Falling Down to Find Your Way Back Up

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Kim Brittingham once said, “Every weight loss program, no matter how positively it’s packaged, whispers to you that you’re not right. You’re not good enough. You’re unacceptable and you need to be fixed.” Weight loss has been a struggle for many Americans. New and improved vices appear, with new and improved systems telling you these vices can be held on to, along with losing weight. Being an overweight man all my life, led me to have to make a difficult decision to save my own life. Losing the weight is easy, but losing your mind and finding it again is the hard part.

Throughout my younger years my size was always something that proved an effective tool; a mind-controlling tool. A tool is described as: anything used as a means of accomplishing a task or purpose. I had possession of the perfect tool its uses were endless. I became an easy friend for someone, the intimidator, that guy on the football team, a feeling of safety for the girl I was dating at that time. Weight made me feel important. Its distinct control over the differences in how you feel, and how you present yourself formed me into a person I despised. I was angry with myself and the world around me. I started smoking cigarettes, which provided something to curb the anger. My feelings inside were unhealthy; my self worth was in the toilet. I was depressed, and felt alone in my own skin. I hated who I was. The large majority of people I confronted couldn’t help but burst out a comment about how big of a guy I was, or how my football team was “lucky to have a big guy like me.” Every negative word about my size, hit me deep down in my soul. Now I realize that these comments were never made to hurt me in anyway, it was simply just people commenting on their own observations. The big guy tool slowly began to break as soon as I left high school. Playing football for a top high school in southern California led me to be able to eat whatever I wanted, with no negative reparations, due to my extensive workout routine. Well after graduation I still felt I could eat the way I did in high school, causing even more problems.

Being overweight my whole life, I knew something had to be done. Fact of the matter is, when you are depressed and don’t feel like doing anything, it makes it hard to find the motivation. Being used to the screaming and yelling from my football coaches, and being forced to work out were things I no longer had. Around November 2010, in an unscheduled checkup with my doctor, he informed me of a few issues. My blood pressure was 145 over 110; a few numbers away from extreme hypertension. I was extremely close to being considered a diabetic, and suffered from small bouts of sleep apnea. I’m not going to lie, at the age of 20 its hard hearing that you wont make it until 30. His suggestion was to do something, and do it fast. Skeptical, I began looking into weight loss solutions. I tried every diet from the Nutrisystem diet, to the master cleanser. Some showed promising results, but I cant live my life eating packaged meals, or drinking peppery lemonade with maple syrup in it. I tried adjusting my eating habits, along with added exercise, but I was so lost and in a hole, the small amount of motivation I had faltered as quickly as it came. After hearty research by both close family members and I, my decision was with the Lap-Band surgery. Through even more information provided by my bariatric surgeon, I decided to switch to gastric bypass. There was a large amount of pre surgery tasks that had to be accomplished. I had to go to 2 meetings prior to learn how my body would now work, I had to lose 15 lbs. in order to prove that I was serious about loosing weight. Another prerequisite for my surgery was to meet with their in house psychologist. At the time, I had no idea why. “I’m losing weight, why the hell am I talking to a psychologist.” She asked a barrage of intrusive questions, as psychologists do. She asked if I was married or had a girlfriend, due to the fact that its extremely hard to keep them after, why I was losing the weight, what I hoped to accomplish, and sent me on my way, I didn’t understand any of it or why I was meeting with her, but come to find out that was the part of my surgery I should have paid attention to the most.

Surgery was conducted May 25th; the day my life changed forever. The one question the psychologist asked that I would never forget, regarded me handling all aspects of my weight loss journey. My original thought was of course I can, what is so hard about loosing some weight? Her question wasn’t in regards to pounds id drop but more to the psychological effect it would have. The first month requires only liquids, so it’s no wonder how quickly my weight came off. Everybody was noticing, and making comments about it. I was losing weight everyday, and looking better and better, but I wasn’t feeling better. I was more confused about who I was than I have ever have been. I heard my voice, saw the same hands, the same feet, but I looked in the mirror and I wasn’t the same person. People to whom I hadn’t seen in a while didn’t recognize me. I was skinnier, struggling to fit into clothes, struggling to well, just fit in period. The standard “your such a big guy” approach from other people, abruptly turned into “oh you look so good!” The nice guy in me always tries to find the best in people, so I’d politely respond to any questions they had and be on my way. Eventually things became much more interesting. People were treating me completely different. The best examples I personally can recall are situations involving women. Women, with whom Id had personally thought id never have a chance with, were approaching me. Women from my past who wouldn’t give me the time of day are now coming to reveal themselves. Why would somebody, who didn’t give me the time of day, then, do it now? Is this seriously the shallow world I lived in? The devil on my shoulder was telling me to act on all these new shortcomings from people of my past. These were people to whom I previously trusted. It started to become apparent that there was a reason we were never close friends to begin with. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I had women to whom I had around my entire life, whether it is friend or love interest, who wanted the old me. Its funny you feel so horrible about yourself, but there are people, who in their own selfishness don’t want you to change. The quick answer to what happen with that is they are long gone. People come into your life for a reason, and leave for a reason.

I had lost my mind. I was trying to make my way through the minefield of my past life. The minefield was the same but the mines were now different in shape and form. I had to step back and figure out how to tackle this. I contemplated forking my way through it, and trying to find the best mines to step on. I hit the point in my life where I needed to change my way of thinking. Everything you do usually involves food. Hanging out with friends, work etc. I came t learn that my life revolved around food. I was forced to change my way of thinking. If I went out and ate like I did before, id either be extremely uncomfortable, puking, or experiencing dumping syndrome. Ill give you the short definition of dumping syndrome so I can keep you up to pace. If I eat more than somewhere around 20 grams of sugar (usually processed not natural) in a meal my body goes crazy. Since there is no longer a way from my stomach to break down sugar, it inserts it directly into my intestines in its natural form. My intestines go crazy and flush my body with water in order to dilute the sugar. In doing this, the pain I experience is immense. Puking, stomach pain, diarrhea all is a part of this. The kicker is it happens in an instant, there is no real way for me to control it. So it can be quite an embarrassing thing if im around people I don’t know. Luckily it’s only happened a handful of times, and mostly at home, or around people I can trust.

In the process of trying to find my mind, I began to get the negative comments from people. Its funny how people’s perspectives can go in a completely opposite direction. Sometimes as soon as I tell people that I lost weight with gastric bypass, I can instantly tell by the look on their face what they are thinking. Some people will act upon their feelings and tell me “You took the easy way out”. It messes with your head. It’s hard having someone, close or not tell you that to your face. Even recently talking to my sister, she expressed that in the beginning she thought I was taking the easy way out, but after seeing all the crap I’ve gone through it definitely isn’t the easy way. I’m not sitting here telling you for pity, or telling you because those comments hurt me, just like the negative comments about when I was heavier, but to remind you that everybody has a different journey in their life. Don’t judge somebody by the way they accomplish a positive thing. Gastric bypass changed my life, and still does. Its taught me how to be confident in what I am doing and who I am. It’s taught me that I no longer am controlled by food. You do not realize how much sugar you consume until it’s all taken away. I cant go eat half a cake like I used to, I only get to have a bite. It’s taught me that no matter what I do, the only person I have to make happy is myself. I’ve lost close friends, and realized the people I need to have around. When you’re in a hospital bed, whether it is by a choice of your own or by no fault of your own the people who visit you, you keep around. I’ve learned that no matter how I look, somebody will have something negative to say. I’ve learned that when I support someone who is trying to loose weight, they may not want it because I did it the easy way. My diet has drastically changed and I have learned how to use it to my advantage. I’ve learned that people who don’t understand what I’ve gone through never will, and I accept that. I don’t expect them too.

Life is what you make of it. I did what was necessary to live my life, my way. I’ve lost weight and gained life. Im not going to thank the people who have helped me through my journey they know who they are, but I will tell you I know who will be in my life forever. Whatever the case is, if you feel something you are doing is good for you, do it. Be open to opinions of the people you care about, they are usually in your best interest. But at the end of the day stand by your decisions, and above all be proud of your accomplishments, no matter what negative responses you get.

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