UNC Health Talk

Vicky’s Story Part 1: Ruses and Excuses for My Bad Habits

Vicky Coerper

Post by Vicky Coerper, a Rex bariatric surgery patient and Rex co-worker. Vicky had bariatric surgery 5 and half years ago, and is writing about her journey through this blog series in order to share her struggles and triumphs on her path to good health.

Life before my bariatric surgery was so difficult, challenging and fake. First of all, have you ever pretended to be happy? It’s a mental game I played when hitting the scales at over 300 lbs. At that size, it’s hard to feel like you fit in to society’s norms, so you say things like ‘fat people are jovial people’, or ‘I’m overweight because I’m big-boned’, or ‘I’m like this because of my mom and great grandma… it’s in my genes; I can’t help it!’ But underneath it was all a ruse meant to divert attention away from people seeing the real me, and a ruse to prevent me from accepting responsibility for my poor eating habits.

I grew up in Wisconsin where our family lifestyle was always centered around what’s cooking in the kitchen. We loved to visit my mom because we knew we’d have the best food, and there was always something good in her kitchen. We knew we’d find ‘Sock-it-to-me’ cakes, Danish pastries, Sweet Potato pies, and an assortment of ice creams in the freezer. Many people from church would follow us home on Sunday because they knew my mom was always going to have some terrific and tasty food cooking, and who didn’t want to be a part of that? It was the culture.

For me, that’s when the weight gain started. From there it seemed like life was always centered around food and eating, because there were great memories associated with eating and entertaining. When life got hectic with the family and then with teenagers, we felt like we needed quick and easy meals because everyone was always on the run.

The weight gain was slow and manageable at first, but things really took a downturn while I was working on my online Masters Degree. I’d work 8-10 hours a day, come home and sit at my computer for another 4-6 hours while my daughters kept the house running, made meals and brought me a plate convincing me that I had to take time to eat! I’d have lots of unhealthy snacks while studying, nicknaming the snacks ‘brain food.’

I felt like I had this shelf on by backside from all the weight in my hips. I was self conscious getting on a plane; would I still be able to fasten the seat belt?  I always made sure I went to the bathroom before boarding the plane. Trying to get 300+ lbs in those tiny toilet areas was difficult and uncomfortable. I was even embarrassed walking down the aisles because I often bumped into people who were seated in the aisle seats.

Once I hit the point where I didn’t even want to know exactly how much I actually weighed (knowing I was well over 300 lbs), I made a decision that something needed to be done to get a handle on this weight issue because I was so embarrassed.

I’m sure my husband was embarrassed as well, although he’s such a sweetheart that he never voiced what he may have been thinking, but was extremely supportive when I suggested that we attend an information session at Rex for Bariatric Surgery. I’m sure he was thinking maybe I’ll finally get my wife back- I’d gained 170 lbs since we met. I needed to make a plan and work on my plan. I had to find me again and real happiness and stop pretending that life was all good!