“Change is a challenge and an opportunity, not a threat.”

Prince Phillip of England said the title quote, and I doubt he was saying it about some girl in the US. Still, the sentiment really hits the nail on the head when I look back at this past year and what I’ve gone through. I’ve been trying to write this post for two weeks because you, as a reader, deserve to read this. I have lost 107 pounds. 108, by now actually, but the pic shows me 1 pound heavier and 1 day late from my surgical anniversary. On July 15, 2010 I woke up at 4 AM and hustled down to Temple University Hospital in the ‘hood of North Philadelphia to go through a major surgery. You can see the vacancy in my eyes that day as I was a million miles away in my worries. One year and one day later I just came back from a run where I attempted unsuccessfully to clear my mind of all the stress that planning a wedding and managing insane weight loss entails, and I ironically looked equally vacant while lost in my thoughts. I find it interesting that though everything changes, some things never will.

This past year has shown me what I am made of. I am running 5k’s. I am wearing mediums, and even smalls. I am doing pull ups. My motivation and drive are only matched by my fears, which are still there. I am afraid I’ll drop the ball and gain this weight back. I’m afraid that this amazing gift I have received will go out the window when I get pregnant in a few years. But I think that same fear turns into jet fuel in my veins and keeps me powering through. I have been given this amazing opportunity to have the life I always wanted. I feel so incredibly lucky to have this tool that changed my perspective.

Months ago I expected to feel some sort of momentous accomplishment on July 15th this year, like I had climbed Mt. Everest. The day sort of came and went. I had a margarita in celebration, something I’m sure my surgeon would have an issue with, but that was about it. But looking at it a few weeks later I feel grateful that it felt like any other day because it means that this is my life now. Yes, July 15th is the anniversary of my rebirth. But it’s also just one more day that I need to work out. It’s one more day that I need to chew my food to a liquid consistency. It’s just another day in this new life.  

I’m so thankful for everything that’s happened this past year. I lost 100+ pounds and met my goal. The first number of my weight is a 1. I started a new job at a wonderful place. I became engaged to a man who is strapped in to ride this roller coaster with me for the long haul. And I started telling all of you about this. This hasn’t been easy, but I feel like nothing worth having usually is. I’m excited to continue moving forward in life, and I’m so glad that I can invite you to share in my successes and even my stumbles, because I feel that continued challenge to change. And thankfully, I’m up for the challenge.

Thanks for reading. – A

July 26, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . 2011. Leave a comment.

Body v. Mind: 80 Pounds in 180 Days

Saturday was the official six-month mark since I had a gastric bypass (GBP) surgery with Dr. John Meilhan at Temple University. As I mentioned in earlier posts, when I reach 100 pounds of weight loss, I’ll let you know where I started out but for now I can say that I’ve lost 80 pounds. 80 pounds. Did I type that? Moreover, did I DO that? I know this process hasn’t been a walk in the park (I know this) but I feel like, other than some dietary changes, my life hasn’t changed a lot. I haven’t changed too much in the way of regular exercise because it’s something I already had in my life. I haven’t had to change my lifestyle. And clearly, my perception of my body hasn’t changed.

I look at my new body, the one that went from a size 22 to a 12 (a shrinking 12 at that!), and I still see the same girl that I was. Ok, maybe not totally the same girl, but relatively close. There are some things that my mind just hasn’t soaked up yet. We were at Gay Bingo on Saturday night, which incidentally may make for a GREAT bachelorette party activity, and a woman who was seated at our table had to be at least 100 pounds more than me, but when I looked at her all I could see were our similarities. Meanwhile the woman next to her was more like the size that I am now, but I just can’t seem to marinate the new image into my brain!

Am I crazy? No, of course not. I knew that my head would take a good amount of time to catch up. This is called body dysmorphic disorder, similar to what people obsessed with plastic surgery deal with, and is common after GBP surgery. Clearly 29 years of being overweight has skewed my vision, so I know it will take some time for everything to shake out. But now I worry, six months away from picking out a wedding gown, will I see myself as I am or as I was? Will I get frustrated with a process that is already stressful because of my mental struggle and somehow forfeit the joyous occasion that selecting a gown can be? Where’s my Say Yes to The Dress moment, damn it?!

Ok, maybe I’m getting a little hostile. I have 6 months for my head to catch up for gown shopping, and a little over a year to make mental amends so that I can see myself as beautiful on my wedding day. I’m working hard to stay positive. What were some ways that you handled body image issues when getting married? What did you do to calm the regular bridal nerves that are concerned with looking phenomenal on your wedding day?

To combat all of this, I’m going to start seeing a therapist so I can hopefully facilitate a quick reunion between what I see and what exists. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

Thanks for reading. – A


January 17, 2011. Tags: , , , . 2011. 1 comment.

The Incredible Shrinking Bride

Welcome to my first post in what will hopefully be an interesting journey. My name is Amanda and I am the incredible shrinking bride. That is to say, I am planning a wedding while recovering from weight loss surgery on July 15, 2010.

Now I know that you’re thinking, “What do these two things have to do with one another?” and to answer your question, I’m not totally sure. One thing I can definitely say is that they’re both stressful. Really stressful. Also, I think they’re both pretty huge milestones in my life.

So let’s share a little about me. I am 28 years old and my “fiancée”, M. as we shall call him, is 37. We live in a house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Also, I should come clean now and let you know that we are NOT engaged yet. That’s not to say all this planning is for nothing! We have been together since January of this year and I once told him that I think it takes at least a year to know someone enough to be sure that you should marry them.  That was early in our courtship, before I realized that I wanted to marry him. Pretty early on he knew that he wanted to marry me and it didn’t take long for me to feel that way as well. Still, he’s holding me to my word – though I have a feeling it may be a little shy of a year when he puts a ring on it. You have to love a man with convictions!

Anyway, we have picked out a ring that I think he may have already purchased and he assures me that we will be en fianced before the end of the year. That means that our wedding won’t be too far off, right? Wrong!! One great side effect of this surgery is that for the first year, I am considered to be in a period of rapid weight loss where most people lose 100+ pounds, easily. This makes it a little hard to order a wedding dress since my body size  is a moving target. So you’re thinking “so what? Just buy a dress and get hitched, fatty!” and part of me agrees with you. I mean, it’s hard enough to find a good man, so why make him wait? The reality is that I, like most girls, have been dreaming about my wedding since I was a girl. I want to feel beautiful on that day so that I can remember it forever, and I’m not sure I will knowing that my wedding pictures will show me when I was still fat.

So why don’t I want fat memories? It’s not that I don’t. I have 28 years of them because I’ve been overweight my whole life. My family seems to have a lot of big people in it, and I am no exception. At 5’7″ and my highest weight put me in the category of morbidly obese. Forget overweight – I was in a category where my weight was going to kill me someday. Clearly I didn’t get this way by genetics alone. Sure, it helped, but my emotional addiction to food certainly didn’t go unnoticed.

After years of trying everything under the sun to lose the weight and getting no results I was finally fed up. In October 2009 I began a journey with Dr. John Meilhan at Temple University Hospital to change all of that. After 6 months of classes and preparation with the hospital’s program I was finally approved for a gastric bypass surgery. This surgery essentially reduces the stomach that is usually the size of a football to the size of an egg. There’s some other plumbing re-routing that takes place, but essentially the new surgery doesn’t allow me to eat normally. My meals must be much smaller, packed with nutritious food and frequent because I don’t ever feel hungry, a feeling that may not ever return. I’m till struggling to get into a routine, but if I forget to eat I don’t notice until I’m feeling SUPER tired and run down. It’s a lot of work learning to eat all over again like I am an infant, but I’m really excited about the results. It’s less than 6 weeks out and I’m down 38 pounds so I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

So what am I hoping to accomplish with the blog? Much like the relationship of wedding planning and gastric-bypass, I’m not sure. Perhaps it will act as catharsis to get all the stress out. Maybe it will even help other people to hear what I have to say, or maybe they can give me advice on what I’m going through. Worst case scenario, I can share all the cute wedding stuff that I find with you all and hopefully you will enjoy my journey as I am The Incredible Shrinking Bride.

August 22, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . 2010. 1 comment.