“You cheated! You had weight loss surgery!”
Indeed, I had weight loss surgery. Because I know how hard I’ve worked to regain my health and break lifelong habits, I don’t see it as “cheating” at all. But I don’t talk about it very often so I think there may be an impression that I’m trying to hide it.
In fact, I’m not.
I don’t talk about my laparoscopic adjustable band (Lap-Band) very often in my blogs for a few reasons:
- Most people who want to lose weight will never have weight loss surgery, nor do they need to
- My Lap-Band doesn’t have anything to do with how I maintain my weight loss (I keep mine fully open and have for a long time)
But my Band was an important tool I utilized at the outset of my weight loss journey. I had been morbidly obese for 20+ years and had tried every diet under the sun (many of them more than once). I came to a breaking point and decided I was done with things that didn’t work for me. Rather than a “cheat,” I believe that, in weight loss, figuring out a system or using a tool that works for you is exactly the point! When I committed to the Band, I committed to making lifelong changes to my eating and exercise habits, and I now make good on that promise every day.
I discuss my decision to have surgery and how the Band works at length in my upcoming book, Eat Like It Matters: Helping Your Family Achieve A Healthy Weight, but I thought it might be helpful to share a short excerpt here so we can begin a dialogue about it.
If, after reading this, you believe that my Lap-Band surgery negates everything else I’ve learned about weight loss and healthy living, well, that’s certainly your right. A very wise friend of mine said recently: “There are many paths to success; the key is in finding our unique path … and knowing we found it.”
I have found mine.
If you have any questions about my surgery or the Band, please feel free to send me an email or leave a comment in the comments section below. I hope to hear from you!
Excerpt from Eat Like It Matters:
“…I had some serious emotional baggage to work through. I was deeply aware that many people consider weight loss surgery a gimmick or a way of “cheating” at weight loss. In fact, I was so fearful of being judged that I kept my decision to have surgery a secret from everyone other than my immediate family. I didn’t even tell my closest friends for over a year. I’ve since come to terms with it, but I confess it still bothers me when I hear people refer to weight loss surgery as “an easy way out.” Ha! Wrong! The Lap-Band is a tool, much like using a personal trainer is a tool for getting in shape. A trainer can help devise a plan for you, can encourage you, can provide expertise and accountability, but you’re the one of the ground doing the push-ups. Likewise, the Lap-Band can’t make you eat right.
There exists a strange relationship between weight and virtue in our culture that we don’t apply to other personal behaviors. We don’t think people who use nicotine patches to quit smoking, for example, are “cheating” simply because they didn’t go cold turkey. We support people doing whatever they need to get over addictions like gambling, drugs, and alcohol, but when it comes to food, we obsess over whether someone does it the “right” way.
There’s so much judgment in our assessment of why people are overweight or obese, and there is equally as much surrounding how people choose to combat it. But to those who would dismiss weight loss surgery as a “cheat” I offer up the statistic that over 60% of people who have weight loss surgery “fail” at it. Rather than judging the Lap-Band a “cheat” I see it more like training wheels. You still have to make the sweeping changes to your diet and exercise habits for the rest of your life, but the band is a built-in accountability tool. Used properly it can help manage appetite and aid portion control – two huge reasons for overeating. Until I learned to do these things for myself, I relied on my “training wheels” to keep me upright.
And despite our inclination to judge how someone else chooses to lose weight, ultimately there is no special prize for “doing it alone.” The reward is no sweeter if you choose a different path to a healthy weight. Honestly, if there was a surgical option to help people stop smoking or end alcoholism we’d be signing folks up in droves, but for some reason people who are overweight or obese are expected to do it themselves. Nonsense, I say.
For me, the cost and risk involved underlined my commitment to undergo surgery and make the comprehensive lifestyle changes that would bring me success; I felt I owed it to my family. But perhaps even more importantly, my commitment to change came from a deep place of surrender. I surrendered the idea that I could, and had to, do this alone. I surrendered the crutch that food had become for me. I surrendered the excuses and the denial. I surrendered the façade that everything was okay. It wasn’t.
I wasn’t …”