When I was starting the process of bariatric surgery I didn’t really know anyone who had had it, and was quietly scouting the internet for information, and support.
I found myself on a website called Obesity Help and responded on a few posts, which actually lead me to becoming friendly with a girl who was in my orientation group at Tufts, and making friends with another girl, who three years later is one of my closest friends.
I found myself on Instagram, looking through before and after photos, scrolling through dozens of photos under hashtags with the abbreviations “vsg” and “wls” included in them.
I eventually made a “secret” account because, I was ashamed in a way I suppose, and wasn’t going to be shouting my plans from the rooftops. I “met” hundreds of people just like me. Well, just like me in some ways.
I started posting more, commenting on people’s posts and interacting with people all over the country (world, really!) who were on their own weight loss journey.
I became comfortable as my fat self, as my thinning self, as my whole self. I shared photos of my floppy fat, I posted screen shots of my weight tracking app, I shared products that I tried and liked, tried and didn’t like.
I shared everything.
But I didn’t share it everywhere.
I created this dichotomy where I was essentially showing two different selves to the internet world. I mean who gives a shit, it’s the internet, but still.
One day, after losing about eighty pounds, after a few months of recovering from my panniculectomy, I took a photo in my bathroom in my bra and underwear.
I oppened my photo collage app and put it next to a similar photo taken the night before my weight loss surgery.
That was me.
They were both me and they looked totally different.
If I’m going to be true to myself, I can’t be two different people.
I posted it on my non weight loss account, shared to Facebook with a blurb about changes I made.
I went from being almost three hundred pounds and not letting even my boyfriend see much of my bare skin, to a person who shares pictures of themselves in their underwear on the internet.
If that’s not a damn transformation, I don’t know what is.
I’m totally different and exactly the same.
Unfortunately there’s no way to merge the two accounts now that I’m this weight loss surgery mentor – shout it from the rooftops – before and after photo posting gal. Maybe that’s a good thing, who can say.
Sometimes one account gets more attention than the other, sometimes I post the same thing on both of them and the photos are liked by both accounts of people like me, people with two sides to their story.
There will always be before and after pictures, there will always be before and after me [with regard to things beyond my weight, too].
We are all constantly comparing some aspect of our life and our experiences to another time.
That’s human nature.
We also all do it differently, so if being true to yourself is counting days and months until something or since something, do it.
If being true to you is not talking about your journey [whatever that journey is!], do it.
If being true to you is telling every person you meet your life story, do it.
Being true to you, is living YOUR best life and nobody else can tell you how to do that.
I’m almost three years out from weight loss surgery and I’m not obsessed with every piece of food I put in my mouth, I don’t feel guilt or shame for eating things, I don’t worry about fitting into some mold, or outfit. I celebrate non-scale victories, scale victories, make correlations between my weight and previous experiences.
I don’t live in the past, but I don’t ignore it either.
Without those before photos, those “pre-op” snapshots, today wouldn’t be as sweet. I wouldn’t be as content, as happy to be in the moment and live my life without the frustrations of my body. I really believe that, because I know me better than anyone.
I’m happy to leave fad diets behind, let insecurities and preconceived notions about anything and everything fall by the wayside and just be.
But, I’m also happy to always throw it back on Thursdays, show my transformation on a Tuesday and reminisce about how I got here in the first place.
I’m always gonna be a work in progress.