I cannot remember when I first began to struggle with being overweight. I recall being a ‘bigger-boned’ girl in late junior high and high school. I developed quicker than some of my peers, and at times, I remember being ashamed of this. I look back at high school photos, and while I definitely wasn’t the smallest one in my circle of friends, I seemed pretty average.
It wasn’t until college or sometime after that, I noticed my weight increasing. My pants started becoming too small and dresses no longer fit my hips. I was still shrugging it off as ‘the freshman 20’ long after my freshman year. Let’s be honest, long after college was over. I bought larger clothes to accommodate my growing body, thinking it was no big deal. I kept telling myself that I would lose the weight at some point.
In my mid-20s, I tried everything to commit to losing weight. I tried signing up for gyms, personal trainers, Weight Watchers, and fad diets. Nothing seemed to stick. For whatever reason, I did not have the motivation. Looking back, I think this contributed to my growing low self-esteem and self-worth. I wasn’t ready to put in the hard work, but deep inside, I was grossly ashamed of the body I had.
In 2010, I started looking into weight loss surgery. At the time, I had grown to my largest weight to date, almost 250 lbs. I couldn’t believe how much weight I had put on over the years. After visiting a weight loss center in Chicago, we finally decided that I would have the lap-band put in. I had the procedure in July 2010. I felt this was going to be a life-changing surgery for me. I would easily lose weight with the band’s assistance, and I would be able to feel good about myself again.
And for a while, I did. Weight just seemed to melt off of me initially. I was on a strict liquids diet for a few weeks and transitioned to purees, and in those first three months, I lost a whopping 50 lbs. After those first 50 lbs, it became a little more complicated.
I failed to realize that although the band was an aid in losing weight, I still needed to put in the work. I needed to work out, change my food habits, and ultimately change my perception of what being healthy meant.
That first year was tough. I came to realize that my relationship with food was so poor. I was so used to eating what I wanted, when I wanted, and changing that was the most challenging part for me. But, as we approached the summer of 2012, one-year post-op, I had dropped 115 lbs.
I had never felt so great about myself and my body in my entire life. I also decided that the surgery left me with one thing I was still uncomfortable with; my breasts. I decided to have a breast reduction and lift in July 2011. After I recovered from this surgery, I felt on top of the world. I felt like I finally felt comfortable in my own skin.
Maintaining that weight loss was difficult as well. And I also struggled with how the lap-band worked. There were times that I would go in to get the lap-band adjusted (you need to have fluid put into the band at times to constrict it to get maximum benefit), and I wouldn’t even be able to drink water. I remember being embarrassed more times than not when I would go into restaurants because I would never know what would not agree with my lap-band. If something I ate did not agree with my lap-band, I would spend the rest of my time in the restroom.
As years passed, my weight started to creep up again. I got married and became pregnant with my older daughter. I shockingly did not have an issue with weight gain with any of my pregnancies because I think I started the pregnancies overweight, to begin with. So I was grateful I did not put on immense weight with either of them. However, at the same time, I didn’t lose any weight post-pregnancy either.
When I became pregnant with twins, I knew something was off about my lap-band. It felt like it had shifted and was becoming uncomfortable. I buried this concern deep as I knew I could not have the band removed while pregnant, or if I could, I wasn’t willing to take that risk.
Once the twins were born, I decided I needed to have the band removed. It no longer served its purpose, and I knew it had to have shifted. In December 2020, I had that band removed, and I certainly didn’t look back. I honestly wish I had had it removed long ago.
It had done its job early on, but as the years passed, I realized I needed to change my habits entirely. The band just gave me the easy fix.
Once the band was out, I maintained a decent weight for a while. I was only six months postpartum with the twins and joined a moms’ fitness group. This helped me gain strength, lose weight, boost my self-confidence, and meet some moms! During 2021, I made some pretty amazing strides with my food choices and fitness, and I even ran my first 5k!
As it did when I was in college, life has unfortunately taken over, and I am no longer following the strict food regimen and exercise routine. The weight has again mounted to an uncomfortable level, and this year, I have finally realized IT’S TIME. Time to make permanent changes in my life to be healthy for myself and my family, who deserve me at my utmost best.