I was a skinny guy in my early 20s; 150 pounds and a 32” waist. That was the vision I wanted to recapture in 2008 as I embarked on my weight loss journey. I was 280 pounds with a 46” waist. Six years later I am 180 pounds with a 35” waist.

There are many lessons I have learned over the last six years. Perhaps the most important one is to not let your weight define who you are. Yeah, I missed the weight goal I set for myself, but the other lessons I learned along the way showed me the fallacy of defining my success by the numbers on the scale.

I have a large circle of friends who have undergone weight loss surgery. Each of them is living a new extraordinary life that inspires me. It may not be what they expected, but it is who they are. Far too often, many a 4, 5, or 6+ years post-op sees regained weight as a sign of failure.

It’s worth reflecting on some of the most important lessons I learned on my journey. I see most of these in my friends. I hope these help other weight loss surgery post-ops look past that dial on the scale.

  1. Challenge yourself every day.
    I unexpectedly found what was missing in my life and would define my life. It started with a short bike ride that led to me cycling many thousands of miles every year. It started with a 5K and found me crossing the finish line of my first half marathon. I look for opportunities to stretch my abilities and grow. Each of us has our own hidden talent or wish buried within us. Uncover, nurture and grow it. The magic will happen.
  2. Only you can define who you are.
    My friends’ transformed their lives and became new persons. For many, it was not quite what they expected. Maybe the weight didn’t come off as planned or happiness was not waiting for the thinner person. I never reached 150 pounds, but I still see myself as a success. Take what you have been given and mold it into the best you can be. Define the successes in your life. Never let another person minimize or demean the success you have achieved.
  3. Look to the future and learn from the past.
    Many of us let the past define who we are. The past is the past and that is all it is. I made a commitment as I prepped for bariatric surgery to never look back. I plowed ahead and looked to the future. It is never too late to embrace this philosophy. If you feel you have slipped, make this the first day of your new life. Change begins today when you always look forward and leave the past in the dust.
  4. Smile
    I have a friend going through tough times. He ends most of his text messages with <smile>. As bad as times are for him, he stays a happy person. It shows in how he approaches life and challenges with determination and hope. I am a very positive person. I am sure you know that if you follow this blog. Happiness defines my life. “One Man’s Journey of Diet + Fitness + Health + Wellness = Happiness” is the formula for happiness in my life. Give it a try.
  1. Enjoy life for whatever it is.
    The story of life is always unfolding. It’s hard to predict what will be around the next turn. If we classify success by how well we maintain a healthy weight, there would not be many of us on the success side. Most humans struggle with excess weight and poor eating habits. We must make every effort to get on track, eat healthy, be active and maintain a positive attitude. Life will be what it will be. It still needs you to drive it in the right direction. Let your heart and mind lead the way and not your scale.
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