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    "I failed a class because I was too self-conscious to go." continued...

    A week after my surgery, I'd lost 11 pounds. A month after, I'd lost 30 pounds. Less than two months later, I bought a size 16 — down from a 22! Was that really me in the mirror? For the first time, when people told me I was beautiful, I believed it.

    Today, I'm in charge. I used to be a slave to my appetite, but my life no longer revolves around my next meal. I never feel physically hungry anymore — which is so freeing! It offends me when people say surgery is the easy way out. This certainly isn't easy. I still fight emotional eating; I get that "head hunger" when I'm bored or stressed. When that happens, I try to focus on my family and friends, scrapbooking, or going to the gym. And I know what the consequences would be if I were to eat a meal as big as the ones I was used to: an entire frozen pizza, or a burger, fries, and a soda. The surgery rerouted food away from the part of the intestine that helps me digest sugar and carbs, so if I eat too much of them, I go through "dumping" — my body tries to get rid of what I just ate. I get sweaty and light-headed. And if I overeat anything, it comes back up.

    "I'm a completely different person."

    I used to get dirty looks when I went out. Now people offer me drinks! I love the attention — I just eat it up. My weight had always made it too difficult to play sports. But today, I'm a hiker, a skier, and I'm training for a triathlon. I have everything I ever wanted, thanks to surgery, and I'm so grateful. I have respect for my body. I'm getting my MBA and I have a wonderful boyfriend. I want to be healthy, to have a family, and to be a good role model for them. That's enough incentive for me to keep off the 100 pounds I lost. I keep my size 22s handy to remind myself of how far I've come.

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