When I had my surgery, Dave and I were living in Davis and he was working as a lawyer in Sacramento. He hated his commute and we both LOATHED the weather and had decided to move back to the Bay Area to be closer to family, make better money and not sweat our brains out during the summer. We also knew that we’d need to save money if we ever wanted to buy a house in California, so we ended up living with Dave’s mom. I think we moved into her Mountain View condo about a month after my surgery, if not sooner. Dave found a job and we moved as quickly as we could. It took me longer to find a job, but I spent those first two months helping out Carol, who was recovering from knee surgery. Our timing couldn’t have been better.
The first thing I did after we moved was to join a gym. Fortunately, there was one within walking distance of Carol’s condo and I immediately started working out five days a week. It turned out I was stronger than I anticipated and was able to begin walking on the treadmill immediately. I think I started off doing at least 45 minutes of cardio every day. I did 20 minutes on the treadmill, and then 15-20 minutes each on the bike and the elliptical with a 5-8 minute finale on the Stairmaster, which kicked my fat, white heiney. I usually walked home on shaky, achy legs.
Once I was working full time again about two months after my surgery, I found a personal trainer and worked out with her about three times a week. I actually ended up finding two other girls at the gym who were willing to share the hour with the trainer with me, so it ended up costing me $20 per hour instead of $60. That was a HUGE savings and since the other girls had similar fitness levels, we all got our money’s worth.
EATING REAL FOOD AGAIN
After the soft foods stage was over, I had to learn to eat again. I was a STAR PATIENT for the first six months after my surgery. I tracked every bite I ate on fitday.com and basically subsisted on 900 calories a day of mostly lunch meat, edamame and shrimp. I rarely ate carbs. My obsession with food was actually worse than ever.
It also helped that I was literally NEVER hungry.
THE FIRST SIX MONTHS POST-OP
So in a nutshell, this is how you lose weight after Gastric Bypass Surgery: it takes anywhere from six months to a year for your body to completely heal from the surgery. During that time, you are NOT HUNGRY. You don’t have hunger pangs, you can skip meals without noticing and you can feel full after eating less than a cup of food. Shoot, drinking WATER makes you feel full.
But here’s the catch: every day after your surgery is another day closer to the day your appetite comes back. So the first six months are CRITICAL. The fact that you aren’t hungry is awesome, but that doesn’t mean your BRAIN gets it. You still crave everything you ever loved to eat. You might try it and it might work out just fine with your pouch, but you can’t eat enough to get into any trouble. You basically HAVE TO lose weight. There’s really no way around it. You simply aren’t physically capable of eating enough to sustain your body weight. Well, at least I wasn’t.
The most difficult thing about being obese, and I’m talking about being 80-100 pounds or more overweight here, is that the idea of losing that much weight is entirely OVERWHELMING. You can bust your ass and eat nothing and exercise and work SO HARD and maybe lose a pound or two a week. And the idea of what that translates to: of TORTURING yourself for months or YEARS on end to lose that extra weight is TOO MUCH. It makes you crazy. It’s the thing you want more than anything else in the world – to lose weight – and yet every bite you take is horrible. If you’re off your diet, you’re miserable because you don’t want to be fat. If you’re on your diet, you’re miserable because you really want to be eating. THERE IS NO WAY TO WIN. You spend your life suffering either way.
And that’s why I had gastric bypass surgery: I was DONE with suffering. I wanted the battle to be over. I couldn’t face another diet and yet I couldn’t face the idea of being fat for the rest of my life.
THE EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER
So the first six months is also important because unlike every other weight loss plan I had ever tried, this time there was really no way for me to sabotage myself. I wanted bad food, I ate the bad food and I STILL lost weight. I’m not saying I ran around eating whatever I wanted, because I was really, truly good those first six months, but my body literally FORCED me into sticking to a diet plan that otherwise would’ve been totally unrealistic. You can’t put a 300 pound woman on a 900 calorie per day diet and expect her to stay on it for more than a week. It’s just not physically possible.
And yet that exactly what surgery does for you. It gives you this break, this incredible, mind-blowing break, from all the baggage you have about being fat. You can’t eat, so you basically get to move on with the rest of your life for a change. That first six months is SO emotional. I mean, there’s a REASON you’re fat and even though you might never know exactly what it is, having surgery and eliminating this one big glaring problem you’ve had your whole life? It shines a spotlight on everything else that was going on that you BLAMED on your big fat ass. It forces you to see your issues. And they can be REALLY ugly. Or not. The good news, though, is that while all this emotional crap is happening: you are losing weight faster than you ever dreamed. You might be miserable, but you are succeeding for the first time in your entire life. This mostly makes up for the bad stuff.
In my case, I didn’t really get obese until we moved away and I wasn’t happy being isolated and alone. I’m really a social person and I didn’t make any lasting friends for the entire time we lived in Davis, which was over five years. I was just sad. Not getting pregnant hadn’t helped. After the surgery, we moved back home and I got to see my friends and family again and that REALLY helped me. I felt like I was back to my old self again. I felt like Dave and I had finally stopped treading water. We had plans; we were finally saving for a house; things just looked up all around. So that first six months for me was really about maximizing my surgery results. I spent most of my mental energy losing weight. I was totally and utterly obsessed with it. I was probably the most annoying human-being alive.
My starting weight was 296.
After the first month, I weighed 266, a 30 pound weight loss.
The second month, I only lost 13 pounds, putting me at 253.
The third month, I lost 25 pounds, for an ending weight of 228.
The fourth month, I lost 23 pounds, putting me at 205 pounds, 15 pounds UNDER my wedding day weight.
The fifth month, I lost another 12 pounds, putting me at 193 pounds, for a total loss of 103 pounds.
By that time, I was already two weeks pregnant and still had no idea.
[Next installment: OOPS! YOU'RE PREGNANT!]