A year ago, I was reorganized out of my management position with an HR Management Consulting firm in downtown San Francisco. Thereafter, I found myself using my body more than ever hauling things in and out of the garage for yard sales, selling my action figures at flea markets, and hawking my art at festivals. These activities required more physical work than I’ve done in years. It took the past year for my body to truly voice its displeasure. Joint pain, knee problems, muscle spasms and on-going and increasing issues got louder and louder until finally, at almost 48 years old, I am unable to ignore them.
I was a large woman living a sedentary adult life which revolved around my career as an office manager or administrator and included a lot of staring at the computer. Being heavy was annoying for as long as it took to walk from the BART train to the office. That, and when I went clothes shopping. Ironically, I grew up dancing so was svelte and in shape as a young adult, but as the weight went on, I exercised less and less. I had our daughter in 1997 and grew to my heaviest at that time. Then, I surpassed it, and at 43, I hit my heaviest at 340 pounds on this five foot four inch frame. Just a month and a half ago I was 318.
Near as I can figure, somehow, somewhere along the way, I managed to hit the “off” switch to my body awareness and ignored the signs of this imbalance. I knew I’d have to deal with my weight eventually. I wanted to. But I put it off repeatedly. There was stress at work, stress at home, and a million other reasons to put aside making myself healthier. I’d look in the mirror and focus on my face, and I avoided taking pictures for a very long time. Time went on, and my poor practices became habits.
Yet this cloud had a silver lining. Being out of work, gave me the gift of time. First, I decompressed. I tackled some things I’d wanted to do. Art things. Then, I slowed down and unraveled, put aside financial concerns and the drama that accompanies unemployment, and my stress slowly dissipated.
In this quiet, the universe began tossing messages at me. Yes, I’d considered weight loss surgery some time ago, but I was afraid of it. It seemed unapproachable. Then, Leslie’s niece, Tami, had “the sleeve” done. Leslie’s sister, too. They experienced different levels of success with their procedures. Despite some complications, Tami is down at least 100 pounds. I bumped into a woman at one of our yard sales who was very happy she had it done. And Lauren, one of the moms I’ve been scrapbooking with, has lost 100 pounds one year after her surgery, and she’s only a few weeks away from having her breasts reduced.
But why surgery?
I’ve tried dieting. I’ve joined Weight Watchers twice over the last two years and lost and regained the same twenty pounds twice. I’ve never been fond of the meetings, not unless the leader is very good at keeping it from becoming a bitch-fest, and even then I got tired of women piling heaps of self-loathing upon themselves for making mistakes. I’m not heavy because I hate myself, and I didn’t attend Weight Watchers meetings because I need psychoanalysis.
I’ve never been able to make the shift to a healthier lifestyle because dieting completely overwhelms me. I start with conviction, and then the day to day challenges kick in, and feeling overwhelmed with the struggle ahead, I end up caving in to my old habits. I need a tool that will remain firm even when my willpower doesn’t. I want to change my body’s chemistry so I can regain and maintain better eating habits for the rest of my life.
What I need is a complete reboot.
Now, we await word from the insurance company with an approval. Then, I get my surgery scheduled. In the meantime, I’ve stopped eating refined carbs and sugar, and am sticking with protein, veggies, and fruit. I’ve lost 15 pounds doing so over the last month and a half, and I haven’t started walking yet. I’ll do that when my body feels better. Leslie’s lost almost 20 pounds eating the same way I am. We know from experience that her body scars intensely, so bariatric surgery isn’t the answer for her. She’s got so much more will power and even more won’t power than I do. And, of course, we both have our daughter eye balling us like a hawk to ensure we don’t cheat even the tiniest bit.
We don’t want to disappoint her.