Is weight loss surgery the easy way out?

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A lot of people feel that having weight loss surgery is taking the easy way out. I know there are many judgements about those of us who make the decision to have surgery to manage our obesity.

When I decided that surgery was something I needed not only for weight loss, but for my health and longevity, there was a tiny voice inside of my head telling me I was weak, that this was a cop out, and that I was taking the easy way. I chose a small group of people to tell about it and I chose very well as people were overwhelmingly in support of my decision. After all they had seen me battle this demon for 35 years. See my post on diets I’ve tried for a sample of what I tried in the past. Two friends were so genuinely excited for me that it made me feel great. I also decided on a small handful of people NOT to tell as I knew they would judge me and try to talk me out of it. As it turns out, most of those people are no longer in my life as I realised that if I wasn’t comfortable sharing this with them, then what kind of friends were they to me anyway?

So, back to the surgery. It is definitely not the easy way out for a whole handful of reasons.

  1. It is major surgery, no matter which option you choose. Banding, VSG or RNY, they are all major procedures.
  2. I chose VSG so 75% of my stomach is gone. Forever. Never to return. As an aside a friend asked me on the weekend if it could be reversed, as she has seen me struggle with some stuff in terms of digestion over the past couple of weeks. I can’t explain her face when I told her this was it. I have no regrets, but it really brought home just how permanent this is.
  3. For the rest of my life I can no longer engage in the habits I formed and became attached to over my entire lifetime. I can no longer binge or comfort eat in the way I used to and big meals and desserts are a thing of the past.
  4. My previous maladaptive coping mechanism has gone and I need to deal with my stuff. We all have stuff and our ways of managing, mine has always been food. I am a food addict. It took me until I was 48 to figure it out and admit it, but it’s the truth. I have never drunk, smoked, gambled or used drugs, so it’s unlikely that I will form an addiction of this nature. Maybe I can become addicted to exercise? 🙂
  5. For the rest of my life, eating out, Christmas day, birthdays and everything we do to share food with friends is different. For the rest of my life.

So why did I do it? I’ve written in other posts about this, but briefly, I was tired of being a slave to my addiction. I had fatty liver and fatty pancreas, had already lost my gall bladder, lived with constant pain and I seemed incapable of doing anything to create sustainable change.

I want to live a long, healthy and happy life and I decided it was time to take control of my body and my addiction and needed a tool to provide me with the extra support I need to make it happen.

Addicts are different to people who just need to lose weight. We use food in ways that non addicts can never understand. Only addicts can truly understand addiction.

Last night I was watching an American show called My 600LB Life. It follows morbidly obese people who weigh over 600LB for a year, during the period prior to and while they undergo weight loss surgery. I’m finding it really interesting as the similarities between them and me are not surprising, but fortunately for me I never ended up that big, who knows if I would have, but I am grateful that I didn’t. I’m not religious but the saying “there but for the grace of god go I” comes to mind.

As I was watching it, some friends of ours came over and they just couldn’t get it. In the early part of the show, a woman who weighed 700LBs was eating as she normally does, and they were saying “look, she’s still eating” in absolute shock and horror. They are all visiting here from Africa, where the idea of obesity being a problem and needing surgery to prevent eating is such a foreign concept that I couldn’t really explain it.

I’m only in week 5 post op, so it is early days for me yet. I am not naive enough to think for a minute that I won’t face demons along the way and I have faced a few already, but I now have a tool to provide me with some additional back up and support in times of need. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have had this surgery. I’m very thankful that our medical system makes it relatively easy and we don’t have to undergo all of the waiting, appointments and strain that people in the U.S. do, and from deciding until surgery day was 2 months, only because I was overseas for a month, or it could have been a few weeks. I am having my moments for sure as I figure out what I can and can’t tolerate and I am yet to master the art of mindful eating, no matter how much I know it is the answer, but old habits die hard. Must. Slow. Down.

So, in my opinion weight loss surgery is definitely NOT the easy way out. But it is a way out. Out of addiction, constantly thinking about food, regrets and guilt that continually plagued me, rapid weight gain, health problems and constant pain.

Yes it’s a way out, but only if I choose to make it one.

The rest is still very much up to me.

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