Starzy's Journey

(Lost 48 kgs)
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I had a sleeve gastrectomy about 20 months ago. I am 34 years old and at the time of going in for my procedure I weighed 118.9 kg.

The decision to have a gastric sleeve didn’t come lightly. I overanalyse everything so I took a lot of time making the decision. I spent around 3 years trying to lose weight – attempting heaps of diets, exercising, personal trainers, but nothing stuck.

I have a bicuspid aortic valve. What this means is that I have only two leaves in my aortic valve while everybody else has three. So for my health I needed to get my weight under control.

I always struggled with weight, but my weight kept climbing after the birth of my second child. I decided I needed to do something permanent. I wanted a better quality of life and to be there for my children.

The decision was about me being committed to my health, and being there for my kids. I wanted to watch my children grow. I wanted to have grandkids. I also didn’t want to be having open heart surgery at the age of 35.

I did a lot of research on surgery. I decided I needed to commit to it. That’s why I went with a gastric sleeve because it is permanent. I decided a balloon wasn’t for me because it can be removed. A band wasn’t for me either for the same reason.

What is life like now?

It’s 20 months post-op, I have lost 48kg and am now 70-75kg! I’m so much more active now. Pre-op I attempted to climb Mt Coolum. I couldn’t get there and had to stop halfway and have someone help me down again. Six months post-op I climbed it!

My cardiologist says my heart has actually gotten better. My resting heart rate was 142 BPM before and now it’s 70-90 BPM. I love doing active, fun things with the kids, like exploring the bush. Before, I couldn’t engage with them.

After the surgery itself and healing the body from surgery, I went through a process of rewiring my brain around food, as well as remapping my entire lifestyle, including vitamin intake.

Around the 12 month mark, I found I really find got in tune with my body. During the early days and weeks post-op, you palate’s almost put to sleep. Everything is bland and smooth because that’s all you want. It’s almost like relearning flavours again. Like feeding a baby. You’re relearning about your body again. For instance – dry lips mean I need to take in more water.

Now flavours taste amazing. Before surgery, I was never interested in bold food. Now I can really enjoy the subtlety of a short soup or a delicious Mexican dish. Just only eating a small amount of it. I also love getting creative with plating food. My philosophy is, I might not be able to eat much, I might as well make it look as good as I can!

Starzy’s success tips

It’s important to have as much support with this decision as possible, as this will impact the rest of your life, every day. The impact on your life will be emotional, mental and physical. You need to feel confident that this decision is right and have support for yourself as well as having support and understanding to be able to impart knowledge to others and help educate them.

The most important thing through this journey is mental support. Sometimes I am so happy about my decision, other days I’m challenged by the decision. I still see a psychologist. This is perfect for helping me navigate situations around food – especially in social situations.

Need some advice?

Have questions for Dr McLeod about whether surgery is right for you?

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