Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: Leaving Markers.

Cathy found it fascinating how I measure my progress by leaving markers.

I told her one Friday morning during our video call therapy session that I was afraid of 2023 turning into a year where I lost all the progress I’ve made. I was already entering the year with some challenges, and I was foolish for thinking the turning of a new year would ease those challenges. So I expressed this to Cathy, to let her know I had this unsettling feeling that my progress would not continue to be linear; the way that it was last year.

She told me she had never heard someone use years to measure progress. “It’s like you leave markers that you refer back to. You take those markers and they define your progress, but why not take ownership of the progress instead and not let time do that?”

How do I not honor those markers that have shaped me in this exact moment?

I am who I am because of 18-year-old Liz. She’s a version of myself I still try to protect because I remember her lowest of lows; when she truly felt alone. A part of that outcome was simply the fact she made dumb decisions, and she paid for those consequences. But, she also let all of those people walk all over her, and she tried her best to not let it get to her. But it did. She wanted to die. She wanted to disappear. She deemed herself a horrible person that deserved the worst to happen to her.

“Is that what you tell people when they ask what made you who you are today?” Yes.

I also mention grad school Liz; the 22 to 24-year-old women that tell the story about how they entered grad school with everything they ever wanted and left it as an outpatient at our local behavioral health clinic. I think back and remember sitting in the college’s library one night reading 100 pages the night before one of my classes, crying because I felt so anxious beyond repair that I thought about dropping out a semester before graduating. It was the first time I experienced what it was like to not take care of myself due to academics. I was so use to putting physical, living and breathing humans before myself; even that was easier to grasp than the fact that my studies was what was making my mental health deteriorate. It was the first time I told my doctor that I needed to seek out therapy and that I was not okay.

“And for you, what does this marker mean to you? What does it symbolize?” How I began my journey to understand myself deeper and relearn who I was as a person.

Cathy pointed out at that exact moment that even this journey was never linear. “Even with therapy, understanding and unlearning all the behavior is never linear.”

I was 25-years-old when I decided I needed to walk away from a person that defined most of my teenaged and young adult years. I remember crying the night before in my kitchen on the phone at 1 in the morning, knowing I was starting my first ever job the following morning. I wanted to die. I felt my heart ripping. I was losing a part of myself; my identity. But I was letting go of an identity that I could not identify with anymore. I needed to find myself after years of living behind other people. That’s a mother’s daughter. A sibling’s sister. Another girlfriend’s side chick. A person’s disposable friend. Up to this point, I was never just Liz; I was whoever people wanted me to be.

“Is that the marker you’ve placed where you decided to find yourself and honor yourself?” Not exactly. I mean. I’ve had ups and downs with people even after that so—


I had weight loss surgery when I was 27 years old. There was a moment I had the night before where I saw myself in the mirror for a couple of minutes. Sure, tomorrow I will still look the same and feel the same, but I knew that the next day would be the start of the physical changes to come. My face will not be as round anymore. My collarbones will pop out. I will drop down clothing sizes more than I could ever imagine myself dropping to. It was this butterfly effect once I made my choices. I was able to change my life because of my choices. Up to this point, I was able to make my own choices and live by my choices.

“So your markers are of all of the choices you’ve made throughout your life?”

My markers are my choices.

I continue to choose my path whether or not they were good or bad. My choices in 2012 are the result of what I experienced when I was 18. My choices in 2017 are the result of what I experienced when I was 23. My choices in 2019 are the result of what I experienced when I was 25. My choices in 2021 are the result of what I experienced when I was 27.

The choices I make now in 2023 will be the result of what I experience while I am 29.

My choices have left me alone at one point in my life; I realized that when I sat by myself at our school’s talent show where all of my former friends sat together in one spot in the auditorium. My choices led me to understand my mental heath after years of feeling like something was legit wrong with me. My choices led me to take care of myself, whether or not I need to define myself, reinvent myself, and honor myself.

Hi, my name is Liz and my measure of progress is leaving markers; typically of my choices.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: One Year Being a College Assistant.

I was working at the bookstore for 2 years at my alumna college. I was now the longest-working bookseller at the bookstore; I trained almost all of the booksellers that started at the bookstore that previous semester in Fall of 2021. After working on a syllabus for someone within Academic Affairs, I got an email about a possible position at the Registrar’s Office. After being on the job hunt for a possible new job position for the past couple of months, I agreed to go into this job interview to gather more information about the position and see if I would ultimately want to change jobs. A couple of days later, I met up with the person looking to hire me and once I spoke to her over our Zoom meeting, it wasn’t until after a couple of hours and some long conversation with my friends that I decided that the best move would be to take the job offer at the Registrar’s office.

Hi, my name is Liz, and today marks a year since I started my job as a college assistant at the Registrar’s Office.

When I first started at the Registrar’s Office, I remember getting a tour of the office from my supervisor at the time, I realized every just how experienced my co-workers were at this job. This was the first time hearing stories about how these co-workers worked in this office for over two decades! It was interesting to see so many people in the office working on specific things that contribute to the overall work that the Registrar’s office does. Slowly but surely, I would become one of those people that would specialize in something for the office, even though it took a lot of trial and error to be in the place I am today.

Getting the swing of the various things within my department had me feel anxious as the months passed by. Still being someone that was fairly new in the office, I had a lot of questions about situations that I wasn’t trained in at first, and with my supervisor juggling two positions, a lot of time it felt like I had to figure things out on my own. There were times I would come home from work crying because I felt like I screwed up on tasks because I didn’t know how to handle them. I thought my answers and solutions to things were stupid and unsure, which made those talking to me feel a sense of unease as well. I was going to work feeling a sense of dread because the uncertain routine I had going on was something that made me extremely anxious and nervous about what was to come. It got to the point where I considered leaving the office to find a new job elsewhere. I didn’t feel supported enough to keep going, and I didn’t know how long I would be able to ride it out before I allowed the job to really affect my mental health.

It wasn’t until the summer that more changes were being made in our office. People were leaving the office to transfer to other positions; my supervisor specifically had taken a position that was closer to her commute. I was even more nervous to now have temporary supervisors at a job where I was still unsure about my ability to do the job right. It was still a lot of crying and bad days, but what made things different this time was that my temporary supervisor became more than just a supervisor for the records department. She became a mentor to me.

My temporary supervisor, Christine, made sure to sit me down every Monday afternoon and check in with me before I started m shift at 1. She would ask me how my weekend was and ask me how everything was going with the transcripts and grade changes and anything else I was working on in records at that specific time. Some conversations were simple and fun, but others left me crying in her office expressing my insecurities and anxieties about the transition and still didn’t know if I belonged. I was now the youngest worker in the office after another college assistant transferred to another college, and my anxiety about my status in the office began to get to me again. Christine would even sometimes have me sit in her hours for hours on end to talk things out and give me advice and guidance about the office. Her encouraging and supportive words made my job a lot easier as the months went by. I felt like I was able to ask questions and be told what to say and what not to say and in all honesty, sitting in Christine’s office during our talks taught me a lot of things that I still take with me to work on a day-to-day basis. It was nice to take my confidence as a worker in that office and show that to my new supervisor, Brenda, who took the permanent position as the Head of Records within the office. That confidence, and just being vocal about my needs as a worker to someone new was refreshing and rewarding, which made the transition from our temporary supervisor to our new permanent one a smooth one.

I learned a lot being in this position in the year I’ve been there. First and foremost, I learned a lot about control; I was not able to control anyone and their actions, even if they affected me or involved me in any way shape, or form. I also learned that there were no stupid questions in that office; policies were constantly changing within CUNY and it was normal to ask questions if those things changed. Something that Christine told me early on in my time at the Registrar’s office was that you don’t get paid enough to have to deal with angry parents or students. This one was a big one for me; I felt like every rude parent or student that emailed me or called me meant that it was my fault or that I was doing something wrong. Even something minor like that eases my social anxiety a ton, and again it’s something that I am able to take as I handle students and parents because I know now I have the support needed to handle situations when they need a supervisor involved. Needless to say, it took some time for me to finally feel like an important asset in the office, even after the other college assistant in records left the Registrar’s office and I was now solely in charge of transcripts and grade changes.

In the year that I’ve been there, I was always asked if I wanted or if I was ever considering going full-time. CUNY jobs meant you had to take a test, pass it, and get offered a higher position at a CUNY college looking for new hires. As the other part-time workers left for full-time positions, I was the only one left in the office with my part-time position, and it was mainly because I don’t want to leave the office. I wasn’t ready to branch off to another school and work in a different office when really I feel like I’m at home in the Registrar’s office at CSI. I wanted to learn more about the different departments within the office in hopes that once I was ready to get a full-time position, I would feel confident in knowing everything in that office, pretty much how Christine did when she was once a college assistant working under my first supervisor.

Until I was offered a potential full-time position in the Registrar’s office.

One year in, and I am grateful that those around me in the office have seen just how much of a hard worker I am. I am passionate about everything that I do, and it could be discouraging when your work goes unnoticed by the people that matter the most. It feels good to hear supervisors in other departments within the office speak highly of me and my work ethic, and I am flattered they see the potential in me to try to change my part-time College Assistant position into a full-time Assistant to the HEO position. For context, that is the same position Christine is currently in. Nothing is set in stone, but the offer was offered to me and of course, I said I was interested.

I will forever be grateful for all of the opportunities that the Registrar’s office gave me; it’s prepared me to hopefully work full-time, 5 days a week, and get a salary rather than working hour by hour in the future. It’s allowed me to think about the future and how this is something I could do something in my 30’s. It’s seriously my first big girl job, and I’m excited to see this turn into a grown woman job in the future.

Here’s to another year at the Registrar’s office.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project., Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

Overexposed: Life After The WLS Journey.

This time last year, I was just months into this new journey that I was unfamiliar with. I was still learning how to enjoy food again, and to make connections with people without eating the same food. The holidays were a challenge this time last year; Thanksgiving felt like a challenge I thought I wasn’t going to be able to go through smoothly because the entire holiday is about eating food. Nevertheless, last year’s holiday season went okay for the most part.

This year, things are a lot different as I am now entering the final stages of my weight loss journey.

Hi, my name is Liz and I’ve lost 123 pounds in 15 months.


As the months’ pass and the weight loss slows down, I am learning to come to terms that now is the time that my journey of weight loss is coming to an end. Technically speaking, it’s not supposed to “end” until you hit the 2-year mark since having surgery, but every physical body is different and my body seems to be slowing down on the weight loss. Honestly, I don’t mind if I don’t lose any more weight; I’m at a place in my journey where I feel good in my skin, and I met the goal I initially had when getting cleared to have weight loss surgery back in 2020 and 2021. I’m now in the phase where I am trying my best to now maintain my weight by limiting the amount of sugar I take in, the amount of food I have in a day, and even working out at the gym whenever I want to tone up my body. It’s not an easy journey; I would even say that this is the harder part than what it was this time last year I had to learn my body cues and my food intake after not ever having a limit on what I can eat and cannot eat, but now that I am fully recovered and going on with my life after surgery, my body is able to handle a lot more and now its more about having self-control in what I decide to take in.

Am I nervous about what the future has in store for me? Of course. I think this will now always be something I will be anxious about for the rest of my life. This journey has been so important to me, and I would hate to become another statistic regarding failed weight loss surgery stories. Maybe that fear in me is good though; it actively makes me aware of the things I am doing with my body and even have more control over what happens to it. This journey has introduced so many things into my life and provided me a new outlook on it. Pre-surgery Liz wouldn’t have thought about going to a gym to work out her stress and anxiety away after a long day at work. Pre-surgery Liz would’ve ruled out a walk in the neighborhood because she would get too tired too fast for her liking. Pre-surgery Liz wouldn’t have taken her health so seriously because she was at a point where she felt defeated in trying to change her body. Like I’ve said time and time again, this surgery gave me a second chance at bettering my life both physically and mentally in the long run, and although my journey feels like it’s coming to an end, this will always be a journey for me that I will work on and improve on being and doing better at.

With that being said, I want to thank every single person in my life (past and present) that helped me through this process and witnessed me throughout all the stages of this journey. I still have the clearest memory of signing the consent papers and having my friends telling me to sign them because this was going to be a great new start to a better life. I remember sending them this ridiculous picture of me in the sleep study gear at the research center and laughing so hard at their responses. I still remember sending a voice note to one of my friends after having surgery just to let her know that everything went well. I still remember expressing to my friends and family that life after surgery was a difficult transition and at the end of the day I always felt like I had a good support system with those around me.

And for those who have read my story through blog posts for the last year and a half whether you’re a casual reader or wanted to hear someone else’s experience before making the decision on your own; I hope that in reading my story and following e on my journey as reassured you in your decision. In being on my journey, I’ve met a few people in the process of beginning their weight loss surgery journey, and I’m always honored when they want to hear the ups and downs of the process. It’s more than just a before and after photo; it’s months and months of physical and mental preparation and knowing that once the surgery is over, you have to redo your entire life to now fit this new lifestyle. I just hope that my honesty and my journey inspired others to take that next step in bettering themselves or really think about making that decision for different reasons.

I will forever be grateful for being able to embark on this journey and to put me in a place where I could make good changes. I am able to be who I am today because of that journey.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: My Introduction to Confidence.

“Wow, Liz; did you lose your personality too when you lost the weight?”

No. She’s just got the confidence to change old habits.

I remember 311lbs. Liz on days like today. I remember how tired she would be. She envied her coworkers at the bookstore that were able to keep up with the fast pace environment and never looked like they were tired. She accepted that her clothes had to be bought in an online catalog years ago; one where their sizes would go up to 5x, and she wore a comfortable 4x and a fitted 3x. To come and think of it, this summer would’ve kicked her ass due to how hot it got. She couldn’t handle the summer heat well. She might’ve been going through her annual seasonal depression; she would hate the summer so much because she couldn’t enjoy it the way she wanted to.

So here comes 203lbs. Liz; sitting in the park 2 miles away from her home and writing for the blog. This isn’t the first time she’s done this; as a matter of fact, she’s done this more times than she can count. She’s also walked these streets with a Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee in her hand and wireless earbuds with kpop blasting, or some old-school that her closest friend has put her onto. She has energy like a teenager these days; she could have taken on 3 projects for the day and still feel bored enough to go for a walk or to take on another task, like help with the two kittens occupying her room, or go on Instagram Live and prep penpal envelopes with a good friend of hers. My favorite thing she does is work an entire afternoon and still has the energy to travel across boroughs and spend the night in Downtown Brooklyn. She feels good. She feels confidence.

And I know she will not let anyone or anything take that away from her, because it’s the first time in her life that she feels it.

Confidence, in a nutshell, is whatever you make of it. There are people who feel confident in their passions. There are people who feel confident in the clothes they wear. There are people who feel confident with themselves, and that doesn’t mean it can only happen when you begin to look like what society deems as “pretty” or “good looking”.

And my God, if you think I now look “good looking” in society, then think again.

I’m still overweight. I’m still out of shape. I am in no way even close to being “skinny”. I am just a person that lost over 100 pounds after having weight-loss surgery. I don’t think I am better than my friends or family, but who I am better than is the Liz I was before surgery.

Yes, I feel good because I lost all the weight; it’s natural to feel good about those things. I worked hard these last two years prepping for surgery and then learning what my life would be like after it happened. It hasn’t been easy, and I know those around me understand that completely, but please don’t link my confidence as being a negative thing.

March 2020.

Both 311lb Liz and 203lb Liz understand how important self-worth is. The Liz that grew up in this body as an adolescent and teenager both remember the moments where their self-worth was non-existent. They didn’t know how to speak up for themselves or defend themselves when people would mess with them. Adolescent Liz dealt with bullies calling her fat every single day in middle school until someone else had to step in and stop it. Teenager Liz was suicidal because her image was tarnished after letting her heart lead all of her decisions. Even young adult, 20-something year old Liz dealt with not knowing her identity or how to prioritize a mental illness when all she knew how to do was allow others to walk all over her.

Sure, maybe a lot of this stems from the fact that I was always the fat girl or the heaviest in a friend group. Maybe this stems from a place where every boy I had a crush on growing up did not see me in that way because I was the fat girl. Maybe this stems from a place where as I grew up, I learned that some guys will only talk to you because they want “the fat girl experience” and that some friends will only be your friend because they are smaller than you, which makes them think they are prettier or better than you. maybe this stems from a place where society told me at a young age that you were not worthy enough as you are, and without even realizing it, I allowed dozens of people to walk all over me and constantly tell me that I wasn’t ever worth it.

Developing self-worth came with therapy. Identifying what I was feeling and why I was feeling it helped me realize that I always knew I was worth being respected and treated fairly, even if it was hard for me to voice it out. I chose to leave what I had in 2019 because I needed to discover myself outside of being someone else’s girl. I chose to come back when I was ready and when I embraced parts of myself that I was ashamed of years prior. I chose to get this surgery because I knew my potential was much greater than what I was giving myself credit for. I decided to leave my job at the bookstore for a better opportunity because I knew I could grow and challenge myself in another environment. All the decisions I make, whether good or bad, have stemmed from a place where I didn’t regret it in that moment and at some point, I deserved it because I was worth it.

Back to my weight loss; I will not sit here and say that me losing over 100 pounds did not trigger something inside me. Of course I felt amazing seeing my clothing sizes get smaller, and it felt even more amazing when I was now doing so much more physical work and not feeling like I was gonna pass out. This is my hard work, and I am allowed to feel great because of it. But, maybe it took me feeling good on the outside to finally feel good on the inside as well. Maybe my confidence is shown more now that I’m confident in myself physically and mentally. I’ve taken care of my mental health for 4 years now, and I have been working on my physical health for 2. Maybe it also took me growing up, setting boundaries, and prioritizing myself in order to finally feel what confidence is for me.

So, yeah. I did change. I changed the way I saw myself and how other people treated me, and I guess it took some weight loss surgery to finally project that into the universe.

Misc., Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: I have a problem.

For those who know me and have been on the blog for years, you would know that I have no issue talking about the negative things about myself and about my life. Sure, I don’t really write about myself on the blog these days; but when I do, it’s because I need a space to vent and talk about things out loud. Also, I do it for the sole reason that maybe someone out there is like me and finally feels like they are being seen or they finally don’t feel alone and can fight their battles on their own.

Hi, my name is Liz, and I have a problem; an obsessive/controlling problem that affects my mental health.

I wish I could slap a label on it and call it a day. Is this just a more extreme side of my anxiety, or is this OCD at its finest? It would make my mind feel so much more at ease if I could determine what it is, yet I feel like I’ve been having this reoccurring problem for most of the year. Some months I’m completely fine and I’m chill, and then there are other months where I fuck things up so bad because I need control, I get obsessive with the control I need, and then get impulsive because I just want my mind to be at-fucking-ease. It’s gotten to the point where my impulsive behavior has become its own form of self-harm without me even noticing it.

For those who are newer to the blog, I deal with anxiety disorder and chronic major depression. I began to seek out therapy back in 2018 after my graduate studies, have been put on medication for my anxiety, and have had many ups and downs with my mental health. Therapy has always been helpful; it gives me half an hour to try and talk things out with myself and understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. I don’t remember when therapy began to not feel as helpful anymore in the long run, but I am aware enough to know that this problem I’ve been having truly stemmed from when I had weight loss surgery.

I kid you not, I fully understand why it was so crucial to get evaluated by a psychologist before you can get cleared for having surgery because this shit fucks you up mentally.

I felt the need to control everything in my life when I started to lose a lot of weight really quickly. It felt amazing and this was the first time ever in my life that I was able to lose weight with the help of this surgery. My body at the time had to follow a strict diet plan in order for my stomach to heal so that I didn’t get sick. When I began to learn about my body and accept it for its changes, my body changes once again, leaving me worried and anxious that I was doing something wrong in my process. Even now, I feel my body changing and I’m back to now worrying or being anxious about something that even though I know is completely out of my control, I go ahead and try anyway. Hey, I did it once, why not do it again?

When I couldn’t control over the things I wanted to control, I began to control the things I do have control over. I’ve become obsessive about my appearance; I’ve dyed my hair and cut it and fucked it up for months on end because I had control over that. I impulsively bought clothing for the sake of “looking” and feeling better whenever my body hit a plateau. I’ve gotten so many piercings and then taken them out right after in the past year because I had control over what was going on on my body. Do I sound stupid yet? Because I feel stupid explaining it.

But, this is something I’ve been struggling with for months. I feel like I can’t describe it right to my therapist because even I don’t know why I do what I do. It wholeheartedly feels like no one else is fucking me up more than myself, which is so odd considering all I’m trying to do is take care of myself. Am I not capable of even doing that without becoming obsessive about it?

So here I am, feeling anxious and sick to my stomach because I’ve tried to fix and take control over something that I had no business in doing on my own, considering my record shows that I fuck it up every single time I do: my hair. Again, me being obsessed with my appearance because now I feel like I always have to be on top of it now that I’ve lost a shit ton of weight.

I know this post is coming off aggressive, and I apologize in advance for it. It’s just that I am so sick and tired of my brain telling me to do something out of impulse when really it’s just not worth doing. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken! It’s been extremely hard to not second guess my every move when all I’m trying to do is let shit flow. It’s been extremely frustrating and tiring to have self-control over certain things in my life, like my diet and exercise, but not for other things. Sometimes, I do even have control over the things I normally have control over!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this has been a problem of mine since the start of 2022 and maybe it’s time I address it in therapy. Maybe, the control I want is in knowing I have the control to speak this out loud to someone who can truly help and make me understand why I am acting the way I am. How do I even address it without always feeling completely psychotic and irrational? How do I explain that I am aware enough to know that my control issues are getting bad, but I don’t have the control needed to actually deal with it? How do I not feel like I’m being overly dramatic about something so stupid?

Maybe it’s something underlying that I’m not seeing right now. Maybe I’m trying too hard to figure it out, which then just makes me more anxious. All I know is that I’m trying to keep everything together while still trying to figure out how to do so.

i know it’s a problem, and it’s about time I address it.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: One Year.

It was exceptionally hot on this Monday, or maybe it was just the heat of my suntan coming off of my skin. I looked in the mirror and took off yesterday’s eyebrows before hopping in the shower. My “kpop boy” hair dried up curly, which I remember being happy about since I didn’t want to keep my hair in its “Apple stem” style for two or three days in a row (newsflash; it eventually did later that night). I had my bag ready: a change of clothes, pajamas, and Pugsly; the stuffed animal that I’ve slept with since 2000 as a 6-year-old. Another news flash: I did not bring that bag; I actually forgot it at home due to the nerves.

When it was time to go, my family and I called a cab and headed to the hospital. Because it was just a little after a year since the pandemic started, only one person was allowed to come into the hospital with me. Annoying, but my mom ultimately was the one that came up with me. She couldn’t stay after I got undressed and into my hospital gown. My phone by then was taken away from me with the rest of my outside clothes. I had nothing to do but wait until my surgeon came in to talk to me about the surgery. I was nervous as the surgery time was getting closer and closer. It wasn’t until 4pm that one of the doctors came to escort me to the operation room. I was asked if I wanted a wheelchair to take to the room; I declined. I wanted to walk towards the room on my own feet; towards the room that I walked for the last year and a half getting into.

I entered the operation room and Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More” was playing on a radio. The room was surrounded with doctors and my surgeon. I was placed on the operating table; arms stretched out and legs strapped down. I was asked how I was doing, in which I was fine. I kept telling myself that this was it. The stomach I knew was going to completely change. My life was slowly going to change. I was about to have gastric bypass surgery.

The anesthesia was placed over my nose and everything went black.

I woke up with a nurse calling out my name. It was blurry and I felt groggy. I don’t remember exactly what I said to my nurse, but I remember her laughing and serving me crushed ice. My throat was dry and my body was now in a cloth hospital gown. My legs had on compression sleeves so that blood clots wouldn’t develop on them. I didn’t feel any pain (yet), and my nurse had told me it was about 10pm at night. I was put into the recovery room about 8pm, so needless to say; I was passed the fuck out!

The nurse dialed my mom’s cell number to let her know that I was out of surgery and everything went well. I don’t remember talking to my mom, but from the stories I get about this day, I was definitely still on cloud 9 from the anesthesia. I believe it; I remember literally cracking jokes with my nurse and she told me, “you’ve been my favorite patient of the night.” I asked if I could call Obie, in which I couldn’t even remember his number until I randomly yelled out “oh! It’s *this number*; he has had this number for almost a decade, I could I not remember his damn number!” I called him to tell him everything went well and that I was in the recovery room. He also laughed at how loopy I was. It was then when I got my belongings and was able to be on my own phone.

I answered all the messages that wished me the best of luck during the surgery. My friend, Lae, had texted me to let her know when I was out of surgery. I sent her a voice note, which to this day she still tells me how her and her mom listened to the voice note and was like “oh yeah, she was hiiiiiigh off of that anesthesia”.

Eventually it wore out, and that’s when the pain began to occur. I slept in the recovery room— well, tried to; with the nurses and other patients coming into the recovery room at all hours of night and the pain I was experiencing, it was nearly impossible. One patient came into the recovery room around 3am; he was an older man that had emergency surgery for something that I don’t remember. He constantly tried to remove the breathing tube out of his mouth, in which his nurse would scold him to not do so. His bed was across from mine.

Also, it was hard to breathe at times, so I was advised to do take deep breaths with this breathing-tube toy thing to catch my breath every now and then. When my curtain was closed for the night and the sound of the breathing toy was being heard, I heard my night nurse say, “good job, Elizabeth”. It was definitely a rough night due to the pain, and every time I was advised to take medication for the pain, it would make me nauseous.

I eventually got some sleep, but all patients were woken up around 7am for breakfast. The nurses advised me to walk around and try to use the bathroom whenever I could. I successfully did; I was able to get out from bed by myself and use the restroom, watch TV in the sitting area, and when I was served breakfast, I sat at the edge of my bed on my own and ate. The other patients around me had a more difficult morning; there was a nurse for every patient and then there was me, looking around and enjoying my liquid breakfast. My nurse looked at me in shock, telling me, “I have never been a gastric bypass patient that bounced back so quickly.” I always did; even when I had gallbladder surgery in 2013 I was walking around like it was nothing just hours after having the damn surgery. Because of the progress I made within the last night, I was cleared for discharge. Roughly around 3pm, my sibling came to the hospital to pick me up and my father picked up my medication when he came home from work later that Tuesday night.

This all happened on July 12th, 2021; making it a year since I had surgery.

Since surgery, I’ve lost 106 pounds. These days, it’s getting harder to lose more & keep the weight off since my stomach is able to handle much more than it did at the beginning, but it’s about discipline. It’s about knowing what to cut back and exercise and what to stay away from. I refuse to be a failing case of gastric bypass. I refuse to gain that weight back. I refuse to not look back at this last year and see it was a waste.

This last year my whole life changed. I simply don’t remember the woman I was prior to surgery. Yes, she has the same interests as me, the same friends, the same hobbies and passions. I remember how she used to feel when taking long walks and how she would turn back home before even walking 10 blocks. I remember how she couldn’t shop locally for clothes because her comfortable clothing size was a 4X. I remember how she insecure she felt in her skin because even though she loved her body, she felt like her body couldn’t keep up with her. I remember how much older she felt; not because she was only 26/27, but because her weight slowed her down, especially after the quarantine period.

But, I don’t remember her that well. I don’t remember how she dealt with those things and everything else happening in her life. I don’t remember her mentality; it’s drastically different than mine now. I’m a little more serious about things than she was.

She very much gave up on a lot of things that she couldn’t control anymore. I make it my mission to never lose that control I gained back.

That’s what the last year has been like for me, and here’s to the rest of my life hopefully reminding myself that this year happened so I can strive in my life. To explore and have energy again. To feel like a 28-year-old woman. To finally have some confidence in myself that I never really had before.

Happy one-year to possibly the most important day of my life to date.

Misc., Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: Control.

Control is a weird thing, isn’t it? People will tell you that it’s always good to have some self-control over your life because it can help you make the right decisions for them. Some people will say otherwise and tell you that needing control is a toxic trait that makes anyone who has it manipulative, and, well— controlling.

But, what do you say to the people who’s mental illnesses stem from being in control or having control over things? What if their need for control is what gets them through life & gets them through the parts of it where it’s so easy to lose your control? What if their need for control stems from a place of trauma; that they experienced parts of their life where they didn’t have control and self-harmed because of that?

Hi, my name is Liz and a major part of my mental health requires me to feel in control or else I become destructive.

I never realized that control was a huge challenge for me until I started my job in college admissions. From working in an environment where I had complete control in my work and what I did, I now was in a place where I was new and learning a million and one things in a way I wasn’t use to. For a lack of better words, the training was disorganized and spontaneous, which are two things that throw off my balance and routine and inevitably my anxiety disorder. Of course, an entire department can’t work around my mental health, so I try my best to work through it and take it one day at a time.

But I realized not saying anything or “riding” things out started to put a toll on me. There were days I felt incompetent because I didn’t know a certain thing, I grew frustrated because I felt like I never knew the complete right answer to the questions I asked. I think this is the first time actually saying this out loud, but there are days when I hate my job more than enjoy it.

I realized that control contributed to a lot of these feelings whenever I spoke about them to my therapist. She constantly reminds me that I can only control the things that I say and do, and the things out of my control, like other people’s actions and thoughts, are not mine to worry about.

But it’s easier said than done.

Today, I chose to come outside for a walk to get my head on straight. After three days (and really just an entire month) of up and down disruptive thinking and behavior, I needed to come outside and take in some sunlight and empty my mind of all negativity. I wanted to come out here and write this without any distraction and external factors that would take me out of this thought process. I chose to do that for myself because I am in control of my own actions.

I want nothing more than to feel okay that I don’t have control over everything that involves me. I want nothing more than to feel confident enough to not let these things out of my control interfere with the things that are in my control.

Most importantly, I want to stop harming myself to have some sort of control when I feel out of control. I want to stop plucking my eyebrows excessively. I want to not rip off my acrylic nails one by one and leave all ten of my fingers bruised and cut up. I want to stop thinking I have to discipline myself when I don’t have everything under control. I want my mind to stop telling me I’m this and that when really I’m doing just fine with what I’m giving.

I am not toxic for wanting control over my life, and I’m not a “control freak” when I say that I need to be in control over certain things. I need it because I know how bad things can get. I need it because there are days when I feel like hurting myself is the only way to have control over the emotions I am feeling land mask them with physical pain instead. I am not ashamed of saying I am a person that needs control, but I wish I was able to manage what is in my control and what’s not in my control better.

Because of my control, I will figure it out.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: 100 Pounds.

Back in August 2020, I had my first-ever nutritionist appointment for bariatric surgery. I wore my hair up in a ponytail, and I wore one of my summer dresses that was a size 4X. She took my weight and to my surprise, I was 323 pounds; that was the highest weight I’ve been. I brushed it off as it being “COVID weight”, something I felt many people gained during the lockdown period of the pandemic in 2020.

Shortly after, she asked me, “what is your weight-loss goal post-surgery?” I thought about it a little because I wanted to be realistic. I didn’t want to sit there and say, “I want to be, like, 130 pounds and mad skinny!” My real answer didn’t sound realistic at first either. I asked myself “how the fuck was I supposed to do this and would I even ever get to the weight I wanted to at least be after surgery?”

I answered, “I want to lose at least 100 pounds.”

Hi, my name is Liz and I officially lost 100 pounds since having surgery.

There’s a funny story behind this little milestone: I didn’t realize I had hit my 100-pound goal until I weighed myself on the same day that I had possibly the worst day I’ve had at my job. I weighed myself since it had been a while since I last did so, and the scale read 211 pounds. I was 311 on the day of surgery.

Losing 100 pounds is something that I didn’t think I would ever be capable of. I wasn’t even able to keep 20 pounds off pre-surgery, so it felt really weird to put this standard on myself when I said I wanted to lose 100 pounds.


I don’t sit here and recommend everyone to have this surgery. I can’t sit here and say that surgery would fix all of the problems that you had before having surgery. It helps you lose weight, but the necessary steps to get to this place are a lot. It’s tedious, it’s time-consuming, and you have to be able to give up a lot of your favorite foods for a while or completely. For me, I had to stop drinking soda, which is something I was addicted to for years. The withdrawals from Pepsi were intense, and just like quitting anything cold turkey, it’s constantly on your mind and you want nothing more than to cave in and just feed into your addiction. I haven’t had a soda since February 2021 and haven’t really craved it since.

Post-surgery, I had to give up enjoying my favorite foods because I simply can’t eat the portions I once did. For instance, I feel like although I still love Chinese food, I don’t enjoy it the way that I did. It’s sometimes frustrating to have a favorite food still but not be able to enjoy it because you can’t have much of it anymore. A combination would be eaten in one night; it takes me three days to finish a combination and even then I throw the rest away after.

Much of this information is redundant, but this is what my journey has been like for 10 months. There were points when I didn’t have many options for food and fixated on things like soup for months on end. As of right now, it’s surprisingly ramen, but at the beginning of my post-op journey, food was limited and not an enjoyable experience.

These last 10 months have been full of great accomplishments and weight loss that allowed me to feel more my age. I went from being a 4X in dresses and tops and a 30/32 pants size to now being a 1X and 18/20; a clothing size I haven’t been since my teenage years in high school. Documenting my journey since July 2021 on Instagram has been trippy considering that I don’t notice the changes unless I put on clothing that is too big for me now or if I look at photos of myself from a year ago. It’s a bittersweet feeling, but there are days when I feel like an impostor or like I’m not deserving of the accomplishments since I took the “easy way out” to lose weight. There are days when I don’t feel like my body is mine. There are days that I try to remember how I used to feel when I was heavier. There are days when I feel like I betrayed the fat girl community.

That last one is conflicting. I remember starting this series based on the fact that I accepted my body for what it’s become over the years. I feel like there are times were I betrayed that girl, or that I lied to a community of people who found comfort in the stories I told as a fat girl. I told those stories because they were my reality and those were my stories to tell. I was constantly fat-shamed, I was body-shamed and bullied for being fat, having the first insult anyone would call me when they were arguing with me was “fat bitch”; I’ve experienced similar stories with other fat girls, and now I feel like I’m in a space where I can’t relate to the experience anymore because I had surgery to lose weight.

Maybe I am reading too much into this and this is just my poor self-judgment telling me things. Maybe I am deserving of these results because I’ve worked hard and changed so much of my life in order to have them. Maybe no one is looking at me saying that I’m not “body positive” anymore. Maybe there are, but I have to remind myself that only I know how my journey is going. I decide what to share what I want to share about my weight loss these days. No one else sits with me on a day-by-day basis to see what my journey looks like now. Only I do, and I’m proud to have hit a milestone that I thought I would never experience in my life.

In this body I trust; we got this.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: PMDD after WLS.

People have this belief that when you lose weight, you miraculously also lose the depression and anxiety (or any poor mental health) you have. Maybe it’s the people’s fault for believing in such a superficial thing. Maybe it’s my fault for allowing people to believe I was doing a lot better mentally since having surgery.

Hi, my name is Liz and I am currently going through PMDD and have been even before having weight-loss surgery.

When I was younger (like, in my teenage years), most people couldn’t tell whenever I was on my period. It came and went without any true mood swings or noticeable behaviors that would indicate it was my time of the month. “You’re always just so bubbly and happy” is what I would hear others say whenever I spoke about having my period.

As I got older, things changed. Once I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I also felt my cycles becoming more intense and difficult to handle. For one, I would overanalyze and overthink everything that was going on in my life, and when I couldn’t control everything that I was being anxious about, I would make impulse decisions that I tend to regret once I feel like my head is in a better place. A couple of years later, I was diagnosed with PMDD, or Premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

For those who may not know what PMDD Is, it’s a much more severe form of PMS. In a nutshell, it’s when the PMS stage is so severe, the person’s mental health deeply declines and their daily functioning declines as well. For me, PMDD feels like a battle of survival; that’s not even a joke. I am constantly fighting myself to be okay and keep calm during that time of month; sometimes I succeed while other times I find myself failing miserably. Plus, if I’m already juggling stress and anxiety prior to starting this cycle, the PMDD is a lot more extreme…

even if I am losing weight after having surgery.

At the end of the day, just because I am at a place in my life where I am making progress in bettering my physical health, it doesn’t automatically mean my mental health is now “cured”. I am going to continue to be affected by things that occur within my body; it’s just how my anatomy works.

I am not saying to walk on eggshells around me. I am not saying that I should be avoided and isolated at all costs when this time of the month comes. Yes, I will admit that I become the complete opposite of who I truly am, but I am still trying and learning to be okay as possible during this time.

All I ask is to be mindful and gentle with me. I am a hell of a lot more sensitive during this time, and quite honestly, I am a ticking time bomb on this particular week of the month. But, I am learning to have control over the things I can have control over, whether that means having to do what it takes for me to even be better for a small amount of time. But please, don’t assume this part of my life doesn’t exist because I should be happy for all the progress I’ve made in the past 9 months. I am grateful, but that doesn’t mean I can’t feel emotions like I once did and deal with issues in the same way I did before. I will always have the same mind, the same depressive episodes and anxiety attacks that don’t have anything to do with my weight loss; and I also have to remind myself that even with this new body I am learning to love and get used to on a day-to-day basis, I am in control of the things I put in my body during this time of the month and I am in control in how I take care for this body.

PMDD will tell my brain to throw out all of the progress I’ve made and eat things I shouldn’t. It will tell me that I should just eat/drink whatever it is it may be to just feel better for a quick moment or take a breather for once. But, even that causes me so much anxiety to the point where I feel like I have no control. Temporary happiness is not worth it.

As I go through the rest of my week and I hit the 9-month mark since having surgery, I remind myself that I still have such a long journey ahead of me. I still have so much of this process to live and get used to; one of them being the way I am able to control my food intake when I get into these really serious depressive episodes. I will find a way to handle my PMDD better, especially during the times when I’m entering that week already stressed out.

Weight loss doesn’t always equal happiness, and it certainly doesn’t mean my mind is now cured from the mental health illnesses I experience. It just means I am learning to adapt to this new lifestyle with some of the old lifestyle that I can’t easily get rid of.

And that’s okay if that’s the case.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: Eight Months.

Dear Liz,

I know that in this exact moment, you have a lot on your mind. Things feel like they aren’t tangible. Things feel like you have no control over them. Things are making you feel like you have no time for yourself or for the things you love. You’re totally laughing at yourself right now because yo are writing this while at your desk at work, with nothing to really do for the next couple of hours.

You’re here. You’re present, and you are doing the best that you could possibly do.

Remember that you have milestones to celebrate and to look forward to. Remember that you are still on this process of your weight loss journey and that you are literally 12 pounds away from reaching your 100 pound goal. You are learning how to live your life as efficient and simple as possible while trying to challenge your abilities and comfortability in situations that will always be out of your control. Remember that with everything in life, you will always learn from any mistakes you’ve made, and you will always know what to do if ever in a situation like this in the future.

Eight months have passed by. Eight months and within this time, you were able to do things that you weren’t ever able to do for yourself. You’ve been able to put your self-worth first, knowing that interpersonal boundaries are important to have with those around you. You’ve been able to challenge yourself and learn new things by leaving your bookstore job and going for the Registrar position instead. Sure, the transition hasn’t been an easy one, but you’re getting through it, and it will become easier as the time passes. Take it easy, and be gentle with yourself and remember that even making this step into unfamiliar territory has been one that you made because of your personal growth as a person. You are taking care of yourself in ways you never thought you would before, and for just that you should be proud of yourself.

Be proud that you are in a space where your identity has been established. Be proud that you are seeing progress in your weight loss journey and that the hard work you did and are currently doing is paying off. Pat yourself on the back for remaining positive despite the hardships you are currently going through.

Remember that nothing should ever get in the way from you working towards the things you want to achieve, no matter how hard it could be currently. Make sure that even though depressive episodes will come and go, you always have control on the things that you eat, do, and love. Know that despite your mental health telling you to give up and indulge in behaviors you normally wouldn’t, you have the control to take a step back and see what it is that you truly need in this space and time.

Everything will be okay, because you know how to be okay despite everything happening at once.

You got this and congrats on 88 pounds lost, girl.