How I lost 100 pounds…

37

Posted by Candy | Posted in Misc | Posted on 02-12-2011

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So, this is a hard post to write (and one I’m not sure anyone will actually read all of – it’s really ridiculously long and mainly for me). This is one of those things that when people ask “what would you do if you were brave” you write this down. I have no idea why it’s hard, but it is. I think it’s because I’m afraid of people thinking this was easy. It’s not. The decision to do what I did was hard and took many years. The decision to be open with it… well, it’s hard too. I’ve actually been working on this post for a few weeks and told myself when the scale registered 100 total lost, I’d publish it… so here goes…

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So, this is a long and rambling post… get some coffee…

Short answer: I bust my ass with exercise, I eat a lot less, I work on my mental issues surrounding food and I had weight loss surgery in June.

Now, for those that want to the real (and quite long) story…

I said when I started this whole journey that I wasn’t going to share. It was a personal thing and no one’s business. People are just so judgmental that the idea of letting people into my weight issues was hard.

See, here’s the problem. When you are overweight and share your struggles with others, you hear things like “oh, just eat less and exercise more, it worked for me!” I kind of want to use my well-oiled sarcasm and say “OH EM GEE, I never thought of that and no one ever told me. Thank you SO much for that insight.” Of course, those are the folks that would probably take it all serious and give me their diet plan of rabbit food and 4-hour-per-day workouts.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that I’m fat (no, really! I know it’s hard to tell sometimes!). I’ve been overweight/obese since before Kindergarten. My counselor can tell you it has to do with my childhood (hey, mom, I’m blaming you! *laughing*) or impulse control or just plain genetics. I believe it has to do with all three myself, but the bottom line is that I’ve struggled for over 30 years with this issue.

It should also come as no surprise that while my weight issues have prevented me from doing some things, I’ve also never felt that overly self-consciousness. I’ve always kind of felt like this is who I am and you can love me or you can go away, but I’ve always believed that I’m a good person and, honestly, I do blame mom for that one. That woman instilled in all of us a “can do” and “love yourself” attitude. If I’m being honest, she’s probably the reason I’m successful in business and in my personal life today.

So, I’ve lost 100 pounds since June. Exactly. As of today. 100 pounds. I’ve done it mostly quietly, but once you hit a certain point, people start noticing and asking questions. Or they notice, but are too scared to ask (what if they’re wrong). It’s actually been kind of amusing for me to watch them. Especially since I finally bought new clothes, they’ll stop and look at me and want to say something but you can actually SEE them decide to not say anything. *laughing*

… and if they do ask and I say “yes, I have lost a good bit of weight”, they’ll invariably ask how. And this is where the hard part comes. You see, I’m one of those people that believes in authenticity. Sometimes to my own detriment. I figure that you can like me or not. It’s up to you, but this is who I am. I also have been known to over-share at times. One of my friends once said that I “live out loud” and I think that’s probably accurate.

As I said, I wasn’t going to be open and honest at first, but I found that as people asked that question, it was hard to not answer it completely honestly. I mean, us overweight folks have tried and tried and tried. Do I lie and say “oh, it was totally Richard Simmons” and then they feel inadequate for not being able to do it themselves or… do I be honest and say “I had weight loss surgery” and risk them informing me that I took the easy way out? Do I then feel compelled to defend my choice?

Perhaps I over-think this stuff?

So, what I have been doing is telling the ultimate truth. On June 21, 2011, I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG). Since then, I’ve been making sure to eat the right things and exercise and change my thoughts about food and what it means to me. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and if anyone tells you it’s the easy way out, they are frankly full of shit. The real story is a little more complicated than that of course, but that’s the bottom line.

The longer story is that about 8 years ago, shortly after Cassie was born, I started looking at gastric bypass, but I really hated the idea of them rearranging my intestines. I looked at the band, but there’s so many chances for complications, I never really considered that one. I’d seen people struggle with the dumping issues and everything that comes with these surgeries and I’d spent half of my life on a diet. I had pretty much decided that I had to do something else, but bypass wasn’t it. I went back on a diet (or 20). A few years ago, I decided to look into it again and came across a newer procedure called the Gastric Sleeve. It was “new” as a stand alone procedure, but had been part of another one for a long time. There was also a lot of research about gastrectomies in general. People have had parts of their stomachs removed for various reasons throughout history (cancer, etc). Oh wait. Yes, I did just say REMOVED. I have had about 75-85% of my stomach taken out. Just removed. Gone. That was it. No rerouting, no implants.

Nightline did a great story on this particular weight loss surgery, you can see it on Hulu. I identify with Holly’s story and I’m taking my kids to Disney in June, darn it! (Warning, it shows surgery but it’s a very cool piece.)

Anyway, in classic Candy fashion, I researched it to death. Everything I read pointed to Dr. Ganta. He seemed to be THE guy in Austin for the sleeve and bariatric surgeries in general. So, off I went to one of his seminars. VERY nice guy, soft spoken, but he knew his stuff. I knew he was the right surgeon. Ah! But the insurance wouldn’t cover it. I didn’t have the cash so I decided I would keep trying it on my own, make some changes and come back when I had the funds.

So, off I went to find a personal trainer and get into some sort of shape (apparently round is not the right shape – I KNOW, right!). I found Chrissy over at Libra Fitness, who has been fabulous! I started having lower back issues more often, so I found Diane Shigley over at Advanced Chiropractic, she keeps me pain free.

Earlier this year, we got new insurance and I was hoping it would be covered, but knew that the time was right. I had so many people on “Team Candy” (and yes, I do actually consider them all part of my team – they are always supportive and there for me) that I knew it was now or never. The insurance didn’t cover it, but after a short talk with Tom, we decided to just use credit and get it done. I’ll be paying it off for a few years, but I’d rather be paying it off and losing weight than sitting there doing nothing. It was time.

In March, I met with Dr. Ganta for a consult, went to my primary doctor (who was not supportive, so I ditched her after the surgery – shout out to new fabulous Dr. Alicia Grossman), got all the tests done that they required. I decided that the one piece I was missing out was the mental aspects. I mean, I’m paying some guy to cut me open and take out a large portion of a vital organ. That’s gotta screw with your head. So, I found Lynn Zipoy who quickly has become one of my favorite people.

… and on June 7th, I started the preop diet (which sucked). Surgery was June 21. It was HARD. The recovery wasn’t too bad. It was all done laparoscopically, but I had some pretty nasty abdominal muscle pain from where they cut through.

So, I’ve lost 100 pounds. I have 100 more to go where I’ll be at my “well, what does that look like” weight. According to the charts, I should lose about 35 more after that to be within “normal” ranges, but I’m going to see where that total of 200 lost looks like. Yes. I needed to lose 235 pounds. It seems incredible to me that I was carrying around 100 pounds on my body just six months ago. OR that I’m still carrying around an extra 100+.

I also have this little voice in the back of my head (that bitch needs to shut up) that keeps wondering if I’ll keep it off “this time”. I can. I have a great team. I mention all these people above that were kind of part of this whole thing, but please know that I didn’t forget about the biggest team members. That’s my wonderful loving husband, Tom, and our two kids. All have been nothing but fabulous from listening to me talk through the decision to do it, to holding my hand while I cried wondering why I did it, to sharing all the victories through this first half of the journey, to sharing a plate of fajitas with me when we go out so I don’t have to deal with leftovers. I also have a group of about 15 friends (yes, I’m very lucky, we’re all very close) that know and have been NOTHING but fabulous and supportive.

This second half will be harder than the first, but I’m ready. I’m sure I will still be trying to get the last pounds off in a year, heck probably even in two years. But it’s about the journey, not the destination. I’m 36 years old, I’m not 18. I’m never going to have the body of an 18 year old.

So, if you have a question, ask in the comments – or even email me (I have resources and another blog that I’ve posted on as I went along this crazy ride) – and I’ll answer, but these are the usual questions I get asked:

1. You were always kind of a foodie, do you miss eating food? — nope, I still enjoy frou-frou food sometimes. I just eat less of it. In fact, I can eat anything I want, including dessert. I try not to right now while I’m losing so I only indulge sporadically. I also am avoiding white carbs for the same reason.

2. My aunt’s cousin from my dog’s side of the family had bypass and cannot eat anything but baby food now, aren’t you worried about that? — Not really, I can eat 2-6 oz of food at a time now. 2 oz of dense meat (like steak or chicken), a little more if it’s fish or veggies. Also, I have less food restrictions and issue as those that have had bypass or the band. There’s no food that’s truly “off limits”, but I do make smarter choices now.

3. Wow, 4 oz on average? Aren’t you hungry? — That’s kind of cool the part! When they removed my stomach, they removed most of the stretchy part of the stomach, leaving a sleeve. Ghrelin, which is the hunger hormone is stored in that stretchy part… so I really don’t get that gnawing hunger I used to have. I do get kind of a nagging “you need to eat” feeling now and then, but there are times when I honestly forget to eat at all. Sounds good, but it’s not because I have certain protein requirements that I have to meet. It’s a challenge sometimes!

4. What about going bald? I’ve heard you lose your hair when you have surgery. — That’s one of the down sides. I will not go bald, but my hair has thinned a lot. It’s a big part of the reason that I had it cut shorter. It’s not really noticable, but yes, my hair is falling out a good clip. It should stop soon.

5. Wow, so you’ll be at your goal in another five months? — not exactly, I lost a LOT in the beginning and (as is normal), it’s slowed down to 2-3 pounds per week on average. I lose about 10 pounds per month. So, that’s perfectly normal and will slow down even more as time goes by. This surgery is NOT a cure. It’s a tool that I have to use and use properly in order to lose the weight. It takes time. I have time. It took me 36 years to get so overweight, I’m okay with it taking a few years for me to lose it.

6. So, what about loose skin? That aunt’s cousin’s said she had a lot of nasty gross skin. — yeah, this is true and yes, it’s not exactly attractive. BUT here’s my theory on it. I can walk around severely obese and unhealthy or I can walk around with loose flapping skin and be healthy and more fit. Kind of a no brainer, right? And yes, I will likely look at plastic surgery to help because it’s going to be a very big problem for me when I reach goal. It is kind of fun to flap my arms at my husband though. Tom has been amazing and we’ve had nothing but fun with the whole thing (and he’s been there for the bad times too!)

7. You don’t dump or whatever it’s called? — Nope, but I have had two times now when I’ve eaten too fast or too much (you know, that mindless eating we all do from time to time – lesson learned!) and it gets stuck or it something happens and I spend an hour or two in severe pain. It stinks, but it’s temporary and a reminder that I have to pay attention. It’s also one of the few times I can remember regretting the surgery – I’m fine afterwards, but in that moment, it’s pretty bad. Note: This differs from person to person, some people never have any problems, others have to be even more careful than I am.

8. How do I get information about the surgery? I might be interested. — If you’re in Austin, contact me and I’ll tell you about the support groups and my doctor. Otherwise, follow the couple of links I posted above. There’s also great information (and some not so great) at http://www.obesityhelp.com - I will tell you that while it really is the best decision I’ve made, it was one that *I* had to be ready for. This would not have worked for me two years ago. It had to be the right time. It’s a huge commitment on your part and not something to just decide to do one day. It doesn’t work like that.

And the cool parts of this whole thing:

1. Not worrying about if I’ll fit in a restaurant booth or chairs with arms

2. Not feeling like my life revolves around food

3. My daughter sitting ON my lap (cuz I have one now!)

4. Not buying the biggest size in the plus size clothing store

5. Jeans. Real Jeans. Just sayin’

6. Finding out how much I enjoy walking and exercising now that I can move

7. Having so much more energy to play with the kids and do the things I want/need to do

8. Being able to wear my grandmother’s wedding rings (they are too loose now for my ring finger, actually)

9. Not needing a seat belt extender for airplane trips

10. Noticing I have a collarbone!

11. Within one week, I was off ALL of my high blood pressure medications. Serious.

12. Walking 5Ks and riding a bike (I had not ridden a bike in over TWENTY years)

13. And so so so much more…

So, there you have it. I’m glad to have finally “come out of the surgery closet”. I’m lucky to have so many friends, family and various associations that I KNOW will be supportive. I kind of think that writing this post was actually harder than deciding to get the surgery in the first place. I’m proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished – deciding to change your life is really tough but I did it and I feel amazing (I’m doing 5ks here people!) – Just as an aside too, my life doesn’t revolve around my weight or surgery so please, when we see each other, let’s talk about other stuff too — AND if we are ever out and you’re not that hungry, know I’m your girl to split some fajitas ;)

I am too chicken to share before and after photos yet (I still do have quite a ways to go, I know… this is my hang up still), BUT I will take that first step and share this one. This is my lap in the car. I used to need a seat belt extension. My stomach also used to also barely graze the steering wheel. The steering wheel has been THE coolest measurement for how far I’ve come because it’s something I can see and measure and notice every day. If you’re on Facebook, you can see photos from 6 months to a year ago. HUGE difference – also my video blog (I’ll do a new one next week, the last one on there is from 2-3 months ago).

Comments (37)

Candy, thank you for sharing your story. You are brave, courageous and funny. I look forward to following your continued journey.

Woohoo! Congratulations to you for the hard work & for sharing this….you look fabulous, Candy!!!

You are an inspiration! You Can do Anything!

You inspired me before the surgery but the hard work you have put into this, just takes it to an all new level. I’m proud of you, I’m thrilled FOR you. And I know how scary a “coming out of the closet” post can be to write, as I just wrote mine a few months ago. But wow, isn’t it freeing once you hit “post”? Love you girl!! You deserve all the happiness in the world!

Candy, You rock girl! I already had my coffee and I read every word. I am thrilled for you. 100 pounds lost is amazing! I have struggled with weight all my life (the weight is winning right now) so I know how hard it is.
Sounds like you have taken all the right steps, carefully researched everything and most importantly, have a wonderful support team of professionals, family and friends. I applaud you for sharing your journey and I can’t wait to see you in July, in Dallas.

Keep up the good work!
I’m proud to call you friend-on FB and beyond!

Debbie Winchester

Debb

Candy, you totally rock!
I’ll let Mr. Rogers express the rest of my message:
http://pbskids.org/rogers/songLyricsImProudOfYou.html
Carla Wilson´s last [type] ..Computer data backups – a necessity for business and home

*laughing* Carla, this is awesome! I love this! Thanks, babe!

Thanks, Deb! I’m proud to call you a friend too! xoxo

Thanks, sweetie. It was scary, but at a certain point, you just kinda figure “eh, whatever”.

I can absolutely do anything… just watch me!

Thanks for looking, Paula! And thank you, I’m feeling even more fabulous!

Thanks, Nora… it’s been a crazy ride, but I’m loving it!

Candy, thank you so very much for sharing your story. I have a couple of friends who have had weight loss surgery, and I KNOW it is not easy at all and certainly do not think it is an easy way out, because it is not!! I am so proud of you and love you! Just wish I could see the fab you in April.

Rock on Candy …
Terry Green´s last [type] ..Get More Publicity Today – Become One of the Top Bloggers Online

Congrats Candy! You are an inspiration to me!!
Becki Noles´s last [type] ..Is It Possible To Teach Yourself Self Discipline?

Thanks, Terry. It’s so NOT easy. Worth it, but not easy. Me too, but the powers-that-be decided on a bad date for us bookkeepers. LOL! Are you going on the cruise at Accelerate Live? http://www.accelerate-live.com – VALeague is going to sponsor again in 2012 I think. We had a blast… and dude, it’s a cruise!

Thanks, Becki!

Candy, CONGRATULATIONS!! I am crying right now with happiness for you. Anytime I see updates on facebook about you out exercising or doing your 5k’s I am so excited for you. I have had HUGE issues with food and body image my whole life that I just broke through early this spring on my own. I feel so good. So exhilarated. The really hard thing for me was that anytime I would start to open up to someone about my struggles they would always laugh and say, “Whatever – you’re skinny,” and not listen to my aching heart at all. So anyway – I am rejoicing right along side of you. You are doing great things and will continue to do great things! You are AWESOME!!

Fat, skinny, anywhere in between… I relate to food issues. I think women (men too, but women seem to have bigger ones) beat ourselves up so much when it comes to food and weight and so many other things in our lives. I hate when people do things like that “oh, your struggle doesn’t matter because it’s not real”… it’s real to you. It’s real to me. THAT is what matters. Thanks, Cheri. We miss you, should totally get together sometime. xoxo

I’m so proud of you! :) I think this is a good step. Start doing a “photo progress” folder… don’t think of it as before and after… just June, July, August, Sept. etc.

Consider (for the next 100) having Tom take a photo of you in workout clothes (I know, I know) in the same place in your house… it will be cool. I wish I had done that this past year. :(

Thanks JoAnne – I have a sort of progress pic, I should start doing it monthly, but ugh. It took me up until 2 weeks ago to even LOOK at my before photo. I, clearly, still have issues. LOL

Candy,
A 100 lbs is amazing. Thanks for sharing your story, it isn’t the easiest thing to share but I am glad that you did. Of course your sense of humor made it a good read.

Thanks, Patrick. It’s been tough and amazing and crazy with moments of “what the heck did I sign up for” thrown in :) Thanks!

Way to go, Candy!!! I’m so proud of you … and a little jealous. I have wanted something like this for YEARS, and my insurance won’t cover it because I don’t have the “medical problems” that would make them sit up and take notice, and my reasoning with them about “why don’t we do it BEFORE I develop these issues…” fall on deaf ears.

I think you look spectacular and I look forward to hearing more of your journey.

Hi Dana – you might want to visit with a surgeon anyway. Sometimes you have issues you may not be aware of that will convince the insurance company (sleep apnea is one that gets tossed around a lot). My insurance had a 100% exclusion. No way, no how. I ended up financing it with the doctor’s office. I figured it was still less than the last car I purchased and at a certain point, my health and well being was worth it. Again, it is NOT for everyone. I get that, just giving you some info, if you want more or other links, email me or toss me a FB message.

Candy, I am so very happy for you. I know how much better you feel, and I can see the joy on your face each time I see you and in photos. You are a true inspiration and I love you for sharing your story. You rock!!!!

Wow Candy! I am in awe of your accomplishment! Keep up the good work. I subscribe to a blog called Runs for Cookies. She has lost 125 lbs and just had the plastic surgery. Her blog has been a very interesting read. You might be interested in reading it.

Thanks so much for sharing your story!

Thanks, Jac… I do feel so much better and I’m loving life 100%… I still have a ways to go, but I’m loving the ride to get there!

I will definitely look that up, Nancy! Many thanks!

Candy – I’ve always thought you were impressive, from first getting connected with you years ago via twitter… Impressive for your business smarts, but impressive also because you are so authentic in all you do…Thanks for sharing this part of your life with us. Power and love to you as you continue your awesome journey!

Thanks, Michelle. Authenticity is something I’ve always felt is important in my life. It just feels icky if I’m not being totally honest or if I”m only telling a half truth. It’s been an amazing journey and I also felt compelled to share it with others. Obesity and being overweight is such a tough topic. Us women are just not wired to deal with all the “stuff” surrounding it.

Candy, well done! Here’s to you and your life of authenticity! Thank you for letting me be a part of this journey!

Thanks, Lynn… and thanks for letting me ramble on about this whole thing ;)

Thank you Candy for posting this – I know it will help others out there! It’s sad that things like this have such a stigma in society that we feel like we have to talk around it instead of dealing with it directly. You are so lucky to have the friends and family that you do who have always supported and loved you. Thank you for sharing your story – you are an inspiration!

Thanks, Cindy. It is hard. I think as more and more people come out and say “this is what I did and why” it makes it easier. Obesity is a huge problem, especially here in the US. Oh, the food is a major issue, but I think we also have so many more hang ups about food than we ever had before. Plus, ya know, that whole food being readily available thing – unless back when we had to go hunt or forage for it ;) Thanks, I’m very lucky! That is definitely not lost on me tonight.

Candy, Even though we just ‘virtually’ met I feel as if we were meant to meet. Thank you for sharing your story. I too have been struggling with making the decision for years now, however, I still haven’t. At least not yet.

I agree with your friend ‘Live Out Loud’… life is too short and who cares what others say. You are healthier and happier for you and your family and that is all that matters. Congratulations on your journey and I look forward to being one of your supporters.

Aileen ((HUGS)) I don’t agree with people that say having surgery is the answer, to be honest. Being READY to have surgery is the answer. It won’t work until you are truly committed to making an entire lifestyle change. It’s hard. I still struggle every day. It’s not about food… it’s an addiction. One I have to work at to conquer.

Such a beautiful, and inspirational post. Thank you for sharing your heart and experience here. I really resonated with so much that you wrote. My mom put me on my first diet when I was two, she would only let me eat green beans. ❤ H. Ps. Love what you wrote about: “that bitch needs to shut up.” Haha. The Inner Critic can be so mean and needs to be told off.
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