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  • Writer's pictureMaria S Panitsidis

The Bariatric Rollercoaster




The emotional rollercoaster that is bariatric surgery (weight-loss surgery). For those of us who have gone down the path of bariatric surgery, it may have taken a long time to come to terms that we needed this outside thing to help us lose weight for whatever reason. The logical explanation is that we may have tried different avenues but the outcome was the same: Weight Loss and regain, no matter what we tried. The illogical reasons become more personal; I have no willpower/self-control, I can’t do this, I am weak, Hi I’m the problem it’s me, so to speak. Truth is, once you hit a certain weight many things seem daunting. Now I can only attest to my own weight loss journey so there were times I sucked at it. I tried very hard, I tried every avenue given to me and I was successful to a point. There came a time where my diabetes was growing out of control, I was using a CPAP machine (which is it’s own blog post) and my movement was nil. I was pushing 400 lbs. and I could barely move my body without being in a lot of pain. So, the time came where I had to decide, and it was a matter of life or death. Was I nearing a heart attack or stroke at the age of 40? I don’t have future seeing powers, but medically and scientifically I would gather that it was a resounding YES. Many would say the hardest part was going through the process to be approved for surgery. In my own experience I find that hardest part to be now. 2 years post-op. I know my reasons for doing the surgery and I am very grateful everyday for this tool, and that is simply what it is, a tool. Along with the good also comes the bad.


I have had this secret growing fear of regaining weight. Most studies have shown that weight gain may be inevitable for some going the route of the Sleeve Gastrectomy AKA, VSG or Sleeve surgery. What I realized early on was that I don’t necessarily need to be a statistic. (some) Weight gain and your body finding it’s healthy balance is normal. However, if you don’t adhere to a new or renewed healthy lifestyle then yes, you will gain. This is true with any surgery related to weight loss, hence why we use the term LIFESTYLE change and tool. It is no secret that a little cheat here and a little cheat there will inevitably get that scale moving in the wrong direction. Could it be self-sabotage? could it be feeling accomplished in losing the weight you did? Is it simply losing momentum? Whatever the reasons staying steadfast in your new life with a health balance of exercising, nutrition, support, activity, and perspective will be the key to “success”. If you measure your success solely on the weight that you have lost, then you don’t get it. The number on the scale is just that. We can live unhealthy lifestyles at any weight, remember that. So, find your balance and plan to stick to it. It will NOT be perfect all the time, but if you are consistent and you are making the right choices regularly then you won’t need to live in the same secret fear that most bariatric patients have.

Seeking the right supports, surrounding yourself with people who will tell you honest truths but won’t judge you is key. When we feel judged themes like shame, guilt and embarrassment start to swirl around in our minds. Eventually the growing inner voice can and will take over if we allow it to. Strive to remember that you are human and as such are prone to error, lapse in judgement and poor behaviors. Does this mean we accept that we will fall into old patterns, and all is lost? Absolutely NOT. This just means we are becoming more aware of what traps not to fall in, that is PROGRESS! Connection is a VITAL piece of this journey. Not just being around your tribe who supported you prior to your surgery, BUT also by the like-minded individuals that you have met and connected with along your journey.


The people I have met and the groups I’ve connected with throughout my own journey have inspired me to take a look at what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong. They have inspired me to use what I do as a profession to relook at how I live my life and what more I can do to give back to a community and a medical procedure that has given me my life back. In my professional life I am a trauma and addictions therapist. For a long time, It never quite dawned on me that my own addiction to food/sugar was an issue. The responses to stress and depression that I displayed were dead ringers for my own poor lifestyle and choices, BUT even as a therapist, I didn’t want to make the connection OR I chose to turn a blind eye to it. This is the difference of someone being open and honest and those who choose to keep their heads buried in the sand. I am someone who works a full-time job and opened a practice to help others cope and process their own trauma. So, I average about 60 work hours a week. As I suspected, I fell down the same rabbit hole, where I take good care of others and take care of myself secondary. This can no longer pass. I had to make a difficult decision to put the focus of ME first and made the choice to focus the work I do around those who are also struggling with finding balance, understanding and a healthier lifestyle. That is the space where I am needed now.


This journey is not a perfect one and we are not perfect people. As a whole I want to create an environment where people feel safe, heard, seen, and understood. It is important to me that those on this journey understand the difficulties associated with it BUT I want them to also understand that it is mind over matter. Routine, healthy choices and positive outlook are also keys to success. We can’t only have a little bit of the journey we have to embrace it as a whole. Weight number victories, non-scale victories and over all happiness of reclaiming who we were (prior to surgery), who we are (after the surgery) to finally feeling like our true, authentic selves is what it is about.


For some of us we struggled with weight issues life long, for others the weight issues came later in life, no matter where you started, something as small as ‘weight’ can be enough to knock you off course. I can understand and appreciate what you are going through.


At the end of the day, we made a choice. Now we have the option of screaming scared or enjoying the ride. The choice again is yours. How do you prefer to ride?


I see you; I hear you and I support you.


All My Love,

Maria

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