GUEST POST: When you decide to get weight loss surgery, you join a unique community. Bariatric patients have a lot in common. We’ve struggled with weight for years. We’ve been unable to keep the weight off with regular diets and exercise. And now, we’re bound to each other by a special bond: the weight loss surgery.
Weight loss surgery is for life. The journey isn’t easy, but I believe that the best way to make it work is to take the best of both worlds. Recognise that we are bound to each other through our weight loss surgery, but don’t let that special tie isolate you from everyone who has not had weight loss surgery. Instead, recognising the similarities in all of our lives can make our own challenges easier to overcome.
These are some of the things we all share, weight loss surgery or not. For each, there are some unique aspects for bariatric patients, but also parallels with everyone else.
We all have a daily struggle.
If you’re overweight, there’s a good chance you’ve looked enviously at people who are at a “normal” weight. You see them walking down the street, maybe wearing a cute outfit that you can only dream of wearing, and wish you had it as easy as they did. You’re jealous because your own weight problem is visible to the world.
But we all have our own struggles, and you don’t know what is going on in that person’s life. They may face abuse, struggle to pay the bills, suffer from a chronic disease, care for a sick child at home, or work at a job they hate. Just as you struggle every day to eat right and exercise, they may struggle every day to wake up and face their own challenges. Rather than envy them, think of other people as inspiration to get through your day. We are all in this together, doing the best we can with what we have.
We all keep certain things from our bosses.
Many bariatric patients are hesitant to tell our bosses about our surgery. We may fear judgement or retribution. We may just want to keep our personal lives private. It’s not always that easy to keep quiet about Weight Loss Surgery, since we need to eat differently and our appearances change as the weight comes off. There may even be times when we need to leave work because we feel sick or have doctor’s appointments.
But guess what – nobody tells their boss everything about their personal lives. I am certain that all of your co-workers have their own secrets from your boss. Looking just at alcohol abuse, an estimated 15% of the workforce has come to work after drinking or with a hangover! Add to that secrets such as playing hooky to see a sports match, searching for a new job, or living out of a camper to save money, and you can bet that every employee has their own personal issues that they don’t want to publicise to the boss.
We all want to be there for our families (or worry about our futures).
One of the most compelling reasons to get weight loss surgery is to be there. We want to be alive and be healthy for as many years as possible to support our families and get to enjoy them. With obesity, the pressure to improve health is real and personal, since we may already have our own health problems or have seen family members struggle with or die from conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.
But everyone worries about the future. They may worry about their job security, about having enough money for rent and to put the kids through college, and – yes, it’s true – about their health and weight.
We’re all short on time.
Weight loss surgery success is time-consuming, from meal planning and grocery shopping to food prep and measurement, not to mention working out. It takes some sacrifice to get in all those healthy behaviours, especially before they become habits.
But everyone is short on time. We’re all busy with work, school, and family obligations. And that includes diet and exercise commitments, even for people who don’t look like they need to be careful. In fact, the people who are most dedicated to their health are the ones who are best at prioritising their lives, and making the necessary sacrifices to clear the time to work out and eat right.
We can all use a helping hand.
Hopefully, this article has shown that we’re all in this together. We can all use a helping hand. Within the bariatric community, resources like BariatricPal and Bariatric Cookery can give us the chance to ask questions and give advice. Outside, try to remember that giving someone a smile or encouraging word can mean a lot, and possibly make someone’s day a lot easier.
Feature courtesy of Alex Brecher BariatricPal.