Weighty Matters

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No Easy Way Out

on July 30, 2012

I was browsing a weight loss surgery forum earlier this evening.  Someone who had gotten herself to the point where she was moving forward with investigating having surgery and was feeling relieved, happy and hopeful posted that when she shared her decision with family, they told her that she was taking the easy way out.  That harsh judgment crushed her and now she doesn’t know what she’s going to do.

Just because I had weight loss surgery does not mean that I think every single obese person in the world needs to do the same.  I  believe that it is a matter of personal choice.  Nobody should be pushed into it if they don’t honestly feel that it is the best option for them.  If they decide that wls is the best option, I further believe that the people in their lives should support that decision.  Hearing that someone would criticize this woman and claim that surgery is “the easy way out” makes me angry.

There is nothing easy about doing all that is required physically, mentally and financially to prepare and receive medical clearance.  There is nothing easy about going through a procedure that surgically reduces the size of your stomach — and in my case removing 70% of it.  Those that have gastric bypass also have their digestive system re-routed.

Post-surgery?  Let’s see — for me this involved a week of clear liquids followed by a month of full liquids.  Then, a week of soft/mushy foods and weeks of gradually introducing regular foods back into my food plan.  Nothing easy in that process.  Throwing up at least once a day in the early weeks, fighting indigestion, learning what my system could tolerate and what it couldn’t . . . anybody who thinks that it’s all the equivalent of a day at the beach is dead wrong.

I don’t personally know the woman who wrote the post, but I bet I know a lot about her and what her struggle with food and obesity has been like over the years.  None of us is terminally unique.  She might have tried every diet known to man — some of them multiple times — and been on a roller coaster over the years of losing and regaining, losing and regaining.  I don’t know what became her final line in the sand where she made the decision to go for surgery.  Maybe, like me, she’d reached the point of absolute desperation and was convinced that she either could never lose the weight she needed to without surgery or feared that even if she lost the weight, she’d regain it.

Whatever the case, not having surgery doesn’t mean she’s weak… but having the surgery definitely requires digging deep into yourself and tapping your inner strength and resolve.

And that’s just the beginning.  After the surgery, a lifetime of work begins.  Day by day we plan, make choices, and, hopefully, execute those choices as planned.  We completely retrain our psyches a well as our bodies.  In many cases, we need to resolve the habits of a lifetime — not just in the way that we eat, but in how we treat our bodies.  We have to embrace positive change and push ourselves, often in ways that we never before pushed.

I hope and pray tonight that the woman who posted is able to tune out the harsh and erroneous judgment of those people.  I hope she sticks to her choices and moves ahead without allowing the negative opinion of others to divert her from her chosen course of action.  I hope she realizes that it doesn’t matter what other people think or say or do.  She’s the only one who matters.  She needs to know that there is no way in hell that she’s chosen the easy way out.

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4 responses to “No Easy Way Out

  1. pinkpelican says:

    I’ve followed a forum (off & on) on myfitnesspal.com about whether surgery is “easier” than “traditional” weight loss. There are a few categories. There are the “cop out” people. They think surgery is a cop out, that weight loss is simple calories in calories out, & that people thinking about wls should just get their fat lazy asses of the couch & do the work.

    There are people who relate stories about friends or family who had the surgery. Roughly 80% of these people relate how their friends/family members had the surgery, lost weight, were generally non-compliant & gained it all back, OR they focused on complications their friends/family members had. About 20% of these people related stories of success.

    There are people who share their stories. It’s a mix of lap-band (which seems to be the procedure with the most problems), bypass & sleeve. Most of us (I posted my story) offered our motivations, our failures in the past, how the various surgeries have helped us, in what ways things were easier and in what ways they were just as hard or harder than traditional weight loss.

    A few people talk about their surgery & how it failed, without going into any details, & they are bitter.

    Despite the details that people with surgery share, the responses tend to be:

    — LA LA LA I’M NOT LISTENING TO YOU IT’S A COP OUT & YOU ARE A WASTE OF SPACE LA LA LA ….

    — If you still have to keep track of your intake and you still have to do all that exercise, I just don’t understand why you felt the need to have surgery, because you should have been able to lose all that weight (albeit at a slower pace) & keep it off by tracking your intake & exercising anyway. (These people are at least trying to understand; they aren’t getting it, & it’s kind of like a repeated head::desk moment, but they are honestly trying to figure it out.)

    — Let me tell you another story I heard about how someone I know had the surgery & failed & so nobody else should have this surgery either.

    I do worry — a lot — about doing all this work and gaining some or all of the weight back. Statistics show it’s common for this to happen, and it scares me. But I know that all I can do is work on the head stuff and work on the physical stuff and work on my motivation to get to a healthy stable weight and keep it there.

    Other than that, it’s almost impossible to get across to people, especially those who have never been MORBIDLY obese, all of the complications of obesity. All of the reasons why simple calorie in/calorie out just doesn’t work. All of the hormonal complications, the metabolic resistance to weight loss. The complex interaction of insulin resistance (even in folks who don’t have diabetes) and weight. The pain in the joints that makes it difficult to exercise effectively. The difficulties that come with so much bulk you can’t move like “normal” people, that make exercise difficult. (Not impossible. Just so much more difficult.) The incredible ways your body resists weight loss once you get past the initial flush of water loss & the “easy” drop in pounds. The incredible hunger & actual empty stomach pain you feel when you cut your calories down, feelings that, if you’ve never felt them, you have no idea how all consuming & overpowering they can be (not the cravings, simply the physical hunger pain). And all of that is just the tip of the iceberg.

    The morbid obesity is a condition all its own, tied to other complicated conditions (and that’s even when you don’t have co-morbidities). Getting there takes time, and YES if I had understood what the hell I was doing to myself at age 22 and where I would end up, it would have been SO much easier to short circuit that cycle. But I didn’t have the emotional & psychological insight that I do now. If you don’t short circuit the cycle, if you can’t figure out how, then you end up morbidly obese & in a world of hurt.

    some people have found effective non-surgical ways of dealing with morbid obesity. Others find surgery to be the best tool. It’s what works best for individuals, and it’s sometimes exhausting trying to educate people who don’t understand where the mobidly obese are coming from and would rather criticize than support the decisions people reach, would rather say “surgery is bad and you should do this “organically””.

    Frustrating.

    I hope your friend finds the support she needs to make the best choice for her situation, whether or not it is surgery. And I hope that eventually, the people closest to her will be supportive of her, whatever decision she makes.

    • Mary Stella says:

      This is so eloquent and a really accurate depiction of some of the attitudes we run up against. I feel fortunate that I’ve encountered nothing but support from my family and friends. I hope this woman on the forum is able to not cave to the negative input.

      Good for you for staying strong. I’m also glad that you and your beloved have each other to be live in cheering squads!

  2. Skye says:

    There’s still this whole “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” idea in this country when very few people can and do manage this. People pull this same garbage on people in therapy, too. I hope this woman finds her own strength and lets the words of those dissenting others roll off of her. Because just because others (who aren’t going through what you are going through) think you can do it all without help, on your own, if only you were stronger, doesn’t mean they are right or that you have to listen to them. Or that they aren’t full of horse pucky. ;)

    • Mary Stella says:

      Skye, I think that “bootstraps” theory actually keeps some people — particularly men — from seeking theapy when it could truly help.

      It takes strength and willingness to delve into issues in therapy. People need to understand that basic fact!

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