CHAPTER ONE: The Beginning
In March 2009 I was seriously considering bariatric surgery and pursued information at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was morbidly obese, was using a C-Pap for treatment of sleep apnea, and had recently been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. And with at least 100 pounds to lose to bring my BMI into a normal range, I certainly met criteria for surgery. With a family history of stroke and heart disease, I felt I was a ticking time bomb ready to explode.
I attended several informational sessions on the lap band procedure. I was excited, thinking I could do this and it would be much easier than the lifelong roller coaster I had been on with my weight. My wishful, hopeful SELF whispered in my ear that lap band with the accompanying weight loss would be a magical cure and once the weight was off, I would no longer struggle day to day.
However, as a Mayo Clinic gastroenterology nurse, I saw patients regularly where bariatric surgery was not the answer. They came with serious complications, from short bowel syndrome to constant diarrhea and dehydration, to actual botched procedures. None of this really bothered me as I realized I was only seeing the failures and not the hundreds of patients who had successful results.
What bothered me the most were people I knew who had surgery and did lose weight, even 60 or 70 pounds and then gained it back. I saw the rolling eyes and heard the clicking tongues that talked in lowered voices behind closed doors. “Oh, did you hear, so and so, has regained all the weight they lost and then some.” That was my life story…losing, regaining, losing, regaining. It sobered me to think I could put myself at risk (all surgery, anesthesia has risks) lose weight and then regain it again. And I didn't want those rolling eyes and clicking tongues talking about me.
Somewhere in my deepest thoughts I knew as a binge eater, I would have trouble stopping when my stomach signaled it was full. After all, I had spent a lifetime denying my body signals. "No, I'm not hungry, I'm on a diet and I'm only eating 500 calories once a day." There were times I realized I was stuffed, but whatever was soooo good, and after all, I was starting a diet tomorrow, so I might as well get while the getting was good.
But the tantalizing thought of magic was very powerful and denial was very strong and I continued in the bariatric weight loss program.
It didn’t go well. Perhaps my rational self was working very hard underneath all the denial and wishful thinking, but when the program dietician told me I would never eat pizza again (not true) and explained the nutritional issues, how long it took to eat a simple meal, warning me about weight re-gain, I finally said, “This is NOT for me.” For me, it was a very good decision and I’ve never looked back. However, that being said, I do believe bariatric surgery can be very successful for the right candidates.
The next several months were difficult as I floundered in misery. I knew what to do, I knew that diets don’t work, I knew exercise was important, I knew what constituted healthy eating. BUT and I hate to say this, I’ve always wanted what I wanted when I wanted it and I’ve got a million excuses to justify whatever. “It’s too hot to go for a walk now, I’ll go later.” Of course later never comes. “One little bite won’t hurt.” And somehow the whole cake disappears.
And then the guilt, shame and self-beatings would come, spiraling me down, down, down onto the slippery slopes of the sugar-salt mountains. The more I berated myself, the harder it was to do anything positive.
I finally pulled myself out of my misery enough to call my endocrinologist for an appointment. Bariatric surgery was out, but what was I going to do to lose over 100 pounds. This very large amount of weight seemed like an impossibility. We talked for over an hour discussing how no food is really off limits, about portion control and frequency of treats, about exercise, and about my pre-diabetes. She told me she could practically guarantee I would become a diabetic if I didn’t lose weight now and begin eating healthfully. And she gave me hope! She told me losing 100 pounds on my own would be difficult, it would take vigilance to maintain a weight loss, but
IT COULD BE DONE!
This blog will continue
Chapter Two: Finding Spark People