One of the great aspects about support group is that the patients who attend are all at difference stages in their weight loss journey: Some have not had bariatric surgery yet, some are only a few weeks or months out, others had weight loss surgery years ago and some are revision surgery patients who had a gastric band and then converted to a different procedure after the band failed. This diversity means that we have lots of different experiences, tips and strategies to help you. With all these differences, the one thing that everyone has in common is fear. Everyone who has gone through surgery or is about to had some fear or apprehension that they went through or are still tackling. At our last support group, we discussed these fears and apprehensions and worked together to come up with strategies to overcome them.
What were your fears going into weight loss surgery? The most commonly expressed fear among the patients who came to our last support group was the fear of regaining weight. Here’s a sampling of what some patients said:
“I am afraid of gaining the weight back as time goes on” —“I am afraid I will gain back all the weight I lost” — “I am afraid that my recent weight gain of 20 pounds will not stop” — “I am afraid of gaining back the weight….again” — “I have regained about 30 pounds. I am afraid and want it to stop. Old habits creep back.”
We have to remember that the surgery is just a tool and if it is not utilized correctly, weight gain may occur. Those patients who have experienced weight regain had some suggestions:
- Attend monthly support groups to remind yourself what you need to do to stay on track.
- Always track your food intake on an app or your own food log for accountability.
- Get help right away. Schedule an appointment with your doctor or dietitian as soon as you feel you’re struggling. Don’t wait until you are up 10 to 20 pounds.
- See a therapist who specializes in weight loss surgery to deal with the emotional/psychological aspect of your weight.
- Remember that surgery doesn’t stop stress, busy schedules, events, and other aspects of life that get in the way of making healthy food decisions. Planning and prepping meals and snacks help to keep you on track.
- Change your relationship with food. Don’t use food to deal with stress, boredom, depression and other emotional aspects of your life.
The apprehension didn’t stop with weight regain. Here is a sampling of some other fears patients have in relation to their weight loss Do any of these resonate with you?
“Fear of going back on diabetic medications.” — “Never reaching my weight loss goal.” — “Not going to lose the weight desired. I do not want to fail.” — “Getting my old habits back.”
The group offered some great strategies to tackle these apprehensions as well:
- Try setting smaller weight loss goals to achieve until you eventually reach your goal weight.
- Set realistic weight loss expectations, which you can discuss with New Jersey Bariatric Center team.
- Patients also suggested not focusing so much on the number on the scale but to instead pay attention to your habits/behaviors and non-scale victories.
Non-scale victories are a great way to keep you motivated to reach your weight loss goal, help maintain your weight loss and to prevent old habits from creeping back in. Remember the day you were able to fit into new clothes, when you were able to sit comfortably in an airplane seat, when you could ride on the amusement ride with your child, when you didn’t have to take certain medications any longer. Writing these victories down and keeping them constantly visible can be the motivation you need to keep going down the right path. Continuously remind yourself of why you had weight loss surgery in the first place.
We all have fears associated with weight loss surgery. The good thing is that you don’t have to deal with these fears alone. Use the support your New Jersey Bariatric Center team and fellow patients have to offer to help you ease any fears you encounter during your weight loss journey and maximize your long term success.