LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: 28.

My 18-year-old self wouldn’t believe the 28-year-old me when I say that this body that we shared is celebrating it’s 28th birthday. The 18-year-old me would look at the 28-year-old me and not believe me when I say I finished college in 2016 and grad school in 2018. A lot of things happened within the last decade that my younger self couldn’t even imagine doing or going through in their 20’s.

Hi, my name is Liz and today is my 28th birthday!

It’s crazy to think that in two years, I’ll be 30. Like, the 90’s babies are officially going into their 30’s and I can’t believe that our 20’s are ending! But, as I think back to the last 8 years of my twenties, I’ve learned so much about myself and my life! Of course, I have a ton of other things to learn in life, but for the most part, I’ve been through a lot during my twenties!

In my early twenties, I was still a college student. My life and most of my identity were tied around being a student. I was an English major, applying to a film grad school, and finally making some friends within my college through my acting classes my senior year of college. I will always deem some of my best years being in my early twenties; 22 to be exact! 22 was not only the end of my undergraduate studies, but it was the start of truly the rest of my life outside of those 4 years of college. I also started graduate school and met my professor/mentor/now friend, Ro (Professor Carlo), and found a different passion for writing and writing studies through her class.

My mid-twenties taught me a lot about life, in all honesty. The further I got into grad school, the more my mental health began to decline due to the stress grad school carried. For once, it felt like I couldn’t take care of myself because I was swamped with schoolwork. Because of that, I sought out therapy and was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and major depression; both on the chronic level. After graduating from grad school, it was even harder to adjust to life as a regular adult and not a student anymore.

Adjusting to medication and getting used to therapy took a toll on the relationships I kept with people. It was hard for most people to understand that I, the person who was once outspoken and bubbly and had plenty of friends, was now the total opposite. It was rough because I was trying to find my identity outside of the relationships I kept with my loved ones, but also trying to be more assertive and to have people accept that things were changing as I became more aware of my anxiety and depression. It took years to finally not allow my mental health to define me as a person, and in some incidents it still does. But during my mid-twenties, I always had this awareness of my behavior and my mental health really became a clutch for the things that I couldn’t do right.

My life started later into my twenties. I was now by myself after going through an intense break-up, and I was on a mission to discover who I was as just me, myself, and I. I started my first job at my old college’s bookstore and made a ton of new friends through that job. In a weird way, I needed to close some chapters in order to start some new ones during this time. There were so many fun things I got to do! I had holiday parties at work, I went out with my coworkers for a happy hour after work, i took up pen-palling, I went to my first ever Kpop concert, and I took my first ever solo trip on a plane! I also co-wrote a journal article with my mentor and got published in an academic journal! And of course, I challenged a fear of mine and entered a community full of people who were also interested in Kpop and collecting like me! I learned a lot during these years in my life, especially even after having surgery back in July 2021.

Entering these last two years of my 20’s, I hope that I am able to continue on this journey in a smooth and healthy manner. I hope that I enter my 30’s in 2024 excited to see what the new milestone is going to be like! They do say that your thirties are where it’s at! But back to 28; I hope that this year is full of adventures and memories, to show my 18-year-old self that things do get better, and that life goes on and you grow up and mature and the things that affected you when you were younger aren’t severe when you’re older. I hope that my 18-year-old self can completely rest and just be a place in the past that this body once was. I hope my 28-year-old self can learn to lay 18 to rest for good.

Happy Birthday to me. 🎂

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: The Halfway Mark.

New year, new me! Well, not really. More like a “new year, new ways to better me!”

I remember looking at all the paperwork in my doctor’s office planning out the next couple of months after surgery. They counted them as days. They told me what I should be doing and eating at certain points of the healing journey. They tell you what you should be doing at different points of the journey to help keep the weight off and adapt to now healthier lifestyles. It’s crazy to even think back to those times, not realizing that one day, I’d be where I’m currently at.

Hi, my name is Liz and I will be making 6 months in a week and a half!

Six months. Where did the time go? It really does seem like it was just the summertime, and I was being pushed out in a wheelchair to the entrance of the hospital where my sibling picked me up. It feels like it was just my first day back at work after surgery and my coworkers asked me a million and one questions about the process; of course, out of concern and curiosity. It was just the first time I visibly saw changes in my body through the clothing I was wearing! Now here we are, celebrating a milestone that seemed like would never come.

In the time I am writing this, it is very much still 2021, and the total amount of weight I’ve lost since surgery is 69 pounds! To think that my ultimate goal is just 30 more pounds; it’s a little scary, to say the least. Things fit differently, my body is looking different, and I feel different. But like I documented here on the blog, getting here wasn’t an easy transition.

Six months really is just the beginning of this lifelong journey. It’s still very much a learning process and I’m not the “perfect example” of what someone on a post-surgery journey is like. Nevertheless, these last couple of months have taught me so much about my body, my mentality, and the strength it took to even make it to this point.

This journey is possibly one of the most important stories I am currently telling. I say that because this was something I really didn’t think would ever happen in my life. I’ve told myself that this was something I should consider doing and was always afraid to take that step forward and go for it. The drive to want to change my life and just experience it in a way where my weight wasn’t going to hold me back.

Like I mentioned in the previous Overexposed posts, I write about this journey because there’s not a lot of people telling the truth of the process. They don’t tell you the day-by-day process of WLS and the hardships one truly goes through during the process. I honestly didn’t realize people were reading until my coworker told me that they read the series and felt unworthy of reading it because it was like “reading in on someone’s diary”. The truth of the matter is, it is. This is how I document my process for myself. I write for the blog, to come back in a year to see where my mind was during the beginning of this process. I want to be able to look back and see just how far I’ve come in this journey, and other readers who stumble upon this blog while doing so are more than welcome to read along and learn this very important thing about me and my life.

I’m not one to have new year’s resolutions, but this year I want to set some things to do things differently with this process. For starters, I want to start working out more at home. We have a treadmill in our apartment and it doesn’t hurt to go on it for half an hour to burn some calories. I also want to go on more walks when the weather gets warmer to do more exercise! I also want to stay away from sugar as much as possible to not gain a tolerance for it (I have to admit, my sweet tooth has been making its return and I don’t want it to). I definitely want to eat better and make better food choices to help the process continue smoothly. Most importantly, I want to just go through this next half of the first year not too anxious about the process and stressed about the number on the scale. The journey is unique to everyone, and this just so happens to be mine.

Here’s to 6 months, and cheers to the next 6 months!

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project., Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2021

Day 6: Overexposed: The Plateau.

Weight loss surgery isn’t an automatic magic tool to lose weight. While it’s a powerful one, it is not magic. Not my words, but another writer that once documented their process after having weight loss surgery.

Hi, my name is Liz & I’ve hit a weight loss plateau.

I’ve been at my current weight for about a couple of weeks now, which hasn’t really happened since being on this journey. In fact, once I had the surgery, I was losing weight consistently– sometimes too quickly– more than I ever had. So, for me to hit this point in my journey where I haven’t lost another 5 to 10 pounds in a month sometimes scares the ever-living hell out of me.

It also makes me think that maybe I’m going something wrong. Am I not eating right? Am I not eating enough? Am I not exercising? Do I have to begin working out hardcore? It just very much feels like I’m doing something wrong and that’s why the weight loss stopped.

On top of that, it’s a very confusing conversation to have with people that asked me if I lost any more weight since my last update because, well, many people will expect you to lose tons of weight easily without any hiccups in the process.

Even I believed that. To have not had any major weight loss between my third and fourth month, I was worried that where I was was the stopping point. My anxiety about me not losing any more weight was through the roof, and it definitely got me depressed to think that I’ve went through this major change in my life for it to only work for three months. Something wasn’t adding up.

Although I know my success and self-confidence shouldn’t be determined by a number on the scale, it was hard to not get bummed by the number staying the same after seeing it constantly change as soon as I had surgery.

I honestly didn’t know weight loss plateau was a legit thing. I also didn’t know it was typical for a plateau to occur after having bariatrics surgery. In a nutshell, a plateau can occur for many reasons: the obvious one being that you are not eating food that is good for you, but instead doing the opposite and keeping your old, pre-surgery eating habits at bay. While I’m sort of guilty for this, I’ve managed to stay away from a lot of things that were in my old diet before having surgery. I’m also more in tune with my body and know just how much food I should be putting on my plate. FYI: it’s still not a lot. Nevertheless, the plateau tells me that there is something that is happening in my body that is inevitable and I shouldn’t obsess over it. Point blank, period.

But, what if it lasts longer than intended? What if it lasts for months more than the weeks that it typically lasts for? What if something is truly not right? Of course, my uncertainty and anxiety bring up these questions constantly when something in my own unique journey doesn’t follow the “bariatrics surgery handbook”.

Hearing other people’s stories online about their own plateau makes me feel like I’m not alone in the process and that I’m not doing anything wrong with my own journey. We are warned way before having surgery that it’s not a magic fix to weight loss; it only helps makes the process go a bit easier. But once surgery is over and done with and your body has healed from it all, it’s up to you to actively help the body keep it healthy and encourage it to lose more weight.

Again, let me just clarify that this isn’t me saying, “oh my go9d, I’m a failure for staying fat” or anything along those lines. If you guys have been long time readers, you would know my main reason for getting this surgery was because of my age and the high risk of other medical problems that run through my family because of obesity. I did not get this surgery to “be pretty and thin”, I did this so that I felt like my age instead of having my body hinder itself by feeling 20 years older. I was fine being in my skin when it was in the 300lbs territory, but physically it didn’t feel good.

I’m also not going to say that seeing the number go down didn’t feel good. It felt amazing to physically see the changes and to feel more my age as the weight was coming off. It was something I wasn’t able to do on my own, and with the hard work I went through to get surgery in the first place, it feels good to see weight come off like this. For me, it motivates me even more to work hard and try to keep this weight off now that I Iost some of it.

So, I hope once this published, the plateau is officially gone and the weight continues to come off as I work for it to come off. Again, this is something that I feel like not a lot of people will talk about within their journey because it could signify as failure, which again it isn’t! Maybe it’s just time to hit up that gym and get the membership. Maybe it’s time to track and portion out food better. Maybe we have to find ways to enjoy food without it being bad for you. There are ways to turn something like this back into a positive and gain back control of what we worked hard for. Because God knows once this weight is off, I’m keeping it off!

With that being said, 2022 is just the continuation of focusing on my body and getting to know this body better as we further ourselves into this journey. Patience, young grasshoppers.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: “Have Some More”.

To my friends and family that are looking out for me within my WLS journey,

I appreciate you guys. I appreciate you being here throughout this unfamiliar process; one that has left me feeling as happy as I could be, but also has left me in some of the worst depressive episodes I’ve had in a long time. I am grateful for those who ask me what I can and cannot eat and try to include me in gatherings as much as possible. I am thankful that I am able to talk about my process, the good and the bad, with open ears and willingness to be reassuring that everything is going to be alright. I will forever remember those who were around for this life-changing journey with me, no matter how far away some of them were or how close they were. I appreciate your presence in my life.

But please stop telling me to “have some more” regarding my food intake.

I know that doesn’t come from a malicious place; it’s actually the opposite. I know that those around me want to make sure that I’m okay, that I am comfortable with the setting, and that I feel included when in reality, I’m now different. But, I don’t want you to keep asking, or telling me, to have more food.

You guys know first hand how long it took me to learn my new body and hunger cues. You guys have been around during the days where I would be in the bathroom, just waiting for the puke to come up and be over with it. The days on end where I feared eating large amounts of food for that reason alone, and when I did eat more, the sick days and nights were happening more. So, now that I have a better understanding of my body and know when to stop eating when I feel full, telling me to “have more” just makes me feel like I’m lying to myself or something. Clearly I feel full, so why are people telling me to have more food or try every single thing that is being served?

I may not have express this out to you all, but since having surgery, I’ve developed some sort of food anxiety, which I’m very terrified could develop into a eating disorder in the future. I fear I will plurge, puke, then plurge again. I fear I will train my mind and body that I’m not hungry at all and end up not eating anything for the day. While I am not new into this journey, I am still learning and doing things in my own way; a way that fits for me, and a way that is both helpful and healthy for me. I want to be control of my own body, and if I want to put food on my plate and it’s not as full or normal like everyone’s plate, then let me decide what I want to eat. If I just want one small piece of a meat and skip the sides, then let me do just that.

Telling me to have more feels triggering. Telling me to take some more food makes me feel like people think I’m starving myself, or I secretly want to eat more food which, again, if I want more, I will take it. Telling me to have one of your sides or look at me like I have 5 heads when I only eat a small portion of food doesn’t feel good. It makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. It makes me feel like I have to take your offer for your food so that I don’t feel antagonized for not doing so. It also fucks with my brain, telling myself that I should eat more and that I really want more when really, I don’t want to eat because “I’m hungry”, I’ll eat because I’m fucking anxious about food and think I want food.

What I’m getting at is please don’t tell me to eat more or pass me a dish and insist that I try it, especially this holiday season. This is my first holiday season post-op and I’m unsure how things are going to be for me, but please allow me to figure out what I want to do with my food during these times.

I love you, and thank you for being here for me through this uncertain time in my life.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: Biggest Anxiety on my WLS Journey.

Four months. Four months since I got bariatrics surgery and in total lost 55 pounds.

I’ve been documenting this process and journey for the last 5 months; I started about a month before I had the surgery, and continued to do so after surgery and here we are. I’ve written about some of the major highs of this process and how much healthier I’ve been feeling since then, but I’ve also not been shy to talk about some of the lows that not may people will talk about, and i still think that it’s important to talk about these things.

This post is about a low that I’ve been experiencing and been worried about, and I wonder just how many WLS patients have dealt with the same struggles or have had a similar mindset like me.

Hi, my name is Liz, and I’ve been worried about the future of my eating habits.

In a nutshell, I’ve officially hit that mark in my journey where my doctors don’t need to hold my hand as much as they did before, which means it’s now completely up to me to keep up my eating habits and making sure I am getting the nutrition I need. For the most part, things have been pretty normal and nothing major has changed within my diet, until I came down with a cold.

When I got sick two weeks ago, I started to realize that I felt more hungry than usual and I was able to keep down more food than I could’ve in awhile. I was beginning to get nervous; I didn’t understand why all of a sudden, I was able to eat more than usual and not stay as full as I used to prior to getting sick. I was nervous to believe that maybe my body was now getting used to eating more and that I wasn’t as scared to puke if I overate anymore.

I was afraid to think that if I kept this mindset that I was able to eat more (like unhealthy things I should avoid) and eventually get sick, all I could do is just puke it out and blame it on the unwillingness to keep it down. Again, it’s a mindset I don’t want to end up having, and I hope that my mental health doesn’t get to a place where I think that’ll be okay to do.

I’m afraid that even if I eat more than I’m used to, I could eventually expand my stomach, which again is something that can eventually happen if your body gets used to holding in more food. When I was sick, I was able to eat without getting sick and still get pretty hungry pretty quickly. I was getting worried that a.) I was now eating and expanding my stomach which can possibly result in me gaining the weight back, and b.) I was actually eating normally than I’m used to but considered it to be a bad thing so I would try to cut back and eat small, despite if I was still hungry or not.

I guess I was getting nervous that in the future, I’m likely to get an eating disorder because of my newfound food anxiety since surgery, and I wonder if many people who’ve had this surgery felt this way at least once in their journey, or have sadly been diagnosed with an eating disorder after having surgery.

I don’t want it to get to a point where I think I’m eating too much when in reality, I’m eating just the right amount. I don’t want to keep looking at the scale and judge my stagnant weight as a failure. I don’t want to punish myself into thinking that I’m a failure because my journey isn’t what it was a couple of months ago.

In a way, this 4-month checkpoint is more so a start to the second step of my journey. Now I definitely have to limit my “bad food” intake to as little as possible because it’s time for me to actually put some work in. I need to do some exercises. I need to meal prep and be more cautious about what I eat. I can’t have this mind where I’m like “oh, lemme see if I can have this” to find out that I can and begin to indulge in the bad habit. I can’t keep thinking that the weight is just going to keep coming off without me actually being proactive and not doing things to keep the weight loss going. Yes, the weight is still coming off, but it’s not going to be like how it was when I was just a month into my post-op and the weight was just stripping itself off me. I now have to stop thinking that someone will hold my hand and tell me what to do when really, I’ve had just that for the first three months.

I’m just trying to not let myself go down this rabbit hole where my food anxiety gets so bad, I get diagnosed with an eating disorder. Again, with my weekly therapy sessions and just having people around me to talk to about my concerns and worries, I know I’ll have better control in what I do with my body.

To those who have been with me throughout this journey, I sincerely thank you all for being here and comforting me when I’ve felt lost, confused, and alone in the process. This process very much feels like grad school; being the only person I knew who went through it, I pretty much had to learn and experience everything on my own and in the process, developed an immense amount of anxiety due to the certainty of the outcomes. I am grateful that I’m able to talk to my family and friends and get some support for this uncertain and new journey.

Until then, here’s to another month on this journey.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: Gain Something New, Lose Something Old.

I feel like I’m always gaining something. Whether I’m gaining new friendships, newfound interests, new styles, or anything that I haven’t had in my life before; something is always changing. I used to call them my chapters, the parts of my life that I grow into and then grow out of when I don’t fit or belong in it anymore. I’ve realized that chapters are crucial to growth in life, and a lot of the things that I don’t fit in or belong in anymore is just a sign that I am always changing and developing for the sole purpose for myself. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt any less, or it doesn’t make me feel like chapters are just a apart of life, but just something that I disguise my unwillingness to keep things in my life.

Hi, my name is Liz, and I’ve realized that while I gain new things in life, I lose the old things that come with it.

One of the things I’ve gained was this WLS journey and have been able to lose 54 pounds within the last three months. I’ve gained new insight on myself, I’ve gained a confidence in style that I haven’t had in a long time, and I’ve gained a new perspective– a new lifestyle really– since having surgery back in July. I could feel those changes, and I felt them early on in this journey. Like I’ve mentioned before, I pretty much had to learn my hunger and body cues all over again and change the way I eat and drink. I had to literally press the restart button and learn things through trial and error.

But more than just my body began to change; it was also the people around me. I rekindled friendships these last couple of months that I thought I’d never have again, to state the obvious one. I’ve became a apart of two big online communities within the matter of a year and a half and made so many new online friends in the process. Of course, some of them lasted longer than others, but for the most part, I was not the same person even entering 2021 in, let alone at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

But, I realized while i was gaining new experiences and relationships in my life, I started to realize that the ones I had previously were beginning to look non-existent. For context, some of the people who I considered to be some of my closest friends didn’t even check on me before or after my surgery, which again I’m not crying over, but it started to put more perspective on these said relationships in my life and showed me where I clearly stood as a person in other people’s lives.

I realized that the further away I stepped from the person I was, the more distance I created with the people who were once friends with the old me; the old Liz. The Liz that didn’t collect photocards and albums of kpop boys and girls and have posters of said kpop groups on my wall. The Liz that didn’t really have friends, or hobbies, let alone a place where I could geek out about the things that were now interesting to me. The Liz where I began to grow out of clothes faster than I was actually growing!

I realized this narrative was a familiar one, especially those who got into kpop later on in their lives like me. A friend of mine in the community has expressed how the friends they had before kpop ghosted them or left them completely once they started to grew interest in kpop, and wanted to start building a collection of their favorite kpop groups and such. I didn’t understand how someone who you used to fuck with so heavy could ultimately just ghost you or drop you completely because of a contrasting interest that had absolutely nothing to do with them. But I do, because I’ve experienced it first-hand; I’ve seen just how much contrasting interests I began to have from the other people in my life, and perhaps even though I’ve gained a new interest in something like kpop, I put too much faith on the fact that perhaps maybe I was able to still keep those in my life and indulge in something that made me happy.

But I guess not.

And then there’s just this constant thought of maybe I’m drastically changing and not being the person these people know me as, but then I sit back and think who the fuck cares? Like, who cares if my interests change? If the “aesthetic” is different? Who cares if my priorities as a person shifted into a direction they once weren’t? Who cares if I can’t relate to everything like I used to. Like I said, I am constantly changing; we all are, but one thing that shouldn’t change is the way you treat people within those changes. Friendships, or any type of relationships are meant to be long-term. Relationships are meant to morph and grow with you, not be tossed once they have no relevance for you anymore.

But, not everyone thinks like me and some people just ghost to ghost or just never keeps in touch, no matter how many times you’ve tried to.

I truly do wonder if things will keep changing like this as I go down further into my journey. Will I soon realize that the people in my life don’t like me not being the fat friend anymore? Will I soon realize that my diet restrictions and unwillingness to do normal things like drink be a reason why no one wants to hang out with me? I know, it’s ridiculous, but I can’t help but wonder what are some of the things to come, and if they will be positive things or negative things.

At the end of the day, we as people just tend to gain and lose things all in one lifetime. It’s great if we can keep what we hold onto dearly while still gaining things from life experiences, but it’s rare to have that outcome happen unfortunately. We, as people, can only hope that the things that come into our lives, the things we gain, make us even happier than the things that we lost in our past. We gain things because in that exact moment, it’s what you want and what you can relate to and share and have in common and such. We lose things for plenty of other reasons, and I know it’s okay if I lose things during this process as I end my 20’s in a few years.

As long as you don’t lose yourself a long the way, I say that’s a win in my book.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: Three Months Post-Op.

It’s crazy to think about how quickly seasons change. One day we are walking outside in flip-flops, fanning ourselves with our hands on a hot, summer day; the next we are wearing jeans and sweaters, watching the leaves fall from their branches. When we think about how time truly passes by, we don’t realize just how much time is used to be where you’re currently at.

Hi, my name is Liz, and it’s been three months (and a week) since I had surgery.

It feels like I’ve been at this journey longer than three months. I feel like July 12th was decades ago, that I’ve lived this new lifestyle for awhile now and that the life I had before was long gone. But, it really hasn’t been that long!

Within the last three months, I’ve learned how to listen to my body when it tells me that it’s full. I don’t get sick as often as I did, but I still have days where I mess up and don’t communicate with my body. I try to eat more little meals or snacks during the day so that I am not starving myself or I’m not too afraid or anxious to eat. I’ve even tried sweets for the first time! Although I can’t have sweets like regular people can, I can have a little single treat (of course, if it’s less than 5g of sugar)! Other than that, I’m trying really hard to have control so that in the long run, I don’t get into the bad habit of accepting sugary foods back into my diet. Nevertheless, I still eat like the same 5 meals and snacks a day and pretty much stick with it until I get sick of it.

I’ve also been cleared to do heavy-lifting again! I was cleared to do heavy-lifting during my last visit with my doctor, and as soon as I was cleared, my job had me back to lifting heavy books and boxes again. It definitely felt different this time; I feel like doing those tasks aren’t as exhausting and tiring as they were a semester ago before surgery. Also! I was cleared to do exercise, so I started to go on the treadmill twice a week! I’ve been going on the treadmill for 30 minutes; I’m taking it slow to build up my stamina and hopefully in the future, I can go faster!

I haven’t had much depression about this journey within the last month. I mean, I do tend to still feel lonely at gatherings that involve food. I know these next couple of months are going to test me since the holidays are approaching, and I know there will be times I will get depressed and would want to live my old lifestyle again, but it’ll just be another thing I will overcome. I know my depressive episodes regarding my weight-loss journey will come again further down the line, but I’m learning to accept tit for what it is and that with practice and experience, I will be able to get through whatever it throws at me.

Although I’ve lost 51 pounds in total, I am still reminded of the person that I was before embarking in this new chapter. I still remember the person who wore these clothes. Although I sometimes miss the person I was and the lifestyle I had, feeling the way I now feel and being able to do the things I haven’t been able to do without getting tired makes this process worth it. When people ask me how I am feeling having lost as much weight as I had, I say that I feel like my age and that I feel lighter than I did before. It’s a feeling I never got to experience before, and I’m honestly so grateful that I’m able to feel this way about myself.

Who knows where the next month will take me? Perhaps I will be 60 pounds down! Maybe I will be able to figure out what my actual clothing size is and buy a new wardrobe! Whatever it may be, I’m excited to see what the next month looks like!

Here’s to many more, Liz.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: To my 311 lbs Self.

To the person I was before surgery,

As I watch my family being able to eat all of their food off of their plate, I wonder how you used to do that. How were you able to finish all of your food that was on your plate? How would you be able to even go for seconds after a full plate of food? Did you enjoy the food that you ate? Is that why you would go back for more? I don’t remember how that feels. I don’t remember what it felt like to eat something and enjoy it. I don’t remember how it felt to take in a flavor of food and eat until you couldn’t eat anymore. There’s a lot about you I don’t remember.

I don’t want to forget the person you were. I don’t want to forget the person that really dealt with the self-image issues and the constant battle with your weight being a physical issue but also wanting to love your body for how she comes. I don’t want to forget the scares you had at night; the ones where you would feel absolutely sick and warm because your blood pressure was dangerously high. I don’t want to forget the fact that at 25 years old, you went to your doctor and told her that you are experiencing all the symptoms pre-diabetics experience. I don’t want to forget that you were pre-diabetic.

Although people will see you as “the before” in every photo I have, just know that you were more than just that. You were an actual person that dealt with the hardships of weight. You were a person that didn’t have much control in how fast your body was changing, despite getting the help needed to do so. You were always pretty, worthy, and will always be more than just a “before” photo. You were the before version of who I was, still am, and will continue being.

You will always be with me because you never left.

Despite how quick my body might change within the next couple of months, I will forever remind you that your body wasn’t and will never be something disgusting or bad. I will remind you that despite how many people will praise the body I’ll have as the months pass, it doesn’t mean you weren’t worthy enough to be seen.

I wish I took care of you better when i had the time. I know I didn’t know how to, and I didn’t know how much different life would be after-surgery, but i wish I was able to take you and just take care of you better. I’m sorry if I neglected you, and I’m sorry it took surgery for me to realize just how brave and strong you truly are. Like, I don’t know how you were able to go through surgery, and within two weeks, you seemed like you didn’t just have surgery! It’s amazing just how strong and supportive you are of me, despite me not taking care of you properly before. I will make sure to take care of you now– you won’t take no for an answer since if we don’t care for you, you’ll make me instantly regret it.

I love you and will always love you for who you were, what you are, and what you will become.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: The Lows No One Talks About.

If you’ve been considering having weight-loss surgery, you’ve probably been reading other people’s stories and looking at their progress photos, thinking “Wow, I want to be thinner/healthier/whatever reason you’re considering it”. People who post about their journey typically show their before and after photos; the before photo could typically be a full body photo of them before surgery or just shortly after surgery, while the other photo– the after photo– is them a couple of months later, even a year or two since having the surgery.

It’s great to see how life changing this surgery is for other people. People who couldn’t lose the weight on their own or just have a difficult time managing their weight finally feel in control with their weight. As a person going through the same progress as many WLS patients, all I can say is that you should feel proud for making it this far into your journey. The things we had to do to get to this point; the testing, the appointments, and just getting up to go to the hospital on your surgery day takes a lot of courage!

By all means, talk about the proud moments you have being in the position you’re in. Be proud of your progress and talk about your hard work to get where you’re currently at…

But do not pretend that there’s no lows in this journey.

Hi, my name is Liz, and the last two months have been the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows.

I feel like many people think that the low points are when you’re in recovery; they think the grace period of recovery is the worst to come and when you’re feeling better, that’s where those lows end. Absolutely not.

I’m not going to sugarcoat anything; these last two months sucked to a certain degree. Not only am I learning how to eat differently to adjust to my new stomach, but there’s still so much psychological changes that come with the physical changes. I’ve always been real on this blog, so let me tell you what the lows truly are in this journey, since no one else has and/or I had to find out the hard way.

Anxiety Surrounding Food

When I first started the WLS Program, I was required to speak to their specialized psychologist in order to get cleared for surgery. AT first, I didn’t understand why this process would require a clearance from a mental health specialist, but boy I do now. Now living my life post-surgery has really made my anxiety come out a lot more when it comes to food. As many of you already know, I deal with major depression and an anxiety disorder, and as something drastic like weight loss surgery can be quite triggering for a person with one.

You’ll have anxiety over food because you will feel a couple of things:

  • You will feel like you’re under-eating since you don’t feel hungry most of the time and/or eat and feel fuller for longer.
  • Some days, you will feel hungrier than others. There will be some days where you barely eat.
  • If you feel too hungry and then immediately eat too fast, you will get sick.
  • Bad food for you (even if you don’t know) = puking.

For me, my anxiety really revolves around these points, especially when I’m experimenting with new foods I can add to my diet. Trust me, you think you’ll feel fine eating eggs, tuna, salad, and soup but man that meal plan gets tired real quick. So, the anxiety around the trial and error of trying new food always gives me great anxiety. I tend to try a lot of new foods while I’m at work and get extremely nervous when I do so. Most of the time I’m perfectly fine, but other times… well, you get the picture.

Stagnant Weight Loss

One of the misconceptions people have about WLS is that the weight will come off quick. While it does come off pretty quickly (i.e. me losing 30 pounds since the surgery) at the very beginning, it’s not always going to be that way. It’s different for every person who undergoes WLS, but it’s pretty normal for people to have moments where you’re at the same weight for a little bit longer. At first, it feels like failure. You think you’re doing something wrong, you start nitpicking the things you eat and obsessively weigh yourself to see if things change within the week or so. There’s this misconception that once you have the surgery, you’re supposed to just continuously lose weight (which is true), but it’s not supposed to be as quickly as people assume. In the two months since having surgery, I’ve lost about 30 pounds, which is about 9% of my body fat. While I didn’t think that was high enough considering it’s been two months, my doctor’s reassured me that’s typical for many WLS patients at this point in their journey.

Again, it’s different for every person, but the point of having WLS in the first place is to get some assistance and special help in losing weight. Just because it’s not happening as quickly as people assume or think how quickly it’s supposed to be, remember that this is your journey, and it’s going to be only unique to you.

Getting Sick Long After the “Recovery” Phase.

When I was first sent home from the hospital and was getting used to the new way to eat and stuff, I found myself getting sick a lot. At first, it felt like the “getting full” sensation, and while before surgery I was able to get full and be okay, I soon realized that the “full” sensation I felt wasn’t going to be the same feeling I had before surgery. I learned the hard way, and still do.

I feel like people think you only get sick when you’re in the recovery phase. Like, the recovery phase is the only phase you’re supposed to have trail and error moments and that once you’re officially out of recovery, you should know your body and prevent it from getting sick. That is not true. Recovery is just the beginning stages of getting to know your body better and knowing the different signals your body gives off when it does.

The fact of the matter is that there’s always going to be good days and bad days. The good days are days where you can perfectly detect when you are full before getting to the point where you’re too full and need to throw up. The bad days are days that I could barely keep down any food that I would normally like; I only can eat three bites and call it a meal, and still get sick. These days are not limited to the recovery phase; if anything, they last a lifetime. They will happen on days where you try new foods in hopes that they sit with you well, but slowly realizing you’re feeling sick and need to get it out of your body. They will happen on days where you think your body is able to handle that one extra bite of food until you find yourself sitting on the bathroom floor, hoping that this feeling will pass. They will happen on days where you’ve gotten to know your body so well, but then there’s that one day where you just eat something and it doesn’t settle well with you.

It sucks knowing that during any meal you have, you can get sick, but it;s just something you accept and allow your body to respond the way it does. I’m not saying “eat like shit and get used to puking”, I’m saying that if you eat a little too much, fast, or just eat something that doesn’t settle well in your stomach, it’s bound to come back up. Sadly, it’s just how your stomach is now made to work; it can’t keep everything in your stomach, so it has to come out one way or another.

Post-Surgery Depression.

Post-Surgery Depression is a real thing for a lot of WLS patients, and I am one of them that it affects. Since I am already phone to major depression, the post-surgery depression just hits harder. I cried in the shower the other night because I have moments where I miss my old lifestyle. I sometimes miss having to eat whatever I want and actually enjoy my meals. There are times where I am around friends and family and I can’t have what everyone else is having because I simply can’t. I think about my 28th birthday coming up in January, and I just wonder what’s even the point of having a birthday cake for the person who can’t have birthday cake? Do we just have the cake for others to enjoy it on my birthday? I understand how stupid and pathetic these scenarios sound, but these are just everyday thoughts I have being a WLS patient. How many times will I have to tell those around me that it’s okay to eat food around me? How many times will I have to sit at a gathering and have people feel bad that I can’t eat what they are having. In all honesty, I appreciate when people think of me in situations like that, but the fact of the matter is that people will forever think about me, and although most of the time I am okay and can be around people eating things I wish I could too, there are minor times when I miss the connection I had with people in a gathering where we are eating the same food.

On top of all the lows I’ve mentioned before, I understand how grateful I am to have this opportunity to even get the surgery and have a chance to change my life for the better. I know that in the long run, these lows would be worth it because I will feel better and more of my age as the weight continues to go down. To be at the weight that I was when I was 22 years old; I never thought I would able to see that weight again. So, I’m grateful. Thankful. Optimistic for the future, but I will not go on this journey without letting you guys know the ugly behind the beauty of this situation. It’s not just a before and after photo. It’s not a quick fix, and it’s not something you should take lightly if considering this surgery.

There are lows in this process. Maybe I’m just more comfortable expressing those lows in my process, but for anyone considering WLS, be aware that although its an amazing opportunity to better your life, it’s not as easy as everyone makes it out to be.

These are my lows, the WLS lows that no one told me.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: The Pity Party for the WLS Girl.

If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me what I can or cannot eat and then proceed to feel sorry for me when they have food, I’d be rich and would have every Seungsik photocard purchased for my collection.

I say that very lightheartedly. I appreciate every person I either work with, hang out with, or live with considering the fact that I can’t really eat the way normal people do, but for the most part, I’m just pretty tired of having to explain myself.

Hi, I’m Liz and please for the love of God just eat your food in front of me.

I hate to see people who have food with them feel guilty to eat it just because I can’t have what they are having. The truth of the matter is that even if I wanted what they were having, I couldn’t have it in the first place. A lot of this first month after surgery has been me practicing to fall into temptation but also coming to the terms that my diet can’t be what it used to be before I had surgery. The whole “having your stomach being smaller” helps you not crave food as much as you think, so if anyone really has food in front of me and feels guilty for eating it, I’m pretty sure I’m not even hungry to crave what you are having.

As I appreciate people being aware of me now that I had this surgery, I really do wish that further down the line, people will start treating me like a normal person. I don’t need special treatment because my stomach is different; like enjoy your food in front of me! Let’s face it, if we’re eating together, I’m most likely bussing down a salad that is hitting the spot!

This journey for those around me is just as new for me as it is for them. I’m still learning the things I can have or cannot have. I haven’t mastered the whole “alternative to my favorite foods” scenario yet, but with research and my visits to my nutritionist, I’ll be able to have more options of food, and even tell those around me what I actually can or cannot have.

But for the most part, I hope the people I’m around don’t ever feel guilty for eating something I can’t have. It’s totally okay to have that cheeseburger and fries in front of me! Want to get an ice cream cone? Go for it! It’s totally okay to eat your everyday food in front of me; I really do not mind and encourage those who live their life when they are with me!

Thank you for being conscious and aware of my new diet and lifestyle; it really means a lot that those around me are supportive and helpful and know that I take this new chapter of my life seriously both physically and mentally. But, I totally insist and would prefer you to eat whatever you want in front of me. I will be okay.