• Kayla Landaeta

Happy 3 Year Surgiversary To Me!

Today is a big day for me.

My selfie that I shared on social media to announce I was about to have weight loss surgery. I didn't decide to share my experience until about 30 minutes before they wheeled me in!

Three years ago, I went under the knife to have my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, or VSG, in order to take control of my weight and life. In the bariatric community, a lot of people call this your "re-birth" day as it honestly means a lot more to a lot of us than our actual birthdays. This was the day I chose myself. I made a choice for my future. It's the best day to celebrate.

Three years is kind of crazy to me. When I was going through my 8 month pre-op process of appointments and tests and learning, I was addicted to finding people on Instagram and Youtube who decided to share their lives after weight loss surgery. The few I found who were 3+ years out seemed like unicorns to me - they not only seemed to have mastered their new anatomy, they just seemed so knowledgeable and full of wisdom. I envied them and dreamed of being in their shoes someday.

Now that I'm here, I'm quickly learning that being considered a "veteran" of weight loss surgery is like when you are in high school and you think people out of college are just so... adult. As most of us know, when you hit that point, you are really just making it up as you go!

Here is what I have learned over the last 3 years.

My dreams before surgery were small. The job I expected to work was in a dark office or cubicle, and not something I was passionate about. I didn't see myself getting married in the near future. I didn't see myself traveling. I didn't see myself liking a lot of the hobbies I love now. Everything was pretty... simple.

As confident as I seemed to be before surgery and losing my weight, I was so insecure. I made up for feeling bad about my size with being lively and relying on my public speaking skills and ability to talk to people. I don't feel the same need now to win people over - I know I'm worth their time and attention.

A 7 hour day of hiking and adventuring at Plitvice National Park brought me to this amazing summit. This climb, the flight to Croatia itself - would not have been possible at 343lbs.

Things that scared me before are so worth it. Traveling. Adventuring. Career changes. Connecting with thousands of people around the world with the help of the internet and social media. Losing the weight and finding myself in the process has led to the best parts of my life.

My most common email, direct message, or comment - comes from people who are obese and have started to consider surgery. I remember the point well, where no decisions have been made, you're just "checking it out." I recall looking up all of the negatives for surgery to talk myself out of it - to convince myself I could do this on my own this time.

There are many scary parts of bariatric surgery - the possibility of hair loss, vitamin deficiencies, the loose skin - the uncertainty of everything. We are worried how our friends and family will treat us, will our relationships end, having to buy new clothes and how to feel confident shopping again in a whole new world of options. There are big worries and small worries - and trust me, you are not alone in dwelling on them.

My recommendation - do your homework, but embrace the uncertainty. My life is completely different now. I honestly don't recognize myself in old photos, and it is getting harder to remember what life was like at 343lbs. It seems like a distant chapter in my past, but one that is still always present in the back of my head.

So today, I bring those memories to the forefront of my mind, and remember how incredibly thankful I am for how strong I was 3 years ago to show up and have my surgery. Because of the decision I made 3 years ago today - and the millions of little decisions I have made to successfully use my tool - have gotten me here, on my 3 year surgiversary, as someone who can still brag at being a success story for bariatric surgery.

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