Bariatric Surgery ONLY Makes Your Stomach Smaller!
Yep, the surgery itself only makes your stomach smaller - otherwise we're exactly the same! Same issues, same life. Bariatric surgery is not a walk in the park. It takes a concerted effort to actually live in a way that is almost opposite to the way we have been living for most of our lives.
We don't wake up and find that we no longer have a taste for a Krispy Kreme. You have to develop disdain and disinterest in such foods by finding other things that while not a Krispy Kreme, produce even greater joy when paired with weight loss. Believe it or not, at some point a dish of strawberries plus losing 120 pounds is much better than cake!
My RNY surgery was in 2001 and I can assure you that I would not have had a shot at keeping off the weight if I had not stopped eating the crap responsible for my needing surgery in the first place. Many of the current crop of 'support group' advice givers, still in the 'honeymoon' phase of one to three years, don't seem to grasp this concept as they have not yet lived through it. I have been on that soapbox as well - loudly proclaiming that the twenty pound bounce was 'an excuse' - but I was just a couple of years post op and holding the line well, at the time it was my reality.
The phrase Honeymoon Period is an often quoted and vague concept to some (sort of like saying 'Gold Standard' when referring to RNY surgery - what does that really mean?) Here is how it works. Marriage has many ups and downs and sideways turns in the long run - but when we first get married, we live in that fog of bliss for a brief moment called a Honeymoon, where all is good and the reality of money, housecleaning, laundry, kids, money and personal habits have not had a chance to drive us mad.
Ditto for bariatric surgery. When we are first turned loose into the world with a four ounce stomach, we have no idea that we are not driving the bus - we do not realize that we have absolutely nothing to do with our massive seven month weight drop. Some folks are already off the path at this point, snickering all the way 'I am eating all my favorite stuff, nothing is making me sick and I am still losing weight, hehehee.' or my all-time favorite justification for those who run back to fast food early, 'I have lost 55 pounds in four months, I must be doing something right.' Nope, during the Honeymoon Phase - we could have been washing down McRibs with McShakes and still have lost that same 55 pounds.
Reality Check: If you have ever been on a diet, think back to what you had to do in order to lose 55 pounds. How many salads with lemon juice, horse urine injections, public WW weigh-in humiliations, pots of cabbage soup, making yourself throw up after meals, and prescription speed cocktails did we endure for a fifty five pound loss? Why would this suddenly get so easy that all we needed was to have our internal organs rearranged and not have to change our eating habits as well? Give that a ponder.
Folks who are two years post op have no idea what it's like at six years post op or twelve years post op when what you have been doing not only comes to a screeching halt but reverses itself and the weight begins to creep back on while you panic and begin to watch every single bite. Things that didn't matter suddenly do - like a Handful of Pretzels or Drinking with Meals.
If you have not used surgery as a turning point in life - a line in the sand, you are eventually in for a world of bigger hurt and guilt than you could ever imagine. What I am getting to in a delicate way is this: Don't let people BS you that you can simply eat whatever you want in smaller amounts and not only get into size 8 jeans, but stay there forever.
We have a serious personal responsibility after bariatric surgery to take care of the body that we have willingly cut apart and rearranged. While the surgeons have got the procedures down to a science, it's not simple, nor is any of it truly reversible or non-invasive. Don't minimize what you have done. If you have had a sleeve, MOST OF YOUR STOMACH IS GONE, for bypass YOUR STOMACH IS CUT IN HALF and intestines rerouted. It's a big deal and the changes are drastic. Don't order the pasta when you go out to dinner - don't put the bag of chips in your cart at the grocery store - don't even think about ordering the side of fries - don't eat the rest of the macaroni and cheese on your 6 year old's plate as a mindless habit - think about where those moves got you.
A few words about compulsion and emotional eating. I know that some of the things I just said are actually impossible for some of you. You don't want to eat certain foods but are driven to do so. You don't know why you are not able to stop buying or eating chips or the donuts at the coffee machine in the office and you feel as if you are a failure because of it. During a particularly difficult four year stretch in my life, I learned more about psychological disorders than I would have ever dreamed possible without not just a front row seat but a part in the movie.
If you have already had bariatric surgery and find that you are upset over the lack of control in your life, are careening out of control, obsessed with not being able to comfort yourself with massive amounts of food, are not able to keep relationships, can't help stuffing even good foods mindlessly into your mouth, have fallen into deep sadness, look at others who are losing weight with hurt and jealousy, and find yourself acting out for attention - get professional help. Your situation may not have a lot to do with being morbidly obese - it is more likely that being morbidly obese is a symptom of situations you have had in your life that were not your fault.
The brilliance of something I read by Connie Stapleton PhD nailed it and I am paraphrasing here but she said that having bariatric surgery will not do anything for you other than physically making your stomach smaller. That is it. You will have the exact issues and emotions you have always had. There is the distinct possibility that if you fix your life or at least attempt to do so, that you will be able to take control of all aspects of life, including your eating patterns.
Treat yourself with kindness and love, know who you are taking advice from, and if you feel a bit lost, it is a very good thing to find a professional so you can talk through what is on your mind. Life is a Journey - but a Bariatric Journey is even more challenging if you don't have your head on straight.
Bariatric surgery only makes your stomach smaller - otherwise you're exactly the same.