In kindergarten, I was teased about whether I could fit through the classroom door. In middle school, “friends” of mine shook a table while I walked by it, like my weight could move an entire lunch table. After I had tried every diet and diet pill, it came as a surprise to no one that I would consider bariatric surgery.
The requirements of bariatric surgery at the time were 6 months of doctor visits, proven weight loss before surgery and a visit to a psychiatrist. It required me to drive 7 hours, once a month, from Michigan where I was in law school to Iowa where I was having my surgery (and where my parents lived). All of the work before surgery seemed like it would be worth it for the "easy way out," as I thought it would be at the time. I was 25 years old and in the middle of law school when I scheduled the procedure on a date in July.
I spoke to everyone I met about it. I posted about my impending surgery on Facebook and garnered so much support from my “friends.” I got so excited for the cute clothes I’d wear and the hot boys I’d date. I counted down the days until my life would change forever and I’d finally look on the outside like I felt on the inside.
I had the surgery and even went home a day early because I was feeling great. In the first 30 days, I lost 28 pounds. I also watched Food Network non-stop and prayed for the days I’d be able to eat real food again.
That day came after my one-month visit, where they said I was losing weight too fast. What a great problem to have! For the next four months, I continued to lose weight although dramatically slower.
In January 2011, I was down 70 pounds and people were starting to notice. However, the scale was no longer going down. In February, it started to go back up. I also noticed that I could eat larger portions without throwing up. I decided to have a drink or two and have a soda now and then.
Once I started breaking the “rules” of the post-surgery plan, I stopped losing weight. I also stopped talking about my surgery. Friends stopped telling me how great I looked.
Almost 5 years later, I am about 15 pounds from where I started. I take full and complete responsibility for my failure to lose weight after bariatric surgery. Maybe doing this during the stress of law school was a poor choice, I reasoned with myself. But the truth is I didn’t realize that it wasn’t a fail-proof method of weight loss. I was so focused on what I had to gain that I wasn’t focused on what I had to do.
If this surgery is something you are considering, I would absolutely encourage you to do it, but I would also tell you that it requires work, effort, changes and there will be times you are absolutely miserable.
I am a successful lawyer who has had lifelong relationships. I am competitive and play to win, and I regularly do. I have worked hard and never really failed at anything in my life, except at the one “fail proof” thing in my life.
This is the worst failure of my life, and that in itself is kind of embarrassing. I know there are harder failures, things that are out of others’ control, that are far worse than this failure. But still there are days when I am so embarrassed.
People who have met me in the last two years may not even know I ever had this surgery. There are days when I wonder why I can set goals and exceed them at every turn, but this one goal constantly escapes me. Still, learning to fail is a valuable lesson, even though learning to fail in a public manner was a hard one.