Many of you have already met Patient Partner, Julie Tice. Within the summer/fall 2016 newsletter [http://bit.ly/SumerFall2016] she took us on a tour of her ups and downs with type 2 diabetes. Now Julie is returning to share a very honest and first-hand assessment of how things have gone since then….exactly five years post bariatric surgery.

“After I had [bariatric] surgery I worked so hard to lose weight and keep it off – and life finally returned to normal. I could eat any way that I wanted to again but it got increasingly harder to manage. I know I don’t want to be back where I was.” Julie’s triumphant success with weight loss in the first few years after surgery didn’t come without hard work and perseverance. She adopted a healthier lifestyle by being more mindful of what she was eating and she committed to a rigid workout routine. Julie started to increase her walks to jogs and later to runs. Signing up for 5K races turned into 10K races which later turned into half-marathons. Her progress was inspiring! She was free of diabetes and the weight of it, both literally and figuratively.

But then life got in the way. Julie’s dad suffered from chronic illness and was nearing the end. Things were put on hold to care for him. A few months later, Julie suffered an injury during a half-marathon. Julie had to start all over again, similar to resetting a clock. She couldn’t run, not even jog. It was back to square one until she rehabilitated from her injury. These setbacks led to a vicious thought cycle for Julie. “It was an emotionally intense time. I would get down on myself for not doing what I knew I needed to do but couldn’t do at the time.” The weight crept up again. Julie feared she would be back up to the weight that she was at prior to bariatric surgery. “I understand the difficulty and the struggles when you’re trying to keep it at bay. It always has to be on my mind or I’m likely to get diabetes back. Genetics are against me. Both my parents and grandparents had diabetes. I don’t want to be diabetic. I need to turn this ship around – NOW.”

Julie tries to avoid the negative self-talk. It’s defeating and she knows that it will get her nowhere. She is trying to take one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time, to get back to where she was. “You need to take care of yourself short-term to avoid suffering long-term.” With her glass half-full mentality, she often thinks, “What’s my work around?” If she can’t run, at least she can walk. She is slowly but surely getting back into a more rigorous workout routine and hopes to soon join races again. She practices mindful living by recognizing the importance of accepting where she is at versus where she aspires to be. As a houseparent to 12 teenage girls, some of whom also deal with weight issues, Julie has openly shared her struggles with them. The girls are frustrated with their weight, just like she is. They have setbacks too. “There’s times when it’s really hard. Having them see me go through it makes them feel like they are not alone.”

Julie’s story does not end here. She continues to work hard every day and ride out the storms that come her way. We applaud Julie for sharing this raw side of her weight-loss journey that so many of us face but cast to the shadows.

“We must pass through the darkness to reach the light.” – Albert Pike

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