Many patients love it when sleeve brothers and sisters post their VSG success stories on our private Facebook group, saying it helps them stay motivated. For others, though, viewing seemingly-overnight changes is frustrating. Why aren’t I losing like them? they wonder. We all compare ourself to others from time to time, but doing so too often may negatively impact your own success. Today, let’s look at the dangers of comparison and how to minimize that impulse.
Why comparison is dangerous:
• Once you start, you might not be able to stop. Eventually you’ll get to your happy weight. And then what? If you’re comparing yourself now, you’ll compare yourself then. Why doesn’t she need skin removal surgery like I do? He doesn’t seem nearly as worried about regain as I am. Life is full of opportunities to compare situations. Train yourself to get off that crazy train now.
• It can sabotage your efforts. Quick snapshots (literally) of people’s lives don’t show a complete picture. If success stories included every detail about the ups and downs of a gastric sleeve diet, it would be a very boring read. It’s tempting to see an outcome and believe it’s somehow unfair that you’re not at the same point as them right now. That sense of feeling robbed may lead to a “why bother?” mentality that sends you running to the fridge. In this way, comparison can actually slow down your own weight loss.
• It takes the focus off your personal responsibility. I guarantee you that no vertical sleeve gastrectomy patient has had entirely effortless weight loss. Everyone has had moments of wanting to give up, stall-related frustrations, etc. When you’re only concentrating on how “lucky” a VSG patient is to have lost so much weight, you’re not thinking about the discipline that went into it. It’s not magic. Turn your attention to disciplining yourself when it comes to diet and exercise.
How to stop comparing:
• Focus on your own goals. I know, it’s easier said than done, but keeping your eyes on your own paper is truly the key to minimizing frustration. It’s one thing to take advice from sleeve brothers and sisters about how to drink more water or sneak in more protein, but trying to mimic their lifestyle can lead to confusion. Maybe one exercised like crazy, one fasted for 18 hours a day, and another did keto. It’s a recipe for getting overwhelmed and off track. By rededicating yourself to your own goals and the action steps needed to achieve them, you’re turning off the noise and tuning into what works for you.
• Repeat a mantra. If seeing peers’ success stories upsets you—and you can’t force yourself to scroll past—have a mantra ready. Repeat “not my journey” any time you’re tempted to compare yourself to what you see on a screen. And truthfully, what you’re seeing is NOT your journey. Maybe that VSG patient had a lot more weight to lose than you do and was able to post big numbers in the first few months. Or a patient younger than you is enjoying the benefit of a faster metabolism. Their journeys are just “not my journey.”
• Celebrate your successes. There are many smaller wins on the way to bigger goals, but you might miss them if you’re looking outward rather than inward. Have you lost inches? Celebrate! Can you cross your legs for the first time in years? Woo hoo! Tosha says her non-scale victories were critical to staying motivated. “I made a list of things I wanted to be able to do that I couldn’t when I was 321 pounds and then checked them off when I achieved them…for example, sitting in a restaurant booth without feeling like the table was digging at me or being able to ride rollercoasters without worrying I wouldn’t fit. Reaching all of those types of goals was really amazing!”
• Put together your own “before” and “now.” You don’t have to post your pics anywhere; simply seeing your “before” pictures alongside a current snapshot can do wonders for your perspective. How often have you read posts like, “Wow, I had no idea how much my body had changed until I saw these side-by-side photos”? Who knows, you might even be so impressed with yourself that you decide to post in the Endobariatric group!
I want to reinforce that if you’re following the VSG guidelines you’ve received from our staff and putting 100 percent effort into losing weight, you will be successful. As Tracy says, “We all get caught up in, ‘Oh, he’s losing more or faster—what’s wrong?’ Nothing’s wrong. This is your personal experience.”
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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.