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.

2020.

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.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: Seven Months.

Sometimes I think to myself: how was July just seven months ago? I guess when you’re focused and concentrated on something important happening in your life, you notice the day-by-day activity and time just feels like it’s going slow. I feel like that’s what happened to me; I’ve been so focused on this journey of mine! I’ve been learning how to eat differently and according to my new stomach and improving my relationship with food as a whole. It’s been a journey of ups and downs (still is) but it’s still so crazy to think that seven months have passed by since having gastric bypass surgery.

Hi, my name is Liz and I lost 80 pounds so far within my weight-loss journey.

First and foremost, I want to say this to get this out in the air: me talking about the amount of weight I’ve lost does not mean I hate the person I was when I was heavier. Talking about my size these days does not mean that I am “much happier” being smaller than when I was bigger. Me expressing my weight loss journey by trying on old pieces of clothing and having them fit does not mean I do not acknowledge the body I had before. My body isn’t a before and after. I am not a different person just because my body is changing.

One of the major things people have asked e in the course of seven months is if I feel any different, or if I feel better. I won’t lie; I tell every person that asks me that I feel so much better and so much of my age. It’s simply the truth. I was fine when I was heavier and I didn’t have major self-esteem issues behind my weight, but the more I gained weight, the more I felt limited in my movement in my everyday activities. During the quarantine period back in 2020, I gained 20 more pounds, resulting in me being 323 pounds. That was my heaviest weight ever. I returned back to my very physical and active bookstore job 5 months later and felt like I couldn’t keep up with the rest of my coworkers anymore because of my weight. It was stressful being a 26-year old woman feeling like they were actually 46-years-old. So yes, losing 80 pounds in seven months after having surgery has me feeling so much better and more of my age.

But, I tend to feel extremely anxious talking about my weight loss and sharing images of my body nowadays more than ever. The more I lose weight, the more I see my body changing. I am excited to see the changes, to feel the changes, and sometimes I will feel like sharing my journey can be toxic for others who struggle with their weight or don’t have the option to go for weight-loss surgery.

Your body is beautiful no matter what size it is, and I’m not saying that because I keep losing weight. My body was just as beautiful as it is now; like I don’t have a completely new body, it’s still me in my own body at the end of the day. Again, I know singlehandedly how hard it is to lose weight on your own; I’ve struggled my whole life trying to lose weight. I started dieting when I was just 12-years-old, thinking that if I only ever drank water and did not eat food I would lose weight. I would count my calorie intake on my phone during my freshman year of college because I gained the “freshman 30” instead of 15. I started Weight Watchers one too many times and failed because I was now anxious about my “points” for the day and week. I gave up trying to lose weight, which then resulted in me gaining 100 pounds in 6 years. I was so ashamed of myself when I hit 300 pounds because I thought I would never get to that point. That was just my standard; being only 5 feet tall and weighing as much as I did was extremely unhealthy and led to me being pre-diabetic. I knew that I needed more help in order to get healthy and lose weight.

I simply talk about my journey because I am serious about it. I am serious about keeping the weight off once that 2-year mark comes and then losing weight doesn’t just happen as it does now. I talk about my journey in every aspect because no one else has. Everyone will show you the pictures and videos of their bodies (and I’m not innocent of doing that either), but no one talks about the mental side of it all. No one talks about how it feels to have your birthday cake in front of you and can’t even have a piece with the rest of the family because you can’t have sugary sweets. No one talks about the constant vomit that happens within the first 3 months of surgery because you still don’t know what foods your body can handle and how much it can contain. No one talks about how people will call you pretty and beautiful now, but have never said that to your face when you were bigger. No one talks about these things, and I deemed myself as the person who would share this information with everyone. I told myself if no one else will tell me these things, then I will tell myself.

So here’s to seven months on this journey. Here’s to the 80 pounds I already lost whilst on this journey. Here’s to the next 5 months that will lead me to my first year since having surgery. Here’s to me shouting at the top of my lungs about my journey and my life and everything that comes with this chapter of my life. Here’s to being okay with my success and being proud of how far I’ve come without holding any guilt.

Here’s to me.

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.