Monday, September 7, 2015

Life After Weight Loss Surgery Q & A - Couldn't you just try exercise and dieting?

One post-op's thoughts on life after weight loss surgery...

Question: Couldn't you just try exercise and dieting? Why have weight loss surgery?

Answer: I will answer your question but bear in mind... this is MY STORY and we (those who have chosen the helping hand of weight loss surgery to address their obesity) will have different stories (we are all unique snowflakes us humans.)

I dieted most of my teenage and adult years off and on and whenever I was told "well you know you really should lose some weight" by a Dr (they don't give you much more than that in a 10 minute visit) I would try the latest diet, best selling book, $$$ program, infomercial, pill or potion, etc. low carb, low cal, no fat, I did them all (none of which were covered by insurance, though my obesity related illnesses were but that's a rant for another day.)

Without real help this is the conflicting and inaccurate information we face in the world.
Like most diets they will work for a time. I can suffer through anything for a few weeks, months but is it sustainable for life... that's the difference. I am not suffering. I utilized the early months after weight loss surgery to make lifestyle changes that I can live with forever... finding healthy food I love, eliminating some that needed to go, moving my body every day, working on the emotional factors of obesity. The scale #'s going down in a way no diet ever helped me achieve were a big motivation, my activity level just in everyday life increased and add the ability to move more easily and effectiveness of exercise without 150+ extra pounds but more importantly the rapid weight loss resolved all my health issues.

I had a ton of major health issues going on: GERD, acid reflux so severe that it would rise up out of my nose and mouth, severe sleep apnea episodes where I would stop breathing almost 100 times in the night, the combo of those are deadly as you can imagine (aspiration, lack of oxygen, stress on heart, stroke risk, etc.) as part of the treatment for those conditions (along with the high blood pressure and some other conditions) I was on 8 medications. You can imagine I wasn't always up for doing burpees or jogging... in fact many of the medications I was prescribed list weight gain as a side effect (not an excuse, just a fact.)

When you are next in a store like Costco or Sam's do this: pick up a 150 pound bag of something... rice or beans or dog food and try and run... but do it when you are ill and keep that bag with you for many years, at work, at school, try and fit in this world with it's airplane seats and tray tables, student desks, hospital gowns, and turnstiles... oh and on occasion as you are carrying that weight have someone call you names, or treat you differently, or pass you over, or assume and make judgements, make disgusted faces or ask questions like "have you ever tried dieting and exercise?"

Hope that answers your question.

P.S. But wait there's more... and then when you decide with the advice of your doctor that surgical assistance is needed you have to justify your "readiness to change" and wait for 6-12 months as you jump through hoops for approval of the procedure. Often despite all the hoop jumping, you are denied coverage and that blow is so devastating that many do not recover from it, too tired and ill to fight the powers that be. Is there another condition or disease that this would ever happen with?! (There isn't) "I'm sorry Ms. Vicari before we grant your heart bypass or stent you have to prove you tried to change your diet and exercised and if in 6 month you lose xx amount of weight and bring us proof we'll help you... maybe." or "I'm sorry Ms. Vicari we can't remove the tumor or give you chemo or radiation until you show that you can change your lifestyle." It's unacceptable.

I am thankful everyday for the helping hand weight loss surgery gave me and to all those that infer I cheated, took a shortcut or the easy way out (like health is some sort of game) or say "Ohhh you had that surgery, I lost weight with diet and exercise" I say... "Yeah me too, every single day for the rest of my life." Best wishes to all of us!


Join me and become a member of the Obesity Action Coalition, together we're working for positive change to some of the negatives above (It's only $10 for the remainder of the year too, part of the OAC's 10th Anniversary celebration.)

post signature

14 comments:

Angie said...

People are always gonna run their mouths about something. Might as well be my shrinking arse! You're my hero!

Tammi Goff said...

Well said, very well said!

Cindy Bryerose said...

I hear the same thing from people..."you took the easy way out"! I tell people all the time, this is the hardest thing I have ever done and will do for the rest of my life!

TweedleDea said...

I encounter people in life who pretend to have compassion.... I'm in a Whole 30 group and someone was talking about how they know someone who'd going to have WLS and the poster was patting herself on the back for suggesting that the person should consider the Whole 30 instead. I lost my mind, reassembled it and suggested that she was being judgemental and hurtful. She disagrees, which isn't a shock, but I am so sad for that person she was talking about. That person who feels the desperation, and then confides in someone and gets slapped with judgement. It's sadness. I hope that maybe the person who judged will think next time. Because it's not as easy as doing XYZ, if you are considering WLS, there is so much more and cutting out bread isn't always going to work.

Unknown said...

Very well said!1 Who cares how you got healthy and lost weight (that's no one's business really but yours), you did it and that's awesome!!

JSColdwell said...

There is NO judgement here, just a curiosity question… The foods that you're eating now.. did you try those foods/that way of eating before your surgery? I know the surgery helped but I wonder how much just eating the foods that you're eating now would help. My cousin had surgery too, she struggled her whole life too. Now I barely recognize her and I'm SO happy for her and her new baby!!! I wish you all the best too!

Michelle "Shelly" said...

Thank you! Best wishes to your cousin too! I certainly eat healthier... sort of the premise of the blog... slimmed down versions of pre-op favorites. I make subtle but effective changes in recipes to save where I can without losing the flavor or enjoyment of cooking and eating... while I think it helps for certain! It wouldn't have given me 158 pound weight loss and resolve of my illnesses.

Other factors at play too... WLS changes portion size too. Small portions (aka normal) satisfy in a smaller stomach.
More and more research is showing that WLS influences gut hormones (those that send signals to the brain.)
The type of surgical procedure I had was a malabsorptive procedure (that factors in, how much or for how long is debateable)

Christine said...

Excellent response and perfectly stated!

Cara Menning said...

Excellent response.. I get that often., oh you took the easy way out, couldn't you just have joined a gym and dieted. Did that many times, and ended up almost 600 lbs.. In Ontario we have the surgery covered by OHIP, so it costs us nothing. But it does take a year of appointments and research before you get your surgery date. I'm 11 months out, and loving my life now.

Jaded Mage said...

I do not think that people that are not like us actually understand the dynamics of being so overweight. If it was just so easy as dieting and exercising there would be no such thing as WLS. Its like a horrible roller coaster that all you can do is go up up up in weight no matter what you do!. I cant speak for anyone else but at my highest (353sw) I could barely breath, I was taking 200 units of insulin a day, multiple drugs and i could eat a whole cow and still be hungry, I hated myself!

Today, Im down 125lbs, i walk everywhere, I sometimes actually forget, yes, I forget to eat! I eat a few tablespoons of something and am full.

And all the Doctors and tests before surgery, then to have to deal with readjusting after the surgery...

Yeah, heh its the easy way out....I don't think so...

But for all of that, I am happy now, I want to lose at least another 30lbs, but that is doable!

Thank you Shelly for always being here and being such an inspiration to all of us who have been where you are and where you will be!

BetsyInRI said...

I'm over 20 years post-op and I still get people saying that to me once in a while. I tell them that dieting was HOW I got up to 350+ pounds! I tell them about my "diet" that consisted of 500 calories a day - that was the one where I lost 35 pounds in 2 months, but promptly gained 50 in 1 month after I went off it. I dieted and dieted and dieted and screwed up my metabolism to the point that I could GAIN weight on an 1800 calorie a day diet. WLS was the ONLY way I could lose weight.

And it's been an AMAZING tool for me. By NO means the "easy way out" that people think it is - I STILL watch everything I eat every day to keep the weight off - in fact, I weight less now than I did when I was done losing post-op (mostly because medical advise about post-op diets has gotten SOOO much better since I had my surgery!!! We really didn't have the guidelines that folks now have. And as soon as I adopted the new guidelines of eating, I lost MORE weight! :-D) I love that no matter what happens, for the rest of my life I'm finally in control of my weight. That's a freedom I didn't have for the first 34 years of my life. It's been a truly fabulous journey. And Shelly - thank you for everything you do to offer support to post-ops. You're a resource that wasn't there when I was newly post-op and honestly - your blog is a Godsend to new patients :-).

Sheabeelynn said...

I will admit that I had previously thought, well if I cant diet and exercise now, what is weight loss surgery going to do. However after being only 23 and coming out of the hospital with a A1C reading of 17.6, my doctors decided to explain how weight loss surgery could be a beneficial "tool" to help me get healthy. My insurance did actually approve my surgery, however the hospital I had it done at considered it an elective surgery, even though it was life saving, and I had to save up almost $6000 dollars before having it performed.

Kelly McGowan said...

Your story made me cry. I wasn't denied my surgery but the rest of what you said rang so true for me. Diets, doctors, pills for all the things my obesity caused. People (especially doctors) telling me I just needed to exercise when my body hurt so bad and just getting out of bed winded me, wanting everyday to not wake up, literally praying to God to take me while I slept. Now just 1 week out from surgery I have new lease on life. I know it's a journey but I am so glad I have taken my first steps.

Nirmalpreet said...

Oh my goodness! What an amazing explanation. I might have to print it and carry copies in my purse for when I run into the folks who don't have their facts straight.