Dawn's Story: Gastric banding leads to a healthier, happier life

Life changing! If you’re thinking of having a Gastric Band (GB) fitted you have probably, like me, tried the 100+ different diet plans on the market, you’ve been in and out of the gym, exercise classes and you’ve bought every quick fix weight loss gadget or tablet going. You may have a mountain of books, DVDs and toning equipment all on weight loss gathering dust. But there you are still with those large lumps and bumps that you can’t face looking at and adding insult to injury your doctors continue to tell you, you are at risk of diabetes, heart disease and/or hip replacements etc.

That was me, but on the 20th January 2010, I took control with the marvellous help of the entire team at the Spire, I began the long and hard journey from a BMI of 42 and have now just over two years later been told I’ve made it to a BMI of 27, I still would like to drop down a couple more to reach the target BMI of 25, but I am no longer a threat to my OWN health.

It was 2 years of tough work, changing long established bad habits of how I eat and how I spend my time.

Let’s face it, we’ve all sabotaged our more successful diets in the past, by the yo-yo style of dieting. The benefit of the GB is that it won’t let you! Early on after the operation, I decided that I didn’t want the GB to drag me to success, I would work with the band, understand it and adopt a new living style. At times I did not like it, in fact I have hated the GB, resented that I needed it,  its presence in my body, its lack of compassion for my feelings and its brilliant efficiency,  nevertheless I won’t change it.

When I have thought about taking a firm control of my weight loss, one of the biggest obstacles is preparing for some uncomfortable situations, the band is unforgiving, there is never ever a day off, birthday parties, weddings and Christmas, the Gastric Band doesn’t give a jot that you want to enjoy Cake, BBQs or a roast turkey. Even if it is low fat, conventional dieting was a thing of the past, at one point I did actually yearn for some lettuce, unfortunately for me, it’s something I can’t digest, so you learn to focus on what you can have and forget the indigestible.

The support from my family was incredible.

I would often leave my companion at the dining table, whilst I dealt with a mouthful coming up, not very nice for them. My first Christmas Day with the GB  my family tucked into the traditional Christmas Dinner with all the works, while I settled down to a bowl of lobster soup, I felt I couldn’t make my family feel guilty for my life choice.  So I put a brave face on it and convinced them (and myself) that I was ok.  However, when I looked in the mirror with the target dress on and it was too big, it was more than ok!!

I had to re- learn some basic skills, eat small amounts and chew slowly, 20 chews to each small mouthful and take a minute with every mouthful. I would find that I gave up on the food anyway, as it had become cold and unappetising.  I had to re-learn that it was ok to leave food and that whilst I didn’t feel mentally satisfied with my dining experience, I was physically satisfied.

I would often get it wrong, and so will you, if I had eaten too fast or my mouthfuls were too large, the food without doubt would come up again and again.  I had to get used to mad dashes to find somewhere to regurgitate the food. I got experienced in telling people I had just met that I had a delicate stomach and couldn’t digest large amounts of heavy food, and that I would politely pass on the pizza.

One trick I had noticed is not to get too hungry, that drives old habits of eating without thinking, rushing large mouthful, it would undoubtedly pop up again. Three small meals a day works for me, chocolate must be avoided, whilst its sweet relief, it’s a waste of calories I needed to think nutrients and getting in as much fresh fruit and vegetables as I could.

Exercise, I had to get into the gym and worked with my training adviser to keep ahead, as I lost the weight, I needed to keep challenging my body as I had more energy to do more. I found I kept busy around the house too.  Where I would come home plonk myself in front of the TV with a large plate of food,  I now don’t stop moving until bed time, the TV doesn’t go on and I sleep better, because I’m tired through activity and not lethargy.

My final thoughts.  I can barely remember my old body image, but I can remember my old feelings of self-loathing and shame, now, I have pride and more importantly a longer healthier and happier life expectancy.

 Dawn - April 2012

Nicholas Boyle

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Julie Wood
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