Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I'm on a journey...still...I walk very slowly

If you read my blog regularly, you know I've been on quite a journey lately.  I'm not quite fitting in with the fat acceptance groups because I've had weight loss surgery.  I don't quite fit in with some of the weight loss surgery groups because I'm trying to embrace Health At Every Size instead of rabidly trying to re-lose my re-gain.  Turns out, I'm not alone.  There are a lot of weight loss surgery patients in the same boat. 

The diet industry fails at an astronomical rate -- reportedly 95-97% of people who lose weight will regain it within two years -- and supposedly the average weight loss surgery patient gains back about half of their weight by ten years out.  So I appear to be a success story!  I'm sitting here all fat and sad, but I beat the odds!  I lost 165 pounds over nine years ago and I have "only" gained 65 pounds back, which means I've maintained 60% of my weight loss.  I'm a winner!!   (Well, I guess I still have another six or seven months before I hit the ten year mark to gain more weight so I can just be an average patient...)

So why am I sitting here all sad and defeated?  Because I'm still trying to get through my thick skull that the number on the scale doesn't define my self-worth.  At over 300 pounds, I really only felt horrible about myself because everyone told me I should.  At 200 pounds, life was perfect.  Oh, except it wasn't.  And now at 250 pounds, I have more pain and more anxiety and am more depressed than I was at 350 pounds. 

I had created a group on Facebook where weight loss surgery patients can come and discuss their struggles and desire to find happiness with their own bodies without feeling judged that they took such extreme measures and still "failed."  Maybe we didn't fail.  Maybe the surgery failed us.  Or maybe we're doing just fine. 
Instead of seeing two happy people in this photo, I see my rolls

I had an incident during one of my in-person support group meetings where a member's husband got into an argument with me about statistics.  I told him there are not a lot of "good" statistics out there.  I hear the one I mentioned above...that some indeterminate number of patients keep off some indeterminate amount of weight at some random number of years out.  But I haven't found a ton of "good" studies to back it.  I feel the reason for that is that those selling this surgery don't want statistics out there.  Well, this guy's wife's doctor had quoted statistics to him.  Their hospital is also their insurance company.  To me, it's a bit of a conflict of interest.  Of course the doctor is going to quote positive statistics.  (PLUS, even keeping off half your weight IS a HUGE success when compared to the rest of the diet industry.)  Also, that hospital's program has only been in existence for eight or so years (when I started going to this support group ten years ago, this hospital/insurance company was sending all gastric bypass patients off-site for surgery).  Their statistics for their specific program might still be pretty positive because they don't have any patients over ten years out.  He was furious with me.  How dare I suggest their doctor is lying or quoting inflated numbers?!  Hey dude, I'm not suggesting anything other than this doctor is given a paycheck by a company that has a product to sell.  If there are multiple studies with varying degrees of success, of course you're going to choose the numbers that sound the best.  And if you think doctors all over the country aren't doing it too, well I've got a bridge for sale... 

And that brings me to my point...the diet industry, which includes weight loss surgery, rakes in BILLIONS of dollars per year.  They aren't selling you health.  They are selling you THE HOPE of a thinner body.  I am currently reading two books (because my ADD tells me reading two books at one time is a good idea).  One is called Fat and Furious.  It is about the mother-daughter relationship and how it leads to compulsive overeating.  The other is called Overcoming Overeating.  OO claims that in 2010, Marketdata Enterprises, Inc. estimated that the diet industry would bring in $68 billion.  In 2006, bariatric surgery showed profits of almost $4.5 billion.  I can only imagine what those numbers have grown to in 2013.  Telling people they're fat and offering them a way to lose weight is big business.  Yes, it benefits your doctor to tell you that weight loss surgery is going to better your life. 

Weight loss surgery certainly changed my life but it didn't fix it.  I never took anti-depressants or anxiety medications until AFTER I lost weight.  Sadly, I can't say, however, that even knowing what I do now and going through what I have, that wouldn't make that choice again.  Shoot, based on the standards now, I would probably even qualify for surgery again at this weight!  When I first had surgery, patients had to have at least 100 pounds to lose.  Now I meet pre-ops that I would have previously guessed were two months out from surgery.  Seems like having 60 pounds to lose is enough to amputate your stomach. 

Instead of seeing a girl who was blacking out, I think, look how skinny I am!
Anyway, I would never presume to tell anyone else that they should or should not have weight loss surgery.  Each person has to make their own decision.  I am also not suggesting that you not trust your doctor.  However, I believe your surgeon is an expert at cutting you open and not necessarily an expert on telling you how to be healthy after you leave the operating room.  I take everything said with a grain of salt and I like to do a little of my own digging around to make sure I also believe what I am being told. 

So, I am still on my journey of self-discovery regarding my health, weight, appearance and mental well-being.  I am counting down this final month before my foot surgery (also a by-product of weight loss surgery, thankyouverymuch).  By the time I am fully healed in October, it will have been a year of having my activity stifled due to pain and swelling.  I can't wait to get back on track and back to pole dancing like I used to! 


  1. You, oh lovely nemesis of my husband, are gorgeous inside and out.

    And you give some hope, that maybe someday I'll shed my worried and pole dance even with my klutzyness

    1. Thank you so much!!! I love having a nemesis. lol. And knock it off and get to a class! My friend teaches near you. Let me set you up. :)