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My Story

The Early Years
When I was born, I weighed 11 lbs, 6 oz. The hospital claimed I was the “biggest baby” born in their facility for that entire year –  heck, probably in recent memory!  My brother was *only* 10 lbs. 2 oz. (lightweight), so he didn’t garner the type of well-deserved fanfare as I. With that sort of momentous welcome to the world, you’d think my life would have been charmed.

Alas, it was not, and I spent the next 40-years with a fat head.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t due to arrogance or an overinflated sense of self. On the contrary, my fat head revolved around the fact that I was taller, chunkier, and less-athletic than everyone else. Ironically, I wasn’t a fat kid at all, I was just chubby — but, when all of your friends are smaller than you are, and you can’t pass the President Physical Fitness test by doing even one chin-up on the high bar, and your head measures 15-1/2″ inches, (compared with everyone else’s 14″ craniums) — there’s really no other conclusion to draw, but that there is something grotesquely wrong and disproportionate with you.

Did I mention my big butt? Oh, it was nothing rivaling J-Lo’s “air-conditioner-in-the-window-butt” — but it was big enough NOT to fit into standard off-the-rack clothes. Fortunately, my mom and grandma were both talented seamstresses, so I had lots of handmade clothing. But that didn’t stop the kids from making fun of me and making up horrible rhymes, like:

Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
Cari’s Butt is as Big
As a B-52

Nice, huh?

Junior High
But, it didn’t get better in Junior High. Still taller than my friends by a good 4″, I never understood why I couldn’t fit into Jordache, Dittos and Chemen de Fer jeans.  You know, the cute types with fancy pockets, horseshoe stitching on the fanny, or sailor buttons on the front?

And why didn’t the bloomers on my PE uniform actually BLOOM??? I had thunder thighs for days and tree trunk ankles (my knees dropped directly into my feet) that kept me from fitting into even the most generous rain boots.

High School
My (temporary) saving grace was high school. During the summer between 9th and 10th grade, I dropped 20 pounds of baby fat – which only served to make my butt look bigger, (thanks to a teeny waist and nice full B-cup to balance things out.) I used to joke that I could “snag any guy I wanted”…as long as I was standing behind a hedge! And those DARNED Levi’s 501’s with the size right on the label! My friends all wore 28’s — because they had no hips. I needed a 33 or even 34, even though my waist was a 26!

Needless to say, my self-esteem was non-existent, as I got bandied about by the unforgiving “styles of the day.” Or maybe everyone who isn’t a string bean is subject to the cruelness that is fashion?

Whatever the case, while I might have started high school at a “svelte” 148 lbs., by the time I graduated 3 years later I’d blossomed to 170. From there, it was a quick jump to 180…then 190. By the time I got married, I weighed 189 and wore a size 18. By the time I got pregnant (3 months later), I weighed 204. Ironically, I had just started Weight Watchers (again) and had to break the news to my mom and dad that I “didn’t think I was going to make goal.”

Because I got so sick during my pregnancy, I lost 26 lbs. in the first trimester, then gained it back during the next 2 trimesters, finishing the event at about 219. I then developed an unrelenting case of post-partum depression and gained 70 lbs.

UP. UP. UP.
Next thing I knew, my kid was graduating from high school, I was pushing 40, and the scale was telling evil lies.

For years, I’d been championed because I “didn’t look as heavy as I was!” What good fortune! I weighed 200, but only looked about 175! I weighed 250, but only looked about 210! What can you say about someone who weighs 316, wears a size 28-30 bottom, 3X top and a 46DD bra?  “Wow, you don’t *look* a pound over 300”?

* * *

The Blubber Meets the Road
After years of yo-yo dieting and failed “will-power,” I began my official weight loss journey in June 2007. In reality, I’d been transforming myself from the inside out since about 1999, but by 2007, I was ready to complete the metamorphosis on the outside, so with the help of some prescription Meridia and a lot of motivation, by October of 2007 I successfully shed 45 lbs. and developed a budding workout regimen at the gym.

December 10, 2007: My Rebirthday
On the Monday morning of surgery, my scale read “267.” I told myself that would be the very last time I would ever see those numbers and never looked back!

3 Strictures, 1 less gall bladder and 2 reconstructive surgeries later, I’m enjoying life as a 145 lb. auburn haired bombshell in 4-inch platform heels! This morning, my hubby asked me where his wife had gone? I replied, “She was replaced by a sexy new girlfriend!” (He heartily agreed!)

The After Life™: Exercise
I work out nearly every morning at 5:45 a.m. I used to ride my bike 15 miles, but decided that Long Beach isn’t really designed for safe cycling, so I switched to the gym, and only ride my bike on trails during the weekend. For extra fun, I do a power tae aerobics class (I shoot for 3x a week, but sometimes only make it 2x), and I’m always amazed by how “tough” I really am!

Anyone who knew me pre-WLS would tell you that I hated to exercise and didn’t like to move. The new me hates to sit or stand still and loves to push myself to new heights. The old me couldn’t last 5 minutes on level 1 on the elliptical. The new me routinely does 45 minutes on level 12 (with energy to spare). The old me shied away from a hill; the new me relishes the challenge.

The After Life™: Support
I attend support group (we lovingly call it “Fat Club”), on Thursday nights, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. My wonderful husband (MexiKen) even comes with me when he can (he had to see what the fuss was all about). I have met some amazing people whom I proudly call good friends, and have learned a great deal about myself.

I also participate in some online communities that support bariatric surgery people (like me!) I also contribute to BariatricEating.com, and really enjoy the wealth of information available there. Basically, without these types of support, I’d be on my own — and we all know how far that got me in the past!

My life is FULL of amazing, rich, memorable experiences, and I thank God every morning for the gift of this surgery and my new life. Now, this all might sound pretty shallow, but the outward stuff is purely a manifestation of the inward stuff.

I have become the woman I always was.

What I Know
I’ve learned that I’ve got guts, dreams, chutzpah, attitude, assertiveness, pride, value, goals, ambition, beauty, talent, gifts, patience, blessings, friends, challenges, support, and wisdom.

I’ve also learned that I have a lot to learn. And that’s okay.

Bottom Line
Life is Good. Life is very, very good as a thin person. Don’t get me wrong, I have to recommit to the lifestyle every single day, and by most accounts, I’m still a relative “newbie,” but one thing I know for certain: I was given a miraculous gift, and I’m not about to give it back!