Yvonne McCarthy is one of the most recognizable faces in the post-op WLS world. Yvonne is the creator of the website “Bariatric Girl” and had WLS in 2001.
“ I told the surgeon to ‘fix me or let me die on the table’. I just couldn’t deal with living in my body for one more day. I always said that I lost 100 pounds 100 times. For the first time in 30 years I had hope.”—Yvonne McCarthy
What shocks me the most about Yvonne is how her beautiful exterior masks the deep self-doubt she struggles with—sound familiar? What’s so wonderful and unique however, is that she has the courage to share her fears with us—to ignite and inspire our own inner rock star!
It’s heroines like Yvonne that I’m deeply indebted to. Her vulnerability and strength of character make the WLS community the warm and welcoming place it is–crowding out fear and replacing it with hope and power.
If you get a chance to thank Yvonne (Bariatric Girl) for the important work she does, you can find her here: http://www.bariatricgirl.com/contact/
Now here’s Yvonne’s take on my questions:
What’s your advice for post ops feeling isolated and losing motivation?
One of my favorite quotes is “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want”. If you slip, dust yourself off and get back on the horse. If you beat yourself up it will only cause more stress and stress causes your body to hold on to more calories. The cycle begins with eating badly, beating yourself up, and wanting to numb the feelings. And how do we numb feelings? We eat again and the cycle repeats. Get support but most importantly that doesn’t include being in groups and forums that suck the life out of you because they are cruel. Support should be unconditional and include a safe place to fall.
What’s the biggest misconception about WLS?
There are SO MANY misconceptions. The first misconception is that life will be perfect if we lose the weight or get that job or get that man/woman. Life is still “life” and when problems arise I ask myself if I would rather have these problems today or would I rather have those problems at nearly 300 pounds? Again it’s about an attitude of gratitude. You can’t try to be happy. You have to practice being happy and we definitely can’t look to some exterior thing for happiness. It is inside everyone and it’s up to you to train your brain to find and appreciate the little things in life that are really important.
What’s been your greatest challenge after WLS?
My greatest challenge has been keeping up with all the messages I receive asking for help. Regain is the subject of most questions or stories. Second is the number of post-ops at goal and the price they are paying. Transfer addiction is real and in order to transfer an addiction one must exist in the first place. WLS anorexia and WLS bulimia also exist as well as many other subsets. Another post I wrote about the depth of this problem is found here. https://goo.gl/2vHHIW My passion runs deepest trying to educate everyone about the psychological aspects of this disease. There is a reason I stopped at almost 300 pounds instead of 600 or more. I believe my level of using food to numb feelings wasn’t as strong as those who end up being bed bound. Even with my relative success at this surgery I am still plagued with shame and critical thinking (stinkin’ thinkin’). Often I feel like I have changed my outer shell but no one really knows the depth of my unworthiness.
Can you share one milestone or NSV that you reached that blew your mind?
Two years ago I trained to learn a routine that involved a ballet bar of sorts and a large exercise ball. When I was young I passionately wanted to dance. My schedule was full at eleven years old with ballet, tap, and jazz. At that age I was a little “stocky” but certainly not overly so. My ballet teacher was telling my mom something that I overheard. “Yvonne will NEVER be able to do jazz or tap or ballet because SHE’S TOO FAT!” Even though I wasn’t “fat” I knew I wasn’t at a weight where I would ever be taken seriously as a dancer. When I lost the weight and trained hard to learn this routine, I filmed and edited a beautiful video. (I’m including a picture) To this day I am afraid of posting it because I am in need of working on that part of myself that cares about people making unkind comments. My journey and the progress made will continue for the rest of my life. Like I said earlier, you must acknowledge a problem before you can find a solution and practicing an attitude of gratitude is key. Good habits can be acquired just like bad ones. Special thanks to Elizabeth Anderson for giving me an opportunity to share my journey.
–Thank you Yvonne! The pleasure was all mine.
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