Friday, February 17, 2012

Surgical Assumptions

One thing that annoys me is when people assume that to lose a large amount of weight I MUST have had surgery.  I don't mind people asking me what I've done to lose weight, that's totally fine. In fact I'm happy when people ask because maybe it'll help them get started on their own journey, or give them some hope. It's the assuming that I had surgery that really gets under my skin.

Seriously next time someone makes that assumption I just might expose my abdomen and ask them to please show me where the scar is.  Too many people are negative thinkers and believe that you "can't" lose a lot of weight on your own. They need to be corrected. I can point you in the direction of many people who have achieved great weight loss success on their own.

I did not have surgery. I know I talk about excess skin as a result of weight loss, which I do have but it's not because of weight loss surgery.  I plan to have cosmetic surgery to remove some of the skin, but this is not a form of weight loss surgery. Yes, removing the skin will probably result in a little bit of weight loss because there's so much of it (I think). However I am not considering this surgery as a method for weight loss. This surgery is meant to be cosmetic/corrective, not as a means of weight loss. Go to a surgeon and tell him or her that you want a tummy tuck to for weight loss and see what you're told... It won't be happening!

There's a huge difference between having surgery to lose weight and having surgery for correcting skin because of the fact that I lost a large amount of weight on my own.  The surgery I will have is cosmetic; so I like how I look now that I'm in a new body. It's because I want to wear a bikini. I want to show off my hard work. I'm tired of having extra skin on my body and no one knowing that it's skin, and instead thinking it's just a bunch of fat.

I don't mean to sound as though I'm getting down on anyone who has had surgery. That's a personal choice and not mine to make for anyone else. However, I would never choose weight loss surgery as an option for me and I do have my own opinions about the idea of surgery.

 I'm not a fan of having medical procedures done. I'd prefer to just breeze through life without any major issues. When I had my tonsils out I think I asked at least three different people if I'd know I had the breathing tube in...I was terrified I'd be awake for it. Why I was focused on that, I don't know, but it was my "thing." The whole concept of cosmetic surgery still makes me feel a bit scared. I'm not thrilled with being "put out" for hours while I'm cut into. I'm not thrilled about drains, compression garments, and pain. For me though, cosmetic surgery is worth it. I can understand how weight loss surgery might be worth it to others.  The difference is that I can't fix the cosmetic things on my own. It just doesn't happen. I am capable of taking control of my actions and losing weight on my own.  Why put myself through surgery to do something that I am able to do without it? It didn't make sense to me.

I look at surgery as an easy fix, which is what most people are looking for. They want a fast solution, a miracle pill, or something to make them thin. Weight loss is about so much more than being thin instead of fat. Naturally this is my perspective as someone who hasn't had a weight loss surgery.

From my educational background and experience, the best way to change is to change. Weight loss is not just physical; it's mental. You can go have surgery and change your appearance, but that can't change your thinking or your behaviors. Will that change your habits? Will this be a lasting change? I understand that this is not the case for ALL people. Some people do make those lasting changes. But, if you are capable of making those changes, why not take the slow, healthy route and lose it naturally? Maybe some people need to go through a surgery to make those changes last. Maybe the thought of going through that is enough....I don't know.

I've seen people have complications following surgery. I've seen people gain at least some of the weight back. I've seen other people have success without complications. Everyone is different but unless it's a completely medical issue... You have to get to the route of your problem. Maybe you're an emotional eater. Having surgery cannot correct that. Maybe it's habits. Having surgery can't change the habits. YOU have to be aware of these things and you have to change them.

My opinion is that people who have weight loss surgeries should be required to do more than a simple psychological evaluation (are they even still doing those?).  Let's be honest... I can answer questions in "the right way" to get what I want. I can pass a weight loss readiness quiz...and I could even when I wasn't ready.  It's easy to know which questions to answer which way and it's easy to know what someone wants to hear. People are manipulative. They're going to do what they need to in order to get what that want even if it's not truthful.  I think that therapy should be required pre-surgery, at least.

A lot of people are afraid of therapy. They think they must be "crazy" if they see a therapist. They might think they have nothing "wrong" with them so they don't "need" to talk to someone. Then there is the notion that if you go to therapy you must be "weak." There's a huge stigma attached to therapy. Since it's my chosen profession, I don't quite understand that. I'm referring to therapy in general, not just when it comes to weight.

What is the harm in talking to someone to try to figure out what causes a behavior? What's so bad about having an outside party help you by giving you a fresh perspective? Is it really terrible to have someone work with you on changing your behaviors?

My answer to all of these is NO. Honestly I feel that it takes a stronger person to make the steps to change and seek out someone to help them along the way. To me, if you are stuck in your ways and refuse to see that you might need to change, you're showing more weakness than the person sitting in the therapist's office working to make changes in their life, to better it.

 Even if you don't think you have an immediate problem, maybe you're not aware of it. Denial is a huge thing and sometimes people don't see their issues because they don't want to.  Guess what! Ignoring it doesn't make it go away. You don't have to see a therapist because you have some major life crisis. You don't have to be "crazy."  You can see a therapist just to get a little help in your weight loss journey. You may only need to see them to learn how to change your behaviors... How do you walk past that plate of cookies without eating one? Is surgery going to tell you how to do that? I don't think so.

I went to therapy once..By once I don't just mean one time. I mean a series of visits for one issue. I'm not at all ashamed of that. I had bad self-esteem. I let myself be in bad, and sometimes dangerous situations. I've been harassed, stalked, and physically assaulted. Honestly the mental part of all of it (including the physical incident because of the terror that accompanied it) was the hardest. I was hard enough on myself and allowing others to do it was so easy. If you don't love yourself like you should, then you might not care how you are treated.

I took steps to heal learn to love myself. Even after that it took me a while to make changes in terms of my health. I had to grow. I had to build up my self-esteem and learn to love myself. Then the physical came. Had I gone through surgery but not dealt with that, I just would have kept turning to food for comfort. I would have continued to not love myself how I should and I would have continued to let others treat me badly.  It's likely that I would have gained weight.

My point is that for me, surgery would have been a last resort.  It frightens me when people have surgery because they have a million excuses about why they can't do it the healthy way.

Here are some of my favorites and my answers.

I'm too old.  Really?  I know people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who have lost significant amounts of weight.
I'm too fat to exercise. No, you're not. You might be too lazy though! Have you SEEN the Biggest Loser? There are people twice your size on there moving.  You might have to start small, but a walk around the block is better than sitting on the couch.
I have too much to lose on my own. This really annoys me when it comes from people who are not that big. I know people larger than you (possibly myself included) who have done it.
I can't afford a nutritionist, trainer, gym membership, etc... You don't need them. Assuming you have use of your legs, you can walk... So get up and do it.  You don't need fancy equipment, but there are some really reasonably priced pieces of equipment that you can purchase.  A jump rope doesn't cost much. You might have to be creative and put some thought into it, but you can find ways of exercising without that assistance. As far as recipes, research that information. If you don't have internet service or a capable phone, many libraries do.  Take a few minutes to look up healthy recipes. It's amazing what a Google search can lead to. Talk to people who have lost weight, ask for tips. A friend or family member might have some good suggestions. Even simple changes like giving up soda and fast food can lead to results. You can buy a cheap notebook and pen and write down all of your nutritional status... Or use a free online program. Also... If you're having surgery your insurance may not cover it....Soooo you can pay for a major surgery but not pay for a cheap membership at a gym (you can find some for ten dollars a month!)? Or healthy foods? It's all about budgeting and where you choose to spend your money.
I have a family so it's not as easy to cook as it is for a single person.  You have a family? Great! Now... Why wouldn't you want to encourage your family to be healthy too? You're probably not doing them any good by letting them eat junk all the time. If you have children, what a great time to show them how to life a healthy life!
I have a family so I don't have the time. Include them where you can.  Take a walk together. Go for a bike ride with them. Go outside and play a game. You all have the ability to move, right? Heck, even people who are in wheel chairs find ways to be active. Honestly, if someone with no use of their legs can find a way to be active...Can't you?
I work long hours. I would imagine that those hours can be pretty stressful.  Did you know that exercise is a good form of stress release? Also, a lot of weight loss is about what you eat. You can take a few extra minutes to pack a healthy lunch. Or find good recipes and cook on the weekend for the week. It may take a little time, especially at first, but... Isn't your health worth it?

I can come up with other excuses and refute them too but that could make for a very long blog. I've learned to be very creative when necessary. 

My point with this is that YOU are in control of your behaviors. YOU need to take responsibility for your actions. YOU need to make the changes necessary to lose weight and be healthy.  I honestly believe that the majority of people can do this on their own.  They turn to surgery because it's "easy" and they don't have to put in the time or the effort. In the end though, you do because surgery isn't a guarantee that you will never again become fat. The only way to stay healthy is to work at it.

It's a matter of having the mental strength to do it. I think that in terms of the mental aspect it takes a stronger person to do it on their own than it does to say "remove part of my stomach please."  Like I said, some people do stick to healthy changes after surgery, but I fear that it's not as those who do not.

Again, I'm not saying this is true of everyone because it's not. The same things don't work for all people. We are not all in the same place mentally. Not everyone has issues to deal with. I understand this. I want to be perfectly clear that I'm not saying that  no one should ever have weight loss surgery because I'm sure there are some situations that it's necessary. I'm not bashing on people who have had it. Like I said, these are my personal feelings.

I've said it once and I'll say it again and again.... If it's worth it to you, you'll put in the work to get it - no matter how hard. If I can do it, you can too.


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