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Gastric sleeve: New Year, new me!

I have been trying to work up the nerve to make a resolution for my 2016. It is the New Year, my chance to embrace a fresh start and wipe the slate clean. I know, easy, right? That’s why so many of us make resolutions. Not many of us stick to them though, and most are abandoned by Valentine’s Day.

I feel like I have been on an endless treadmill lately. My family has experienced so much major change over the last two years that I don’t feel like I am making any headway. There is a bit of me that feels like gum stretched too thin; that instead of being sticky enough to hold everything together, I am unchewable and flavorless, something that, despite my best efforts, just makes my jaw hurt. While self-examination and reflection is NOT really my thing, I know that I need to make some decisions about how I want my life to move forward.

Here’s the thing, though. I hate change. Yes, I will tell people that I love it, that it makes me feel invigorated and excited about new opportunities. Lies. Lies, I tell you. I hate hate hate it. It is scary. Change is challenging and change forces personal growth. So yes, I embrace change because sometimes some really great things come from it. But that doesn’t mean I won’t complain about it. The other thing, I feel too tired to change. Part of that is my kids, they don’t let me sleep a lot, always climbing into bed with us or waking us up early. And our dogs, they wake me up a lot, too. And the t.v., I stay up too late watching trash. My multiple sclerosis doesn’t help, either. But the biggest thing that affects my energy level is me. This will be embarrassing to write, hard to face up to. I am too fat. There. I said it. It is hard to feel energetic dragging an extra 100 pounds about. As I have been thinking about this, I have one resounding question — what in the hell has happened here? I know part of it is long-term steroid use from my MS but that was a few years ago. Then pregnancies and not trying very hard to lose baby weight. Throw in a fondness for wine and ice cream and a reluctance for regular exercise … . Guess it all adds up.

I look in the mirror and I have some sort of dysmorphia: I still see myself at 18. So I am always surprised when a picture of all of me pops up and I think, “wow, is that what I really look like?”. Not that I let full body shots happen often. To look through the last four years of my pictures you would think I was just a floating head raising babies. Like the bodyless horseman, my body is cropped out of or covered up with one of my children in nearly every one of them.

I saw a shrink last month, and she said that the way I saw myself was a good thing because it meant I still saw myself as a healthy person and not someone who has given up on themselves. Words to ponder. And I want to be a healthy person. My kids are young and I am not. I want to do so much with them and The Hubs for as long as possible. The human body is amazing, it can do so many wonderful things. It is miraculous and beautiful, designed to jump and move and lift, dance, stretch, run. Why aren’t I letting it? Really. Why don’t I care about its well-being? I make an effort to make sure the kids eat balanced meals and get enough sleep, playtime and sunshine. Why can’t I do the same thing for myself?

And it really is about feeling good for me. If I can stand pictures of myself again, well, that’s just a bonus. In August I made the decision to have laparoscopic gastric sleeve surgery before year end. Which is all fancy talk for saying a surgeon is going to make a few incisions in my abdomen, lift up my liver, and then cut off and remove 90-95 percent of my stomach. I have had more bloodwork and tests run on me than you can imagine. I have been examined by a cardiologist, pulmonologist, surgeon, anesthesiologist, dieticians, an exercise therapist and a psychiatrist. I kept assuring them that the testing was unnecessary, and that I was the healthiest fat person they would ever meet. Guess what? My test results confirmed that! There isn’t anything wrong with me, yet. But that window won’t stay open forever and I know it.

I chose the sleeve procedure because it is the least invasive weight-loss surgery. Post-op recovery time at home is supposed to be about two weeks, though it takes about a year for the body to completely heal. Nothing gets re-routed in the surgery, it’s just about making your stomach smaller, forcing patients to stop over-eating.

The surgery will not be a cure-all. I will have to be very careful to get the right amounts of protein and water every day. I will take vitamin supplements for the rest of my life. I have to exercise. Have to – or I will get all saggy and creepy-looking. A lot of my hair will probably fall out if my diet isn’t just right. Y’all know how vain I am about my mop.

So … here’s my resolution for 2016: I will lose 100 pounds by Dec. 31, 2016. There! I did it. I made a resolution and I announced it. But I would like some help. In a recent article I read about making resolutions, the self-help author surmised that one of the reasons we give up on them is that the people around us stop asking us about our progress. We lose our accountability — and for some of us, our cheering sections, too! I have started an online resolution support group, Let’s Do This! If you are making some changes this new year and want to be part of a motivational community, you can join us! Visit me at and tell me you want in on the action. Some of the toughest, prayin’-ist, kindest and optimistic folks I know are already on board – together, we can’t go wrong! My surgery was Thursday, so I’ll see you in January, hopefully 20 pounds lighter. Happy New Year!

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