Sarah-Jane's Journey

Sarah-Jane lost 55 kilos in 9 months

My name is Sarah-Jane, I’m 24 years old, and had a mini bypass in March 2020.

Since childhood, I was always a bigger girl. I fell pregnant when I was 17, and gained 30 kilos during that pregnancy. After the birth, I worked really hard to get the weight off. I tried medication. I had injections to help me lose weight. I trained with a Personal Trainer 3 times a week, but I couldn’t lose the weight. Just before my 2nd pregnancy, I did the low carb, high fat diet. This worked, but it didn’t last.

I was always a binge eater. So at some point, I would end up falling off the bandwagon and eating the whole fridge out. I was using food to deal with my emotions, it was my way of coping.

While on maternity leave with my second child, I thought this would be a good time to do something about my weight. I decided I didn’t want to waste my children’s lives sitting on the sideline anymore. I wanted to be involved and active with my girls. So I saw my G.P. to ask about weight loss surgery.

After surgery

Surgery is the hardest thing I have ever done, but I’m so happy I did it.

There are lots of things I can’t eat or drink anymore, and this takes a bit of adjusting to. I can’t drink anything with bubbles, which I see as an advantage because I can no longer drink soft drink!
Eating takes preparation, as I’m not actually physically hungry as much. This means I can, and need to make good food choices, salad and protein. Fatty foods make me feel sick. Getting to know what you can and can’t eat is a process, and can take some time. It’s different for everyone.

I have noticed since my surgery how much food is advertised everywhere. It’s such a big part of society and that’s how come I think a lot of people fail trying to diet. Food messages are just everywhere.
I have found our family in general is a lot healthier since my surgery. My husband has also lost about 15 kilos. We don’t have soft drink in the house anymore. We eat so much healthier. My older daughter is 6, and the only thing processed in her lunchbox is a ham wrap. I’m so happy I can teach her the ways with food and I can set her up with a healthy lifestyle.

Going into surgery, I was fully prepared to have to give up breastfeeding our younger daughter, but this was not the case! My mum brought her in for feeds while I was in hospital. I was able to continue breastfeeding normally following surgery. This may not be the same for everyone, but I felt grateful I could continue this.

Sarah-Jane
sarah janes journey

Working hard

I want to say that surgery is definitely not the easy way out. If you don’t work hard as well, then you don’t see the results. I have worked my bum off. Literally!

Since the end of June, I have been exercising 3 days a week with a Personal Trainer. I get up at 5 am to meet her at our local touch football oval. We exercise together for 45 minutes to 1 hour. My routine is based on bodyweight resistance exercise – lunges, squats, running up the stairs, tricep-dips, push-ups and sit-ups. This work has had a really big impact on my weight loss. I have found that having someone hold me accountable has been really great and helped me to keep going. I am not normally a morning person, but the exercise helps me have lots of energy. I am pumped and ready for the day.

The other thing I have had to work on is my mental health. I used to use food as a coping mechanism. I had to work on facing issues and actually dealing with them. I see a psychologist to help me stay on track. I was suffering from depression and anxiety, and can happily say that with the help of this work with my psychologist, and medication, my depression is gone.

I am not able to eat my feelings anymore. So, some of my new ways to cope include exercise, listening to music, as well as expressing myself and communicating. Working on self-worth, and I feel like I deserve to be heard now.

Some of the rewards

Apart from the weight loss, another thing that has improved so much is my sleep. Before surgery, I didn’t sleep well. I spent ages tossing and turning trying to get my brain to switch off before I went to sleep. Now I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. I think the exercise and early starts helps with that too! Because I’m sleeping better, I feel better mentally.

A simple task like changing my bedsheets was so difficult before. I had to stop all the time as it was so tiring. Now, I just do it. Also, something like shaving my legs is no longer this huge process, it’s so quick now. My body doesn’t hold me back anymore.

I think that it’s not one thing that makes you overweight. It’s the little things that add up, and it is really important to notice and pay attention to the little things. That’s why we’re failing. We’re not noticing the little things, which change into big things over time. After surgery, it’s an opportunity to notice and change all of that. As someone who has struggled with weight all my life, surgery was the tool that I was missing.

My advice for those about to embark on weight loss surgery

Keep taking photos of your progress. I am my biggest critic, and I didn’t always see the weight coming off. It’s important to track, and it blows you away how far you’ve come when you look back.
The other thing I would say is don’t worry so much about the number on the scales, as that can go up and down. My goal was to be healthy, happy and active with my kids. I would make myself little goals which were more meaningful to me.

It probably took me 6-8 weeks to start feeling normal after surgery with food intake. I just went with it, and I think that’s important. My mantra was “This is not a forever thing, it’s just for now.”

Also, it’s really important to keep looking after yourself. Recently, I was feeling lightheaded and dizzy. I wasn’t eating enough, or drinking enough water. Also, at one point I was low in B12. These things can be easily fixed, but you have to keep watch and keep checking in.

Finally, support makes a massive difference. I have been so lucky to have great support from my husband, mother and family. I have also accessed the support that’s available from my surgical team. I know that many people have surgery and then never see their surgeon again. But I can’t imagine not having that support and accountability as part of my journey. It’s important to feel that you’re not just a number and that you’ve got people who want to see you succeed.

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