Why choose weight loss surgery?

 

We’ve all seen the People magazine cover’s with those people that have lost huge amounts of weight (we’re talking 50-100’s of pounds here!) all on their own. The magazine makes sure to point out in big letters that these people did it all WITHOUT SURGERY. As if they need some kind of medal or something. Don’t get me wrong now! I believe that anyone who loses weight, never mind over 50lbs of it, deserves a medal. It’s just the fact that the whole WITHOUT SURGERY part is supposedly the most important part of it all. It’s a big life changing deal to lose a lot of weight – no matter how it’s done. Plus I believe that the people who choose surgery don’t necessarily make a bigger choice then those that don’t choose surgery, but I do believe they make a much more desperate choice.

When I was facing that choice I was most certainly desperate. Desperate, depressed (near suicidal in fact), panicked and defeated. I truly saw no other way for me to live out even the next ten years, never mind make it my to son’s high school graduation! That’s the kind of spot I was in mentally and I believe it’s probably true for others that choose the surgery route. I personally think that if you are considering having a potentially life threatening surgery done, then you should probably be in a life threatening situation with your health. That’s where I was. After a checkup I received a letter from my doctor. This letter was an eye opener. I knew I was hugely overweight and that I was courting disaster health wise. But this letter blatantly stated that if I couldn’t get my weight and Diabetes under control I would be facing amputation within a few years and probably death within ten years. Time to do something drastic, right?! When people are considering this surgery it’s NOT for vanity or cosmetic reasons usually. Think about it this way, does someone just decide to have cardiac bypass surgery because they think they may have a heart attack in a few years but don’t want to stop eating sausages? Um, no way! Nor would they be allowed to – I hope! Same goes with weight loss surgery.

I really envy those people in the magazines that lose all that weight and get healthy and don’t need to have surgery to do it. I think they are in a MUCH better state of mind than I was at the outset though. They may have some of the same problems even, like diabetes, or a hypertension diagnosis that triggered them to solve the weight problem once and for all. But the fact that they felt even remotely capable of solving the weight problem sets them several important steps above where I was.

I think mind-set is maybe the single most important factor in play here and I will be spending a lot of time on how what you think affects your reality. But for now, if you are seriously thinking about having weight loss surgery (friends and family listen up!) then you are probably thinking all day, every day how impossible this problem is for you to solve, how you’ve been fighting this battle for sooo long and you’re battle weary and scarred. It’s hard to tie your shoes because it’s hard to bend over because there is too much fat in the way. Or if you have already given up on tie shoes, it’s hard to bring your foot to your opposite knee to even put your shoe on. Maybe you have had to just give up and use Crocs or some other slip on. Getting dressed is just covering up as much fat as possible cuz for sure you don’t have any clothes you get excited about putting on, or if you do, they never look quite the way you want them to. What’s of vital importance here is that I was so tired of living in that situation that I felt there was no other way out. If I had been able to believe in myself enough for long enough (beyond the first two weeks of every new diet, that is) I would have never gotten as bad as I had. The person who had that surgery was a different person than I am now. I had been verbally and mentally abusing myself pretty much since puberty and there was no universe where I felt that I was capable of losing the weight on my own or that I even deserved to!

When a person has put themselves in a mindset like that for years and years, well I think it’s laughable for anyone to actually look at that poor wrecked person and say,” Well if you just stopped eating all the junk and went for a walk once in a while.” What can they be expecting from a statement like that other than to shame? Do they really think this morbidly obese (100 pounds over his/her ideal body weight) is going to stop and say, “OH geez! Really?? It’s just that simple?? I NEVER knew that! Thank you so much! I’m going to go home and clean out my kitchen and pantry right now! No! Better yet, I’m going to jog there! My life is transformed!” Um, no! Someone who is 100lbs over their ideal body weight has bigger issues surrounding weight than just cutting out junk food.

Also, it should be pointed out, especially if you’re reading this and considering the surgery or if friends and family are reading, that you can’t just walk in and say, “I want weight loss surgery.” and have surgery scheduled ASAP. There is a long process, or was for me anyway, and many screenings and informational meetings that have to happen before a surgery date is scheduled. I had to meet with a nutritionist, my regular doctor, the surgeon, and a therapist. Not to mention the huge amount of lab tests that were done. So, when people just dismiss it, yet again, as only the “easy way out”, it’s really not.

The mental state of mind I had allowed myself to descend into prior to surgery was one where on a daily basis I told myself that I and my son and husband would be better off if I died on the table, rather than continue to exist the way I was. I truly felt that for my son, my baby boy, to grow up with a 300lb plus mother was way worse for him than losing his mother when he was 4yrs old.  I even wrote him a letter that he could have in case I didn’t make it or there was some huge complication. That’s where I was mentally.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone who considers this surgery is in that same mental state, or even partly in that kind of state. What I am saying is that generally speaking anyone who is big enough and with enough other possibly life threatening issues going on is probably NOT being cavalier with their life. There are serious, serious considerations to major surgery and I believe that most people that have gotten to the morbidly obese stage have a lot more going on inside than anybody knows about. I think anyone who gets to a point that they are willing to risk death for an operation that permanently changes their insides should be given a healthy amount of respect and not be treated like they cheated their way into health!

If you or someone you know is considering this surgery or just have some questions about what happens after when the weight comes off…..or when it starts to come back on….This is the place. Anything you want to know – anything at all – we need to start talking about it. Only when you bring something into the light does it break free from the hold of darkness. This is a very dark, shame filled issue in our world. We need to light it up.

 

 

“Fat people are lazy”

“Fat people are just lazy.”

Grr! How often have we heard that one? I believe that statement is one of the reasons that fat discrimination and prejudice are still acceptable in our society. I would like to think that we have evolved beyond such narrow thinking, but in a culture where we have to remind each other that “all lives matter”, that’s not the case. This happened today, in one of my classes. We were discussing weight management and the effect that movement/exercise can have on obesity and diabetes and cardiovascular health. This course is about becoming a personal trainer or coach and focuses mostly on exercise. The professor asked why people don’t exercise more in today’s world when we know so much about how good it is for us. The first answer he got was from a 19-20yr old guy sitting in the back. This guy clearly spends a lot of quality time in the gym – he is very fit and has obviously never struggled with his weight. His off the cuff response was, “Because they are lazy and don’t want to do the work!” This is going to be a person who works to help people get fit?? I’m sad for people like me who want to get help and end up with a trainer who holds them in contempt.

But a lot of people have that view of us. We haven’t yet reached the place where it’s PC that we call it a “disease” like we do for alcoholism now. And I’m sure there are a fair amount of people who think having a drinking problem is not a disease but just plain undisciplined. However, it’s acceptable to view overweight people that way. Why? I think it’s because obesity is such a multi-faceted problem.

Think about it! How many different elements or issues go into making a person fat? Genetics? Sure, there’s DNA that’s against us. Environment? Of course! Did we grow up in a fat family or a fit, active one? Personality? Yep. Are you the type of person who deals with life with addictive behavior or are you one of those (people we love to secretly hate) who needs to go for a run when life gets stressful? Ultimately though fat comes down to, at its most basic level, what we eat and if we exercise. And that is something we control. No one but me holds the fork or makes up excuses why I can’t work out today. That’s what people who think we are lazy see. They don’t have trouble controlling that so can’t see how we do.

It’s a tricky issue and hard to combat because most people who think we are lazy don’t say so to our faces. Also we have to overcome that opinion in ourselves too. We’ve all heard it growing up. “If you’d just try harder and have some will power!” I think that’s where the real damage can happen. We know inside that there is some part of this problem that is about our being able to control ourselves. That’s where the shame comes in (and oh boy is there shame!). We should be able to control or fix this with just our will. That’s one of the reasons that gastric by-pass surgery is looked at as an easy way out. We alter our body from the inside instead of conquering or controlling it through force of will.

The people that call us lazy don’t see us, not really. They just see the fat or that we are wasting our body. They don’t see what it takes inside us to try yet again to beat this demon. They don’t see how much work and effort it takes for us to go out in public sometimes with our biggest flaw on display for the world to see. They don’t see that of course we know there is some part of this that’s about our ability to control ourselves. They also don’t see that it’s just a small piece of the whole and that obesity is an all-encompassing pervasive problem that affects every single aspect of our existence.

So next time you hear that fat people are lazy, first, pray for the patience to coexist with idiots. Then be comforted that I see and know that lazy has very little to do with it. If you have friends or family that see it that way, send them here and have them read. They may just get a different perspective on the whole thing. And if you’re struggling right now with believing you’re lazy or don’t have enough will power, don’t panic. There is a fix for that. It may be the most important fix there is for weight problems and we will get to it soon I promise!