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.

Weight Loss Surgery

Weight is always a tricky subject. When you talk about your efforts to lose weight, other people’s responses range from the kind-hearted but “yeah right” reaction of “You don’t need to lose weight!” to the “I have a product that will change your life!” to the “Have you considered gastric bypass?” As this little blog has grown, I’ve become less ashamed of telling people I want and need to lose weight, because hell, I write about it several times a week. I’m not embarrassed anymore. My weight is a big problem, and it’s a big problem that is not exclusive to just me. America is getting fatter, and the more we act ashamed and embarrassed, the less we’re thinking forward in terms of action. Fat happens. It sucks. Let’s try to fix it, you know?

When someone used to whisper to me that they had gastric bypass, I’d always think, “Oh, wow. Good for you!”. Usually, these people are now super healthy and average weight, and I would have never known they’d had anything done other than them telling me. Back when my weight problem was more one of overeating and underactivity, I’d brush off weight loss surgery, thinking ‘Naaah, I don’t need that. I just need to try harder.” I even asked a doctor at one point, and he told me I was in a gray area, where I wasn’t *quite* heavy enough to need it. Back then, I thought weight loss surgery was the lazy person’s solution – get your stomach stapled, eat all ya want, lose weight. I now know that that was a very naive assumption. I’ve been lucky enough to make friends in the bariatric blog community, and I’ve even been added to some of their private groups. I know now, from these women and men, that weight loss surgery is NOT the easy way out. You still need to lose weight before you get the surgery, and then before the actual procedure, there’s physical and mental counseling. After, it’s all about portion control, vitamins, protein, reducing junk or suffering extreme side effects. And once you get past the physical baggage of extreme weight loss, there’s the mental side of things. Loose skin, new clothes, jealousy, dealing with overeating, etc.

I used to think weight loss surgery wasn’t an option for me, because I always wanted to do things the “natural” way, aka, not having somebody carve into me with a knife. However, as my weight has steadily crept up despite my improved habits, and especially now, knowing what I do about the conditions making my weight loss goals feel damn near impossible, I’m going to admit that the idea of weight loss surgery has crept into my head more than once. The reactions around me are mixed. Some of my family members don’t like the idea, for the obvious reason of it being a major surgery that can have profound negative side effects. Some of my friends are nonchalant, saying they want me to do whatever makes me happy. Some of my friends are downright against it, one who even reads this blog, who recently schooled me on how me getting weight loss surgery just didn’t match the whole tone and concept of this blog. I have a follow-up appointment with a new doctor tomorrow, and I’m dreading stepping on the scale. I’ve been eating well, exercising and on my new medication, but I’m so afraid the scale will do what it did last time – show a gain. I asked my doctor about weight loss surgery last time I saw her, and she said we consider that when no eating plan is working. I’m guessing if I haven’t seen results tomorrow, I’ll move from a low-carb diet to a no-carb diet. But then, if that doesn’t work, what’s next? I’m not saying I want to, but I am saying I’m giving it some thought.

Tell me what you think about weight loss surgery. Do you know about the different types? Do you know anybody with success stories, or horror stories? I know several people who have both, but for privacy reasons, I’m not going to link them here. What do you think?