Written By: Morgan Bartley
When I first started looking into weight loss surgery, I was seventeen years old and felt like I had no idea where to even begin with the process. After dealing with obesity for most of my life, it was when I found myself at nearly 300 pounds that I decided it was time to make a major change to set me on track for a long, healthy and happy future.
I remember dieting at as early as ten years old and can honestly say I feel like I had tried everything under the sun to lose weight. Feeling lost and looking for guidance, I made an appointment with my primary care doctor. It was she who, after seeing my ongoing struggle with my weight, referred me to a bariatric clinic and started me on the journey to regaining my health. This journey would become the hardest, yet most rewarding one of my life.
The moment of change
At my first appointment with my bariatric surgeon, we discussed my goals, decided that the vertical sleeve gastrectomy would be the best weight loss surgery option for me and made a game plan. It became very clear to me that weight loss surgery is no joke and should never be someone’s first attempt at weight loss, nor should it be taken lightly. The day I went under the knife and had 80 percent of my stomach removed was like signing a contract for a lifelong commitment. While this may sound daunting, the irreversibility of the procedure is what made me feel like it was exactly what I needed; something permanent.
The hardest part of the surgery was the two week liquid pre-op diet leading up to it. In my case, everything after that was smooth sailing.. Well, at least the recovery part, that is. Then there was the adventure of getting to know my new stomach. I like to explain it as being like introducing food to a baby. First you start with liquids, then move to purees, soft foods, and finally solid foods, all the while discovering preferences, intolerances, etc. Most people’s taste buds seem to change quite a bit after surgery. For example, I loved eggs before surgery but at six weeks post-op when I attempted to reintroduce them into my diet, I learned that my new tummy simply rejected them. There were many learning experiences that followed, like finding that I couldn’t drink within thirty minutes of eating, or teaching myself to chew my food thoroughly to avoid uncomfortable digestion. Honestly, I’m still learning things as I go even at nearly three years post-surgery.
The biggest piece of advice I can offer to anybody considering weight loss surgery is to take advantage of the first year. I’ll even go as far as to suggest getting as close to your goal weight as possible in that time, of course while maintaining your overall health. Initially after surgery, you’ll notice your restriction is very “tight” and you can only consume very small amounts at a time. For most people, this loosens up over time. It’s important to learn to work WITH your new tool, than to expect it to work for you. The weight may come off no matter what you do during the first couple of months, but that won’t last forever. Use this time to develop healthy habits that you can sustain to live a balanced, healthy life. Like I mentioned before- weight loss surgery is simply a tool. It’s up to you to use it to your advantage.
Where I am today
Today I sit happily at 180 pounds, however even at almost three years post op, I’ve found myself dealing with regain and still working to lose another 30-40 pounds or so. The difference from before is that I know I have this built-in tool. My life has completely changed because of this surgery. These days I can walk into any store and know that their clothes will fit me. I can keep up with the energetic little ones in my family, and I actually enjoy weight lifting and being active. I believe that weight loss surgery absolutely saved my life.
Why it’s important to seek options
West Medical has been absolutely amazing in their effort to bring awareness to weight loss surgery and educate people considering it. I love their dedication to their patients’ aftercare and longterm success, which is why I couldn’t be more excited when Dr. Hooman offered to partner with me to host a giveaway to provide someone with this life changing opportunity. Looking back, I know that while it wasn’t at all the “easy way out”, I wouldn’t change my own decision to have the surgery for anything.
*All photos courtesy of Morgan Bartley