Conversation with a vet post-op back on track

Yesterday I asked a friend of mine named Gina if she would consider an interview because she has one of the best regain recovery stories out there.  Last night another friend came forward when I was telling her about Gina and wanted to offer her story too.  She is a WLS vet like Gina but did not want to be identified because she has never told people at work.  I will call her Carly.

Yvonne: Carly why did you want to tell your story?

Carly: I regained 50 pounds and I was ashamed. I didn’t want to show my face until I got most of it back off.

Yvonne: I wish you hadn’t felt ashamed, you lost so much but I know that doesn’t matter when you start to beat yourself up.  Unfortunately I think that’s why some of us disappear from our support system.  I wondered where you were because you didn’t answer me until recently.  What happened?

Carly:  I started testing the waters after 3 years.  I was doing fine for 3 years and I got over confident.  I screwed up.

Yvonne: I wish you wouldn’t be so hard on yourself.  Why don’t we call it a life lesson instead?    I’ve heard that phrase before “testing the waters”…can you explain what that means to you?

Carly: It means that I decided to have a little this and little that and was sure that I could knock off that ten pound regain when I wanted to.  I was eating things I missed and I “thought” I was deprived and I “thought I was rewarding myself.  Instead I deprived myself from what I wanted and that was to keep the weight off.  The stupid part is that I had to give up that crappy stuff to lose the regain so I should have never started it in the first place.  I didn’t miss it for 3 years and it started with a little taste.  To be honest I sometimes had more than a little but I would think that I could start over tomorrow so I might as well eat it anyway since I had already blown it for the day.

Yvonne: I so get that.  I did that for years and years. A lot of people thought I was on a binge but I was just making up for all the things I had skipped for several days.  Now I look back and wonder why I thought I had to eat junk and sugar in the first place.  By the way, you are not allowed to call yourself stupid OK?  🙂 How did you get back on track?

Carly:  I was really mad because I didn’t want to go on another diet. Another damn diet.  After I got mad enough I decided that I would get it off.  I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I’ve got five pounds to go and I’m never going to mess it up again like that.  I’ll fix it as I go along.   I wish I had listened before I regained but I thought I had it made after doing OK for so long.  I ate great for 3 years and then started to try things that got me in trouble.   I tested the waters and I nearly drowned.  I deprived myself from my weight loss, not that stupid food I didn’t need.

Yvonne: What changes have you made and have you come up with any “absolutes” that you won’t do again?

Carly:  I followed your suggestion about sugar and I don’t eat over 8 grams.  I weigh every day and I don’t freak out.  I know that if I do what I need to do I will get there and stay there.  I finally realized that a few minutes of junk food is not worth what it does to me.  It makes me want it more and I started feeling like it was the same as drugs!  I mean drugs could be fun too but at some point I have to stop so it’s better to never start.

Yvonne: I understand that better than you know.  I have a story about eating Quarter Pounders when I was below goal.  It made me crave them and it wasn’t until I didn’t have one for a long time that I forgot the craving!   There are so many people that think I’m too tough on this sugar and junk food thing.  I have to be careful EVERY day and adding sugar and junk food would definitely make me gain weight.  If I am struggling to keep the weight off why would I eat sugar and junk?  If you are able to do it and keep it off, more power to you!  I can’t do it but I’m super happy for anyone that can.

Carly: That’s what I thought I was going to do.  Then one day it’s 5 pounds, then 10, then 15 and every time I thought I’ll start tomorrow.  It was sort of insane that I was eating that stuff when I was trying to lose weight.  I mean really, I’m not at goal and I’m eating crap.  The weight made everything in my life unmanageable.

Yvonne: I call that feeling you get “looking through the weight regain glasses”…when everything in your life gets messed up because of the regain.  I got an email from you once that sounded just like you were looking through the weight regain glasses.

Carly: Everything was messed up but the truth was that it was only the regain that bothering me.  I would have had those other problems anyway but I’d rather have them when I’m thinner.

Yvonne:   I’ve explained many times that life will always be life and you’ll always have something not going exactly like you want but I would rather tackle those glitches as a thinner person.  Thank you Carly! You’ve been really helpful.  Will you answer questions if someone asks?

Carly: Of course.  Thank you for your support and thanks for not giving up on me.

Yvonne: Sweetie I’m so proud of you and all you’ve accomplished.  Don’t give yourself a hard time for anything in the past…it’s gone.

I wonder just how many feel lost and ashamed due to regain when they shouldn’t.   So many pull away from their support system when they start to get overwhelmed and I have talked to many that just won’t show up because they think we don’t want them around anymore.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Shame and guilt are two things we can ill afford to feel and they suck the life out of you.  Please…. if you are one of the “lost”, come back to your group, your WLS friends or a therapist.  I will be following up with Gina’s story who proved it is never too late to turn it around.  Please feel free to leave a question if you have one.  You don’t have to use your real name.

Big hugs, Y

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12 Comments on “Conversation with a vet post-op back on track”

I am six years post op and I have regained about 40 lbs. I am feeling very much the same way I am ashamed that I have gained this weight back. I stay depressed a lot my husband has been out of work now for almost a year and I can’t afford to buy the protein drinks to try to get back on my diet. So with the depression of course I have gone back to a lot of my old ways grazing and hiding snack or junk food so no one else can see me. I want to turn this all around but it is so hard right now. 

OK gumby let’s start all over. I’ll bet that you’ve lost over 100 pounds or more. I know it seems like this 40 pounds is a HUGE MONSTER but when you compare it to what you’ve lost you can put it in better perspective. You do not have to have the protein drinks to do this. We get in this depressive state and can’t see our way out. I will be interviewing Gina very soon and she has gotten a 70 pound regain off. You can do it! I’ll do anything I can to support you and you can start this right now by just starting….reaching out for support. We so often eat because we are trying to numb ourselves from pain. I’m sure with the job situation makes your depression worse. It is also harder to do without support and I’m sure your husband feels really deflated too so he’s probably not up for offering a lot of support right now. What can we do to help? I mean we because I’ve got friends that can help too. I hope you will consider reaching out to me. Are you involved in any support anywhere? Tell me more about yourself if you don’t mind.
Hugs, Y

So what is the first step to take (besides realizing and accepting it’s time to take back control) towards getting back on track? Is there a “step by step”? I’ve got 25 lbs out of 95 to “re-lose”.
Thank you …

Marie

Marie I believe the first thing is to put it in perspective like I said before. In your case you’ve lost 70 pounds right? Put that number next to 25. See and believe in the difference and don’t give that 25 power. Look at it as the small number it is and know that stressing about “impossible outcome” will only draw you closer to an impossible outcome. Everyone is a bit different but these are general. Find some support. If you have benefits see if you can see a professional that can get you to work through some “family of origin” issues too. Remove the food from your house that offends. Even I have a difficult time dealing with tempting food in the house at night. Use your support. When you are beginning to eat things that you shouldn’t, help someone else. Call friends for support. Find things to do with your time. Go back to basics like not drinking with your meals and journal your food. Find a way to get some movement in your life. Exercise is sort of a dirty word and almost anyone can at least walk. Be aware of stinkin’ thinkin’ and know the toll it takes on your body. Realize that we use food to self medicate pain away or change the way we feel. Start “turn around” thinking by turning around negative thoughts into positive ones. Make a grateful list and say it every morning and evening. Do something to fill up your self esteem pocket. Volunteer or do something that makes you feel good about yourself because none of us have to look too far to find someone WAY less fortunate than ourselves. Every time you eat when you aren’t hungry….break the cycle by getting tough with yourself. There are so many ways but most of all you have to believe that you can do it. We start to slack and go back to old things because they are what we did for so long and it is the path of least resistance. I know that when my head is in a better place by doing some of the positive things I am more capapble of sticking to the drill. Also when you find some type of exercise find one that you can tolerate….preferably like or love. Take a dance class, do yoga…find something to make you feel good about moving your body. Get shaker weights and use them while you watch TV. Seek out the things that are bugging you that you can change and work on that. Stress kills and it also puts our body into starvation mode. MAKE SURE AND EAT BREAKFAST!! That one is very important because we can easily throw ourselves into starvation mode if you don’t. I have a saying about “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a student with a maxed out charge card.” I’m typing these things as they pour out of my brain. Some can be done by all and some cannot due to financial issues (like the therapy). It’s also important to try to take your vitamins and if the bariatric vitamins are too expensive for some you can buy less expensive chewables at a store.
That’s a start. It’s so important to have someone to talk to, someone to have your back and tell you what you need to hear. Sometimes we just need to be appreciated and useful. I hope that’s a good start.
hugs, Y

Thank you Doc for posting this link…..I need to be here and love what you have to say B Girl. Gosh I need help. I am almost 3 years post op. Lost 177 and gained back very quickly 70. I am now over 200 lbs and feel like crap. I need to get my yearly labwork and bone density test but do NOT want to call my surgeon for the orders. I felt so good thin why did I and my brain let me do it again? I do not talk on my support forum anymore, I read, but that is all. I miss meals, eat junk all day. I want to stop. Please HELP.

Hi Kim, I would love to know where you saw the link posted. Would you mind sharing it with me? I am going to post another interview with a friend of mine that lost exactly 70 pounds she regained. She will be celebrating 9 years in a few months. It is never too late. You’ve kept 100 pounds off! I don’t know if you got a chance to read the long answer I typed out to Marie but maybe you could get back on track and get back in control like Carly and my friend Gina who I’ll be posting about soon. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you. Hugs, Y

Thank you so much for posting this interview. This is my second surgery in 12 years and one would think that I’d be super motivated to keep going, but the opposite happened to me. My sister started to lose weight by dieting and exercising and calling me every week to tell me about her success. Before I knew it, I was up 20 pounds. TWENTY POUNDS, are you KIDDING ME? I am so proud of her but in some way I felt/feel like my efforts weren’t as honest as hers. Reading this story reminded me that the tools are there, the support is here and gosh, I didn’t go through all of this effort to surrender it to a cookie.

I love this quote from Carly “I tested the waters and I nearly drowned. I deprived myself from my weight loss, not that stupid food I didn’t need.”

I have not attempted to cut sugar grams, but I will make that a priority. Thanks again for a timely and supportive piece!!

You are so welcome Connie. I drank Coke like it was water before surgery and most of my friends were more shocked that I would quit drinking Coke than have major surgery. It boggles my mind that I have not had a Coke in nearly ten years and today I don’t even remember what it tasted like! I don’t miss what I can’t remember. I learned a very important lesson. For me it keeps the craving alive by eating the very food I want to avoid. The craving goes away when I quit eating things I shouldn’t. About 4 or 5 years ago I would eat a Quarter Pounder with Cheese “IF” I got below goal. I had control over eating it only when I was under goal however I still wanted one. For several months I didn’t get below goal and I realized that the longer it lasted, the more I forgot what it tasted like. I know now that the best way to stop the craving is to not do it eat the junk because it keeps the craving alive. Again I have forgotten what they taste like and I’m so glad!! I don’t need those nasty cheeseburgers because they deprive me from the weight that I so desperately wanted to be. The pleasure from food only lasts a few minutes….the displeasure from gaining weight back lasts until I get it off again. It’s an easy choice for me now when I put it in those terms. Know that your efforts are just as honest and don’t let that thinking sabotage your journey OK? We will find a way to feel guilty without a good reason so do some “turn around” statements and tell yourself something good about yourself OK? Thanks for you input…you inspired me to come up with the pleasure/displeasure phrase! Please let me know if I can help you in any way…support, whatever. Hugs, Y

Thanks, Yvonne! Your response has me tearing up… I am 5 pounds down already and feel like I am back on track. You are SO right about the pleasure/displeasure. As I sit here, I realize that other people have a much easier time coming up with turn around statements than I do. Perhaps that is the most telling thing of all. Today I will make a list of turn around statements and post them on my pantry door. Also, I had zucchini last night and I’d forgotten how good it is. You have given me a whole new way to look at this battlefield. I can’t thank you enough!

I can relate to Carly’s story in so many ways, this sounds so much like my situation. I need to get back on track, I’ve regained 45 lbs of the 116 I lost. I was 13 lbs from goal. I feel so ashamed and guilty that I have gained the weight back. Any advice you could share on getting back on track would be greatly appreciated. I don’t even want to go back to see my surgeon to have my annual labs done in May because I’m to ashamed that I’ve gained the weight back. I don’t go to the support group meetings because I don’t get anything out of them, the main thing they discuss at this support group is answer questions of the new people or the people contemplating having the surgery. My biggest problem is sweets and grazing, seems like that all I do anymore- lots of emotional eating going on – the stinking thinking takes over .

Yvonne, I sat in your session at the Cincinnati Obesity Help event and you were very inspiring. I started gaining weight around sept and haven’t lost anything since then. I’m hoping withh your inspiration and motivation support I can get back on track and stay on track. Heck I didn’t eat sweets or junk food for 2 years and wish I would have never started again.

Michelle my heart goes out to you. I know you don’t feel like going back to your surgeon but it’s really important because you need to make sure your labs are OK. Did you know that being low in Vitamin D can actually make you retain weight? Do you remember what I said about how to approach your regain? Don’t let it be a huge monster. Also the shame you feel is so toxic that it can make you feel completely debilitated. Instead of concentrating on what you’ve regained you need to focus on what you’ve lost. Do you remember when you first reached the weight you are now how happy your were? Please work on the shame thing. It sucks the life out of us. Know that when you eat the sweets and the junk food that you turn on the cravings. They manufacture that food so that once we eat it, we want more and more.

I won’t lie…this will take some work but anything worth having is worth working for. Are you eating breakfast (a healthy one) so that you don’t throw your body into starvation mode? Are you moving? Are you eating late at night? Remove the junk food out of your house. Make up your mind that you can stop that the sweets and junk and you’ll be surprized how much difference it makes. Make a promise to yourself that you will go 21 days without junk and sugar and you’ll be amazed how you will forget the craving for that stuff. It is CRACK! There’s a saying that 100% is easy and 99% is a bitch. When you decide to quit the junk and sugar it is easier to do it at 100% because that 1% can get you in trouble.

Do you have access to therapy? We so often have so much work to do with our family of origin issues. Why are we using food to self medicate our feelings away? When you get those feelings of being irritable, restless and discontent you can reach out to others so you can get out of your head. I can’t tell you how many people have said those exact words about wishing they never started eating the junk. You stopped it once and you can stop it again. Please don’t feel ashamed. You are worthy! You ARE a good person that got off track OK? Do you have any hobbies? Can you take a class for dancing or yoga or Zumba or something? You are eating to fill that hole in your heart. You are eating to sabatoge your success. When we regain we often are looking at everything with those regain glasses and that makes it more difficult. Please keep in touch. You can do it OK? And when you need to talk about how you are feeling, come here and let it out.
Big hugs, Y

Make sure and read the post about Gina too. She got it off and she is now at goal after nearly 9 years. Start seeing things with your glass half full instead of half empty. Do positive affirmations if you have to. Don’t let that nasty regain monster win. When you are feeling stressed and want to eat, reach out to help someone else or post on the facebook page about how your feeling.

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