I nervously scanned the people in the conference room at Summa Akron City Hospital on that cold January night in 2008. I was taking my first step towards bariatric surgery by attending a weight loss seminar. I saw a cross-section of obese people who appeared to be equally as uneasy.
I suspect my newer friends and followers may not know I had bariatric surgery. I haven’t written about bariatric surely in several years. It consumed my blogging and life for many years. I have never felt unease in talking about this part of my life.
Bariatric surgery led to a significant change in my life over the past eleven years. Recently this topic came back to life, I started answering questions about weight loss and bariatric surgery on Quora. I now find myself being asked to answer these questions in increasing frequency.
Bariatric surgery questions concentrate on the failure of bariatric surgery. People are consumed by being a failure in life after surgery or feeling that they will fail at weight loss after bariatric surgery. These questions overwhelmingly define failure by a single indicator, weight.
Success was driven by the scale early on my journey. Those numbers had better been dropping with each step on the scale. The bariatric care center reinforced that mindset. The first years after surgery are honeymoon years where the weight tumbles down. My weight seemed to be the perfect indicator.
People view success as being driven by health, appearance, or weight.
I was driven by my health from day one. I had recovered from a triple coronary bypass three years prior to bariatric surgery. I knew the weight had to go for me to stay alive. I would be lying if I said appearance and weight were not on my mind. I wanted it all. Above all, I wanted to be healthy and be alive.
My response to anyone asking about bariatric surgery is that you need to understand that it has great potential to change your life. This only happens if you can CHANGE. Change your eating habits. Change your activity level. Change your view of yourself. Change the things that led to your obesity.
I have seen little failure in the bariatric people I friended over the past eleven years. I do see people believing they have failed in some manner either by weight, appearance, or health. Each of these people changed their lives in positive ways. They just need to celebrate their successes more.
I usually include one of the following thoughts when responding to questions on Quora about weight loss.
- Keeping weight off is a lifelong struggle.
- Being active is a critical part of my success and health.
- Success is more than BMI and the number on the scale.
- People enjoy success in different ways they may not see.
- Don’t let weight define who you are and your happiness.