Graduation: 30 Weeks! YOWZERS!

Wow! 30 Weeks! I can hardly believe that I started this journey 30 weeks ago and that tonight I graduated from the Kaiser Medical Weight Management Program- 57 pounds lighter! Wahoo! I did not think this day would ever come.  It is actually quite bittersweet. I remember day one, sitting in the waiting room on the 4th floor of the Fabiola building waiting to be weighed in for the first time, looking around at everyone there and thinking, “I wish I knew someone here, this will be so lonely.” Little did I know, that group of people would become my strongest support, my mentors, my listening ears, and most importantly my friends. This motley crew, ended up having so much more in common than I could have ever realized. 



Tonight, things came full circle. I sat in the waiting room, this time waiting to be weighed in for the last “official” time. I was surrounded by 25 new participants. They looked nervous, but excited. They awkwardly talked to each other trying to seek out someone they could find a connection with, someone they could take this journey with. They occasionally asked me questions as I sat waiting, all the questions I remember having. In a way, I longed for that moment in time. The newness of this all, the desperation I felt to do anything my support providers asked in order to conquer this tremendous struggle I had. All in all, the meal replacement/fasting part of this program was the easiest part, yet it is the part all the newbies dread, the part they have so many questions about. What you do not consider at that time, is that this is a lifelong journey- so much more than those first 30 weeks. Who could have ever anticipated that it would be so much scarier leaving the program, than entering it?

As the rest of my cohort, team 56, arrived the room erupted in excited, friendly, giddy noise. The connection my team shares is rare. We hear stories of other cohorts that come to meetings and go home after. They have not found the secret we found day one. That secret being, this is a long, difficult, draining, seemingly impossible experience. Without a support system of people who are actually in it, it is very hard to stay focused and be successful. Day one, we all exchanged emails, joined a group on Whats App and started spending time outside of class together. Because of this, our team is one of the most successful teams they have had in a long time. They actually have to kick us out of the waiting room when it is time to go to class, because we are so busy catching up, checking in, sharing ideas, etc. Tonight, as I looked around at my crew I felt so grateful for the experience we shared and thought about the profound impact they all had on this journey and my life. 

We received a certificate and two photographs tonight. One was from the first week of meal replacements and the other was from the last week of meal replacements. WOW! Everyone immediately started passing around their photos, hugging each other, shouting “OMG!”, the room a buzz with excitement. Some of the people were barely recognizable. I didn't remember them as they were. I stared at mine for a good long time, more than many others did. I was struck with an overwhelming emotional response. 

For me this journey has helped me lose weight, yes. But I feel like it has been more about the emotional journey for me. Sure that was able to happen because of the weight that I have lost, but that is the thing that most surprised me about the whole experience. To anyone looking at my two pictures, they would say they saw a girl with a big smile in both. As I sat there, looking carefully at my before and after, all I could do was feel sad for picture one and thankful for picture two- and it had nothing to do with my weight. 

As I looked at my before picture, I saw a girl smiling, but a girl who was very sad, uncomfortable, and struggling to love this version of herself. It brought back a flood of emotions that I didn’t expect to feel. The Erin before this journey was shy and afraid of being herself. She avoided social situations because it was too painful. The simple act of going out with friends meant thinking about what to wear. No matter what I chose I wouldn’t be happy with it because all I could see was a fat girl. All I could think about was how great my friends would look without even trying. I would always feel under dressed or not as well put together. They would be put together, people would compliment their cute outfits and I would just sit back and smile to cover the pain. I often just wouldn’t go out at all, it was easier they way. It was less scary, less painful. The Erin before, looked in the mirror and only saw negative. No matter how hard I tried to look for something positive, I just couldn’t see it. My self esteem was at an all time low. 

Then I looked at the second picture, my after picture. Sure only 30 weeks have passed, but that smile, it is genuine. I smile because I am happy. That day, I didn’t freak out that I was having my photo taken, I was excited to do so. I can look in the mirror now and recognize not only my physical success with weight loss, but that I have come leaps and bounds in my emotional health. I can recognize and celebrate the positive things about myself. I know that I am so much more than this body that I live in. However, because I am learning to love myself as a person, with that comes the desire to treasure this body that I live in. The two go hand in hand. I didn’t expect all of these emotions to come flooding in simply from being handed two pictures. What a journey! 

I still have a ways to go in this journey. I am about 40 lbs away from my goal still. However, I feel more confident in my ability to get there in a healthy and sustainable way. Our class now moves on to lifestyle. From here on out, we can attend as many lifestyle classes as we want to sit in on lectures, continue to receive support, and have the accountability of the program to either continue losing weight or maintain our weight loss. There is one lifestyle group that is focused on continued weight loss for an additional 10 weeks. I am excited that many of my cohort members are choosing to do that one too. The day we all go our separate ways will be a sad day indeed. 

I am not done with this process, I will never be done. This journey is a life long journey for me. Because even if I meet my ultimate goal, there is a separate journey in maintaining it. However, I am proud of the success I have had thus far and thankful for the people who have supported me in this crazy journey. You all know who you are. Thank you, I truly could not have made it here without you! 



Update: 

I know I am incredibly behind on my blog. I am so sorry. I will be back as often as possible to fill you in on how things are going. I just wanted to be sure to let you all know I was still here. 

I do have one bummer of an update though. Remember how in a previous blog I was complaining of severe heartburn and downing TUMS to try to ease the pain? Well, I ended up in the ER one weekend and discovered it was not, in fact heartburn, it was a gallbladder attack. I have gallstones that apparently I have had for years that are causing quite a ruckus. So, I will be having gallbladder surgery in 10 days to remove my gallbladder. Good times! 

Another thing to update you all one is that I LOVE to run! I have always loved running, but have not done it much since college. I started running again 2 weeks ago and am in love. I am not good at it, in fact I have a tank top I often wear that says "Slow runners make fast runners look good. You're welcome!", however I enjoy it. I am excited to continue it as this journey progresses. 

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