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 and 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 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 too 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 and 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 put me on the path to restoring 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, and 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 and I hate to admit it, but it makes me feel better when I do it, I occasionally overstuff myself sometimes but my body always shows me who's 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.
I run an online FaceBook 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 lifelong journey filled with ups and downs but if 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 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.
Robin Washington 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, and 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.