Hi, my name is Melissa and I used to be…
If you hadn’t of guessed by the fact that I mention gastric bypass in every blog post and tag almost every Instagram picture on my blog Instagram account with #gastricbypass I have had bariatric surgery. I started this blog with the sole intent of writing about it from my perspective and how I am living with my decision to have gastric bypass surgery and the lifestyle that now requires.
I have lost 70 kilos to bring me to sit at around 62-64 kilos since hitting my highest weight of 132 kilos. I lost 15 of those kilos prior to my surgery, so just under a quarter of my total loss and the remaining 55 kilos in the 9 months after my surgery. My gastric bypass surgery was the tool that enabled me to lose the weight so quickly and helped me drastically reduce my portion sizes because now, if I overeat after surgery, I will be sick.
When asked how I have lost so much weight the first thing I tell people is that I have had gastric bypass surgery. I am not ashamed of this in the slightest and if people ask more questions I am more than happy to divulge how it works and how the tool has helped me achieve such success with my weight loss. I could tell people that I reduced my portion sizes and started exercising regularly which is true but of course, leaves a glaring omission.
The social stigma associated with bariatric surgery is huge and part of me starting my blog was to talk about it in real, open terms to help people who are thinking about or who are going ahead and having surgery with a patients perspective. I also hoped that it would, in some small way, help to educate the general public about the reality of such procedures and the lifestyle change it requires afterwards to maintain it.
The media, in this country especially, love the same old stories of “I was big and fat and lazy, then I started eating healthy and exercising and wow look I lost 5 million kilos”. These people are rightly applauded for their achievements and the implication I get from these articles (especially in the comments section) is that this is what all fat people need to do and they will lose weight. This drives me insane. I do not know a single person who has had bariatric surgery who has not tried every single thing under the sun to lose weight in every which type of way before even beginning to consider the surgical options.
If you have not been morbidly obese, I’m sorry but I don’t think you can pass judgment on the ‘right’ way for someone to lose weight. There are ultimately no medals given out for weight loss, any way you try it is one of the hardest things you will ever do. I applaud the people mentioned in the articles for losing weight but I don’t think that a higher amount of praise and worth should be placed on the way they lost weight.
I’ve also seen comments on Twitter openly stating that the media should be celebrating people who did it through and I quote, “Hard exercise, food and lifestyle changes. Not surgery.” I find this statement so hard to digest and cannot believe someone would say that out loud. For the people who, like I did, reach the end of the line and feel so desperately out of options, they then start considering this as their final chance and comments like that are not helpful. This only reinforces the value of the social currency in there being a ‘right’ way to lose weight.
What I also think the general public lack any awareness of is once you get to the point of being morbidly obese you have less than a 5% chance of losing and successfully maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise alone. (No idea where I read that but it is an often stated statistic.) Research into obesity is building a picture around this and it’s showing things aren’t as straightforward as they seem to be for many people who actively try to lose weight with traditional methods.
Bariatric surgery is not the ‘easy’ way out. People do not roll off the couch, morbidly obese, having never tried another thing and decide to get their physiology permanently changed just in some flimsy pursuit of losing weight. Bariatric surgery should not be something someone should be ashamed to admit to having had and they shouldn’t feel the only way they can justify their weight loss is through telling people they reduced portion sizes and started exercising.
Media, you are not helping anyone with this. Some people, myself included, do not have bodies that work like they should on that basic level and losing weight is just not that easy for us. If it was I would not have ended up morbidly obese requiring the tool of bariatric surgery to help me initially lose weight and maintain it long-term. Omitting to mention this in articles about people who have had bariatric surgery is irresponsible and reckless.
To the person who reads it and thinks, “Hmm, that person just exercised and reduced portion sizes and lost more than half their body weight in a year, I’m so inspired, I can do it too!” Then goes and tries it and fails, for them the feeling of failure is far more damaging to their self-esteem and confidence than you can ever begin to realise. Without building the correct picture of adding in that the person being applauded also had bariatric surgery does not let readers see exactly how much was involved to get such amazing and quick results.
Stop being so careless and omitting to mention the involvement of bariatric surgery when it has been such a crucial point in someones weight loss journey. I will continue shouting from the rooftops that I have had bariatric surgery as it was such a brave (in other people’s words) decision that literally helped me to save my own life.
Do you agree with me or do you think I’m being a bit pedantic. Comment below and let me know I’d love to know what your take on this is.
*Please Note: In the interests of keeping this a safe and respectful place for bariatric patients and potential patients I am going to be very careful with the comments I approve to be seen under this post.