Kristin Szilagyi Transforms from Obesity to American Beauty, Part 3 - My Bariatric Lifeby Cheryl Ann Borne Patient Advocate
Kristin is living life happily ever after weight loss surgery. Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this interview. Interview, Part : What are a typical day's meals for you? How has this changed from what you ate and drank before WLS?
A: I was a carbohydrate addict. So re-training my brain to make healthier choices has always been a task, sometimes overwhelming. I never really was a breakfast person and after having surgery my hypoglycemia is very sensitive. I can't give up my coffee; I have 1 a day with equal & half n half"my treat to myself. Breakfast I try to have Greek yogurt or a slice of wheat toast with Betternbutter (a peanut butter substitute that has half the fat) or eggs. Lunch is usually a grilled chicken salad; sometimes a half of a sandwich, dinner is whatever I cook. I try to always cook healthy, protein, veggies and a carbohydrate. If I'm at work I usually order a turkey burger. For a treat I love sugar free popsicles or fudgesicles. Prior to surgery I would not hesitate to run to the fast food restaurants. I will never forget a year after surgery I tested myself in having a McDonalds cheeseburger. It was the most disgusting thing I ever ate. After eating so healthy for a year I could actually taste how bad the meat is. I still try and not drink anything carbonated. I also try to keep my sugar balanced through the day which helps me prevent over eating.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face in maintaining your weight? How do you manage through those challenges?
A: The biggest challenge is my appetite is back and I can eat larger portions of food. It is scary sometimes when I see how much I can eat I manage by going back and remembering the "rules of the tool", keeping satiety is the priority. If I start eating foods that are not the best choices I know positively that I have not been getting enough protein in daily. Through the years I have had to adjust my eating habits as I was able to eat more. Every day is not perfect nor is every meal. If I don't eat well for lunch I try and not beat myself up over it and try to do better for dinner. It is not easy but I have to at least try. I owe it to myself; it took a long time to get where I am today. I'm worth it!
Q: Research shows that divorce rates rise in the two-years following WLS. You and your husband of 16 years divorced in 2010. Please tell us what role did your WLS play in this?
A: Sadly it accentuated what already existed. Our marriage was suffering; the major change in me prompted me to make a change. I know that I felt like I had to put up with things that I no longer was willing to tolerate. I shouldn't have tolerated it even when I was overweight but that was the self-esteem connection kicking in. I gained a feeling of control in my life with the weight loss and I think that control crossed over into other areas of my life.
Q: Please tell us how else your life has changed since having WLS and taking control of your health and your life.
A: Well, needless to say, I have never been happier IN MY LIFE! I have gained years on my life, I have gone hiking, walking, wearing a 'normal' seatbelt on an airplane flight- instead of the fat-belt extender, and being active in my kids life! I hear all the time now how good I look, but what people don't know is how great I feel. I feel awesome. You don't realize how much obesity affects you both mentally and physically. I can do things now with my family that I wasn't able to do before. It's really had a positive effect on the quality of my health and my family life.
Q: What advice would you give to obese people who are seeking to take control of their health and their lives?
A: I would never tell anyone to go and have surgery. I would tell them to weigh the pros and cons, and to make an educated decision to not only alter their bodies, but their minds and lifestyles. I would tell them that they deserve a full life without the weight holding them back; that their world can expand and get so much better. Bariatric surgery is a wonderful tool, but to get the most out of it, you have to embrace the changes. The surgery is not a cure, but it's a powerful tool and it can mean the difference between hope and hopelessness, or at least it did for me.
Kristin, I am happy to call you my friend and wish you a lifetime of abundant health and happiness. Thank you for sharing your story with readers on the HealthCentral Obesity site. Keep up the great work and hopefully we will meet again one day.