I have gained and lost so much weight over the past fifteen years, it is ridiculous. I have sizes ranging from eight to twenty-eight in my closet. Even more irksome is the fact that I have always "carried weight well"- my cute did not diminish regardless of shirt size. (Yes, I'm modest as well) I've always been able to work out, I've cooked healthy for years only indulging on special occasions and I had no discernible health problems. Add to that the fact that I've always been able to attract and date men of all calibers, backgrounds and income brackets and overall I was okay on the weight roller coaster.
Fast forward to last summer, I felt - for lack of a better word - crappy. Not to overshare but my periods were coming whenever they wanted to, I was stressed, gaining weight rapidly, I was fatigued but could not sleep and my energy was on zero. But I was faking it because I was dating a younger man, my family was expecting me to be the Michele they know and love, and my friends, fans and followers were expecting me to be fabulous out there on the road.
Finally I hit the wall. I dragged my tired behinds to my doctor and threw myself at her mercy. "Fix me!" I implored. She tested me for everything, weighed me (I was appalled) and checked my blood pressure. Whoa. And then she sent me to the gynecologist. The next day, they asked me to come in and meet with them both. Ruh-roh.
My general practicioner went first. I was borderline diabetic, I was entering high blood pressure range and due to the genetic jackpot my parents gifted me with, it was only going to get worse. Long and short of it, the weight had to come off with some expediency. I needed to lose 50 pounds in a heartbeat, 75 pounds overall. The only problem was... the gynecologist stepped in - I was diagnosed with PCOS - polycystic ovary syndrome. A nifty little "woman problem" that affects (among other things) your ability to lose weight. It was going to be an uphill battle but we were sure we could do it.
Fast forward two and a half months and I had lost 25 pounds. Awesome, I worked harder. And 18 pounds came back. Welcome to weight struggle when you body fights against you. I would lose 6 pounds and four would come back. Finally, we decided that drastic measures had to be taken. Time was the enemy. I decided to explore bariatric surgery. Let me pause here and make a few public service announcements:
- Only consider bariatric surgery when ALL else has failed. It's no joke. Not to be played with. Did I mentioned no joke?
- Your insurance may not cover the surgery. Mine (thanks Aetna) did not. And I had to come out of pocket to the tune of $16,000 + vitamins, supplements, food scale, protein shakes, etc. Cost more than my first car.
- Pick your bariatric surgeon with care. The first guy I went to (Dr. Kim) was a complete jerk who told me to quit eating fried chicken and chocolate cake every day. For that he charged me $250 and said he looked forward to seeing me again. And then he called me Marsha. Yeah no. Do not go to a factory where they don't get to know anything about you and give less than a damn. I ended up going to Dr. Provost and loved everyone there.
- Some people in your life will not understand why you are having the surgery and how it will affect you. But that's a whole other post.
I decided on gastric sleeve. Gastric bypass seemed too extreme and the lap band meant something foreign was rattling around inside me forever? No thank you. With the sleeve, they basically go in and slice off most of your stomach leaving you with a little sleeve. I had the surgery on April 20th. Yes it hurt. If I had it to do it over again, I'm not sure if I would. Recovery was a nightmare. I'm just now (almost two months later) getting my energy back. But then again, in two and a half months - I've lost 52 pounds. Twenty seven more to go.
The day after surgery you are free of diabetes, they're not sure why. My blood pressure is back to normal. My PCOS is still there but not as severe. I eat four bites of food three times a day and I'm full. I work out about four times a week. My appetite has changed. Some flavors I no longer like and for some reason I like to drink things that are very, very hot or ice cold. But the joy of zipping up jeans from the "maybe one day, I'll get back into those" section of my closet? Priceless.
Overall, I would not wish this journey on anyone. My best advice to those of you in your twenties and early thirties is to get your fitness on now while your metabolism still likes you and all the genetic conditions are still playing nice. In the meantime, I'll be the one over here whining about yoga, how my abs hate me and why I now believe Snickers bars are the devil.
Anyway BougieLand, feel free to share your weight struggles. Even if you are just trying to lose five pounds to get back down to a size 4, I promise not to reach through and smack you with a keyboard. Struggles are struggles. Questions, comments, insights? Do share...