“Oh, now I get it.” That’s what I said when I first started learning this information… and then apparently I ‘forgot’ everything I’d learned because I gained all my weight back! Ugggh.
I FAILED BUT I DIDN’T QUIT!
Anyone else ever had that feeling?
A lot of people have asked me how I lost so much weight (150 pounds) TWICE … and why I’m on the journey to lose 150 pounds AGAIN! Third times the charm, as they say. It’s impossible to tell a big story in the space of 300 words, (my average post size), but if you really care, read on. By the end, you might just find yourself in shock and awe (doesn’t everyone’s life cause a bit of shock and awe?).
If you read all the way to the end, you’ll see what a bumpy ride it’s been starting with
- the fat-a-tarian lifestyle;
- to losing 150 pounds;
- to falling in love with an emotionally abusive man and regaining 150 pounds;
- to failed gastric bypass surgery;
- to alcoholism as a direct result of the gastric bypass surgery;
- to learning to live healthy and losing weight AGAIN!
Whew! Hang on babycakes — I told you it would be a bumpy ride!
My hope is, you might just relate to much of my story (if not the specific details). That’s why I’m willing to open up and share. On the other hand, if you can’t relate to it, I hope you’ll view my life (and my mistakes) with as much compassion as I would view yours. Please understand I did the best I could at any given moment. Having said that, I acknowledge I made some HUGE mistakes! Read on, my friend, if you care.
In an effort to serve; I have tried to share my story with you with as much honesty and transparency as can be allowed in less than 3,956 words. If you want more, I’ll need to write a book… LOL.
In the Beginning …
I grew up a fat-a-tarian (think steak slathered in butter; rich desserts; mayonnaise on my vegetables, etc). I only knew fat-a-tarians. I fell in love with a fat-a-tarian. I grew fat as a fat-a-tarian. I got sick as a fat-a-tarian.
- I’d seen my fat-a-tarian father laying on a gurney at the mortuary after dying a slow death from heart disease. He had his first major heart attack in his early 50’s and he lived the next seven years of his life with just 30% heart function. This meant that he lived with an oxygen tank and could no longer walk more than a few feet at a time. When he went out, he had to use one of those motorized scooters (in his 50’s!). He died in his 50’s; frail and sick. I adored my father and this was a devastating loss! Sadly, I didn’t learn.
- I’d seen my fat-a-tarian step-father being taken away in an ambulance after the vessels in his head exploded quite out of the blue. Contrary to my fat-a-tarian father’s health, we never knew my fat-a-tarian step-father was in danger. He was slender and appeared healthy, but he wasn’t. He had animal fat built up in his blood vessels and one day, his blood was working so hard to push through the built-up animal fat, that the vessels literally just exploded in his head. He was dead in a matter of hours. He too was barely 50! I didn’t learn.
- I’d seen my fat-a-tarian grandfather suffer a debilitating stroke that left him paralyzed on half of his body. He was only in his 50’s when he had his stroke and he weighed over 300 pounds. His life (what was left of it) was never the same. Not even close! He died. I didn’t learn.
- I’d seen my fat-a-tarian uncle die in his 50’s of adult onset diabetes. I didn’t learn.
- I’d seen my thin fat-a-tarian aunt die in her 50’s of cancer. I didn’t learn.
I Am in My 50’s and I’m Too Frickin’ Young to Die!
I was ignorant, “reasonably healthy”, and nowhere near 50!
Yes, I was a FAT fat-a-tarian with fat glugging through my bloodstream, but I didn’t have any illnesses… yet.
I wasn’t looking for a way to get healthy. I just wanted to get thin. Ever felt that way?
The Quest to Be Thin!
I did just about anything to get thin, and yet, I never got thin! I’d lose weight; gain weight; lose weight; gain weight; lose weight; gain more weight; lose a little; gain a lot; get discouraged; gain more; get depressed; gain even more!
By this point, when I’d go on a diet, I’d lose very little so I’d take even more drastic measures to lose weight… nothing worked for long.
For all my efforts, all I really achieved was a messed up metabolism and a body that weighed over 300 pounds.
I woke up hating myself each and every day because I was fat and out of control.
Let me say that again because maybe someone reading this is feeling the same way and I want to wake you up before it’s too late!
“I woke up hating myself every single day! Hating myself for being fat!”
What I’ve learned is that when we hate ourselves, we’re in no position to lose weight. We don’t take care of the things we hate! If you’ve ever felt like I’ve felt, here’s what we both need to do…
- Forgive ourselves for what we’ve already done to our bodies. It’s not too late to get healthy. When we know better, we CAN do better. It might take multiple tries and “do-over’s”, but we CAN do better!
- Stop hating ourselves! We don’t deserve it. God doesn’t create “no junk”! Our fat, and all the experiences we’ve had because of it, has created the persons we are today. Those of us who have struggled tend to be compassionate and loving. We love everyone else far more than we love ourselves, am I right? Well knock it off!
- We need to start loving ourselves! Love ourselves first and foremost! If we won’t love us, we’ll never believe anyone else really does! We are beautiful. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Our bodies have carried us this far. We may not have taken care of them, but our pudgy thighs still get us from this place to that. Our hearts are still beating. Our eyes are still seeing. Maybe things don’t work as well as they once did, but they work. We are survivors! We have survived the fat-a-tarian lifestyle and the diet mentality. Now it’s time to learn more so that we can be more, do more, have more, live more, love more!
The Journey from Fat to Fit
My journey from fat to fit is still a work in process. In fact, as I write this, I’m back to 150 pounds overweight and I’m beginning my journey all over again. The big difference this time is –I’m doing it with friends. I’m inviting you in. I’m tired of hiding my shame in plain sight and hoping that if I don’t acknowledge it, no one will really notice. People notice!
But before I ended up back where I am now — 150 pounds overweight — I spent many years trying to get thin, only to end up really, really fat. I tried diet after diet, but I was never willing to truly change my lifestyle. I always fell back into my old comfortable habits because I was afraid. Afraid of giving up the foods I loved. Afraid of failure. Afraid of being thin? I don’t know about that, but I do know I was discouraged and I’d just about given up.
I lost 150 pounds and I thought it was forever!
I’d heard of Dr. John McDougall so I decided to take his classes in Santa Rosa, California, and I started learning what it means to be healthy. I learned that I would lose my weight as a by-product of getting healthy.
I learned that it could be delicious to eat a plant based diet. Most importantly I saw video’s of the consequences of the fat-a-tarian lifestyle that I had been living.
- I saw solid fat being pulled from the arteries leading to the heart.
- I saw a liver so covered with fat that a doctor couldn’t tell exactly where it was.
- I saw a heart so covered (and invaded) with fat that the doctor just sewed the patient back up. He could do nothing to save her..
- I saw cancer invaded bodies.
- I saw bones affected by osteoporosis.
- I saw the ravages of the fat-a-tarian diet. It didn’t matter whether the patient was man or woman; rich or poor; black, white, or beautifully brown. And it didn’t matter whether the flesh was steak, hamburger, chicken or fish. I witnessed person after person destroyed by the fat-a-tarian lifestyle!
In contrast to that, Dr. McDougall and his wonderful wife Mary, finished each class with a buffet of vegetarian dishes. I tasted the reality of what it was like to eat real food and it was DELICIOUS!
I Finally Connected the Dots! Eat Well… Live Well!
Dr. McDougall believes in a very low-fat, plant based diet. In fact, he believes in keeping the fat content under 8% per meal. These are the principles I followed to lose over 150 pounds.
Now let me just say here — McDougall is a plant based diet — however, I never gave meat up completely. I know that Dr. McDougall would prefer everyone eat an extremely low fat, plant based diet, but when I took his course several years ago, he was completely cognizant that most of the people in his class wouldn’t be joining the vegetarian lifestyle on a full-time basis. He taught me that all steps in the right direction are better steps than I took yesterday and they would all begin to add up to a healthier me. And they did … until I went way off course.
At that time, I ate many more plant based meals (ie; vegetarian) than I ever thought I would, but I did still use some meats and I’ll be including those recipes on this blog for those of you who aren’t ready to go completely vegetarian or vegan at this time (or maybe ever).
Like Dr. McDougall, I believe ALL steps in the right direction are important. If you want to go for a completely plant based diet — bravo! I do think it’s a healthy lifestyle — but I wanted to be real with you in this blog — and you deserve to know that you can make tremendous progress in your health by cutting waaaayyy down on the amount of fats in your diet and waaaayyy down on the amount of animal products in your diet.
Whether you give up meat completely or not is a personal choice. Why not start with meatless breakfast and move on from there. If that’s too tough, do it two days a week — or three — you get to decide — but I encourage you to make it a conscientious choice, not just a happenstance situation.
Having said that — let me just say I like to eat — so believe me when I say I didn’t give up flavor when I adopted my quasi-McDougall program. Quite the contrary. I found food to be more delicious, more exciting, more rewarding than I’d ever experienced before. I’d never really like to cook before. Prior to McDougall, I far preferred fast food meals and high fat restaurants.
McDougall opened my eyes to a whole new world. A world of healthy, low fat, delicious, energizing, food! But I’m jumping ahead a bit. My lifestyle changes didn’t start with the food. It started by understanding how my body (and your body) is dying with every bite of fatty food we put in our mouths.
It’s time, my friend, that you and I embrace the truth of how our bodies work.
When WE know better, WE CAN do better! I believe that about me and I believe that about you!
We’re frickin’ heros! Look how far we’ve come already!
Look at what we’ve lived through… lived with… lived in… and we’re still here; seeking truth! You’re my hero and I’m gonna try to be yours!
Here are some videos by Dr. Michael Klaper that I think you’ll find enlightening. Again, remember, this journey is about progress, not perfection — thank God for that! The videos share important information about how our bodies work and how proper nutrition is the most important element of living a healthy lifestyle.
Be prepared. There isn’t anything gory or gruesome about these videos — but you will see clogged arteries and more ravages of the fat-a-tarian lifestyle that you’ve probably been living — and I went back to. Buck up little buck-a-roo — it’s time to face the truth about what we’ve been doing to ourselves. When we know better — we can do better. Whether we do or not is completely up to us — and I certainly put this info on the shelf long enough to gain all my weight back — but I’m going to rely on it again to lose all my weight for the last time!
If you’re not ready to become a vegetarian — don’t be “skerrrred”. It’s okay. You don’t ever have to! Watch the videos anyway — it will help you — I PROMISE!
Okay, here’s the rest of the story…
I lived the McDougall low-fat, non-vegetarian, lifestyle and over the course of about two years, I lost over 150 pounds. I was exercising every day and loving it. I finally felt good about myself… or so I thought.
Remember when I said that if you don’t love yourself, you’ll never truly believe that anyone else could love you? Well those are words to remember, my friend.
You see, you can lose your weight, look great, even have men who ignored you before, desperately want to date you; but if you don’t love yourself, you will inevitably pick a man who will prove to you that you are unlovable.
That’s what I did.
It looked like love … But it didn’t feel like love… Love doesn’t hurt!
I fell in love with a very over-weight man who really wanted to lose the weight. He adored me. He surprised me at work with flowers in the middle of the day. He’d grab me and dance with me in the grocery store if he heard a love song on the speakers. He showered me with poems. He loved everything about me… until…
I fell in love with him. Once he had me, he set out to remake me. I didn’t see it then, but I now believe he was afraid he’d lose me, so he set out to change me.
Remember, I didn’t yet love myself, so it was easy for me to believe he was just trying to help me become better.
I thought I would help him learn to live healthy, instead, piece by piece. year by year, inch by inch, he tore me down until I didn’t know which way was up.
I gained all of my weight back and lest you think I’m blaming him, I’m not. As I’ve said, when you don’t love yourself, you don’t believe anyone else can love you either. Not loving me enough to protect me was MY responsibility!
Prior to meeting “the man”, my nightmare Svengali, I’d done lots of work on my physicality. I’d lost the weight. I’d educated myself on nutrition and exercise and I felt good about all of that, but I hadn’t healed the hurts that allowed me to gain all that weight in the first place.
And so there I was again, nearly 300 pounds and feeling discouraged. I’d spent seven years with a man who was emotionally abusive. Every time I found the courage to walk away, he’d turn on the charm and I’d find myself right back in his arms. After all, who else was going to love this unlovable 300 pound woman?
Gastric Bypass Surgery
Well, it seemed like a good idea to me at the time. I’d tried losing weight the healthy way. I’d done it, in fact, but I’d gained it all back. Gastric bypass surgery was just coming into it’s own and I saw it as the “magic” answer and boy oh boy did I need a little magic in my life.
I felt hopeless. At that time, I was still in and out of that abusive relationship. I felt worse about myself than I ever had before. I was a failure.
I knew better; I did better; and I STILL ended up fat!
Now even “the man” didn’t want me. He told me I was the first “fat woman” he’d ever dated, so I should feel honored. Keep in mind this statement came from a 300+ pound man! And keep in mind, I wasn’t fat when he met me! None the less, I was devastated.
I went under the knife. No insurance. $27,000 out of my pocket. But hopeful that this would be the answer.
I wanted to lose the weight once and for all and I was willing to do just about anything to accomplish that. I knew that if I had a stomach that could hold no more than one egg, I’d finally be able to lose my weight forever.
Hold Onto Your Seats… The Ride is About to Get Bumpy!
First of all, gastric bypass surgery is probably one of the worst things you could ever do to your body. Yes, you’ll lose weight, but if I knew then what I know now, I’d never do it!
- You’ll lose weight, but you also get foaming of the mouth (it took over a year for that charming side effect to leave)
- You’ll lose the weight so quickly that you’ll be left with sagging skin and droopy boobs (yes men, you too!) MASSIVE exercise will help, but it WILL NOT prevent it!
- Your 1 egg stomach can and will stretch back to it’s original dimensions
- Your body will be deplete of vitamins because of the amount of intestines they remove. Some surgeries are more drastic than others.
- You’ll live with what they call “dumping”. When you eat sugars or fats, your body will feel like it’s having a heart attack. You’ll get lethargic and need to lay down. You’ll eat them anyway.
Pretty pleasant, right? But that’s not the worst of it!
Alcoholism As a Result of Gastric Bypass Surgery!
When I had my surgery, they warned me that alcohol could go through my system very quickly and that some people feel tipsy with as little as one drink. No worries. I hardly ever drank alcohol.
They never mentioned alcoholism as a by-product of gastric bypass surgery. I don’t believe they’d made that connection yet, or if they had, they certainly weren’t talking about it.
Well guess what? Within two years of my surgery, I was an alcoholic. I went from drinking alcohol maybe three or four times a year, to being addicted to it. It hit me so fast and furious that I didn’t even know what had happened to me. I accomplished in ten months what it takes others 10 years to accomplish! I couldn’t believe that I was an alcoholic! Me? Really? SHIAT!
How did this happen to me, I wondered. I saw it as just another sign of my weakness. I couldn’t control my food, and now I couldn’t control my alcohol.
It never dawned on me that up to the age of 36 years, I’d never been much of a drinker, and that within two years of my gastric bypass surgery, I was a full-time, all out alcoholic!
And I stayed an alcoholic for 9 years! Alcohol had a huge grip on me and I couldn’t seem to shake it loose.
Now research has shown that alcohol metabolizes differently in a person that’s had gastric bypass surgery; compared to a “normal” person. It not only gets into our system more quickly, but it has a much larger effect on the brain; similar to cocaine or meth. I’ve never used drugs, but now I fully understand the hold they can have on a person.
To make things worse, (like I needed anything to be worse), I gained nearly 200 pounds during those drinking years — even though I’d had gastric bypass surgery. I drank wine, which is just about pure sugar! So yes — my weight was back to where it had started — plus some — for the SECOND TIME — only now I was an alcoholic to boot!
Thank God for Oprah!
One day, I was sitting in my living room, drinking my second bottle of wine, watching Oprah and I heard the most amazing thing. The guests (including singer, Carnie Wilson) had all had gastric bypass surgery and all of them had (or were still) struggling with alcohol addiction.
It turns out that 30% of patients who have gastric bypass surgery develop an alcohol addiction, where one was never present before. I was one of the unfortunate 30% and finally I had an explanation about why I became a sudden alcoholic. You have no idea how much comfort that gave me.
If you’re interested, in this topic, as I was, here are some results I found when I did a Goggle search.
I was still an alcoholic, but now knowing that it wasn’t my fault, it gave me the courage to get healthy. It wasn’t an easy road, but it was a road, and I’m happy to say, I’ve been sober now for SEVEN YEARS as I write this in 2013!
The Journey From Fat to Fit… One Healthy Choice at a Time!
As I said, I’m a work in progress. Unfortunately, I’m back to the beginning — and yet not — because I’ve learned a lot on the roads I’ve already walked. I certainly don’t have the whole thing figured out and what worked with my 35 year old, pre-gastric bypass body, may not work as well with my now 55 year old body.
I’m going to take what I’ve learned in the past, try to improve upon it by what I’m learning now, and lose this weight for the last time!
I’m not here to judge you or tell you what you must do. Your journey is your journey, just as my journey is mine.
These days my journey isn’t about perfection, it’s about progress. I’ve been here, there and everywhere and there are only a few things I know for sure…
- It ain’t over until it’s over. As long as I don’t give up, I have not failed.
- Each moment is an opportunity to make a healthy choice.
- I must love myself and know I am worthy of being loved.
- If I can help others to understand what healthy living is and isn’t, then my journey is not in vain.
- Be not ashamed. It is simply my journey. The good, the bad, and the ugly have molded me into the beautiful, forgiving, compassionate, loving woman I am today.
- If my journey disappoints you, it’s none of my business. It’s my journey.
- If my journey encourages you, I am blessed.
Losing It With Friends in A Healthy Kitchen!
What about you? Wanna join me/us on this journey? C’mon, let’s be friends … it begins with telling us some of ‘your truths’. If you were gonna ‘play in our playground’ and lose ‘It’ with friends, what’s the ‘It’ you’d most want to lose? Why not leave a comment below to tell us a bit about you! We really DO want to know you.
Here’s to Peace, Love, ‘Getting Over It’ and New Friendships!