Why I'm choosing bariatric surgery: The journey that changed my life
MultiCare's director of general surgery, Jennifer Yahne, is choosing to undergo bariatric surgery. You can read other posts in this series here.
I have made a few great decisions in my life. In 1998, I decided to marry my high school sweetheart, who is an amazing and supportive man. In 2004, I decided to go back to graduate school to study health care administration, which has led to an invigorating career. In 2008, I decided to have my first child, which changed my life for the better in ways I couldn’t imagine (and having my second child was pretty wonderful too).
However, for my final article in this series, I’m talking about the decision I made in 2016 to have bariatric surgery and how it changed my life. In fact, I would categorize it with the above decisions as one of my best.
Seven months out from my sleeve gastrectomy surgery, I find the statistics of my weight loss startling. I have lost nearly 100 pounds, 40 percent of my body weight and I’m 2 pounds away from a BMI classified as normal.
I tracked my weight in the MyFitnessPal app online for five years but stayed largely within the same 20-pound range. After years of failure, I settled into hopelessness. I veered away from mirrors, avoided pictures and tried to accept that it was simply my fate to be obese.
However, in making that great decision to have a sleeve gastrectomy, my trajectory changed dramatically in 2016:
Physically, I am clearly more fit. I can walk up the stairs to my office without getting out of breath. I can run without feeling shin pain. I entered into the pre-diabetic range with an A1C of 5.7 percent, and now my A1C is a completely normal 5.1 percent.
On average, I eat about five small meals each day, targeting at least 60 grams of protein, and usually end up consuming about 1,000 calories. People assume that such a diet must leave me malnourished, but in fact the opposite is true. I am never hungry now, but in the past when dieting I would feel famished by 3pm.
My vitamin and mineral levels have been monitored regularly by Hanafy Hanafy, MD, and I have seen significant improvement in my iron, zinc, Vitamin D and Vitamin B1 levels.
On another note, I have gone from wearing XXL and size 18 dresses to wearing a small and size 6. Although maintaining a wardrobe over the past several months has been an expensive endeavor, getting dressed in the morning is finally fun again. I can even wear heels comfortably, and more important, without falling.
Ultimately, the biggest shift I have seen is inside myself. I have always felt capable, but as it turns out capability and confidence are two distinct things. While I felt capable of achieving some extraordinary goals, my weight planted seeds of doubt in my mind:
- People assume I’m lazy or lack self-control
- I don’t look polished or professional enough
- First impressions are everything, but people only see my size
- I am easily ignored or overlooked
My capabilities — and my worth — have been the same at any weight. However, with every pound lost, I found the courage to beat back the negative self-talk and believe in myself again.
In 2017, for the first time in many years, I did not set a resolution to lose weight. But this isn’t a journey with a finish line. Surgery is the strongest tool available for weight loss, but it is still only a tool. It’s up to me to continue the habits that have led me here: reduced portions, eating every few hours and focusing on protein first. I must guard against my tendency toward emotional eating.
As successful as my journey has been, the prospect of sharing it was scary as I embarked upon this adventure one year ago. The fear of failure was real, as was the vulnerability of sharing such a personal story.
Ultimately this journey would not have been a success if I was not surrounded by such an amazing support team. So thank you to my husband, Jeramy, for loving me at every number I have ever weighed over the past 22 years. Thank you to my friends for encouraging me and helping celebrate my victories. Thank you to my colleagues and caregivers at the Center for Weight Loss and Wellness. I am honored every day to work with a team as compassionate, motivated and best of all, fun, as you.
Most of all, thank you to those who embarked upon their own weight loss journeys after reading about mine. At the end of the day, it was my hope that writing this might help others emerge from hopelessness and discover that their journeys are achievable too.
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