If you have been around for a while, you know that I have been a huge supporter of anyone in the weight loss community, even dare I say I love to extend that out to other people who are walking a path of self love and discovery.
When I came up with the idea for this blog series I really wanted to make sure that I was giving my fellow weight loss surgery peeps a FREE platform in which they can share their story. In their own words. Longer than 2 paragraphs or whatever can fit into a proper instagram caption. Also I wanted to take these accounts I adore and follow, and bring them out of the little tiles we all double tap and make them fully accessible to you so they can share with you their story- in full.
If there is anything I desire for this blog, it is for it to uplift and empower other people in the community. It took me a solid 5 minutes to get myself together after reading Chris's story. I do not want you to think that it some super emotional ride that you will be sobbing through unless you are a baby and cry at literally everything like me.
What I like about Chris and his story is, its similar to mine. I can relate to so many parts of what he has to share with you today that my heart was reminded of where I started and how far I have come. I think what got me was the fact that it was raw. He shared the honest truth about alot of the feelings he had pre-op, and I had the same ones about myself, and about handling social situations.
I have been following Chris for a while on instagram, and honestly now my day does not end properly if I don't watch his story in FULL and respond to EVERY SINGLE PART OF IT- the only reason I say this & Chris can confirm that I acutally do this haha, I do it *almost* every day..(some days I miss it because of school haha).... and promptly apologizing for being the way that I am- haha!
My roomates for my summer class thought I was super weird when I film myself eating and posting it to my insta-story, but once they watched his story they ALL got it and some of them feel equally in love with his content as I did.
Well, enough about how much I love following Chris and how much his journey has inspired me- I will let him tell you all about it :)
In your own words, tell me your story- start all the way from the beginning.
Growing up Latino was one of the big contributing factors in my whole weight loss journey. Being a part of a middle-class family, we weren’t awarded much but fortunately the only thing that was guaranteed at the end of every night was a hot meal…and that’s where it all started. Being taught not to waste any food and being around family who knew how to cook really well stuck with me. my appreciation and love for food was embedded in me since I was about 14. I was always the funny fat guy in school. No one really took me seriously because I was big. No one really wanted to hang out or get to know me because my weight in more ways than one stopped me from being outgoing. Was I insecure? You bet! But I never let other people comments or harsh remarks lower my self-esteem as strange as that sounds. Being naturally bubbly and charismatic, I ignored a lot of the negative energy but behind closed doors, I knew my weight would eventually affect my confidence and it did. Fast forward a bit to about 330 pounds, I remember going to the doctors one day for a routine physical and I sat on the little doctors table and remember it breaking under my weight. Can you imagine? A little metal table breaking because I’m too big. The doctor was as blunt as can be. He said “it’s not uncommon for kids your age to suffer a heart attack..your blood pressure is high, your pre-diabetic and your morbidly obese”. Of course, being about 19 years old, that scared the shit out of me, so I knew from that point on, something had to give. I signed up for every exercise class that was offered locally at different fitness centers, had personal trainers, had several gym memberships, tried mostly every diet plan I could and fasted and crash dieted hardcore, but nothing seemed to work. My relationship with food was too strong. Food never made fun of me. food never laughed or ridiculed me as cliché as that may sound. I would fluctuate in weight and my mood was just as sporadic. Going to culinary school didn’t make it better and that’s where most of my weight gain came from. Working long tireless hours in the kitchen meant often times not eating until 2 or 3 o clock in the morning. My weight skyrocketed. I just remember my joints and feet hurting all the time, I often times felt chest pain, my back hurt constantly, and I was always…ALWAYS tired. My only regret was not getting this surgery sooner. This honestly saved my life.
We all have our reasons for embarking on this journey… so why did you feel that weight loss surgery was the best option for you?
Being around food and only knowing food, I was on a downward spiral with no way out. My life consisted of nothing but food. My last Instagram page before the one I have now was dedicated to nothing but food reviews and food blogs. I had to cut the cord somewhere. I felt like I needed a reset and getting this surgery allowed me to reset my life back down to 0 and start over. This was the last resort. Like I said, I tried dieting and exercising and fasting and nothing worked. I thought after a while that me being big was just genetic and that I’d have to live being big forever. Surgery allowed me to think about life in a new way and have a new sense of confidence than any other diet plan would have given me. I am forever grateful for this process.
You know we all get them, so how do you respond to any negative or condescending comments regarding your decision to have weight loss surgery?
I’ve gotten so many stupid and hateful comments. I’ve seen first-hand, what people’s true colors are. Of course, there are outward comments like “oh, this is the easy way out for you!” or “why don’t you just diet a little bit more?” just stupid and ignorant comments, but it’s the body language and nonverbal communication that hurt the most. I had coworkers and friends and acquaintances that never said anything to me for as long as I was around them. I’ve had people that never bothered getting to know me or just having a talk or joking around with me. as the weight fell off, these “ghost people” started taking notice and then finally spoke up. They went from being silent to giving me all the praise in the world. but what was even more annoying than that were those people that didn’t speak to me that felt the need to tell me about my health! If you and I don’t speak, what would make you think that what you say has any value or importance to me?! all in all, I don’t pay any attention to negative comments. I always remember the kind of person I am, and I stay true to that. Nothing really bothers me. my whole mentality is this: you don’t know me or anything about my life so who are you to judge? As I get more wiser and stronger throughout this process, people’s harsh comments and bullshit really don’t phase me anymore.
As many weight loss patients experience mood swings or emotional highs and lows- have you personally gone through any of these? If so, how have you learned to cope with them?
Honestly, I’ve always been a chipper go-lucky person. My mood from the start has been pretty much the same since getting the surgery in September of last year. Sometimes the weather has a slight impact on my mood but naturally being an optimist, it really hasn’t fluctuated since surgery. If you put it into your mind that every day brings new and exciting opportunity in some way shape or form, you’ll be much happier. Sometimes I do feel down and out of sorts, but it’s those that push you and the value you place on life that allow you to cope with everything. It’s hard in the beginning, but it definitely gets better as you grow to accept yourself.
Name the 3 biggest challenges you have faced since starting your Journey (can be weight loss related or not):
Struggling to accept the true image I am now and learning how to fade the old image of myself then and where I fit into this “newfound” world
Understanding and actually listening to my body and what it needs
This isn’t a challenge more so than it is a way of coping but how people now interact with me and think of me and approach me now that I’m not fat anymore, even with new acquaintances. The skinny versus fat dynamic are completely real and upsetting
Name the 3 biggest successes you have experienced since starting your weight loss Journey (can be weight loss related or not):
My joints don’t hurt anymore
The eczema on my hands and forearms are practically gone!
I’m much happier around people in social settings and not paralyzed by embarrassment or guilt. I’m much freer to be myself.
How do you feel the bariatric community has helped you since you began your journey? Are there any changes you wish to see within the community?
I wish people would stop using this surgery as a means to gain popularity. I’ve seen so people transform into snobby and conceded individuals. This surgery has helped me actualize the true person I was since day one. Fun, loving, charismatic, outgoing, loving and caring. This process has allowed to me live and be happy. This community has allowed me to see what true sacrifice and struggle really are. I think with this surgery has allowed me to be the person I wanted to show people this entire time. This surgery has truly saved my life. I wish people in this community would stop being so “clicky.” Its really easy to form groups and alliances with people that are higher up on the popularity pole. They almost become consumed in themselves. I would say that without this process, it doesn’t allow you to be honest with yourself and after getting the surgery, you realize how honest and brutal the world can be. People forget that. It’s not all about looks and how sexy you portray yourself.
How do you balance it all? (eating, staying hydrated, working out)
It’s hard to explain but you really do get a new sense of what your body needs. If your too tired to even move in the morning after a week of working out, then chances are you probably need a break. The key is listening to your body. Eating and drinking are things you learn how to do subconsciously…without thinking. But as you become more familiar with what you put in your body and what it takes for your body to thrive, you start developing habits almost as if it were second nature. I eat when I’m hungry, not when I’m bored. Also, knowing that you could possibly waste a whole bunch of money on food you won’t finish also helps balance your lifestyle. Eating when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored. I also set reminders for myself on my phone to eat and drink…literally. You get so caught up in the day that you forget to eat and keep hydrated. Typically, I like to work out early in the morning so that at the end of the work day, I’m not straining or forcing myself to use the last bit of energy I have at the gym.
To someone that has never been overweight, what is one thing that you wish you could tell them?
Be sensitive and forthcoming about people’s situations. It’s not easy being a big person. Some of use can’t help it. We’re hindered genetically or personally. Regardless of the circumstances, be understanding and supportive. Don’t use our situation as a means to leverage your hurtful opinions and personal thoughts. Big people struggle every day, not because we have to but because society says we’ll never amount to anything and change. For someone who has never been overweight, life must be easy sometimes, but it hurts when you constantly get made fun of and ridiculed for how you look. Just understand and be more open. For us big people, we’re not seeking the easy way out…we’re seeking a second chance at life.
What advice would you give others who might think that weight loss surgery is for them? Any areas of their life that they should be prepared for?
Make sure you do lots of research. On the one hand, there’s not amount of research to prepare you for this process. But then again, it really helps to be as knowledgeable as possible. This process doesn’t prepare you enough until you’ve had it done. I would say, be prepared for casual interactions to change. Me being a social butterfly, it was hard for me get used to people who used to speak to me, to all of a sudden go mute on me. This really is a life changing process; it comes with a lot of unwanted bagged…you just have to be ready to accept what comes with it. Also, this process completely changes your relationship with food and if your not ready to think about food in a different way or how it can affect you in the long run, then maybe this process isn’t for you. if you think you’re going to pick up bad habits and be okay, and think everything is okay, then this isn’t the tool for you.
Are there any tips that have helped you personally be successful?
Listen to your body
Follow your doctors plan for you
Get out and socialize
Don’t go back to old habits
Screw what other people think and say about you
Are there any other aspects of your journey you want to share?
This by no means an easy way out. This has to be the riskiest, most thoughtful and most drastic decision I’ve made. People see bariatric surgery as the easy way out and trust me, if it were easy, then everybody would be getting it. This journey has been fun but enlightening. I was never able to actually stop and appreciate food for its nutritional value. I was so blinded by all the bad eating habits and gorging, that I didn’t bother to stop and think. What I also think is really cool is that I wake up every morning with this indescribable and intense feeling of energy and euphoria. It feels as though my body and the universe are one energy, idk but I like it. It feels so good, but this could also be tied to my workout routine in the morning and my daily contribution my multivitamins give me lol but nonetheless I feel so in sync with the world I’m in now. Never have I ever had so much clarity of mind, peace and positivity in my heart.
I just love his perspective on everything! Hopefully you were inspired by Chris and his amazing journey!
You can read more about my battle with food addiction in this post here
If any of you want to contact Chris you can do so here:
Also Chris has his own blog that you can check out here!!