What bariatric surgery won’t change

I’ve said many times before that bariatric surgery changes everything. I mean that when I say it but to try and list ‘everything’ out for you would be a list I could never finish. I think there’s a saying that goes something like, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” and I think I have started to get a deeper understanding of this lately. Bariatric surgery changes everything in your life but in the same vein there are many things that bariatric surgery won’t change.

I think this greater understanding of, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” has been spurred on by me reaching a point after surgery now where I feel almost completely back to normal. My different eating habits are so second nature to me that it doesn’t feel weird or new anymore and I have learnt lots of ways to make sure I get in what my body needs. I’m back in my old routine of making the same set of dinners over and over until I get bored and introduce something new every few months. My cooking habits have changed in terms of what I cook but the way I go about it has not changed in the slightest.

Bariatric surgery is not going to sort out your emotional issues. It would be naive of us to think that sorting out a mental or emotional problem by changing our physicality is going to work. The problem is so many of us tie different emotions, feelings of success or failure, past hurt, reasons why we aren’t progressing through life in the way we imagined we would to our weight. So many of us do this but I’ll let you in on a secret, losing weight is not going to magically solve all of these problems. Your levels of self-esteem and confidence will change and you will learn a lot about yourself along the way and that’s a great base you can then continue to build upon.

Your day-to-day levels of happiness don’t change. While the fast weight loss stage is exciting and probably leads to increased mood for some months there it doesn’t last forever. At some point you will drop down to your usual, pre-surgery levels. I wrote a whole post about it here. This leads me neatly to ….

People will still say dumb shit. Instead of, “Oh have you thought about losing some weight,” it will instead be things like, “Don’t lose any more weight.” “Aren’t you soooo much happier?” “Is that ALL you eat?” Et cetera, et cetera. You will still be fielding uninvited and unsolicited remarks about your body but at least the new comments and variation may keep you amused for a while. After all, once you’ve answered politely all you can do is laugh.

You aren’t going to reach you goal weight and magically stay there, your weight will still move around a bit and you will need to continue working on it. Forever. I learnt pretty early on that once I reached my goal weight it didn’t just stop and stay right there. There is no point of being done. You will not get to a point where your weight, and the continual job of maintaining it isn’t one of your top priorities.

You will still have some hang-ups about your body. They will be different, sure, but there will still be some things you need to accept and learn to love about yourself. Losing a huge amount of weight is going to leave traces on your body, that part is unavoidable. You hopefully won’t be concerned about how ‘big’ you think you look anymore but you will probably have some loose skin and there will be new things your body surprises you with. What’s important to remember here is how far you have come. In having bariatric surgery we are striving for our health not bodily perfection.

One thing that I’m surprised hasn’t changed for me is that I still find clothes shopping hard. I know I’m probably one of the few in this group but now when I shop for clothes instead of being frustrated by how little there is that fits I get totally overwhelmed with all of the choice. It wasn’t until after I had my bypass that I could walk into pretty much any clothing shop and find something that fits off the rack, I really looked forward to that happening before my surgery. Now that I have that luxury I get confused and overwhelmed with the choice and since I finished building my wardrobe back up after my size settled I haven’t bought many clothes since.

The decision to have my gastric bypass was the best decision I have ever made for myself. I don’t regret it in the slightest and I’d do it all again if I had to. It is important to remember that it’s not going to fix everything in your life. By setting out on a bariatric journey with realistic expectations it’s easier to recognise and appreciate our successes. I think we give our weight too much power over our feelings and our lives and while bariatric surgery is a hugely helpful tool to initially lose weight and then maintain your weight and health we need to remember it’s not in the slightest bit a silver bullet and it’s not going to fix everything.

Can you think of something in your life that hasn’t really changed after having bariatric surgery? It took me a while to come up with these and be able to articulate some specific things so maybe as you think about this you’ll think of some things. Comment below when you think of one I’d like to hear what’s remained the same for you.

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