I want to offer a special thanks to
Sharon Ketchum for sharing her
success with us.
Here is her story:
My name is Sharon Ketchum, and I am 59 years old. I
am a wife of 37 years, a mother of two adult daughters, and
grandmother of a great grandson.
My weight loss story is your typical
story of being overweight as a child, and progressing into
an obese adult. Of course, I tried all the diets out there;
everything from the Diet Aides "candy" back in my early
teens, to a Jack LaLane powder diet, the “rabbit food” diet,
the boiled egg diet, the cabbage soup diet, an all-liquid
diet, the one-meal-a-day diet, the Adkins low-carb diet, and
the Susan Powter high-carb diet. The list goes on and on! I
even tried getting shots in my arm that made me sick! I
quit when I started throwing up blood!
I was pretty successful on Weight
Watchers, and lost 70 pounds over about a 12-month time
period. Then life got too stressful when my Mom and older
brother died within 3 months of each other. I also went
through an eight month period with my husband being
unemployed, when he and over 2,000 others lost their jobs
when the Bunker Hill mine in north Idaho closed down.
Because I have always reacted to stress by soothing it with
food, it didn't take long for the weight to pile back on,
and then some.
I have always struggled with varying
stages of depression. As a child and teen, my depression
didn't have a name. I now know I was dysthymic, which is a
constant low level of depression. After the birth of my
first baby, I became very depressed. I didn't know about
postpartum depression. It was 1975, and mental problems were
not acknowledged very much by society in general. If you
suffered with depression, you pretty much suffered alone, or
dragged your loved ones along for an emotional, confusing,
and often times angry existence. I was very good at hiding
my depression from the people in my life. You know the old
saying, "Fat people are jolly people?" That was me.
After my Mom and brother passed away,
my grief consumed me. I slid into major depression that
lasted years. My comfort was my family, my faith in God,
and the friends we made in our church. And there was food;
there was always food. I ate my way through life.
The birth of my second child, the
deaths of others I loved, the emotional aspects of moving
from our home in north Idaho to southern Arizona, family
strife, and coping with teenage angst fueled my depression.
My Dad's death and subsequent arrest of his bride-widow nine
years after his death, cast dark suspicion on whether he
died of natural causes, or was murdered by the woman he
married. It seemed like stress and anxiety just went on and
on. Through it all, I stuffed my emotions with food, my
drug of choice.
In 2007, I had health issues that could
not be ignored. I had high blood pressure; borderline
diabetes; back, hip and foot pain; and severe sleep apnea.
At 309 pounds, I knew I was in trouble, and things had to
change. I began researching gastric bypass surgery. My
cousin had the surgery, and I watched her for a year to see
how she did, and if she had any problems. She had amazing
results, and said she would do it again "..in a heartbeat."
I had gastric bypass surgery in 2008.
Because of too much scar tissue from previous surgeries, my
surgeon could not do it laparoscopically. I ended up having
major surgery, a longer hospital stay, and a longer recovery
They say a journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step. Like my cousin, I would do it
again in a heartbeat. I learned to eat small bites, and to
eat slowly. Thankfully, I did not experience dumping
syndrome. However, I learned that one bite too much made me
sick and miserable; something I learned the hard way on
several occasions! I followed all the post-bariatric rules,
and soon my weight began to melt away. It was wonderful! I
went through sizes quickly, and did my shopping at thrift
and second-hand stores. And I turned into a clothes and
shoes horse! I could finally see my feet, so it was fun
seeing cute shoes on them. I was delighted with the whole
experience; except for the loose skin and facial wrinkles!
I still laugh at the memory of an 82-year old woman telling
me I should use Oil of Olay, because it would do wonders for
my skin. She did have beautiful skin!
Everybody likes a happy ending. I wish
I could say I lost down to my ideal weight, and went on to
conquer the world, but I can't. Christmas came, and we all
know about the challenges of eating right when all that
chocolate, cookies, and festive food is everywhere you
look. Up until then, I maintained control of food and
eating correctly. So, I couldn't see any harm in making
cookies to give as treats to my family and friends. My
friend and I got together and made batches of cookies and
fudge. And of course, I had to sample! I didn't get
dumping syndrome, or an upset pouch. I got the equivalent of
a dam bursting, with no way to hold back the flood. I fell
completely and utterly “off the wagon.” Cravings took over,
and I began grazing constantly. I thought about food all
the time. The old eating patterns returned, and every day I
told myself I would get back on track and in control. Slowly
I gained back almost 30 pounds of the 139 pounds I had lost.
I became desperate to turn it around, and not gain it all back.
It was a major struggle and head-game
over food, and I felt so defeated. I felt just like I did
when I was obese, and food was all I could think about. I
realized I needed help. I couldn't face the fact that I had
put my life on the line to have major weight loss surgery,
only to fail so miserably. I knew my food issues were both
mental and emotional. I decided to find a way to change my
feeling and thinking about food. I knew a psychiatrist
might help, but I also knew it would take a long time to
analyze my issues, and frankly I didn't have the financial
resources to pursue that option.
I had heard that hypnosis, or
hypnotherapy, was helping people lose weight by helping them
change their thinking about food and eating. I signed up
for 6 months of sessions at a well-renowned hypnotherapy
center that offered positive changes, and a new way of
thinking about food and diet. It worked for me. My anxiety
is gone, and the cravings have gone with it. I am back on
track, and feeling so much better.
I wanted to share my story, because I
want people to understand that yes, weight loss surgery
works on a purely physical level with amazing results.
However, I think unless we deal with the mental aspect of
our issues with food, and find a way to make peace with
we are very vulnerable to weight regain and continuous
My weight loss journey is ongoing, and
I still have more weight to lose. It has nothing to do with
vanity, and everything to do with the quality of my life. I
am happier. As for the chronic depression, it is maintained
with the help of a compassionate doctor who was willing to
work with me through trial and error to find an
anti-depressant that worked for me. I am looking forward to
the rest of my life, and a happier and healthier future.