7 Things in 7 Years: What I’ve Learned Since Having Weight Loss Surgery

Me pre-op versus a few months ago. I’m using this “after” pic because it’s cold today and I look a hot mess so I don’t want to take a picture, k? I’m the exact same weight today as in the picture (and yes, that weight IS over 200 lbs.)

Sad, but true fact: I didn’t realize today was my surgery
anniversary until my friend Pam congratulated me. Wow. (I call that a “Nik

In honor of this momentous occasion, I’d like to share seven
insights I’ve learned in as many years since my surgery. In no particular
Balance is way more important than perfection

As a newer post-op I was something of a health zealot. Some
of you know me from back then. If you do, you know I’m the girl who once reamed
a fellow post-op out for eating strawberries because strawberries are (gasp!)
The truth of the matter is that it’s not so important to do
everything perfectly, but to find things you can stick with. That’s why when
folks ask me what’s the best protein powder, I answer, “The one you can stick
with using.” What’s the best form of exercise? “The one you’ll keep doing.”
This is a marathon, not a sprint. Which brings me to my next point.
This fight never

You don’t graduate. There is no finish line. That may
depress some of you but it is reality. Science is beginning to give us some
insight about obesity. One thing I learned at Obesity Action Coalition
Convention one year was that the metabolic systems of obese people are
different from those of people who never had a weight problem. That means that
we always have to be mindful of what and how much we eat, we always have to be living a healthy lifestyle, if we
expect to keep the weight off and remain healthy. However…
I refuse to be on a
diet for the rest of my life

One thing you’ll notice about Bariatric Foodie in general is
that I am not afraid of food. I like cookies. (Note: I can’t eat too many of them because my body reacts to the sugar!) I sometimes eat McDonald’s. I have
an abiding peanut butter addiction. I did not go through this process to be on
a strict diet for the rest of my life. My goal, instead, is to live healthfully
and mindfully. When I’m honest with myself, most of the time the healthier
stuff is what I want (I mean, have you seen
some of my recipes? Holy healthy NOM!). So I try to focus on living life,
rather than restricting it.
The person I thought
I’d be once I lost the weight does not exist

But in my head she was something. She was powerful and
successful and happy and everybody LOVED her! She traveled, she bought fabulous clothes, had a wonderful boyfriend and, frankly, they both loved seeing her naked (hey, you guys always say I keep it real here!).

But here was the tricky part. In my head I wasn’t allowed to be that person until I reached a certain number. And so YEARS went by and I was still waiting to start my life. Each day that didn’t happen I felt more and more like a failure. The crazy thing was I was succeeding in so many other ways but I wasn’t giving myself credit for it.

So the bottom line is this: at my lowest weight I was stressed out, insecure and lonely. It should have been the greatest time of my life. For goodness sakes, I hit a size 6 at one point! But things only began to change when I allowed myself to be the person I want to be now instead of waiting for some milestone. 

Hard stuff is still

Long-time readers know I went through the worst year of my
life in 2012. My mother died, I lost our family home to the housing bubble. It
was a dark, dark year and I was happy to see it end!
As hard as it was, I’m proud I was able to get through it
without going bonkers with my eating. I think it’s because the stuff I dealt
with was so painful, that I actually did reach out for help. I couldn’t
withstand those sorts of shocks on my own and I didn’t even try to. I asked for
hugs when I needed them. I cried. I stopped blogging for a while. I took long
walks and argued with my mother, God and any other entity I was angry with.
Hard stuff will still happen to you as you are losing the
weight. But it’s ok, you can get through it.
There are a million
interesting things about me…weight loss surgery is only one of them

There was a time when my entire life revolved around weight
loss surgery! But that’s only one part of who I am. Around year three, I began
to nourish the other parts of who I am. I’ve shared that I’m a professional
writer. I am almost finished earning a master’s degree in communications. I’ve
written a few manuscripts (one day I may seek publication, until then…). I have
two wonderfully insightful teenaged daughters, a batsh*t crazy Basset Hound and
a Samurai black cat. I volunteer a lot. I enjoy singing and dancing and weight
lifting and…
Get the point? It sounds weird to say but I didn’t know myself
that well before surgery. I didn’t know what fed my soul or what made me
excited to get up in the morning. Now I do and I am so grateful for that
knowledge – and it keeps on building!

Everyone’s picture of
success looks different

I started at 330 lbs. My lowest weight after surgery was 172
lbs. My highest weight after hitting my low point was 215. I haven’t checked my
weight in a while, although I’m thinking I’m somewhere around 210. Yes, this
scares the crap out of most of you. To answer your question, no I’m not afraid
of gaining it all back. I don’t think I will, although it’s certainly possible.
But given the fact that I love to exercise, I move a lot and I generally eat a
pretty balanced diet, no matter what size I am, I’ll be healthy.
And that’s my
picture of success. Yours may be to get to a certain weight. Or a certain size.
And that’s fine! Within this community I simply ask that if you don’t knock my
picture, I won’t knock yours.
So there you have it…seven of the many things I’ve learned since my weight loss surgery. Thanks for
being a part of this crazy ride with me!

Check out my journey! Here are past year’s surgery anniversary reflections:
(As you can see I’ve been inconsistent in documenting this!)


  1. Tracey@bariatricfoodforlife.com

    Nicely said and congratulations for finding your own path and sticking to it.

  2. Great post! Thanks for this!

  3. Awesome. You keep it real. You rock.

  4. Rachel C - iHeartTeas

    Congrats on your success. This post was beautifully written and truly spoke to me. I will take what you have learned as I feel we follow a similar path. Thank you for writing this. It was truly perfect timing.

  5. Great to read your journey, you are a source of inspiration for many who want to achieve the same..

  6. Amen! Keep being fabulous girl!!!
    Tracy Morrison

  7. Love you! You have been such an inspiration to me over this past year! Not just your recipes, but your words of wisdom. Rock on, Nik!!

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