Thursday, April 10, 2014

One Year Update: Sweet Freedom

One year ago today I was being wheeled into an operating room for a procedure that I knew was going to change my life.  Just how drastically it would change it, however, I hadn't a clue.  A year ago I looked to the future and figured by this time I'd have reached my goal.  And I was correct on that guess.  What I hadn't been prepared for was what that would do to me.  A number on a scale means little in comparison to the ways my life is different now.

I reached my original goal of 143 pounds a couple months ago.  I decided to keep going.  As of this morning I am 137 - two pounds shy of my new goal.  But the number no longer matters to me.  I'm focused on my fitness goals, concentrating on getting stronger, leaner, more toned, and properly nourished.  While I will confess to still enjoying chocolate, I will declare that nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.

Two days ago I had my one-year followup with the surgeon.  My progress astounded him.  Most patients are expected to have lost about 65% of their excess weight by this point.   I have lost over 90% of mine.  I truly believe my commitment to fitness has facilitated this, and Dr. C agreed.  I wasn't messing around with this.  I had this surgery to change my life.  I didn't have it so that I could continue being overweight and unhealthy.  This is why I fought so hard to get approval for it.  This is what I wanted to do, and this is the result I wanted to see.  I knew a year ago I had a long road ahead of me, and I knew it was going to take hard work and dedication.  I also know that at any point I could undo all my hard work, and this is a lifetime commitment to staying on the path.  The most important exercise in my regimen is that of self-awareness.  It doesn't matter how many squats I do, how long I spin for, or how much weight I lift.  If I'm not aware of myself and everything I'm doing, I will fail.  I've already seen how bad behavior affects me.  What's important is that I learn from it and commit to not repeating mistakes.

In the last year I have lost 122 pounds and many inches, but what I have gained is much more impressive.  I have gained FREEDOM.  Freedom from twice-daily corticosteroid inhalations.  Freedom from constant joint pain.  Freedom from chronic fatigue.  Freedom from self-loathing.  Freedom from self-consciousness as I walk through the grocery store.  Freedom from chest pain and shortness of breath and soaking sweat from the smallest exertion. The list is endless.

To count all the ways my life has changed for the better would take far more time and space than I have to spare right now, but if there's one thing I can say with unwavering confidence it's that I have ZERO regrets.  The surgery came with side effects.  I can't drink carbonation anymore, which means I had to give up Pepsi and beer, two things I really, REALLY love and really, REALLY miss.  I can't really eat bread or pasta anymore.  Potatoes, a food I once consumed in obscene amounts (hey, I'm Irish), are something I have to enjoy in extreme moderation.  I have to be careful not to eat too soon before bed or I'll wake up choking when everything backs up after I lie down.  When I go out to eat I have to eat really slowly or I'll be done well before everyone else, which is awkward.  There are many modifications and concessions I've had to make. But there is absolutely nothing that I have experienced in the past year that has ever made me stop and question my decision.  Nothing has ever made me regret having the surgery.  Even the pain afterward, the recovery time, all that goddamn JELLO...I'd do it all again.  In a heartbeat.  Because nothing trumps how I feel now.  Forget about how I look.  I FEEL incredible.

For the first time in my life, I feel strong inside and out.  I feel confident.  I feel healthy.  I wake up in the morning and I don't feel like I'm 80.  I sleep better.  I breathe better.  Those were all expected benefits.  There was other incidental stuff I'd looked forward to - fitting into smaller sized clothes and being able to go nuts at thrift stores (and believe me, I have) and being able to zip up boots over my calves even over pants, for example - and that has all happened.  Then there were the unexpected pluses that I hadn't even taken into consideration.

I smile all the time.  Other people have remarked on this, too.  "You're so happy all the time," they say. And I am. I'm happy to be healthy.  I'm happy to be alive.  My future looks bright. I'm in a relationship with a great guy and I just landed a new job in my chosen career.  Things are falling into place, and it's about damn time.

Things are also very weird. Men look at me.  Everywhere I go.  It's not something I'm used to.  My friend Carla once told me that I turned heads, but I never saw it.  Now I do.  And it's strange and kind of uncomfortable.  I should be like, "yeah, I'm hot and you should be so lucky to get the time of day from me."  But I'm more like, "uh...could you please not eye-fuck me so hard?  You're making me feel weird."  I'm not used to being attractive, and part of me resents the fact that I'm only considered attractive to strangers now that I'm smaller.   It kind of pisses me off, really.

And then there's this exceptionally weird thing I'm experiencing, and that's...portability.  My 6' tall, 210-pound athletic boyfriend has no problem just picking me up and carrying me around.  It's very, very strange, and it makes me realize why my cats put up such a fuss when I do that to them.  In some contexts it can be fun, but most of the time it's unpleasant and I'm like, "put me DOWN!"

So my life is way different one year after my surgery, and in many ways it's far better than I'd imagined.  Having the immense support of my incredible friends and family has helped immeasurably as well. I've had the most amazing cheering section, and it's both uplifting and humbling.

There are so many things I want to talk about, and I will get to them in greater detail in later posts.  Right now I know you're all waiting for the stats and photos, so without further ado, I give you...*drumroll please*...

3/31/13    5/19/13    7/10/13    10/11/13    1/12/14   4/10/14

Starting weight on 3/31/13 (start of pre-op diet): 259.8
Surgery Day weight on 4/10/13: 244.2
Current weight: 4/10/14: 137.0
Total weight lost: 122.8
Goal weight: 135
Pounds to goal: 2-ish but whatever.  I'm happy here.

This is the last you'll see of those polka dot pants.  I had to fold and roll the waistband to keep them from falling down (hence the weird bulge at my waist in that last photo).  And no, my boobs did not get bigger, but I've taken to wearing a push-up bra since they deflated.  LOL.

Thank you to all my loyal readers and friends for your support over the last year.  I will continue to blog, because this ain't over by a long shot.  I may have gotten this far and reached my goal, but this is a lifelong commitment.  Blogging helps me sort it all out, keeps me accountable, and gives me an outlet for the weirdness.  So please keep reading, and I promise I will keep posting!

Love you all!!! <3