One of the side effects that happens to many people…
Weight loss surgery is not a silver bullet. It will not solve all of your problems. You will lose weight, hopefully reaching your goal, but the biggest thing to get your head around is that it is a tool. A tool that will help you lose weight and, if you use it correctly for the long-term, help you maintain that lower weight too. The second most powerful tool you need in your toolbox after weight loss surgery is self-awareness.
Self-awareness is very powerful and will help you immensely in your weight loss surgery journey. I decided to see what the proper definition was and Wikipedia gave me this, “Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals.” This wasn’t exactly how I had been thinking of it when I thought of the idea for this post but the more I think about it the more I realize this definition is quite apt too.
Being introspective after surgery is very important. I think many of us either willingly (or not in some cases) have purposefully avoided being introspective for many years because it’s scary. The hard, important stuff tends to be scary, this is no different. We’re not sure how to deal with some of the stuff that’s inside of us if we look too hard. It can be confronting, hard and messy to deal with so we just let sleeping dogs lie. I think obesity is largely a physiological problem with our bodies but this kind of stuff can influence and exacerbate the behaviours that support obesity.
What really struck me in reading this definition and gave me a kind of ‘aha’ moment is the point of needing to realize you are an individual separate from the environment and other individuals around you. This is the crux of what makes self-awareness so powerful after weight loss surgery. This is what makes you realise that you hold the power over you, your body and that what happens is totally on you from here on out. If you strip back those outside influences, other people and the environment, you can really start to see your full capacity and the power you have to realise the things you want and hold dear.
Going hand in hand with self-awareness is consciousness. I looked at the definition of this on Wikipedia too and it goes like this, “Consciousness is the state or quality of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.” This is a bit vague and the definition is argued but it goes on to say, “It has been defined variously in terms of sentience, awareness, subjectivity, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood or soul …” and it continues. I think some of these points in the second quote were what I was wrapping up with self-awareness when I was thinking about it as a concept before I investigated it further.
A huge part of being self-aware is being conscious and present in your life as and when things are happening. To be present is to realise what is habit versus conscious decision making. That muffin that compliments your coffee so well? It’s just a pre-surgery habit. It’s being able to recognise when you’re feeling ‘hungry’ but you’re not really, it’s just your bodies response to being tired. It’s facing up to yourself all the time, on a daily basis to keep yourself in check. If you are self-aware and conscious of what you’re doing all the time you are far less likely to fall back into old habits or create new ones that you don’t want or need after weight loss surgery.
Weight loss surgery is the first and most drastic step in establishing a weight loss tool box that you can refer to for the rest of your life. It’s the structure or the literal tool box that you can use to house the rest of your toolset in to carry with you. The first thing I encourage you to add to this toolbox is your self-awareness. You will pull it out and use it frequently, it will be always evolving and at times might need some maintenance. This is part of your personal growth journey as you move through the stages after surgery and while there will be ups and downs you will be much better off for having these tools available to you.
I want to expand on this toolbox idea and build it up with more things I think are essential for us after weight loss surgery. Is self-awareness in your post-op toolbox? What are the other tools you have stashed away in there for you to use and rely on? Comment below and let me know I’d love to see what tools are essential for you!