Please provide a brief introduction to yourself – name, any stats you want to include and a bit about what you do and how the surgery has impacted you so far.
My name is Vania Gameiro da Costa, I’m 38 years old. I am Portuguese/African. I was born in Portugal and moved to NJ with my family went I was about 4 years old. I speak Portuguese and a little French and Spanish. I am the front desk supervisor in a pediatric doctor’s office and have worked there for about 15 years. I also do tattoos and photography on the side. (Just because I love it!) So far having the surgery has increased my energy and just being able to do some of the little things that were more difficult at a larger size has made it totally worth it and made me a happier person.
Vania, why did you choose to have Weight Loss surgery?
I have struggled with my weight for as long as i can remember. I was always the plump kid, the chubby teenager, the big girl. I have tried and constantly failed at trying to lose weight. When I was officially diagnosed with PCOS and I started researching it on my own is when I realized that my body was basically working against me as far as me trying to lose weight went. I was put on metformin for help with my Insulin Resistance and that DID help me lose weight, but I had such horrible side effects that I couldn’t stay on it even though I did try several times throughout the years. But it was always the same side effect, and I just couldn’t handle it. After the last time I was on Metformin is when I went to the surgeon to discuss my options.
Can you tell us a little bit about your surgery journey?
My journey officially started when I decided to get the Lap Band in Aug 2009. I had a few family members that had the surgery and it worked well for them. And even though I have known about my hormonal problems since I was about 17, I never really put the two together and I had no idea about the PCOS. So I thought the Lap Band would be great for me. I did lose some weight but not much. Then, as I was trying to get pregnant and seeing a reproductive specialist, is when I was officially diagnosed with PCOS and i began to finally learn how my body worked. Thankfully, I was able to get pregnant and now have a beautiful 4 year old daughter. But after being pregnant, it was harder to lose the weight and then I needed to have my gallbladder removed and I just started to gain weight again after that. I started having heartburn when I was pregnant and just never went away after I gave birth. And then i started vomiting at least once a week for months. I finally saw my surgeon and had my band removed March 2018 and was converted to the sleeve a few months later. So far am doing great, zero complications or issues and couldn’t be happier with my decision.
When did you have your surgery? What type of surgery did you have?
- I had Gastric Lap Band Aug 2009,
- Removal of the Lap Band March 2018
- Gastric Sleeve Vasectomy June 6, 2018
What advice would you give to folks contemplating the surgery? What have you learned as a result of being a WLS survivor?
I would tell people to do the research and most of all know how your body works. Had I known my own body better back in 2009 I would have been able to make a more informed choice.
There will be good days and bad days. So enjoy those good days and when you have a bad day or make a mistake, forgive yourself and realize tomorrow is another day and that no one is perfect. Doesn’t matter how often you fall off “the wagon” or make a “mistake”. The only real mistake is giving up on yourself.
Do what works for you and don’t worry about what others think or say, they have no idea what it’s like to be you.
What are some of your non-scale victories? How much weight have you lost? How much weight do you hope to lose?
Hmmm…walking up and down my stairs several times and not feeling like I’m going to die! LOL, being able to do my own pedicure and breathe at the same time. Having extra room between my belly and the steering wheel in my car. Extra room in the shower. So far I have lost 55lbs since my surgery in June. I haven’t set an official goal just yet. I was thinking maybe around 185, but I guess we’ll see how I feel when I get there.
What makes you a badass? I’ve got some ideas, but I want to hear yours.
I am never what people seem to expect of me. They meet me and are usually always surprised that I am never what they thought. So I like to keep people guessing. I am who I am, do things my way and anyone that doesn’t like that can just keep it moving. I fight hard for the things I want or want to do and even if it may take me awhile I always get to where I want to be.
What’s next up for you? (feel free to talk about your career, future goals etc.)
Next up in my life is being a good mother and enjoying my time with my daughter. Eventually I want to open my own photography studio and do that full time. Would also like to get over to Portugal more often and have my daughter get to know her roots.
Thanks, Vania for your time and your badassery. Love you.
Vania is a member of my Bariatric Badasses Facebook group. If you’re looking for support and friendship or just finding like-minded people, join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/bariatricbadassery/.