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Nik’s Four Year Surgiversary Post

Four years ago today…

It was not a Sunday. In fact, I think it was a Tuesday. At any rate, it was a day when I awakened, much like I did this morning, wondering what the events of the day would mean to me and how they’d affect my life.

Except these days, I don’t have quite the same worries.

This is a warning. My surgiversary posts aren’t 100% touchy-feely, but they are my truth. Weight loss surgery has been a roller coaster for me in many ways and I won’t “fudge” about that. It hasn’t always been good times and scale tumbling and high fives. In the past four years I’ve also had to own up to a LOT of what made me obese in the first place, especially this past year.

This is a brief snapshot of my journey. Let’s start at the beginning.



This was me four years ago. No, I am not exaggerating or purposely showing you a particularly unflattering picture of myself. This is generally how I went about looking back then. I’ve taken some flack for that picture so I feel like I must say that not all plus-sized women show such disregard for themselves. But I did, so that’s my truth.

Anyway, about this girl. She didn’t like to interact with the world. She woke up in the morning with one purpose: to survive until the end so she could go back to sleep. But for her two daughters, she hated to be hugged or kissed or touched in general. She’d done such a good job of eating her feelings that she was quite numb.

I honestly can’t even say what made me decide to have WLS. I can say that it wasn’t a well thought out decision. You Foodies educate me so much in what I SHOULD have done. I did not research RNY, did not research my surgeon. I heard him speak at a seminar and said to myself, “I should get gastric bypass.” And so I set off to do it. I am a spiritual person so I always say God was my eyes when I refused to see. And…well, thank God for that.

So…fast forward six months (you’re allowed to do that at four years out since there’s so much time to cover!). I was down about 95 lbs. I felt good. I was riding the wave of WLS success. I am smiling even as I typed that because I fondly name this period of my life the “ignorance is bliss” era. My mind was so focused on exercise, protein intake, water intake, vitamin intake that I scarcely had a moment to think about what was going on in my head. It’s always been my theory that there are two types of happy people: the blessed ones who have managed to find true contentent and me, people too ignorant to know they’re unhappy.

It was around this time I started experimenting with my recipes. I’d already tinkered around a lot with protein shakes (my restriction was such that food was not my friend up to then) and I was active on Obesity Help where I’d eventually take part in an “Iron Chef” contest inspired that  me to start a little blog I named “Bariatric Foodie.”

The nine month post-op mark is significant because that’s when I hit my bottom weight. Man…I love everything about my body in that picture. I was toned (although i still sported the flabby skin) and confident. Hell, I took that picture in the damn buffet because even though my family insisted on holding family gatherings there…I didn’t care! I was strong and resolved! By the way, that’s my brother Manuel in the picture with me.

This picture is also significant because I didn’t have very much longer until the bubble burst.


This is me Easter 2010. I was still relatively close to the weight in the picture directly above but a funny thing was starting to happen. The scale would fluctuate up a few pounds, down a few pounds, back to the original weight I was. But it did not move down, down, down. This was a shock to me because I hadn’t reached a place on the scale where I felt like “It’s ok to stop here.” No, I still weighed far too much (in my own mind). My clothing size was far too big. Why was this happening to me?
For me, this is when the demons awakened from their slumber, sat down next to me, and tried to convince me to come back to them. I fought. Hard. By now I at least realized the life I had before surgery was a half life that I didn’t want anymore. I felt very alive, full of feelings (many of which I did not want to feel) and still very restricted in my eating so I couldn’t imagine the effort it would take to eat the feelings of fear I was experiencing at that point.

So when I tell people I experienced my “bounce back” during the time when I was most active and compliant with food, I tend to get a dubious, “Uh-huh.” It is true. I gained a good bit of weight between my 2nd and 3rd year. But I think…looking at this picture now (me at 3 years post-op…the beginning of my “Bathroom Diaries” pics) that the exercise helped me. To me, I look more full-figured in this photo than in the one of me in the halter dress (and granted it is winter in this picture and summer in the other), but to me (and perhaps I’m deluding myself…you’re free to challenge me if I am) I don’t look like I’d gained 25 lbs. Which is precisely the amount heavier I am in the above picture than the halter picture.

I had to take a gulp as I type that out. Somehow I always think if I share my real struggle it hurts my “Foodie cred.” But I think I’ve ditched that mentality. I had a bounce. I’ve been the same weight since that bounce so I must be doing ok now, right? (This is where you all nod very slowly and smile)

And this is me today. Well…not today because as I type this I am in the world’s most unflattering pair of pajamas. This picture was actually taken about two weeks ago. By me. In the bathroom.

So for the sake of curiosity I will post the number stats of my journey but I’d also like to post some of the things that make an even bigger difference in my day-to-day life.

For the numbers I’ll do Surgery/Lowest Weight/Now:

Weight:

327/172/200

Pants Size:

26/8/12

Shirt Size:

3XL/Medium/Large

Shoe Size:

10/9.5/9.5

Time taken to run one mile (I know this because I took a running class in 2006)

20 minutes/10 minutes/11 minutes

And here are the things that cannot be measured in numbers:

  • I hug absolutely everyone I see. Before I would not let people touch me
  • The sheer number of photos I’ve taken post op is a triumph. I never used to let myself be photographed (hence the one, jacked, before photo)
  • Before surgery I dreamed of being a professional writer. Now I AM a professional writer.
  • Before surgery I looked into the mirror and winced at what I see. Now I look in the mirror and smile and WINK at what I see.

There’s much more but I’ll stop here. My story in food and eating is all over this blog. I had nothing from you all. I am me, for better or for worse.

Thank you all for sharing in my journey. It isn’t over yet. I think this year is going to be the best so far. Stick around until next year this time to find out if I was right!




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15 comments

  1. You are an awesome woman and have helped more then you know along your journey. You are the essence of inspiration!
    Sending you a huge hug!! Thanks for being you!!

  2. Girl, I am sitting in a Starbucks crying as I read this. Your honesty, knowledge and determination to give BACK to our community means more than you can possibly know. Reading about your struggles gives me strength to keep fighting. I am currently doing some battles with my own demons and learning that maintenance is the REAL battle. That first year was so fun, and now I have do some difficult work. You are an inspiration and I will DO this, in no small part because of you. Thank you and Happy Anniversary!

  3. Nik;

    Thank you for your insightful and honest post on your surgiversary. As a woman who is just over 1 1/2 years "out" from surgery, and is experiencing the Christmas bouncback, you give me courage to climb back on board the self care boat of conscious eating and exercising.

    So it isn't just MY failure…it is part of the process (for some of us)… Yahoo!

  4. Nikki, you have come a long way and I am so proud of you!. I knew you had the discipline to keep on your journey. I love the confidence you exude and since you have become a bariatric foodie, your cooking skills have grown exponentially. Keep up the good work. I love you Nikki!!!

    -Gary

  5. Nikki Thanks so much for posting this. I am coming up soon on year 3 post op and i see so much of myself and my journey in you. I've gained about 15-20 pounds back and have maintained..but i know i need to now or never get myself back in control. Thanks to the support of friends (WLS Pittsburgh Support group..thank you, you rock) and your inspiration, i know i can do this.

    Thank you… and thank you for the hug when you were in the 'burgh!!!!!!!! you rock

    Denise

  6. You look fabulous, and more than that, you look like you FEEL fabulous. Congratulations, Nik!

    Oh, and by the way — I would have eyeballed you at 140-160 pounds in your latest pictures. You really do look GREAT!

  7. Nikki, I actually have just started following your page. Honestly I can't remember how I found you but I love your recipes and your openness. I am a year and a half post op and though I have lost the amount that I wanted too I know that I as well have those same demons. I know that food has become such a comfort for me and I started to get on that road myself.
    Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading more!!

    DeLynn

  8. Thank you Nikki for posting this. I've hit a point where all the #'s look good and I can list all my gians and yet I"m feeling discontent as the sclae never reached the # in my head. Then the holidays came and its been a down hill slog since. I can and will get back on the right path. Your blunt and foreright insight are greatly apperciated.

  9. Nik,

    Thanks for posting this. Although I had a different surgery (lap band) I have some struggles. I am a year post-op. My head was never in the game and it took me that year to lose 50 pounds. Now I'm on my game and plan to lose the other 80 pounds.

    Thanks for sharing your journey…and the great recipes.

    BTW 200 lbs never looked so good as it does on you.

    Keep up the great work and be blessed.

  10. You are looking great!! Thanks for all you do during the year as it helps all of us. You are a great person and have such motivation and it helps everyone else who reads your blog. Keep up the great work and hope 2012 will be a great year for you!!!!!

    SARA

  11. great post, i follow you on OH from time to time. this is a real post, from an honest place within you. thanks for sharing. my HW was 395 my CW is 170 and I have been there for about 2 months…i'm waiting for the bounce back. this post speaks volumes to me, so glad to know there is a kindred spirit out there who has walked in these shoes.

  12. HI!

    I am finding your facebook page/blog for the first time this week through my nutritionists sites.

    2 1/2 weeks ago (JAN 6th 2010) I had my 2nd gastric bypass — a revision surgery.

    My 1st RY bypass was OCT 4th 2003. HW was 368. Over 18 months I lost over 230lbs. My LW was 136.

    BAD news is it took me nearly losing my life for my big wake up call.

    For my first 18 months I LOVED, loved, LOVED life. I was losing weight like there are no words to describe.

    Jump forward to Winter 2008/2009. My body literally crashed. I spent 2009 seeing 13 different doctors and hospitalized 4 different times. I was getting blood transfusions. I was receiving my iron through an IV.

    I also lost more weight and was a horrific looking 127lbs. Normally anyone would say WOW, 127 that's great. Not for me. I was at rock bottom.

    The only reason I am sharing this LONG story is that maybe one of your followers can seem my story as WHAT NOT TO DO.

    I didn't take my vitamins. I didn't follow an eating plan. I basically did not eat. I just didn't feel hungry so why bother, right?

    WRONG. I crashed and I crashed in a big way.

    Fast forward again to 2010/2011. After my brush with death, I was terrified. I gave myself "permission" to eat. "For my ",I would say. "I would rather be a little bit heavier than dead", I would say. Things like that.

    Well in the end — on JAN 6th 2012 I had my gastric bypass revision surgery at 270lbs because I gave myself too much "permission". We all know it was an excuse to "pig-out" and not feel guilty.

    Back to this week. I found your site. I have scoured over your posts and pages.

    With your help, I know I can do it and most importantly do it successfully for the long run.

    THANK YOU,
    Melissa

  13. Hi Nikki.

    I'm just two months out from my surgery and I'm sort of lost. Thank goodness I found your blog. I'm getting ideas and tips to help myself develop a better eating plan. Still having trouble with vitamins and keeping them down… they don't want to stay where I put them. 🙂 I'll keep looking around the site, but if anyone has any suggestions, I'd be grateful.

    My sincerest congratulations to you on your 4 year anniversary and your willingness to share your journey with us!

  14. Wow! You are an inspiration!!! You look great! I am 5 months post vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG, "the sleeve") and I am down from 275 to 212. I still feel so fat fat and my weight loss is slowing down but I exercise like crazy and I do my best with food. I record it every day in MFP and try to be accountable when I have a glass of wine (like I am right now–long week, just met a deadline, I am a writer too) or a few chips. I am learning to eat all over again–and I am totally a food addict so I BETTER learn this before my restriction lessens. I'm working on it!

    Thank you for this wonderful blog and for sharing your story.

    PS: I think you are a Baltimor-ian (I won't say balti-moron!), is that right? I am fromBmore myself, now relocated to VA. I love that city and wish I could move back!! Alas, hubby's job is here in "the south", and he is the main bread winner. Still visit lots of family and friends in Bmore…LOVE the Ravens and the Os!

    Take care,
    Jenn

  15. Thanks for a great blog ! I am almost 2 months post op and felt like I was moving at a slow pace with the weight loss. After reading this I am definitely doing good and cant wait to my final outcome !!!