Weight Regain: 5 Things You Can Learn From ItJuly 27, 2016
I had weight loss surgery over eight years ago. For those of you that are curious, I had RNY Gastric Bypass in February of 2008. And for those of you that are further curious, yes, I’ve regained. It’s not uncommon for a WLS patient to have “bounce back” or weight regain. The statistics say patients may regain 5-10% of their excess body weight lost; this is common and should be expected. But when regain goes too far it can be scary and a hard road to navigate. It's hard to be your own advocate, but you truly have to continue to fight for yourself and that’s not easy.
Recognizing and Facing Weight Regain
First, you have to be ready to face the fact that you’ve regained. Maybe you haven’t stepped on the scale in some time, but you realize your clothes aren’t fitting anymore, or you’ve switched to wearing only stretchy pants to avoid going out and buying a bigger size. You know you aren’t eating “on program”, you know you aren’t regularly exercising, day after day you think about getting it together, about getting back “on program”, but you just can’t.
It begins to feel much like it did pre-surgery. Although you aren’t there – you aren’t the weight you were before; you feel you are in this nomad’s land – not quite that rockin’ bad ass WLS patient you once were, but not that pre-op patient you once were either. And this is maybe where it’s scary, and where you kind of start feeling alone because you are afraid to go back to that miserable, sick, obese person, but yet you can’t seem to get your mindset right to get back in the WLS game either.
You feel embarrassed, ashamed and want to hide your regain. But guess what; it’s time to face it!
Here are some things to think about pertaining to your regain. What triggered it? What changed in your life that had you go from that bad ass, take on the world, I am going to be the best WLS patient you’ve ever seen! to – “How the hell am I up ‘X amount’ of pounds?!”? Do you know?
For me, I had a series of stressful life events that I turned to my old friend, food, for comfort. Have you heard of transfer addictions after WLS? I don’t believe I have ever turned to anything else. I had an addiction or bond to food that I had under control after I had surgery for some time and then life happened and I turned to food again – maybe on a smaller scale than prior to surgery, but my comfort, or my drug of choice, was and is still food.
It’s important to identify what it is that is causing your weight gain. It may not be diet – it may be medical reasons that can be addressed with your physician, so that’s why it is imperative to advocate for yourself and get down to WHY. A lot can be learned during this WLS journey, and specifically with weight regain.
5 Things You Can Learn From Weight Regain:
- You Are Not Alone! Being trapped in your own mind and body can feel the loneliest, but there is so much support out there. First, reach out to your bariatric program if that is an option for you. They want to see you succeed just as much as YOU want to succeed! They have resources to share with you to help you get back on track. Find a support group! Whether it is online or one you go to in person, checking in on a regular basis with a support group will give you that extra bit of encouragement you may need.
- You Are Stronger Than You Think! Give yourself some credit! You had so much courage to even make the choice to have weight loss surgery. You chose to fight for your health when you made that decision! You can do it again – find that inner strength and fight for your health. Reach out to a friend for support or that support group I mentioned above. You are strong!! Don’t forget that!
- Other Medical Reasons That May Be Causing Regain! Once you take control and decide to work on getting regain under control, you may discover that perhaps medications or an underlying health issue you did not know you have is the root of your regain – you won’t know until you advocate for yourself and seek out help for regaining weight after weight loss surgery. If it turns out it is emotional issues and unhealthy diet, that’s ok too – the point is you are taking a HUGE step in the right direction to get back on track.
- Why You Started on This Journey! I think with regain we can forget the reasons that were important to us that started us on this journey in the first place! Why did you have weight loss surgery? Did you want to run? Ride a bike? Go for walks? Play with the grandkids? What were your goals? “After I lose the weight I want to…” I think in regain we lose that. Get after it again! Those were YOUR goals, the things that were important to you. Or maybe it’s time to set new goals!
- The Weight Loss Surgery Basics! I know this sounds silly. You may be thinking,”Um, I know the WLS basics, been there, done that.” But do you still know them? Do you remember them? I bet there are some of the basics that you forgot. Deciding to take on regain may help you relearn those WLS basics you had forgotten.
It’s never too late to work on losing regain. The tool of WLS you were given is still there. I still celebrate my success and do not dwell in the regain. I am learning from it and moving forward. Make the decision to do something about it, take the step forward and each day take a step in that direction. Learn along the way; that’s what this journey is about.
ABOUT THE AUTHORJessica Mowles Stockton is an 8 year post-op and has been an avid member of ObesityHelp for over 6 years. She is an advocate and a strong supporter of the weight loss surgery community and enjoys photography as one of her hobbies. She has a weight loss surgery support page on Facebook.
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