About Gastric Girl

My photo
Tomball, TX, United States
My name is Laurie. I'm 34 and I live in a suburb of Houston, TX. My life isn't super exciting or ultra dramatic, but I love it! My blogs are just a peek into my life as I know it. I'm quite random and have an opinion on everything, but I love everyone's aspect on things, even if I disagree. The world would be quite boring if not! :-)


Guest Post: Christie - Not the Quick Fix

Good morning sunshines!   I had one more guest post that I wanted to share, even though I'm back!   Enjoy!!

A little about me... I'm 27 years old, married, and live in Colorado. I had the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy 2 months ago and I am down about 50 pounds. To learn more about me and my type of surgery, please feel free to visit my blog.

What I would like to address today is dealing with the Quick Fix Mentality. What I mean by this is that unfortunately many non-ops, even those who have struggled with weight their entire lives, may tend to look down on WLS patients as those who have "taken the easy way out", gone for the "quick fix", or even, "given up." Do you feel angry just thinking about it? I know I do... partially at myself because I used to feel the exact same way.

I came across a new blog today that I absolutely love. A great woman who has overcome a lot and lost her weight "on her own" and has been maintaining the loss. We all know how rare this is and how difficult it is to do. I read many of her posts and started to really like this blogger I didn't know... started to feel like she was a new friend (as bloggers and blog readers alike, I'm sure you can understand this feeling!) Then I read her about me page and she said something along the lines of any of you can do it, just use your determination - and not for a quick fix like weight loss surgery.

My heart sank a little. Shouldn't she understand? Shouldn't people who have gone through The Struggle of Weight be supportive of others in the same boat, no matter the method they use to try and overcome it? Being a blogger myself I knew that the best route, rather than hastily leaving a comment about being offended, would be to email her privately, share a little of my story, and hopefully plant a seed of understanding so that she would be more open to the journey a WLS patient goes through. Since I found her blog through another WLS patient to begin with, I'm sure I am not the only one reading and not the only one who would feel a little disheartened.

I was pleasantly surprised by a lovely response she wrote to me. She explained that she knew she had it in her, hadn't done everything she could, and choosing surgery would have been the quick fix for HER. But that she knows it is a hard journey as well with lots of work involved and she doesn't look down on it. She even plans to change her wording in her About Me section. All in all it was a great exchange.

I thought I would share a bit of what I had written to her, in hopes that it may encourage others to stand up for themselves with critical friends, family members, blog readers, whoever. Remember above all that your journey is yours alone and it is no one else's place to judge.


While I totally respect that for you going to a weight loss surgery seminar was a reality check and from that point on you did it yourself, I was a bit offended that you said "use your determination, and not on quick fix weight loss surgeries..." etc. I can understand where you are coming from. I have been in the weight-loss-blogosphere for going on 10 years. I used to never get involved with bloggers who had done weight loss surgery, since I was trying to do it on my own, because I thought we were in totally different worlds. I used to think it was a quick fix too. I considered LAP band surgery in 2003 at age 20, but decided against it because I thought to myself "that's too drastic, and I can do this on my own."

I have always been willing to put in the work, like you say, you have to do it. I've counted calories (or points) religiously, exercised 3-6 days a week regularly, lost 40-45 lbs every time that I really got serious about it for 6 months or so. One component that was always missing for me was the psychological factor and working on the emotional eating. In the end, this always sucked me back in because when I would hit a LONG plateau (at one point up to 6 months with no weight change after losing 45 lbs), the emotional factor would get me. I'd give up. I'd feel bad about myself and I'd eat those feelings.

7 years later at age 27, I found myself with major back problems (degenerative disc disease, 3 herniated discs in my thoracic spine, 2 in my lumbar spine and arthritis in my sacrum/tailbone.)... knee problems, arthritis, plantar fasciitis (severe foot pain), and really bad hip problems caused by the arthritis in my sacrum. I had lost and gained weight so many times. It was not as though I never tried and gave it my all. I had done major efforts for 6 months to a year at a time at least 10 times since my teenage years. Last November I started therapy with someone who specializes in eating disorders and I FINALLY started digging in to the deeper stuff. I was making a ton of progress with eating intuitively, not eating emotionally, self care, really getting my whole life together. Yet I was still gaining weight. I thought ok, I have the food under much more control, now I need to get exercising again. I walked, I did the Wii, I went to the gym. But every week something would start hurting worse. My hips and back especially. My back got so bad I couldn't stand up some days.

I went back to my doctor and said WHAT ELSE can I do for my back? I want to get my exercise and it keeps stopping me. He told me we had been through this before, I'd done a year of physical therapy, etc... and basically I had two choices - back surgery (which would only help short term anyway, since my condition is degenerative) or weight loss surgery. I'm only 27 and really don't want to have to have back surgery yet.... I've watched my mom have countless back surgeries (I inherited these probs from her) even though she never had a weight problem... it's scary. I also responded poorly to his suggestion to have weight loss surgery. BUT I AM TRYING TO DO THIS MYSELF... I'm in therapy... I'm eating right... and I'm trying to get my exercise! I am putting in the effort, why would you suggest surgery to me which is for people who aren't willing to work at it?

He explained to me it is just the opposite ~ he usually suggests it to the people he knows WILL work at it... because the surgery is just a tool, and it only works if the person USES it correctly, and uses it long term. He said he knows I can do this, and that without the help of surgery, I would most likely not get anywhere because of the amount of pain I was having with my various conditions. I cried in his office, and I hated him a little, but as I thought about it for a few days, I saw his point.

I went to a seminar and the surgeon said the same thing - it's a tool. You have to use it. You still have to make all the lifestyle changes you would be making without surgery if you want it to LAST and be successful long term. This made sense to me. Many people have WLS and gain all of their weight back. I was always secretly afraid (back when I was looking into it at age 20) that would be me. But now, having been through 6 months of therapy working on emotional eating and my deeper issues, knowing I have what it takes to put in the work, etc... I thought... I can do this. This can really help me. I can put in the work but actually get somewhere instead of getting stuck.

On May 20th I had the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. 85% of my stomach was removed. No intestinal bypass or anything else is done... this was the right option for me. They say the rate of loss is slower with this type of surgery, but I have blown their minds with almost 50 pounds lost in 2 months... surpassing even my husband, who is both a man and who started out 30 pounds heavier than me. He was at 37 lbs at 6 weeks, which I was at by 4 weeks. He should be flying by me but here I am. Proving to the world that I will work hard at this.

Even though I still have pain, it's so much better. My back and hips are still bothering me a lot, but my knee and foot pain is mostly gone, and my back pain is more manageable. I've been working out about 4-6 days per week since the 4th day after surgery. With this surgery I can eat much more than a bypass patient (2-3oz from day one... now I'm at about 3-4 oz usually)... and have no "help" from malabsorbtion... so if I don't make the right dietary choices, I'm screwed. But I work hard to make high protein, low carb, reasonable fat choices. And I kind of LOVE it! I love that I can be full on so little, making the right choices has actually been easy for me, and I am loving having less pain and being able to get my workouts, because I'm actually really enjoying them.

I know a few things you may be thinking. 1) I'm 2 months out, so of course I'm doing well, how about in 3 years? Well, I don't know, but I am certainly determined, working hard, and hoping for the best. 2) You may be thinking okay, surgery sounds ok for me based on what I've said (or maybe you're not, who knows), but most surgery people are slackers looking for the easy way out. Just think though that everyone has a personal story and without knowing it, how can you know? and 3) this has been way too long winded. So I'll wrap this up.

I just wanted to share my story in hopes you would change your opinion about WLS being the easy way out or "quick fix." I certainly don't approach it as that in my own life and I see it as a blessing and a tool to aid me in accomplishing my goals and improving my health. I work hard and I'm sure many other WLS patients do too. While it is FABULOUS that you have been able to do this on your own and maintain the loss, many...MOST.. people can't. Statistics recently say only 2% are able to lose and maintain more than a 100 lb weight loss even with proper diet, exercise, meds AND therapy combined. You have beaten the odds but I just hope that you won't look down on those of us who have not been able to. Some people think I gave up... but giving up would have been eating myself into oblivion. Instead I took ahold of my life and I'm trying to change my fate.

Stand up for yourself when people criticize your choice to have surgery. I think it is important to stress that the only way to have "given up" would have been to stop trying. By having surgery you made a decision to improve your health and your life. Be proud of that. Be proud of yourselves.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post... just what I needed to hear today. :)

Janine said...

Fantastic guest post Laurie...this is exactly the message that needs to be out in the wider community about WLS.

Heather said...

I completely agree! What a great way to put it. I've had to fight this battle myself, but I don't think I did it as eloquently as you. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story and encouraging us to stand up for what is best for us!

*Christie* said...

Glad you all liked it :) :)