Mine is not the usual story. Today, 1/21/24, I am exactly 100 pounds less than I was in 2003, twenty years ago. In August of that year, I chose to have gastric bypass surgery, sliced open from the pelvis to my sternum, straight up the middle—an ugly scar that served its purpose.
Mine is not the usual story. Today,1/18/24, I am exactly 100 pounds less than I was in 2003, twenty years ago. In August of that year, I chose to have gastric bypass surgery, sliced open from the pelvis to my sternum, straight up the middle—an ugly scar that served its purpose. I do not regret it for a moment. I remember walking around the bariatric floor at the hospital, seeing people fresh out of surgery drinking milkshakes. Really? Why did you do this if you are going to continue to eat the way you did?
It may surprise you to know that I am a rule follower. I did everything right. I started out with a shot glass of broth, building to real food, small amounts. I was already diabetic, so I had not had sugar in over a decade. Those folks that tell you that all you have to do to lose weight is stop eating sugar are dead wrong. Didn’t do a thing for me.
The prognosis was that you should lose a pound a day until your first return visit at 6 weeks (42 pounds minimum). I had followed all the rules without fail and only lost 26 pounds, eating such tiny amounts of food. I was completely devastated. Turns out there was a reason for such a small amount of weight loss after huge changes. Turns out that you should not count on what you hear your doctor say while you are essentially still under anesthesia. I heard him tell me he stopped the Metformin (diabetes med). I took him at his word that I was done with it. He meant while I was in the hospital those three days because they were monitoring it and giving me insulin. I just heard, “Stop the Metformin,” and I added the word ‘permanently’ on the end of it. I was not monitoring my blood sugar well, and my A1C was off the charts at that return visit. Should be 6.0 or less. Mine was 13.0. Outrageous; and my doctor immediately put me on insulin, which inhibits weight loss. Plus I had missed my window for the big initial weight loss. That familiar voice was in my head, “I just can’t win.” I did manage to eventually get down to about a 65-pound weight loss. Then back up to within 30 pounds of my original weight.
In 2010, I lived in Charlotte, NC for a year, utterly alone. I was there for a work contract, as a Senior Business Analyst on the merger between Wachovia and Wells Fargo. I was under contract for Wells Fargo but worked out of a Wachovia office. So I had no friends in Charlotte, and even at work, I was isolated because my entire team was in Minneapolis. It was a strange year. Oddly and effortlessly I lost 40 pounds. See? It just doesn’t matter what you eat. I had proven it. So many times I had dieted and not lost weight. And now I’d lost 40 pounds, doing nothing. I managed to stay within 10 pounds of that for the next 12 years. I realized it didn’t matter that I was 60 or 65 pounds lighter. I was still overweight, and that is the way people saw me. There was no honoring of the weight loss, by me or anyone else.
For the most part, I stopped dieting. Diets don’t work, and I’ve proven it again and again. Occasionally something made sense to me to try. Noom was pretty good but didn’t really lose much. Intermittent fasting was next. I did this for 6 months. I muscle-tested myself for it, as did my supplements gal, and I tested 10 out of 10 for it. I never believed I could do this, but I did. I only cheated twice in 6 months, and that ‘cheating’ was simply eating an English muffin at 10:00 at night. In 6 months of this, I lost three and a half pounds. More devastation. More internal dialogue about how my body will just not cooperate.
This last time, I have been doing some hormone therapy. Testosterone pellets inserted into my body. Shots of Sermorelin (sort of an HGH replacement that is helpful for a number of things) 5 days a week. Mounjaro once a week from a compounding pharmacy, where I measure out the injections, and under medical care, go well above the recommended doses. I have also been doing Isagenix, which I like. They recommend 2 shakes a day, which I doctor with their ‘fruits’ powder and Stevia and they taste really good. They also allow two snacks of theirs, and I do a Lemon Crunch bar for lunch—again, yummy; and a 100-calorie package of their Whey Thins, which are also very tasty. Eventually, I dropped the shakes. Now it's the power bar, and the whey chips and a full meal at dinner about 5ish. I am 100% satisfied, and never hungry. I am not in starvation mode. My weight loss has been painfully slow. At my 5-month doctor's visit, I was hoping his scale might be different (you sit in a chair and it raises off the floor). It was not. The nurse measured me at 20 pounds. When the doc came in, he caught me in tears, upset at how hard I have worked, and still only 20 pounds in 5 months. He tried that garbage about how it was a pound a week and that was good. “No,” I said. “Don’t do that shit. You know better. I should have lost way more than one pound the first few weeks. And just given my caloric intake from the beginning, I should have lost far more than this. You know that.” He said, “Look. You’ve already had gastric bypass. You eating less is nothing new for your body. It’s just going to take longer.” It is so hard to keep going.
My therapist had a good idea. She felt like it was all so intense for me. Like it needed to happen RIGHT NOW. She asked why. I never did this to improve my looks, or to find a relationship. It’s been all about getting off the outrageously priced blood sugar medicine. So yes – I want to lose it fast and it felt desperate. It needed to happen now. She suggested that perhaps I should give my mind, body, and intensity a break. She suggested that I just give it a year. Give my body a chance to change and adjust, instead of demanding that it be now. This made a lot of sense to me.
As I have begun this latest journey, I have addressed another piece of this with my own healing work, and with other healers I work with. I have long been aware of how my weight has protected me. Kept me safe. Kept me invisible. I have had a lifetime of sexual abuse/assault, both as a child and an adult. It is really clear I don’t want sexual attention from men, which equates to not wanting any attention from men. Most of my friends are gay or married men. That makes it all non-threatening. I did many, many rounds of sessions on resistance to weight loss, even though I would have told you I didn’t have any resistance.
I am now down 36 pounds with this latest round, and 100 pounds from where I was prior to my surgery. And you know what? Pretty much nobody has noticed. Another thing surfaced as I nursed my resentment about this. What I remembered is that I have spent virtually my entire life trying to keep myself safe. Safety is my number one priority. All my life I have worked to make myself invisible. To make sure nobody sees me. Because it’s not safe to be seen. So duh; there’s that. Now I want to be seen, and nobody complies with my demand. I also remember my bad behavior when people would ask me “Have you lost weight?” Because they were never right. I had not lost weight and I resented this question with my heart and soul. My ‘No’ response had vitriol behind it. The running thoughts in my head were unstoppable. “What are you doing looking at my body? And what would it mean if I had lost weight? You don’t know what’s going on in my life. If I had lost weight, how do you know it wasn’t because I was sick? How do you know I don’t have an eating disorder? What f’ing business of yours is it whether I’ve lost weight or not? This whole world worships weight loss and I hate it. This whole world demands we be skinny and fit and I’m not, so get over it.” Oh my. I was the one who needed to get over it. On and on it went. I hated that question.
The remaining internal dialogue was equally as harsh and directed at myself, as to why I hadn’t lost weight. The beatings shall continue until morale improves. I have trained people not to notice me. Not to comment on my weight. After all, you should love me for who I am. I want you to love me for my heart, for my soul. For who I am, not what I look like. There are rules, you know. I taught you how to treat me and now I’m pissed off about it. Typical alcoholic behavior (I am a sober alcoholic).
Earlier this year there was an event that created a PTSD response in me that was way beyond anything I’d experienced before. It was necessary. It put a huge chink in my armor. It shook the walls I had so carefully built over the years. All the structures I had built began to crumble. It was earth-shattering. I built all of these structures to keep me safe. I was clear about what I knew (oddly – my ‘gut’ instincts). I didn’t need you to tell me anything. I knew what I was doing. In this process, I was clearly shown that I had dogma. What? I hate religion and most churches because of the dogma, and I have it myself? Ugh. Not a pleasant realization. I also realized that my personal dogma was wrong about as often as the church’s dogma.
The first thing to go was the belief that I didn’t need anyone. That I was fine alone. Me and God and my sponsor were enough to get me through anything. Wrong. The nights after the PTSD event were torturous. My body screamed to be held, to be loved, to have someone tell me it would be all right and that they would be right there next to me until it was all right. Nobody was there. And there wasn’t anyone to be there. I’m 66 years old and I have never been in a relationship, except with men who later came out of the closet (can you say safe?). And I adore them all, by the way. Hard to find an intimate relationship when you are focused on protecting your heart and body; when you have intentionally made yourself invisible. I went through Root Camp, from Relationships Reinvented with Lee Patterson, which is mostly about your relationship with yourself. One of the most powerful teachings he gave me was that you cannot have protection and connection. If you are so intensely protecting your heart, there is no chance of true, deep connection. I asked him what would happen if I dropped the protection, and the predators came forward. He said, “Believe me. When you are in that space, and in your power, none of those people will come anywhere near you.” Energetically that made perfect sense to me. It reminded me of a quote I’d seen. Something to the effect of my boundaries were currently like an electrical fence. You get anywhere near me and you’ll get zapped. But my hope was that this boundary thing could one day be done just by the energy I gave off that would emanate, “I will be treated with sacredness”.
I also had to revise another deep belief that may surprise you, given my woo-woo-ness and my profession. I pretty much loathe the Law of Attraction. If you think you’re going to say an affirmation 20 or 100 times a day and it’s going to change anything you are, in my less than humble opinion, delusional. The number of times you’d actually have to do that in a day for it to work is beyond the ability to count. Additionally, 97% of the people who tried “The Secret” failed. The Law of Attraction creates this toxic positivity, this spiritual bypassing that is deeply offensive to me. When I do healing work I ask people to make a list of what they’d like to heal. Some people are so hooked into this LoA stuff, they cannot even make a list of what they’d like to shift because they don’t want to say anything negative.
All that said, what I realized is that it is not what you say or think consciously. It is the unconscious piece where Law of Attraction plays out. All those things you’re thinking, that you are not aware of, are the things that rule your life. I became fully aware that the running dialogue in my head was related to weight “Nothing ever works. I do everything right and my body refuses to cooperate. I do everything right and my body will not lose the weight. Weight loss will never happen. My body hates me.” And so it is. It went on and on from from there. Over and over and over. That was running through my head 24 hours a day and it was clearly playing out in my life. There’s no other explanation for faithfully doing intermittent fasting for six months and only losing three and a half pounds. So in this way, Law of Attraction definitely works. I did EFT tapping with a professional to take care of this dialogue. She is deeply gifted in this area. I’m not sure EFT works when you’re doing it from your own perspective – there are so many nuances.
Another revelation was from a beautiful new friend of only 9 months. Our friendship is so deep it is astounding. Gotta be past lives. We know each other’s souls like we’ve done this a million times. He is my Anam Cara – my soul friend. I call him “The Debbie Whisperer” because sometimes he opens his mouth and God falls out of it. He doesn’t mean to be profound, but sometimes I’m left slack-jawed (as we say in the South). I was recently bemoaning my last set of labs. I was stunned that after 25 pounds, my blood sugar had not shifted. In truth, there’s a reason for that. It’s because of late, since I don’t eat in the morning, I’ve been forgetting to take my morning meds. However, he said something that stopped me in my tracks. Six words. “You’re at war with your body.” Woah. I instantly knew that truer words were never spoken. Being at war with my body will never work. This is the next thing I get to shift. Muscle testing how much I love my body got a response of 4%. That has to change, no matter what I look like.
I also realized I manifested HIM out of my totally unconscious thoughts. In my unconscious thoughts I was asking for a man who ‘got me’ on a level that nobody else did. Someone I could talk to til midnight and never run out of conversation. Someone who could hold all my stuff – not fix it, just receive/hold it. My emotions, good or bad, are HUGE, and I can be a bit overwhelming. I was asking for someone I could emotionally expose myself to who would not run for the hills. Someone to whom I could tell anything. I found him for sure. But here’s the funny part. I asked to find that deeply intimate relationship with a man. But (unconsciously) I was saying, “But I don’t want to have to do that icky sex stuff”. Oh my God. LOL. Well, I got that part in spades. I manifested this beautiful soul who is happily married to the girl he’s been with since they were both 15. He is deeply in love with his wife. And I like her too. He too was seeking someone. Someone who he could talk to about all his intense spiritual stuff. It was a match made in the stars. Intimacy is so not about sex. It is being able to speak your Truth. Your pain. Your joys. Your deep beliefs. Your flaws. And to be held with grace, love and compassion in that. I have that in this beloved and I hope you find it too.
So, bottom line: here I sit, down 100 pounds, and nobody has noticed. Granted, mostly none of you knew me in 2003. But in part, it is my fault that nobody has noticed – I set it up that way. This journey is so deep and twisted, containing many internal lessons and requiring the shifting of numerous deep-seated beliefs along the way.
I’m down 100 pounds and it seems anti-climactic. Boring even. I wish I could say that I feel so much better and all those wonderful things people say when they’ve lost that much weight, but I can’t. For me, it’s been torturously slow, and oddly, I can’t feel that much difference. Can’t see that much difference either. Amusingly, I have the photos from the night before the surgery. I’ve had them in an envelope somewhere in the house for twenty years. And now, at this 100-pound moment where I am ready to drag them out, I cannot find them anywhere. God is funny. My waist is thinner, but not my lower belly, where there is extra skin and weight. One thing I’m sure of is that I will never defy gravity. A dentist once told me that with my jaw and neck structure, if I weighed 105 pounds, I’d still have an extra chin or two. Sigh. So even physically, I don’t think I look that different. It doesn’t look the way I imagined it; but isn’t that always the truth. Disappointing.
What I can say is that my clothes are a lot looser. I've lost 1/2 to a full shoe size (not what I intended for weight loss, but oh well). I think I walk faster. It’s easier to cross my legs. My blood sugar is leveling out. I am proud of my tenacity for sure. The last three pounds have taken two months. I have flipped a bird at the scale every single morning (not helpful, by the way). It can be gut-wrenching. Yet I am oh so proud of all the internal work I have done, and it continues.
Here’s the important thing I can say to those of you who struggle: If you tell me you’ve done everything and nothing works, that you’ve done everything right and haven’t cheated, and still the weight won’t come off,
I BELIEVE YOU.
I know that nobody else believes you. Doctors don’t believe you. Family members don’t believe you. Friends don’t believe you. Because that’s not possible, right? If you were doing everything right, you’d be losing the weight, yes? There must be something you’re not doing right. You must not be exercising enough. Or drinking enough water. Or not combining your food properly. It’s pure madness, the way you get treated. So know that
I 100% BELIEVE YOU.
There is so much behind the weight other than your eating habits. It’s deep trauma. It’s the inability to digest certain thoughts, words, etc. It’s the emotions you stuff down. It’s the unconscious thoughts that run through your head 24 hours a day. It’s the bullying – by yourself and others, the criticism, the ‘not good enough/never good enough’. It’s all the ways you’ve tried to ‘live up’, all the ways you’ve excelled to counter for the imperfect body. It’s the absorption of all the negativity and cruelty that has been thrown your way. It’s the patriarchal society/beliefs about how women should look. The patriarchy is alive and well, especially in women. Remember, if you are female, and you ever criticize another woman for how she looks, what she’s wearing, etc. you are the problem. You are the patriarchy. When you look in the mirror and criticize your body, that’s the patriarchy. In all ways, no matter what, your body needs more love, not less.
It’s that one thing that happened that you replay over and over. For me it was my skinny, beautiful mother, and those lips pursed in disgust when she saw a hugely overweight woman on the street. She would point and say, “You too could look like that”. It’s the incredibly deep, stored wounding and pain. It’s hormones, nutritional starvation, unconscious resistance, extensive deep programming, and a hundred other things – biological, genetic, emotional, mental, energetic and spiritual. Literally, on my list for working on weight loss, I have 104 topics. It’s unraveling the story and reweaving it. It’s so much more than what you put in your mouth. And for most people, it is torturous. Even just the mental piece – all that goes on in your mind - is agonizing. The self-deprecation, the limiting beliefs, the blame. I am well known for telling my clients, “If self-deprecation worked, I’d have been skinny 40 years ago.”
If you know someone who struggles with their weight, be loving. Be kind. Be gentle. Be compassionate. They are so much harder on themselves than you could ever be. Your suggestions are based on judgment and are inappropriate. Your shaming and criticisms are inappropriate as well. If you think you’re ‘just trying to help’, you’re not. None of your suggestions are helpful. This is a deeply personal journey for everyone. It is definitely possible that they are doing the very best they can and nothing is working. Stay out of it, except to love them. Tell them
I BELIEVE YOU
That’s what they need to hear. I believe you. I believe in you. If you ARE that person who struggles with your weight; be loving, be kind, be gentle, be compassionate with your body – which needs soothing, not more criticism, self-loathing or hatred. This, for me, has been a long, deep, and torturous journey that is not yet complete. I have suffered at my own hand, and that of others. But the bottom line is I believe in myself. My body and it’s ability/decision to slim down has a mind and a timeline of its own, sad to say. And all of this revelation, all of this crumbling, all of the intense trauma work, is what it took to get me here. The armor had to be laid down. It was so, so much more than what I put in my mouth. It had almost nothing to do with what I put in my mouth. All that work is courageous. All that ‘undoing’ that causes you to unravel is necessary. As my beautiful friend Cathleen Mohr says, “Can you hold yourself long enough to remember who you are?”
If you can, know that it is worth it. For me it was all 100% worth it and the work will continue. Keep releasing, in all the ways. I love me, and I love you.
I am with you, all is well.
And in this very week, after the completion of this writing, there is yet another chapter - another twist - to this story. I await the results, and will share it at that time. It’s pretty extraordinary. There will be a part deux.
Until then, I leave you with this. When you wish you didn’t have a body, as I have so many times, I offer this intensely powerful perspective. It brought me to my knees.
"Imagine when a human dies the soul misses the body
Actually grieves the loss of its hands
And all they could hold
Misses the throat closing shy
Reading out loud on the first day of school
Imagine the soul misses the stubbed toe
The loose tooth
The funny bone
The soul still asks
“Why does the funny bone do that?
It’s just weird.”
Imagine the soul misses the thirsty garden cheeks
Watered by grief
Misses how the body could sleep through a dream
What else can sleep through a dream
What else can laugh
What else can wrinkle the smile’s autograph?
Imagine the soul misses each falling eyelash
Waiting to be wished
Misses the wrist screaming away the blade
The soul misses the lisp
The soul misses the holy bruise
Blue from that army of blood rushing to the wound’s side
When a human dies
The soul searches the universe for something blushing
Something shaking in the cold
Something that scars
Sweeps the universe for patience worn thin
The last nerve fighting for its life
The voice box aching to be heard
The soul misses the way the body would hold another body
And not be two bodies but one pleading God doubled in grace
The soul misses how the mind told the body
“You have fallen from grace.”
And the body said, “Erase every scripture that doesn’t have a pulse
There isn’t a single page in the Bible that can wince
That can clumsy
That can freckle
That can hunger.”
Imagine the soul misses hunger
The fist that was never taught to curl, curls
The teeth that were never taught to clench, clench
The body that was never taught to make love, makes love
Like a hungry ghost digging its way out of the grave
The soul misses the un-forever of old age
The skin that no longer fits
The soul misses every single day the body was sick
The now it forced
The here it built from the fever
Fever is how the body prays
How it burns and begs for another average day
The soul misses the legs creaking up the stairs
Misses the fear that climbed up the vocal chords
To curse the wheelchair
The soul misses what the body could not let go
What else could hold on that tightly to everything
What else could hear the chain of a swing set and fall to its knees
What else could touch a screen door and taste lemonade
What else could come back from a war and not come back
But still try to live
Still try to lullaby
When a human dies the soul moves through the universe
Trying to describe how a body trembles when it’s lost
Softens when it’s safe
How a wound would heal given nothing but time
Do you understand
Nothing in space can imagine it
No ray of light can fathom the landscape of awe
The heat of shame
The fingertips pulling the first grey hair
And throwing it away
“I can’t imagine it.”
The stars say
“Tell us again about goosebumps.
Tell us again about pain."
~ Andrea Gibson: 'For The Days I Stop Wanting A Body'