It still gets me to think that people want to hear my story. Who me? Emily Martens from a little town in West Michigan. But I realize that people all over the world in every country, every language, every race and every sex, want to connect with other people. We connect with other people by seeing their authenticity, their vulnerability and their similarities with us. I have always been one to share my story. I just didn’t realize that when I made a video talking about my weight loss surgery story that it would end up with over 50,000 views. I didn’t know people wanted to hear about that. Also, I was terrified to share that part of my life with certain people. But one day, I hit click, and shared my story with all of the YouTube world and all of my Facebook friends (much scarier) and little did I know it would be the most liberating thing I have ever done.
I will share the same story with you here. I grew up in a house without a ton of affection. We had fun as kids but our house was often filled with conflict and easily provoked anger. I didn’t get a lot of praise as a kid. I longed for it, craved it and just plain and simple needed it. I got it from teachers, strangers, church clubs, and my aunt. I just didn’t get from the two people I needed it from the most. In our house, we weren’t taught to talk our problems out. If anyone one of us brought a problem or dispute to another it was met with defensiveness, anger, and shutting down.
I believe this contributed to my turning to food during my teenage years as a way of loving myself. My mom showed us love often times by cooking something we loved especially for our birthdays she would make our favorite meals. I think in my mind food equaled love. As an adult, I have been diagnosed with ADHD which I believe also contributed to a food addiction. I would get a “high” from the anticipation of getting to eat my favorite foods. When I would eat them it was never quite as satisfying as I would imagine so I would have to eat something else.
As a child, I was thin and muscular, but I started putting pounds on as I hit puberty. I was slightly overweight throughout middle school and high school. I remember one day in the sixth or seventh grade a boy in my class told me I was a fat pig. That stuck with me for over 20 years until most recently. After that point I internalized that so much along with not getting any reassurance from my own dad, getting called fat by my brothers (the cruel things we do as siblings – I would say equally hurtful things back), I thought every boy felt this way about me. I didn’t really “go out” with anyone during middle school or high school, even though looking back I was an attractive and fun girl. I never had the confidence to think a guy would ever be interested in me and I am sure it showed.
I gained weight after high school and by the time I was 23 was over 200 pounds. I had dated a guy on and off since the end of my senior year and when I was 23 I got pregnant with my daughter. We ended up marrying even though that relationship was not a stable one. I accepted the love I thought I deserved with him. I didn’t think I would find anything better. A couple of years later I got pregnant with my son and at this time had gotten up to about 280 pounds. I lost about 30 pounds after he was born and then when Dylan was 15 months old my husband told me that he wanted a divorce and he moved out.
During my separation and divorce I gained some weight back and got up to 290 pounds at my heaviest right before I went for my consultation. I had gone for a consultation for a lap band when I was married but didn’t qualify. About 3 years after my marriage ending I went through a medical weight loss program and lost about 50 pounds. Within a year I had gained that back plus some. In the past I had looked at gastric bypass and vertical sleeve surgery as too drastic. I felt that God had made my body just how he wanted it and I should have the willpower to lose weight on my own.
I finally got to a point where enough was enough. I prayed about my decision and felt that God uses surgery all the time to heal people. Why couldn’t I be healed from obesity through surgery? So I had a consultation and I qualified for surgery and I was setup for surgery within a month or two of my consultation.
I had surgery on August 12, 2012, and have never looked back. It was hands down the best decision that I have ever made in my life. I originally lost around 90 pounds and 3 years post op I went on to lose another 30 pounds with much determination and effort. I was somewhat ashamed of my surgery. I didn’t really want to tell anyone other than my tight circle for fear of judgment.
In December 2015 I decided to share my story on YouTube and it has really been an amazing experience since. So many people said they were helped by that video and some people would stop me places to just simply relate to the struggle of weight issues in general. In the past, I have shared experiences with groups of people about my divorce and the pain that caused but for some reason felt so much shame about my weight and weight loss surgery decision. I am so glad that I decided to have surgery and eventually share my story. I am honored to have opportunities like this to share with people and hope it may help in some way.
To date I have lost 123 pounds. At my lowest, I weighed 154 pounds. I currently sit around 168 pounds. I eat a healthy mostly clean eating, low carb diet but I do have alcohol and some “cheat” foods on the weekends. Overall, though, I have adopted a much healthier eating lifestyle than I previously had prior to surgery and even the first couple of years after surgery. I make YouTube videos consistently to try to give back to the weight loss surgery community because it has supported me and helped me in so many ways. I plan to try to help others on their journey for as long as people want me to.
Keep up with Emily and her amazing journey on her YouTube page Emily AM
Share your WLS journey with us on Instagram @barimelts #WeAreBariMelts
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