Bariatric Surgery: Post-Op Thoughts

I did it! I had the bariatric surgery on the 25th of June! I travelled to Turkey, Istanbul because it was cheaper than other places. The hospital itself was a private hospital and it was an excellent facility. I was admitted the day before the actual surgery where lots of tests were done, including an endoscopy. The next morning was the day of the surgery. It was a little scary because you just don’t know what the outcome will be, but it went smoothly, and it was a success. I have never seen an operating theatre before, so that was a strange experience in itself. I thought I would feel a lot more emotionally just before I had the surgery, but I was surprisingly quite calm, and my brain really was not thinking much. I think I just wanted it over and done with. I remember seeing them inject the anaesthesia and within thirty seconds I was out. After waking up from the surgery I was in complete agony. I could feel where I had been operated on. My vision was very blurred, but I remember seeing that I was being given morphine through a drip after crying out in pain. Thank whoever invented morphine! I stayed in the hospital for four days in total which was an adequate time to recover a little. I say a little because bariatric surgery is a surgery that needs a few weeks to recover properly in my humble opinion, but this is best done at home as you start to resume daily life. I slept a lot after the surgery and each passing day, the pain lessened a little. I started a liquid diet one day after and personally, I loathe liquid diets. However, it is a necessity for two weeks post-surgery. This is definitely the worst part for me. I am on a liquid diet until the 15th of July where I will then be able to start the puree stage. The puree stage lasts for two weeks and then it is solid foods, but still with some restrictions. I am okay with this as this is only the beginning of the journey. I know this part is temporary and eventually, I will be able to cook flavoursome food. 

I did this alone and I am glad I did because this journey is mine and mine only. I wanted it to start off with just me and I am very independent as it is. I travelled to Turkey, had one day of sightseeing and eating delicious Turkish food (their breakfast is divine) and then it was time to go to the hospital. Despite doing this alone and being content with that decision, it has been tough at times. It is the little things you need someone to help with, like helping you get up so there is no pulling near the incision sites, or someone to lift your suitcase at the airport. However, I managed all of that and I am now back in my own little space which I am grateful for. There is no place like home after all. I have been back a few days and have managed to rest a lot so already, I am feeling a better. I am also doing normal things such as driving, walking, doing household chores and so forth. The only things I am struggling with are not being able to bend over to pick things up, so I must bend down by squatting and just do things very slowly in general, like getting in and out of the car. I can sleep but only on my back whilst being turned to the side a little, just so there is no pulling near my incisions. The most difficult thing is getting out of bed because it adds pressure in my stomach, and this is the most painful part. I remember in the hotel one day I got out of bed and cried out in agony because of the physical pain. Since then, I have been taking it much easier, but it takes me a solid five to ten minutes to get myself out of bed. I have low levels of energy, but I am putting that down to the lack of nutrients with only being on a liquid diet. 

This is no walk in the park. The part I struggling with is that I am still feeling hunger and because my brain thinks like a fat person, I think that I can still eat the same as I used to. Deep down though, I know my stomach will not allow this and I am glad. This is the part that proves just how challenging this is because I must constantly have a conversation with myself to remind myself that I do not need a lot of food to be content and that I must listen to my hunger cues, not my brain hunger cues. This is so much more than just having an operation to help you reduce hunger. It is the psychological work that goes into it to help prevent you from getting into the same situation as before. The hunger I was feeling was intense after surgery. I wondered what the difference was because immediately, I did not feel any difference. However, this is down to the fact that the hunger hormone ghrelin has not reduced completely yet. As time progresses, this hormone reduces, thus, not feeling as hungry. I have noticed now, nearly two weeks post-op, that the hunger is reducing and my protein shakes, water, fresh juice (selected fruits) and broth do keep me satisfied. I am interested to see how much I will be able to eat once I do start the other stages and will be able to eat actual food. 

Despite some of the challenges I am currently facing, I don’t regret doing this. After having the surgery, it has become even more clear that this was the absolute best decision for me. I have no regrets and I would highly recommend this to anyone that has had several failed attempts at trying to lose weight. It is not just about losing weight, but it is also about the healthy lifestyle you gain when your entire being is not focused on food. I have already started noticing small differences such as my face looking a little smaller, sleeping more restfully through the night, not to mention a 4kg reduction on the ‘glorious’ scales thus far. There is so much to look forward to but the thing I am looking forward to most is being satisfied with less food that is nutritious, building that healthy lifestyle I have always wanted to achieve. This is a progressive journey where I am learning each day. I am excited to see how my life will be as I continue this lifestyle change. I will document this journey with honesty because I know it is not going to be smooth sailing. It’s going to be one hell of a rollercoaster, but I am in for the thrill! 

Until next time, 

Yours, 

The Unveiled Reflector x 

Bariatric Surgery: Pre-Op Thoughts

I can’t believe I have made the decision to have bariatric surgery! I have never had surgery before, so I am nervous as hell. I hate needles and hospitals, yet here I am, willing to go under the knife! But I guess that just proves how much I want this and how much I need this in all honesty. The surgery date is approaching fast and with it nearing the end of the academic year here in the Middle East, I haven’t had a lot of time to really sit down with my thoughts and gather them until this last week. This is when it hit me like ‘Oh f***, it’s happening’. The fact that the surgery is becoming a reality is scary and nerve-racking. I can’t believe I am about to start a whole new chapter in my book of Life! There have been so many thoughts that have been going through my mind as the date gets closer, but they have all been chaotic. They have been hard to articulate. There has been so much to think about that I almost feel like I do not know where to start. 

I am excited as I embark on this new journey. I wanted my thirties to start off with a healthier and happier me. I can’t help but wonder what this fresh new start will bring. As I have been sitting with some thoughts, I am excited because of what this means and the positive changes I am hoping it will bring. I feel I will start seeing results quite quickly and this will motivate me to keep pushing when I am struggling. It’s also the little things like the fact that my clothes will fit better. I won’t constantly be worrying about my next meal. I will be able to be more physically active because my body will allow it. I won’t be exhausted all the time because of my weight, I won’t be out of breath for walking small distances, food won’t control me, and I won’t have to feel completely uncomfortable in the skin I have, are just some examples. 

Despite all the positive thoughts I have and the excitement of a new chapter, a part of me deep down can’t help but be apprehensive a little. See, the thing is, if you’ve never had to battle with weight to the extent where it has impacted your entire life and it feels like everything has revolved around physically being a certain way, it can be a little difficult to understand why someone like me might have such fears. I’m not saying that my fears are overriding my positive thoughts completely, but at the same time, if I fail with this then I question whether there really is hope for someone like me. See, my biggest fear is that I won’t be successful long term. And that’s what it comes down to. My weight has been a problem for me my entire life. I can’t even begin to imagine a life where it won’t be a problem. However, I think I have come to terms mentally that my weight and this health journey is going to forever be a personal struggle for me. It’s the biggest mental challenge that I face, and it requires a lot of inner work to form healthy habits. I am trying to work out why I am an emotional eater. I am scared that even though I am having surgery, will it really mean I eat less? I can’t imagine what it will feel like to not constantly feel hungry or be worried about food. Bariatric surgery is such a personal decision that I am worried people are going to question how I am losing all this weight and judge me when and if they find out, even when they might not know anything about surgery. I’m trying to do the mental work but it’s hard. It takes a lot, and it is an evolving journey. I can’t imagine what it will feel like as I am changing physically. I’m scared about whether this will even work for someone like me. I can’t imagine what it might feel like to not always be the biggest person in the room, wondering if I am taking up too much space. Maybe I won’t feel like people are judging me all the time or only staring at me because of my physical appearance. Maybe I won’t think that the only thing people are thinking when they look at me is how I let myself get this way. I can’t imagine what it will feel like to eat smaller portions and feel full. I am wondering whether even after the surgery, will my eyes be bigger than my stomach and want to eat more? Will I be able to differentiate between head, emotional and physical hunger? Will my brain be able to catch up to my body whilst I am losing weight, or will I go through body dysmorphia? I am scared that I will go back to old eating habits, feel uncontrollable around food, and that emotional eating will get the better of me. Will I be able to meal prep enough to cook homemade healthy foods and be able to listen to my intuition as to when I should stop eating? Will I be the mindful eater I am working on being? I wonder if I will ever be able to love my body the way I want to because of the loose skin I will most likely have. I know loose skin isn’t the end all and be all and it is something that can eventually be removed, but I feel that feeds into the body dysmorphia and will result in me not feeling different. I am scared that I won’t become active like I want to because I will still be hesitant that my weight will stop me. Most of all, I am scared that food will still be my vice and I will eternally be self-conscious about my physical appearance, feeling like I am not living in the present moment.

It’s a fact that bariatric surgery isn’t going to be a quick fix. In fact, this surgery is just the tool I need to get started. It’s the mental challenge that can be the most difficult part. That’s all it is – a mental game. I know nutrition, a healthy lifestyle and fitness is something that I will forever need to work on. My weight will always be something I need to keep an eye on, and it will forever be a work in progress. It’s a lifelong journey that I am about to commit to, which is why I am fearful. I am wise enough to know that it isn’t going to be smooth sailing and a perfect journey. But I want this change. I have wanted it for so long! I want to be the best version of myself, and I am hopeful that this will enable me to succeed. I don’t want to be who I am physically anymore. It’s tiring and makes me unhappy. I’m just fed up with constantly feeling this way. I hate it and feel like this is always on my mind and prevents me from living the life I dream of living to the fullest. I just wonder if I will ever feel supported on this journey without feeling like food choices are a constant mental battle. Finally, all these chaotic thoughts lead me to one final thought. I have no idea what to expect. A life after bariatric surgery will be completely new territory to me. All I know is that as frightening and as scary as this seems, I am excited nevertheless to begin this new chapter in my book of Life.

Until next time, 

Yours, 

The Unveiled Reflector x 

Oh – Look at her weight! Confessions of a fat girl

What is the worst thing a human being can be? Is it being fat? Truth be told, I can think of things that are much worse! So why is then, that fat shaming and fat phobia is a thing? Why is it that if someone doesn’t fit the stereotype of how a woman should look, it becomes a societal problem?

I’m fat. I have been my whole life. From a young age when I didn’t even understand what fat was, it was pointed out to me by those closest to me. At the age of eight, I couldn’t understand why there was this sheer panic about what I looked like. It was like the adults were talking about me in hushed voices, but I couldn’t understand why. I was a chunky child, a bit bigger than everyone else but not anything concerning at the time. You could almost call it puppy fat. As time went on, I started feeling insecure about how I looked. It was always pointed out that I needed to lose weight, but I didn’t understand how to lose it. It’s not as simple as everyone saying ‘just stop eating that’. **Rolls eyes**

I started secondary school and in my first year, I used to get bullied. I was always quite vocal, so I never let the bullies win. I made friends with a group of girls and that was the first group of friends that I had ever had. I’m still friends with one of them now (see Frenemy post). I was the biggest in the group. I got through schooling always being concerned about my weight. I tried to starve myself but that didn’t make me skinny, so I stopped that. I used to gorge on chocolate on the way home and people had a way of embarrassing me about eating junk which resulted in me not wanting to eat in front of people. I was insecure but I was good at hiding it by being funny, witty, and never allowing anyone to say anything about my appearance, without ripping into them. I masked my insecurities by being the class clown and feisty. Eventually, people just knew not to say anything to me because they feared embarrassment. I feel the problem is that no one tries to understand why children feel the need to do that. Thinking back, if I had the right support, I would have been able to talk about how those things made me feel and maybe the right person would have guided me to understanding things better; not that I am blaming anyone. I believe it is linked to emotional eating and there is a deeper reason to it. Sometimes, children just need to be understood and I felt I was never understood as a child.

Growing up, whenever I watched TV, I would see these pretty perfect looking women who had incredible bodies without an ounce of fat. I thought their life was perfect. I didn’t understand at a young age what it meant to have a certain type of body and why it was a big deal if you didn’t have that certain type of body. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with mine but then at the same time, because of everyone else, I knew something was very wrong with mine. My body was a problem because it was a problem for everyone else, not me.

I kept hearing the word ‘diet’ floating around without any real understanding of what nutrition and a healthy lifestyle was. I tried every diet under the sun! I tried shakes from the age of fifteen and it didn’t work because starving your body never does. I tried something called Diet Chef. Diet Chef was calorie controlled pre-packaged food and it tasted vile. I tried slimming world and that would work for a week, but I could never prep as much as would be needed whilst living with my family who were eating completely different things. It was a constant battle trying to figure out the right thing to eat. Someone always felt they had the right to comment on the food that I chose because they felt they had a right to tell me what they thought of it. Being fat is not a problem for the individual as much as it is for everyone else around them. I would always find the slim people around me complain about their weight constantly and it started to feel like they were trying to make themselves feel better because deep down inside, they knew they were not in the same position. Maybe they were just dealing with their own insecurities and needed validation.

I spent all my teen years trying to achieve a better body because that is what would mark my worth in the world after all. It was how I would be accepted by society for looking a certain way. I even spent most of my twenties not feeling good enough. And to be fair, I have started my thirties feeing similar. I don’t think it is always because of how we feel about ourselves but more about what others can make us feel like. This is the point where someone will say that you shouldn’t let others dictate how you feel but honestly, I am positive we have all been in a place where we have been affected by what others say to us. It’s just an unfortunate reality of life. And I guess it affects us because deep down inside, we all just want to be accepted for who we are.

Fast forward to 2021 – I have tried many more diets since my early teens. These have included calorie counting, having a gym and personal trainer membership, keto, slimming world again and again, Atkins, reading weight loss books and another shake diet. The list is endless! Evidently, they didn’t work otherwise I wouldn’t be making confessions about being a fat girl. But here’s the thing a fat person will never tell you. Being fat is one of the hardest things. I mean, judgement is inevitable if you look a certain way and people have a fat-phobia, but it’s the constant shaming of how it makes you undesired, how it’s because you can’t control what you eat, how you’re branded as the epitome of laziness. But that is far from the truth. I enjoy healthy food just as much as food that is classed as unhealthy. I am not lazy – I work 14-hour days. I cook sometimes when my schedule allows it because let’s be real…. If you leave the house at 6am every day and sometimes don’t get home until 20:30, trying to weigh out carbs, protein and fats is the last thing on your mind when you need something quick, so you can sleep to repeat the entire process all over again the next day. It’s hard because it is such an internal struggle when you want to do the simple things like wear certain clothing but won’t because you know there will be someone who will comment, or just not feeling like you are the biggest person in the room or taking the most amount of space. It’s the simple things like not being judged when you’re amongst a group of people who have been blessed with great genetics. And it is also about the simple things like being able to live your life without always feeling like you’re being judged.

I can’t deny that I am self-conscious and insecure all day, every day. I hate looking at the reflection in the mirror and I feel that I am constantly being judged by others because they can only see my size. I hate shopping for clothes despite clothing stores being more inclusive. I don’t like wearing bright colours because I don’t want to be noticed. And sometimes, I question if I am worthy of love because men have judged me and told me that the way I look is something that they can’t look past. It’s a different kind of hard. I know most people would say you are the only one that can change that and there is truth to that. But here’s another part of that truth. Losing weight is the hardest thing that I have ever had to personally do. Yes, I am now better educated when it comes to nutrition and what a healthy lifestyle entails, so I am more aware of what I am putting into my body. The problem is that losing weight is hard, not eating healthy. And I think that is where most people are mistaken. Eating healthy is easy when you are educated on nutrition and you can prepare meals, but it’s the fact that when you are eating healthy and are not seeing results, it becomes challenging. It’s getting the weight off that is hardest in my humble opinion.

Another thing about fat people is that they don’t actually need people to tell them they are fat. They are not blind. They have mirrors. I have mirrors. In fact, I am surrounded by them. I don’t need human mirrors. Human mirrors use horrible words and mask it as a way of being concerned for you. It comes to a point where people stop saying horrible things directly to you but as a fat person, you just know you are being judged behind your back. They’re not saying it out loud but believe me, they are thinking it. And that is what makes you self-conscious. It’s almost like people look at you and are grateful that it is not them that is in that position. Or they feel the need to iterate how they wouldn’t even allow themselves to get to that stage if it comes up in conversation. It’s almost like people have sympathy for fat people because they feel sorry for them. But that is something fat people despise; I can assure you of that.

So, that brings us to the present. All the above reasons are why I have decided to have bariatric surgery which is going to happen in the next month. I made this decision after several attempts to lose weight, not because of what I look like anymore, but more for health purposes at this stage. I want to be the healthiest and fittest version of myself. The bariatric surgery is a tool to help me achieve what I have always wanted to achieve, and I won’t deny that I need help with this. I want to be accepted in society without the fear of being judged on my outward appearance. Bariatric surgery just physically stops you from being able to eat so much and I feel once you start seeing results consistently, it motivates you to continue on the journey. That is how weight loss is achieved actually. It’s the start of a lifestyle change. The lifestyle change where choosing the right foods is a mental challenge and weight loss is the side effect of that mental challenge. But when you’re not constantly battling with your mind about how much of something you should eat, the lifestyle change becomes easier. Eating is a normal part of life. We all do it whether we are happy, we are sad, we are hanging out with friends or we are just craving certain things. Food is simply a part of life. An important part of life, so I have made this decision because it is something that is important to me regardless of what other people believe is the right way to achieve a healthier lifestyle. I will also be interested to see if losing weight will make people treat me differently. Oh, and bariatric surgery is not an easy way out like most people seem to think. In fact, I am frightened of what my life will be like once it is done because of that mental challenge. But excited at the prospect of a new life nevertheless.

Until next time. 

Yours, 

The Unveiled Reflector x