Growing up, I ate very well. I was never 'thin' but I was not obese. I was active in high school in marching band, but constantly obsessed about my weight. I would go through phases where I would starve myself, do only Slim Fast, then eat only bad things on Fridays. Through college, I learned to stress eat and binge to curb my out-of-control feelings. I got very little exercise because I was always studying or hanging out with friends, going to eat out, etc. I tried every diet out there.
After college as I started work as a professional, I think I was blind to the fact I was getting so big until I began to have major health problems: high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, reflux, heart arrythmias, hypothyroid; the list goes on.
I decided to have bariatric surgery in 2009 and went through the process, but I never did it, because I just wasn’t ready; I wasn’t at a good place in my life to make such a huge change. About two years later, I had a wake-up call. I am a registered nurse and I had begun to open my eyes and to see myself in my patients. I knew if I didn’t change, I was headed towards death--AND I WAS 31! I was on more medications than most of my patients. The kicker was on the day a patient said to me, "Wow are you ok? I think you need a nurse more than I do!"
This time there was nothing stopping me. I attended a seminar with Dr. McPhee and decided to pursue bariatric surgery again. I joined the YMCA and started aquacise (the only activity I could do at 307 lbs.) and tracking my food intake.
Before and after the surgery, the staff at LG Health were never anything but supportive of me. Even when I was not consistently losing or when I was having too many “treats,” Dr. McPhee told me, “You can do this, you’re doing great!” I love that. Ryan has always been so supportive and motivating with exercise. My first big goal after the surgery was to do a 5K. I did it six months after surgery and I did wonderful--thanks to Ryan and his couch-to-5K plan. I can still hear him in my head when I run, "You got this, come on Karen let’s get to running some more!". And Shauna was always so helpful with her little diet tips, help with finding the right vitamins, etc. They have all become like my family...it’s like going home when you step in that office!! Knowing that they are only a phone call or an email away has been very helpful. You will not find a more supportive, loving and caring bunch of professionals ANYWHERE else!!
There are so many things I can do now that I could not do before. I can run. I can jump. I can fit in a rollercoaster. I can fit in an airplane seat without a seatbelt extender. I can throw my nephews around and play with them. I walk around all day without getting out of breath and sweaty, I can DO ANYTHING! I love that I can fit in normal size clothing, I can mow my lawn for the first time in eight years. I can touch my foot to my head (haha). I can reach my ankles for exercises. I can paint my own toenails. I can do a 5K, I can do a 1/4 marathon and I can workout at the gym without fearing people are starring at me.
Although the surgery is done, the process still continues. It is a journey-- one I will have to work at for the rest of my life. Surgery is not a magic solution. I still fight with myself about food choices and going to the gym.
Throughout this entire process, I have gotten to know myself better. I have proven to myself I CAN do it and I am WORTHY! I have gained self-confidence, self-worth and self-love. I know my true self so well now, and I feel like I can actually show that self to others, share my love for life and no longer be that 307lbs shell that I was hiding behind for so long.
One day in class we were asked to write down why you want to have the surgery. I wrote down, “So I can live to see my nephews grow up.” I didn’t love myself enough at the time to write down: FOR ME. It wasn’t until I started to lose weight, that I could finally say, “I did this for ME!” It was the best gift I have ever given myself!