Like some social media relationships statuses, to talk about your VSG weight loss or not to talk about it is complicated. Sharing the ups and downs of your journey with sleeve brothers and sisters is a no brainer; they’ve been there and are doing that. But with those outside your immediate support system, feelings tend to be more complicated.
Erin, a patient of mine who has now lost more than 100 pounds, admits that she feels strange discussing the number of pounds she’s shed with acquaintances. “I had someone ask me (recently), and I just said it was over 50 pounds,” she reveals.
Her sentiments are very common. A lot of my patients don’t feel comfortable sharing details with people—sometimes even people they’re close to—for reasons that range from “it’s not anyone’s business” to wondering if they’re bragging when they disclose the results of their hard work. Alternatively, another big percentage of my patients want to shout their success from the rooftop.
For those in the “talk about it” camp, many feel that they’ve justifiably earned the right to discuss their victory. “I’m proud of every pound,” says Peggy, “and tell them exactly how much I’ve lost: 108 pounds.”
Fellow sleever Kodi says she happily reveals her accomplishments. “I love this journey,” she says. “(I had) surgery in May 2018, lost 92 so far.”
Sleeve sister Christie does tell people about her vertical sleeve gastrectomy and the related weight loss if they ask, but she admits that revealing the number out loud sometimes prompts negative feelings about how overweight she was before. “I’ve lost 120, with 25 pounds to go, and then I will have lost half of me,” she says. “I probably won’t tell people that.”
For plenty of my patients, the decision to talk about their weight loss in specifics not only comes down to their own feelings, but how they view the motivation of people who are asking. Meaghan, for example, says she has been very open about her VSG at work and appreciates the words of encouragement and the compliments she’s received. But the few coworkers who’ve asked for exact numbers regarding pounds and clothing sizes put her off. “I know they truly didn’t mean any harm, but I found it a bit invasive,” she concedes. “I’d usually answer something like, ‘I only weigh once a month and am focusing more on overall health than pounds,’ or something to that effect. Sometimes people just don’t realize they’re being too personal or intrusive.”
Sleever Deneka doesn’t mince words when it comes to her approach: my journey, my rules, my business, my story. She tells very few people, she admits, in part because of the folks who feel the need to share stories of an overweight friend or relative who took a different path to weight loss. And then there are those who are, in general, prejudiced against bariatric surgery in Mexico. “My personal favorite (is), ‘Don’t ever go to Mexico again for anything like that,’ as if I’m not a grown woman who can make her own informed decision,” she says, adding that frustration mounts quickly when people think they know more about your body than you do.
Theresa, on the other hand, believes it’s a public service to share the surgical strategy behind losing so much weight. “Telling people might encourage them to take responsibility for their own health like we have,” she says. “You never know who you might help!”
The bottom line: No matter which camp you fall into, your feelings are normal and absolutely fine. Your journey is your own, including the decision about whether—and how much—to share with others.
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