Weight Loss Surgery Gave Cher Ewing Her Greatest Tool

Weight loss surgery, Cher Ewing explains, is only a tool to help get you where you need to go. But without it, she admits, she couldn’t have gone.

I was always 20 or 30 pounds overweight. As a girl, I wasn’t morbidly obese. But I definitely had an extra 20 or 30 pounds while my sister was “skinny-tiny.” So I was aware that she and I were not the same size and I couldn’t wear the same clothes. And that was frustrating. If I would wear something of hers, she would complain that I’d stretched it out – which doesn’t do much for your self-esteem.

I still did everything I wanted to do, minus not being able to wear the cute clothes I wanted to wear. I did lose that 30 pounds later, and I felt the best I ever felt. But after I graduated from high school I didn’t go to college. I went straight into the workforce – picking up bad habits, eating junk for lunch, drinking at lunch, going to happy hours.

My diet was horrific. And when I was 22 years old, I went from a size 13 to a size 24 within a year.

It was definitely emotional turmoil. I felt horrible, and I was overwhelmed by this whole process. I was very confident in my working environment and with my friends and family. But it was the dating scene where I felt less comfortable. I picked guys who didn’t mind dating a fat girl, and so I was a “closet girlfriend.” And because I had no self-esteem, I settled. That’s where I suffered the most due to my obesity: my dating life.

At my highest weight, I was 236 pounds and five-foot-two. Still, I was a “healthy” obese person. I didn’t have sleep apnea, I wasn’t diabetic, and there was no high tension or high blood pressure. But I knew when I did make the decision to have weight loss surgery – when I was 38 – that if I didn’t change things, I was working my way towards those co-morbidities. I knew I didn’t want to go into my forties being morbidly obese.

The preparation I’d had for weight loss surgery, initially, was trying to have gastric bypass surgery back in 2000. I was approved for it from my surgeon, sight unseen. Basically all I had to do was go meet the surgeon and schedule my surgery date. But when I did that, the surgeon was brutally honest with me. He might as well have taken a piece of paper and scrolled it across the floor in listing all the things I would never eat again. I really don’t think I was physically or emotionally ready to make the changes I was going to be forced to make. I left his office crying and I sat in my car, crying.

That was 2000. But then in 2004, I learned about Lap-Band surgery. I learned that it has no food restrictions. There are foods you should avoid, but none that you can’t have. And I learned it’s just a tool you should work with, not a magic bullet.

And so really, my weight loss wasn’t rapid at all. During the first six months, I lost 20 pounds. Because I was getting used to the lifestyle, I didn’t dive in head-first and I still ate the junk food and I didn’t have the total lifestyle change. The biggest complaint I’ve heard about the Lap-Band is that it doesn’t work. But that isn’t true. The band doesn’t fail you, you fail the band. With the Lap-Band, it’s 80 percent you and 20 percent the band. I still ate all the junk foods like ice cream, cookies and chips, and I was still able to eat them. The more processed the food, the easier they are to eat. (And I still eat those foods now but I eat them in moderation.)

But after that six months I said to myself, “What the hell are you doing? Are you going to be happy with 20 pounds – or are you going to really make the changes you need to make?” And that’s when I kicked it up. And then I lost another 50 pounds pretty quick.

So far, I’ve lost 80 pounds and I have 20 or 25 more I want to lose. The band is a tool. It will and it does work, but you can cheat it. You have to have your “light bulb” moment, which I had after I’d lost only 20 pounds. For anyone considering weight loss surgery, I’d recommend doing a lot of soul-searching. You shouldn’t go into this with the misconception that you have a magic bullet, that it’s a “be all, end all.” I don’t care which surgery you do; they are all tools and they all need to be used accordingly.

Even still, since May 12, 2004, the surgery is the best gift I could have given myself, as I’ve said elsewhere.  At the time of my operation, I didn’t realize how life-changing it would be but I don’t regret it. In the past five years, my experience has been full of benefits beyond weight loss. For one thing, I have discovered over time that I have more strength and courage than I ever figured possible.

Finally: the shame and guilt I carried around, related to being obese, have steadily fallen away. Without a doubt, I know others deserve to feel how I do now. They deserve to see and feel themselves realizing a dream.

Cher Ewing

One Response

  1. Kathy

    Way to go Cher! Love reading your success story and look forward to getting to know you better! Kat