Gastric Sleeve SurgeryEating Issues

I started my first diet when I was 8. At the ripe old age of 10, I officially switched from regular Coke to Diet and never looked back. By the time I was 13, I ran every morning in pitch black darkness before school. I had also taken to chewing up cookies and spitting them out in the garbage. 

I guess you could say I had eating issues. Umm, Kristy, ya think??? And from reading the above you are probably guessing that I headed straight into bulimia by my teens. But, no. Although never officially diagnosed and thankfully never getting toooo thin, I had bouts with anorexia. My freshman year of college I limited myself to no more than 500 calories a day for almost a full year.

Although I struggled with my weight my whole life, I always maintained a figure that ranged constantly between thin to just a tiny bit chubby, depending on my life situation at the time. Enter my first pregnancy. Finally! The opportunity I had been waiting for my entire life! I mean, everyone knows calories simply don’t count when you’re pregnant, duh! I didn’t worry too much as the scale crept up. And up. And up. My doctors never mentioned it.

Having Babies

On July 9th, 2006 Madeline Grace with the Pretty Little Face was born. My first child. I gained 80 lbs during that pregnancy. Through a combination of breastfeeding and eventually diet pills (not at the same time, y’all, chill), I managed to lose the weight. A few years later sweet Baylor came along accompanied by a 70 lb weight gain during that pregnancy. But this time it wasn’t as easy as the first. I lost maybe 40 or so pounds and then started a ferocious cycle of yo-yo dieting. Up and down and up and down. I started a new diet every. single. Monday. When by every Wednesday I hadn’t miraculously lost at least 20 lbs, I was over it. 

I had my red-headed monster baby love Connor in 2012. This was the first pregnancy that I started out overweight. Following his birth, over the next three years, my weight ballooned like a Kardashenner bank account (I thought I coined this term but just found it online, ugh). By 2015 I weighed 225 lbs. My “fighting weight,” the weight I feel I look the very best at, is 125 lbs. A smidge of a discrepancy there, hmmm. I started considering surgical options.

Making a Decision

I first considered gastric sleeve surgery in 2015. I thoroughly researched it, found the doctor I wanted, made up my mind and promptly chickened out. Although my weight was astronomically high to me, it was relatively low by gastric sleeve standards. I’m 5’8″ so at 225 lbs I had just over a 34 BMI. The surgery was not covered by my insurance. A few years passed and more yo-yo-ing and by late 2016 I was pushing 230 and finally ready. I selected a doctor based out of South Florida who had a great reputation and a great self-pay option. I traveled down for pre-op testing and made an appointment to have surgery on January 3, 2017.

The week prior to surgery I had to do a strict liquid diet in order to shrink my liver for easier access to my stomach during the laparoscopic surgery. Apparently, fat people are known for their fat livers also, who knew?! The night before the surgery I came thiiiis close to chickening out again. Shaking and absolutely hysterical in pre-op the next morning, the nurses kept reminding me that this was an elective surgery and nobody was forcing me to do it.

Recovery After Surgery

The surgery went very well and I stayed a few days in the hospital before I could travel home. Were it not for my Mom being there to take care of me, I just don’t even know. Eventually, I got home and continued my recovery. Physically it wasn’t too-too bad. Or maybe I’m just forgetting. I had to drink ridiculously small amounts of liquids for I can’t even remember how long. My sweet husband had the fridge stocked with little mini-mini-Tupperware’s of every type of liquid I was allowed to have. Eventually, I worked up to purees, yogurt, that sort of thing. Basically, just like a baby, I had to relearn how to eat.

The hard part was the mental stuff. The relationship many of us have with food is no joke. Beyond sustenance, food is so, so much more. So after surgery many patients, myself included, go through a mourning period over the loss of food. Of course, I still eat, just waaaaay smaller amounts. It takes some getting used to. Here’s another before and after, just for funskies!

My Results

I lost just over 100 pounds, and am back at my “fighting weight” for the first time in longer than I can remember. I don’t know that my results are exactly typical. The expectation is that you will lose 50-70% of your excess weight through gastric sleeve surgery. I strongly believe it was in large part because of my lower starting BMI that I had such a great outcome. Newer research suggests good results for lower BMI patients like myself.

But it’s not over, oh no. Gaining weight back after this surgery is a real thing. I’m at a point now where I am comfortable with my diet. I eat every 3 hours religiously and run more days than not. I’ve been pretty stable weight-wise for over a year now. I can’t say my eating issues are cured because I am terrified of gaining weight again. I think I always will be. But I weigh myself just a tad more often than I probably should and just hope for the best. I have a secret number in my head that will send me straight into major fix-it mode should I ever cross it. 

I’m looking forward to covering some of the fun nuances of life post-gastric sleeve in a future blog post, stay tuned! In the meantime, please feel free to send me any questions 🙂

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Kristy Riley
Kristy was born in Key West and spent her childhood moving all over the east coast courtesy of her Naval officer Mom, Maggi. Kristy lived in Jacksonville from high school until 2018 when she relocated to St. Augustine. A few years after graduating from college she met her husband Craig, affectionately known as many variations of Crugger. They married in 2005 and had daughter Madeline in 2006, son Baylor in 2009 and son Connor in 2012. A non-dog-lover, she is OBSESSED with the family Goldendoodle, Motley. She thinks glitter is the devil but loves everything DIY and has paint under her fingernails more often than not. Kristy and Craig enjoy an entrepreneurial spirit and run several small businesses, including her camper flipping side hustle, Sassy Campers. If she's not working you are sure to find her at a football/ baseball/ soccer field. She is excited to explore her new city!