Originally published Nov. 13, 2012
I started gaining weight at age 6 and began yo-yo dieting my sophomore in high school. I would starve myself through the week and overeat on the weekends. At that time, I was a size 13 and seem to be able to hold it stable through my college years.
Then at the age of 24, after my first child was born, I fell into a downward spiral. It seemed every year I was heavier than the last. I knew I needed to lose weight because I have a family history of diabetes, hypertension and other medical problems.
I tried every diet and weight loss fad from diet pills and Weight Watchers to Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem. The diets brought me short-term success; however, I always fell short of reaching my goal, not to mention that I quickly regained what I lost plus more pounds.
By 2005, I weighed 390 pounds and was considered morbidly obese. I felt miserable and I was tired of always being tired. I was weary of not being able to fit comfortably in a seat at a movie, having to get a seat belt extender on commercial airplanes and having a limited selection of clothing to choose from.
My weight was affecting my health and I knew I had to do something quick while I still had time. A friend told me about a television show he had watched featuring a woman who had lost more than 100 pounds. The woman said she just started moving.
After asking God to give me enough time to turn my life around, I decided to give my car to my son and make myself start walking. By walking and watching what I ate (although at the time I was eating very little and not in a healthy way) I managed to lose 181 pounds.
Getting outside felt great, but I slowly began reverting back to my old habits. I was exercising less and my food portions and choices became larger and less nutritional. Before I knew it, I had gained back 102 pounds.
I was not happy that I could not find a way to lose and keep the weight off for good. I looked deeper within to find another way to regain control over my life. As far back as 1995, I began researching bariatric surgery. I applied several times over the years and was finally approved for the procedure in 2010. This time it would not be just another diet. If I were going to succeed, it would have to be a lifestyle change.
Some people think having gastric bypass surgery is cheating, an easy way out, but I disagree. You do not automatically become skinny after surgery. The surgery is only a tool and the results depend on how you discipline yourself in eating and exercising.
I have lost 241 pounds. I reached my weight loss goal by incorporating a daily exercise routine, learning to eat smaller portions, making better food choices and changing the way I view food. Food is no longer my comforter and my diet has changed significantly. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. I no longer eat red meat, sticking mainly with turkey, chicken, and seafood. If I have any snacks between meals, I eat sunflower seeds. I prefer to cook my meals rather than eating out at restaurants, that way I know how the food is prepared.
I don't view exercising as a chore. I look forward to getting outside and speed walking. I walk five to 10 miles a day -- rain or shine - and I do the stair climber and weight training at the gym three times a week.
I am very active in my bariatric support group and we meet three times a month. While on this journey, I have also been lucky enough to have a fitness trainer, Alonzo Roberts, who is great at keeping me physically fit and motivated.
I am definitely in control of my life again and I am content with my transformation. I can walk and stand for long periods without my knees or feet hurting. I can cross my legs and sit in whatever chair regardless of the size. Cousins and friends have informed me that my weight loss journey pushed them to start exercising and watching what they eat. I figure if my story can encourage someone to not give up, then I need to tell it!