Does the following sound familiar: You’re having a meal at someone else’s house, and the hostess brings in the rich, high calorie dessert, one of your favourites, which looks wonderful. The guests gasp their appreciation, but inside your head you’re thinking “Yes, but will there be enough to go round? Will there enough for me when I want a second helping? Can I get away with it without everybody noticing, and thinking that I shouldn’t have it?”. You know you should probably raise your hands, both palms flat towards your hostess, and say “No thanks, I couldn’t possibly – I’m so full.” But like a drug addict overdue for a fix you say “Yes please”, and the most you can manage is to modulate your voice so it doesn’t sound too eager… in fact, you manage to sound almost casual….
Self-consciousness, low self-esteem, self-loathing, the endless cycle of being ‘good’, then slipping, and saying “what the heck, I can’t do it”… we’ve all been there, in fact most of us are still going there.
But my friends, this is a unique and wonderful time in slimming history to be alive, and this website is testament to the growing awareness of this fact. Now that gastric banding (which I had) and other procedures have become a reality within reach, you don’t need special diets, slimming pills, substitute meals – in fact, you don’t need ANY short term solutions any more.
Some clever clinician developed the adjustable gastric band in the 1980s, and thanks to laparoscopy (keyhole surgery), the procedure to have one fitted is quick, easy, and in most cases relatively painless (mine certainly was). It’s not happy-ever-after of course; it’s expensive, and it requires respectful treatment from the user for it to have the right effect – after all, it’s a tool, not a solution in itself. But if you’ve done your homework on this site, you’ll know how it works, and I hope to be able to tell you of my own experiences.
I’m not breathless and starry eyed about it, and neither should you be. It’s the first proper hope we overweight people have ever had, and being well informed and realistic is essential to its success.
I’m a 57 year old woman living in Bristol, UK. I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and from about 10 years old onwards was always chubby – rewards for being good, treats when I was sick, my father who loved sweets wanting to spoil me… everything requiring comfort was connected to food. During the 1970s in Buenos Aires there was intense pressure for teenagers to be pencil slim, and to starve themselves to achieve this. I succeeded and failed alternatively, yo-yoing in weight and – worst of all – always feeling inadequate.
At 20 I travelled to the UK to study, and discovered a highly developed and thriving confectionary industry – an Aladdin’s Cave of chocolate and toffee. A broken tooth and many pounds later I began to realise the negative result of being away from the sphere of control of my friends and relations. I did however become an ardent calorie counter during my years as a student in Bristol, and for a while was obsessed with it, becoming close to anorexic. But as with all these weight loss tricks, I could never keep it up. I married shortly after graduation, and settled contentedly into married life to such a degree that the pounds piled back on, to my husband’s dismay and extreme disapproval.
After 8 years of yo-yoing again the pattern had developed whereby I would lose a few pounds but gain more, a sort of upward zigzag. When I had reached 154 lbs (11 stone, 70 kg – my height is 5’4”) in the early 1980s he delivered an ultimatum: either I get slim or we parted company. Of course I should have told him to stick his ultimatum where the sun don’t shine, but I adored him and wasn’t assertive then. My parents were living in South Africa at the time and I went to stay with them for a few months, entering a punishing regime of Scarsdale diet and a lot of gym. I returned to Bristol pretty well transformed – I had lost 28 pounds, and was tanned and fit… but it was too late. My husband had sought slimmer comfort with a mutual friend, and that was that. We had no children.
I started a new life alone – still in the same city – and looking back on it now I realise that the shock and loneliness of divorce kept me from eating properly for almost a year (I thought my body had changed, how naive can you be…). Then I met John, who was kind and understanding – my safe harbour and best friend, and later my partner. He hated to see me unhappy… and he loved taking me out to dinner. Gradually I put on all I had lost – and more.
In my mid 50’s I lost my parents, faced redundancy after 20 years with one company, had a major burglary at home – and other events too long to go into. This is not said to evoke sympathy, as they’re what most people face in their lives, but I’m telling you about it because it unfortunately meant that food was very much in the forefront as comforter and guide – alas. By 2008 I was up to 252 pounds (18 stone, 114 kg).
I was a type 2 diabetic by now and using industrial quantities of insulin, I had puffy ankles, had to plan my day so I didn-t have to walk too much – or even stand for too long, found it difficult to wash, needed extension seat-belts on planes and could only shop for clothes on eBay (I like eBay, but would have liked the choice).
To bring you back to the beginning of this article, I knew in my heart that what I felt wasn’t real hunger, and that eating was not the solution. I was clearly incapable of pulling myself out of this lifestyle – I was experiencing the worst, the pits, the bottom of the hole where no daylight could enter: I was severely depressed. I have never contemplated taking my own life, but at that time I certainly knew I wouldn’t mind not waking up in the morning.
The breakthrough came in mid 2008, when a British TV celebrity was ‘outed’ as having had a lap band secretly fitted a couple of years earlier, and she had lost a dramatic amount of weight. I looked the procedure up on the internet and found to my surprise that although the cost of the operation was expensive, it wasn’t in the celebrity-stratospheric range. I had most of my redundancy payment in a savings account, and I knew that for once in my life, this was a sum I was not going to save or spend on others. It was my turn.
Suddenly I didn’t feel so alone anymore – if the procedure was receiving this much publicity, it must mean that it might work. It was worth a try.
I’ll carry on next time with what I did next.
Lonicera The Bandit