Why this is not cheating

When I decided on this surgery, I didn’t want anyone to know. I was going to keep it an absolute secret from everyone. I was trying to figure out what to tell people if/when they noticed I was losing weight.

I gave that up pretty quickly. I mean, it was so much easier just to tell the truth. But I still felt guilty when people asked what I was doing and I responded surgery. I mean, you could see their faces fall. No longer impressed. No longer interested. You could tell they weren’t so impressed. After all, you have this surgery, you are suddenly skinny. It’s cheating.

So, I’ve given it some thought and spent a lot of time on OH talking to other people and reading about their journies. And you know what? This surgery is DEFINITELY not cheating.

Here’s why:

1. It’s not easy! I admit it. One of the reasons I thought people would think this was cheating is because I was pretty sure it was cheating. Even the way the surgeon described it to me preop sounded like cheating. But man, is it ever not! For one thing, it’s not a piece of cake – literally. From the first second I woke up, there have been trials and hardships. Pain. Oh the pain! awful! Unbelievable! Then thirst. And not being allowed to drink. The worst part so far was the liquid diet after surgery. Coming off of years of eating whatever I wanted and onto not eating period was emotionally crushing and physically miserable. I couldn’t look at food. I couldn’t watch TV to distract myself (too much eating on sitcoms!) I couldn’t smell food – well I could. My sense of smell as suddenly amazing. I swear I could smell and identify every flavor in the seasoning of a Dorito from 2 rooms away. And I wanted it ALL! At one point, I made a list of things I WOULDN’T eat. Know what was on it? non-food items, uncooked meat (except sushi), and olives. I hate olives. But I may have eaten them anyway, to be honest. I was just so HUNGRY. Not real hungry. Head hungry, but it didn’t matter. Still hungry.

Now, my big struggle is carbs and over-eating. I can have so many things now: proteins, veggies. Oatmeal things with protein powder. I still find myself dying for a bite of bread, or a few more black bean crisps, or Teacup’s Cheerios. But I can’t have them. I still want to put a banana in my oatmeal. But I can’t. I want to eat a salad without chicken. No can do.

And the gym! Let me tell you about working out! I do it ALL the time. At least 4 times a week at the gym, plus evening walks with the baby and now some 5ks on the weekends! Hard work, I tell you!

PLUS there are the vitamins and protein and water requirements. I get 600-700 calories right now. Within that, I need 70+ grams of protein, calcium, multivitamins, B12, iron, gall bladder meds, anxiety meds, stool softeners… If you’re doing the math, that’s 280 calories JUST from pure protein. Of course it all comes with fat and carbs of some kind. And I take 79 calories worth of vitamins. If I could just eat a whole steak, that might not be too bad, but I have to get that all in with liquids, 3 meals, and a snack – all 1/4 cup or less! Add to that needing at least 48-64 ounces of water, which I have to drink around a certain schedule and can only drink slowly. I feel like most of my day is devoted to what I’m going to eat and drink when! I even downloaded an app that reminds me to drink (and accidentally trained a few of my students to shout at me when they hear the water alarm going off in class!)

So, my whole thought of “I’ll just eat a handful of veggies and be full and happy after I have surgery” is so, so wrong. I spend more time thinking about food now than I ever did before. The difference now is that I care as much about what is in it as what it tastes like.

2. It’s a commitment like no other! Programs like Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem (I’ve tried both) work for a lot of people because you can’t just quit when you feel like it. There’s accountability. But ultimately, you CAN walk away if you want. But this? I’m pretty much stuck for at least a year or two. Yes, eventually I can give up, but by then why? Right now, I CAN’T eat whatever I want. I probably wouldn’t be able to keep it down. I can’t gorge myself even on the good things because there just isn’t room. So, cheating? I think it’s probably the opposite. I am SERIOUS about this weight loss!

3. I’m doing most of the work. Yes, the surgery helps keep me from being hungry. And it keeps me from giving up. And, for awhile, I would probably lose weight even without trying very much, but ultimately, I am the one doing the work. I choose the food. I count the calories. I go to the gym. I make lifestyle changes. I stick to them now, even when I don’t want to, and forever, especially once I’m hungry and allowed to eat what I want.

So, when people ask now, I still tell the truth. (I’d hate to be looked at as a cheat and a liar!) But now I say it a little differently.

“What are you doing to lose so much weight?”

“I’m eating tiny portions, no carbs, working out 4 or more times a week, and focusing on protein. Also, I had surgery to help keep me from being hungry all the time.”

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