As I approach the two weeks post gastric bypass (RNY) point, I have been watching the numbers on the scale fall daily. It’s not my first time in this love affair with the scale. Five years ago I tracked this weight loss religiously. I celebrated the pounds gone almost daily. Today, I struggle with the importance of the number relative to other qualities in my life.
Losing weight is one of the primary motivators for bariatric surgery. Many people assume it is the sole motivator. Ridding oneself of life threatening conditions such as diabetes, cardiac heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are even more prevalent motivators. All of these conditions are common in the obese.
As a bariatric revision surgery post-op, I find myself focusing less on the quantity of weight loss the second time around. I am happy to be free of my Lapband and the complications I experienced. I am not a band-basher. It did well for me for four years. I attribute my revision surgery to the failure of a medical device. I was the unfortunate one to have the band fail.
The weight game — Bariatric patients are obsessed with the amount of weight lost. This obsession can be dangerous. I have seen many a person shed 150-200 only to feel shame and failure because they could not lose the last 15 pounds they set as a goal. I have also seen people sink into depression as the weight loss stalled at a lesser amount than expected.
Bariatric patients did not play Jeopardy! when they had surgery. It is not as simple as saying, “I’ll take 150 pounds for $30,000.” A surgeon may give the patient a target. The target is based on their personal experience and knowledge of the patient’s health conditions. It comes down to Double Jeopardy! when the patient MUST invest everything he/she has in their life to change their life to be a success.
If only life was simple as a game show. We all know it is not. Sometimes our bodies have a different idea on what our ideal weight will be and how much effort it requires to reach it. Other times, life events and circumstances disrupt our weight loss. Unfortunately, there are times when we work against our surgery and return to old eating habits and patterns.
The above are only a few scenarios why the weight game is not the best measure of success after bariatric surgery. I think of weight loss as the enabler for me to be a better healthier person. I watch the scales and play the game cautiously. I am careful not to use the numbers like the winning Jeopardy! Contestant to celebrate success.
Several years ago, I began living my life under the guidance of a wellness vision. This vision allows me to define my life in terms of how I see myself in the coming months and years. I understand that my happiness comes from the sum of a healthy diet, good physical fitness, concentrating on my health and a focusing on wellness.
Where do I see myself in terms of a healthy weight? I am currently 192 pounds with a 30.1Body Mass Index (BMI), the very bottom of definition of obesity for a 5’7” man. Normal weight of 127-158 pounds is defined by a 20.0 – 24.9 BMI. My surgeon believes my weight will fall to 160 pounds. It is hard to believe that is defined as being just barely overweight with a 25.1 BMI. 160 would be a wonderful weight. I personally will be happy settling into the 170 pound area. I am not playing the weight game this time around. I just want to be healthy and active.
I love the idea of a wellness vision. And I appreciate your wisdom and insight as you tackle a second surgery. It’s impressive to see someone talking about the whole picture of this surgery. We want to celebrate successes, of course, but this isn’t a fast or easy journey. Great post. Thank you.
Tom, good to hear you are moving forward. I’ve always loved your concept of a wellness plan. Trying not to focus all energy on the scale and overlooking the many other benefits from weight loss and a healthier lifestyle can be a struggle. But being healthy is the key. Thanks for leading us and inspiring us to create wellness plans.