I lost half my body weight

The simple answer that people want to hear is that I lost weight because I had gastric bypass surgery, but let me tell you right now that was only one piece of a very complicated puzzle.

What ultimately led to my weight loss and successful maintenance was creating healthy habits:

  • eating mostly plants, plenty of protein, sufficient amounts of starch to maintain good blood sugar levels and enough fat to feel satiated
  • drinking plenty of water
  • getting enough sleep
  • moving hard and fast, as often as possible (AKA CrossFit)
  • enjoying indulgences when I choose to, because I am in control

But it was mostly the weight loss surgery, right?

Sure, but not for reasons you may think.  First of all it’s important to know that I did NOT have the overnight drastic results that many people have with weight loss surgery.  It took me almost a year to lose my first 100 lbs and it took two years to get to my doctor’s goal weight of 165lbs (I’m 5’1” tall). There are many people who lose way more weight than that, in less time, without surgery!

My body was, and still is, very resistant when it comes to letting go of its precious fat.  Even now, I still have plenty of fat on my body and can very easily gain 8 lbs in one week with too many indulgences.  In fact, I have done just that many times over the last few years.  (Fortunately, I’ve also been able to lose them as soon as I get back to my healthy habits). So it’s important to recognize that while I did have weight loss surgery and it was certainly an important piece of my weight loss puzzle, it was only analogous to the outer edge pieces…you know, the ones that get you started when you’re putting together a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

Lessons I Learned

  • Weight fluctuations are normal even when I do everything “right”.
  • When I eat better, I feel better.
  • Consistency is key.
  • Goals are good, but they only work if I have a plan.
  • There’s no such thing as starting over, just moving forward.
  • Plateaus happen and they suck; it’s how I respond to them that determines my success.
  • An overindulgent meal, day, week or month doesn’t mean I’ve failed, even if I gain weight.

During those two years that it took me to lose 164lbs, I “dieted” constantly.  By about six months post-op I could easily eat too much food (especially the high calorie, nutritionally deficient stuff) throughout any given day if I allowed myself to.  So it was important for me to be very strict with what and how much I ate.

I counted calories, I counted carbs, I tried the Whole 30, I detoxed, I tried Paleo and I even went the ketogenic route.  I did all of these things, trying to find the one “diet” that would get me to my goal the fastest.  Unfortunately, none of them actually got me there because I never stuck with any ONE long enough, but they all provided results…meaning they all work.  I just couldn’t stick with any of them for long periods of time, because…well, because I don’t do well with restriction.  Tell me I can’t have something and I want it even more.  That’s just the way I operate.

Through all of this trial and (sort of) error, I learned a lot!  I learned about nutrition and how the body processes (breaks down and uses) different types of foods.  I learned that any diet will work as long as you stick with it.  I learned that even though my body is totally weird (you know that whole waiting for famine thing), it’s also REALLY smart!  And when I stop and listen to it, it will tell me exactly what I need.

By learning to listen to my body I can now:

  • tell the difference between head hunger and legitimate hunger
  • know when I need to eat vs when I need to drink water
  • realize when my blood sugar is low and that my body is in need of carbohydrates
  • recognize when I feel “empty,” which means it needs fat
  • understand that some days my body actually REQUIRES more calories
  • understand that other days my body will need FEWER calories
  • feel confident that when I take care of it, it takes care of me

As for the benefits of weight loss surgery…

Weight loss surgery gave me hope.  After a lifetime of being fat, I didn’t think anything else was possible.  It also allowed me to not give up when the scale didn’t move, or worse, when the number on the scale would go up.  And let me tell you, both of those things happened frequently throughout those two years of constant diligence.  I was not immune to the ups and downs of conventional weight loss.  But in those first six months when my pooch (stomach) was at its smallest, I couldn’t just throw in the towel and eat a whole pizza or run to Taco Bell and eat one of everything on the menu.  Weight loss surgery provided me with an opportunity to create healthy habits…habits that I lean on solely these days to avoid getting back to where I was.