One of the things that many people ask me about bariatric surgery is “Will everything in my life change?” Although most of the times my first reaction to this is, yes everything will change; I think I must clarify some habits won’t change, but they will evolve. Other things won’t change at all! There is a saying that goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” and I think I have started to get a deeper understanding of this lately.
One of the main things to keep in mind is that no matter what, having weight loss surgery is not going to magically sort out any of your emotional issues. It would be naïve of anyone to assume that having surgery and losing weight will automatically sort out an emotional problem. The issue surrounding this stems from a matter of fact that some of us that lived all our lives as super obese tend to tie different emotions, feelings being successful or not, past hurt, feelings of being needed and wanted, reasons why we aren’t progressing through life in the way we imagined we would if we weighed differently. So many of us do this, most of us did it in secret without ever letting anyone know about it but I’ll let you in on a personal secret, losing weight is not going to magically solve any of these problems for you. What will change is your self-esteem, ability to love yourself more and the way you see yourself thus your confidence will improve, and you will learn a lot about yourself along the way and that’s a great base you can build upon and help you fight and hopefully beat any of your emotional issues.
Keep in mind one other thing. If you want to have weight loss surgery so that you’ll become happier, please forget it. While in the initial stages weight loss tend to be fast so it’s exciting, this doesn’t last forever. At some point the adrenaline and the novelty of losing weight will become second nature to us and it won’t excite you anymore. Do not base your happiness on your scales, as you’ll end up disappointed in the long run. I urge you however to celebrate little wins. Little wins such as being able to do an activity that you couldn’t in the past, locking yourself in an airplane seat without needing a seatbelt extension, crossing your legs at the knees for the first time in years. Little wins! Celebrate them and they will make you happier.
Do not assume that once you lose weight, people are going to stop commenting stupid remarks. People are people, and they won’t change. The type of remarks might change however! Instead of, “Don’t you think you can lose some weight?”, “You look cute for a fat guy, imagine how good you’ll look if you lose weight” it will now become like, “Don’t lose any more weight” “Aren’t you so much happier?” “Il-lallu, Is that ALL you eat? are you sure you’re not sick or something?” We live in the world and as long as we live with people, we will always field uninvited and unsolicited remarks about our body but at least the new comments and variations may keep us amused for a while. Smile at such remarks and just know that most people do mean such comments in a good way.
Another thing that it’s good to know is that you aren’t going to reach you goal weight and magically stay there, your weight will still move around a bit, and you will need to continue working on it. Forever. Please stop thinking that your weight is a goal. Your weight is just a number and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and looking like you do at any stage in your life is just part of our journey that we call life! Goals change, targets move, and we adapt to situations. Life is a journey and we should always strive to be the best version of ourselves no matter how we look.
This is a big one! You will still have some hang-ups about your body. They will be different, sure, but there will still be some things you need to accept and learn to love about yourself. Losing a huge amount of weight is going to leave traces on your body, that part is unavoidable. You hopefully won’t be concerned about how ‘big’ you think you look anymore but you will probably have some loose skin and there will be new things your body surprises you with. What’s important to remember here is how far you have come. In having bariatric surgery, we are striving for our health not bodily perfection. One thing that I’d like to also remark is to give yourself time to get used to your body. Body dysmorphia is very real. (Read my blog on it here) You’ve lived all your life at your “big” weight and you know how you look, feel and move at that weight so drastically changing everything will take its toll on your mental health and it will take you a few months to understand, know and love your new body.
The decision to have my gastric bypass was the best decision I have ever made for myself. I don’t regret it in the slightest and I’d do it all again if I had to. My only regret is that I didn’t do it earlier! It is important to remember that it’s not going to fix everything in your life. By setting out on a bariatric journey with realistic expectations it’s easier to recognize and appreciate our successes. An important thing to always keep in mind is that the surgery isn’t the solution but just the tool. You need to use this tool in a good way in order to make it work. Giving the best tools to unskilled workers will not give you the perfect finished item and the same applies with any type of weight loss surgery.
As I always say, do not just assume that if you’re overweight than the best solution for you is weight loss surgery. Consult your doctor, gym instructor, dietician, pharmacist and all the medical and health experts that you can. Find your right path and if you realize that the best solution for you is surgery, then by all means know that the option is out there, and it exists.