As promised, today I will start a three part series about my friend Betty’s lifelong struggle with weight loss. She describes herself as a chubby child and teenager. Throughout high school she tried many different diets, and as a result, she lost weight and gained it back over and over again. She always strived to be like the other “normal sized” students, so she wouldn’t be teased.
When she was a senior in high school she practically starved herself (to impress a boy) until she reached her goal weight of 135. To celebrate her success, her father took her out for an ice cream sundae. Not the best of ideas, but it gives you an insight into her family’s approach to food.
Betty’s parents were of modest means and they lived on a small farm, so the one thing they could give her in abundance was food and love. They thought they were eating healthy, but they cooked vegetables beyond recognition, fried most meats and fish, and considered fruit a treat except during the summer; very typical of the times. When she moved out on her own and started her career hundreds of miles from her family, she continued on a yo-yo dieting, sedentary lifestyle roller coaster for the next 30 years.
About nine years ago Betty’s weight topped out at 289 pounds and she decided that she had to do something about it. Around that time, she bumped into a friend who she hadn’t seen for quite some time and was shocked at how much weight that person had lost, and more importantly, how good her friend said she felt. When Betty inquired about the weight loss, her friend confided that she had had bypass surgery (bariatric surgery). At the time, Betty was only familiar with a few celebrities that had undergone the surgery, and was intrigued that a “real” person could afford to have it done.
At that time there was still a stigma attached to bypass surgery. Critiques referred to it as “an easy way out.” For Betty, it was an answer to years of prayers. She interviewed surgeons until she found one that she liked; and once she decided to move forward with the surgery, she had to undergo six months of therapy. In addition to meeting with a therapist, she started working with a personal trainer (Kelly) for about three months to strengthen her arms and legs in preparation for helping her get around immediately post-surgery. Betty’s surgery was in April, and she resumed training with Kelly in July.
Today Betty looks back on her surgery as her “jump start” to a healthier lifestyle; however, at the time it was all about weight loss. Her weight started dropping quickly post-surgery, but not just because of the bypass. Betty realized that she actually enjoyed working out with Kelly, and that having a personal trainer kept her accountable. She lost down to 168 pounds (121 pound weight loss) and decided she needed a new challenge, so she signed up to walk the Marine Corps Marathon with the help of Team In Training (no starting out with a 5K for Betty). She says that “ignorance was bliss” and that she had no idea what she was getting herself into, because when she crossed the finish-line everything hurt (even her teeth). 😉 Betty says that it was the best thing she ever did, and despite the momentary pain, she’s had years of pride for having completed it. Completing the full marathon inspired her to continue distance walking, only at a more reasonable distance so she signed up the following year for the Virginia Beach Rock ‘N’ Roll Half-Marathon, completed it, and was hooked!
Tomorrow I will publish part two of Betty’s story, “And Then The Unthinkable Happened.” Edited note: Click here to read part two.
- If you would like to ask Betty questions, she will be watching for your comments and will be happy to answer any question you might have.
- What has inspired you to make a dramatic change in your lifestyle?
- Do you personally know anyone that has had bypass surgery?