As promised yesterday, my friend Rachel answers some questions about the gastric bypass surgery she’s having tomorrow down in Charlotte. Right now, Rachel (not her real name) is 5’4” tall and about 208 pounds. She wants to lost 80-85 pounds, hopefully in about six months’ time.
This is a procedure for the morbidly obese. Do you consider yourself morbidly obese?
Yes, I do. I have three co-morbidities that will go away when I lose the weight: hypertension, high cholesterol and pre-diabetes. Interestingly, I don’t look obese to me when I look in the mirror; however, I definitely see it in pictures.
Being overweight can affect your quality of life. Have you experienced anything like that?
No. Actually, I still move very fast and have a pretty good energy level. I’m just tired of fighting the weight. The fact that I’ve gained 30 pounds since February 2009, after nearly two years of maintaining my weight in the 185 to 195 range, tells me that the merry-go-round is about to start up at full speed again.
How old were you when you began your first diet?
Wow. That’s a difficult question. What I remember is being a fat 11-year-old with a mother who was always slim. She said to me, “you look like a linebacker” and said nothing else about my weight. Within three months, I had dropped 30 pounds, and I remained pretty slim throughout junior high, high school and college. The first diet I remember being on was probably in high school, but back then weight loss wasn’t a big deal.
What programs, diets or techniques have you tried?
The most impactful techniques were: 1994 – step aerobics and weight training, one hour per day, seven days per week, and eating no fat. I lost 53 pounds at home without going to a program or a gym. The second most impactful technique was going to a bariatric physician in Raleigh, where I took supplements and got shots of B6, B12, and adenosine twice a week. I lost 30 pounds within two months, without exercise. I eventually dropped 53 pounds on that program, too. That was in 2007.
Why do you think they haven’t worked for you?
I haven’t been consistent, for one thing. I like weight training, but haven’t maintained a consistent regimen since my obsessed days in 1994 – 1996. The other issue is that no matter how much I know what to do intellectually, I haven’t been able to control my portions. I am a fairly healthy cook, but because I really enjoy my cooking, I throw down when it’s time to eat.
I’m losing the old-fashioned way. Frankly, I’d rather eat glass. But why choose surgery?
I’m choosing surgery because I am weary of the roller-coaster. I’m sick of weight being an issue in my life at all. I know that I’ll go back up to 240 pounds or higher if I don’t make a permanent stop right now. I’ve lost the old-fashioned way and it hasn’t worked for me at all in the long-term. This is my last-ditch attempt to be the consistently petite person I have striven to be. Note that in the last two impactful weight-loss sessions I’ve had, I have never reached my weight goal, which is 135 pounds. The closest I got to it was in 1995 when I got down to 161 pounds.
How much will you be able to eat and drink afterward?
At first, I’ll be on clear liquids. Then I’ll slowly move up to about a half-cup of food, and then maybe a cup of food. Let me get back to you on whether that is per day; I do know that those are the maximum capacities for the new pouch I’ll be getting.
Star Jones. Jesse Jackson Jr. Al Roker. All had this surgery, and Carnie Wilson regained all her weight. How are you going to be different?
I will have to take it one day at a time. I know the disappointment, frustration, and self-loathing I feel when I regain weight. I HATE being fat, no matter how much I claim to be in touch with my inner diva. I don’t know at this point how I’m going to be different. I AM inspired by Star and Al, who have maintained their weight very nicely. I didn’t know about Jesse Jackson, Jr. One thing that works to my advantage is that I CAN’T eat when I’m really upset. Another thing that works in my favor is that I am not mad about sweets. I do love cookies, though, and I bake really tasty sweets, but I don’t yearn for them. My problem has always been portion control.
I was going to have plastic surgery until I noticed that the doctor’s office was full of portraits by Picasso. ~ Rita Rudner
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.