At our last support group meeting the topic was: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) to Better Prepare You for Life After Surgery? What followed was a lively discussion on the long term issues people face post op. Here is a summary of the key points we discussed:
- I did not believe I could feel as good as I do now.
Almost all patients agreed WLS was the best thing they ever did for themselves.
- I was unaware how quickly my medications would change – I stopped taking many of my medications within the first few weeks or months post op.
Many patients were surprised they came off medications or doses were decreased as early as a few weeks post op.
- How important it is to talk to post ops about their experiences (challenges, advice, etc.).
Sometimes the best advice can come from someone who has been in your shoes. Another important reason to come to support group before and after surgery.
- The importance of holding myself accountable – with regard to eating, exercise, taking vitamins, etc.
No one is responsible for what you put in your body, but you. You are ultimately responsible for your eating and exercise habits.
- Nobody told me about the emotional and hormonal changes that take place – I was on an emotional roller coaster.
Weight loss surgery can cause emotional upheaval due to changing hormones and relationships with others. Make sure you have support from friends, family and our own support group.
- How difficult it can be to maintain the weight loss – and how important it is to stay connected to the support group and your bariatric surgeon’s office for ongoing support.
The weight loss phase was easier than the weight maintenance phase. Keeping weight off when you can eat a little more, cravings come back and your ability to tolerate different foods can be challenging.
- How long it takes for my brain to “catch up” to my current status. I still “feel” like the fat person.
Many patients shared that they still see themselves at their pre-surgery size.
- You did not get “brain” surgery. You still have to learn to manage the emotional eating and cravings post op.
Weight loss surgery does not affect emotional eating or habit eating. It just changes how much food you can eat in one sitting.
- How life is without food as the focus or focal point. It is liberating.
When other things in your life give you joy, food becomes less important. It is a good feeling.
- How long a weight loss stall is. It is very frustrating to go through them even though you learn it is part of the process.
Use a stall as a chance to re-evaluate your diet, physical activity and other lifestyle habits. Keep in mind the scale is not the only way to measure your success.
Does anyone else have any thoughts on this topic? Please send us your comments – we would love to hear them!
Dietitian’s Corner is a monthly column for post-op and pre-op patients of bariatric surgery in NJ written by Prime Surgicare’s Lori Skurbe. Lori has been a dietitian for over 20 years with an extensive background in weight management, bariatric nutrition and diabetes education.