Author: Facebook Support Group Admin & Back On Track Champion Donna Hoaks
I had surgery in 1991. They weren’t doing them in our area at that time, so my friend and I travelled two states away to get it done. We were gone five days. Our surgery was a Silastic Ring Vertical Gastroplasty. A really wonderful surgery, actually. My starting and surgery weight were both 271. We didn’t have a support group or any real help. In fact, we had a pizza party at the hospital the night before surgery, and the nurses said to get it all gone by midnight.
I lost 70 lbs the first 6 weeks, and a total of 130 within the year. As an electrician, I didn’t have enough stamina at that weight, so I settled in the 150’s and stayed there for most of the next 22 years.
This was three years after surgery, in 1994.
I was able to do so many things that I would not have even considered before surgery. My job was really strenuous, which was probably my saving grace. The first 15 years or so, I did follow the rules pretty well, but over time, things crept in. Protein wasn’t comfortable, and made me sick, so I didn’t eat it. I ate a lot of eggs and dairy, and the slider foods became my friends. I travelled around the country working, and always seemed to get the hard work. I hung the field lighting at the catwalk atop Foxboro (Gillette) Stadium. I worked in nuclear, coal, and gas-fired powerhouses, prisons, hospitals, schools, pharmaceutical plants, and so much more. I climbed 300 foot tall wind turbines at the age of 50, and was the first woman to do so for the contractor I worked for. We were doing 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week. I burned so many calories on that job that I had to do body-builder proteins just to stay on top of things. This pic was taken at the base of a turbine. I have 30 pounds of gear on, which I wore all day.
Here is a great photo from 2010, 19 years after surgery. I was holding pretty well. I thought I was a success story.
In 2010, I broke a bone in my foot while simply walking. Within a few months of healing, I tripped and injured the other foot. I was pretty limited, pain was intense, and I didn’t do much. I took a job in our union hall about that time, and I knew that I was going to have to watch it, since I wasn’t getting any exercise.
I refused the donuts at first, then I had a donut. Then I had two sometimes. The boss would bring lunch back for me. It wasn’t always healthy food. I ate it. I outgrew the 10’s and 12’s, and started getting bigger sizes. I was in total denial. I had no incentive to exercise. I hated exercise. I even told our wellness coach that I couldn’t find ten minutes a day to exercise. I wasn’t a model participant.
In 2014, I was going through pics taken by the kids at our Christmas get-together. I came upon this one, and cried. I was heartbroken. I told myself that I wasn’t going to look like that in 2015. But nothing I tried helped. Of course, I wasn’t exercising, and I was still eating slider foods. I hit 200, and cried inside for days.
Guess what? In December of 2015, not much had changed, unless I was even bigger. I purged all the smaller clothes, even the ones I loved. I went into depression. This one was taken in 2015.
In March of 2016, I saw my doctor, and we discussed a revision. I didn’t want to, but I wasn’t having any luck getting weight off. A couple of weeks later, while my husband and I were on a birthday trip to my favorite Amish community, I was surfing on my phone. I remember it so clearly. He had stopped for gas, and I was checking in. There on my Facebook feed, was the infamous toast post. I read the article, and it resonated. But I had to ruminate on it for a while. I remember talking to hubby about it then.
April 4th, 2016. I can’t tell you a lot of dates. I am not a date person. I miss birthdays, and anniversaries. But I remember that one. I got up and something was different. I stepped on the scale for the first time in a good while, and I was 228 pounds. Had I not known that things were going to change, I would have cried all day. I didn’t even have all the things I needed but I was going to start, NOW. Today. I had another brand of protein, and I just packed a bag, and headed to work. I texted hubby and told him I was starting that plan I told him about and had to stop at the store. That evening, he said he would do it with me. I told him his support was enough, he didn’t have to do the plan. It wasn’t long before all of the comments about our products got to me, and I had to try the Inspire. I can say that this plan is a treat with a dessert in your glass. I was blown away. And, I started losing. It was fast enough at first to show me that I could do it. That this would work. It gave me the steam to continue.
I think what I want people to realize is that you can do something while you learn to do it right. Walk until you can run. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t get all the water. I sometimes missed a shake or two. I remember some days I wanted to eat the steering wheel on the way home, and realized I missed some shakes. I started planning better. I started working out now and then. I bought a stepper, then a treadmill. I started getting out of bed earlier and working harder at exercise. I still don’t do it every day. I still don’t always drink enough. I still miss a shake now and then. I have lots of room for improvement, but you know what? I have come a long way. I jokingly call myself the poster child for imperfection. But!!!! I am committed to this, for the rest of my life. I love the groups. I love the products. I love the no-nonsense attitudes and sometimes tough love approach, mixed with empathy and understanding.
As I approach the one-year anniversary of starting these plans, I have lost 57 pounds and feel healthy again. My non-surgery husband has lost 60. We have energy again. We are enjoying our lives. Even if I don’t lose another pound, I can be happy. I don’t mind pictures. I don’t mind clothes. I like to shop. I smile in the mirror. I still hope to lose another 20 to 30, and he thought he was at goal but now is going to try for another ten or twenty pound loss. If I can do this after 25 years, and he can do this with no surgery at all, what are you waiting for?