Yes, it’s true. I lost a ton of weight and gained it back. And for years, I lived in fear and hiding because of the shame I felt. Now, I’m ready to share my story with anyone who will listen.
I could write a book about my journey with weight so far (and maybe I will), but for now, I just want to share a peek into my weight loss experiences of the last year.
Before we dive in here, though, let me say this. I am not advocating that the duodenal switch is for everyone. While studies do show that weight loss surgery (and the duodenal switch in particular) is one of the only effective ways to lose weight and keep it off, it won’t work for everyone. You will still need to work out, eat right, and ultimately make food less important in your life. There are also a ton of myths about weight loss surgery, and I hope to bring those to light and help those who need help on this journey.
It is very personal for me and it’s taken me quite a while to post this and share it with the world. As some of you may know, I was on Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (now called Extreme Weight Loss here in the US and Obese or A Year To Save My Life in other countries). On the show, in the course of 1 year, I lost 255 pounds going from 493 pounds all the way down to 238.
But, the weight loss didn’t last. I was still recovering from skin removal surgery so my ability to exercise was gone for about 5 months. My food choices started to slip again into the same old pattern. Unknown to me at the time, though, was that my metabolism was severely damaged. I recently read about the study done on contestants from the Biggest Loser which showed a huge drop-off in metabolism which basically leads to weight gain.
I experienced the weight gain but didn’t know my metabolism was so shockingly slow until last year when I had it tested at a Bariatric clinic. I found out my metabolism was operating at a .61 efficiency on a scale from 0 to 1 with 1 being the ideal perfect metabolism and 0 being (I assume) a not even possible low number. This meant that I had to work out nearly twice as hard (or as long) or eat about 800 calories less/day than the average person just to maintain my weight.
Weight loss would require even more exercise or more severe calorie restriction. And that is what lead to my discovery of a unique weight loss procedure called the Duodenal Switch.
How The Duodenal Switch Saved My Life
There’s a rarely done weight loss surgery called Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (or just Duodenal Switch for short). I am in no way an expert on the surgery, but I learned a lot about it as I researched my options. In short, the procedure reduces the size of your stomach (called a vertical sleeve gastrectomy) then also reroutes your intestines so your body doesn’t absorb everything you eat. This creates a double weight loss effect: you get food restriction as well as malabsorption.
Perhaps the greatest side effect of the duodenal switch is that it cures diabetes in many cases. For me, I found myself with an A1c of 7.9 at the highest. It’s interesting, because before my rapid weight loss, my A1C was never that high. And for those who don’t know, A1C is a measurement of your 3-month blood sugar levels. Anything over 6.5 is considered diabetic. Within about 3 years of the show, I went from 238 pounds completely healthy all the way back up… with diabetes.
I went under the knife on December 10, 2015… one day before my 34th birthday. Before surgery, my weight was (oddly) back to exactly 493… the same weight I was on the show. I managed to lose about 38 pounds before the duodenal switch surgery by doing an extreme liquid only diet that the Surgeon put me on. It shrunk my liver which makes the operation easier. On the day of surgery, I weighed 455 pounds. Today, 6 months later, I weigh 312 pounds.
On the right, you can see me hiding in the back at my friend’s wedding last year. Below is me a few weeks ago with my brother and sister at my cousin’s wedding. I still have about 90 pounds to lose to reach the weight my surgeon set for me.
From my starting weight, I have lost 181 pounds. It has not been easy. My recovery was basically 3 days of vomiting. But man, has it been worth it. I would go through this surgery every year if I had to, just so I can feel like I do now. My diabetes was CURED within 3 days of the surgery. Gone. I was taken off Metformin, and my recent blood test showed my A1C is now done to 4.8 which is an awesome number.
I have no doubt that without the duodenal switch surgery, I was headed to an early grave. Now, I have a whole new life to look forward to. And unlike my other weight loss attempts, I know this one can work for the long haul. My metabolism is improving too. That is one of the other side effects of weight loss surgery, a boost to your metabolism. As of 5/23/16, my metabolic score is now up to .73 and climbing. I can’t wait to see how high I can take it through continued diet and exercise.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, if you have more questions about weight loss surgery or weight loss in general, feel free to leave a comment below. I do my best to respond to them all.
Here’s My Journal Entry About Why I Chose The Duodenal Switch From January 12, 2016 – About A Month After My Surgery
I have had many ups and downs with my weight throughout my life. Sadly, no matter what I tried, I always ended up back where I started or even worse.
After a lifetime of pushing myself to extremes, I finally got real with myself. I knew I could lose weight, I’d done it time and time again. But what I lost faith in was my ability to keep the weight off.
At first, I blamed myself. Where’s my willpower? Where’s my desire to live and not be fat anymore? Finally, after years of beating myself up and feeling like a failure, I looked more into the science of weight loss. I reviewed study after study, diving deep looking for what I may have missed. Finally, I found it. Nearly everything I read pointed to the fact that less than 1% of people are able to lose weight and keep it off for more than 5 years.
But, there was an exception. And that exception was weight loss surgery. I didn’t want to believe it, but as I looked around all I could see was story after story of people who had lost weight and gained it back. Including myself multiple times.
This led me to ask a difficult question. Why are we doing the same thing over and over again, even though it isn’t working? More imporantly, why am I?
I was able to convince myself that I could do it “on my own”. I just needed to try harder, work out harder, count my calories extra close, weigh everything, go to counseling, obsess daily, bare my soul at meetings, pray and plead to God for help.
And that was how I lived my entire adult life.
Until I discovered the stats and the truth about weight loss surgery. So, after much soul-searching, I decided surgery was my most logical option. After reading and watching videos on the different options available to me, I settled on the Duodenal Switch procedure. This surgery is the Platinum standard, and studies show it is the most effective for long-term weight loss and health.
I figured if I’m going all in, I might as well go ALL IN. And I did. On December 10, 2015 I said goodbye to fad diets, broken promises, failed weight loss attempts, and the sadness that followed me for 20 years. I said no to an industry that tells us our goal weight is just a shake, pill or packaged bar away. I said no to beating myself up. I said no to the shame that I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t deserve happiness, that I was a failure.
I said no to all these things, when I said YES to my weight loss surgery. This new journey has just begun, but I’m on a whole new path now, one that I’ve never seen before. One that actually works for the long haul.