My anniversary was actually yesterday but I was sick and I forgot. Well…I didn’t exactly forget so much as I didn’t realize yesterday was the 8th. ANYWAY.
As is my custom I thought I’d tap out a few thoughts about my experience as a post-op so far.This year I decided to do so without pictures. Just thoughts.
It has been my experience that the further out from surgery I get, the more like a non-op I become. But interestingly, I am never quite exactly like them. I’m no stranger to that “place in the middle” of two states of being. And I think the difference between 5-year post-op Nikki and, say, 1-year post-op Nikki is that I actually try to learn from my experiences and use them to my benefit.
For instance, I know I’m capable of eating a great assortment of unhealthy foods. And I’m not going to lie – I have at times! Sometimes it’s a head issue, sometimes a craving, more often than not it was what I call “bariatric adolescence,” or, me testing the boundaries. And the food went down fine. But that doesn’t mean my surgery isn’t still working.
No…my body has a threshold and once I cross it, there is hell to pay for bad food decisions. Thankfully, I don’t go into that mode often. It’s so strange, this new life compared to my old life. Food-wise, my body actually craves what’s good for it. Don’t get me wrong, I will always have a deep and enduring love of buffalo wings but they don’t quite rule me the way they used to.
Which brings me to something for which I am extremely thankful. They say time is the healer of all wounds. I think it’s true. When I first started this journey I was badly damaged. And I medicated with food. The absence of that ability to medicate (in my early months I had restriction on crack), drove me to deep depression. In short, it pissed me off that I could not eat my feelings. It pissed me off that I could no longer zone out on food. It pissed me off that I had taken away what I perceived as the one drama-free source of pleasure in my life.
Those of you who’ve been reading the blog know I went through a LOT of stuff this year. Even before my mother died (which was gut-wrenching enough in and of itself) I was facing foreclosure on my home and a host of financial problems. It was time to let go of a lot of notions I had about my life and take responsibility for what was. I am proud to say I’m in a better place financially now but I’m even prouder to say that after short-selling my home (which was a long and arduous process that would require at least two more blog posts!), losing my mom, moving and sending my divas away for the summer…during all that…I did not binge, although I had the physical ability to. I did not descend into a pit of crappy eating, although my body would have let me, at least for a time.
You might ask how I coped? I have found a wonderful coping mechanism in walking and jogging. For those of you hesitant to start a fitness program that sounds like a crock, I know. But the thing I’ve discovered about running is this: it’s hard. Not just for big people but for everyone. Some people run faster or more slowly than others but in general running is not easy. Which makes it an ideal way for me to cope with stress because my mind is so focused on…um…not dying…that it allows my brain some breathing space to sort things out.
So that’s how I’ve been coping. One day at a time. One step at a time.
This is the time when many long-term post-ops disappear from the scene of the WLS world. And that makes sense to me. We do this not to be different all our lives, but to have a shot at that elusive concept of normalcy (I’m convinced it’s a myth!). I point this out to say that I’m not ready to do that yet. Not just because of Bariatric Foodie, but because I stand before you today, just as I was five years ago, a food addict. I am powerless over my addiction to food and I truly believe only a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.
What that means in my life is that I don’t believe I will ever be capable of making great health decisions by default. These days I do so by habit. This is why I stress the importance of healthy routines and habitual behavior. Eating well isn’t first nature to me, but through habitually doing so over the last 5 years (most of the time) it has become second nature. And loving myself isn’t first nature to me but by opening myself up to love and by practicing acts of self-love it has become second nature.
Long story short…you guys are stuck with me for the forseeable future. My journey is not over. And in the process of becoming who I am today, five years after going under the knife to have RNY gastric bypass, I realize that my journey does NOT begin or end with a number on the scale. I’m not exactly sure where the finish line is or if there even is one. But I continue to walk forward, happy with the progress I’ve made so far, hungry to see how far I can take this.
And I want you all with me on this walk! I started Bariatric Foodie because I wanted to be a part of a community of people taking control of their relationship with food, themselves and the world around them. The world doesn’t change just because we have surgery, so I wanted to be a part of a community that helps each other cope and form survival strategies. What this blog has grown into is more than I could have ever imagined.
Thank you for reading this blog. Thank you to those who have been with me since “I” was me/Jen and we were Pouch Party. Thank you for those who just joined us who have no idea what the previous sentence means. Thank you to Facebook Foodies, Twitter Foodies. Thank you to those who participate in the giveaways and discussion topics. For those who have tried my recipes and those who want to try them. Thank you to all of you who are signed up for the email newsletter, always start your Quest, Amazon and Netrition orders on this blog. Thank you to anyone who has ever contacted me for help with your journey or to help me with mine.
You all are a part of me. And I take my responsibility to you quite seriously. So, yep, you’re stuck with me. But then, I personally wouldn’t have it any other way.