Why I'm choosing bariatric surgery: Celebrations along the journey
MultiCare's director of general surgery, Jennifer Yahne, is choosing to undergo bariatric surgery. You can read other posts in this series here.
Writing from an airplane, I recall that I used to dread plane travel because it was so uncomfortable.
When walking down the aisle, I had to turn sideways to fit, I couldn’t get the arm rests down all the way and the seat belt barely fit. I felt conspicuous waiting in line to board wondering if other passengers hoped they weren’t seated next to me.
Today was my first flight post-surgery. I could walk forward through the aisle. I fit perfectly in the seat. I was able to buckle up with more than half a foot of extra belt available. Let me tell you, it was a very good feeling indeed.
There are many milestones in a weight loss journey, with each being a little celebration unto itself. My five-hour flight provided ample time to reflect on many of the milestones I have enjoyed:
- Wearing my wedding ring again. When I was pregnant with my first child and swelling up in the summer heat, I finally had to remove my wedding ring. Having gained substantial weight prior to and during my pregnancy, the removal was not an easy endeavor. After my daughter was born, I tried to put the ring back on without success. I refused to get it resized, vowing that I would lose weight. I went more than eight years without wearing a ring. Now it fits again, and I almost feel newly engaged getting used to this big ring twisting on my finger.
- Every time I fit into a smaller size. I already blogged about my experience with clothing, but it is truly a milestone I enjoy hitting over and over again. The recently I went to the mall to buy a smaller size of my favorite dress, which was luckily on clearance. I was able to purchase a size 6. There was certainly something in the cut of that dress that enabled me to wear an even smaller size than usual, but despite that I am going to call it a win and enjoy the moment.
- Trying clothes I never considered before. I find myself becoming braver in wardrobe choices as the pounds come off. I used to avoid leggings, not wanting to feature my especially wide lower half. Now I can feel good wearing them because I look good in them. Plus, they are incredibly comfortable — I never should have avoided them all these years.
- Getting noticed by the kids. One day when I was dropping my daughters off at their before-school program, my daughter threw her arms around me in a goodbye hug. And I mean all the way around. We are talking hands touching at my back. She excitedly proclaimed that I was getting skinnier, and I have to admit that I may encourage them to hug me more than I used to.
- Reaching “onederland.” One of my first milestones post-surgery was reaching a weight that started with a 1 rather than a 2. It is amazing how going from 200 to 199 causes such a big shift mentally.
- Being overweight rather than obese. A couple weeks ago during my weekly weigh-in, I discovered that my BMI was under 30. In medical terms, I was officially overweight! I understand not everybody would be quite so thrilled to be called overweight. However, after years of morbid obesity, that descriptor seemed wonderful.
- Running without shin pain. Last month when I posted about exercise, I described how a previous attempt at completing a Couch to 5K program led to excruciating shin splint pain rather than a race. It felt defeating to know that my body was too heavy to do the things I wanted it to do. Now I can get on a treadmill or run outside without feeling that pain at all. I have even set a goal of participating in a couple of 5K events next spring.
Upper left: July 2015, 244 lbs. Lower left: June 2016, 215 lbs. Right: October 2016, 175 lbs.
After feeling hopeless about my weight for so long, losing over 70 pounds has rejuvenated me. When I say that number out loud, I am astonished by it. Each of my children weighs less than that number. I couldn’t check a suitcase that heavy onto this airplane without paying an extra fee.
I am constantly reminding myself that although losing weight is easy right now, it won’t always be. Eventually my stomach will stretch, and I will have the ability to eat more. I will have to remain dedicated to managing my portion sizes and exercising. That said, I feel poised for success, and I won’t allow fear to prevent myself from enjoying the small victories along the road to better health.
About The Author
Jennifer Yahne and her husband of 17 years, Jeramy, are lifelong residents of South King County. They have two daughters, Jillian and Hayden. Jennifer has worked in health care administration for the past decade, most recently as the director for the general surgery careline at MultiCare Health System. In her limited free time, she enjoys knitting, sewing, reading and baking.More stories by this author