There are times in our lives when we are called upon to step up and take care of others and to give more of ourselves than we get back and we do it for a number of reasons. For me, some of those times were to help raise someone else’s child because they were in a situation they wanted to get out of, when my husband’s illness reached a point where he needed medical care for a period of time and the time when my grandma and my dad were both sick and passed within a few months of each other. I willingly stepped up and gave of myself wholeheartedly. I have always been a “giver”, volunteering from an early age as a candy striper at the long term care facility my grandma worked at as an RN, a mentor for under privileged children through Family and Children’s Services and more recently for the past 15 years as a member of the operations committee for Polo for Heart. I love helping others and feeling like I am contributing to my community.
When you truly give of yourself you do it in a way that is all encompassing, and often without realizing, to the detriment of yourself or your health. My whole life I struggled with my weight, arguably some can be blamed on genetics, but for the most part a lifetime of terrible choices eventually catches up to you. And if you, like me, are the type of person who isn’t normally focusing on yourself it gets out of control before you know it! I have tried year after year to shed the weight and live a healthier lifestyle and have failed many times. I start each diet and exercise commitment with excitement and determination and I give it my all and for a few months I’m successful, then life inevitably gets in the way and I am back to taking care of other business.
Or I became sick, took time off and fell off the wagon, lost the determination and drive and the vicious cycle continues year after year! Each time, I regain the weight I worked so hard to take off and often times more!
As a person who has always had a positive attitude and outlook on life, someone who loves
to have fun, spend quality time with friends and family, travel and get the most out of life, I never really let these set backs get me down. Also, I am someone who always takes pride in my appearance, I dress nicely and to my size even when I was at my largest I never gave up trying to look my best. I was raised to be a confident person and I know that my appearance does not define me. Since I was a young child, I have always been the chubbier girl at school, at work, in my circle of friends and within my family. It’s not easy being obese when you have a mother and sister who are size zeros! I never let my weight stop me from doing things I enjoy but it was getting more and more difficult as time went on and the weight increased. I have been a healthy person my whole life with the exception of some broken bones and routine surgeries along the way. I often found it kind of funny before a surgery that the anesthesiologist would tell me I was a healthy obese person! Then, it happened….I became morbidly obese!
By 2016, I was rapidly approaching the 300lb mark! I had been to see my family Doctor and my weight was 283lbs! I felt ashamed, embarrassed, like a failure, ugly and sick! I couldn’t believe I let myself get so far off track. Just a few years before I had been 169lbs! How did this happen? It was time to take back my life!
My Doctor and I discussed gastric bypass surgery as the only option now because of the yo-yo dieting and the effects it has on metabolism. I needed a hard reset! I agreed and was thankful for the referral. I attended the information session in the summer of 2016 and immediately started to make the necessary changes that would be needed to have the surgery, giving up caffeine, carbonated drinks, alcohol, etc.. I was committing to this 100% and the best part is, I wasn’t doing it alone, my husband was also referred for surgery at the same time. We went through the whole process together.
On March 29, 2017 we both underwent the procedure and had our bypasses done. Since the day of the information session I have not looked back! I have completely committed to a whole lifestyle change for diet and exercise. In the year since surgery I have lost 133lbs and reached my goal weight of 150lbs! I have been working out at the gym 5-6 days a week and even started the process of becoming a fitness instructor for strength training classes through the YMCA. I am living a whole new life and loving it! I feel healthy and strong and really understand now that you can’t take care of others if you aren’t in the best shape yourself. I also understand that I don’t need to do everything and don’t need to be everything to everyone.
The journey is not easy. I have lost some friends and family along the way and it’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes there is just a lot of negativity around us and we put up with a lot because we want to be accepted. Some people can’t handle not being the centre of your attention anymore and that’s OK. I took a year “off” from caregiving and gave it to myself and I am reaping the benefits. I often need to remind myself to step back and not try to do everything and meet everyone’s expectations. I need to remember to prioritize my time with what is important for my health and well-being first, then with what is left, I can be there for others. That is the part that is most difficult for caregivers, but it’s really the most important. You can’t help anyone if you aren’t here! As I struggled with my weight for all these years, I often felt like I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t thin enough, I just wasn’t - enough. But through this journey I realized that I am me, take it or leave it, but I AM ENOUGH! A few years ago when I was down to my lowest weight at that time I thought about doing a pin up style photo shoot when I reached my goal as a reward to myself. I didn’t get to my goal at that time. When I started losing the weight this past year, I thought about it again and thought why not?!
I worked so hard to get to this point, physically and emotionally! Why not reward myself, it’s MY time to SHINE and feel pretty, beautiful, sexy, bold, confident, feel like I am more than enough! I can honestly say, my spark is back and I wanted to celebrate that and the ladies at Lady Luck really helped bring that out! I felt as beautiful on the outside as I now feel on the inside!
The theme going through my mind throughout the session was a line from a Tim McGraw song, “when the work you put in is realized, let yourself feel the pride…”!
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