In 2010, I was preparing to turn the big 4-0 and I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life. Being an overweight child, teen and adult, I had become accustomed to playing to role of the jolly, dependable, loyal fat girl, or for the politically correct term “full-figured” woman. But regardless of the term, there was nothing correct about me carrying anywhere from 50 to 150 pounds of excess weight. Acid reflux, arthritis, lower back pain, upper back pain, sleep apnea, intermittent menstrual cycle and constant body aches had become my constant companion. Persistent pain received more intimate time from me than most of my friendships and relationships.
So, one warm spring day in 2009 while listening to my doctor warn me for the umpteenth time about the risks of me being overweight, I decided that enough was definitely ENOUGH! It was time for me to finally get serious about losing weight and being healthy. “Fit, Fierce and Fabulous” became my new mantra and motivation. But how would I accomplish this after I lifetime on the weight loss rollercoaster? I opted to have the lap band weight loss surgery.
The Quick Fix Myth
Before the surgery, I primarily viewed food as my source of fun instead of fuel. It served as the routine choice of entertainment and relaxation that I shared with family, coworkers as well as friends. Prior to my lap band surgery, food functioned as my constant companion who did not reject, abandon, betray or lie to me. And on those occasions in which my mind was ambushed by taunting thoughts of experiencing the fear of disappointment, failure or even success in life, love and all things above food was that faithful travel partner as I scurried to an emotional land far, far away from reality.
Yet despite what most people believe, weight loss surgery is not a quick fix to conquer a lifetime of bad eating habits. Nor is it a guarantee that I would lose weight and keep it off. On the contrary, for me weight loss surgery has been the regulation that I needed to transform my dysfunctional relationship that I had with food.
My decision to lose weight and develop a healthy lifestyle began with surgery, but it did not end there. I quickly discovered that lasting success was going to manifest through much more than a lap-band. But like any weight loss plan, my results are going to remain primarily due to my consistent dedication to educate myself about healthy eating choices, implement a realistic exercise program and develop a supportive professional and passionate network of people whose purpose was to help me to achieve weight loss success. Now, would you call that a quick fix?
Changing From the Outside In
We are accustomed to being told that genuine change occurs from the inside out. In like manner, when I tell some people that I had weight loss surgery, their response usually resembles this – “Congratulations. But remember if you don’t change from the inside out you will gain the weight back. You have to love yourself internally before you can love yourself externally”.
I admit that this is sound advice. In the appropriate context I firmly agree with that fact that inner thoughts will always affect outward actions. And had I not reached my breaking point with being overweight, I would have applied this philosophy to losing weight like I had done so many years before. Ironically, after my surgery as I began to lose pounds outwardly, loads of inner weight started to drop as well.
Understand that I have always been a cutting-edge catalyst for inward-outward conversion. I still am the person that most people seek for words of inner empowerment, inspiration and motivation in order for the outer transformation to be achieved. However, topping the scales at 364 pounds and wearing sizes 28/30 or 3XL – (yes you read right, I still can’t believe it myself!), before my weight loss surgery created a serious dilemma between what I actually believed and what I could physically achieve for myself.
For example, my love for travel evolved into nearby cities that I could drive to instead of exciting adventures that required flying because on a plane I would always need a seat belt extension. Flying also made traveling a discomfort for those who sat next to me because my fat overflowed into their personal space. In addition, going to a concert, a movie, a sporting event or even church was the same embarrassing experience. As a result, my outward confinements catered to my emotional isolation and self-imposed professional stagnation.
For instance, when people would invite me places, about 80% of the time because I wanted to avoid any uncomfortable scenarios that being overweight brought, I would either not attend the event or wither into the background during the festivities. Also, I absolutely hated taking photographs. I would block my face if someone tried to snap a picture. Or if they begged me to take a picture, I would either not smile or give a forced fake smile. But since losing weight, the camera has become my friend instead of my frenemy.
In addition, my obesity dissuaded me from pursuing addition training opportunities to groom myself to apply for higher level decision making positions. I’ve always had a great work ethic as well as being a leader. However, my weight kept me imprisoned to being content, almost relieved to lead from the background. My obesity prompted me to avoid pursuing advancement opportunities or leadership roles.
Nevertheless, the theme remains constant carrying around the excess pounds weighed me down in more ways than I ever realized. Realistically I could not escape the fact that the physical restrictions which I continuously encountered were having serious self-imposing limitations on me emotionally, professionally and spiritually. But currently being 105 pounds lighter and 10 clothing sizes smaller (and counting) I feel freer every single day and it is all because I am continuously changing from the outside in.
Losing Big and Loving It
Some skeptics believe that people who have weight loss surgery are lazy, faithless overeaters who want a quick fix because they refuse to eat healthy or exercise. But as I stated earlier, weight loss surgery is not a quick solution. I must tell you that this is the most health conscious, dedicated and consistent that I have ever been in my life when it pertains to my weight.
From monitoring my portions, making the appropriate food selections for my body type and metabolism to even exercising at least 4-5 times per week (which is a miracle in itself), for the first time in my life I can confidently say that I am elated about losing weight. I realize that losing weight is not a short-term look but a lasting lifestyle. This transformation would have never been possible had I not decided the correct weight loss path for me.
If you are struggling with your weight or have lost faith in your ability to be successful at dropping those excess pounds, then I encourage you to not to give up. Find the weight loss path that compliments your commitment level as well as lifestyle. Refuse to allow past failures, people or doubts distract you from pursuing weight loss success. When you do these things, then I promise you will begin to lose the weight and love the journey. I know I am!