Everyone has different goals in life. Some want to make money, others want to be married, while others want to have children.
I always thought I knew what my goals were until recently. For at least 10 years from the time I was 25-35, I just wanted to go to Graduate School to pursue my Masters in Social Work and work with the military. I thought that was my life’s passion. After all, some of the best years of my life were spent on a post in Italy. I thought I wanted to be close to that life again. So when I entered Grad school in May 2009, I figured my “career” goal would be realized. Little did I know only 6 months later, I would have a massive stroke that would almost end my life, as one neurosurgeon told my husband, “she was three breaths away from death. ”
Needless to say, I didn’t return to grad school and my career ambitions were never realized. At least in the social work world that is. Sure, it would take another almost 5 years for me to feel any glimmer of passion.
So here I sit, almost 5 years later and FINALLY, I feel like I have a passion. This passion I’ve turned into a list of goals for myself.
As most of you know, I chose to have bariatric surgery in Feb. 2014. There were tons of reasons behind this decision, but my biggest goal in opting to have this surgery was HEALTH. Which is my number one goal.
Health is the driving force behind our very being.
Without health, we are truly just empty vessels in this world.
Think about it? What can you REALLY accomplish from a hospital bed or an ER? NOTHING!!!!
Sickness, at the root, is pure evil. It kills, steals and destroys. Sadly, I know this first hand.
However, I thank God DAILY, that He not only spared my life in Dec. 2009, but that my situation wasn’t worse. I pray that He would somehow use my history to shape my future
. Sure I don’t know how He’ll do that, but I know He will. See, I believe in a good, loving God, who hates sickness and never intended it to be a part of His plan. I think He cries alongside of the person who is battling whatever sickness has ahold of him or her.
So goal #1 for me is HEALTH…..what does that practically look like you ask? Well first and foremost getting off and regulating a normal blood pressure. See I never thought about my blood pressure in my early years, it wasn’t until I became pregnant with my oldest that hypertension aka: high blood pressure would set it. It continued through my second pregnancy as well. Something that “supposedly” clears up after the first pregnancy. Well it didn’t. It continues to plague me daily. I have a strong family history of high blood pressure on both sides. So medically speaking I’m screwed. BUT I do not receive this as fact. I fully believe that through diet and exercise I can see a reversal of this disease. I know that by losing weight this will positively impact this situation. I’ve gone from FIVE BP meds to currently only 1, and only once a day at night, after losing 89lbs. Imagine where I’ll be once I hit a healthy weight? So I think after another 80 lbs. I’ll be golden.
This leads me to goal #2, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Oh my, I could take up pages and pages with this goal
I was not an obese person in my late teens, young adult years. In fact, when I was 19, I weighed 145 at 5’6. It wasn’t until I got married and got pregnant with our first child did I pack on the pounds. I went from 180-220 only losing about 20lbs after giving birth in June. Then in October I underwent brain surgery. Between the steroids, doctors used to reduce swelling in my brain, my inability to cope with what I was going through, and inactivity following the surgery, I easily gained 100 lbs., ballooning up to around 250-260lbs. Then about the time I was “back to normal” I got pregnant with our son and ballooned up to 290. After his birth, I didn’t really lose anything, maybe 10lbs. I stayed right about 250-290 for the next 5 plus years. I remember hitting the 300 lb. weight shortly after I had a stroke in Dec. 2009. I remember thinking how hopeless, lost and repulsive I felt. I remember thinking I would NEVER get to a normal, healthy weight. Whatever that would be.
So when I decided to have bariatric surgery, sure it was for weight loss, but not for vain reasons. Maybe only slightly vain because I hated how I looked and felt. It was more so for health with about 10% related to appearance. So this goal #2 is more about health than appearance. My body needs to be back to a normal healthy weight so that my BP can regulate and I am at a decreased risk for other chronic diseases.
So I took this second chance at life and grabbed it by the horns.
Since I’ve always loved exercise, this part wasn’t difficult for me. I knew early on after surgery that I would continue to exercise and “tone” because I didn’t want to have a full body lift due to skin. Loose skin plagues the bariatric community. Think about it….. morbidly obese people lose easily 100 lbs. in a YEAR after being morbidly obese for years and years, where do you think that skin goes? It hangs.
I didn’t want to be a casualty. I know full well that a tummy tuck and breast lift may be in my future, but I’d like to avoid any further surgery if possible.
I honestly didn’t know which part would be the most difficult for me. I have since learned that not playing the comparison game with other bariatric people IS THE HARDEST PART FOR ME!!!! .
Sure I’m guilty of getting on Facebook bariatric groups and looking at people who had similar surgery dates, started at similar weights and had lost more than me. This is where I quickly had to remember that I’ve ALWAYS been the stereotypical 1-3% in the medical world. IE: brain tumor, surgery by the time I was I was 27, radiation by the time I was 35 and a stroke by the time I was 36. I once had a neurosurgeon joke with me that I had already been through a lifetime. Even the type of stroke I suffered, subarachnoid hemorrhage, only had a 3% survival rate. All of this to say, I knew very early after my bariatric surgery that I would have to find my own path to nutrition. I liked food to much, to only eat /14 cup at a time and try to survive. I just knew there had to be another way. Which leads me to
Nutrition has always been my nemesis. After all, it was a LARGE part of the reason I had gotten to where I was at. I loved salty crunchy AND chocolate anything! What can I say, I didn’t discriminate when it came to crap food.
I thrived, or so I thought, on sugar. I drank diet coke like it was going out of style. I enjoyed, usually the entire bag, of whatever candy I felt like eating at the time. I loved sugary kid cereal, ice cream, candy bars, you name it. I loved it. AND I could eat!!! I could easily eat 4-5 slices of pizza at one sitting, oh and don’t hold the breadsticks because I could put away an entire bag. I often worried that I was stretching out my stomach and that I would never lose any weight because my stomach was so messed up! I mean how could I really eat this way? What had happened to me and why couldn’t I stop? Questions that ultimately led me to choosing the gastric sleeve (removing 80% of the stomach) over the gastric bypass.
The concept of good nutrition, ironically didn’t hit me until after this past summer. We were in Houston, TX for the summer. I had sought out a bodybuilding gym to workout at. Even hired the owner to show me how to lift weights. I met with him 6 days a week for 3 months, like I said before, exercise was never my issue. However, I was only 4 months post op, and following the bariatric diet plan of the normal protein first (which I still follow), but beyond that I was still eating 1-2 Quest bars a day, junk foods like pretzels, donuts, fast food etc. I mean come on, it had been working for me up until this point. Why couldn’t I still enjoy my favorites? My stomach was smaller, surely indulging wouldn’t stop my weight loss. I delusionally thought that I could maintain my current eating lifestyle AND lose my 100+ lbs. So when the scale literally came to a screeching HALT, I was at a serious loss…..and a bit devastated.
Lots of excuses followed… I told myself it was because I was lifting heavy weights. That HAD to be why everything stalled?!
Oh did I mention, I also stopped ALL cardio? My trainer didn’t think it was necessary.
I quickly saw the importance of proper nutrition, weight lifting AND cardio, but outside of exercise, I quickly became more educated about proper nutrition. Thankfully, I came into contact with a lady who also had bariatric surgery and is a bodybuilder (something I aspire to). She helped me restructure my entire nutrition plan. As a result, I lost 18lbs that month…..EIGHTEEN!!!! Finally, I understood the two things I’ve heard….”you can’t out train a bad diet” AND “abs are made in the kitchen” Outside of my protein shake, I eat NOTHING processed, IF I eat a Quest bar, it’s a planned out, wisely incorporated “treat” now, no more pretzel, ice cream, donuts.
So my goal #3 is to only eat REAL FOOD. Fruits, veggies and protein, clean carbs….there is no room for anything else in my life.
You know it’s funny. I’ve been eating this way now since October and when I just taste something like a bread stick from the local pizza place, I spit it out because it completely repulses me. It’s disgusting to me, the taste all of it…YUCK.
NEVER in my life would I have thought that I would say this, but I just don’t like fake food. Once the queen of Dairy Queen, now I won’t even go there because they have nothing for me to eat that’s healthy or whole. Not only has the weight loss been encouraging but how I FEEL is as well!!. Once a chronic migraine sufferer, getting Botox injections (in my head) every 3 months, or being in the ER for IV therapy weekly, I no longer have to do either and I KNOW it’s because I don’t eat processed foods anymore. Oh my, I could go on and on about the benefits of eating real foods, but I’ll save that for another post J
Goal #4….get my head in the game
I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face…..you do NOT get to be 315lbs overnight. It takes months or years to accomplish. So in order to NEVER go back to 300 lbs. I recognized at about 6 weeks post op my need for intensive therapy. I called our church to see if anyone could connect me with a good counselor and thank God they did. I started going to see my counselor starting at week 6 post op. Initially I went because I thought I might have an eating disorder. When I was about 19, I started dating an older guy who I thought I was in love with. This guy was HIGHLY critical of my appearance. So I started starving myself and or sneaking food. I survived on very little. I went from about 180/190 to 140, not good. We dated for roughly a year and when I left for college. I was depressed, again SUCH A LONG STORY. But I got to college, absolutely determined NOT to gain the infamous freshman 15 so I started over exercising, hitting the gym twice a day in between classes. Abusing laxatives, but still eating Chik-Fil-A and McDonalds for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I didn’t gain the freshman 15 but was desperately unhealthy, physically and mentally.
We broke up. My world spiraled. My dysfunctional eating pattern continued, so you can imagine I was scared to begin this journey without some form of mental health counseling. It turns out I don’t have a classic eating disorder, praise God! I do however have a distorted body image. So I meet with my counselor every Monday and we discuss the following week and my mindset. BOY apart from nutrition I think this is the hardest work. To really examine yourself and admit where I am fallible, it’s scary. I am very slowly learning that my worth as a person is not wrapped up in the number on the scale. This is such a new concept for me……I’m sure I will blog about this in the future. But for now, I’m enjoying discovering hobbies to do in lieu of eating when I’m bored or lonely. My goal is to post a daily blog post, if not daily at least a couple of times a week.
- Achieve and maintain a HEALTHY WEIGHT
- Eat REAL FOOD
- Get my HEAD IN THE GAME