Recently, my doctor sent me to a weight loss surgery class. We had been discussing some of my health concerns and he wanted me to see all my options. I hate the idea of surgery, but I wanted to keep an open mind. I’m glad I did.
Not because I decided to have surgery (which I will not do), but because I learned something sort of “surprising”. You see, when you have this type of surgery, there are certain things you have to do for the rest of your life. A certain way of living that you cannot compromise or your health will pay the price.
Any guesses as to what those absolutes include?
You guessed it, clean eating and exercise. In fact, it’s pretty much a clean, low carb diet, and the diet itself is all about avoiding irritation to your now much smaller stomach.
Let’s look at the list:
- No caffeine, alcohol or carbonation (soda). It irritates the stomach. (Ya, I can’t give up coffee either. But still…)
- No added/excess sugar. It irritates the stomach.
- Eating protein first, then vegetables and then, and only then, starch free carbs. (fill up on protein and veggies, not carbs)
- Drinking 64 oz. of water per day, but not with/during your meal. Only 30 minutes AFTER you eat are you allowed to drink. Otherwise, you dilute your digestive juices and can’t properly digest your food. Not to mention you simply don’t have room in your tiny tummy for both food AND liquids. (They cut it down in size from a football to an egg. No joke!)
- Watch your portion sizes, and be strict about it.
- Be open to the idea that life as you know it will never be the same after the surgery, and you have to be okay with that. No cheating allowed unless you want to be in pain. (The benefit of not having surgery is that you have some wiggle room here for special occasions.).
- Eat too much and your stomach stretches. Then you regain the weight.
- Don’t smoke
- Read food labels.
- Chew your food.
- Avoid high fat foods
- Keep a journal.
The list goes on, but this is the core basis of it.
In looking these things over, the only thing I could think was…. “well….duh…”
I mean, this is stuff we all know (or should know). This is not new, it’s not different from anything we know to be healthy. It’s just good, common sensical, healthy habits. Of course, once you have the surgery, those habits become far more critical. One slip and you pay the price in pain. But it’s all very basic.
PLEASE DON’T BE OFFENDED
If you’ve had weight loss surgery, I hope this next part will not offend you. I don’t say it to be insulting or put anybody down. That’s not my intent. It’s just more of a general observation than anything else. I completely understand that for some people, the surgery is completely and totally appropriate.
The instructor talked about what the doctors want before they will operate. Apparently, you have to lose at least 10% of your body weight (which is not a small amount considering you have to be at least 100 lb. overweight in the first place to even be considered for the surgery.).
Now here’s the thing that struck me about that. They ask you to lose the weight to prove to them that the lifestyle changes are something you can stick with (so you don’t gain the weight back). But I had to ask myself… if I’m sticking to these basic concepts and losing weight, why would I get the surgery? Why not just continue to do what I know has to be done (and is obviously working if I’m losing weight)?
Now before anybody gets upset, yes, I’ll say again that I realize for some people, the surgery is very appropriate and necessary. I’m not putting anybody down for having the surgery. But what I’m trying to say is really more about myself. If I’m following a low carb diet AND losing weight already, wouldn’t it be prudent just to continue doing what I’m doing until I reach my goal? I mean, honestly, if somebody reaches the point of obesity like I did and is considering surgery, generally speaking, it’s because they CAN’T seem to take the weight off. So why would a pending surgery suddenly change that? But people do it all the time these days. They lose weight for surgery, but not for themselves. It’s really pretty impressive if you think about it.
THE EMOTIONAL SIDE
Part of the packet I received talked a lot about the emotional changes that come with such sudden, rapid and significant weight loss. I’ve said it many times here on this blog and I’ll say it again. Weight loss is about the mind, not the body (excluding medical issues, of course). And a good portion of this packet was dedicated to discussing just that. This got me to thinking about the messages I grew up with.
A GLACE AT THE PAST
As a young teen who desperately wanted to be a model, I learned that very little you do in life can compare to your dress size.
I got the message that says that no matter how smart I am, no matter what I accomplish in life, no matter how much money I make or how happy I am, it all falls short under the shadow of “being fat”. Even now, there are people in my life who insinuate these messages every time they see me. But what the people in my life fail to realize is that I am not fat. I HAVE fat. There is a huge difference. But it’s also a huge mental battle to remember that difference on a daily basis.
All things considered, I think I’ve become pretty well adjusted now that I’m in my 40’s. I’m working hard to stop “hiding” whenever a camera is present. I look in the mirror and work hard to appreciate my reflection, no matter what that reflection looks like. Because the real question is, (to quote J.K. Rowling), “Is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me.”
So will I have weight loss surgery? No. I mean, everything I know and have learned from clean eating is exactly what I should be doing to get healthy. And if the weight is coming off anyway (which it is, as of this date I’m down 20 pounds!), I don’t see the point. That’s not to say that I would rule it out completely. The truth is, if my blood sugar worsens, the surgery would actually be beneficial in that department. They don’t know why, but this particular surgery really helps blood sugar levels and in most cases, the diabetes just “goes away”. So in a “worst case scenario” situation, yes. I’d have the surgery. But as of right now, I’ll just keep doing what I know I need to do to get the job done once and for all. And I’m happy to report that my blood sugars are completely back to normal levels with this recent weight loss!
Will I ever get down to my goal size? Who knows! I will certainly never give up trying. I believe in the healing power of healthy food and exercise too much for that. But I’m glad I went to this class because it showed me clean eating really is the right approach to health.
UPDATE: I kind of figured this would happen. That people would get upset with me for this article. Please know, as I stated twice in my post that I am NOT putting anybody down for having the surgery. What I am doing is simply sharing my take on a class I took and my thoughts on why I am not having the surgery. In no way is this article meant to put down somebody for having the surgery. If you have done it, and it’s worked for you, FANTASTIC!!! I think it’s wonderful that you found something that works for you! But for me, I am choosing not to have the surgery, and this article simply lists the reasons why. This is my opinion. Something I’m allowed to have, by the way. If you have a differing opinion, that is perfectly okay!! I’m not putting you down for that in any way.
Also please note that instructions for the After-Surgery-Lifestyle differ from place to place. If you have had this surgery, please be smart and take your advice from your doctor. Not from my blog or anywhere else on the internet. This article is simply an account of what I learned at the particular class that I attended. It is not to be misconstrued as medical advice. I am not a medical professional.