weight loss tracker

Monday, June 21, 2010

Letter to my insurance company

When my surgeon submitted my app for approval, I gave this letter to him to include with my submission. I don't know if it helped or not, but it did outline my history more than the few pages of medical history and few months of diet history did.

My past is a study in yo-yo dieting and rollercoaster weight gains and losses. Starting in the 4th grade, at 138 pounds, I made my debut into the world of dieting. I remember wearing a size 9 in the 5th grade, and by the time I was 13, I was about 170.

I battled daily with ridicule and the social stigma that comes with being a plump child and pre-teen. One cold November morning, I was crossing the schoolyard, slipped and fell on the icy ground, and the entire population of my K-8 school roared in laughter at the chubby butt of school jokes sprawled on the ground.

I took a bus home, and never went back.

Fortunately, my family moved from Colorado to Texas less than 6 months later, and I had a chance at a fresh start. Unfortunately, we lived in a Holiday Inn for several months while my parents searched for a house. We lived on restaurant food and takeout, and I gained at least 30 pounds, to enter high school at over 200 pounds, with no signs of slowing.

I did manage to keep the gaining under some control through high school, and only gained another 20 pounds over the 4 years. I also gained friends and self-confidence, despite my weight. After high school, I went on the Rotation Diet (a low-carb plan) and Quick Weight Loss (a shakes/food combo plan). I dropped back down to 170, and managed to maintain this for a couple of years. Out of my parents’ home, on a shoestring budget, I did not gain weight, but I was certainly not eating in a healthy way.

At age 21, I entered college and moved to Austin. Living in student housing, with 24-hour access to all-you-can-eat food, the weight began to creep back on. 180,190,200,210…. I tried diet pills, liquid diets, etc. I would lose 10-15 pounds, only to become frustrated and give up. The weight returned, of course, with more on top every time.

I met my future husband a couple of years later, and he was a ‘perfect’ match. Perfect in that our impulsive eating styles meshed very well. We could, and did, go out often to buffets and for pizza. We cooked steaks and pasta at home. We both ate very large quantities and very quickly. We both started to gain weight, but not too fast, as we were both young and fairly active.

At least once a year, we would embark on another attempt to lose weight. Atkins, personal trainers, gym memberships, Jenny Craig, and more. Every time, one or the other of us would fall off the wagon, and the other wasn’t far behind. The weight continued to creep upward for me, to fall off and then pile back on for him.

I knew that someday we wanted to have children. And that I did NOT want to start my pregnancy fat. So I struggled and worked for almost 2 years to bring my weight down. I got down from 260 to 215, and got pregnant before I actually intended to do so. I immediately quit smoking.

I changed my eating habits to some extent during this pregnancy. I introduced whole foods into my diet. No more white bread, only whole wheat. All whole wheat pasta, brown rice, barley, and whole wheat couscous became staple starches. Fish, lean pork, and chicken replaced the steaks, ribs, and cheese. I switched to plain non-fat yogurt, and low or non-fat dairy all the way around. I craved fruit and made vegetables a standard at every meal. And I was ravenous.

I had made the changes in WHAT I was eating, but not in HOW MUCH. I gained up to almost 280 pounds during that pregnancy, and fudged to my midwives about it so they wouldn’t reject me or put me on a special diet. My blood pressure and blood sugar remained good throughout the pregnancy, and I had a healthy natural delivery without complications.

Over the next 3 years, I struggled to get the baby weight off. Every day, I battled the increase in appetite that breastfeeding brought on, and I watched, counted, and measured everything that I ate using Weight Watchers POINTS plan.

I was losing weight, very slowly, and I was miserable.

Every moment was consumed by the obsession of what I was eating, and by how hungry I was. Every time I nursed my daughter, all I wanted to do was eat. Sometimes I gave in, but I wanted to get pregnant again, so I slogged along with the very slow progress. I switched to Weight Watchers CORE plan in hopes of combating my overpowering hunger and appetite, only to gain weight due to my inability to control my portions.

I got pregnant again, 3 years after my first daughter was born. I managed to maintain reasonably well through this pregnancy, and was 254 at my second daughter’s birth.

Now, more than 2 years later, I am well over 265, and I feel so discouraged by my inability to master my own impulses. I still work out 3-5 times per week, we eat in a whole foods way, and I am still gaining weight. I am hungry all the time, and the thought of putting myself through years of hunger and deprivation for miniscule results is daunting, to say the least.

The idea of Lap-Band surgery, for me, is a last resort. I have seen my blood pressure start to creep up over the last couple of years, and I know that hypertension awaits me in the near future if I cannot manage to take off this excess weight.

The frustration of being thwarted daily by my own inability to control my portions angers me. I have made so many changes in the right direction. I eat the right foods, and have been teaching my children good eating habits. Our family has made the choice to eliminate junk food and takeout long ago, and we try to include activity and exercise in our daily lives. But this last, so essential, stage eludes me. I find myself at the table, eating far too much of our healthy fare because I am still hungry well after the healthy portion size has been consumed. It is so difficult to present a good role model for my daughters when I feel like what I say and what they see are so different. My older daughter already has been asking questions about why I am fat if what we eat is supposedly so good for us. She doesn’t understand why some of her friends get to eat loads of candy, chips, and cookies, and their parents aren’t fat, but her mommy is. I want to be able to show her that the way we are choosing to eat makes us healthy inside AND out.

I feel that the Lap-Band would be a tool to aid me in making this final change. Ideally, it would help me to manage my portion sizes without me always feeling hungry and desperate.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for considering approving me for Lap-Band surgery.

Like I said, I have no idea whether or not this helped in the approval process, but it definitely gives a good condensed version of my past struggles with my weight.

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