I both love and hate this photo! I love it because it is one of the final ‘good’ pictures of my grandmother, mom, and I. I hate it because I can’t stand to look at myself and see how large I was. For those of anyone who is about to say… “you look beautiful” or “I don’t see size when I look at you” or “focus on the wonderful memories” – don’t, it’s not helpful! Making statements like that to people who feeling poor about their size (regardless of how big or small they are) can actually add to the problem! At least that’s my experience, and besides, it’s not about you! It’s about me and how I feel and it’s taken a long time to get to the point where I fully understand that.
I love this picture for another reason though – this photo is the reason that I finally started on my journey of better health and a greater focus on myself. It started me asking questions about what realistic and long-term options for weight loss exist – not an easy out, but a way out of the constant diets that don’t work, a way out of the cycle of shame and depression that comes with failed diets, a way out from being the ‘big one’ in the picture.
One year after this photo was taken I started the journey of exploring bariatric surgery. I knew about it from friends who had the surgery (and who are rocking their own journeys) and with their encouragement I asked my doctor what his thoughts were. He responded with science – something he know that I would like – and said that the literature was clear. Bariatric surgery was one of the only (if not the only) medical approaches to obesity that had long term success; quite simply the cycle of yo-yo dieting that I have been on for 25 years wasn’t going to work!
I didn’t know it at the time (fortunately) but one of the quick paths to surgery is to simply save the cash (approx. $6000 CAD) and head to Mexico. I looked into this option at the 2 ½ year mark – frustrated with what appeared (at the time) to be moving goal posts for approval. I had gone so far as to ask my doctor if he remain my primary care physician if I did it (he said yes). Fortunately, I was approved for surgery by the head of the bariatric program at Royal Jubilee Hospital just a few days later!
I took the a longer path to my surgery (scheduled for Oct 1) – 2 years and 10 months where the staff of the Island Health Bariatric Program had me working on my relationship with food; how I eat, what I eat, and what I do when I’m eating. I had to come to terms with the fact that many of my ideas about food and how I relate to food in the future had to change. I have come to realize that I am not defined by being obese and that I am not more of a failure because I have advanced education and the ability to afford ‘good food’ – having a PhD in Recreation and Leisure (therefore having read much of the literature that experts refer to) actually added to my feelings of failure and shame! I am glad that I had that time because now I am prepared for the (I think) for what comes next.
I don’t know if anyone (even my mom) will ever read this but I’ve decided to share my journey for a few reasons:
This is my first blog about this journey and there will be more to follow. If you are reading this, please feel free to ask questions and to check out the rest of my website – so you can see who I am beyond being a 45-year-old woman who has struggled with weight and depression for 25+ years!
Who Am I?
There are many different ways to describe myself but for the purposes of this blog...I'm a 45 year old woman who is finally prioritizing her health and wellbeing. I'm also a professor, researcher, and avid traveller but have spent much of my adult life being defined (in whole or part) by my weight.