My Weight Loss Secret. Spoiler…It’s My Brain

Oh, hi! Did you know I have a blog? Apparently I’ve forgotten. Anyway, I thought I’d stop by and dust it off.

A lot of you follow me on social media and have noticed (and commented on, thanks!) my recent weight loss and workouts. It’s really sweet of you to notice (and comment, seriously). I thought I’d tell you my secret. And this is just my secret, I won’t say that it will work for everyone or that it will apply to everyone.

But first a refresher. I had bariatric surgery (specifically Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy) in January 2016. I kicked butt the first 9 months after, I was super compliant and feeling great! So encouraged! Best decision ever! I was down almost 90 pounds from my highest (and 53 from the day of surgery) and was feeling amazing! At the 10-month-after-surgery-mark, I started regaining. Since my super power is gaining weight, I regained about 60 pounds in the next year, and then another 10-ish the year after. Which takes us to August 2018.

I was the most depressed I’d been in a long time. Like, years, really. I have taken antidepressants off and on since 2006. I have cyclical depression and anxiety. Sometimes I can work through it with talk therapy and being good to myself. Sometimes I can’t. I was definitely in a phase where I couldn’t. And it had been a long phase. I was faking happy almost all the time. Really good things were happening and while I knew I should be overjoyed, I was just registering that I should be overjoyed. I wasn’t taking care of myself in almost any way. Eating so much junk, no consistent exercise, just surviving life. I was cancelling doctor’s appointments (with my bariatric surgeon, with my general practitioner, with my podiatrist). I was resigning myself to feeling like crap for the rest of my life and it being justified. I wasn’t writing or telling stories. The worst part is how disengaged I felt from my family. One day Tobin and Tesla, separately, told me that I wasn’t snuggling as much that I never let them sit on my lap and was in my room all the time. That’s when it hit me just how badly I was feeling. I reached out to a therapist our family had worked with a few years before and we started talking about food and how I was feeling. For the first time, I said out loud that when I am feeling like that, I punish myself with food. I don’t eat a candy bar because it makes me feel good, I eat a candy bar (or 4) because I don’t deserve good things. I’ve been this way my whole life, but I’ve never told anyone that (in fact, it’s hard to type those words to you). She and I worked together for a month or so, had some really hard conversations, I cried a lot. Then she said, “Sherry, this is more than talk will help. I think it’s time for medicine.” She knows my PCP and asked me to go see him. She’s a licensed therapist, but in our state can’t write prescriptions. Even though I suspected she was right, I put off seeing the doctor for a couple of weeks. Why? I had only ever seen him for minor illnesses or things like my elbow hurting. What if I went to him, told him the counselor and I thought I might need medication, and he told me I was just weak and needed to suck it up? (These are things your brain tells you when it’s mad). Finally, with my sweet husband’s urging, I made an appointment. I started crying before I even said a word to my doctor. He was the most caring, supportive, wonderful doctor. He held my had as I cried, and reassured me that we would figure it out. Together, the counselor, him and me. That was October 1 and I started new medicine that afternoon. My doctor had me email him every week to check in and I was seeing my therapist every week.

I made an appointment with my bariatric surgeon. At this point, I had “rescheduled” (who are we kidding? I was cancelling) three times, so I hadn’t seen her in about 6 months. Normally, if you’re doing well, you only see this doc once a year after the first year. But I wasn’t doing well, so I’d still been on the every-3-months schedule. Anyway, I saw her October 11. I told her about how I’d been feeling, how I’d really been eating over the last almost two years, and my new medicine. I then asked the question I was terrified to know the answer to, “Have I completely ruined my surgery?” So, we planned a pouch reset. There isn’t anything surgical about it. You, basically, are recreating the diet you had just after surgery (resetting your stomach to see if you’ve just temporarily fluffed it out or permanently stretched it out). I followed the diet very strictly. It’s 10 days and then she wanted me to follow a regime of 5 days of regular eating and 2 days of fasting (water and three protein drinks a day). We scheduled a three-month follow up for the middle of January.

I started the reset on October 12. By this time, I’d been taking the medicine almost 2 weeks and it had already made a huge impact on me. My constant doomsday thinking was under control (I still get worried about things, but in a normal, productive way, not in a send-me-to-bed-because-the-world-is-ending-and-my-whole-family-is-going-to-die kind of way). You may have noticed that the timeline for this reset and my next appointment included the holidays. And the holiday food. The deal I made with myself was that if something was special or I could only get it at that time of year, I would have some. Which means I didn’t have any Halloween candy because bat-shaped candy bars are just candy bars in a different shape. At Thanksgiving, I had sweet potato pie (worth it). During the Christmas season, I had a peppermint cupcake, some eggnog cake, eggnog, a few cocktails, my Grandma’s candy and some sugar cookies. All also worth it.

And let’s talk about exercise. Those of you who are following me have mostly seen gym selfies or pictures from me working out at home. And all of that is true. However, I’m not exercising to lose weight. As my doctor said, it’s 80% diet, 20% exercise. Do you want to know why, besides wanting to be strong, I’m really trying to exercise at least 3 days a week if not every day? Besides the benefits it can have for fighting depression, I exercise so I can stay regular. That’s right, I want to be strong and I want to poop. The diet I follow is very protein heavy and not very fiber heavy. That means it’s easy to get constipated. I figured that if, when you’re pregnant, the doctors tell you to exercise to stay regular it would help now too. Is that TMI? Nah. Y’all know way more about me than that. I’ve been going to the gym consistently two or three times a week and focusing on strength exercises. I still do some cardio, but not like I’d been just after my surgery. And starting January 1, I began a daily yoga practice from Yoga With Adriene (would recommend 10/10). I’m feeling stronger than I have in years. And I’m pooping way more regularly than I did the first year after my surgery.

In this past year, I’ve also had a few other medical things happen that greatly improved my physical life. I won’t bore you with the details, but I had endometriosis and was bleeding more than half of every month for the last three years. It wasn’t great. But that’s gone now and my body is so happy for it.

The reason I’m writing this post now is that I hit a big weight-loss milestone yesterday! I’ve lost 50 pounds since October 13. Woot! But also? I can hold a plank for the entire time I’m asked to during a yoga practice. I can get down on the floor without wanting to cry from joint pain. I’m pooping. I’m fitting into clothes that I’d shoved into the back of my closet as I was regaining. I can see definition in my arms that hasn’t been there since I was a teenager.

The best part? My brain is more normal that it’s been in years. I’m sleeping. I’m not faking being happy. I’m not faking being happy.

So. Yes, wonderful exciting things are happening to me physically. But I’m taking care of my brain, and that’s really the secret to my weight loss.

I’m still seeing my therapist once a month and checking in with my PCP. I had my check-up with my bariatric surgeon last week. There were high fives all around. And I got to schedule for a year out.

As always, I’m not a healthcare professional, but I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.

Comments

  1. Carla says

    Wow, thanks for sharing so openly, Sherry! You’ve been through so much! You really are an inspiration. Sending you lots of love — and congrats on all your wonderful progress!!

  2. Nicole Jones says

    This is amazing. Thank you for sharing about your mental health journey. Your determination is inspiring. You are absolutely wonderful!

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