Closing out my 20's with a New ME! :) - San Diego, CA

Hi Real Self folks! My name is Melanie and I am...

Hi Real Self folks!

My name is Melanie and I am 29 years old. I was skinny all throughout high school and college, I'm talking 125-130 lbs soaking wet. Once I graduated from college I got my first desk job and the pounds began to pack on. At 24 I weighed 200 lbs and now at 29 I am at my highest weight ever of 255 lbs. I have tried everything. Weight Watchers, Atkins, HCG Diet, you name it, I've tried it. I always do really well at first and lose about 20-30lbs, but then I get discouraged and gain back what I've lost and then some. It's a very, very frustrating, maddening process and I'm ready to kick the yo-yo dieting to the curb for good.

I have very high blood pressure, I'm tired all of the time, I'm not sleeping well, and I've had enough. I decided it was time to start looking into tools such as weight loss surgery to help me get where I want to be by the big 3-0. I turn 30 on September 29th and will be celebrating my 30th birthday in Greece with my best friend.

A few months ago (around February 2015) I was talking to a good friend about my interest in weight loss surgery and she happened to be best friends with a nurse at a weight loss center. I called my PCP and got a referral to go to the surgeon, Dr. Bhoyrul that my friend recommended via her nurse friend. My first office visit was nerve wracking. I didn't know a lot about the different procedures and was scared I would be judged for my weight as I have been sooo many times before at the doctors office. Well, my fears were immediately put to ease when Dr. Bhoyrul walked in with a huge smile, a hug, and said "Don't you worry. We are in this together". He has been amazing from the get-go. He talked through the 3 different procedures possible, LapBand, Sleeve, And Gastric Bypass. I decided with him that the Sleeve was the best option for me because I want to lose 100 lbs and I won't have the fuss of adjusting a foreign object periodically. I met with a nutritionist that day and talked in length about what life would be like after surgery.

My insurance was pretty great and I didn't have to have a lot of pre requisites done to get the surgery approval. The only 2 things I needed were a Gallbladder ultrasound and a Psychological evaluation. The Psychologist covered under my insurance was booked out pretty far in advance, so that was the longest part of this entire process. I met with the surgeon and nutritionist for appointment #2 last Friday, May 15th after I had completed my insurance requirements. They submitted everything to my insurance for final surgery approval and I was APPROVED for surgery on June 8th, 2015. My pre-op diet begins on May 29th. Is it ironic that I'm more nervous about the pre-op diet than I am about the actual procedure? :)

I know this is a LIFESTYLE change and I am trying to prepare myself for what's to come. I've been working out 3x per week to get in the habit of being active and I am meeting with a personal trainer tomorrow morning who specializes in helping people who have had weight loss surgery. I know this is going to be a difficult journey, but I am so ready to start.

My doctor has recommended I get 4 weeks off of work approved just in case, but thinks I should be ok after 2-3 weeks. I'm lucky because my job, friends, and family have been very supportive. I admire those of you who are doing this journey on your own. Your strength is inspiring. My mom and dad are coming from AZ for my surgery and my mom is going to stay all 4 weeks post-op to take care of me as only mamas can. :)

I am having a "goodbye old stomach" dinner on Monday (Memorial Day) at The Cheesecake Factory. It will be my last splurge before my journey kicks off. I plan on going to Costco tomorrow to stock up on broth, sugar free popsicles, low sodium soup, and Premier protein shakes. I've been told to get Gas-x dissolvable strips, a heating pad, and small dishes and utensils for eating. Is there anything else any of you veterans would recommend for me?

I'm excited to document my journey here. I hope this time next year I can look back and think "WOW! Look how far I've come!" :)

Day 4 of Pre-Op Diet.... I'm Hungry.

I'm not going to lie. The pre-op diet has not been fun. My nutritionist is only allowing me broth (2 cups per day) Protein shakes (up to 3 per day) one serving of plain oatmeal, 1 greek yogurt, 3 sugar free popsicles and/or Jello servings, and 1 cup of thickened soup under 20 g of carbs per day. Sounds like a lot, but I find myself very hungry and broth just doesn't do the job to keep me full. I've seen other that are allowed eggs, chicken, and veggies on their pre-op diets and I am SO JEALOUS. Thankfully, I'm still allowed to have coffee and tea with caffeine so that has been a lifesaver. I use a splash of almond milk in the coffee and Truvia sweetener in the iced tea and coffee.

I had to travel for work today to San Francisco (day trip only) part of this involved taking my clients out to lunch and I was nervous because I couldn't sit there and sip iced tea or water and not eat anything. Thankfully, my nutritionist approved 3 oz of chicken and a veggie for today ONLY. I had a small salad with shredded chicken on top w/ Pico de gallo instead of dressing and it tasted like the most glorious meal i've ever had. lol. I was so happy to have something to CHEW!

I'm trying to keep my eye on the prize and find other ways to keep my mind off of food and keep myself entertained. This weekend I made a "Motivation Board". Picture attached. This was a pretty cool project to do. I plan on hanging it next to my bed so I can look at it every day along this journey and have a visual reminder of why i'm doing this.

1 week from today is my surgery date. It seems unreal. My parents get here on Wednesday and my pre-op appt is on Friday. I'm starting to get really nervous. I know this is the right thing to do, but I keep having moments of thinking, "Maybe I should try to do it on my own again instead of having surgery". I know in my heart I'm making the right choice and this tool is going to change my life, but It's just the fear of the unknown that is making it hard. Oh yeah, and the fact that I'm sick of broth. :) Lol. I keep chanting "it's not forever. It's not forever" to myself when I get discouraged.

I started pinning low carb high protein recipes on pinterest to try out once I'm recovered and past the post-op diet and I also read a lot of motivational quotes. Both of these activities have really helped my state of mind and attitude. :)

I think the ten day pre-op diet might be the hardest part because I'm still HUNGRY and I want to eat! I'm hoping after surgery some of this hunger subsides and I'm full quickly and easily. Hope everyone else is doing ok. :) I will post another update after my pre-op appointment on Friday.

Preop appointment

Friday was my preop appointment and I was excited to see my surgeon one last time and get my portion of the surgery paid. (Insurance paid 80%). So, I check in, give my copay and then ask when I should pay the balance for surgery. She looks down at my form and says "sweetie your insurance covered it 100%. You don't owe anything. ". I almost fainted. I was expecting to pay $2000-$2500 out of pocket, transferred the money from savings and everything! It was a blessing beyond belief. The way I look at it is now I have a $2000 starting budget for my new hot wardrobe I'll need to be getting soon :)

After the fantastic news of the $0 copayment my doctor came in and examined me. Talked to me and my mom. Explained the procedure one more time and was so kind and empathetic. I'm convinced I have the best bariatric surgeon in the world, and surprisingly enough a lot of things I've been reading have been supporting this belief! :).

Drumroll please... My highest weight from before preop was 257 lbs. I weighed in on Friday at preop at 248 lbs. 9 lbs down in 8 days of liquid diet. WOOHOO! He also told me i had lost 1% body fat. He was so happy with my results that he allowed me to have grilled chicken yesterday and friday. Getting some chicken into me was life changing. I instantly felt SO much better.

After the appointment with my surgeon I went to the hospital for my bloodwork and ekg. Piece of cake. (Sugar free of course haha)! The hospital admission copay is all I had to pay and it was only $500. Everything else was covered by my insurance and I am so beyond blessed.

The nurse was really nice and walked us through everything that would happen on Monday. I have to use antiseptic body wash tonight and tomorrow morning. No lotion or deodorant morning of surgery. My check in time is 815am and my surgery time is 1015am.

Today I went and got my nails done. A necessity for us ladies to feel on point and relaxed before a big event. I got my prescriptions filled from my surgeon. He gave me 1 for nausea, 1 for acid reflux, and heavy duty pain pills. I have all of that ready for when I'm back from the hospital so I don't have to have someone run and get them. I have iced tea, water, crunchy ice, ten types of different broths and soups and I feel like I'm ready to go. Last step is doing a load of laundry to take to the hospital and changing my sheets so they are clean After I lay in them after the antibiotic wash tonight.

So, all in all this is happening. Going to take a quick nap , finish my laundry , pack my hospital bag, and I'm ready to go! :)

Surgery day 6/8/15

Today's the day! Currently writing this from the preop waiting room. I'm in full hospital garb and ready to get this party started.
My mom and dad are here with me and check in was a breeze. I was given a shot to prevent blood clots and now I'm just waiting to get a bed in preop where the anesthesiologistband surgeon will come see me one more time before im hooked up to ivs and taken back. Here's a pic my parents took of me in the waiting room for a bed in preop.
Surgery is at 11:15am PST. Please say a prayer for me.

Day 2 Post-Op

I got to come home today!! I was able to keep enough water down that they were able to send me home. Discharge was pretty simple. Went over my instructions for the next few days. (Water and liquids only) and then I was released!

My mom and dad have been wonderful throughout this journey so far and have been with me every step of the way. Not sure what I'd do without them.

I haven't been able to find a comfortable position. Laying down flat hurts and is too hard to get up. Sitting propped against the wall hurts my tail bone. Any idea on how to sit/ sleep comforably?

I haven't had the dreaded gas pains I've read about from so many others and for that im very thankful! I've been walking a lot and sip, sip, sipping water constantly. I'm hoping tonight is a smooth night of sleep. Excited to not be woken up ten times by the nurses needing vitals and blood drawn. :). So far I would rate my experience as slightly better than I was expecting. I'm sore and exhausted, but gas pains and nausea have left me alone. (Knock on wood). Just goes to show you that everyone is different. One thing I'd do differently is not let some of the other horror stories I read before surgery upset me so much. Every person and body handles things differently. Trust your surgeon. He doesn't want you to be in unnecessary pain.

Here are some hospital pics from the last few days.

Slowly but surely....

Day 4 post-op and Each day I'm less sore than the last. I was able to get a protein shake down yesterday - took most of the day, but I did it! Been sleeping a lot and just trying to get liquids in. I haven't been super hungry so that's a blessing.

I took my first shower since Monday yesterday and my mom had to help me wash and condition my hair. It was too hard on me to reach up and do it myself. I'm so thankful my mom has been here to help me. It's been a true blessing. Another happy thing that happened yesterday is my house that I had on the market in AZ closed without a hitch! Things seem to be moving in the right direction for me. I'm excited for what the future holds.

I've been strictly following the liquid diet and I get to add soup, yogurt, and cream of wheat on Sunday. I'm looking forward to some variety!! Broth has not sat we'll with me so I avoid it completely. I've been doing vitamin waters, peppermint tea, water, and sugar free Popsicles. My dad crushes up my pain pills and mixes it with a little vitamin water and I take it down like that. It's been much easier than swallowing the pill whole.

One thing I've noticed and sorry for too much information , but I haven't gone #2 yet. Is that normal? When should I start taking something to help me go?

I'm attaching some pics of my incisions. They aren't too bad and I'm told they will heal nicely to the point of being almost unnoticeable.

9 days down- 22lbs lost!

Hi everyone,

Wanted to post a one week update, but I'm a few days late. Things have been going really well. I have been very lucky with my surgery as I have had no nausea and I've been able to get liquids in since day 1. You will see lots of horror stories of people who have a really hard time and end up in the hospital for dehydration and feel hungry etc. Here's my advice. FOLLOW PREOP AND POSTOP INSTEUCTIONS! preop was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I wanted to cheat every single day, but I didnt. I truly believe the pre op liver shrinking diet is key to prepare your body for what's to come. Don't skip ahead food stages, follow exactly what your surgeon says to do. Make sure you are willing and ready to commit to that and I think you will have an easier time recovering! :)
Since I last posted I got to upgrade to thickened soups, cream of wheat, pudding, and yogurt. I am full after my 4oz of food. It's incredible. Right now a typical day for me looks like this :
Breakfast- 4oz plain cream of wheat prepared with skim milk, Splenda, and cinnamon
Snack: protein shake (as much as I can drink)
Lunch: 4oz of soup. I've been straining the chunks out per surgeons instructions
Dinner: not too regulated. I'm always pretty full after breakfast, protein, and lunch.. So evenings I've been doing sugar free pudding, cup of hot peppermint tea, and water. My goal is to get one more protein shake in at dinner time. I'll try today.
In between meals (waiting 30 min after eating) I sip sip sip water. I've been getting my full water intake per day.

I was having problems with constipation and I took colace yesterday from a suggestion I got from one of you lovely ladies! :). It worked! I'll spare you the details, but it definitely worked. Lol
My highest weight was 257 and I am currently 235.5. Almost 22lbs lost since starting my preop diet on May 29th. Yay!
My next goal is to start my vitamins/supplements. My nutritionist told me to wait until about 10 days post op bc
It can be hard to stomach them before then. I think today will be my first shot at it- wish me luck!
My post op appointment is next week on June 24th. I will let you all know how things go after I see the surgeon and nutritionist. :).
Here are some pics I took this morning as im finally able to see some changes. Please don't mind my horrible bed head and messy room. Lol.

3 weeks post op

Hi guys!
My post op appointment was last week and it went fantastic. I was down to 233 from 258. The doctor was happy and so was my nutritionist. I was moved on to soft food stage. I can have chicken, eggs, deli meat, ground turkey, some fruit, (no seeds) and cooked soft veggies.
My first meal was a scrambled egg with cheddar cheese and a slice of avocado. It was delicious. I was able to eat about 4 small bites and then I was full!
I have gotten sick to my stomach twice. Both times it was from trying to take my daily medicine. I have learned I have to take it right before I begin eating to make sure food is in my stomach. Since I learned this, I haven't been sick again since.
The other key I've found is really listening to your body. The second I start to feel "satisfied" while eating -NOT full! I stop eating. I learned the hard way that eating even one bite too many causes pain in your chest and stomach like the food has been caught. It's a learning process, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of what agrees with me and what doesn't.
I have also started walking every day. I try to get 2-3 miles in per day. Today I am going to the gym for the first time since surgery and I'm going to do the elliptical for 30 minutes. I weighed in at 229.5 today! Almost 30lbs gone forever in a months time. I'm a happy girl.
I go back to work on Tuesday July 7th. My job paid me for 3 weeks and I got 65% my 4th week. I definitely recommend taking 3 weeks off for this surgery. I felt ok after 2, but you are still so weak and tired. After the 3rd week you are on to your soft food stage and will need some time to adjust. If you're wondering how much time to take- trust me. Take 3 weeks! This 4th week I've felt great and am getting chores and errands done to get back to the work grind next week.
I start back up with my personal trainer the week of July 12th. I'm excited to get back to weight lifting to tone and tighten.
I hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July! I'll update again soon with my progress.

Before and after pics

here are some before and after pics. Before is 5/22/15 and is the picture on the left in both pics. After is today 7/2/15 and is on the right in both pics.

3 months post op!

Hi All!
It's been a while since I've posted, but I've just been living life and getting used to my new sleeve. I will just come right out and tell you all that surgery is the best decision i've ever made. I feel amazing, I'm losing weight like crazy, I have a ton of energy, and I'm exercising 6 days per week! Today I weighed in at 199.7. I hit onederland. I've been crying tears of happiness for about 15 minutes since I weighed myself. If you had told me a few months ago I would weigh in at 199.7 in a few short months I would have laughed at you, but here I am!

Some NSV (non-scale victories) to share:
1)I bought my first pair of lulu lemon yoga pants! It was my reward for hitting 50lbs down. People are not lying when they say these pants are amazing and VERY flattering. Best part? I wear a size 10!
2)I had to get rid of the contents of my closet. NOTHING fits. This is an awesome problem to have, but also a very expensive one to have. :) I bought 2 pairs of jeans and about 5 tops to get me through until I lose more weight. I splurged and got myself a nice leather jacket for winter in a size medium. By the time it's cold enough to wear it, I'll be able to fit in it!
3) I'm more active than I've ever been. I am doing spin classes 3x per week, pilates 1-2x per week, and working out with my trainer 2x per week. Sometimes I work out twice a day! I was never a person who enjoyed working out and now I actually look forward to it!

I saw my surgeon last week and he told me that I am doing amazingly well and he thinks I will be one of his greatest success stories. Always good to hear! :) He also told me that after surgery you have ONE YEAR of active weight loss and to take full advantage of it by working your butt off at the gym. That is exactly what I've been doing and I recommend it to all of you thinking of surgery! Surgery isn't a magic button- you have to work hard

Finally, for the people that say this is the "easy way out"... we all have those people in our lives, they are full of it and have no idea what they are talking about. Here is how I describe this process: Imagine yourself at the peak of your fitness/diet regimen at some point in one of your many attempts to lose weight (I know we have all had MANY before surgery) imagine the one where you were doing everything you were supposed to do; working out, eating healthy and losing hardly anything With the sleeve you still have to work your ass off, but you will actually see results! The sleeve helps you with the EATING part of the journey. The rest is still up to you. You will have to work harder than you have ever worked in your life, but the difference is that this time you will see results, lose weight, and feel amazing. Trust me when I tell you it is worth every bout of nausea, discomfort, and gas pain you will experience in the first 30 days. If you are on the fence about having surgery, don't be. Give yourself the gift of a lifetime! :)

I am going to Greece on September 24th- October 4th and I can't wait to go pick out a new bathing suit. Never thought I'd say that in my lifetime! :)

Posting pics below so you can see my progress.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi Real Self Peeps,

Hope everyone is doing well and preparing for a fun day tomorrow with family and friends. Wanted to provide a quick update on my progress. I'm doing great! Surgeon is super happy with me and says I'm one of his top patients.

I weighed in at 174 today and something REALLY exciting happened to me yesterday. I went shopping for a work holiday dress and tried on Jeans at Express. I fit into a size 8! I am now into the single digit sizes. I cried tears of joy. I haven't taken the jeans off since. Pic attached. :)

I am so thankful for this surgery. It was really the tool I needed to turn my life around. There is nothing easy about it, but if you are willing to put in the hard work and follow the instructions, you will be successful and the weight will come off. A few things to note:

My hair is falling out. A LOT. This is normal and started exactly 3 months post op. I hear it lasts about 3 months, so I should start to see less hair coming out in mid December. Thankfully, I have super, super thick hair, so I haven't had any bald spots or noticeable thinning, but I sure as heck can tell a difference. I used to barely be able to put a pony tail holder around my hair and now I can wrap it 3-4 times. Insane. One thing to combat this is to take your vitamins/supplements religiously and to ensure you get your protein in. I have done both of these things and still have lost a lot of hair. I was told it's just part of the process and will eventually stop. I just wanted to make it known that this does happen and to prepare anyone thinking about surgery with this fact.

Weight loss is slowing down. Now this is relative. I'm spoiled and have grown accustomed to losing a lb a day and 7-9 lbs a week. Now, I stay at the same weight for 4-6 days before losing. Then when the scale does move it's about 2-3 lbs. Again, this is normal. I'm getting closer to my goal weight of 145, so the weight is coming off slower. I don't have as much to lose.

I am still working out 5-6x per week and I cook most of my meals at home. I try to do low to no carbs and limit sugar. I'll have a treat from time to time, but it is nothing like before surgery. Now I'll have a taste of a cookie or a bite of cake as opposed to 3 pieces. :)

I can also tell that I'm able to eat more now. NOT a lot more, but before I'd get super full after a few bites. Now I am up to about 1/2 cup to 3/4 of a cup at meal time. Again, this is normal. It is just something to monitor and watch. I can tell it would be easy to start slipping and snack and eat more than you should be.

All in all, I am so incredibly happy I made this choice for myself. It is going to be a lifelong effort, but it's beyond worth it. :)

Scars- 5 months post op

I've had a few people ask what my incision scars look like. Here is a picture. As you can see there are 5 small incisions. I've put mederma on since 6 weeks post op and my incisions are really light!

8 Months Post-Op

Hey Guys!

Wanted to post a quick update for you all. I went to my surgeon for my 8 month post op appointment last week and things are going amazing. I hit a HUGE milestone... 100lbs gone from the beginning of this journey to now. My highest weight ever was 262 and I am now at 157. If you had told me a year ago that I would be typing these stats, I would have laughed at you and said you were insane. I'm now in between a size 6-8 in jeans, I can wear between a size small and medium in tops, and my boobs. Oh my poor boobs. They are now a 34-36 C. I was a 38DD.

I have a little bit of loose skin in my tummy area. My doctor said I will most likely be able to fix the problem area with lipo as opposed to a tummy tuck. I am not even thinking about any plastic surgery until I hit my 12 month mark. I will re-evaluate at that time.

Current exercise regimen: I work out 6x per week. Sometimes 2x per day. The sleeve is a tool. You are not going to have the extreme success you want if you do not do your part to mold your body. I do spin classes 4x per week and weight training 2-3x per week. I have signed up for another 5k the first weekend in March. I LOVE sweating. I think I have replaced the comfort food gave me with the feeling of a great workout. All in all, exercise is a very healthy coping mechanism. I feel amazing. I have more energy than I've ever had. I'm still struggling to see myself as the "new" Melanie rather than the 260lb Melanie, but I know that will come with time. I am posting a before/ after picture from last February 2015 (left) and then a current picture from December 2015 (right). The difference is insane. On the days I'm feeling down on myself for plateau'ing or not losing as fast as I'd like, I look at this picture and am instantly filled with pride for the journey I have been on. It's not easy, but it's worth it. :)

1 year surgiversary!!!! :).

One year ago today I had my sleeve surgery and my life has never been the same. I am currently celebrating in Mexico with my family and I wore a BIKINI for the first time in ten years. Words can't even describe how amazing I feel. I went from 262 lbs to 151 (goal weight 145!). I have fallen in love with indoor spinning and got m certification to become a teacher. Last week I auditioned at the gym by my house and i got the job. I went from being obese to being a fitness instructor!

This surgery allowed me to take my life back. I'm not quiet and ashamed anymore. I'm the outspoken, happy, confident Melanie I was in high school and I wouldn't trade any of this journey, even the hard parts, that got me to this point. Anyone who says weight loss surgery is the easy way out can kiss my butt. I work out 6x per week, watch everything I eat, and have completely transformed my outlook on food and health. I am so grateful I was able to have this surgery and I'm even more grateful for each and every one of you for helping me along the way. Special shoutout to Jessie who I met through this forum and is now one of my closest friends!

Happy surgiversary to me!

After pic:

After pic 6.8.16

After pic 6.8.16

1 year!

One year pics

La Jolla Bariatric Surgeon

Dr. Bhoyrul is kind, patient, empathetic, and a fantastic surgeon. My experience with him and his staff so far has been phenomenal. I am thankful to have such a skilled doctor at my side during this journey.

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