Old habits die hard. I thought my weight problem would be solved when I had the Rue-N-Y gastric bypass in October 2001. I weighed in at 400 pounds the morning of surgery. The surgery itself was easy. I believed it saved my life. In 18 months I lost a total of 140 pounds, but I never lost any more weight.
Still weighing 260 pounds, I knew I had to lose a lot more weight, but the bypass was no longer doing it for me. Soon my weight started to slowly climb. The more I tried to lose weight, the more I gained.
I tried all sorts of diets to lose the pounds I had gained. I tried the famous low carb diet and that seemed to pack more weight onto me, because my body thought it was in starvation mode.
Like a lot of people who have the bypass, I thought I should lose all my excess weight by the bypass alone. I didn’t realize that within the 18 month window our altered gut adapts to the changes.
Many of us push the envelope; test the waters, so to speak. We are told to never eat sweets again. We are compliant for several months because we feel we will get deathly sick if we eat a slice of cake or pie. For months I thought I might die if I ate anything sweet. In the beginning I did get nauseated if I tried to eat anything sweet, but the nausea didn’t last long. As time went by I could eat chocolate bars and not be sick at all. I had set myself up for failure.
Since last summer I gained 30 pounds, and gained 20 pounds prior to that over a period of 2 years, so in approximately 3 years I gained 50 pounds because I have bad habits. I have literally had to change how I think. I believe anyone with the problem of obesity has to change how they think about themselves and about food.
I am happy to say that now I am losing the weight I gained at the rate of two pounds a day. I went back to eating the child portions that I would feed a three year old, which was all my stomach could hold in the beginning. Sometimes I drink a protein shake rather than eating, but I limit myself to two small meals a day and one medium salad per day.
My thinking has totally changed. I think of food as something that I need to live, but I don’t need to wear it. I have had to change my thinking that everything I put into my mouth ends up in my body at the cellular level. It is up to me if it stays there or is used up by my body.
I have incorporated exercise into my daily routine. I strive to walk 10,000 steps per day. I have not yet reached that, but I have come close some days. I split the walking up to several times per day to keep my thyroid working for me to burn up what I ingest. I am now taking in less than 900 calories per day, which is what I was doing when I first had the surgery.
At the time of surgery my stomach was the size of my thumb. I was instructed to stretch it out over time to hold 4 ounces of food. Over time I have been able to stretch my stomach to hold 8 ounces and more at times, depending on how dense the food is. My problem was not so much that I ate a lot at one time, it was that I ate about 12 times per day because I was always hungry.
The bypass surgery constructs the stomach to be a sort of funnel, it does not hold the food anymore, so I constantly felt hungry, thus gaining the weight back. To stop this process I had to change my thinking. The hunger pangs I felt always drove me to the refrigerator, but now I see those pangs as something wonderful. I envision fat leaving my body molecule by molecule every night when I have those pangs of hunger. Now I do not call them pangs; I call that sensation freedom pangs. The weight will take care of itself now, and I will stop losing when my calorie and energy needs balance out. If I have not met my goal by that time, I will have to adjust my exercise to keep burning the fat. For me it was a matter of changing my mind to save my life.