Weight Loss Surgery Series:
Long-Term Maintenance

Keeping the weight off and living a healthy, happy life

kalimah bioBy Kalimah Johnson

October 2013 — I had my bariatric surgery on December 19, 2011 — since then I have lost a significant amount of weight. This past weekend I went to an event for my sorority that I joined in 1995. I hadn't been to any major events in awhile. Well needless to say, I had a chance to see and reunite with many sister friends that I had not seen in some time. It was an awesome event of celebrating sisterhood, service, and scholarship! I was very comfortable being there and I actually was one of the guest speakers. What was also interesting was the fact that many sisters did not recognize me at all. Some were afraid to say how much different I looked and others just asked me how I lost so much weight.

I will avoid the question of surgery if I don't feel like explaining, but for some reason I guess all the sisterly love had me feeling quite authentic and comfortable with a possible discussion-especially if it would help shed light on the procedure or inform someone who might be thinking about getting surgery. Not a rare phenomenon, but I am keenly aware of people who are judgmental and who may be inappropriate in their responses, so I tread lightly.

One of my sorority sisters who did not recognize me until I was done speaking, walked up to me with her bubbly self and said. "GIRL! How did you lose all that weight?!? I mean what did you do?!? CHILE you are looking real GOOD!!!!" As I soaked up her smile for little while and stared into her beautiful wide brown eyes, I chuckled and said, "Girl, I had to do a lot and one of the things I did was get bariatric surgery." She then went on to talk about all the possible worst-case scenarios and which procedure was worse than the other and so on and so on… I interrupted her politely and shared with her all the good news about my surgery.

I had no complications from the surgery, I only have problems when I eat wrong. I have lost over 100 pounds, I feel better, and I can work out more. I get full faster at mealtimes, which keeps me from eating the whole buffet, and I enjoy shopping for clothes now. Those are the basics but here is the real deal (and the highlight of the conversation if you ask me); I shared with her that the surgery has lowered my blood pressure significantly and I have cut down on sugar, salt, fat, and processed foods, which has ultimately helped me to sleep better and feel more energetic.

Even more significant than the aforementioned is what I told her next. I shared with her that the surgery is really only good for ONE year. What I mean by that is not what my doctor intended for patients to leave with once they have surgery and it may not even be supported by research, but I believe the first year is your "window" of opportunity to lose as much weight as you can, because eventually your stomach can stretch (a little). You learn ways to cheat the "pouch" by eating and drinking at the same time. You can, and some do, gain all the weight back (and then some). I shared with her that while I had the surgery almost two years ago, I must still drink plenty of fluids, eat fruits and vegetables, avoid fast food, and exercise. I eat plenty of protein, cook using olive oil and seasonings without salt, and I exercise on a regular basis. She then said, "Well, that's what we ALL have to do!" I said, "YES!" You really have to think about a decision like surgery, and make sure it is what you want to do — because as an individual who wants to lose weight, you have to do more than just get the surgery. You have to follow the rules for maintenance and positive outcomes in the long run after the procedure.

To top off this sisterly conversation she asked me how was my diabetes doing. I proudly squared my shoulders, embraced her at the shoulders, looked her in those big ol' beautiful brown eyes and said, "I am still a type 2 diabetic, but I manage it with diet and exercise and I have not had to take a pill or shot since the surgery in 2011."

Then we both broke out into a hallelujah dance and she started praising God. I joined in and we laughed, smiled, and celebrated together. We rejoiced in our sisterhood and I have not felt so good about this journey than in that moment. Thank you Jennifer and with that being said I am ready to keep moving in the right direction towards wellness and optimum health. My bariatric journey has been many things and on that morning with my sorority at our Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. Round Up event — it was my testimony.

Got it sugar?

Good.

Learn more about the basics of bariactic surgery.

Read more of Kalimah Johnson's columns, Get it Together, Sugar, here.

Disclaimer
dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: December 06, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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