The guest post below is something of an old one but you’d never know … the same problems arise after WLS today as ever before, and like Erin I too get many queries about revisions when things don’t quite work out. My advice, rather like hers,
also encourages ‘personal responsibility’ – I believe it accounts for most (although not all) of the success and failure around weight-loss surgery. Changes need to be made to pre-surgery behaviours to get a different long-term outcome. I try to work at mine at least 95% of the time – no one is perfect! If you keep doing the same thing you’ll certainly get the same result even with this amazing tool of bariatric surgery. Read her wise words as the holiday season and extra-temptation rears its ugly head!
My Two Favourite Words In Bariatric Surgery: Personal Responsibility
Bariatric surgery will not work unless we resolve the issues and change the bad habits that got us to the point of being morbidly obese. In other words, take personal responsibility to maximize your success with weight loss surgery.
People email me all the time regarding the topic of keeping the weight off and staying happy and focused on their weight loss surgery journey. We all know that regain is such a big problem for so many of us in this community, and it can be really frustrating.
Weight loss surgery revisions
It is also leading to more and more people inquiring about revisions. And for the record, no, I am not one of those people who think revisions are bad and should not be done. I do think sometimes things happen medically that require a revision, but also we can undo some of the good things our surgeries have done for us, which can sometimes be fixed by a revision.
Here is what I have a problem with. I recently met a lady who has had two revisions in the last three years. She is still about 80 pounds overweight. She told me how frustrated she is and how sad it makes her to see the weight keep coming back. I asked her why she thought it was such a problem for her, and really expected some story of complications and issues that were beyond her control. What she told me actually made me even sadder than the medical issues would have made me. This beautiful lady told me a story of how she just loves her carbs. Rice and butter for breakfast, cookies for a snack, crackers and butter for another snack, and the list goes on and on.
Bariatric is only a tool
Bariatric surgery will not work unless we resolve the issues and change the bad habits that got us to the point of being morbidly obese. For some of us it will take therapy and dealing with a food addiction to be able to maintain these changes.
One of the hardest things for me to do after my surgery and initial loss was admit I had an addiction and seek treatment for that addiction. I can thank my good friend, Dr Connie Stapleton, for that light bulb moment. I have to take personal responsibility for my disease, its treatment, and for my recovery, which is so very important to me. How many of us truly take proper care of the second chance at life we have been given? I really ponder that question a lot. I know there are days when I do not. I like to have a drink when my husband and I are on vacation or go out on the weekends. Is that good for me? No. I make a poor choice when I put anything into my body that is not healthy. I then have to live with that choice.
When we agreed to go under the knife and have weight loss surgery of any type, we took on a huge responsibility and a personal commitment to a new healthy life. This is not something I can take lightly. And my passion is to show others what a precious thing their treatment is and how it should never be squandered.
I feel like every time we as post-ops make bad eating choices, it is no different from a patient who smoked their whole life, got lung cancer, then had surgery to remove the cancer and was cancer-free, PICKING UP A CIGARETTE AND SMOKING IT AWAY. If your best friend had lung cancer and then had surgery and chemo and was cancer-free, what would you say to them if they started to light a cigarette? Why then do we not say this to each other when we are out and one of us chooses horrible foods that have no nutritional value and will do nothing to improve our health?
I hear so many in our community fighting tooth and nail to have obesity regarded as a disease, which it is for sure. But then, when we now have this amazing treatment for this disease, why do we not all see it and treat it as a miracle and a second chance and a real blessing? I think our path and our resolve has to be even firmer than that of a drug addict or a smoker. Why? We can live without alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes, but we cannot live without food. The temptation will never go away.
I in no way expect every bariatric patient to be perfect. I surely am not, and I will always struggle with bad choices. I am human as you are. But I would simply challenge you to make fewer and fewer of the bad choices and more and more good ones. When I looked at the Doritos, my mind went to all of the people I know out there who want and need the treatment I was given and will never be able to have it for themselves. For me, that is a thought that literally stops me in my tracks.
The healthiest version of yourself
I have to think of where I would be without gastric bypass and how different my life would be. I think of the amazing things I can do, feel, and experience now because of the newer, healthy version of me. Your weight loss surgery was so much more than just a way to get skinny. You have been given something so precious and valuable. Nothing makes me sadder than seeing people just treat it as if it were nothing special and squander the chance they have been given at a new life.
And, yes, I know many are thinking, “But, Erin, what about those of us who had terrible complications?” I know that happens and it is sad, but it’s one of the risks involved with trying to save our lives and get healthy. I have had a few, and am thankful that they have been minor and my heart breaks for those who have had serious ones.
Please, the next time you are tempted to eat that cookie, or donut, or piece of cake, or plate of nachos, or have that sugary cocktail, or whatever your trigger food was, the food that contributed to your disease, think of where you have come from and where you want to be. Think of the person sitting in their room, crying their eyes out and miserable because their insurance just denied them the treatment you have been given.
You owe it to yourself and those who love you to be the best and healthiest version of you that you can be. Never expect perfection as it will only leave you frustrated, but strive for 95 percent good choices and for optimal health. You deserve it, and you have a responsibility to make good choices. It is your responsibility to care for that treatment and tool and to never find yourself throwing it away. If you are someone who has regained, and are exploring a revision, I would encourage you to seek therapy first. Only when we fix the emotional parts can we really be the total package of health we all long to be and deserve to be.
We are all works in progress, and the best we can hope for is to keep growing and learning. I love this community, and I love all of the amazing and diverse people who make it what it is. I also want to see us all be as healthy as we can be together! That will show the world how wonderful weight loss surgery really can be! Through personal responsibility, we can all better convey that truth to the mainstream media and general public!
Erin Akey, FNC, LWMS, CWFI is a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach and a Certified Aqualogix Water Fitness Instructor. She is the host of a weekly radio show about life after weight loss surgery called Fit Living. She also runs a company called The Bariatric Guru.
Feature courtesy of obesityhelp.com