Everyone struggles with something. As for me, my most significant life struggle was obesity. As far as I could remember, I had been morbidly obese and excessively sweaty my entire life. I tried different diet plans and summoned all the willpower I could muster. But despite the effort I put into it, I still couldn’t overcome my obesity.
That Boy Named Porky
Some of the awful things you’ve heard about high school are true. It’s a horrible place for fat kids like me. My childhood friend Nicole was also obese and experienced the same social stigma I did.
I remember being constantly bullied and laughed at in school corridors every time I passed by my classmates. Our school quarterback and his best friends were particularly nasty. One time, during lunch at the cafeteria, he and his gang came out of nowhere and just started taunting me.
‘Porky! Porky!’ That’s all I could hear. When I told him to stop, he then started pushing me and choking me. How I wish I could pick him up and tackle him on the ground. That would have been a sack.
At prom, I asked Sarah, the beautiful blonde girl in science class, for a dance. She politely agreed, but our sweet moment was cut short when that cocky quarterback suddenly punched me. I never knew we were crushing on the same girl.
That arrogant guy knocked me so hard that I hit the floor like a bucket of lard. I also ripped my pants in the process. Everyone around us laughed. It was so humiliating that I went home depressed and angry at myself for being such a ‘loser.’
After that prom incident, I felt so down most of the time that it resulted in emotional eating. I never had real friends in high school apart from Nicole. So if she was not around, food was my only comfort.
I went a bit crazy for cheesy stuff and chocolate that I gained a few pounds more weeks before graduation. I was 18 years old at the time and weighed 450Ibs at 5’11.
As unpleasant as high school was for me, it’s the point in my life that I now view as an indispensable key that motivated me to lose weight.
Nicole and I took a gap year after high school to focus on our weight loss journey. We tried to follow a balanced diet and exercise routine. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to work, so we decided to explore the possibility of bariatric surgery.
As the relentless researchers we are, Nicole and I found that most people who tried diet modification gained back their original weight. It’s particularly true for individuals who lacked discipline. Unlike the traditional diet, bariatric surgery has proven to be a more efficient strategy for long-term weight loss goals.
So, I hurriedly informed my mom about my decision and was glad she was very supportive. They referred me to our family physician, Dr. Damian Carlson. Meanwhile, Nicole’s parents recommended their primary healthcare provider, Dr. Alex Monroe, to help her.
Before Nicole and I consulted with our respective doctors, we first attended a free bariatric surgery information session that increased our confidence. We both knew that the surgery wouldn’t be the complete solution for our obesity problem. We had to change our habits, and we were kind of on that path after the session.
Nicole and I were both nervous and excited at the same time. At first, it freaked us out because we realized that we might not be able to have our favorite chocolates and sodas for the rest of our lives. But we thought, what’s worse: eating right or taking blood pressure pills?
Preparation for Bariatric Surgery
Dr. Carlson and his staff reassured me. They told me I wasn’t lazy and that I didn’t wish this upon myself. I felt comforted knowing that there are people who understood my situation as an overweight teen.
Weight loss surgery is serious stuff, so Dr. Carlson gave me instructions to prepare for the operation. Upon checking my body mass index, he discovered that my BMI was 62.8. I also had weight-related health problems, such as high blood pressure and severe sleep apnea.
I underwent various laboratory tests and examinations before the surgery. Dr. Carlson also prescribed medications and made restrictions on my diet. Moreover, he advised me to enroll in a physical activity program to prepare me for bariatric procedures.
A month before my surgery, I told my cousins about my choice and informed them that I could no longer join them for lunches. They accommodated me skipping fast-food joints and making an effort to find a more nutritious meal elsewhere.
I had lost about 150 pounds since my surgery in September 2005. It was indeed a success. However, I acknowledge that the weight loss procedure is not the easy way out. You have to have dedication, support, and discipline to be successful.
I also have to give credit to Dr. Carlson. It was incredible how cohesive and efficient his team was. It wasn’t an easy procedure, but everybody was there for me. I felt like the bariatric program has stayed with me since my surgery and has helped me make good lifestyle choices.
Improved Health, Better Relationships
I didn’t tell many people about my procedure, but it didn’t take long for those around me to notice something was changing. Only four months after the surgery, from 450lbs, I was down to 300lbs.
Meanwhile, Nicole had already lost 70lbs and was down to 190Ibs six months after her successful gastric bypass procedure. She was also making steady progress toward her weight goal range of 130-150lbs.
As for me, it was the summer of 2008 when I finally reached my weight goal of 180lbs. Thankfully, I have maintained it since.
Back in college, where Nicole and I both took up business administration, I witnessed how she bloomed. We were high school wallflowers, but it was a different story in college. Nicole was the IT girl, and I was the hot nerd. Kidding aside, I saw how the perception of people had changed after our successful weight loss procedure.
In 2015, Nicole found her true love, Greg, while I reunited with Sarah, my long-time crush. I never expected to see her again. As cheesy as this may sound, I guess it was destiny that led me to her.
I was an AVP for a well-known wellness and diet supplement brand when I met Sarah. She was the editor-in-chief in a popular lifestyle magazine that featured our brand in their 2015 November issue.
At first, Sarah didn’t recognize me, maybe because I looked a lot different back then. When she realized it was me, ‘Porky,’ whom she had a meeting with, she immediately apologized to me for the incident that happened long ago.
I didn’t expect it. Besides, Sarah had nothing to do with it. It was that arrogant quarterback who humiliated me anyway. Still, she was very sorry. Sarah told me she could have done something, but she didn’t, and that she regretted it.
The pain in Sarah’s eyes and the sincerity in her voice stirred up the feelings I still had for her. We constantly met each other even after the release of the magazine issue. We even went out with Nicole and Greg on weekends.
The four of us are all health buffs, so in 2018 we decided to set up a retail store that offers wellness products, supplements, and alternative treatments. As of 2021, our business now has ten branches in California.
Nicole and Sarah bond through yoga, while Greg and I are particularly interested in strength training. The four of us also follow a balanced diet and observe a healthy lifestyle.
From my experience, I can say that setting realistic expectations is essential to weight loss success. Before getting bariatric surgery, you should be in an excellent emotional state. Here are a few tips if you’re considering this weight loss procedure:
Have a solid support system. Support is everything if you’re thinking about surgery. Talk to your family, friends, and healthcare provider to help you set long-term goals. It would also help if you took advantage of the bariatric program to track your weight loss milestones.
Recognize food addiction. Back when I was overweight and depressed, I became obsessed with eating cheesy stuff and chocolates. Dr. Carlson helped me address my food addiction before the surgery. He even recommended a registered dietitian to make adjustments to my daily diet. My dietitian then created an individualized meal plan that prepped me for the operation.
After the surgery, there were food restrictions for the first few months. I also had to eat slowly that even a small meal took me at least 20 minutes to consume.
If you want to undergo bariatric surgery, having a healthy diet is imperative. Thus, grazing on junk food will only sabotage your ability to shed some pounds.
Nicole and I struggled with obesity when we were younger, but I’m glad we didn’t give up. Bariatric surgery was the best thing we ever did. Our experience was life-changing. Now, I can say that we’re both at our happiest and healthiest.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stanley Clark. You can follow him on Twitter. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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