In April of 2015 my family and I went to Boston for the weekend. I had received tickets to a Boston Bruins game and was excited to take my family down for the game. We stayed at my mother’s home outside of the big city. While we were there, I looked through the photo gallery on my mother’s cell phone. I was so sad to find that out of the seemingly thousands of photos – I could not find a single one of myself that I actually liked. Not even one that I sort of liked or was satisfied with.
Looking through those photos – which basically had spanned five years – really made me think about myself and where I was going in this life and in this body. Truthfully, I did not like it at all. Shortly after getting back from Boston, I really began my journey. I spent a lot of time talking with family – particularly my husband. We discussed that I did not feel good about myself, that I wasn’t happy in my body, and that I really needed to make a change so that I could start living. We evaluated all the dieting methods and options out there and I realized that I had really tried a majority of them. I know that I can lose weight – I have done it a thousand times in the course of my life. My problem was keeping my weight off and sticking to my plan. In the past I would lose upwards of 50 or 60 pounds and then get tired of dieting or denying myself. At 36, I had had two babies and watched my body completely change. I was at a point where nothing was really working long term and that is what I needed…..long term change.
Shortly after coming to this realization, I started exploring weight loss surgery as a very viable option for me. Some people are against it and think that it is only a temporary option. Some people go through with it, have success, and then simply do not. I knew that even thinking about weight loss surgery was controversial. But I also knew that I was a breaking point for myself. I had to make a big change in order to be a healthy contributing member of society again. I knew that weight loss surgery would be a total dramatic change for me and I was very cautious about it. After some thought, I decided to really explore it as an option and made my first appointment with the Surgical Weight Loss Team at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Maine.
It was a very long process and actually was filled with ups and downs. There were many steps that involved monthly meetings and appointments with my own doctor. Trips up and down Route 9 to consult with nutritionists, dietitians, and surgeons. Dealing with my insurance company was no walk in the park either. I held my breath the day that they called me and told me that I had been approved for surgery! I was very excited and very very nervous.
The hospital called me shortly after and scheduled my surgery for December 15th, 2016. It was all happening very quickly and I was very nervous about the fast approaching date. Again, talking to my husband about this huge life change – made it easier for me to accept this dramatic opportunity. On the morning of December 15th – I was admitted into surgery and about 2 hours later I saw my husband in my hospital room. The first thing I said to him was, “Honey, today I changed my life forever.” That statement has proven to be so very true.
The bariatric or weight loss surgery that I had is called Vertical Gastric Sleeve (VGS). Basically – the surgeon and their team remove a significant portion of your stomach – creating a sleeve about the length and size of a banana or a football – depending on who your surgeon is. There is no re-routing of your stomach or intestine like the more popular gastric bypass surgery. My surgeon recommended that I get the VGS because she felt that it fit better with my lifestyle.
As I am writing this, I am feeling that I may have let some people down or betrayed some people. I have been documenting my journey since it started back in December on social media platforms – including Facebook and Instagram (dellamaggs33) – and I have not included that I had surgery. My close family and friends know, of course, but I did not come out and tell the general public. I must say that having the surgery is a major key to my success and weight loss – however, it is NOT the only key. Since having surgery I have exercised daily – running, fitness classes, treadmill, etc. I have stuck to a low carb diet and sworn off soda and fried foods. I have made a goal to move everyday and have been both successful and I have tripped up. My surgery is only a tool that I have used to help me get this far. I am so grateful for it because it really did jump start my life changing journey. I had spent so many years abusing my body – yo yo dieting, eating disorders, laziness, etc. I am not sure that I would have gotten anywhere if I hadn’t gone ahead with the surgery.
For those of you thinking that I have taken the easy way out – I understand. If knowing that I had surgery in some way belittles all the other good work and strides that I have made – I understand that too. If, because you know I had surgery, makes you think differently about my journey – that’s fine. If you feel that I am less of an inspiration because I had surgery – I totally get it. I want you know that I have put in so much work to get to where I am today. I promise you that you will find something useful from my journey. This is not a journey about weight loss surgery. It is a journey about taking that tool and using it to better my life. It is a journey about realizing my potential and not minimizing it because I have been trapped and uncomfortable in my own body all these years.
This incredible journey that I’ve been on has made me realize that I am worth it and that I can do pretty much anything I put my mind to. I am still figuring out my limits and understanding my capabilities. I have pushed myself and I have truly exceeded my own expectations. It has been eight months since surgery and I have lost a total of 99 pounds. From my very first weigh-in with the program – April 2015 – I have lost 119 pounds. For all that I have lost – I have gained so much: confidence, grace, patience, and the knowledge that I can live this life and be happy with whatever comes my way. I am moving everyday, I am playing with and keeping up with my kids, I am happy when I get dressed in the mornings, I am making an effort to take care of myself. I am, finally, after all these years….living.
I hope that you will stick around and read my blog. My purpose to help others who find themselves on a similar journey. I have a lot to share and I am so excited to use this platform to help others!! Feel free to comment or contact me with questions!!