I am on day 6 of a pre-op liquid diet. I’ve followed every instruction from my nutritionist and my surgeon very closely– in fact, I’ve been more restrictive than necessary. I am measurably in ketosis, and for the past several days, I have had that buzzy, glowing feeling that accompanies weight loss. I have always imagined this feeling to be caused, on the molecular level, by Pac-Man gliding around through my adipose tissue, gobbling up my fat cells and producing ketone bodies. Nom, nom, nom. Molecular biology be damned, no one is ever going to tell me that’s not how this works.
I have already lost three inches from my waist and about two from my hips. The scale, on the other hand, has not really budged. Just when I’m beginning to feel light-hearted, the scale can always be counted on for gravity.
The scale has never been my friend. As a young child, I was not afraid of much, but stepping onto that benign-looking slab of metal was tantamount to standing in front of a firing squad. Frankly, had I even once been given a choice between the two, it is quite likely that I would not be here to write this today.
The process, though miserable, was formulaic: I would furrow my brow, remove every spare article of clothing, take a deep breath, and wince as I slowly lowered my feet onto the all-powerful judgment box. Growing up, I honestly believe that I prayed more during weigh-ins than I ever did in a house of worship.
There were always obligatory weigh-ins during visits to my doctor, who I avoided at all costs. The scale was always my least favorite part. I would unflinchingly accept any test, any vaccination, any needle, and do so with a smile. I could watch without batting an eye as blood was drawn, without tears or even so much as an “ouch.” I was, so to speak, a big girl.
For a while, I weighed in at weekly baby Weight Watchers meetings, where, beginning around age 5, I would sign in and follow a middle-aged woman to a dressing room, take off my shoes, and see how many ounces I had lost from my little body that week. After meetings, we would follow the rest of the herd next door to Proportion, a well-placed chain cafe specializing in diet food. I can still remember the taste of their diet egg cream, a concoction that others purported to like, but to me tasted like the unpalatable saccharin offspring of skim milk and diet soda. (I will say that Proportion’s Mud Parfaits are amazing. I’d still take one of those over ice cream any day.)
I also remember how those meetings messed with my head, how it felt like being indoctrinated into some kind of cult where we learned questionable nutritional information (welcome to the diet food boom, where processed foods were king, diet soda was queen, and aspartame was a glittering golden god). Still, I remember my feelings of pride when I received validation for all of my hard work, for the dozens of miles I had walked and all the cookies I had diligently refused at sleepovers. After my teacher noticed that I had thinned out, I distinctly remember twirling around my 1st-grade classroom in a flouncy floral skirt, proud of something that, for once, had nothing to do with my brain.
Back then, we weighed in during gym class as well. It only happened a few times per year, but I remember the indignity of waiting on a single-file line with 30 other students. I remember the dread. I remember the helplessness I felt, and how wrong I believed this public spectacle to be, even in my youngest years. I remember it being my turn, and my disgust as my gym teachers slid the needle further and further along the smaller top beam. I remember my heart sinking as they then had to tick over the larger bottom counterweight. I remember the shame and the guilt.
That doesn’t just go away.
There is a part of me that is afraid that even this surgery, a Hail Mary pass after a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, might not work. It is a scary proposition to have even the faintest hint of doubt that it might not work after deciding to go through seven months of hurdles to prepare for surgery, maintaining a liquid diet for a month and a half, signing consents to get put under general anesthesia, intubated, and opened up in a minimum of four places, all to have your stomach stapled into a small pouch that will invariably make you nauseous and limit your food and beverage intake options for the rest of your life. Given all of that, my biggest fear is still that it won’t work. But I have to take the chance because, whatever the risks, whatever ways my life might have to change, and whether or not it works as well as I hope it will– the quality of my life is worth the fight. It’s worth all the fight I have.
I am just going to keep doing what I’m doing, and I will hope that the scale catches up. For now, I just have to have faith and stick to the plan. The number on the scale needs to take a back seat to the way I’m feeling and the inches I’m losing.
Pac-Man, do your thing.