As much as anyone can verbalize that appearance doesn't matter, and it is what on the outside that is important, appearance or the perception of appearance does matter. It plays into how you see and what worth you give yourself, how you compare the quality of your life compared to others. It can determine if you get the job, continue the relationship, can get pregnant and/or stay pregnant, or how a total stranger can make a quick judgement without ever knowing your name.
I can tell you that it took a very long time to get to the point of being ready to make the surgery decision. It took hard work in therapy, a realization that excess weight was equal to any other self destructive decisions I'd already made, and that watching what my dad went through before his premature death in 2001 and the current life my mom currently had in 2004 were not ones I wanted.
Ten years ago the surgery was not commonplace and was only offered in three hospitals in the entire state. I researched doctors and went through nearly a year pre-approval process with my insurance to prove that I was indeed a worthy candidate. The only person that I had heard of in the media who had had the surgery was Carnie Wilson. I, unlike her, decided to keep the process crazy quiet, even from my mom and brother. In hindsight, I should have sought support. It would have made the process easier, even if there was a shame factor to overcome in the decision to have the surgery.
Ten years out I have put back on about 30 pounds of a 147 weight loss. I did undergo IVF and took other fertility meds, gestated and birthed two children, and also went through two plastic surgeries in the last decade. I can also tell you juggling taking care of babies/toddlers as well as caretaking for my mom out of state was hard on my body for the 5 years I did both. I felt pulled in every way possible and felt like I was treading water just to maintain. When life hits high gear, exercise is usually the first thing to go.
I've continued to make every effort when I can carve out time and maximize what I do. Working with a personal trainer last year was money well spent creating a series of 30 minute intense workouts are now a staple of my week. It is too important and I've come too far to rest on "I'm too busy" as an excuse. I tell myself when I'm clock watching, to remember how much better I will feel after. Since the summer started I've been going at 5:45 to do a class or getting in by 6 am to run laps and do TRX strength training. Have I gone everyday? Nope, but I'm doing what I can to make it a priority and again try to keep up with making it part of my day once the school year returns.
Ten years out I'm feeling joints that hurt in the morning, the inability to exist on less than 6 hours of sleep, and the repercussions still when I make poor food choices. Alcohol, most fried food, many meats, and Chinese food are all still difficult and in my heart of hearts know better than to eat/drink. I feel like I'm looking down the barrel of a gun as I roll into my 40s. I don't want to live in fear of being diagnosed with illness, but also have remind myself daily I do as much as I can and only focused on what I can change.
It is my goal by my 40th birthday in January to be down 10-15 pounds. I'm hoping that I can kickbox and eat a non-pork rind diet my way into 2015 closer to my goal weight. Weight is but a state of mind, and I will take how I feel and continue to make it to birthdays without a degenerative illness diagnosis.
When I look at this picture taken about a month before my surgery in 2004 when my friend Laura H came to visit, it makes me sad. While I'm smiling, I also know that I was unbelievably unhappy and uncomfortable in my own skin. Posting a picture publicly in a swimsuit would be akin to being naked in a crowd.
From one of the Disney Water parks last summer, when the boys and I were making a train on the lazy river. Sure, I still see things that I want to improve, but more importantly I see the two children that are walking this Earth in part to the decision I made ten years ago today. I want them to know me not as a mom that couldn't because I physically was unable, but rather as their mom who served as a role model for taking a given situation and making the best of it.
Through the looking glass on the other side is a beautiful vantage point. It gives me hope that I have reversed or staved off illness until much later because of the decisions and lifestyle choices I made.