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hello i am fat

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the deal

I post dramatically about major surgery, and then I go away. That's awesome. I'm sorry.

So this is the deal – I spent the whole day researching and obsessing about it and wondering and worrying and thinking and deciding that this was the greatest idea that any one has ever had in the history of ideas and I might have even spent some time on the Anthropologie website, picking out my new wardrobe and also planning my plastic surgeries and accompanying tattoos to cover the scars. That's how gonzo I was about the whole thing. That is how, sometimes, I get. It is a personality issue, I think.

Then, the next morning, I woke up, and among my top five thoughts (which included "fuck you, dayball," "get off my face, cat," and "hello I love you shower you make nice hot water go down woosh," and "COFFEE RULES") was "Holy shit, major fucking surgery? What the hell was I thinking?"

The whole idea made me feel nauseated and amazed that it would have ever occurred to me as a real thing that I would really do to my actual, real body which is made of organs that are whole and functioning, if a little kind of fat. Wow, I said. I'm stupid! And I picked up the book Volumetrics, which was highly recommended, by a crazy-smart friend of mine who happens to study obesity, as the only scientifically sound diet and nutrition program that she could recommend whole-heartedly.

She has, of course, mentioned it several times over the course of our friendship -- not to me, and not in a pushy kind of hey, have you thought about a diet? way, because that is not how she is like – but it always sounded much too boring to me. Eat healthily, and make choices that keep you more full and satisfied over choices that are filled with empty calories? S-nooooore!

But I decided that the longing for weight-loss surgery was clearly a sign that I needed to do something, and was even ready to do it, so I cancelled my consultation appointment at the surgeon's office, and read the Volumetrics book avidly, made notes and a grocery list, and filled up my fridge with good foods that are good for me and filling and delicious, and they have been sitting in the fridge ever since, because when the fuck did I think I would have time to actually cook? I am in grad school, in my last semester, with two classes and final projects and homeworks and a book to be writing and a job at a desk and a freelance job on the couch, and my food, rotting quietly in the fridge. Fuck.

It really is a great book. It's sensible and comforting in its sensibleness and sensibility, too. It is smart and correct and if I were a better person, there too would I be, sensibly losing a pound a week and always feeling full and satisfied. Maybe that's what I'll do someday, I thought to myself.

In the meantime, I have been walking when I can, and not eating candy (except when I nervously and in the fashion of PMS inhale three glasses of wine and then eat an entire lump-of-chocolate wedding favor in a couple of bites) and I keep feeling insanely tired and run-down and miserable in my body and it hurts to walk (which kills me, because I've always been a walker) and it hurts to breathe and embarrassing, humiliating things suddenly start to happen, to your body, and there are things that suddenly become embarrassingly and humiliatingly hard, when you are a size. And these are things that make you hate yourself and your body, and be more sad than you are, and people to whom I had mentioned the possibility of surgery asked me how the consultation went and I started thinking about it again.

I did some more research – calm, considered research, not fueled by the insane, exciting idea that I would be "magically" thin and boom, all my problems would be solved. I made out lists of positives and negatives. I read forums about side effects and the way you have to live the rest of your life, after weight-loss surgery, and I made some more long lists, thinking hard about whether I'd be willing to live with those side effects and restrictions.

I spent a lot of time reading weight loss surgery blogs – I read the entire archives of every blog I could find, from the morons who wrote things about surgery being magic, and how they had finally managed to eat a whole pie and yet they still lost three pounds this week!!!!1! and the smart, cute as a goddamn button, sensible and basically awesome people who went into the business knowing what it entailed, and took it seriously, who knew what changes they had to make and why and did their damnedest to live the right way and make some serious adjustments to their habits, eating and moving, physically and psychologically. I learned what you can do and might do and what you should do and could do, and that the surgery isn't magic and it isn't a miracle cure, and that the astonished, proud, amazed looks on these women's faces in their six-months-out photos is just fantastic.

And I learned that I have exhausted all my internal resources – that I know what I need to do to lose weight, that I know it's calories in versus calories out, but that I can't do it. That I would do it if I could. I do not think I am lazy, or stupid, or pathetic, or self-sabotaging. That if it was that easy for me, I would be healthy and slim and a crazy tri athelete. There is something going on with me that I have never, in years of therapy – if it were as easy as getting therapy for my issues, I would be healthy, and slim, and a quadrathelete – figured out what food issues I have got and what to do about them that will work.

And I learned that I would happily, gratefully welcome an outside resource, an additional control. That I think – I am pretty sure – that not only would I be willing to work with my body in order to change it for the better, that I think I could do it, if I had the kind of incentive that is absolutely concrete, the help that this would offer me.

And I found out, after making list after list – and this was news to me – that I would rather spend the rest of my life at a healthy weight, dealing with food in a whole new and difficult way, and dealing with the possible physical side effects, than spend the rest of my life at this weight – because it is pretty clear to me that going on as I am, I will always be fat – dealing with the physical, emotional and psychological side-effects, all of which hurt so very fucking much, and all of which are killing me in their own special ways.

At the end of it, I had pages and pages of lists, and talking-to-myself writing, hours and days and weeks of research, and another appointment for a consultation, and a pretty good idea of what my ultimate decision is going to be.

But – and this is the important part – I haven't, yet, made the decision. I am not going to do that until I go through the ninety year consultation process and talk to people I trust and give myself some real time to sit with this idea, to let it sink in that it is permanent, and would be real. To allow myself some room to be one hundred percent flinchingly honest about my chances. The whole thing is scary and huge and when I said I was pretty sure what my decision was going to be – I lied. I don't know. But I would appreciate some luck, if you've got any to spare.

  1. Anonymous j @ rta | 5:06 PM |  

    Lots of luck.

  2. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:07 PM |  

    Glad to see you back, and I so admire your courage in tackling this. Take as long as you have to, and I hope we can read more about your thought process. I'm at my highest weight ever now, and I, too, am at a loss (ha ha). Books, Weight Watchers, therapy, Medifast, tough love -- I don't know if i have it in me to embark on this journey again using methods I've tried before.

    Luck, luck, luck.

    Sheila (sheila227@gmail.com)

  3. Blogger The Fat Girl | 11:18 PM |  

    I have a lot of luck to spare at the moment. I wish it all to you, no matter what you choose.

  4. Anonymous Debra | 5:34 AM |  

    Of course I wish you luck. I will also add as an additional thought that when I was reading your blog entry a month ago, I thought maybe WLS is the life-changing physical shock that works for some compulsive overeaters the way that cancer surgery works for the compulsive i'm never going to quit smoking no matter how bad I know it is for me smoker. I had a friend in that situation. Quitting was just not an option for her. Then cancer. Then the surgery. Then waking up from the surgery and miraculously never smoking again (or even wanting to). Some of us apparently need the physical proof of our bad choices so that we finally "get it" -- or maybe the surgery is the ultimate punishment and we need no longer punish ourselves with the dilemmas that compulsive overeating and obesity force us into every day. The intellect does not always persuade, especially if it is used in the service of the obesssion and the compulsion. Anyway, rambling now, but I'm very interested also to hear your thoughts as you consider this very difficult decision. And, good luck again!

  5. Blogger Jen, Former Fat One | 5:01 PM |  

    Great insight. Take your time. That same push that makes youthink you can handle surgery is probably the same push that makes you think you can diet. Either way, it's the catalyst for changing your life. Good luck.


  6. Blogger Kelly | 1:26 PM |  

    Good luck to you!

    I can't even tell you how much I appreciate your writing and your honesty about exactly what you go through.

  7. Anonymous NicoleW | 2:11 PM |  

    Good luck! I know this can't be an easy decision, but I sincerely hope that everything works out for the best for you. I'm way too much of a wuss to have surgery, but I've seen people who've had fabulous results with it.

  8. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:43 PM |  

    My husband finally had WLS after his heart doctor suggested it to him. He had been trying diets for 30 plus years and had all the usual health complaints related to obesity- heart attack, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure. And all the side effects that accompany the medications for all those conditions. What finally convinced him was the fact that less than 5% of conventional dieters successfully keep the weight off by watching their diet and exercising- IF they lose it in the first place.

    So, long story short, he has lost 80 pounds in 8 months. He has about 40 left to go and it is getting harder. He knows he will be on a diet for the rest of his life, because if one really wants to one can gain it all back. The surgery allowed him to lose a lot of weight and elimate some of the medications with the deleterious side effects. Now he can exercise- something he couldn't do before. He still deals with emotional eating triggers but I think the memory of how bad he felt before surgery helps put things in perspective.

    I on the other hand have 40 pounds to lose the conventional way and it seems like 100. I've done it before a couple times which is an admission of failure in itself since here I am again. I've come to the conclusion that this is just the way life is. If we don't struggle with weight we struggle with something else. As long as we make two steps forward with only one step back we are doing okay.

  9. Blogger Jeni | 7:31 AM |  

    I myself have struggled with the thought of having WLS. I have friends who have had it with varying results. One is a size 10 and has very little loose skin but isn't a 'hardbody', which she didn't want to be anyway, she just wanted to be healthy, and another is a size 6 I think, but probably would be one or two sizes smaller if not for all the loose skin. I have decided not to do it for the moment... to instead try for 6 months in earnest to lose weight and if after that time I haven't lost anything, then consider it. But it occurred to me when I read this entry that if you had spent the time cooking and preparing your meals from Volumetrics and researching better food choices that you spent reading archives and blogs and everything else you read to re-research WLS, perhaps you would have been able to make a go of it this time instead of having a fridge full of rotting food and feeling like you'd failed once again.

    I do wish you luck. I'm a fat girl too, and I know how painful it is to be fat. I wish I could be in a happy fat place like 'the fat girl', but I just can't. Then again, I'm not a size 20. And when I was a size 20, I think I was a lot happier. So maybe when I'm there again, I can be.

    Anyway, good luck, and please don't take my comment as criticism, just an observation.

  10. Blogger JessiferSeabs | 2:32 PM |  

    WHat I"ve discovered with my own weight loss is that I wasn't ever able to do it alone - all the times I tried and failed and was miserable and in pain, emotionally and physically, it's because I was trying too hard to shoulder the burden all by myself. Yes, I've lost weight using Weight Watchers, but mostly I've lost weight knowing that I have a team of family, friends, and boyfriend who all want me to succeed and will do just about anything (which sometimes entails doing NOTHING) to help me get there.

    I used to be so ashamed of my weight that I wouldn't talk about it; I wouldn't even admit I had a problem. Talking about it freely and openly with people I trust (and many who can relate) was the difference for my this time 'round.

  11. Blogger anne | 1:33 PM |  

    Jeni - I certainly don't see your comments as criticism. You have some good points. But I'd like to make a note, here, that I have a lot of downtime at work, which is when I did my research. I was not sitting at home in my underwear, eating bonbons, surfing the internet, and listening to my food rot. I was sitting at home in my underwear writing my thesis, doing my schoolwork, trying to meet all my freelance deadlines, and listening to my food rot.

    I could be wrong, but I like to think that there is a subtle difference - even though I don't think that totally absolves me of all responsibility.

    Anyway - thank you everyone, for your insanely kind words and the luck and the smartness you always bring.

  12. Anonymous Ezpy | 3:49 PM |  

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks for the good thoughts about my blog. I'm glad it was helpful and am trying not to sugar the pill.

    It's not an easy choice to make. But for me I felt like I was saving my life. A year later, well, I don't think I even understood how sick I was. It was a huge risk, but for me had a huge pay off.

    I do wish you the very best in deciding. And much happiness in whatever you choose.

  13. Anonymous Haystacks | 6:13 PM |  

    I consitered the surgery and have met some people who have done it. There are some things you should know.

    First, it definatly works if you do it right. But, it is not easy, despite the hype.

    First, you cannot eat more than a cup (a literal measuring spoon cup) of food with out danger of your stomach bursting.

    also, um warning, this is gross.

    Many people expierence "dumping" Because food is going through less of the digestive tract it is not going through the full process. And many people find them experienceing unpleasant and incredibly stinky bowl movements. Like light a match in every room in the apartment type deals.

    Also, if you are a compulsive eater, (I don't know if you are) and you get the surgery, you put yourself in danger.

    You can bet you will never see Star Jones talking about that stuff.

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