From Binge Eating to Bursting with Pride: a 200 weight loss story

Age : 25
Height: 6’1’
Highest weight: 402 lbs. BMI: 53
Current Weight: 207 lbs. BMI: 27
Goal Weight: 180 lbs. BMI: 23.7
Bariatric Surgery: Gastric Sleeve
Surgery Date: April 2019
Largest Size: 4XL Men’s t-shirt
Current Size: Women’s XL
Weight-related diseases: None
Pre-Surgery Medications: Prozac, Wellbutrin, Abilify
Post-Surgery: Prozac

Vivianne’s childhood wasn’t average. Not only was she enrolled in special ed classes, she was known for having a self-described “loud-mouth.” She remembers always being significantly overweight in school, and consequently was bullied unfairly.

 

By the time Vivianne was a teenager, she wasn’t just overweight, she was obese. When Vivianne was 18, she decided to become a vegetarian in order to control her weight, which she did for five years successfully. At this point, she was tipping the scale at 300 pounds. Vivianne would lose 20 or 30 pounds, only to regain the weight she had lost, plus additional pounds. Two main problems with this strategy was that Vivianne only ate pasta and didn’t exercise. It did not lead to weight loss. It wasn’t just the fact that Vivianne was eating pasta in itself. Vivianne also struggled with binge-eating and emotional eating.

 

Whether she was sad, depressed, or even happy, Vivianne turned to food as a source of comfort – not nourishment. Her emotional and binge eating mainly stemmed from being in an abusive relationship which started when Vivianne graduated high school. However, when she was able to end it five years later, Vivianne made new friends and cultivated healthier relationships. She also started to volunteer at a mental health facility specializing in care for the homeless.

The “Aha” Moment

In 2018, Vivianne weighed herself at home where the scale hit the 400-pound mark. Self-admittedly, Vivianne realized she wasn’t being successful on her own in her weight loss attempts. In 2016, Vivianne had considered pursuing weight loss surgery but decided to try to lose the excess weight herself as she had in the past.

Vivianne’s primary care physician referred her to Dr. Nguyen, whom she met for an initial consultation in September. Describing Dr. Nguyen, Vivianne’s first impression was that he was “really cool,” professional, and had good energy.

 

When discussing each of the different weight loss procedures, Dr. Nguyen was very thorough and respectful of Vivianne’s feelings. They decided the gastric sleeve was the best surgical procedure for Vivianne. During this surgery, the stomach is reduced to a vertical sleeve-shaped tube. This prevents the patient from consuming too much food at once and also helps to curb hunger- two major hurdles weight loss surgery patients face.

Vivianne’s surgery required her to stay in hospital for only one night. On a scale of 1-10, Vivianne the pain she felt upon waking up a 5. She only needed ½ of a pain pill – not bad! Vivianne was so appreciative that Dr. Nguyen checked in several times while she was recovering from her surgery. Vivianne would also like to give a shout out to one of Dr. Nguyen’s office staff, Brooke, for confirming proper post-surgery dietary requirements when she would call the office.

Before her surgery, Vivianne was a devout soda and juice drinker. Although she switched to drinking diet sodas, Vivianne actually gained weight. Today, she sticks to water, unsweetened iced teas, and coffee with a little milk.

Breakfast: 2 eggs, or a protein bar, coffee w/ little bit of milk

 

Lunch: Sashimi, soup or a salad with chicken

 

Dinner: Sushi ordered with no rice

 

Snack: Occasional seaweed crisps, one piece of fruit per day: either an apple or pear

 

Vivianne does point out she really enjoys sushi. This is a great source of protein, and it is bariatric friendly when ordered with no rice or as sashimi.

While Vivianne is active at her volunteering position, she does power walk every day with her mom for a minimum of 45 minutes.

Being down 200 pounds from her original weight is a significant accomplishment. When asked what words of advice she has for anyone considering weight loss surgery, Vivianne offers these tips:

 

Words of wisdom for prospective patients?

 

  • Learn to control your hunger, don’t let it control you.
  • Stick with the program.
  • The first 90 days are hardest, but you will get through it.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your weight fluctuates a little.
  • You will plateau sometimes. Cut out your carbs and sugar to push through them.

 

Even through the struggles such as weight loss plateaus, Vivianne says she has really enjoyed the journey and describes it as a positive experience. Vivianne feels that her life has completely improved and she is so much happier.

 

People have been shocked when they run into her and don’t recognize Vivianne when they haven’t seen her since before the surgery. She also lets everyone know about her weight loss procedure – Vivianne doesn’t feel the need to keep it private. Her new favorite activities include walking and even being able to jog and stretch. She used to feel awkward getting in and out of cars and other narrow spaces. Now she is able to do this easily.

 

As a member of the LGBTQ community and a transgender, Vivianne now feels more comfortable in her body since the weight loss surgery. She acknowledges that once someone has a certain amount of excess weight, it becomes more difficult to differentiate gender. Because of this, Vivianne always felt the need to dress more feminine by wearing long dresses. However, now she feels confident being able to wear gender-neutral clothes such as jeans and t-shirts knowing that people will recognize her as being female.

 

When asked what her goals for the future are, Vivianne states that she wants to tone her body after having skin removal surgery and to “get a girlfriend.”

 

We look forward to hearing more about Vivianne’s successes!

Some of Vivianne’s Favorite Things: