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Chapter 1
Weight Loss Surgery – Punching The Reset Button

Did you ever wish you could go back in time ten, twenty or thirty years and just start over on your weight battle? Before you had to buy a seatbelt extender or take medication for high blood pressure or stay home because you couldn’t climb the bleachers to go to your son’s football game? Back when you only had twenty or thirty pounds to lose, not 120 or 130 pounds?

If you could just punch a reset button and start over, you know you’d have a fighting chance to stay at a healthy weight, a chance you don’t seem to get no matter how many diets you try or how hard you work at it.

That’s what weight loss surgery does. It takes the steering wheel, hits the gas, and accelerates you at warp speed to a weight that had always before seemed hopelessly out of reach. It’s the ultimate do-over, just like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. But unlike the movie, you won’t get multiple chances to get it right.

As the pounds come off, emotions will break loose that you never even knew were there, not only in yourself, but in your friends, family and co-workers. If you’re not prepared for them, the emotional tide can overwhelm you, sabotaging your weight loss and undoing the physical changes your surgeon made to your body.

Most patients never dreamed that the simple loss of weight could create such turmoil.

 

“The hardest thing for me has been dealing with all the emotional issues. You can bet that whatever has been eating you is going to surface. I didn’t realize it then, but I was stuffing things. Numbing emotions. I feel everything more intensely now. I’m glad I did it [had surgery] even though it was like ripping off a band aid.”

“It never occurred to me that other things in my life would change. I just wanted to get healthy. But it affected everything – my marriage, my kids, even my job.”

“My husband started out being very supportive. He even paid for my surgery because my insurance wouldn’t cover it. But then he started making nasty comments about my weight loss. He got mad whenever I left the house wearing makeup. If someone would say something nice to me about how I looked, he’d say something derogatory.”

“Some of my friends don’t want to go out with me anymore. Before, I’d been the funny fat girl who could get the guys to come over so my friends could flirt with them. After I lost the weight, the guys wanted to keep talking to me, and my friends didn’t like that.”

“People who’d never spoken to me at work suddenly started being nice to me. I wasn’t mad at them before the surgery, but now I’m really angry at them. It’s all I can do just to say hello.”

Why is being prepared for this emotional backlash important? Because overeating has little to do with physical need and everything to do with emotional need.

The truth is that obesity cannot be surgically “cured”. Weight loss surgery isn’t some sort of permanent dietary prison lockdown. Even the most drastic bariatric procedure can be undone by an unwillingness to adapt to a healthier way of life. Its purpose is to give you a fresh start and a period of time to adjust to a new lifestyle regimen under optimum conditions. It’ll be up to you to carry those new habits forward after the seeming magic of the operation has worn off.

In other words, bariatric surgery gives you a winning edge, like being given a ten mile head start in a 26.2 mile marathon race. Whether you wring every benefit out of that head start and win the race or decide to squander that precious advantage by heading to the showers after mile eleven is totally up to you.

Your relationships with friends and family will change because of your weight loss. Emotions will boil to the surface that may surprise you, and not necessarily in a good way.

To win the weight loss marathon, you’re going to have to learn to deal appropriately with the intense emotions that will bombard you after the surgery. If you don’t, you’ll fall victim to “head hunger” - eating for reasons wholly unrelated to hunger or need - and wind up right back where you started, staring at your bathroom scale like it’s the messenger of doom.

Most patients aren’t aware they have an emotional Achilles’ heel until it smacks them in the face right in the middle of their weight loss. So if you don’t know what emotions your surgery and diminishing size will provoke, how can you be ready to deal with them successfully?

That’s what this book is about. It helps you recognize your own emotional landmines so that you can defuse them before they have a chance to wipe out your weight loss efforts.

Scared? Don’t be. The emotional “reveal” from the surgery can be as healing and joyful as the weight loss itself.

If you handle the emotional issues that arise in a healthy way, your life can be better than your most optimistic hope when you stepped into your surgeon’s office.

 
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