South Carolina Woman Who Underwent Weight Loss Surgery Claims it Has Yet to Make Her ‘Magically Happier’

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Jun 12, 2024

Millions of people around the world struggle to lose weight. For some, it’s simply a desire to get in better shape, while others who grapple with obesity often need to lose weight for their physical health.

But contrary to popular belief, losing weight doesn’t immediately make people happier. In fact, one woman who lost 190 pounds says she’s not happier, and she even felt better before the weight loss.

Tomika Wheeler’s Weight Loss Story

Tomika Wheeler from Myrtle Beach has been extremely open about her weight loss journey on her personal TikTok page. Only two years ago, she weighed 300 lbs., so she decided to undergo weight loss surgery for her happiness and her health.

Three different photos of Tomika Wheeler before and after her bariatric surgery

Source: @tomikabaripotsie/TikTok

But now, after losing 190 lbs., Tomika says she’s not nearly as happy or healthy as she thought she would be. She still has a complicated relationship with food and struggled with many complications from her surgery.

Growing Up, Tomika Had an Unhealthy Relationship With Food

While telling her story, Tomika explained, “My relationship with food growing up was very unhealthy. My family didn’t have very much money at times, so we didn’t eat healthy; we just ate what we could afford.”

A young girl eats a hamburger and french fries

Source: Freepik

The 29-year-old also noted, “I was also taught to clear my plate before leaving the table, which I believe caused an unhealthy relationship with food and led me to a cycle of binge eating.”

Tomika Was Bullied for Her Weight

She also explained that she was bullied throughout her life because of her weight: “The bullying started in my childhood, continuing through high school, and even took form during my adult years.”

A young girl sitting apart from two others, clearly talking about her

Source: iStock

Tomika said, “I would hide in baggy clothes and constantly compare myself to the pretty, skinny girls.”

Tomika’s Teen Years Were Especially Challenging

She added that the constant bullying “impacted my emotional health, and I [now] have anxiety and low self-esteem.”

A sad teenage girl sitting on a park bench

Source: Freepik

Tomika continued, “To make matters worse, I was diagnosed with postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) in my teens. The condition causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and fatigue. It also makes me extremely sensitive to heat. My body goes into a state of panic at the slightest rise in temperature.”

Undergoing Bariatric Surgery in the Hopes of Changing Her Life

After a lifetime of being harassed, uncomfortable, and insecure, Tomika decided to take matters into her own hands and underwent bariatric surgery at Conway Hospital.

Several doctors at work performing surgery

Source: Freepik

The surgery essentially changed her digestive system, so she immediately lost a significant amount of weight. But while she expected to wake up physically and mentally lighter, that’s not exactly what happened.


Being Skinny Wasn’t the Answer to Her Problems

Tomika explained, “I used to think being skinny was the answer to everything and that I’d magically be happier when the weight came off. Turns out it’s not that simple.”

A woman sits in a dark kitchen, clearly sad

Source: Freepik

She continued, “I suffer from body dysmorphia. I’m left with excess skin, and honestly, seeing myself in the mirror is harder now than it was when I was obese.”


Tomika’s PoTS Has Gotten Much Worse

Tomika also said she’s suffered from negative physical side effects from the surgery. “Since the surgery, my PoTS symptoms have escalated. I developed gastroparesis, which has made digestion a challenge, and I’ve become more prone to PoTS flare-ups,” she explained.

A woman sits at her kitchen table surrounded by food, clearly upset

Source: Freepik

She also said, “I try to incorporate as many carbs as my new stomach will allow me to, but having PoTS syndrome can make eating carbs more difficult. Staying hydrated is also very important to me as a bariatric patient as well as a PoTS patient. I steer clear of anything with carbonation just because it upsets my new stomach.”


PoTS Makes It Hard for Tomika to Exercise

She also said that she has a very hard time exercising regularly because of her PoTS, but she knows she needs to regain muscle and keep her body and mind healthy. Tomika noted, “My workout routine is very minimal due to my PoTS syndrome. I’m limited on what I can and can’t do because I have to watch my heart rate so I don’t faint.”

A woman takes a break to drink water while exercising

Source: Freepik

“I can do simple arm workouts, and I’m able to go for walks when it’s cooler outside. Running is very difficult because of my heart rate and any workouts that include postural changes. Swimming is one of my favorite workouts because it doesn’t put as much strain on my body, and I can stay cool so I don’t overheat,” she explained.


Tomika Is Now Underweight

While many people assume being skinnier is always healthier, that’s certainly not the case. Now, Tomika struggles to keep her weight up to where it should be.

A photograph of a faceless person standing on a scale

Source: Freepik

She explained, “I currently weigh 110 lbs, which is underweight for me, but I am slowly putting back some weight to get to a healthier number. To keep my weight steady and not dip further, I focus all my meals on protein to avoid losing more muscle mass than I already have.”


Weight Loss Surgery Didn’t Heal Her Relationship With Food

Tomika also said that, even though she is no longer overweight, she still has an incredibly challenging relationship with food.

A photograph of a toddler disappointed with her dinner

Source: iStock

She said, “The truth is, if you don’t fix the way you think about food in your mind, the surgery will not help you – it may even make your life harder.


Bariatric Surgery Is Not the Quick Fix People Think It Is

Tomika wants other people experiencing obesity to understand that bariatric surgery is not the quick fix they may think it is. She explained, “Bariatric surgery is just a tool offered to obese individuals. What we do with it is up to us. You have to work just as hard as someone who naturally loses weight.”

A doctor speaks with an overweight patient in an appointment

Source: iStock

“We are on vitamins for the rest of our lives and prone to malnutrition if we don’t take our vitamins and meet our daily nutrition goals. We also have to work just as hard on our mental relationship with food to ensure we don’t fall back into our old eating habits.”