Emotional Literacy

Emotional Literacy: Navigating Feelings Before & After Bariatric Surgery

May 29, 2024

Emotional Literacy: The journey of disease treatment through bariatric surgery is as much physical as it is emotional. The emotional changes with any wellness journey may trigger a deeper emotional feeling. Such changes will ultimately result in increased confidence and overall empowerment once you feel you have access to all of you, inside and out.

Understanding and navigating the array of emotions before and after the surgery is crucial for one's overall well-being and success. The stages of physical and emotional change will lead you through feelings of excitement, anxiety and fear, hopefulness, body image concerns/perceptions, confrontations, guilt and shame, empowerment, confidence, and gratitude, to mention a few. These are common emotions that you may experience at different points as you embrace your health journey and the stages of change.

Let’s explore the emotional side of Bariatric Surgery (before and after) and learn strategies to help you manage these emotions successfully. 



Initially, there is a feeling of elation with the first thoughts of “I’m doing this” after years of struggling with the disease of obesity and related health comorbidities.


Relief and Hope

The next emotion you may encounter is relief and hope as you decide to take the step towards disease treatment, resulting in a longer, healthier quality of life.



You will find yourself researching, talking, and listening to all different informational resources about the surgical process, potential outcomes, lifestyle changes, and personal stories will engage the emotional process.


Pre-operative emotional anticipation

It's common to feel a mix of emotions such as nervousness, hesitation, fear, excitement, hopeful, elation, and motivation, to mention a few. Acknowledge the emotions without judgment. Having a support system in place can provide comfort and help lighten the emotional burden.



Take the time with your medical and support team to check-in with yourself to assure expectations are realistic. The pre-and post-operative lifestyle comes with much anticipation (both physical and mental); therefore, check-ins with yourself and your medical team will help manage expectations, ensuring they are realistic and supporting your well-being throughout the process.



Relief, anticipation, fear, excitement, hope, anxiety, confidence, and joy can be just a few initial emotions that you may experience. Embrace the emotions, allow yourself to feel them, and commend your decision to choose your health.


Emotional Check-In

Take the time to check-in with yourself by asking, “What’s working, what’s not working, and what do I need to do differently?” Be kind to yourself, ask how you are, ask what you need, and know your emotional/supportive resources.



Emotions can arise no matter what lifestyle changes you embark on as the body is changing. Your coping strategies are being modified, and you are allowing your mind/body to feel again without burying your emotions. Be kind to yourself, allow yourself to learn from your emotional check-in’s, and use each experience, both positive and negative, to engage your compassion and resilience.



Be kind to yourself. See any mistakes as an opportunity to learn and identify specific lifestyle choices/habits that you should acknowledge while also being objective about things you might want to work on improving.


Mindful Eating

Recognize your patterns, check-in with yourself when eating outside of meals by asking yourself, “Am I physically hungry?” and set boundaries that engage confidence in eating.


Body Image

Accepting your body means honoring your body as it is, while helping it become the best it can be. Respecting your body is when you give it what it needs and treat it like the treasured gift it is, thus no longer rebelling against your body.


Expectations and Hopefulness

Focus on where you are heading instead of obsessing about where you are. Set realistic goals/expectations, acknowledge every achievement, both on and off the scale. Be patient with yourself and engage in consistency with your behaviors. Protecting your emotional health is essential.

Your emotional well-being is intertwined with your physical health, so therefore, it’s imperative to lean on your support, create a network of supportive resources, and practice self-compassion.

You are taking a significant step towards a journey of health and wellness and your emotional resilience and confidence matters as much as your physical changes. You are the author of your story, use your resources and choose your outcome. You’ve got this!

Dr. Willo Wisotsky is a NY State Licensed Psychologist and is affiliated with New York Bariatric Group.

Emotional Literacy


Dr. Willo Wisotsky is a NY State Licensed Psychologist and is affiliated with New York Bariatric Group. Dr. Wisotsky has committed her research and clinical practice to the field of eating disorders and obesity with its related medical and mental health comorbidities. Dr. Wisotsky practices from a Behavioral Medicine approach with an emphasis on improving overall well being, increasing mindfulness, motivation, quality of life and health.
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