Comparison is the Thief of Joy on a Bariatric Surgery JourneyNovember 18, 2019
"Comparison is the Thief of Joy" - You may have heard that saying before but haven’t really contemplated what it means in regards to the joy in your bariatric surgery journey. Before we even begin our personal weight-loss journey, we often use a comparison in the journeys of others. We get very excited when they reach a certain number in a closing size or on the scale.
We often focus on weight or size and not really on the more important benefit of having surgery, which is our overall well-being and health.
As a result of following someone else’s journey, we may accidentally set unreasonable goals for ourselves. There are so many factors that determine our rate of loss- our age, our mobility level, how much weight we lost pre-op, our appetites, our body’s set point, the foods we tolerate or don’t tolerate, and of course, our genetics. We may inadvertently align someone else’s goals with our own.
As a result, a number that someone else reached may not be in the cards for us to reach and rather than see the 50, 75 or 100 pounds that we have lost as a major victory, we may instead interpret it as a failure on our part not to reach the goal someone else attained.
Comparing Yourself to Others
When you compare yourself to others, you focus on the other person—what they have done, what they have achieved, who they are, and what they do. But you have no control over this other person, and you are NOT that person either. All you can control is you. And the only person you should be comparing yourself to is who you were previously. If you are improving, that is all that matters. The footsteps of that person may be bigger or smaller than yours. Therefore their “shoes” may be either too small or too big for you to wear.
What matters truly is only where you have been and where YOU are going on your journey.
The joy in your journey should be from the things that YOU are doing and the things that YOU are accomplishing. When you attempt new things, like habit changes, there is a joy that comes from your accomplishments.
You may decide that a goal you have is to start walking regularly. You may get a lot of joy from the first time you make 5,000 or 10,000 steps in a single day or when you have accumulated 10,000 or 50,000 steps in a week. This may be a HUGE accomplishment for someone who previously was immobile or mostly sat on the couch!
But if you initially compare yourself to someone who runs marathons, you will always feel that you are less or that you are falling behind others. The joy from the very important milestones and achievements you could be making disappears, and what should have been a celebration for you becomes “less” in your mind.
Things You Can Do To Fight Comparison Thinking
- Identify when you have negative thoughts about yourself. Most often, we make these comparisons without realizing we're doing it. But when we compare, one is a winner, and one is a loser. Why would we give ourselves only half a fighting chance to be proud?
- Do daily affirmations. Try to be aware of and counteract the negative thought with a positive statement about yourself.
- Start a gratefulness journal from the day you have surgery. Pick three things every day that you are grateful for. Make sure one has nothing to even do with your journey, such as watching a beautiful sunset or listening to happy music.
- Take photos of your changes. Keep your biggest pants. Those are YOUR trophies of where you have been and what you’ve accomplished.
- Focus on your strengths and what you have accomplished. Make a non-scale victory (NSV) list that looks beyond numbers on the scale.
- Be OK with not being perfect.
- Get therapy if you are struggling.
- Pick a positive thought mantra about yourself. Post it all over your house and repeat it many times a day, “I’m worthy!”, “I am successful!” or whatever works for you.
- Look at role models. Find people that you connect with of all shapes and sizes. Beauty can be a size 6, 16 or 26! So can ugliness.
- Review your list of all the things you couldn’t or wouldn’t do prior to surgery. Remember how far you’ve come!
Remember, you are worthy of this journey. A healthier you is the goal here, and the time it takes to get there is not. It is a marathon, not a sprint. You could easily lose all the weight quickly and gain it back just as fast so the speed of loss is NOT what defines success.
Setting Yourself Up For Your New Life
Are you establishing healthier habits? Are you finding new coping mechanisms and ways to conquer any emotional or boredom eating? Are you finding new foods to enjoy? Are you surrounding yourself with new tools and support for the long haul?
Setting yourself up for your new life is far more important than losing quickly. A cake that is baked in 20 minutes isn’t necessarily better tasting than the one that takes an hour. Time is not the importance here - the destination is far more important than the number of steps that it takes to get there.
So as you move forward, try to make your journey all about YOU and not anyone else. Surround yourself with positive forces. Look for books, websites, podcasts, friends, and mentors that will inspire YOU to live YOUR best life and to help propel you forward!
Remember, a flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.
So push forward and remember to bloom, my friend.
ABOUT THE AUTHORDawn Rudling Stefani had surgery in 2006 and has been an avid member of ObesityHelp since her pre-op days. Her OH username is “Diminishing Dawn.” She is an advocate and a strong supporter of the weight loss community, runs her local support group, and is an elementary school teacher. She is very active in weight loss surgery groups on Facebook and enjoys making new acquaintances with other WLS patients.
Read more articles from Dawn!