Feeling As Good As You Look After WLSNovember 29, 2017
Weight loss surgery comes with a lot of expected and unexpected changes.
It's expected that you change your habits regarding nutrition, water intake, and exercise. It's expected that you'll have a support system to help you through the process. It's expected that you'll lose weight.
What may not be expected are the emotional changes that occur as a result of weight loss surgery. There are many people who lose the weight and ask, "Who am I now?" or "Do I even know myself anymore?" Ultimately, many things change after surgery aside from the weight, and feeling good is about exploring one's life and getting greater clarity on what comes next.
Now that you've lost the weight, moving more and more actively living your life, what do you want?
There are two parts to feeling good after bariatric surgery. Losing the weight is one part, finding yourself is the other.
Feeling as good as you look requires that you look inward with a deep introspection that gives you a greater understanding as to who you are as a person. Determining what you want, and the steps you can take will give you greater insight into who you are and getting the most from life.
Therefore, this process is about getting to know the new you as you go through the weight loss process. The weight loss process can take between one to two years respectively, the emotional changes can happen along the same timeline. These emotional changes can be inconsequential, or they can be huge, depending on the person, their experience, and their perspective.
Feeling As Good As You Look
Feeling good in your new body is just as important of a process as buying new jeans. This is a whole new you, and you may question different things in your life. This is normal. Evaluate it. Look at it. See what it means to you.
Experiences range from relationship interactions to career shifts, from mood changes to creating a bucket list of new things to try. As the body has changed, so does the mind and the emotional state. You'll experience things from a whole new perspective and for some, this can be thrilling, while for others, it can be supremely uncomfortable. The important thing is to see what things mean to you and for you.
For example, additional attention for one person might be amazing, and to another, it could feel violating.
One of my clients recently shared how uncomfortable she is when men look at her. As a single woman in her 40s, she shared that male attention made her feel uncomfortable since her weight loss even though she was interested in dating. Conversely, another client of mine, 39, remarked at how she loved the newfound attention she got when she would go out dancing with friends, but was very happy in her marriage and felt guilty for “being sexy”.
Both shared their happiness with their weight loss, yet both shared they did not know how to deal with people seeing them differently. Both shared they were comfortable with how they looked on the outside, but still didn’t know how to deal with feeling good on the inside. One reflected the uncomfortable emotions of gaining attention, while the other liking the attention felt guilty for liking it as much as she did. This goes back to how they both feel about themselves emotionally.
Feeling good about oneself physically is one thing, feeling good emotionally about oneself is another.
Feeling Good May Differ From One Person To Another
This is just one aspect of how feeling good and the interpretation of feeling good may differ from one person to the next. It's important for each individual to explore themselves following surgery as life will change. In this exploration, it's essential to look at what is the same and what is different regarding one's aspirations and goals, and regarding what feels good in your life.
Some people decide to run marathons after surgery, while others are content with stay active through daily walks. Some people prefer to create a life of adventure, while others are happy keeping things status quo.
Feeling good is about getting in touch with one's vision and aspirations for their life so they can live it to the fullest. Since bariatric surgery is a new lease on life for many, this is the opportunity to look at what is working for you in life, and what more you want for your life. For most post-surgical bariatric patients, this process is a great way to take inventory of what you appreciated about your life prior to surgery, and what you'd like now that you've had WLS.
4 Steps to Feeling as Good as You Look After Weight Loss Surgery
Here are a few steps to get you feeling as good as you look after bariatric surgery.
1. Take an inventory of your life
This means - take a good look at what's working and what's not from your perspective. Are you still happy with how things are? Is there anything else you'd like to change?
What would increase your happiness or well-being?
2. Gain Clarity
Pull out your journal or call a friend. Use these introspective questions below to dig deeper into your mind to gain clarity on what you truly want from life. They will help you gain insight on feeling as good as you look after bariatric surgery, and your success. If journaling is not your thing, get on the phone with one of your friends and ask them if they would do a Q&A with you. Sometimes hearing yourself talk out loud with someone you trust can help you reflect and gain perspective. These guided questions are examples to get you started. You can also write a bucket list of things you'd like to do.
- What do I want from my life now that I've lost the weight?
- What are my life goals now that I've lost the weight?
- What new aspirations do I have? What would I like to accomplish?
- What makes me feel good about my life, or about myself (aside from the weight)?
- If I could do anything, what would it be?
- What makes me truly happy? Is there anything I can do to increase my happiness?
3. Take Action
Start moving toward the life you want to live. For many people, the weight may have held them back from going out of the house often, dating, engaging in hobbies, or visiting with friends. Now that you have increased movement and freedom, it's time to start doing what makes you happy. Additionally, if you'd done the previous exercise and gained clarity in what you want from life, the next step is to start taking action and moving toward your goals. Living your life fully and completely is about doing the things that matter to you most.
4. Track and Celebrate Your NSVs
This goes beyond what size clothing you're in or whether you stayed away from the office donuts. Tracking and celebrating your NSVs are for this purpose are looking at the steps you are creating in your life to create greater happiness and an increased zest for your life. Track all the amazing things you are trying, doing, and engaging in.
This is what life is all about! Have fun, enjoy the ride, and repeat!
ABOUT THE AUTHORKristin Lloyd, MS, LPC/LMHC, PhD-Candidate is a licensed psychotherapist and certified transformational mindset mentor guiding individuals to embrace healthy habits, relationships and fuller lives after WLS. As a WLS patient herself, Kristin understands the challenges of WLS patients. She is the founder of Bariatric Mindset and author of the "Bariatric Mindset Success: Live Your Best Life and Keep The Weight Off After Weight Loss Surgery" book.
Read more articles from Kristin!