Story by Kalynn Knaub
“Growing up, I had always been the biggest kid. I was never considered ‘little’. People would make comments about my size, all the time. It became something i became accustomed to. I was always the slowest runner, the flag football belts never fit me. My swim suit on the swim team had to be special orders. I was active in school with sports and events.
I did like to eat, however in college I really started to pack on the pounds. Late night studying lead to making terrible decisions. You could say I never had a healthy relationship with food. College didn’t help, binge eating became something that was a comfort for me. My comfort was anything sweet. A half gallon of ice cream, I’d down that no problem. My parents used to go on vacation and i would eat a cheesecake while they were gone, which could be in two days. A pack of Oreo’s here, half a pizza there, throw in half a box of pasta for good measure. I would eat anything because it gave me comfort. Sad to realize looking back that I needed comfort from my own weight. I was always told “you’re really pretty for a big girl.” “you have such a pretty face, but you would be prettier if you lost a few pounds.”
As I got older, I realized that I was “’the big girl’; a label I would usually make fun of myself for. I tried for so long to hide the insecurities that came with that label. I had no self confidence, I tried to hide my weight with my personality I thought my personality would over shadow my weight for people. Then they would for forget about my weight and it would magically disappear. Shopping for clothes which always seemed to be going up size and kept getting tighter and tighter. I won’t ever forget dating, going on a date and a guy made a comment “I wouldn’t have taken you out if I would have known about how big you are” he also faked his mom having a stroke to end the date quickly, needless to say he never got a second date. I cried the whole way home then probably drank way too much that night.
I work as a nurse and realized, I give so many people the tools and inspiration to help themselves and want them to be better why not try and better myself? I was depressed, I didn’t want to go out with friends, I didn’t want to date. I wanted to hide, from myself and everyone else. I had no idea what to do. I tried years of failed diets, failed exercise routines, every diet pill on the market. I knew if I didn’t make a major change I was going to kill myself one bite of food at a time. I felt that I had tried everything short of having a eating disorder and had no hope. My parents were supportive, yet apprehensive at first, as any parent would be. They wanted what any parent wanted, me to be happy in a healthy way.
I looked into a weight loss center through my job. I remember working with two of my good friends and talking with them about even making an appointment. I was nervous what others would think of me, what they would say. Liz said to me ‘What does it matter what they think? Is it their body? No, it’s not. It’s yours. Make the call.’ Nicole said ‘she’s right. If this is going to make you happy, that’s what you deserve. You deserve to be happy. Call them.’ I remember walking away from both of them, knowing they were right. Crying and making the phone call. I called the weight loss center and told them, I needed to make a informational appointment, I also told them I was nervous. I have no idea what this entails and what it means for my life.
I had tried everything at this point, diets, pills, exercise, anorexia followed by binge eating I knew I needed to take control of my life. If not, I was going to die.
I went to the weight loss center, I was so overwhelmed. They have surgery options, they have physician supervised options. What do I choose? Which is best for me? After researching for what seemed like months, I made my decision. I was going to have the gastric sleeve surgery. A surgery which would remove approximately 75% of my stomach. I kept my decision pretty quiet, I told a few close friends, and my immediate family members. They 100% supported me. I started going to the weight loss center and proceeding with my appointments I had to get so many clearances. Family doctor, cardiologist, psychologist, dietitian, labs, EKG’s. As time went on I wondered if i was making the biggest mistake of my life.
I had a pre-op diet which included protein shakes and yogurt, for two weeks. I thought I was dying during that time, then the big day finally came, March 28th. The surgery was an easy surgery, I woke up in recovery in pain which was to be expected. My hospital stay was one night and then i was sent home. The first few days were rough, I was in severe amounts of pain, I was nausea’s and I couldn’t do anything but drink clear fluids. As days went on. drinking got easier, the pain got better, the nausea went away. I started doing my daily walks. I was told during my hospital stay that walking would be the best thing for healing. I don’t have any where to walk that was flat. So to Walmart I went, every day pushing a cart I walked the isles. After a few weeks of that I was finally comfortable enough to walk outside. This went on for a full 6 weeks. Walks, and protein drinks were what filled my life it seemed. I had a allergic reaction post op that made me question everything. I was covered in a rash, itching myself crazy, I thought “this is my life now, what did i do” my rash went away thanks to steroids, and I quickly forgot my negative thoughts.
After the 6 weeks were up I had to start back to work. I was nervous for going back to work as I work in female dominated field, and as we all know females talk. My first shift back I tried to hide the fact that I was gone. Then people started making comments ‘How was your surgery? Oh, you lost weight, how did you do it? You took the EASY way out.’ That last comment is one that hurts me, it hurt me then and it hurts me now. I underwent a surgical procedure to help better my life, my life has completely changed since surgery but you think its the easy way out? If easy was anyone I took me a while to come to terms with that was some others view points on my surgery. I was talking with Nicole again, who is one of the most confident people I know, and I look up to her in so many ways. She said “Let them talk, let them hate on you. You did this for yourself, not for anyone else. It does not effect them in any way shape or form. You did this for the most important person, you did this for you.”
After our conversation, I really started to focus, I focused on myself. Yeah, I did have surgery but it’s not going to put in the effort, I have to do that. I started meal prepping, weighing my food, tracking everything I put into my mouth. I started making sure that between work and outside of work that I was walking 5 miles a day. That’s a lot of changes for someone who used to have the couch potato award. I started drinking a gallon of water a day, and have a huge jug at work that everyone loves to laugh at. I started seeing weight come off. I stopped hiding my surgery, it was not something i was ashamed of, it was something I was proud of. I started documenting my progress, along with my daily activities on my Instagram. I never expected anyone to see it, or for people to message me thanking me for sharing my story.
A new co-worker said to me the other day “You look nothing like your picture” I smiled and said no, I’ve lost some weight. I told her my story then showed her some side by side photos. She was amazed that it was still me. I laughed, still me, but in the same sense a completely different person. Alyssa another friend said to me “I don’t mean for this to sound rude, but I never realized you were that big.” She was not being rude, I told her and I agreed with her I never saw myself as that big either. I knew I was big but until I started to loose weight, I never knew how truly big I was.
At my heaviest I was 283 pounds, that’s a lot of weight for someone being 5’1. I was in 20/22 pants, 2x/3x tops. For scrubs I was in 3x scrub tops, and 2x bottoms that were tight, I just hoped they didn’t bust open while I was working. To date I’ve lost 126 pounds with the help of surgery, I still continue and will continue to lose weight. I am now in a size 10 jeans, Medium tops, and Medium scrub top and bottoms, which are quickly becoming baggy. I have had amazing milestones I never knew would be possible. I fit in a standard size towel and it wraps around me. I can shop in the “normal” sized sections and not plus sized. I had to buy smaller rings, my bracelet had to have a chains taken out. I see my collar bones. My naturally high cheekbones, are now something everyone can see and I show them often when I smile. I was the maid of honor in my brothers wedding, my biggest hurdle was I didn’t want to be uncomfortable standing up in front of everyone. Needless to say the wedding came, I never once thought about my size, or compared myself to the other bridesmaids.
I document my weight loss and my newfound life and happiness most often on Instagram. Which has been great connecting to others who have had surgery, or are thinking about getting the surgery.
This surgery didn’t just change my life by removing my stomach. It gave me so much more. I have confidence I never had before, I have no worries or cares of what people think of me, people see me, they don’t see my weight. The person I have become is someone I never dreamed of, someone I thought would never have existed. She’s a person I have always wanted to be, but didn’t know how. I have finally found myself, and am very happy to say for the first time in my life I actually and truly love myself for the first time in my life. I would tell anyone that they can change their life. It’s going to be hard, not everyone is going to agree with the choices you make. However, it’s not about them, it’s about making yourself and your health a priority in your life.
You can follow her journey on: Instagram