What it's like one year on from weight-loss surgery – Noted


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A year ago, Alison Smith went under the knife to lose weight charting her surgery journey for North & South. Now, she reports from the lighter side of the stomach-shrinking operation.

My new jeans are too tight. I am determined to make them fit properly within another month or so. This used to be a lost cause, but not anymore. It’s now one year since I began losing weight by having my stomach size reduced through bariatric surgery. A great many things have changed for me since that fateful day.

The most obvious change is my status from a BBW (big beautiful woman) to one who is “medium curvy”. I’ve gone from a women’s size 22 to a size 14, and lost more than 30kg so far. The road to my new physical body has been a rollercoaster of peaks and troughs, but mainly the highest of peaks. It has also been confusing at times, when my body behaved in ways it did not before, and that has served up some perplexing situations.

The most freeing change is the feeling of energy and “bounciness” when I wake up in the morning. It’s no longer a chore to take myself through my daily routine, especially the previously necessary regime of weeding out those outfits just too tight to squeeze into, and the extra 20 minutes or so wasted on finding an ensemble that made me look the least fat. Now, I put on fitting trousers and jumpers that are finally a loose fit, and feel the strength and possibility in my legs as I bend to feed the dogs and do up my boots. Those jumpers no longer tightly outline my well-developed “puku”, but hang from my bust, which is now the largest part of me. I can see my feet! My double chin has receded to reveal a pronounced jawline (the only thing Paula Bennett and I have in common), and there’s a pleasing difference between my waist and hip measurements.

If it can be considered a downside, I’m now too thin for 75% of my previous wardrobe, which means most op shops in the district have benefited from my “largesse”. Buying replacement clothing has not been cheap, although I’m finding the slimmer you are, the greater the range of clothing available at far more reasonable prices. My wardrobe has morphed into something quite different. The tops and vast-waisted trousers that covered a multitude of sins and took up half the clothesline have given way to skinny jeans and shirts which are M/L instead of 2XL. I can now buy bras in bright colours instead of having to go to the few racks where the buckets of elastic that boast wide straps and no visible bulging are available in any colour, as long as it is beige.

My Type 2 diabetes has disappeared. I’m now officially pre-diabetic, which means I still take metformin and need to control my sugar intake, but I no longer have to worry about losing feeling in my extremities or potentially having limbs amputated. However, for the past year, as my eyes gradually recovered from my diabetes, they changed and changed again, so I’ve had no fewer than three new pairs of glasses as my sight settles down.

I have just come back from a walk on the beach. I did not need to stop and rest, or become painfully aware others could hear my laboured breathing. I no longer have pain in my ankles and knees when I walk more than 200m, and I don’t look for excuses to cut the walk short and turn for home (“It looks like it might rain”).

The spiral of restlessness and partial insomnia that was trending ever upwards has been reversed, and sound sleep follows fresh air and exercise. The more exercise I get, the more I want. And whether I deserve it or not, I slumber like an innocent. There’s a new requirement from the surgeon that I swallow a daily multivitamin for the rest of my life, but my anxiety medication is slowly reducing as the power I have over my own body, and my confidence, increases. Amazingly, I’m finding people are generally more pleasant and responsive to me, which just goes to show how ingrained negative attitudes are towards the obese. 



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