ROLY POLY ROARTY: IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR

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We’ve talked a lot about Tom in this feature, obviously, as it’s his story to tell — but not entirely.

One thing that doctors and nutritionists don’t seem to talk a lot about pre-op is how bariatric surgery affects the patient’s family. Maybe you don’t think that’s necessary, as the patient is the one not only going under the knife, but also upending their entire life of eating as they know it and dealing with the challenges that come from that, both mentally and physically.

I really feel they should at least have some sort of dialogue about it, because as we’ve talked about here and on the show, there were some mood swings on Tom’s part as he prepped for and recovered from surgery (and who can blame him?!), but there was a big adjustment period for me as well.

Prior to his surgery, Tom and I were avid eaters. We loved eating out, snacking, eating as bad (but so very, very good) as we wanted — all of the time. Until we didn’t anymore because we couldn’t because look where it got us: Obesity. Pre-diabetes. Pain. You get the idea.

While I 100 percent supported him getting this surgery, I cannot tell a lie: It was hard getting used to being a single eater. Tom was the first person who really shared my gluttonous appetite, who took joy in eating fantastic (read: horribly unhealthy) things the way I did.

FACT: The first night we met, he tried to proposition me with a crab cake. SPOILER: I accepted, obviously.

Needless to say the aforementioned gluttonous appetite has caused a world of hurt in my life as well, but since this isn’t called “Roly Poly Mascali,” we’ll just brush that under the carpet.

In the weeks leading up to Tom’s surgery and the two weeks after, when he was doing that awful liquid, I had a period of secret eating. I’m not proud of it, but I never wanted to eat in front of him; I felt too guilty. And it didn’t help that he would sometimes wistfully look over at what I was eating when I couldn’t hold out any longer. Since we were both home together in those weeks, I’d wait until he went in the shower and couldn’t hear me eating or unwrapping or cooking food. Like him, I went from 60 to 0 with food, but I had to deal with it in my own way while still being a support system for him as he struggled and tantrumed his way through the recovery and adjustment period of our new life.

Eventually, I leveled off myself with the help of a new job with crazy hours and our membership to Blue Apron, which has not only put so much more healthy food on the table for Lil Tyler Durden and I, but it has ended up saving us money on groceries — and made me a much, much, much better cook.

The recipes are spelled out so easily that even I, a very nervous cook, feels confident making the three amazing meals we get each week. One of the best things about Blue Apron is it’s built for two right now, so there’s really no overeating or leftovers to binge on. Eventually, when Tom’s ready — to take a break from his beloved Air Fryer you’ve probably heard him rave about lately — we’ll up our membership to four people. But for now, he’s enjoying taking a bite or two from our plates to test the merchandise, and I love that it’s something the three of us are doing, together.

I love trying the new food, and it’s helped me make smarter choices when eating at work or on nights we order in or cook the other four days of the week. I’ve learned to be conscious of what I’m eating, and my snacking, which was always my downfall, has really diminished. If I feel peckish, I take just a small portion of whatever I’m craving, and it’s become more enjoyable.

So now that we’re nearly three months post-op, Tom is doing amazing, as you already know. He’s eating really well, returned to his beloved running, and I’m so ungodly proud of him. But I’m proud of myself, too, for following his lead and finally gaining some willpower to take responsibility for myself and my health.

As a result, I, too, have been losing weight. While it’s not as swiftly as Tom, of course, it’s a pace I’m OK with right now. A jacket I had to have two years ago, but was never able to button or zip, not only fits, but it’s slightly big on me now — and zipping. I wore a dress I haven’t worn in years earlier this week and actually felt good in it. I bought myself something new for my upcoming office Christmas party; instead of my go-to basic black, I got a loud printed colorful top that I love.

Once I get some health issues of my own tended to, I plan on joining Tom in the running world, which is something that we’re both really looking forward to with the same gusto we once felt for whatever restaurant we were heading to. It’s a whole new world for us, and I love it because I know it’s the path that’s going to keep us around for much longer than we would’ve been just a few short months ago.

So if I can give any advice to anyone out there who may be considering or scheduled for bariatric surgery, it’s sit down with your loved ones. Involve them in the planning (because there is definitely a lot of planning that goes into prepping and recovering) — the more your family is involved, the more successful and happy you’ll be, and so will they because you’re doing it together.

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