Saturday, November 13, 2010

3 Years Ago Today

Photo by Terry King, Action Leaders
The 3rd year of my post-RNY life had a rocky start but it has ended much better.

And today as I reflect on my journey in the last 3 years – technically it’s been 4.5 years since I made the decision – I can honestly say that I’m happy with where I am (most days) and that I’m a happier and healthier person for what weight loss surgery has done for me.

My longtime readers will remember that when I hit the 2 year mark I was at the height of my frustration with my weight loss – or lack thereof. I was stuck and I couldn’t get unstuck. I was following the rules and working as hard as I could to lose the last 30 pounds but my body was not cooperating. I asked my medical team for help – the surgeon’s office didn’t do much, my PCP ran a bunch of tests and got frustrated because he couldn’t figure it out and sent me to an endocrinologist. The endocrinologist drama turned into a fiasco of diet pills, accusations of non-compliance and emotional upheaval. Eventually, I had to come to terms with the fact that my body is boss and I didn’t have much control over what it wanted to do. It became a battle of emotional bullheadedness against emotional acceptance. Acceptance finally won.

Today I weigh 195.6 – a weight that’s been steadily in the same 5 pound range since my one year anniversary. The number fluctuates regularly between 194 and 198 which gives me a total weight loss of about 105 pounds. Sometimes the scale kisses the 190 mark for a day or two and sometimes it kisses the 200 mark (which freaks me out more than I care to admit). But always it settles back into its normal range of about 195-ish. Essentially I am still stuck. I can’t seem to lose or gain weight, no matter how good or bad I behave. I guess in a way that’s good, right? But technically it’s pretty bad because bad behavior is not punished by higher numbers on the scale… but neither is good behavior. So I have to “behave” for behavior’s sake, not for any type of reward or positive reinforcement. Yeah, that part is really hard and kinda sucks. However, I’ve come to accept this scale silliness and I’ve moved beyond worrying about it too much.

So often when we’re newly post-op (within the first 2 years) we hear veterans tell us how easy we have it – how much harder life is when we get to maintenance and have to live the rest of our lives like normal people. We buck those comments because we think things will forever be like they are in the first couple years after surgery. But now, sitting at the 3 year mark I’m beginning to understand what they meant. Life gets harder. Making the right choices all the time relies on my own will to be healthy rather than the surgery dictating my behavior. I have misbehaved more in the past 6 months than I have in the previous 2.5 years and it tends to screw with your head when you realize you can’t be perfect all the time. But the difference between misbehaving now vs. misbehaving before WLS is that your brain screams at you when you make poor choices – the key is to listen to it more often than you tune it out.

Summer 2007 vs Summer 2009

Maintenance is damn hard people! Establish really good and really strong healthy habits in the first year post-op and they will carry you through for life.

The Comprehensive Holistic Wellness Plan has been with me since I was about 4 months post-op. I set specific goals for all areas of my life – my physical, spiritual, financial, emotional, vocational and intellectual health.

  • I’m still mostly centered on the intellectual and vocational goals and will be until I finish school – I should graduate with my Associates degree this year, then I can work toward my Bachelors – and do a switcheroo with my career path. 
  • My financial health is on the right track too. I’ve been debt-free for a couple years now (let’s not talk about student loans just yet) and in the past year I’ve bumped up my efforts in saving for retirement. 
  • My spiritual health is taking off these days - I’ve started attending a new church and I’ve fallen in love with the radio station K-Love (it’s national; check it out in your area). 
  • I continue to work on my emotional health day by day and I feel that I’m a stronger person for all the work I do in that area. 
  • If any of my life goals have suffered in this past year it’s been my physical health. I haven’t exercised as much as have in the past because I’ve been tied to this computer writing “The Book” and I’ve picked up a few bad eating habits that I’m working hard to nip in the bud. But otherwise I’m moving along and I’m happy with where I am right now with my goals in life.

Speaking of The Book – it’s not done yet. I set a goal to have the book released for sale on my anniversary date. Obviously you don’t see a for-sale sign posted anywhere today. Ha!. But it’s close to completion. I could easily have released it on time, but it wouldn’t have been up to the quality that I wanted, so I had to decide to hold off for a bit longer. I'm in final editing and formatting phase and in the next week or so I'll have copies ready for my "self-appointed editors" to review before final changes are made and it's sent off to the publisher. Soon folks… very very soon!

One thing that surprises me every day in my post-op life is this blog. Seriously! Who would have thought that when I wrote that first blog post almost 4.5 years ago proclaiming to the world that I was taking charge of my health that I’d still have stuff to talk about all these years later. And the notebook I carry with me everywhere has a long list of article ideas that I still need to write – so I can’t imagine I’ll run out of material anytime soon. Plus you guys keep sending me ideas every day in the form of your questions, suggestions or comments. I’m grateful to you, my readers – my friends, for sticking with me through my ramblings.

So what will this third year look like for me? I hope that I can say I’ve maintained my weight loss again next year – this is the typical time in most post-op lives when the regain starts to appear and I pray I have the ability to stay the course and keep my weight in the maintenance range. In the coming months I will get my minor misbehavior under control (poor eating choices sometimes, skipping vitamins sometimes, lack of regular exercise) and get back to a place where I’m happy with the healthy choices I’m making. I am looking forward to graduating from college this coming year (although that only means I'll be ready to start working on my bachelors degree, but at least I'll have one graduation under my belt, right?). I’m looking forward to a new career path in graphic design- whether as a day job or as a freelance job. I’m looking forward to the release of my book and can’t wait to hear feedback from my readers about it.

Life is good and it just keeps getting better and better. Happy Anniversary to me!


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