The Commitments We Make As Bariatric PatientsSeptember 27, 2015
We hear it over and over as we approach weight loss surgery. Our doctors ask earnestly, “Are you ready to make this commitment?” Family members caution, “It’s a big commitment, you know.” At pre-op support groups, it’s a common theme: “This is a huge commitment!”
But what exactly is everyone talking about? Weight loss surgery boils down to three commitments that we carry with us for the rest of our lives.
Three Weight Loss Surgery Commitments
1. We commit to honesty
2. Lifetime changes
3. Taking care of ourselves
Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.
Honesty and Weight Loss Surgery
Wait a minute! I’m an honest person! I don’t cheat on my taxes and wouldn’t dream of telling a lie!
When it comes to food, we’ve refined dishonesty to a high art. We’ve hidden food, eaten in secret, and claimed that we “just don’t understand” why our diet isn’t working - when we know full well that we devoured a batch of cookies in a single afternoon. We rationalize excessive eating in a multitude of ways: we eat when we’re alone, when we’re with friends, when we’re bored, when we’re busy, when we’re stressed, and when we’re taking time to relax.
As we turn to weight loss surgery as a solution to morbid obesity, we have to lay aside those old rationalizations and secrets. Instead, we commit to complete - even brutal - honesty with ourselves as we face the facts about what we eat.
When we log our food intake, we need to log it all - the good, the bad, and the ugly, even years after surgery.
We must honestly confront our slip-ups head on, and figure out constructive ways to deal with them before old habits gain a foothold.
We commit to complete honesty with our doctors and support teams about our food intake, exercise, and lifestyle.
As an example, just a few days after having weight loss surgery, a new post-op veered from her eating plan. She decided not to tell her surgeon, nutritionist or psychologist about her eating episode, that's not being honest with her team. While it might be easier to say nothing, she would continue a pattern of denial and dishonesty. In fact, talking with her surgeon, nutritionist and psychologist about her struggle may be her single most important step in getting on track.
Changes and Weight Loss Surgery
When we have WLS, we are committing to lifetime change.
An acquaintance lost over 150 pounds following RNY. As I approached my own surgery, I asked a mutual friend how the acquaintance was doing. The answer was “She gained it all back. She just woke up one morning, and there it was.” Of course, the post-op acquaintance did not regain 150 pounds overnight. But when she reached the point of committing to lifetime change, she let herself down and faltered.
Weight loss surgery is not like a New Year’s resolution, or setting a goal to knit a sweater or save money for a fancy vacation. Weight loss surgery isn't bullet-proof and requires changing your life - forever. We have to ask ourselves each and every day if we are truly committed to making and maintaining changes.
The reality of post-op success challenges our pre-op notions of what it means to live life at a normal weight. For years I assumed that my trim friends were magically able to eat whatever they wanted. I assumed that the fit women I saw at exercise class relished every moment of their workouts. Neither of these assumptions is true! My trim, fit friends make consistent, careful food choices. And my post-op mentor, Denise, who runs marathons and teaches spin classes, readily states that she doesn’t exercise because she loves it, but because it is how she needs to live for the rest of her life.
Post-op success requires daily, conscious effort to choose the right food options and the right exercise options.
Yes, we make certain sacrifices for the rest of our lives - but those sacrifices are not necessarily “bad.” They represent the changes that will lead us to lifetime success.
Taking Care of Yourself and Weight Loss Surgery
For some of us, claiming time and energy to take care of ourselves is a tremendous challenge. When we commit to self-care, it does not mean that we stop caring for family and loved ones, it means that we shift priorities and take care of our own emotional and physical needs.
Success with weight loss surgery is a commitment that you make to yourself!
Photo credit: ObesityHelp
ABOUT THE AUTHORLynn McLean began her weight loss journey in 2009; she was deeply concerned about the impact of obesity on her overall health and well being. Today, at age 60, Lynn celebrates the positive changes and daily victories resulting from weight loss surgery. She maintains a loss of over 100 pounds 6 years after her RNY, and actively participates in a variety of exercise classes, support groups and the online weight loss surgery community. Professionally, Lynn is an experienced educator; she now works as a freelance writer and trainer for a major technology company.