Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: Gain Something New, Lose Something Old.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I guess not.

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

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

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

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

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

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: Three Months Post-Op.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to many more, Liz.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: To my 311 lbs Self.

To the person I was before surgery,

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

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

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

You will always be with me because you never left.

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

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

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

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: The Lows No One Talks About.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anxiety Surrounding Food

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

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

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

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

Stagnant Weight Loss

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

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

Getting Sick Long After the “Recovery” Phase.

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

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

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

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

Post-Surgery Depression.

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

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

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

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

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: The Pity Party for the WLS Girl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: The Most Asked Question About My Weight Loss Surgery Journey…

Ever since getting weight-loss surgery, I’ve been asked a lot of questions. By my family, I’m being constantly asked if I feel okay after eating a meal, by my friends I’m being asked what foods I can or cannot eat, and everyone in the mix tends to ask this one specific question, to which I have to say the same thing over and over again.

Hi, my name is Liz, and I will not be getting cosmetic surgery to remove my excess skin.

It’s funny to even think that many people, both that are in the WLS program and not, are always considered about the excess skin that comes with losing a lot of weight at once. It’s not unusual for WLS goers to have excess skin after getting the surgery, and I guess it depends on personal preference on how people deal with the appearance after losing the weight.

I haven’t personally known a lot of successful WLS goers, but for those that were able to keep off the weight haven’t had cosmetic surgery to remove the excess skin. In fact, many of them are into exercise! I feel like when the weather gets cooler and the more I get comfortable working out in front of complete strangers, I will probably be more than open to work out at a gym as well! I can only imagine that further down the process, people who lose weight feel better toning their body because they are able to handle it when they aren’t as heavy. I know for me, I would probably feel better once I feel like I can be more active without getting too tired too quickly.

Although I’m still so early in my weight-loss journey, it’s still something I get asked a lot and, like, I know many people don’t mean any harm in it, but sometimes I feel like it pressures me to consider it. It also puts this ideology in my mind that weight loss isn’t enough to “look good”, but cosmetic surgery will be the solution to make the weight loss surgery worth it.

I still remember going to my support group meetings and hearing the questions of older candidates for WLS, and many of them were about cosmetic surgery. How much will it cost or if it’s common for WLS goers to get it once they reached their goal weight, and to some sort of degree the meetings began to feel a bit pointless.

While everyone’s reasoning for weight loss surgery is different, I just hope that for many people, it’s a change for them to be and feel better, not to just look better. It’s so easy to get sucked into the number on the scale and determining your worth or “success” by how many pounds you lose, but…

As a person that lost 25 pounds in 5 weeks, I can say that just having 25 pounds off has made me feel so much better physically. I feel better in the clothes I wear, I can take longer walks without feeling like my lungs are gonna fall out of my chest, and I just all around feel better in my body. Like, if I feel so good already at this starting point in my journey, imagine in another month. Three months. Six months from now! My point is is that it’s more than just “looking good”. If anything, you start feeling good before you start to “look good”. Hell, you don’t look like society’s version of “good” until at least a year into your journey.

But of course, I don’t judge people who want to do this for their reasons. If they feel like their life will be better after losing their weight and getting slimmer, than that’s their reasoning for getting the surgery. There’s no “right” reason to get surgery, but I do wish that many people who consider surgery know that surgery isn’t a quick fix, and it’s so easy to get sick and gain back the weight if your head is in the wrong space.

And of course, I’m not judging every person who’s asked me if I’m considering cosmetic surgery in the future; it’s a very common curiosity question anyone looking into a WLS candidate/patient’s new lifestyle would have.

But, be nice to those who tell you that they aren’t considering it by not following up with, “then what are you gonna do with all that extra skin you’ll have?” It’s just not appropriate and you should respect the wishes from that specific person.

Other than that, we would be more than willing to answer your questions about the process! I love educating those around me about it because this is more than just a surgery that happened for me, it’ a surgery that happened and that lead me to live this new lifestyle. There’s nothing you should be cared about asking, just be considerate when asking certain questions that may appear insensitive.

Like, don’t ask me how I’m going to hide my extra skin when I get “skinny.”

Let me get through this week first before I think about something 9-12 months down the line.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: My Relationship with Food.

It’s one thing to call this lifestyle a “good one”. You see the transformation photos on social media and you think, “wow, they made such a good lifestyle change! They look so good now!” What no one tells you behind those photos, though, is the fact that the journey to get there is exhausting.

Hi, my name is Liz, and my relationship with food has drastically changed since having gastric bypass surgery.

I was always a foodie. I loved to snack on things, and I used to really enjoy my meals. There were so many things I loved to eat, and although they were bad for me, I still indulged in my guilty pleasures and ate them because they were really good and I just wanted them.

The act of eating (as I’m learning) is an experience all on its own. The longer you sit there and eat the food that’s on your plate, the better experience you have. I feel like that’s why buffets are just literally the greatest thing ever; you get how much food you want, and you can always go back if you want more and you eat until you’re absolutely full.

I can’t even finish a small bowl of tuna without feeling extremely full, to the point where I can either get nauseous and throw up, or just feel stuck in fullness.

It’s been one month since my surgery, and this month has taught me that there are going to be times where I introduce myself to food again and it’s a trial and error. I’m either going to tolerate it perfectly fine, or I’m going to sit here and just wait for the food to come back up because my stomach can’t handle it. I found myself puking a lot more these days because of these trial and errors, realizing that some of my favorite foods are now some of the foods that I can’t handle anymore.

It truly makes the whole eating process an anxiety process rather than an enjoyable one, and it could be truly frustrating at times.

I get anxious because I don’t want to get sick, obviously, but I also have to know what’s good for me and what isn’t. Like, I can’t be eating yogurts and soup for the next couple of months because I’m too scared to eat.

I think my worst fear is me just not eating or drinking anymore because I just don’t feel thirsty or hungry. I also hate to think that the reason why weight has been pretty stagnant for the past couple of weeks is because I’m not eating the right things. But like, I’m barely eating at all, so like–

Anyway. My relationship with food has definitely been different since surgery and I’m not sure when or if I’ll ever have a positive relationship with it again.

It’s more than just a physical reaction. It’s also sitting around my family at the dinner table seeing them eat all the foods I once enjoyed that I can’t have anymore. It’s seeing that those around me can have food that I wish I was having with them. It’s seeing the delicious food venues and smelling all the amazing food being cooked and not being able to fully enjoy it because I get full way too quickly or it’s simply something that gets me sick. It’s also such a major mental thing, and dealing with depression as it is, I’m afraid this anxious part of my journey will get me depressed.

I sometimes regret getting this surgery when I’m sitting on my bathroom floor feeling like my insides are in a knot. I sit there and think back to my life pre-surgery, missing the girl I was before because she ate what she wanted to eat and what made her happy. I know that thought is so temporary and it goes away as soon as I feel better or when I’m wearing clothes that didn’t properly fit me since 2019. It’s knowing that in a couple of months, I’ll be fully healed, and I will know my body much better than I do.

Because, let’s be honest: something that is out of your control is always hard to first adjust to. When I first was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, the first couple of months after that were some of my worst months due to the fact that I just didn’t know how to adjust to it in my everyday life. It took therapy, talking it out, and learning more about myself and my mental health to not allow it to define me or make my life a living hell.

So while things are a little weird and shaky and I have my bad days, I know I will get through this. I just hope it happens soon!

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: One Month Post-Op.

Man, 2021 has been going by so fast, yet this last month has felt like a year alone!

Life has been different. Life as it is right now has not been the same since entering 2021. The people who I entered this year with have departed. The mindset has changed. The daily routine has been altered. The Liz that was before isn’t really the Liz that’s writing this exact post.

Hi, my name is Liz, and I’m officially one month post-op!

It’s insane to still think about it all; I had the surgery, my stomach is small as hell, and I’m learning to live this new lifestyle that I never thought I would live.

First and foremost, since surgery, I lost 21 pounds. Going into surgery, I was 311 lbs; I am now 290. I haven’t been this number since 2017! While the weight began to rapidly go down, it has been a little stagnant, but I’m not trying to worry too much about the numbers, even though I was glued to my scale when the weight started to go down.

That’s one thing I’m trying not to obsess over: the number on the scale. I am still trying to tell myself that this surgery isn’t a quick fix; this is just the start of doing the work myself. I know that even though I want things and wish that I could “enjoy” my meals like I used to, but this is still the beginning.

I am still adjusting this new lifestyle and seeing the things I can eat and what I can’t eat. There are days where I feel like I’m too scared to eat because the feeling of being full feels more of nausea. There are days where I think I’m going to feel okay when really, I’ll puke my meal up. There are days where I think I’m full, but then feel hungry shortly after. It’s a lot of guessing and hoping for the best when I eat. Typically, I find myself eating small snacks and being okay for a couple of hours before I get hungry again.

It’s a weird feeling. Being this far into recovery, I’ve been doing okay. I’ve been feeling alright. I feel the same way I did before I went into surgery. I’m not in any pain, I’m not walking slow or taking things too slow. I’m back at work, I’m not taking all the medications I had to take when I first had the surgery. I feel as normal as possible. I am only reminded of my surgery whenever I eat and I’m looking down at my plate and only see that I had about two to three bites of my food and I’m full.

I know that in the long run, I will get used to this. It’s only been a month since I had this surgery. I have the rest of my life to live with this new stomach of mine. I will get to a place where I will know my body and hunger cues a lot better and understand what I might need in those times. But for now, I’m still learning, and some embarrassing things are going to need to happen when learning about them!

For instance, I cannot have coffee when I am out and about. While I loved to stop at a Dunkin’ Donuts to get myself an iced coffee when I’m out or on my way to work, I tried to do the same after surgery and I was literally sick to my stomach. Also, while I love Chinese food and would eat my entire dish before surgery, I now feel like absolute shit eating it and puke every time I eat it. It’s a sad day for my Chinese food lovin’ self. Nevertheless, it’s something I had to try and face the consequences with in order to know what I can have and what I can’t have!

With that being said, I wanted to move on to a more serious point about this surgery: I am not saying to go out and get this surgery if your only goal is to “look good” or “get skinny”. With an ideology like that, you are bound to fail. You are bound to be miserable. You are bound to not even go through surgery once it’s time to sign those papers and you’re handed the “any complications with this surgery can lead to death” consent.

For awhile, I had people around me talk about my surgery like it was going to make me prettier or it’s going to make me look like I’m worth it or better than who I was before it. After some point, I began to believe the noise. I began to tell myself that this surgery was going to fix all of my problems; surgery was the only thing that was going to fix my depression or anxiety or some mythical shit like that. I didn’t like that I was starting to see surgery as a quick fix, because I know that nobody else was going to go through the process with me besides me. No one was going to have to sit here and experiment what foods I can and cannot eat besides me. No one was going to be sitting with me in the bathroom while I puked my food because it’s something I couldn’t have anymore but me. No one was going to be with me during the progress; many of those people will just see a before and after picture in a couple of months and think “omg, wow! You’re so thin!” or some mythical shit like that.

Surgery is not for everyone. The process I had to go through just to just that surgery date was tedious and something that I think many people would’ve stopped doing midway. I can go into great detail about the process it took me to get the surgery. Needless to say, I had to reevaluate my own reasons for this surgery; the real reason I even decided to go through this process in the first place. I wanted to feel better physically. I wanted to feel my age and be able to do the things I’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t because my weight held me back. I wanted to do this for me so that further down the line when I get older, I don’t get passed down the family diseases they struggle with due to being overweight. That’s what made me show up to all of the doctor appointments and do all the testing required to get cleared for surgery.

Even with so much progress has happened within this first month, I know that this is still very early on and things are still bound to happen, I know that for the most part, I made the right decision for myself. I did this for me and I’m here to document just all of the great, horrible, happy, and sad things about this journey because it’s more than just a before and after photo.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: 1 Week Later.

Pretty crazy to see how much life has changed within one week, huh?

Hello, Letter Readers! Here I am, finally we’ll enough to sit down and type this bad boy out without feeling any waves of discomfort or pain now that, well…

Hi, my name is Liz, and I’m officially one week post-op!

Man, I never thought I would say that! I’ve mentioned this time and time again, but I was in the Bariatrics Program for 18 months. Normally, the program runs for 6 months but due to COVID, a lot of things (like this) were delayed. After months and months of testing, I signed consent and paid my fee in May, got my surgery date in June, and bam! We are now a week in since I had surgery.

For those who may be wondering, I had gastric bypass surgery. Unlike the sleeve, this type of surgery is when they take a smaller portion of your stomach and make it your “new stomach” and reroute the small intestine directly to that new stomach. In simpler terms, the food doesn’t go into the stomach press, but straight into the intestines.

When I was considering surgery back in January 2020, I was given both options and ultimately went to for the bypass, mainly because I needed some discipline in my new lifestyle. I know myself well enough that if there was some room for error (i.e still being able to obtain sugary things) then I was most likely not going to keep the weight off. With the bypass, if I have anything with added sugars, I can get severely ill. I needed that scare tactic to keep me away from any of the sweet things!

But yeah! Here’s how surgery day went:

I had to be at the hospital by 12:30pm but my actual surgery wasn’t scheduled until 3pm. My family and I got to the hospital and registered, and it wasn’t long until they called me up to the 4th floor (the ambulatory surgery area) to prep myself for surgery. They did the usual; stick me in a room with a gown and all that to put on, a pee cup to take a pregnancy test (which I couldn’t even pee since my nerves were all over the place) and put all the necessary stuff on me before heading to the operating room.

The thing that I hate about procedures like this is that they have you wait FOREVER before they actually call you into the OR. I had to have been sitting in that damn preparation room for 2 hours before I was called to surgery. But nevertheless, a nurse got me, told me it was time, and placed a blanket around me and we walked to the operating room.

Like LITERALLY walked to the operating room like I was entering someone’s party.

Anyway, I walked into the operating room and it looks like what it is; an operating room. The room was bright, there were tons of nurses and doctors getting prepped, and I was directed to lay down on the operating table. Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More” was playing while everyone was prepping and I couldn’t help but laugh. For something as small as that, it really did help me calm my nerves a little bit.

So, they strap me down onto the table and hook up cables and all of that onto me, and then someone (I couldn’t see who) was reading and reciting these things that the surgeon and nurses had to answer and state back which was a little nerve-wrecking. The anesthesiologist put the anesthesia on and I was out like a light.

I wake up in the recovery room with a nurse sitting on a chair and typing some things on a computer. Her name was Jannett and honestly she was the best nurse I’ve ever had to date; she was so sweet and she had a good sense of humor! I must’ve been still so goofy on the anesthesia because I was cracking jokes with her and she was laughing while taking care of me. I was only fed some ice chips for the night, but I was encouraged to walk around and use the bathroom and all that jazz. For the most part, I was doing well, until it was time to sleep.

It was hard to sleep just because I was still in the recovery room area and the nurses were attending to those who were newly coming into the recovery room, fresh out of the operation room. Also, I was experiencing some unbearable pain and needed a painkiller to at least help me sleep. It did for a little while, but it definitely was a night of struggles.

I was able to go home the following afternoon because I was making a lot of progress in my recovery. I was able to sit and lay down on my own (even hook myself back up to the machines which blew one of the nurses away when watching me from afar) I was able to walk around and use the bathroom on my own, and my pain was mainly minimal at that point. I was discharged and I came home, took a shower, and tried to relax for most of the night. I did, and the pain was not as bad, but again it was another night of barely sleeping and tons of pain.

As the week progressed, I’ve gotten better. I’ve been taking my medication (a lot of it) as well as my shots to prevent blood clots. My pain has been more on the minor side (with some days being a little worse than others) but for the most part, I am just trying to learn how my body now works. I gotta learn when my body is hungry and when it’s full. I gotta learn how to eat slower and drink slower now that my stomach needs to keep it down in a different way (that’s honestly the hardest part for me is to eat and drink slowly). I need to learn what foods I can handle and what I can’t, how to take my medication without completely forgetting it or dreading it. I have to learn how to move and adjust and make these changes into habits so that I can move past recovery in a smooth and safe matter.

This is just the first week. I am off for another week before I return to my life back at my job, being a human being and doing human responsibilities outside of the house. I hope to come back here for a week two update feeling ready to conquer the world and live the rest of my damn life.

I can’t wait to noticeably see changes in my body, and I mean more than just the weight loss. I wanna be able to walk for long periods of time and feel like I’m not out of breath for once in my life! I can’t wait to be able to push myself to do the things I couldn’t do before having this surgery. It’s a long journey ahead, but man I’m excited to see how it goes.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: Tomorrow.

Last month, I went to my consultation appointment and got introduced to the program and how everything is going to go for the next couple of months while being under this program. Like I mentioned in a post a couple of months ago, I am taking the bariatrics route of weight-loss. I’ve decided to make a huge lifestyle change this new year, and while I have the opportunity and chance to do this, I’m going to do it for my health; present and future. So, this month was my official first month of the program. 

– February 2020 Highlights & Favorites!

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s becoming more real as the days pass. I will be saying goodbye to this body in a couple of months, watching her change and look different than it ever has before. I mean, it’s technically still my body. It’s still my skin. Are we really saying goodbye to my body? Maybe just the way it is in its current state, but it’s still me. I still come with the way I am and the things that I like and don’t like and at the end of the day, nothing is changing besides the way my body is built. But still, it feels like I am saying goodbye to the Liz in the photos that are on my social media platforms, my Polaroid pictures, and the pictures that live inside my camera roll on my phone.

– Overexposed: Saying Goodbye to this Body.

Have you ever been depressed or sad because of you reflecting back on the time spent and the people who were once around during that time and now being in this moment about to close that chapter of your life?

Hi, my name is Liz, and I have surgery in 24 hours.

I’m nervous; no doubt about that. I know it’s normal to be nervous, but is it normal to have this wave of depression because, well, this chapter of your life is about to end?

I started this process in January 2020. I was 4 months into working at the bookstore, I had just turned 26, and I wasn’t even a kpop collector yet! I was still very much in this process of discovering myself and finding my identity outside of the relationship I had previously for most of my young adulthood. The people who’ve been here since the beginning; my coworkers, my friends in the community, other friends who I was once closed to are not all here with me to see me write this entry and finally say that I’m getting my surgery. It’s a weird feeling to say the least.

A part of me is mourning this life I had leading up to this point.

I guess I’m sad because it’s masked in nerves and anxiety that is normal, but I think it’s more than just that. It’s the fact that life has changed so much these last couple of months; I decided to let some of my past go and work things out with my ex in order to have a healthy friendship moving forward, many of my coworkers that I had left the job, I’m in the process of possibly transitioning to a new job, I don’t have a best friend anymore, and well, of course this surgery.

It’s just a lot to process in this short time.

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the surgery. I’m so ready to feel good and to be able to do all the things that I’ve wanted to do but couldn’t because of my weight. I’ve been taking care of my mental health for the past 3 years and have made progress into that. It was about time I made some progress for my physical health and this was the best (and last) route to do that.

So here I am, nervous as hell, hungry as hell but also just… trying to make this day as smooth as possible. I know this transition is going to be a hard one, and I hope that I’m able to recover quickly and get my life back on track quickly, but nevertheless it’s happening and, well, it’s here.