Obesity can be an isolating experience. Feeling the need to hide away or unable to get out and enjoy life the way other people do.
Having weight loss surgery is a big decision. Perhaps a life-saving one too. It involves making considerable life changes and this can end up having a significant impact on friendships and family relationships. It might mean stepping away from environments that promote unhealthy choices and sometimes even needing to move in a different direction from social groups to choose healthy living that supports your weight loss goals.
Quality support has been proven to have a direct impact on how well someone does after surgery. 'Going it alone' is a tough road, and motivation is a key ingredient to success in any endeavour! Accountability is also required to help change habits that may have been there for years or even a lifetime. Sharing our struggles can create connection on deeper levels, and even help others who might be feeling some of the things we do regardless of their weight.
Studies have now shown that addiction of any form, even food, has a strong affiliation with fulfilling a need for connection- to feel a sense of belonging and to be understood and accepted. This is just one of the reasons that it is so important to find positive support in ways that work for you, helping you to move towards the person you want to be with clarity and an inner experience of love and belonging.
Here are some considerations as you move forward in your weight loss journey...
Whether in person or online, support groups are important because they are filled with people who have had similar experiences as you, sharing the highs and lows. They are a great way to maintain focus and also to celebrate the wins along the way. If you can't find one in your area join an online group or ask specific people in your life to meet regularly with you ( those that you know you can share with and be accountable to).
See a counsellor or psychologist
A mandatory part of many bariatric surgery processes is to attend counselling sessions. This is as much about preparing you for what is to come- a drastic change in lifestyle, appearance, identity- and also to start to uncover some of the underlying issues that may have led to weight gain in the first place.
Food is often used as a way to avoid experiencing unwanted emotions or to find 'comfort' from unpleasant experiences. Getting support from an organisation who specialises in addictions can also be of benefit. There's no shame in choosing to support yourself by getting some help along the way, and your whole family will benefit from a happier and more balanced you.
We offer Foundation of Healthy Living Retreats throughout the year and these can be a great way to connect with other like-minded people with similar experiences from across the country. Sharing stories, celebrating wins, identifying what is really important in life, getting back on track and staying accountable together as a group afterwards are just some of the benefits our participants find during their time on retreat.
Immerse Yourself in Inspiration
We all need to find inspiration from somewhere and stay focused on what's really important. Immersing yourself in 'healthy pass-times' can help to keep you on track and uplifted when the down days occur or old bad habits or activities come knocking. Find books, podcasts, TED Talks, meditations, or TV shows that lift you up and support the changes you want to make. Read about food addiction, listen to people who changed their lives or help people to change theirs. Immerse yourself in the possibility of positive change and watch it unfold.
Telling people you've had surgery
The choice whether to share about having surgery or not is one that is very individual.
Probably, the biggest benefit of telling people about your weight loss surgery is the support you get. People are inclined to be more sympathetic to your cause if they understand what you are going through. Often, friends, family, and co-workers will acknowledge that you are really making an effort to lose weight when you talk about your decision to have surgery, and the response is usually positive and supportive. And being open and honest about your weight loss efforts can help lift the burden of struggling with weight loss in isolation.
Some may choose not to share about their surgery due to how they think they might be perceived or the negative impact of certain people in their life. Something to consider is that when others are suspicious of your successful weight loss strategy, you may find yourself eating ‘normally’ to conceal from them the fact that you have had surgery, resulting in consumption of inappropriate foods or volumes that will sabotage your own weight loss. Your weight loss subsequently reduces or even stops, the longer you have to hide it.
In general, we have noticed that those who tell others that they have had a weight loss procedure behave like people who want to lose weight. What you behave like, you become!
Finally, support yourself.
Choosing your surgery meant that on some level you really do want a better life for yourself. Choosing what is best for you can be a challenge, however support of your journey starts with choosing to have your own back and taking steps, no matter how small, towards finding your own supporter within.