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Finding Joy – Part 8

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Welcome back, to the conclusion of Joy’s story!  This is the final segment in our weekly 8 part series on Joy’s Journey.  What an inspiring story!  If you missed any of the earlier segments, please catch up on the website at:

Moving forward, I knew the last piece of my recovery puzzle would be to focus on weight loss, once again, since I was now tipping the scales at 260 lbs. and on so many meds.  Bottom line, I got a referral to Mayo’s Bariatric team in August 2014 and began my journey to better health.  After going through their very thorough psychologic, nutritional and medical screening, eight months later I had gastric bypass surgery (4/21/15).  It’s not for everyone, but it was the BEST decision for me, and I don’t regret it for even one second!  Anyone who says it’s taking the “easy way out” has NO CLUE! I’ve also heard, “I know someone who had it and they gained all their weight back!”  This surgery is only a tool, not a miracle cure.  YOU have to do the work in order to be successful!  The many medications I was taking went in the trash the day of surgery, with the exception of my nerve meds, so YAY to that!  Now a mere 8 months later, I’ve lost 101 lbs.  The surgery will physically keep me from eating foods I shouldn’t:  bread, pasta, rice, high sugar and high fat foods as they can potentially cause me to have dumping syndrome (sweating, vomiting and feeling miserable for a few hours).   I don’t know if this is actually true as I’ve not had any desire to try them. 


I attend monthly aftercare meetings at Mayo which address any issues we may encounter.  I’m learning skills, like I did in pain rehab to deal with my lifelong chronic pain, to deal with issues in my life and not turn to food as my temporary solution.  It’s such a strange feeling to actually “sit in” the discomfort instead of stuffing the feelings down with food.

Not even a week post-surgery, my husband had a herniated disc impinging on his sciatica nerve and I had to take care of him.  He’s never sick, and he was in so much pain that he slept sitting up at the kitchen table for 10 days straight.  We encountered several obstacles in getting him care, and I was so overwhelmed and stressed I wanted to eat … I wanted potato chips and lots of them!  Then I thought to myself, I can’t, even if I wanted to … Oh no, now what?!  It sounds silly but it was my first light bulb moment that life as I’d known it would no longer be.  I used to grab food, stuff it down with the uncomfortable feelings and it worked, although momentarily.  I always regretted it soon after and then would beat myself up about it and get caught in that yo-yo loop again.

I’ve faced other issues, close family issues that have brought me great pain and many tears.  I have learned to accept and deal with them.  I’m OK, I’m enough and I feel for the first time in my life I will succeed against this beast!  I am, however, not delusional  to think I’ve won this war.  I’m a work in progress and will be for the rest of my life.  I’m very limited in the exercises I’m able to do because of my nerve condition.  I have stuck to my pain rehab physical therapy and I walk short distances at a time.

So you see, I’m not a “diet success” story.  I’m just a woman who’s learned the “why” about her obesity and how it has affected her entire life.  Trust me, no one at 53 thinks they’ll have a stroke and suffer its lifelong consequences just because they like to eat pizza, fried chicken and all those “tasty” foods!   I believe in my heart of hearts, no one is obese because they simply love to eat.  I feel they live to eat instead of eat to live because of some life event, person, or combination of the two!  If this were not true, I doubt these statistics for obesity in the United States would exist:

Obesity and Overweight – Data for the U.S.


  • Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are obese: 35.1% (2011-2012)
  • Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are overweight, including obesity: 69.0% (2011-2012)

Source: Health, United States, 2014

Last year, my New Year’s resolution stated “2015 is going to be my year of change from the inside out”.  It’s the first resolution I’ve ever stuck to and accomplished.  I’m nowhere close to being finished, so my resolution for 2016 is to become more as mentally and physically strong.  I want to help others who are struggling and offer support if they need it.  Here’s to making that become a reality!   Those who’ve followed my story over the past two years on Facebook and supported me with their love and concern mean the world to me.  I’ve had many say I was their inspiration, and many people have reached out in private messages to ask for help.  Talking about and sharing my story has been my way of healing.  If I have helped anyone else by doing so, I take it as a blessing.  God is good!  Thank you for taking your time to read this.


Thank you so much, Joy, for sharing your story from beginning to … I won’t say “end” because we know the end hasn’t been written yet!  And, we are so encouraged and inspired by your journey through trials, medical issues and emotional challenges to be the success you are today!


~Blessings to everyone ~ and may each and every one of you find the strength and inspiration to tackle the challenges in your life.



Clare is a 57-year-old fun loving Italian-American self-proclaimed “Jersey Girl” who believes, “Life ain’t easy street. Life is one of those crazy little city streets, complete with potholes that could swallow your car.” With one foot planted in fun and the other planted firmly in her Christian faith, Clare enjoys making people laugh while helping them navigate life’s “crazy little city streets”. Clare has raised two girls (now grown young adults) with her husband, Michial, Clare is ready to take on the challenges of making new friends through her blog, Life Ain’t Easy Street. With an aim to entertain while addressing topics important to women, Clare’s focus on the positive power of good stories, good friends, inspiring women, and strong faith will have you looking forward to reading the next post. Clare is a freelance writer who lives a real life in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

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  • Arod says:

    Great job Joy may your journey continue to be a good. You look fabulous!

  • Cara says:

    Such an amazing story. Great job Joy and keep up the amazing work!

  • Congratulations, Joy! I know the battle is not over, but encouragement along the way doesn’t hurt.

    You have an incredible story, which I think will touch many people. Thanks for being brave enough to share it. I try to address issues (I hate that word) on my blog that help women rethink relationships and give them strength to find the help they need. You are an inspiration.

    • Clare says:

      Yes, Joy is quite brave and I and so many readers are so happy Joy shared her story! She is an inspiration and thanks for your kind words!

  • Christina S. says:

    What a great way to start my Monday! Thanks for sharing your story, Joy! I love the idea that we are a work in progress.

    • Clare says:

      Yes, thanks for stopping by today to catch up on “Finding Joy”! I am so glad she shared her story with all of us, too!

  • Paola says:

    Oh my goodness, well done for your determination to lose all that weight. You look a lot happier!

    • Clare says:

      Yes, Joy was and is determined and quite a success story! Not only did she lose so much weight but struggled with serious health issues, too.

  • Joy you look amazing. I never really thought about the whole “sit in the feeling” thing before, but I don’t know how often I do that. I should probably do it more. I distract myself with work or tv, or by going out with friends. This is really something I need to try.

    • Clare says:

      Joy does look amazing and so glad you mentioned that! Yes, I, too must “sit in the feeling” and enjoy more moments…. the big ones and the small ones.

  • I think you are exceptionally brave and I don’t think you took the easy way out at all. I don’t worry what others think too much, I do what is best for me.

    • Clare says:

      No, Joy certainly didn’t take the easy way out – lots of struggles and challenges along the way . Joy did choose the path that was best for her! 🙂

  • Amazing journey and raw truth. I love transparency and honesty in life’s struggles. It’s so relatable. Hugs!

    • Clare says:

      Yes, Joy was open and honest sharing her story. We thank you for sharing your thoughts and stopping by today!

  • Becky I says:

    Do you have a link to your facebook page?

  • Mary Ann says:

    Congratulations! That is a huge accomplishment. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  • Joy Schaeffer says:

    First of all I’d like to thank Clare for being so kind and asking me to share my “weight loss story” as well as my diet and exercise regime. Little did she know, the story I wanted to share was where my struggles all began and how they’d come full circle. For those who’ve followed along and read each Monday, I thank you. For everyone who’s made comments, I’ve read them each week and I thank you as well. I’ve purposely waited to comment until the 8 week series ended. This was not an easy thing to do, putting myself on front street! Having said that, I’m so glad I did because many of my friends have pm’d me with how I’ve helped and perhaps inspired them. If only one person was helped, it was worth it. My journey continues as I will celebrate my one year “surgiversary” (as we post gastric bypass patients call it) on Thursday, April 21, 2016. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. I can’t wait to put my outfit I wore in my “before” pics and take another pic to see the difference this past year has made. I’m proud to say I’ve lost 120 lbs. but gained so much more. The biggest lesson I’ve learned through it all is I don’t need anyone to valid my worth anymore, especially not a male – LOL! I am enough! Thanks again everyone and God Bless 🙂

    • Clare says:

      Joy it was my privilege and pleasure to have been able to “post” your story! What an amazing journey of courage and determination! So many, many readers of all ages were blessed because of your story!. I can’t wait to see pictures on your one year “surgiversary” (which is my youngest daughter Caitlin’s birthday) 🙂 We are delighted that you shared your “emotional” journey with us, as well, as that is such a big part of all of this! Again, it was an honor for you to share your story with us. Thank you so much!

      • Skippy says:

        Finally read all. I am inspired by you too. I must take your story to heart friend. Thanks for sharing such personal things. I will benefit from this greatly. I’ll try harder!

  • DANI CC says:

    Your journey is possibly the most inspirational we’ve heard yet. If we read that correctly you have a very important bypass surgery anniversary next week. Time to celebrate.

    • Clare says:

      Yes, Joy’s story is so very, very inspirational and we appreciate your commenting and sharing that! Thanks so much Dani for stopping in and reading!

  • Bev says:

    Thank you, Joy. You’ve inspired me to purchase an incline treadmill and in the 10 days since purchased my husband and I are walking or half walk half run a mile each day!! I wish you all the best on your journey? Bev

    • Clare says:

      Wow – how wonderful Bev – a treadmill is such wonderful exercise! Joy has inspired us all! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Tara says:

    It really is true that no one is overweight simply because they like to eat. There are always underlying issues. We all have issues we deal with differently. Great job on your transformation!

    • Clare says:

      There is so much more than just “liking to eat” when it comes to challenges with eating. Yes, Joy’s transformation is so, so wonderful!

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