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Weighing in On Weight-Loss Surgery

My sister Tanya, me, and my brother Steven

Recently, my sister told me some big news. News that has to do with weight-loss surgery.

Thursday, she had her consultation, and learned she is low-risk for the gastric sleeve procedure. This is a newer practice, and an alternative to gastric bypass or gastric banding.

According to U.S. Health News, as of 2013, bariatric weight loss surgery peaked at 200,000, and that number grows yearly as obesity continues to overwhelm the U.S.

Since we were kids, my sister Tanya has struggled with her weight. She has always suffered from self-doubt, and had to fight against the meanness of kids, and many adults. Although she wasn’t extremely obese, she was large enough to suffer the negativity society places on kids who aren’t thin.

My sister Tanya and Mother in May 2016.

Tanya found a way to cope with the meanness. She fought back, and she became the bully. Lord knows it was better to be a bully than to be bullied. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not condoning her actions, but watching what my sister faced, and being a victim of bullying myself in elementary and the beginning of middle school, I understand the dynamics. You can either get beat up, or you can do the beating up when you’re not what society deems “perfect.”

That continues to be an issue today. Obesity is an overpowering epidemic that leads to serious medical problems, depression, and, in some cases, suicide.

Where my sister struggled with some weight issues in her earlier years, she’s now at her heaviest weight. Therefore, her battle isn’t just with mean people; it’s with her health. She’s a mother with young kids in her mid-40s, and she suffers from health problems related to obesity, including high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and she thinks she may be developing diabetes.

Tanya recently told me she wishes she could be like me and just put her mind to losing weight and doing it. However, what Tanya doesn’t realize is her battle differs from mine. This is actually a common misconception many people have.

It’s so easy for people who did not grow up obese, or who have never battled weight issues, or only struggled with minor weight gain, to say, “If you’re tired of being fat, then do something about it!”

Sadly, I used to be one of these people, but then I gained substantial weight in my 30s, primarily after having a hysterectomy. I got to learn first-hand what obesity can do to the mind and to one’s overall self-esteem.

Which brings me to my point.

Because I didn’t grow up struggling with weight the way my sister did, I didn’t lack self-esteem, even when I was overweight. I’ve always had a strong sense of self. Even though I was heavier than I had ever been prior to my weight loss journey, I knew deep down that I could fix it. I did it in the past, and with the right effort, I could do it again. And that’s what I did.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s easy; it’s not, but when you have self-esteem and motivation on your side, that does make challenges easier to overcome.

The reality is, I had the benefit of people saying, “Wow Brandy! You look amazing!” I recalled what it felt like being thin, and the benefits that come with it, especially the internal boost.

My sister never had that. Instead, she had to hear, “Wow, Tanya! You’ve gained a lot of weight!” Or, “You’re going to eat that? Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Or, “You know, you have a pretty face, but….”

I could go on and on with the statements I’ve heard thrown her way. It’s no wonder she’s always struggled with self-doubt and low self-esteem. People have put her down all her life.

Now, Tanya talks to me all the time about what it would be like being thin, but she can’t recall the reality of that. That feeling that prompts motivation.

Then there’s the medical aspect of her weight. Tanya suffers from a thyroid issue, so when she loses weight, she tends to gain it right back when her thyroid is off. She also tires out easily, so it’s so easy to say, “I’ll work out tomorrow.” But then that never happens. Thyroid issues can easily throw people off balance.

Unfortunately, many overweight people have this problem, especially women our age. I too have a thyroid issue, but with weight loss, I have brought my thyroid under control. I have to still take medicine, but it’s a lighter dosage. I have also had the luxury of eliminating many medications I took when I was heavier. That too feels great, but again, my sister hasn’t had that experience.

With that being said, many people today are critical of those individuals who decide to go with bariatric bypass surgery. They claim, “It’s the easy way out.” It’s just like thinking there’s a magical pill.

Thus, this is not an easy choice, nor is it the easy way out. They too have to exercise to eliminate the excess skin that accompanies the surgery. Even though there are follow-up surgeries to help remove that excess skin, these individuals still have to maintain their forms through exercise and healthy living. All this surgery does is give them a chance to do what they have not been successful at doing, and that’s having the self-esteem and motivation to start the process of losing weight, and succeeding.

I have met so many people who have had the surgery, and they tell me how much their lives have changed as a result. They have more energy. They feel wonderful. They develop a new sense of self identity and self-esteem. They are motivated to eat and stay healthy, and to get off the couch to get in their daily walk/run and exercise. In other words, they do what those of us who have found our fitness do. They also look amazing!

Overall, I am proud of my sister for taking the necessary steps to get this surgery done. She hesitated at first because she has to give up a lot of habits she has developed over the years. She has to get her family on board with this as well because they will be eating healthy with her, so she can maintain her fitness. It will be good for them in the long run, too, but not all kids or partners are willing to sacrifice their enjoyments for the benefit of others. Tanya also admitted to being scared. Surgery is a big deal, and there are complications, but she’s willing to take a chance.

She’s ready to remember what it feels like to fit into a size 10 pair of pants, and not shop in what she calls “the fat people’s section.” She will go out job hunting with confidence and won’t have to wonder if people aren’t hiring her because she’s obese and a health risk to the company (Many studies have proved employers will choose thin candidates over obese ones, and Tanya just graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Business.). Sadly, my sister graduated in May, but has yet to obtain a job in her field.

I pray this surgery is the boost she needs to find her fitness. I would love for those of you who have  advice or stories to share those with Tanya and help ease her mind and fears over this surgery. My sister is my soulmate. All I have ever wanted is for her to feel that she’s worth the hard work.

Note

I apologize for my brief absence, but the news business and some employee changes at San Angelo LIVE! have kept me working non-stop. Because of some of these delays, I’m adding a few more days to the Beachbody 3-Day Refresh and Shakeology packets giveaway.

For those of you who missed my social media posts on this, all you have to do is follow me on one of my social media sites. You can follow me on Facebook here, Twitter here, or follow me through San Angelo LIVE! here and here. There are other ways to link to my social media sites by clicking on the icons on this page. I will be checking them all. So, follow one of those pages, like one, or all of my posts with information on the giveaway, and I will add you to the drawing.

Originally, I was going to announce the winner this evening, but, because of my inability to engage on social media like I originally planned, I’m extending the deadline to midnight Sunday (CST) and will announce the winner on Monday.

Keep in mind, anyone in the U.S. can enter to win. I’m happy to ship the product to you wherever you’re at.

Make Sure to Follow Me

Even beyond this giveaway, you’ll want to keep tabs on my blog and social media because I have lots of great giveaways coming up, including an Apple Watch Series 1 Rose Gold 38mm. This is a $269 value.

As I stated before, my goal is to help you find and maintain your fitness, and I have some fun things planned, including the Group of Accountability, so be on the lookout for that.

Good luck, and as two of my favorite trainers Rachael Newsham and Dan Cohen with Les Mills Body Combat always say, “Keep it real, and stay with the fight!”

Posted by Brandy Rae: Copyright 2017

Location: San Angelo, Texas, United States

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