by PATRICIA MILLER
Weight loss surgery. These three words bring up a lot of emotions for people.
Six years ago, I was the one making the emotional decision to have surgery. Even though it may seem like an easy decision, there were so many factors to consider. A year and 150 pounds later, I found myself publicly representing 30-something moms beating the battle of the bulge. You may have seen me in local advertisements and billboards. I was proud to show it off and be a source of encouragement to others. Surgery changed my life. I looked better, felt better and knew my chance at a long life with my family was finally a reality. So many obese people either have or are nearing a diabetic future. After watching my sister pass at 37 from the disease, it was one of the hurdles I was relieved to overcome.
Some like to think weight loss surgery is easy. Unfortunately, doctors neglect to mention that the post-surgical mental struggle is extremely difficult. Sure, you’re told how to eat better and how your body will physically change, but few practices offer long term support for the mental side. Things like body issues, food addiction, and eating disorders do not just disappear because of surgery. In fact, they often worsen as it is hard to adapt to the new body.
Certainly no one has the answers for long term success either.
I remember asking in an online forum “Now what? I lost all the weight so now what do I do?” One response in particular resonated with me. One mentioned her doctor saying “Eat and think like a thin person.” Seriously? My response to that is not fit for print. That statement shaped what would be the next six years of struggles, emergency surgeries, relapse, and eventually triumph over issues that plague our nation: obesity, sugar addiction, and poor body image.
Through the years, friends and strangers alike have reached out to me in person and Facebook with questions, comments and sometimes pure desperation for help in their journey towards health.
I love hearing how I have been an inspiration. I have always been open and honest with them and plan to use this forum in the same manner. I hope to shed light on the true facts and information on living a healthy mental and physical lifestyle after major weight loss, with or without surgery. So many dealing with the post weight loss struggle just want to feel “normal” in a society where fat shaming has become acceptable. I want to offer my support as well as candid stories of things that are common even if your health professionals never mentioned them.
They say a friendship is formed when two people say “You too? I thought I was the only one.” So welcome aboard, friend.
As Bristol Hospital’s first Gastric Bypass patient, spokesperson and creator of the Central Connecticut WLSFA chapter, I hope you find my struggles, truths and insight helpful in your own weight loss journey. We are all walking our own paths, but we don’t have to go alone.
Patricia Miller is a columnist from Bristol, Conn.