Three years ago, I was in a hospital room recovering from gastric sleeve surgery. Recovery sucked, but then recovery from any surgery is hardly a walk in the park. The surgery continues to be hands down the best thing I ever did for my health and overall quality of life.
Three years out, I have maintained my weight within 10 lbs of my lowest weight after surgery, which puts me in the “successful” category. Many people by this point have regained much of the weight they lost from the surgery, for a number of reasons. The pictures in the collage show me at my heaviest, compared to now.
I credit therapy for my success at least as much as the surgery itself. Therapy allowed me to confront my unhealthy relationship with food and develop a healthier relationship with food. I firmly believe that anyone who needs to have weight loss surgery should enter therapy with a professional who has experience with food and body image issues for no less than a year. I had started therapy a good 6 months before my surgery, and still see my therapist once a month. I’m finding that some of the food issues I thought I’d resolved, started popping up months and now even years afterwards, in response to stresses and life changes. It’s always good to have a professional to help work these things out when they pop up.
The other reason I think I’ve done as well as I have is that I established habits that allowed the tool of surgery to do its job. The surgeon creates a small cylindrical stomach with the operation, and it typically doesn’t have much stretch left, but one can condition themselves to tolerate more and more food in the sleeve over time, as well as develop eating patterns that extend meals and get in more food overall. While my food choices have not always been the best, I have continued to try and get plenty of protein in my meals and eat that protein first to fill up the sleeve, pay close attention to my fullness signals, and stop eating when full. I have maintained clear meal times and kept from grazing. This has kept my overall caloric intake low enough to keep my weight fairly stable. I do weigh every couple of weeks, and if my weight starts creeping up, I start paying closer attention to my food choices and pull it back down.
While my overall health is still impacted by my chronic conditions, I don’t have the added stress of the extra 100 lbs I was carrying around, and I know my health is better because of it. I could stand to lose another 10 or 15 lbs, but with the chronic fatigue, I don’t have the energy to diet or exercise so I’m happy with maintaining where I’m at.
Here’s to 3 years with my sleeve, and many more.