Meet Esther, a Former Mexico Bariatric Center Patient
My Sleeve Gastrectomy in Tijuana was performed by my amazing surgeon, Dr. Louisana Valenzuela on September 1, 2016. I started 2016 with a lingering pregnancy weight of nearly 270 lbs. On June 24, 2016, I decided to somehow have VSG surgery and was 257.7 lbs.
At the time of my surgery I weighed in at 239.9 lbs, and today I weighed in at 214.4 – a loss of 43.3 lbs since June 24th and 25.5 lbs since surgery! I had minimal discomfort post-op and am so thankful to the staff at Mi Doctor Hospital for taking such good care of me!
I am 40 years old and 5’5″ tall. My “Monitor Your Weight” app says my goal weight is 141.5 lbs with a BMI of 23.5. I cannot wrap my head around those numbers. What I have committed myself to is a lifestyle of activity and nutrition. My goal is to build muscle and be the parent my rumbustious boys deserve!
Esther Prepared for Gastric Sleeve Surgery! [July 22nd, 2016]
What led me to have bariatric surgery was PAIN. I have degenerative discs in my spinal column and was having flare-ups more and more frequently. Every flare-up had me needing narcotic pain medicine and made me unable to manage my family for between 10-12 hours at a time due to the pain. My boys are 4 and 2 years of age, and I felt as though I would never be able to keep up with them. That was just unacceptable and I had to do something for my sanity and my boys.
The Emotional and Psychological Journey Since Surgery
The facts are that women store hormones in fat. As you begin to rapidly lose weight, there is an emotional roller coaster that you go through. I felt that some days I had super high happy days, followed by super-low sad days. The surgery addresses the size of our stomach, our hunger, and Ghrelin’s production, but not our minds. You also do not live in a perfect little weight loss surgery bubble pre/post-op. If something happens, all of a sudden you cannot turn to food as you once did.
Also, for many emotions, I did not realize that I even turned to food for that specific emotion!! Therefore, the pre/post-op process is an eye-opening time that shows you just how rampant your appetite had become AND how food really was a comfort for so many scenarios. My solution to the lows or difficult days is to walk! I head out for a 3-6 mile walk at a time and it clears the mind. Afterward, I felt strong and accomplished. Plus the endorphins released during exercise do a lot to pull you out of a negative headspace!!
I really feel if I have a bad day, the struggle is real, it was only one 24-hour period. It’s over. Yesterday is done and gone forever. I have today and can make it a spectacular day. Then I can keep going tomorrow!! I do not let the choices of one day bog me down and try to wreck my entire week like before surgery. This thinking coupled with working out has kept me encouraged when the bad days roll around!
Techniques and Resources That Help Me
When I realized that having bariatric surgery locally was out of the question financially, I began seeking out companies that facilitate medical tourism in Mexico. My online searches quickly pointed me to YouTube. In scouring anything I could find about the surgery abroad, what stood out were the stories being shared.
I saw real people, having real struggles with food and their weight. They set out to have bariatric surgery, and for once had a handle on their eating. I saw all sorts of different people posting vlogs with suggestions, failures, options, successes… It made surgery real for me, and I felt I had a voice I could add to the weight loss community.
I created my channel, Esther’s VSGTrek, and began vlogging to purge my thoughts and feelings as I began preparing for VSG surgery. The vlogs are for me, they document my progress and include useful information for anyone considering WLS or in the process of obtaining their surgery.
However, what I did not expect were the connections you end up making with other vloggers in the WLS community. You end up following and developing friendships with people that GET IT! They are going through the same weight-loss journey as you are! I have found such support on YouTube and on Instagram!! Every day I connect with people across the globe who are so inspirational and motivate me!!
My Advice to Others Who Struggle Emotionally and Undergo Bariatric Surgery
The tool never goes away. We can abuse the process, we are human. However, we know what to do to get back on the plan; track your food, up to your water, sleep, and work out. Many of us pack on the pounds over a lifetime, it will take time to get the weight off. Our body has to do it at its own pace.
Love yourself and listen to your body when you need to maybe have a rest day from working out, or actually need to increase the intensity of the workout. Sometimes our calorie needs will change as we go through all the post-op phases of surgery. Adjust accordingly and make it fun!