the surgery. There’s not one single right solution for everybody, and we can respectfully share differing thoughts.

Weekly Weigh In #2

I weighed in on Monday morning, expecting things to not go well. Even though I had stayed within my daily 1,600 calories, I couldn’t exercise as much because of homework and work, and my scale at home showed that I was up. When I weighed in on Monday I…

Gained/Lost 0 pounds

So basically, I maintained. I was disappointed, but after a good talk with the nutritionist, we pinpointed some reasons. First of all, I’m not really mindful of salt before weigh ins. I always thought it was just hocus pocus that eating a bit of salt would puff you up, but after chowing down on homemade stir fry this weekend (hello, soy sauce!) and a couple frozen meals, apparently¬† I was puffy (and sure enough, I’m down a pound this morning. Oh well.) Secondly, my nutritionist thinks I shouldn’t eat the extra calories I get from exercise through the My Fitness Pal app. She broke down the math for me and reminded me that I have a slow functioning metabolism – one that theoretically isn’t “broken”, but needs lots of stoking. We also decided I need to amp up my cardio to 4-5 times per week.

These changes are all pretty significant for me, because they point out the thing I’ve been kind of hoping wouldn’t be true for a long time… and that’s that for me to lose weight, I need to be damn near 100% in my efforts. The last time I lost 30 pounds was my last semester in college – when I was working two jobs, serving as an editor on the college paper, attending classes and constantly riding my bike to and from campus. Weight loss seemed easy back then – because even though I was involved in so many things, I was active. I didn’t sit on my butt all day. Now I sit 40+ hours a week, and then I sit some more, after work, when I do my thesis project or go to class.

The increase in cardio is good – while I’ll struggle at first, I know it will help decrease my stress, get me in shape, and most importantly, it will help rev up my metabolism. I like to imagine my metabolism as a squishy little cartoon character wearing a fuzzy robe and bunny slippers, with a perpetual yawn, curling up inside me next to my thyroid like the ultimate couch potato. I want that little metabolism to sweat and start being more productive, and the only way I’m gonna do that is to stop being my own form of couch potato, and move it to lose it, ya know?

 

One last thing I forgot to mention is I’m moving to bi-weekly weigh ins, because the wise nutritionist thinks it will be better for me to focus on my weight less and my energy and fitness level more. She reminded me that in cases like mine, sometimes you can be doing everything right and your body just takes some time to “prove it”. So yup – next time I weigh in on May 16… 3 days after my birthday!

I’m so glad I have a “weight whisperer” like the nutritionist to help me put some perspective into this challenge of mine that feels like something I’ll never overcome. But I will overcome it eventually – I just have to accept that weight loss is not going to be as simple as driving to the store and picking out a new, size 6 metabolism with a button nose and a love of volleyball. Weight loss is hard – which is precisely why the first three letters of diet are die. Heh. How are you doing this week? How are you feeling? Any revelations about anything?