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My journey By Mel

Today I'm going to introduce a patient of ours at Atlantic Bariatric Center. Her name is Mel and she's just started our bariatric surgery program. She's going to share her experience over the next few months. I hope you enjoy her story. -- Shelly

Two months down. Four months to go.

When I first started down this road I felt anxious about having to wait six months to even START to get my life back. Once I had finally made up my mind, after reading and researching and reading more and researching more, that going through with sleeve surgery was ultimately right for me, I wanted surgery YESTERDAY! I was READY.

At least, I thought I was.

I thought I was going to walk in to this program, commit to the nutrition plan, commit to the exercise, jump through all the hoops required by my insurance, and just patiently wait for the six months to creep by. After all, before having a baby I had done cross-fit six days a week, eaten so clean, lost 85 pounds on my own – I had learned about food and nutrition. I was the healthiest I had ever been. I was feeling strong and fit. If it wasn’t for my circumstances, my fibromyalgia, my huge abdominal hernia and subsequent surgery to repair that hernia, I would totally be able to do this by myself. I just needed the tool – the sleeve – to help me get a head start and I would be golden. At least that’s what I thought.

Little did I know…

I spent a lot of time and energy in the last seven years learning about food and nutrition and what was “good” and what was “bad” and I truly thought I’d had it all figured out. But over the last two years it’s become clear to me that what I thought was the “only right way” to eat and exercise to lose weight and get healthy might not be the ONLY way after all.

My first meeting with Amanda was – eye opening, to say the least. While I’ve always known about myself that I am competitive, dedicated and maybe a little obsessive, I didn’t realize how much of a hindrance that could be to my overall health.

Aside from the physical struggles I was facing, I was quickly learning that the unspecified eating disorder I had struggled through my late teens and into my twenties had not been ‘cured’ by my “health journey” prior to pregnancy, it had just been changed. Instead of struggling with the urge to not eat, I now struggle with severe food anxiety over eating the “wrong” foods. While eating “clean” helped many of my health problems and allowed me to nourish my body with enough of the right foods, during that part of my journey I never addressed any emotional or mental aspects of my war with food.

Since starting this new journey, I have come to realize that there are so many more complex aspects to my healing than just “losing the weight” – I really need to learn how to not look at food, ALL food, as my enemy. I need to understand what eating for health really means, not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. I am learning to accept that being obsessive and controlling about eating “perfect” is just as unhealthy (for me) as eating junk or not eating at all. I need to learn how to feed and nourish my body as a priority, not an afterthought. I am starting to accept that my intense cross-fit style workouts that were amazing for me five years ago, aren’t right for me now, and that doesn’t mean that there are NO OTHER WORKOUTS EVER. I am slowly accepting that my body went through some serious trauma and injury and the “easy” workouts that I am doing (or barely doing or can’t do yet) are part of my healing process. I am accepting the temporary weakness of my muscles as something I cannot change immediately and reminding myself daily that while I may not be as strong today as I was at my physical peak, I am stronger than yesterday and last week and so much stronger than I was six months ago. I am reminding myself regularly that although I feel weak and damaged now, I am heading down a road towards health and healing and that it really is all going to be an improvement from here.

So, I guess I’m pretty thankful that this process is six months long after all, and it’s definitely not a bunch of waiting around to have my surgery and THEN starting to become healthy. The process to becoming healthy is well underway already.