On December 7th, 2018 I had a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. This is just a fancy way of saying I had 85% of my stomach permanently removed. Weight loss, dieting, fitness, goals, these are all topics we have no problem discussing. In fact, we love following fitness models on Instagram for motivation, we like sharing our healthy recipes on Facebook, we feel accomplished when we’re out for lunch with friends and we order a salad while the rest of the group orders a cheeseburger. Surgery however, is a little bit more taboo.
The first time I noticed my weight I was 6 years old. I was at my Grandparents house and we were swimming and eating pizza, and I went over to grab a second slice and a family member stopped me and said, “You’re the last person that needs 2 slices of pizza!” 10 words. 10 simple words, and my innocent, care-free spirit was forever buried beneath my new identity. A fat kid. I ran to the bathroom and cried for hours out of embarrassment, and that is where my health journey began.
The next few years were filled with many conversations from concerned family and friends, multiple different diets, and I was bulimic off and on from when I was 10 until I was 12. It’s no coincidence that the bulimia began around the same age my mom remarried and I gained 3 beautiful sisters, all with similar body types. Thin and petite. I however, have a “Jones” body. Big and Broad. Even at age 12 I looked in the mirror and still saw that chubby 6-year-old reaching for a second slice of pizza. In Junior high I joined a traveling Musical Theater company. I was in the studio 40+ hours a week, and performing multiple shows a week. When I look back at pictures, I was very thin. My collar bones were sticking out, my cheeks look sunken in, in some photos, however when I stepped in front of that wall of mirrors wearing only a leotard and tights, I saw broad shoulders, a bulging belly, and big ugly knees. I would never be good enough. Not at home, not at school, not at the studio.
High School wasn’t any better. I was in theater and was always cast as “the funny friend,” or the Queen, or the Mom, or even “Camel’s behind” in Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I so desperately wanted to be a lead role but knew I would never be picked because of my size. This is also the age where I had my first real relationship. I told myself over and over again, “When a boy likes me, that’s when I’ll feel beautiful.” We all know where this is going right? I was with that boy for almost 3 years and my insecurities only got worse. Adulthood hit me hard. I was naïve and fell into peer pressure almost instantly. I cared so much about what people thought of me, that I lost who I was. I turned away from God because of fear of disappointing Him, I pushed my family and friends away because I was making terrible choices and was embarrassed, and I surrounded myself with people who were surface level. People who wouldn’t see deep in my core. I dated men who only wanted me for my body because I wanted to feel affirmed by anyone and everyone. I once dated a boy who would poke parts of my body after I ate and name all of the foods I had consumed that day. Shaming me, putting me into a depression, which only caused me to eat more.
At age 25, everything changed. I had been through intense therapy, lived at home for a couple years to get back on my feet and then moved in with friends that loved me so deeply, graduated from Cosmetology school, I was working full-time on staff at Central, and my relationship with God was a priority. In March of 2018, I looked in the mirror and finally saw someone who mattered. Someone who deserved better. Having God in control of my life gave me a new identity. The identity that He had originally given me. So I began the surgery process. After months of meeting with counselors, nutritionists, dietitians, surgeons, specialists, etc. I was finally approved. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, mentally and physically; but what I learned very quickly is that when you show God your weaknesses, He’ll show you His strengths and abundantly more. Now I am over 2 months post op, and down over 80 pounds from my heaviest weight. What’s interesting is most people aren’t commenting on how much weight I’ve lost. The number one compliment I receive is that I look happy. And if I could go back in time, I’d look at 6-year-old Megan and say, “2 slices of pizza do not define you. God defines you. And He created you to be happy, beautiful, confident, and brave.”