I saw a post today on Facebook that broke my heart. She wrote:
I regret having Gastric Bypass.
Then I remembered a video where I heard some profound words:
No one ever breaks your heart, they break your expectations.
Think about a past relationship and I bet you can immediately feel the weight of that truth! I think it’s easier to understand that in the context of a human relationship but try to think about it with food. Food is definitely a relationship! Some people have very healthy relationships with food but other – like me – do not.
Weight loss surgery will definitely and immediately alter your relationship with food. It’s a life changing decision and you really have to be well informed about the procedure you choose and how you will live after surgery. I also believe that solid support systems at home and with your clinic are essential for long term success.
You should also have a firm and honest understanding of who you are and how you really eat. This level of honesty can be very hard and uncomfortable but until you look at the reality of your weight and your eating habits you will struggle.
I had to come to terms with two major things: I had to be honest about how I was eating my feelings by using food as a coping mechanism and seriously looking at how much I was eating on a daily basis. This was a challenge because no one wants to hear the truth even coming from yourself! I spent many years lying to myself about my weight.
Being honest and aware is the beginning. Once I acknowledged these things, I had to take another critical step: I had to set about how I was going to handle them. I also had to do this before I had surgery or I knew my past behaviors would return… they always had before.
The woman who wrote the post had some minor complications but from the subsequent comments it seemed like the larger issue she was experiencing was no longer having food as a means to cope. As human beings in this age of instant gratification and convenience we are not accustomed to sitting in discomfort. We don’t like to wait. We want to feel better immediately. Imagine how you’ll feel when what makes you feel satisfied is longer an option. Discomfort. Anger. Resentment. Bitterness.
If you’re looking into weight loss surgery I implore you to do this:
- Do your research! Search for clinics with a long history of performing weight loss surgeries.
- Be sure they have a very specific plan of what you’ll experience through each part of the process from consultation and medical requirements to post surgical support, nutritional support, and emotional support.
- Take advantage of every possible thing they offer you with regard to support! This path can be long and emotional and you will encounter people every day that will not understand what you’re going through. I continue to find that level of understanding necessary even after 2.5 years out.
- See a therapist or a counselor and try to get to the root of your eating habits and work to address them. Most places require a psychiatric evaluation as part of the pre-op requirements. Many will also offer additional care if you ask. It was extremely helpful to me.
- Know that every step, every doctors visit, and every task you have to fulfill is for your benefit. When I tested positive for h.pylori I was devastated! I was delayed by another 2 months and I was very disappointed. The reality is that those extra months allowed my stomach to heal and put me in better shape for a successful surgery. Sadly, it took me a few angry weeks to see that!
Ultimately, you can dramatically reduce weight loss surgery regret by knowing, understanding, and embracing the procedure and letting your expectations match the reality. This was the single greatest decision of my life and I’m thankful for the amount of care, concern, and support on top of an excellent medical team for preparing me for the road I was traveling!