My Own Goals After WLS: Why I Set Them and How I Pursue ThemJuly 11, 2018
Click. Click. At 3:30 am in a silent house, the sound from my hip was clearly audible. Click. It reminded me of a clock winding down, clicking until I had to assemble my running gear and head out the door. My body, injured from the previous day’s 10K race, was protesting, but the day had finally come.
Eight months after impulsively signing up and seven months after trumpeting my goal across the Internet and at the 2017 ObesityHelp National Conference, my first half marathon had arrived. I was both elated and terrified. Would my hip injury keep me from finishing the race? Could I complete such a grueling physical feat? After telling everyone I knew that I was running a half marathon, what if I failed?
Meeting Your First Goal Sets A Foundation For Future Goals
Goal setting is a tricky thing for me. At 300 pounds, my goals always centered around dropping pounds. Five pounds, ten pounds, any pounds. I would plead with myself, yo-yo diet, and ultimately fail. Prepping to have a vertical sleeve gastrectomy in June of 2015 taught me my first lesson in goal setting. Don’t focus on losing weight, but on getting ready for the surgery. I had to lose ten percent of my body weight, but ultimately, I had to physically prepare for liquid diets prior and radically altered eating after surgery. By altering my thinking towards preparation instead of weight loss, I managed to lose weight as well as deal with food issues from my past.
Meeting that first long-term goal for my weight loss surgery journey created a foundation of success for future goals. It is a powerful reminder of what I can accomplish. The longer I walk my weight loss surgery journey, the more important that foundation becomes.
After surgery, despite watching my body transform in amazing ways and having my medical issues dwindle, I felt that I had no direction. Before surgery, I was focused on preparation, but now, even almost three years later, I will drift through life directionless if I don’t set goals. For me, lack of direction means old habits can creep back in. Lack of direction saps my motivation. Lack of direction, and some medical issues have brought on 10 to 15 pounds of regain. Worse yet, I sometimes find myself unwilling to change behaviors that I know are not good for me. Eat mindlessly while watching TV? Sure. Forego exercise to play a video game? Awesome. Home projects waiting to be done? They can wait another week.
Set Goals After WLS
What do I do to combat this? Simple. Set some goals. I was never more focused than when I, a lifelong couch potato and video game enthusiast, told the world that I would complete a half marathon. And I do mean the world. I told my students, the staff at my school, all my Instagram followers, and even signed the Goal Wall banners at the OH2016 National Conference and OH2017 National Conference.
There was no getting out of it. I had to train, and I had to finish. And I did. And, despite being injured and having to walk the last 5 miles, completing a half marathon was one of the greatest, most emotional moments of my life.
It was one of the few times in my life that I set a long-term goal and tenaciously pursued it. I chased down that half marathon like a cheetah. Now, however, I am somewhat directionless again and I need some goals to focus on.
Here are some things I think of when goal setting (or when I DON’T want to set goals):
- A goal-less weight loss surgery journey is a soul-less journey. You deserve a rich, full life. Go after it.
- Goals are for physical activities, emotional/medical well-being, or new experiences, NOT for a number on a scale. I punished myself for years over pounds not lost. The pursuit of goals should be rewarding, not just achieving the goals.
- Set a small goal, a long-term goal, and a far-fetched, not-in-a-million-years goal. I will see your far-fetched goal and raise you 19.3 miles, run in two days, the second of which included a 13.1-mile half marathon. The word "never" is not a word to use while goal setting.
- Share your goal with a friend, family member, Internet or support group friends, etc. Share it with the world. Talk about it. Dream about it. Live it.
- Watch out for what I call “rain delayers.” Your goals belong to you. Naysayers and “you should wait until” friends may mean well but can unwittingly sabotage the pursuit of your goals.
- Not meeting a goal is an opportunity, not a failure. You didn’t reach your goal? Think creatively about how to break down the goal in a different way. Or, if needed, chase a new goal. Life happens. Stop beating yourself up over not being perfect.
- Find inspiration in others. Recently, I walked a 5K with a friend. Two years ago, she suffered from an accident and was told she would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. One year ago, she walked a 48-minute mile. She just finished her first 5K with an average pace of just under 25 minutes per mile. She thinks I helped her finish. I know she helped me get back on track.
Make A List Of Things You Dream Of Doing
Many weight loss surgery patients, myself included, spend years wishing for change. We have spent so many years wishing, we no longer dream. Make a list of things you dream of doing. Set some goals. Some you will meet and some you won’t. However, by giving yourself direction, your journey moves forward, and you can more strongly stand up against old habits and thought patterns best left in the past. Right now, I am needing some small goals. I have the other two types covered. My goals to reach before this year’s ObesityHelp Conference? I am learning to ride a long board (skate, not surf) and am going to complete work on my personal weight loss journey website. One of those is far-fetched, but I did buy a helmet just in case.
ABOUT THE AUTHORKate Nash had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy in 2015 and has lost 113 pounds. As a veteran high school teacher, Kate spends time not only teaching English, but helping her students make healthy life choices. Her love of running and video games are only eclipsed by her devotion to staying healthy and her ever growing sneaker collection.