Thursday, September 13, 2012

My life in pictures...part 2

I was 25 in this photo, In my 2nd year
at Uof T.

On Tuesday, I started telling a bit of my background story.  You can read it here if you already haven't.  I'm sharing my past with you to give you an idea about what a life long struggle obesity has been for me.  I have lost a lot of weight in the past, and I have gained a lot of weight as well.  I have tried many, many diets...Weight Watchers, Dr. Bernstein, Atkins, South Beach, cabbage soup diet just to name a few.  I've taken diet medications...Phen Fen, Meridia and Xenical.  Phen Fen and Meridia were taken off the market due to life threatening side effects.

I've starved myself and was even bulimic for a period of time in my late teens.  I have never shared the fact that I was bulimic with anyone before.  It's how I kept my weight around 200 during that period in my life.  I have always felt a lot of shame in association with the bulimia.  I was able to stop doing it on my own, mostly because my mother figured out what I was up to and confronted me. Even with all my efforts and intervention in the past, I have never been able to lose weight in a healthy manner and keep it off.  I"m determined to finally get off the crazy diet merry-go-round!

During a trip to Cuba.  I'm not sure of the year.
Possibly when I was in Centennial.
During the same trip to Cuba.  This has to be one of the
only pictures taken of me in a bathing suit.

I started gaining a substantial amount of weight in my first year at Centennial College.  I still lived at home and was working part-time to put myself through school.  I started Centennial when I was 21 years old.  I don't have many pictures of myself from that time period, because I hated having my picture taken.  After gaining so much weight, I pretty much stayed away from the camera.  I made a lot of friends from Centennial, some that I still stay in touch with today.  It was an overall good experience for me.  I was passionate about school and excited about my future working as a Child and Youth Worker.

When I was 24, I began working on my Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Toronto.  My weight continued to balloon.  I didn't really make any friends in university.  I just showed up to lectures, did the work and left. I actually couldn't tell you the name of one person in any of my classes, in fact the whole experience is a bit of a blur.  I know I graduated though, because I have the degree to prove it.  All I can say for certain is that at the beginning of university, I gained a lot more weight and weighed over 300 pounds by my 2nd year.  I started using Phen Fen in third year and lost about 30 pounds by the time I graduated.

This is my mother and I at my University
of Toronto graduation in 1997.  I was 27.
I was 23 or 24 here.

My father, mother and I at a
wedding.  I was 23ish.

When I was 28, I decided I had to do something about my weight issue.  Something drastic.  I went to Dr. Bernstein's Diet Clinic and shelled out about $2500 to go on a medically supervised starvation diet where I got B12 shots in my ass 3 times a week.  I lost about 100 pounds and was the lightest I had been since high school.  The diet worked, but wasn't realistic for maintenance.  I don't agree with Dr. Bernstein's methods, but in all fairness, I was also not ready to really lose the weight.  I wanted a quick fix.  And what a quick fix it was.  20 pounds lost a month!

I hooked up with my hubby the next year, and that's how he fell in love with me.  One hundred pounds lighter.  We were both young and stupid.  We were jokers, smokers and midnight tokers. Midnight toking brings obvious consequences...the munchies.  I started once again on my upwards spiral of weight-gain.  We married in 2002 and I weighed 281 on my wedding day.  I was happy I was marrying the man I loved, but miserable that I was so huge and couldn't wear the dress I wanted.  On a happy note, I was able to lose about 10 pounds just before the wedding.  My mother had to safety pin my dress on my wedding day to keep it from falling in the front.


For the next five years, I pretty much maintained my that's a lie.  I gained a lot at one point and was over 300 pounds again.  I went on Meridia and was able to get my weight down to 265 just before getting pregnant with my son.  I was pregnant in my 37th year and miracle of miracles, I had no complications during my pregnancy.  I had a normal blood pressure, no gestational diabetes, not even morning sickness.  

I was about 7 months pregnant
here.  And I cropped out the back
to make myself look smaller!

But I did gain 45 pounds and the day before I delivered my son, I weighed in at 310.  I remember freaking out thinking they couldn't give me an epidural because I was too big. I did get an epidural but the machine was malfunctioning and it was no help.  No matter, I ended up having to have a c-section.  Apparently my pelvic bone is fused shut.  Who knew?  Not me until I was being sewn up on the operating table.  I was told then I could never deliver vaginally.  Sucked that I had to labour for 12 hours before learning that!  No matter...Julien was worth it!

One day old.  I'm tired and scared to death!

After having Jules, I began thinking again about how I was going to get my weight under control.  I dropped about 20 pounds after giving birth and steadily maintained my weight at about 290.  I went to my family doctor, Dr. Pitt, and asked for a referral for Gastric Bypass surgery.  Dr. Pitt reluctantly sent me to Dr. Joffe in Toronto and I met with him at his office.  The waiting list was 2 years, and Dr. Joffe convinced me that the only way I'd get my weight under control was with weight-loss surgery.  I believed that this would be the "quick fix" I needed.  From what I've read and learned from WLS bloggers is that WLS requires a lot of work.  It's not a cure all, it is an aid to a lifestyle change.  

By the time my 2 year wait was up, I was still convinced that this was the route I was going to go. I called Dr. Joffe's office to find out where I was on the wait-list only to learn that he was no longer practicing in Canada because he lost his license.  Read about that here if you want.  Finally made sense to me why there was a  nurse sitting in on our consultation who wasn't even taking notes, she was just sitting there.  He was under investigation and couldn't be alone with female patients.

So I freaked out because I had to start all over again.  I went back to Dr. Pitt, got a referral to the Bariatric clinic at St. Joseph's here in Hamilton, and got the referral to Dr. Poon's clinic at the same time.  I started Dr. Poon's Metabolic Diet on September 17th, 2011, and had an information session at the Bariatric clinic the first week in December.  By the time December rolled around, I had already lost 33 pounds and just wasn't feeling the surgery anymore.  I never went to the information session.  I knew at that time that I had finally found the lifestyle that was the right fit for me.  I knew I could do this, and more importantly, I wanted to do it!  I was pumped and finally ready to take control of my life.  There has been no looking back since.  Here I am 103+ (plus because even though I haven't weighed myself, my clothes are getting baggy) lighter and I can't imagine ever going back to my former self.  

I've said this before and I'll say it again.  If you want this badly enough, you can do it.  I used to say stuff like, "I'd die if I can't eat pasta", "I need to have Snickers Bars in my life", "I'll enjoy myself today, and diet tomorrow".  Tomorrow finally came for me on September 17th.  That's when my life changed.  Guess what? I can live without everything I thought I couldn't.  What I can't live without is my son and my husband.  And they shouldn't have to live without me because I finally killed myself with food.  I had convinced myself that  even though I was morbidly obese, I wasn't unhealthy.  Of course I was.  I was on two blood pressure medications for Pete's sake!  Maybe I didn't have Diabetes...but in time.  My birth mother battles with Type 2 Diabetes.  That would have definitely been in my future.  I'm finally done the denial and the excuses and let me tell you, it is so freeing!

I'm so close to reaching my goal.  I'm no longer obese...I'm in the over-weight range according to my BMI.  Once I reach goal, I believe the real work will begin.  I am going to have to be conscious of what I eat for the rest of my life.  I need to always be aware of my triggers and I need to keep up with my running and physical activity.  I don't deserve food treats because of how hard I've worked, I simply need food to survive.  The only way that my weight-loss is going to be a success this time around, is by changing the way I think about food.  Without that key piece to this equation, I will weigh in at 300 pounds once again.  And that folks is just not worth anything I could eat.  

Summer 2006.
Summer 2012.
We've come a long way baby!


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your history! It makes me feel like I can really change my life too! You are such an ROCK!!! : )

  2. I love this. Thanks so much for sharing. I've tried a lot of diets but never tried any drugs or surgery.

    I'm glad you found the way that works for you. You have indeed come a long way! :)

  3. You look great. Sounds like you are doing some realistic planning for maintnence . I think that is a great way to approach it. :)

  4. Great post Leigh. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. You have come so far.

  5. Thanks for Sharing! What a great victory - changing the way you think about food - its totally the key.

  6. Your dedication and commitment is an inspiration to me and many others. I love your blog and read every one of them. I will re read them when I am struggling. Your comment about changing the way you think about food is absolutely correct. Food is fuel. The foods that I used to think I could not live without are no longer a concern to me. I have discovered the foods that are important for survival and fill the missing food voids that I used to crave. Being creative with the right foods is important. It helps me stay on track. YOU are my inspiration Leigh. YOU are my rock. Please keep posting your successful journey, it is very important to those of us who are really trying.
    Congratulations on your success. Your zest and love of life shines through in every blog. I think the way you describe how weight loss has affected your daily life, ie, family, marriage, energy, running and enthusiasm is what motivates everyone who reads your blog. I love it. Keep up the great work. YOU are my personal hero. Steve.

  7. Awesome post Leigh---love are sure rocking it girl and I swear I saw myself and related to little bits and peices of your story!!

  8. You've come a long way indeed. You know you actually look younger now than you did in 2006. Just sayin'... :)

  9. Very inspiring life story. There are negative side effects that come with bariatric surgery for many patients. I read some baratric blogs and wonder to myself if it was really worth it? Congratulations for your life choices:)

  10. What an amazing story and journey. I am so very proud of you! I love reading your blog I love the comments you leave on mine. You are an inspiration to all of us. YOUR a super mom and wife, to change your life for your family. They are truly blessed!

  11. What an inspiring story. You are so beautiful inside and out. God Bless your journey. Gracie

  12. Replies
    1. You are so awesome Leigh, thank you for such and inspiring post!!!

  13. Thanks for sharing, this is a great post. I agree with your sentiment that if you want something bad enough (it doesn't matter what it is) you can do it. I'm so glad that you're so close to goal weight, maybe only 3-4 months.

    Maintenance is where the hard work starts, definitely. I will probably reach goal on Tuesday, and the one thing that gets me whenever I think about it is why didn't I stay at goal weight more than the 8 days last time? 12 years wasted.

  14. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Leigh. The good, the bad, the ugly. It's important to remember the past so we can create a new future.

    You and your husband are awesome!!!!!!

  15. Oh Leigh I'm crying again! Thanks for sharing and helping me get my mindset back where it should are right that nothing is more important than being healthy for your family. I am working on finding a new physiotherapist here in Georgia to finish my leg rehab so that I can get physical again...I'll never be able to run like you sadly but my goal is to chuck away the crutches and start at a gym and get rid of all this regained 'muffintop' from the last 5 months of self pity. You and your husband look so much younger and so healthy! Jules is a very lucky young man. Keep up the inspiring work!

  16. Thank you for sharing your story. It is very inspiring to see the progress you have made.

  17. Yes - you've come a long way!!! Beautiful and inspiring story Leigh :) Thank you for sharing.

  18. Leigh - you are such an inspiration! Reading your story was like reading about my own life! Thank you for being so honest and sharing your story. :-)

  19. You both look fabulous, and just so happy! :D