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.

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.