I could never bring myself to admit that I was only 2 pounds away from 300 lbs but, it was true. So I figured as long as I didn’t reach the dreaded 300 pounds there was still some hope for me. I really wanted to conquer my weight issue and I tried. I really tried. I joined Weight Watchers at least six different times, I joined Jenny Craig a few times, did the Atkins Diet (lost 35 pounds, gained 50), I enlisted the services of a place called the Diet Center (lost 60 pounds gained 30), joined Nutri-System for 30 days, started and stopped seeing a local Diet Guru four or five different times, went in for a consultation to have my jaws wired but could not go through with it. Let me just say I have tried all and succeeded at none.

Whenever I watched a football game and the commentator would announce the weight of the players I would get depressed. “I weigh more than some of these professional football players and they look like giants on the television screen“, I would say to myself. Not only that, I’m 4’11 even though my driver’s license says 5’0. So basically, I looked like a chocolate dipped snow ball with arms and feet.

I love buying magazines and seeing the before and after pictures of weight lose stories the magazines would feature from time to time. My dream in life was to become a Before and After Girl. But how? I had tried and failed time and time again. I had for years participated in the Monday morning diet. I had a plan for losing weight come Monday morning. I would start the dieting ritual on Monday morning and by the time I pulled into my driveway on Monday evening, the diet was done. There were many Monday mornings like that, too many to count.

Twelve years ago a girlfriend of mine that had battled with weight issues for years, decided to have Gastric-Bypass Surgery and lost 120 pounds. The first time I saw her I cried, I ate and I contemplated me going through the same procedure. My friend looked wonderful. I thought long and hard about what she did to get the weight off. I knew I could never do this to my body, never. This was my body and I didn’t want to change the natural way it worked, not even if it meant losing all the weight. The same weight that had me leading a confined life. I tried to convince myself that I was born to be fat, everyone will just have to except me at this size (and for the most part they did). My abundant weight bothered me; it depressed me.  My weight issues had me leading a very limited life.

I longed to see myself at an average size, but it had become mentally impossible for me to eat right and exercise to make that dream a reality. About two years ago and three days before my birthday, I decided to get on my scale.  The same scale  that seemed to always follow me around the bathroom , the one I  tried to avoid.  I stepped on it and screamed, 302 pounds. I became physically ill. I returned to my bed in a state of hopelessness. I knew I had to do something to save me from me. Then I thought about my girlfriend and how happy and healthy she had become. I wanted that. I needed that. I had become a grandmother and I wanted to run and jump with my precious grandson, who announced to me one day after careful observation, “Momma, you have two stomachs, one in the front and one in the back”, (out of the mouth of babes).

A week later I made an appointment with my primary care physician. We talked in detail about my options. We took a historical walk back through my life as a dieter. I softly spoke about the possibility of Bariatric Surgery and the doctor agreed, looking at my history and the amount of weight I needed to lose at this point the surgery was not such a bad idea.

After months and months of support group meetings, testing and more testing, meeting with the surgeon and talking with my family, I had surgery. The surgery took place fifteen months ago and to date I have lost a total of 162 pounds. People who are not in the know view this surgery as the easy way out. No such thing. They are very much misinformed. This surgery as Helen the Program Coordinator and RN constantly reminded me, is only a tool. I still have to watch what I eat, I still have to exercise and if I overeat I can make myself sick or stretch out my new stomach which could result in me gaining the weight back. I do not want that to happen.

I am thankful that I made a decision  (finally) that was best for me. I am thankful for my surgeon Dr. Ajay Upadhyay. I’m so grateful for Dr. Upadhyay because on March 19, 2007 he helped me start my new life as a Before and After Girl.

Alfreda Avognon