I am just one person, with my own limited experiences. This is exactly why I love to share other people’s Healthy Tipping Point stories, especially ones that show ‘success’ isn’t a linear path and that there’s no ‘right’ way do things. Jasmine approached me about writing a guest post about her experiences with weight loss and gastric bypass, and I think her story is not only extremely well-written, but also a profound look into her own perspective. Enjoy!
I wish I could say that my personal "healthy tipping point" came as a result of my own profound insight. I really wish I could say it came at a moment when the changes I needed to make became crystal clear and I could fool myself no longer. Unfortunately, that would be a lie. It all started when I was sitting in my doctor’s office. I’d known him nearly my entire life. He’d been with me through a dozen or more diets. He’d personally prescribed me several medications to help with weight loss. He’d referred me to a nutritionist. He’d had heart to hearts with my mother. He’d seen me lose and gain more weight than most women will ever weigh.
That day, I was there for something routine. I had a cold, a sinus infection, something. But when he asked me how I was feeling, I inexplicably burst into tears. "What wrong?" he asked. "What isn’t wrong?" was my reply. I didn’t even know how to explain it. I was tired, tired of being morbidly obese. Tired of being 343 pounds. Tired of trying and failing, failing and trying. "What’s going to happen to me?" I asked. "You’re going to change," he said. "Because if you don’t, you’re going to die."
I didn’t even cringe. I’d known it for a long time. At 5-foot-1-inch, I was tiny and petite like my mother. It made being 343 pounds all the more dangerous. "I don’t know what to do anymore."
He sat down, crossing his legs primly, the way he’d done my whole life. "Have you ever heard of bariatric surgery?"
When I heard the words, I felt something break inside me. The shame, the embarrassment that sometimes comes with membership in the morbidly obese community seems to know no bounds. These things rolled over me in waves. It was bad enough to wear my insecurities, fears, and challenges on the outside of my body, but to also choose an option that the know-it-all media had already branded the "easy way out?" It was impossible to me. And yet, having tried literally all my life, it couldn’t be casually ruled out.
Not wanting to base my decision on hearsay, I did my homework. I researched the options, talked to doctors and surgeons, and eventually I talked to my family. After seventeen months of indecision, of fear, of wrestling with the idea and then, with the insurance company, I had roux-n-y gastric bypass surgery.
I have said that my personal "healthy tipping point" didn’t come to me in any profound way. Instead, it came to me like a seed, planting itself quietly, but firmly, growing in my mind and my body as roots beneath the soil. When it finally broke through the surface, it felt natural, as if this was how my life would have always been, though that was far from the truth. This tipping came after I had the surgery, after my struggle to get in enough calories and protein. It came after I joined a gym, after I’d spent more than two years working to get the weight off. It was two years of mindless workouts, hours spent in the gym, hours spent obsessing over every calorie that went into my body.
I surpassed the expectations of my doctors, of my family. I lost 201 pounds in the matter of two years through a combination of the surgery, obsessive gym habits, and purposely starving myself. Like so many people with weight issues, I took my obsession with food and turned it on its head. Instead of obsessing over when my next meal would be, I obsessed over the calories in my meals, punishing my body in the opposite direction.
At 142 pounds, I was thinner, but no happier than I’d been at 343 pounds. It was this realization that forced that seedling to break through the surface of my consciousness. It was this "tipping point" that made me realize that being healthy isn’t all about weight loss, that a life of body-obsession was not a success for the books. It was, in fact, a tragedy.
It was 2008, three and a half years after my surgery, when my healthy tipping point finally dawned. I started a blog, Eat Move Write, and began to document not just my food and exercise, but my struggles, my challenges, and my passions. Because, I realized, a healthy life is made up of so much more than calories and fitness minutes.
Over the years, I have confronted my own issues with having gastric bypass, but when I started my blog, I was forced to also confront other people’s issues with it. People still ask me all the time what my take is on gastric bypass. They ask if I’m a "supporter" and I never know how to answer that question.
Gastric bypass and weight loss surgeries in general are controversial. They ignite people’s passions in a way that is both stunning and understandable. It goes back to weight loss, which has and always will be as much an emotional issue as it is a physical one. I realize that it is easy to look at what I did and say, why couldn’t you have just done the exercise and nutrition portion without the weight loss surgery? My answer is a simple one: Isn’t hindsight always 20/20? Don’t we always question what we might have done if all the other things that failed us previously had worked instead?
I have seen people attack nearly every weight loss tool out there, and the truth is that all weight loss tools are basically the same. Yes, even gastric bypass. They are tools, tools that help people who have not been able to help themselves. I think it’s fantastic that we are surrounded by a community of bloggers and blog readers who pursue health like it’s their business (in some cases, it is!). I consider myself one of those people now, too. But, my path to get here was meandering. My wake-up call was more drastic. That’s just the reality. My path was gastric bypass; maybe yours isn’t. We’re different. Life goes on.
Today, I continue to chronicle my success story on my blog. I no longer cringe to call myself a success story, as I did those years ago when I was at my thinnest and, yet, most unhappy. I realize now that living a happy and successful life requires acknowledgement of your own successes and failures. It requires an understanding of the moments when you tip for the better and the opportunities to continue that journey. It also helps a whole lot if you come armed with a load of positivity to safeguard you against all the bumps in the road.
I think that’s where blogs come in. I’m grateful for the healthy living blog community, which continues to provide for me examples of this positive "healthy tipping" on a daily basis. We are a group of committed success stories, and I’m so proud to be part of it.
Other Healthy Tipping Point Stories:
- January Joiners’ Stories
- Maura: Single and Strong
- Michele: Love Shouldn’t Hurt
- Cynthia: Healthy is More than Size / Dealing with IBS
- Erica: Positive Thinking in Real Life
- Ben: A 120 Pound Journey to an Ironman
- Erin: Young, Strong, and Beating Distorted Thinking
- Tina: Two Pink Lines Motivated Her to Get Healthy
- Bo: A Man’s Healthy Tipping Point Journey
- Emily: A Slow Switch Helped Her Lose Nearly 100 Pounds
- Kayla: The Fear of Going Blind Motivated Her to Get Healthy
- Maria: A Gallbladder Stone Scare Showed Her The Importance of Real Food
- Dani: Learning to Run Through the Couch to 5K Program
- Maissa: Finding a New Outlet for Negative Emotions
- Freya: A Journey Out of Anorexia
- Carrie: Ditched Distorted Thinking and Ran a Marathon
- Amy: A Mom Who Lost Baby Weight and Became a Triathlete
- Jenny: Saw Lance Armstrong on Oprah and Decided to Ride a Century
- Lauren: Stays Active Despite Being a Busy Associate at a Financial Firm
- Beth: A Friend’s Serious Illness Inspired Her to Focus on Her Own Health