My bariatric journey: loving myself

Happy Valentine's Day to me!


FORT WORTH, Texas February 14, 2015 — It’s a new year and thanks to the changes I’ve made in my life since gastric sleeve surgery, my body is virtually new too. I am thirty-two pounds lighter; my waist is ten inches tinier and my clothing four sizes smaller.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever see this again. I had given up trying to lose weight and just accepted that I would always be stuck in a body I hated.

Then a stroke saved my life.

And here I am at the beginning of the first full year of making my dreams come true. In addition to my shrinking body my confidence has soared, my mojo has come back and I even caught a teen-age young man flirting with me at the grocery store. No, I’m not a Cougar but it is sure good for my ego!

Since my last bariatric column the holidays have come and gone. I had no doubt I would not overdo it with all the tasty food that comes with that time of year. As of January first I had only gained five pounds. (The national average is up to ten pounds.) A week later I was back to where I should be and the effort wasn’t difficult. Ever since my body started to recognize leptin, the hormone that tells you to stop eating, my endeavor to become a healthy weight is becoming a reality.

At my last check up with Dr. Carter he said I’m doing great and that my stomach is the size it should be. I was afraid it may have stretched out over the course of the three months in between appointments, but my fears were unfounded. And with that, the thought of my height and weight being proportionate again no longer seems like an unattainable dream; it becomes more real each day. Every time the scale or tape measure registers smaller numbers, the more my hope becomes truth.

Exercise for me consists of an hour on the treadmill on a slight incline and a fast pace that is not quite running. I also clean houses three times a week which burns lots of calories too.

My friend Kathy Dent of Kathy’s Fitness has been a cheerleader for me from the beginning and is assisting me in starting a strength training program. Kathy has lost 200 pounds by diet and exercise alone. She says that once she started strength training the weight came off much faster than without it.

Friends and family have noticed my weight loss and have told me so, especially in reference to my baggy jeans. Dr. Carter said it looked like there was enough room to carry rocks. My friend Carol said I looked like a size 16. When I started this journey I was a size 22. There was no way I could be a size 16. I had made it to size 20 and agreed that I should try an 18, but 16? No way. I bought the 18’s and wore them for a day. They were too baggy. Could it be, alas, that I could get into a 16? Gathering my courage I took the 18’s back and exchanged them for 16’s. I didn’t bother to try them on since I would eventually be this size if not now.

I should have bought a lottery ticket that day. They fit. For the first time in twenty years I could get into jeans this size! Even though it’s not the size I want to stay I never thought I’d see this stage again.

And with that my Self love grew. I’m not worth more now that my body is smaller. I’ve always been a person of great worth and value but for various reasons didn’t know it before. In the past my weight loss efforts failed and failed again. What I didn’t know was that my own body was sabotaging my attempts to improve my health. Now that my body recognizes leptin it’s not difficult to stay the course. I will only backslide by my own actions and nothing else. And all this is to say the realization that I’m not a failure increases. That definition has fallen to the wayside.

As a result the love I have for myself continues to grow, as yours should for you too. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Read more of Claire’s work at Feed the Mind, Nourish the Soul in the Communities Digital News and Greater Fort Worth Writers.


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  • Congratulations Claire! Though I love your photo, let’s update!

    • Claire Hickey

      Will do. Thank you!

  • Alonzo Ales

    Not even $17 trillion in debt could stop the US government from wasting $27 million of borrowed money on 3rd world art projects in 2012.

  • Claire, I could not be more thrilled for you or more proud, both of your efforts and your willingness to share with complete candor your story. Size 16 will be a memory soon, I think 🙂

    • Claire

      Thank you Gayle!