My Dad was pretty much my inspiration for this, he struggled with his back and knees for years and in 2008 he got bariatric surgery. He still has pain had to get his back fused, he said it was too late for him, but for me being so young that I shouldn’t have such hard time when I reached his age. My 2nd Cousin Charlie who was also a very large fellow had the same surgery as my Dad and has had great success with his. But none of which would have been possible without my support system of friends, and family. You can have all the tools in the world, all the ambition, but if you don’t have support in some way then I would have not have been successful.
Childhood through High School
I’ve always been an obese kid in school, not very active in middle/high school. I since I was large, but mostly a friendly guy I wasn’t picked on much and when I was I usually shrugged it off. Our school had a mandatory PE requirement and I found it hard to do with my weight and asma at the time so I had my doctor write a note and I was excused from PE class my entire high school career after only taking it for 2 months in my freshmen year.
I didn’t take college very seriously just as I didn’t take high school or my weight seriously. Pretty much up until 2010 I didn’t care about too much, I was content the way life was and breezed through. But my parents and my doctor became more vocal about my size, but I like what I was eating and doing. Being a normal college student I changed majors once or twice, transferred and finally graduated in 2010. It was that point in my life where I felt accomplished and decided to focus on a new goal of my weight.
I had my own at home business when I was 14, I started an art community and worked with people all around the continental US and UK doing graphic design for hire I continued to do this until I was 22 and decided I was done with graphic design and web development. My first non-self employed job that I got right out of high school in 05′ was in Informational Technology and I was making some good money and started to really take on weight and in 06′ developed lymphedema in both of my legs my right leg was worse than my left. For the next 5 years I would gain an estimated 120 pounds. My sophomore year at Baker College while in the final classes of my Associates degree I got an internship at Michigan Spring and Stamping which would be a key factor in my decision to do weight loss.
The health problems (co morbids) racked up -diagnosed oral diabetic put on Metformin, sleep apnea had to use a CPAP machine and minor joint pain in my knees and hips. Not to mention my lymphedema which made my ankles and legs swell to 3 times their size. In 2010 I decided it was time for a change when my doctor pretty much forced me (read:strongly suggested) that I go to a seminar where one of the best regional bariatric doctor was presenting and I went with my dad who had the procedure done by him.
A week later I was in the doctor’s office and getting the ball rolling for a medically supervised weight loss program and got weighed and met a nutritionist once a month. In November 10′ I was at my highest recorded weight of 518 lbs heavy and through mostly a somewhat strict diet change I managed to lose 50ish pounds by July 2011. Where in July I took a brief hiatus from my diet and traveled on vacation to and gained some weight back.
By this time I was starting to regret giving the surgery a green light. I broke down in tears about a week before surgery, as it was my first time ever being on the table, I was incredibly scared I told my parents that I didn’t want to go through it now. I had some doubts and told the doctor that I needed a week to think reevaluate and I would get back to him, he recommended talking to someone similar to my age and situation and put them in touch with me. I didn’t end up calling him because I wanted to make my own decision, because while I’m sure his story was probably good, his experience and mine are completely different. I began to feel that it was one of those things if I looked back on it after not doing and asked “what if?” so the Friday before I was scheduled for surgery I was still conflicted but called and told the scheduler that I wanted to go through it. Worst case scenario that I tell the surgeon day of that I didn’t want to do it.
I also understand that the lymph fluid in my leg contributes to my weight as well so when it swells up and has more fluid I weight more and throws off readings.
I didn’t expect the switch to liquids to be so rough, they said it wouldn’t be easy but not like this. It was only today that I started to recover from the drastic change and I felt pretty crappy for 3 days and Friday and today I’ve been going on the local bike trails more and I look forward to my surgery date and all the weight loss I can achieve with that tool in my arsenal.
When I was almost 3 weeks post op I semi-regret doing it. A short cry from the end of the 5 weeks of a protein liquid diet. Finally able to go back to soft foods rich in protein. I can honestly say I would never wish that on my worst enemy. There is only so many combinations you can mix protein powder into drinks, jello, and pudding. I have probably gone through 3 big boxes of sugar free popsicles, and what can only be described as chicken protein goop for my source of nourishment. Pre-op I had more lax rules such as soups with a little particle density but, post-op those particles could get stuck in the stitch line and cause irritation.
The hospital visit was nice, I was doing very well according to the staff, nearly no problems at all getting out of bed and walking and was good to let them know when I needed pain meds. My incision sites were really good looking, no real bruising at all. The worst part was Heparin shots (for blood clots) even with pain medication they were the most painful thing. I also had to take 14 days worth of Rx blood clot prevention shots while at home. All of them left a nice bruise.
After the surgery I had a bad reaction to my nausea medicine and was not able to keep many things down and after calling my surgeon and asking his advice he said to go the ER and get fluids and have them run some tests (fluids were collecting in the spot where my gallbladder used to be), so my brief 72 hours of freedom from the hospital I was right back in. After a change in nausea meds and feeling much, much better I was able to keep things down and have been ever since. My 1 week post op appointment was the next day from the ER visit and Dr. Gluck and I had a long chat, he felt kinda bad because he thought he had talked me into this and I was having a difficult time. Said it was a very common thing for patients to experience nausea and vomiting which didn’t really make me feel any better, but I was happy to the fact that 80% of my staples were coming out.
3 Months Out
I was about 70 pounds down from after my surgery. I’m working out 5 days a week or whenever my schedule permits me to. Weight lifting 3 times a week and cardio on the off days. Still using a protein rich diet getting access to new foods when my nutritionist says they are safe to eat, with plenty of fluids I have become addicted to Hawaiian punch sugar free packets to flavor my water.
From my initial start of my weight loss journey on Nov 22 2010 to Nov 22 2011, I lost around 120lbs. Now a little more than a month later I’m near 140 total loss (138.7 to be exact). I want to lose a total of 200 pounds by my 25th Birthday (6/8) and I believe with my continued exercise plan, diet, and words of encouragement from friends and family I will make that goal.
6 Months Out
I’ve lost 114 pounds since my surgery. Some things I’d like to note this type of rapid weight loss while nice, has some drawbacks. Like feeling cold all the time, I’ve had my iron checked and I take a supplement but even with that, I’m always cold. Loose skin is also another pain, it gets itchy and is unsightly. I never had any qualms about how I looked when I was overweight, I accepted that, but now losing weight I feel slightly embarrassed when I look at my skin on my arms, or legs. I think that this weekend In celebration of 6 months I will finally buy some new clothes as I’ve started to develop a MC hammer complex in my pants. I had started with a pant size of 60 and at my 6 month mark I had dropped to 48. Around this time the weather started to get really nice outside, and my gym visits kept getting harder and harder to make. But I compensated in the warm months by riding my bicycle as much as I could. I even started to commute to work which is a 12.5 mile round trip I never forgot to keep trying to be active.
9 Months Out
Just a few days shy of my 9 month mark, I hit my goal on my 25th birthday I had lost just over 200 pounds. I celebrated by buying more clothes and a couple new tools to help out, a fitbit ultra tracker to track my steps, a brand new Trek bicycle that was geared toward fitness. Which as of this writing I have rode over 230 miles this summer and I look to double that next year. With that milestone achieved I set my sights on another goal to be under 300 by my 1 year mark.
1 Year Post Op
If you would have asked me a year ago if I would have done the surgery, I would still give you the ehhh… maybe face. But its hard to argue with the results, but the words that Dr. Gluck said still ring true in my ears “It’s a tool in a toolbox” and he’s right, its only part of the magical equation that works for us to lose weight. What works for one person may not work for another, I dove heavily into weight loss and read incredibly inspirational stories of people who were heavier than me starting out, losing incredible amounts of weight. I applaud them, but I do not compare their strength to mine what they did perhaps wouldn’t work for me.
1 Year and Beyond
I hope to hit my target weight of 225 by April 20th of 2013. Even after hitting my target weight I believe that I will still try and lose weight as a secondary objective. I will work on toning what I have and building muscle to get rid of the excess skin I have now. I learned quickly to make realistic goals, to try and find time to go to the gym every day 5 days a week doesn’t work for me, but it may work for others. Make a goal you can commit to and work towards it weather it being losing just 5 pounds, being able to bicycle 20 miles in one trip, or just making it easier for you to walk. It’s an exciting time to become physically active and fit, so many tools at our disposal to use – smartphone applications, pedometers that link with everything under the sun, everywhere I turn it’s a new tool being developed or released that I want to try and maybe work into my formula. Communities are another powerful tool they add to your support system, reddit.com’s loseit subreddit (www.reddit.com/r/loseit) has become a place I frequent and I make every attempt to log what I eat and my activity on My Fitness Pal (www.myfitnesspal.com) and to track my bicycle routes and times I use Map my Ride (www.mapmyride.com). People that aren’t close to me or I don’t see frequently, don’t know the story of what happened so when someone asks me or I happen to mention it in conversation they are taken back a little bit. I encourage and share my experience with people as they ask.