I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I gained weight from medications and found the food comforting when times got tough. I had health issues come and go. I watched my family members go through similar struggles and just assumed I was destined to be the same way.
Months before my last pregnancy, I found out I was Type 2 Diabetic. I started a medical diet program that worked around my increasing number of medications. My pregnancy was rough from start to finish. Strict diets, insulin shots, so much counting and stress. I still gained lots of weight. At delivery, I was 287 lbs.! I was 29 years old and almost 300 lbs. I felt shame; I felt ugly. My daughter was born early and rushed to the NICU. I found myself just snacking away and crying as I felt like a horrible mother, but I was also in denial that my diabetes would remain.
Three weeks after my emergency delivery, my mother-in-law was hospitalized. The doctors stated it was complications from her Type 2 Diabetes. She was still in her early 50’s. We drove out of state with our newborn on oxygen with us. We stayed a week and left after the doctors stated she was improving. Upon our return, we found our oldest cat (my therapy kitty) was starving himself from depression. He was 15 years old and was declining quickly. We immediately started working on improving his chances. There was so much stress and pain. I again ignored my eating knowledge and continued eating through my feelings. Within days of arriving home, we received the phone call that my mother-in-law had passed away due to her complications of diabetes. We were devastated. I was on the verge of a breakdown.
It didn’t end there for us; our kitty also took his last breath. Within the first two months of 2018, I had three traumatic events happen. I was terrified! I WAS LOST. I didn’t know what to do. I finally decided I wanted to live longer than the next 20 years. I wasn’t going to allow my diabetes to take me away from those I love. I restarted working with my doctors, the diets no longer helped, and I was exercising and exhausting myself.
After months of hardly any success, my doctor recommended weight loss surgery. I completed the seminar that summer. I worked with my doctors and insurance to complete all the necessary steps. I chose Dr. Rodrick McKinlay as my surgeon. His explanation made me feel comfortable with my decision. My starting weight before surgery was 249 lbs. in September 2019.
After my Gastric Bypass surgery, my diabetes didn’t change as I had hoped. I again felt defeated and lost. I wanted to cheat on my diet and just give up. I was still early in the process. Dr. McKinlay and his staff ensured I was supported and reminded me I needed to trust the process. I stuck to the “blue bible.” I researched different recipes. I found a new love of cooking and trying new foods, not because I knew it would taste great but because I knew it would FUEL my body. I started treating my body better.
Slowly I was off all medications. I reversed my Type 2 and hit my goal weight by my 10-month mark. I had cut out all bad foods, sodas, snacking, etc. I found it easier to watch my protein intake and measure my fuel in volume and not weight. I kept my portion size to the recommended size.
A year later (almost to the date), I had an extended panniculectomy. They removed 5 lbs. of loose skin from my midsection. I will not lie, that hurt me more than any of my children’s births! I healed much slower and started having fainting and dizzy spells. It turned out I had developed reactive hypoglycemia. My blood sugars would spike and then crash within 45 minutes of eating carbohydrates. I mean, I would almost pass out from eating bell peppers if I didn’t eat double the amount of protein with them. I had to learn a new fuel process. I had to add some small carbs back in. I struggled with self-image at that point. Fat brain is a real thing, and it takes time to heal. I felt ugly again.
I started daily affirmations, participating in the group chats, taking photos and only saying positive things about them. I went on two women’s retreats to learn to love myself. You can retrain your brain. You can do hard things. You need to be patient with yourself and forgive yourself. I have learned so much; I have healed so much.
I am now three years out from my Gastric Bypass. I still struggle with reactive hypoglycemia, but I am managing it with my diet. I have not gone back to bad eating habits! I mean, after losing my job in 2020, I tried, and it made me sick, so lesson learned. It’s true, you do gain a little weight back, and then your body settles. I have maintained my weight of 128 lbs. for almost two years now. My lowest weight was 115 lbs. I didn’t feel healthy then. My original goal weight was 125 lbs.
I am so happy and healthy now! I love camping, hiking, chasing my kids, cooking, baking, and the challenge of trying new, healthy foods. I even make my coffee healthy! I have improved my quality of life and my family life. If you are starting this journey, be nice to yourself and trust the process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to reach out for anything you need help with. If you are maintaining or even getting back on track, you got this, and keep pushing forward!
Surgeon: Dr. Rodrick D. McKinlay
Procedure: Gastric Bypass Roux-en-Y
Surgery Date: 8/19/19
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Rocky Mountain Associated Physicians
1160 East 3900 South, Suite 4100
SLC, UT 84124