Living My Best Life.
I never in a million years thought that I’d ever be a candidate for weight loss surgery. The first half of my life enabled me to eat all kinds of food in any quantity without doing much exercise or having any consequences (or so I thought). By the age of 31 I’d had 3 children and just couldn’t get the excess weight off, so for the next 16 years I started on the diet roller coaster that included Weight Watchers, Phen Fen, cabbage diet, Atkins diet, South Beach and many others. They all gave me short term success, but I regained the lost pounds and more when I stopped them.
As the years went by, I was diagnosed with diabetes, sleep apnea, stress incontinence and high cholesterol. In 2006 a coworker who was around my age and lived the same lifestyle as I had a massive heart attack and died. It really shook me up and in the days that followed I resolved to make drastic changes in my life and started researching weight loss surgery.
The Path to My Best Life
The gastric bypass and the band were very popular at that time however I was reading a lot of information on a fairly new procedure called the “sleeve.” I did the 6-month doctor visits required by my insurance company only to be denied because the sleeve was too new. I knew the sleeve was the perfect fit for me, so I started researching surgeons and my research took me to Dr. Guillermo Alvarez in Mexico. I took out a home equity loan to finance it. My only goal prior to surgery was to get rid of my sleep apnea, I never got to skinny, but I lost over 100 and gained a life I never imagined.
I just recently celebrated my 11th year of weight loss surgery. The surgery and recovery were complication free and I have been able to maintain my weight loss, but the journey has still not been without its challenges. I developed reflux in my 5th year, had a hiatal hernia fixed in year 8, I have been diagnosed with esophageal ulcers, thyroid issues and although I have taken my vitamins religiously prior to surgery I think my current dental issues are caused by some type of deficiency although my lab work shows all is well.
It has truly been life changing and put me on the path to restore my health and gave me back a life worth living, which has enabled me to bless others along the way. I’ve done some extensive traveling, remarried and divorced, gained my degree in Marketing Management with a specialization in Entrepreneurship. At the age of 55, I formed 3 businesses – of which one is the Nonprofit group SouthEast VSG Inc, which hosts conferences for those who have had weight loss surgery. I met some pretty incredible people who were on the same journey and formed some lifelong friendships. I am no longer embarrassed about the way I look which trickled down and enabled me to become a much more outgoing and confident person.
I dislike exercise. I hate to admit it, but it makes me feel better when I do it. I occasionally over stuff myself sometimes but my body always shows me who is really in control. I have more energy than I ever thought possible. I have taken my vitamins every single day and religiously get my annual checkups. My A1C levels remain well under 7.
Am I perfect? Heck no, but I follow what works for me. I have seasons when I’m religious about following protocol and then seasons when I’m not. I get on the scale maybe 2 or 3 times a year and let my clothing be my gauge as to whether I’ve gained any weight. I no longer obsess over anything but go with the flow. I even indulge in adult beverages every now and then.
Helping Others Find Their Best Life
I run an online Face Book support group called SouthEast WLS Group and I try and dispense daily encouragement to our members but here are a few words of encouragement to those reading this article:
• Don’t get discouraged when you have a detour along your journey because there will be many. You just have to get back on track ASAP.
• Your surgery is just a tool not a cure yet an opportunity to help us reclaim and maintain our precious health.
• Be realistic and know it’s going to take time and effort to get and keep the weight off. It is truly a life long journey filled with ups and downs but is you persist and stay focused, you will get the results you desire and hopefully have picked up lots of information along the way to maintain it.
• Don’t let setbacks become an excuse to go back to your old ways. Continue to get your exercise in, eat small portions, and get your fluids in.
• Start or continue journaling to keep track of what you are eating.
• It’s essential that you take your vitamins and supplements every single day of your life and seek out a support group or therapist if you feel it’s needed.
If you are on the fence about having any type of weight loss surgery, I strongly encourage you to do it. It will change the quality of your life. It’s true that it’s not the weight you lose but the life you gain. I have never had regretted my decision to have surgery and love to share my experience. Let’s continue to celebrate ourselves each day and remember how amazing and worthy we are.
Question for the WLS Community: Can you relate to the feelings Robin has described above?
Share your thoughts on Robin’s article. Leave your message in the “Leave a Comment” section at the bottom of this page.
About the Author – Robin Washington
Robin was born and raised in Miami, Florida but has lived in Metro Atlanta, Georgia for the past 27 years. She has worked for a major Telecommunications Company since 1979 but is looking forward to retiring very soon and moving back to North or Central Florida. She has raised 3 young adults Shauna, Desmond & Candice and is extremely proud of them and the professions they have chosen.
Robin recently graduated from Georgia Piedmont Technical College in August 2015 with a degree in Marketing Management with a specialization in Entrepreneurship. She’s a go getter who has always had more than one job. She’s done direct sales for Avon for the past 21 years, event planning as RSW Events and founded the nonprofit group SouthEast VSG Inc in January 2015. She will be celebrating her 1 year anniversary as a travel agent with her newly founded company NextJourney Travel Agency.
Robin is family oriented, enjoys reading, cooking, loves planning and executing events and thoroughly enjoys traveling the world. She feels having bariatric surgery restored her failing health and gave her back a life she’d only imagined and she is thoroughly enjoying it.
In Other News:
Register now for the 2019 WLSFA Annual Bariatric Conference: May 17 – 19 in Orlando, Florida. For information and to register go to www.wlsfa.org/orlando.
If you would like to contribute to our blog, please contact our editor Bill via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Past Blog Posts:
It is never too late to read (or reread) an old Blog posting… or to make a comment, or share a story:
Jan 23, 2018 How Did You Do It? – Bill Streetman
Feb 1, 2018 Sometimes Its Not All About “Me” – Laura Van Tuyl
Feb 22, 2018 Real Food Makes a Difference, Fake Food Makes Obesity – Rain Hampton
Dec 6, 2018 Food Friends and the Holidays – Bill Streetman
Dec 20, 2018 Being Complacent Doesn’t Support My Healthy Lifestyle – Sandi Henderson
Jan 8, 2019 Spotlight on WLSFA Board Member Darla Black
Jan 15, 2019 It Was Never Enough – Kevin Stephens
Jan 22, 2019 My Sugar Story … Not a Sweet One – Melissa Gomez
Jan 29, 2019 Embracing the Spirit of Excellence – Denise London
Feb 5, 2019 Spotlight on WLSFA Board Member Laura Van Tuyl
Feb 12, 2019 Let’s Do This! – Jay Combs
Feb 19, 2019 Healing Through Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy – Dee Masters
Feb 26, 2019 Consistency is the Key to Change – Renee’ Juckem
Mar 7, 2019 Spotlight on WLSFA Board Member Jodi Oldes
NOTE: The Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America is a 501(c) 3 Nonprofit Organization. We have earned the Guide Stars Platinum Seal of Transparency. The WLSFA is a 100% Volunteer Organization with no paid executives or staff. We are fellow weight loss surgery patients, paying it forward since 2010.