At Endobariatric, we load you up with support materials for your VSG journey: detailed lists of what you can and can’t eat, how to maximize your weight loss, how to prepare for each stage of recovery, and so much more. But it’s tougher to prepare you for the mental and emotional realities. Thankfully, veteran sleevers are willing to open up about that they wish they’d known going into surgery.
I wish I had known: Losing weight will force me to confront other problems in my life.
The myth of life being perfect if only you could lose weight is alive and well. Does life vastly improve when you look and feel better? Absolutely. But without the flashing neon sign of “weight” distracting you from everything else in your life, you’re forced to look deeper. If you’re not the “funny fat friend” anymore, who are you? What feelings or memories were you trying to stuff down with all that food? Expect plenty of speed bumps on this road, but recognize it for the opportunity it is: the chance to discover your authentic self—perhaps for the first time in your life.
I wish I had known: I’ll compare myself to other sleevers…and get rage-y at times.
Yes, you know you’re not supposed to do the whole comparison thing. But when you see people who had surgery after you did and who’ve lost more weight than you have? Anger, sadness, and frustration are just a few of the emotions that can crop up. Why is it easier for them? What am I doing wrong? Comparisons are common but not usually healthy. My advice: If you see a post that triggers a negative spiral, turn it around and ask for their advice. Drawing inspiration is always a positive idea.
I wish I had known: Food addiction doesn’t magically disappear.
Many of my patients are addicted to food. And while gastric sleeve surgery can have a big impact on your body, it won’t necessarily heal your mind. “I still battle daily with my food choices,” admits Susan. “An addiction doesn’t go away after 30-plus years.” Understanding this truth is an essential first step in dealing with it, though. Instead of wondering why your mind wants to sabotage your body, invest in some sessions with a therapist who specializes in addiction and/or eating disorders. Addition is a real disease that deserves real treatment.
I wish I had known: Judgmental looks and comments will get worse.
You’re probably used to those looks—the ones that (you assume) are condemning you for your large size. Unfortunately, judgment seems to be part of the human condition. Expect to be scrutinized for all kinds of things as you lose weight. People will look you up and down to determine (in their mind) how you’re doing with your gastric sleeve diet, how much weight (they think) you’ve lost, etc. Oh, and don’t forget the opinions about what you are—or aren’t—eating. “Recently I’ve had a few people comment to me about how little I actually eat,” says Gretchen. Adds Eireann, “They say to me, ‘Well you don’t eat hardly anything; of course you’re going to be skinny.’ I’ve lost it on a lot of people…” Sometimes it requires super-human effort to stay calm and kind. The good news is that you’ll get a lot of practice.
I wish I had known: I’m tougher than I thought.
Signing up for bariatric surgery in Mexico is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to discovering the determination and boldness you’ve been keeping under wraps. Regina, who was already down 35 pounds two and a half weeks after VSG surgery, says, “I don’t have a support system at home, and my family does not think I will succeed in this…and that makes me even more determined to rock this.” This process helps patients who may have viewed themselves as weak realize just how powerful they are. With the sleeve and the strength they’ve always possessed, success is just a matter of time. “This journey (has) been hard the hardest one of my life,” says Virginia, who is maintaining a 100-pound weight loss. “Was it easy? Hell no! Do I have regrets? None!”
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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.