“Wow, she’s lost a lot more weight with VSG than I have.” “Why isn’t my muscle tone as good as his is?” The urge to compare yourself to others around you is bone-deep for most humans; it’s not unique to those who’ve undergone vertical sleeve gastrectomy. But the procedure does introduce a new temptation to judge yourself and your progress based on how others are doing. After all, you’ve all had the same surgery. Maybe even performed by the same surgeon. When the comparison bug bites, fend it off with these tips.
Tip #1: Get objective. I know, it seems nearly impossible to look at your situation objectively, but it’s essential that you try. Act like you’re reviewing a stranger’s information when you reflect on your health now compared to before your gastric sleeve in Mexico. Are you down pounds and inches? Are you off of any medications? Likely, your answer is “yes.” Now, that doesn’t mean you’re doing it all perfectly, and it’s okay to admit that, too. If your weight is up from last month, or your dietary choices aren’t as good as they were in the beginning, acknowledge it objectively—not from a place of self-loathing—so you can fix it.
Just a note on why it’s important to accurately identify your overall progress and possible roadblocks, rather than swimming in a sea of inaccurate self-talk: The bottom line is that thoughts matter. And they often become actions, which lead to patterns. If you think, “I’m never going to be as successful as that person,” it may very well turn into actions like eating junk or skipping the gym because, why bother? But if you think, “I’m making progress at a pace that works for my body,” your actions will likely support that belief with actions like healthy food choices and activity.
Tip #2: Put yourself on a pedestal. You compare yourself to others, but here’s a thought: Do others compare themselves to you? That newbie on the Endobariatric Facebook page, for example, who looks at your story would likely see a strong individual who is committed to getting healthy. The truth is that you’re probably someone’s role model; you just might not know it. People at work almost certainly see a success story in the weight you’ve lost—not someone who “will never break this plateau,” as your negative self-talk says. Consider yourself from another’s point of view, and you’ll see someone who belongs on his or her very own pedestal as a model of healthy life transformation.
Tip #3: If you’re not beating ‘em, join ‘em. Do you see someone who’s working the gastric sleeve diet better than you are or excelling at fitness? Don’t get stuck in a loop of silently beating yourself up. Instead, ask them about their success! It’s unfair to compare yourself to someone else when you don’t even know what they’re doing. If their routine isn’t possible for you (four hours a day in the gym? I have a job!), you’ll at least have an explanation. More likely, though, you’ll learn secrets you can incorporate into your life, like her upper body routine you can use to sculpt your own amazing biceps. Comparison can actually be a good thing when you’re using it to inspire and energize your journey.
Tip #4: Write it down. Remember how I said that thoughts matter? Well, so does the written word. It might sound cliché, but a powerful way to get those nasty, self-sabotaging words out of your head is to put them on paper—and then counter them with truths that you can reread. If the words “I bet she isn’t a pig like I am” are swirling in your head, write it down. Then really break it down. “I had a chocolate bar for a snack instead of a handful of almonds, and that’s okay. I’m sure she doesn’t eat perfectly either, and I know that one slip-up doesn’t determine my success. I will treat myself to a healthy dinner and a 30-minute walk to celebrate my body and its one-of-a-kind abilities.”
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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.