By Karen Secord

On March 31, 2010 I had gastric bypass surgery. At my heaviest (in 2005) I wore a size 24/26 and tipped the scales at 306 lbs. I weighed 272lbs in mid March when preparation for the bariatric procedure began. And as they wheeled me in to the operating room I was 258lbs. My body mass index was 40.5. My fasting blood sugar was 9.9.

Things I didn’t know before taking my body to task; demanding accountability from the innermost me:

  1. Rapid weight loss makes you cold. . . I had to buy socks and a heating pad. I own a duvet and now I actually use it. Thick and comforting it wraps me up like a burrito, generating warmth and preserving freshness.
  2. The demise of fat cells signals the release of estrogen. My very own hormone reality check. Youthfulness manifested; an unwanted/unexpected shocker.  Dragging me annoyingly back from the safety of menopause. I ovulate, therefore I am!
  3. The reflection of who I am can’t be seen in a mirror. Clearly, my mirror doth protest. Thinness doesn’t equal happiness or beauty or success.
  4. One serving of Liberate “Greek” yogurt has 20grams of protein.  Post-surgery the ability of my stomach – now called a “pouch” – to hold 1,000 ml has been reduced to 15 ml (1 tablespoon).  My “diet for life” will be one-half cup of food three times a day and high quality protein will always be what I eat first.
  5. Two of the burners on the avocado green stove in my apartment don’t work. That I have lived here for 2.5 years and have only just discovered this says nearly as much about my lifestyle change as the fact that I recently bought a frying pan. Fresh, organic and home cooked now trumps fast, easy and prepared. It’s been a forced epiphany. But an epiphany none-the-less.
  6. Chew, chew chew. Small bites chewed 20 times helps with digestion and elongates meals to the meet the required 25-30 minute time span. I set an egg timer to ensure speed doesn’t overtake me. I eat using mini-me cutlery and dishes. I have given myself permission to make fuelling up a priority.
  7. Herbal tea is medicinal. Use with caution after stomach surgery. For example, peppermint tea could cause a stomach ulcer. Visitors to CREWC’s Annual Open House were treated to a tea tasting with take home information on a variety of the tasty brews. Incredibly useful!
  8. No liquids at meal times. The rule is simple and inflexible. No liquids 30 minutes before a meal or until 60 minutes after a meal. Obese folks tend to drink a lot. When we fill our stomachs with liquids during mealtimes we are missing out on the nutrient rich foods our bodies need. Inevitably, we become hungry before our next meal and this is a recipe for indiscriminate snacking.
  9. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery (see a YouTube video of procedure) is a surgical cure for Type 2 diabetes in more than 80% of obese people. I am one of them. My blood sugar was on a steady incline and without this surgery I would have certainly been the med merry-go-round. The complications of adult-onset diabetes have ravaged my family – blindness, heart disease, severe circulation problems etc. Within weeks of the surgery my fasting blood sugar returned to normal range. I am no longer diabetic.
  10. Having a non-judgemental place to recover, where your needs are honoured, is a gift. Katherine Willow’s vision of homes where people can heal gently is everything she dreamed of. Ask me about the Carp Ridge Healing House and the hosts who have breathed life into it. I have lived its excellence.

Today is May 12, and I weigh 224lbs.
I am wearing size 18 jeans.
My feet are a full size smaller.

Next month: Exercise for Living