It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a very long time — weight loss surgery. When you’re floating around 375 pounds like me, it’s only natural that the procedure comes up.

As far as obesity goes, I think I’m lucky because I don’t have as many health problems as other people nearing 400 pounds. I’m not diabetic and I don’t have high blood pressure. The only med I’m on is The Pill. I do have PCOS, endometriosis and lipedema — illnesses which all cause pain and make weight loss a challenge.

But yeah, I’m super morbidly obese and it’s not what I want for my life. Honestly?

  • I don’t have much energy and I can’t move around as quickly as I used to.
  • Plantar fasciitis in both of my feet has pretty much killed my joy of walking… like at all.
  • Two words: thigh chafing.
  • Despite believing in body positivity, it’s hard for me to quit the negative self-talk about my fat body.
  • Losing weight would help me keep up with my 4 year old.
  • My size makes me feel awkward everywhere I go … can anyone say seat belt extenders on airplanes? Over the weekend I went to a backyard birthday party and was afraid to sit in a lawn chair when offered a seat. That was fun for my plantar fasciitis.
  • Meeting new people is hard. I’m self-conscious and I can’t help but feel like they don’t really know me since they’ve never met me when I have a smaller body.
  • As I get bigger, my world becomes smaller — and it’s always been that way for me. Fewer friends, fewer outings. I’m an introvert, yet I still get very lonely. I do still date at this size but it’s admittedly harder for me.
  • It’s not fun to feel like a failure and to struggle to lose weight again. I’ve lost over 100 pounds twice in the past decade. After having my daughter in 2014, I just can’t seem to get it together.

So yes, of course, my experiences as an obese woman have made me consider having gastric bypass surgery. But I’ve decided to do something else instead. Kind of. I’ve decided to eat like I’ve had the surgery. I mean, follow an exact protocol for a surgery patient and simply follow the diet on my own.

And I’ve got my reasons.

I’m not getting any younger–or smaller. In a few short months, I will be 36 years old and I haven’t been below 300 pounds in close to five years. Like so many other obese people, I have gotten bigger in the long-run despite the times that I have lost significant amounts of weight. I need to do something now.

Even if my ACA health insurance covers bariatric surgery, it would likely take between six months to a year to be approved. That’s at least 6 months to a year — or more—where I could be making progress and losing weight rather than hoping for good news. That’s months of paperwork and battling the insurance company to prove I can’t lose the weight and keep it off any other way. And of course, I’d still need to pay more than I can actually afford.

I could go to Mexico, except I don’t have $5,000 lying around. Um yeah, but no. This one has actually been suggested to me more than once. I’m a single mom in-between jobs. I’m not leaving the country anytime soon nor am I scraping together thousands of dollars for anything.

Bariatric surgery has come a very long way, but it’s still a surgical procedure and there are risks. Weight loss surgery has saved many lives and led plenty of formerly obese people to hope and healing. I’m not here to knock it. As with any surgery, however, there are some very big risks and complications both on and off the table. Not to mention the recovery! People who have gone through bariatric surgery have my respect–it’s not an easy thing to do.

Low carb and keto haven’t worked for me. Before you tell me how the ketogenic diet has changed your life–stop. Although the science behind it makes sense to me, I’ve only ever lost significant weight on diets less than 1200 calories a day, and mostly VLCDs around 800 calories a day or less. I’ve tried keto and low carb living more than once and all I’ve done is lose up to 30 pounds. I’ll try it again after I’ve lost weight, but I don’t believe it’s a great fit for me right now.

This nephrologist believes it’s the “forced fasting” of weight loss surgery that works. There are a lot of mystical explanations for why weight loss surgery is such an effective tool, but few facts. I have to laugh because all of the experts who insist that CICO–calories in, calories out–is the only way to lose weight will often try to come up with other reasons why weight loss surgery works. They’ll say it’s hormones from cutting away part of the stomach, but that doesn’t explain why the sleeve procedures work so well.

Despite its success, bariatric surgery is still mostly a diet for life. For whatever reason, I’m wired to want to eat. And I don’t even have to eat much to put on weight. There’s no reality where I get to eat without giving it much thought and still lose weight. The closest I ever got to that point was the last time I lost weight in 2012/2013 on a raw food vegan diet that was low fat, low protein and low sodium. That diet really did a number on my teeth. But I did eat all the watermelon I wanted. That said, when you read through the eating guidelines after surgery, you learn that yes, you still have to watch your diet for the rest of your life to avoid regain.

Information about what to eat before and after weight loss surgery is all over the internet. It’s not hard to see exactly how surgery patients lose the weight. Just get on Google. Each surgery or hospital has slightly different diet guidelines but the main thing is high protein, low fat, low sugar, tiny portions.

If I had the surgery, I’d still have to deal with my food addiction. You know, food addiction is this thing I have struggled with on and off throughout my life. It is always worse when I am lonely and unhappy… and lately… I’m more of a food addict than I have ever been in my life. Which means, I need to relearn how to eat for fuel and quit eating to cope with my difficult emotions.

I’ve already failed a number of diets. What exactly do I have to lose here? I’ve already struggled so much with my weight and lately, I fail every diet I try. Flunking out here wouldn’tbe anything new. Yes, it will be crazy hard. Yes, I will need to take vitamins. But I’m willing to give it a go.

I know I’m sometimes pretty snarky and sarcastic, but I’m not joking here at all. I’m so tired of making zero progress on this issue that impacts the rest of my life.

Because I have lipedema, I’m never going to get very slim or have a modern rockin bod. And for a long time I’ve been depressed about that. Who doesn’t want to enjoy skinny jeans after working so hard to lose weight?

My plan is to redefine what healthy and fit looks like to me. I want to lose as much weight as I can to feel better, feel healthy, and enjoy my life again. I want to be proud of myself and know I’m doing my best.

So what now?

Time to prepare. Gastric bypass surgery patients typically have a two week liver-shrinking diet prior to their surgery. Since I’m not really having surgery, that’s not necessary. But I do think it’s a smart way to get started so I’ll do the pre-op phase too:

Two weeks of 800-1000 calories a day with about 75 grams of protein. My plan is to start when my daughter goes to her dad’s house for the weekend. So I’ve got a few days to prepare.

Love it? Hate it? Whether you want to roast me right now or give some love, I’d like to hear from you!

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  • Shannon Ashley Top Writer in more than 10 topics

    Shannon is a pink-haired single mom who's passionate about helping other parents ditch the toxic habits that prevent them from building deep relationships with their kids. She's a little obsessed with Hello Kitty and Mister Rogers, and has learned most of her life-lessons that hard way: awkwardly and often alone. She writes about anything that makes her heart stir-- especially parenting, mental and emotional health, sex, relationships, and weight issues. You can find more of her work on Medium--where her work gets more than 90,000 monthly reads!