Weight Loss Surgery Helps Laura Preston in Her Battle with Food Addiction

Weight loss surgery provided Laura Preston a 180-pound loss, but as she admits, the procedure has only been one part of an ongoing battle with food addiction.

I was overweight my entire life. I’m blessed that I was surrounded by a loving and supporting family that always encouraged me to try anything, and to go after my dreams. I was always the loud and funny girl in the class. I was always very outgoing, and the first to step up to a leadership role.  Also, when I was young, I was always the bossy one in class – the one always in trouble for talking. I had a boyfriend; went to all the proms. And I always kid that I don’t have the “sad fat girl” story from my school days.

Actually, it’s just that I didn’t have the visually sad story. Inside I was hurting, but that girl was hidden. I wore my mask and I wore it well.

I’ll never forget the day, or even the moment, I realized I needed weight loss surgery. I was living in Manhattan and working in the cosmetic industry. My job consisted of traveling across the country working with all the retail accounts. I recall that I was in Los Angeles and had just worked a trend show, speaking in front of 200 women on a Saturday morning. I weighed my heaviest weight, 365 pounds, but I’d spent all day on my feet doing skin care consultations.  I was laughing and talking with women about how they deserved to treat themselves – talking about how they have to take care of their body.

Hello? Calling the kettle black! I remember going to bed that Saturday night beyond exhausted. When the alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. for my “red eye” flight, I remember rolling over and looking at the clock and just starting to cry. My whole body hurt. I was exhausted. I just wanted to be back home in my bed, in my apartment back in New York City. I hit that snooze button and just cried. Cried for the fact that I wanted to rush home – but also realizing, what was I rushing home for, or to? Not a husband. Not children. No: I wanted to be back to the comfort of my apartment and my job. The job that was my identity … and I had never felt so alone.  If I didn’t get on that plane, who would know? Who would care?

I remember canceling my flight and taking a couple personal days. I went back to sleep, and then spent two days in that hotel room, making lists – pros and cons. I knew I had to fly back to New York and make changes. I knew at that point, my obesity was controlling my life and I needed to seek help. Now, I had lost and gained back the same 100 pounds multiple times in my life. I knew how to count the calories and take it off. The problem was, I could not keep it off. The problem was bigger than the physical food. I had to find why I was doing what I was doing to my body. I also knew I couldn’t live in that body any longer.

I researched bariatric surgery for almost two years prior to my surgery. I went on countless consults with surgeons in the New York market. I bought every bariatric book that was in print and spent endless hours in chat rooms and on websites. I don’t think you can be too prepared or overeducated on your surgery. When you leave that hospital and walk through your front door, you are walking into a new life. I tell people, “When you walk out that door to go to the hospital, take a moment and know that you are going to come back as a different person. You have a new journey ahead of you, and you are in charge of the map.”

My surgeon kidded around with me about being the healthiest fat girl he ever had in his office. I was fortunate that at the time of looking into weight loss surgery, I was not suffering from any co-morbidity. Still, carrying extra weight for all those years definitely took its toll on my knees and back. I had more pains and aches after I began to lose the weight.

My weight loss was very quick and consistent.  I immediately joined a gym and begged my surgeon to release me to exercise. I followed all the rules, and completely focused on losing the weight. I was terrified of failing and terrified of having post-op complications.

I started my journey at 365 pounds, and my lowest weight was 185 pounds.

After having gastric bypass surgery, I moved back to Michigan where I grew up. I walked away from New York City and went home to get healthy. I had made the commitment to my body that I would see this journey through. I took a job that paid the bills, not one that defined me. I made my diet and exercise the priority in my life. I spent a little over four years in Michigan finding health and finding myself. I immediately became very involved in the bariatric community. I wanted to hold myself accountable – as well as give back to a community that helped me gain my “self” back. I began speaking at support groups, traveling to conferences across the country and working with bariatric product lines. I have met the most amazing people across the country on this journey, and I have passion for the bariatric industry.

On the other hand, I am a food addict. I always will be.  I believe that obesity is a disease that has no permanent cure. I have always used food for emotions: comfort, happiness, anger, etc. I will wake up every day for the rest of my life with the need to make the right choice. I thought that my obesity was the reason for some many wrongs in my life. I thought if I could get the weight off, everything else would fall immediately into place. Not true. My obesity was a physical result of many other issues in my life. And the truth is, I think my journey has gotten harder from a mental standpoint because I no longer have the excuse of the weight. Now, it comes down to me.

These surgeries truly are tools to battle against food addiction. But unfortunately, they’re no cure. It takes focus, desire and determination to find long-term success.

You’ll have to commit to a complete change in lifestyle, and you have to be willing to give it 100 percent to succeed in the long term. For me, it’s a battle I fight every day.

But I will fight until the very end.

Laura Preston


24 Responses

  1. Bariatric Girl

    You go girl! Great story. It is a honor to be called your friend and I’m looking forward to seeing just what’s in store for the future of Laura Preston!
    hugs, Yvonne

    Reply
  2. Ann

    WOW!! Just what I needed to hear tonight! Thanks for sharing your story….=)) I too am a food addict, and am wanting to find the best way to “give back” and keep myself honest too.

    Reply
  3. Julie

    Laura – I salute you !!!
    You have totally put into words how I feel on a daily basis. I too thought the surgery would be the answer to everything and it was’nt. I have and still am battling food demons, as I KNOW I am a food addict. Thank you for sharing your story and good luck xxx

    Reply
  4. Sharon Hinshillwood

    You look beautiful. I know how you feel. I fight every day. I had surgery six years ago and I struggle every minute of my life. Good luck.

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  5. Nicola Michaelson

    Well done! You look amazing – I too had gastric bybass surgery 16 months ago I weighed 258lbs and now weigh 162lbs…I can’t believe what I weigh as in my mind I am still a big girl but the reaction I have had from other people is fantastic, somebody even walked past me in the supermarket the other day and then came back over and asked if it was me! I thank god everyday that I am so much healthier than I was 16 months ago…Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  6. ScooterMama-SAD

    And you will have to fight to the very (bitter) end. They don’t tell you that you will have to deal with numerous deficencies, bone and joint problems, non-alcoholic liver disese (cancer) and on and on. I just traded lots of problems, but for even more serious problems.

    Oh well, it was good while it lasted— a whole 5 years!

    GOD help us all who have had these surgical weightloss “MIRACLES”! HA!

    Reply
  7. EILEEN HADACEK

    LAURA, I MET YOU A FEW YEARS AGO AT A SEMINAR IN MICHIGAN I THINK IT WAS MAY OF 07. I LOVED HEARING YOUR JOURNEY THAN AND OFTEN TRIED TO GET INTO YOUR BLOG BUT NEVER COULD GLAD TO EE YOU. I WILL TELL YOU 17MONTHS AGO ANOTHER FRIEND AND I STARTED A BARATRIC 12 STEP GROUP IN CLEVELAND BECAUSE WE ALSO BELIEVE WE ARE ADDICTS. I AM POWERLESS OVER FOOD THIS GROUP HAS HELPED ME GET SOME CONTROL AND I AM MANAGING TO KEEP MY 185LB WEIGHT LOSS SO FAR. IT IS A STRUGGLE I WILL PRAY FOR YOU AND YOUR JOURNEY. PEACE AND HOPE. EILEEN

    Reply
  8. mssmisty

    You are inspiring! I see the gastric surgeon on Tues – a little scare – ready to commit to my journey – thank you friend for sharing yours.

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  9. sjellis06

    I really loved your story. I just got gastric bypass in December and I can totally relate. It’s hard to be the poster child for all my fat friends right now because right now it is a true struggle. I just hope I have a positive story to tell when this is ‘all over’ even though I know it will never end 😛

    Reply
  10. Angie718

    I really needed to read this tonight. i just had weight loss surgery on december 28th. i was in the hospital for four days. Came and 4 days later I was back in the hospital for 9 days with some complications. Now I am back home for a week now and I’m still not feeling well, not able to eat or drink without all the pain. So I think I am starting to feel depresse that I had the surgery. I weighedin at 324lbs the day of surgery. I’m down about 40lbs. I was taking 5 needles and 2 pills for my diabetes, pills for fluid retention, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, etc. Since having the surgery, I haven’t had to take a lot of the meds. But I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story. God bless you and I pray for your continued success.

    Reply
  11. SummerBreeze

    You look fantasric , you sound so confident , I cannot wait till the day i feel confident again..I also have had a rough go of surgery , 3 days ICU then 5 more days hospital…Dec 22 was my surgery date , I still am not feeling good..I had stpah infection after I got hime , throwing up alot , and diareha ,I know the pills for staph didnt help all this , but I have been off of them for 10 days now and still having some problems , I did get nausea pills that help..I have lost 25 lbs , but what a terribke way tolose weight , most my days are spent in bed , to tired to weak to do much ,seen surgeon thursday , not alot of answers other than go back to blended foods and try to make myself drink more protien , me and protien didnt get alogn in hospital and istill am having problems with it…alas if i am not doing better soon I will end back into hospital…reading the positive stories do help , keep up the great work and watch for my positive story one of these days !

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  12. Tired of the Fat! Glad for the Tool!

    Thanks so much for this post. I am 6 months out and using these stories to help boost my efforts! Thanks again.

    Reply
  13. Diane

    I think many of us are food addicts and that is why we had RNY in the first place, to help us face that. I am a year out and only have 15 more pounds till goal. I have to check myself daily, that means weighing and measuring all foods, and trading my addictions…Instead of night time nibbling, I jump on the treadmill while watching tv. Good for you that you addressed food addiction. Obesity IS a disease much like alcholism and yet so much harder as we are bombarded by seductive food commercials and so much socialization takes place around food, etc. We have to live our lives and love ourselves one day at a time.

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  14. Adam

    My favorite line from your story, and the one I can relate to:

    “I will wake up every day for the rest of my life with the need to make the right choice.”

    Amazing journey you’ve had, and you do look amazing. Now if only Diet Dr. Pepper really did taste as good as regular Dr. Pepper, making the right choice would be so much easier. =P

    Reply
  15. sharon bell

    i had my surgery march 8th. i knew what to expect, because my daughter had the surgery in october. i previously had trouble with blood clots, o on my surgery day, they implanted a filter. to hopefully stop any clots from going to my lung. i spent 3 days in the hospital, partly in intensive care. i have a lot of issues, mostly from my weight and my yrs of smoking. i’ve been smoke free for 11 yrs, but the damage was already done. the monday after my surgery, my leg hurt so bad, that they checked for a blood clot—sure enough..so back in the hospital for 4 days. the following week, when i visited my dr, i had gained 5 lbs, because of the water retention in my leg. i was very disappointed to say the least. i have a lot of problems since the surgery,but i’m hoping for the best

    Reply
  16. sharon bell

    i still have diarehea a lot..but on the good side, i have stopped taking medicine for diabetes, and i have lost my sweet tooth. i spend a lot of time depressed, and am trying to get control of it. i have been disabled for 8yrs. and my main joy was cooking. i am a good cook, and am finally getting back my want to. i’m still fighting with my leg,but i know it takes a while for the body to break down the clot and help it heal. i’m trying to remain positive, and reading your story sure helped a lot. thank you!

    Reply
  17. kim

    I am having bypass tomorrow and am naturally very anxious. Most of these stories were terrifying, I was looking for supportive successful stories but am now even more fearful. Please consider everyone when posting your horror saga.Very sorry I logged on today.

    Reply
  18. joann

    Hi Laura good job on your weight lost you look great. I had the lap band surgery april of the year and I have lost 29 lbs but it still a challange for me each day.

    Reply
  19. Cindy

    Trying to decide between lap band and bypass. I need to lose about 100 lbs Also I saw something on the web about mini bypass by a Dr. Rutledge but can’t find o0ut any other info except his website. 5 months into the process so insurance wise can go after next month. Any advice? I’m leaning toward band because less invasive

    Reply
  20. kim ferguson

    I had the lapband done on march 11, 2010. I would do it again, I love it. Started out at 252 and now I am at 199. My sister had the bypass about 2 yrs ago and is having lots of problems

    Reply
  21. hopefloats

    Congrats to you and the sucess of your weight loss, I am in the very end of the process befor having surgery and reading your story only confirms that i’m making the right decision still feeling a little anxious I believe that i too am a food addict and i see no turning around………. thanks for the inspiration!!!

    Reply
  22. Hope

    Anything you choose to do to make a positive change in your health is a good thing! I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, nothing but awesome results! No hair loss, no vomiting or diahrrea! 25 lbs gone in 5 weeks, I don’t even have hunger cravings! Research it! It’s also laproscopic!

    Reply

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