How to Survive and Thrive in the Bariatric After Life

Kirsty at RealSelf on 14 Nov 2010 at 9:07am

Cari is a post-op weight loss surgery (WLS) success and creator of the Bariatric After life blog, a site focused on getting the most out of your new chance at life.

Cari knows what it feels like to be obese, to not be seen or heard because of your weight, to be ridiculed, stared and laughed at and to find yourself in a vicious circle of food and depression. After many years of this cycle, Cari decided that she wanted her life back and that weight loss surgery was the way forward for her…

Cari was always a self-confessed big girl. Born weighing 11lbs 6oz, she spent her younger years feeling out of place among her friends and remembers thinking that she "went through life with a really fat head."

Although never obese as a child, Cari was what she calls "chunky." She was very active: Riding her bike, roller skating and running around after school; however, she was never good at organized sports. Cari notes that she felt like a failure at school because she couldn't keep up with the fitness program. This put her off exercise as she always associated it with never being good enough.

Cari's mother ensured she was fed a healthy diet, with good portion sizes and plenty of fruits and vegetables. This gave her a good start in life, but Cari had already begun to associate exercise with feelings of failure and disappointment. As she grew older and entered high school, these feelings combined with the freedom of choosing her own food and eating whatever she wanted, resulting in weight gain.

The situation then worsened as Cari had decided that since she was bigger than most of her friends and already felt as though she didn't fit in, there was no reason to stop eating and gaining weight. These feelings grew and continued throughout Cari's adult life and impacted on all of the special moments she should have been relishing.

Cari's stats before surgery looked like this:

  • Starting high school: 143 lbs
  • Graduating high school: 165 lbs
  • Marriage: 189 lbs
  • Having first child: 204 lbs
  • Considering WLS: 316 lbs

At this point Cari realized that she was no longer "just a little chunky" or overweight; she was now officially and medically obese! Not only was she obese, she was depressed, had no willpower and didn't think she had any control over her situation.

Cari finally went to her doctor in 2006 and asked to be referred for WLS. She was refused. Her doctor advised her that she would not refer Cari because she was depressed. She was prescribed medication, which did help. Cari started eating properly, exercising and felt as though she was finally making the correct choices in her life. After 6 months she returned to her doctor as was granted a referral for WLS. She was approved the first time and in December 2007 had gastric bypass surgery.

In the 12 months after WLS, Cari was suffering with various ailments such as: Acid reflux, anastomotic stricture, and had several trips to the ER. However, she is now feeling great about her surgery. She has lost in total 160 lbs and stays at approximately 155-160 lbs.

Cari is now a firm believer that WLS can give you back your life if you want it enough. She says, "if you want bariatric surgery, go for it. As long as you're going to change absolutely everything about your life, as long as you're willing to be committed forever."

There are 3 things that Cari attributes to making WLS a success:

  1. Watch what you eat. Your pouch will restrict your diet but there are ways of getting around that. You have to eat the right foods all of the time.
  2. Workout regularly. Eating right can only do so much. You have to help your body. Go for walks, ride a bike, go to the gym or swimming. Do anything, but stay active.
  3. Have regular support. Join a WLS support group. You have no idea how much support you're going to need.

If you have any questions for Cari you can ask them on her gastric bypass review.