“I’ve learned that I’m OK. It’s ok to be who I am, but it’s important to be healthy. You can’t just want it, you have to really want it and make up your mind that you are going to do this,” advises Beth, a proud wife, Nana, and veteran, sharing her experience after her Gastric Sleeve surgery with Anchorage Bariatrics.
“When I hit puberty, I stopped growing up and started growing out. High School wasn’t too bad. I was shaped more like the men in my family; I looked just like my father with broad shoulders. My mindset became that weight was part of my body shape,” recalls Beth.
Growing up, Beth felt like a disappointment to her father. Being the first grandchild on both sides of the family, she was “supposed to be a boy.” This caused some issues with her father and Beth was able to find comfort in food. She turned food into a competition, saying, “I can eat more than you can. I can out-eat the men. I can out-eat my dad. This made me feel victorious because I was able to do something he said I couldn’t do. I didn’t have a lot of confidence. No matter what I did, I wasn’t good enough.” At the age of 18, Beth escaped by signing up for the military.
While in the military, Beth battled her weight the entire time. Beth met her husband, who taught her that it’s OK to be herself and her value was and is not based on others’ opinions or actions. In 1988, during a DOD manning reduction, she opted out of the military because of her weight problem and her pregnancy with her second child. Her husband stayed active duty and she became a military spouse. Beth gained 50 pounds with her pregnancies, and the weight started stacking on.
“In high school, I was athletic and could burn off most of what I ate. I tried calorie deprivation. I never tried diet clubs but did go to a few Weight Watchers meetings. I didn’t like the weigh-ins; didn’t want to be in front of others to judge. This made me feel like I was used to feeling – like a failure” Beth says. “I tried to lose weight on my own through portion control and calorie deprivation, but it never dawned on me that I also needed to incorporate exercise. I wanted to try to do it all on my own without assistance because I didn’t want others telling me what to do. Being resistant to even defiant of someone else telling me how and what to do to lose weight was in my mind setting me up for just another failure. I would consistently attempt to lose weight on my own and I could fail without anyone else having to know, except for the person in the mirror.”
“The turning point for me was when I stepped on the scale and it said 303 pounds. I said to myself that I was done. I was OK when the scale was in the 200’s, but over 300 was a reality check and not OK for me. I had thought about surgery, as I had seen the results of a lady at my kids’ school, who had surgery. I even knew a few coworkers who had surgery with Dr. Clark. I asked questions of the individuals who had the procedure and also consulted the surgery clinic on base. I decided to go to the pre-surgery meeting. As I recall, I approached the conference room, put my hand on the door handle, but turned and walked away.
Beth did build up enough courage to have Gastric Sleeve surgery in January 2020. “Every single person at Anchorage Bariatrics is happy, cheerful, and makes me feel welcome. The whole staff is very supportive. There are no clouds of gloom and doom – never. They are always willing to work with me,“ Beth shares about the team at Anchorage Bariatrics.
Beth feels very blessed as she has had zero side effects since her surgery – no heartburn, no indigestion, no vomiting! She keeps a spreadsheet of the food she eats and the exercises she does. She still can’t believe she is the same size she was in high school (a size 12) – half the person she used to be! It makes her feel great to see the reaction of people she hasn’t seen in a while. After 32 years of marriage & progressively getting heavier, Beth told Dr. Clark she couldn’t wait to see her mother-in-law’s reaction – after a year since seeing each other, ten months after surgery, Beth got the astonished reaction she was hoping for!
Beth now enjoys sewing, quilting, going to church, going to the gym, doing lawn work, gardening, and woodworking. She no longer has sleep apnea. She has more stamina and can do activities for a longer period of time. Beth now actually wants to go to the gym and enjoys it. She can bend over and breathe better. “I had doubts about surgery at age 55. Dr. Clark told me absolutely not. People older than me get this done and it adds 10 – 20 years to their life!”
She offers this advice, “Don’t be a ‘third time’s the charm’ kind of person like I have been. If you’re thinking about it, go far enough to get the information you need to make an informed decision instead of chickening out at the door handle.”