Weight loss surgery offers the hope of a new beginning for those trapped in the downward spiral of severe obesity. It provides the unique opportunity for our patients to completely change the direction of their lives. We see this reality fulfilled every day at Central Ohio Bariatrics. Indeed, there is nothing more satisfying than to see so many experience such profound transformation.
However, sadly, there are some for whom relapse occurs, and the weight is regained. This may be true for up to 20% of those who initially experience great success. Of course, nobody commits to surgical weight loss planning to fail, and likewise many express to us fear that the surgery won’t “work” for them. But in reality, there is really no mystery to the success (or failure) of surgical weight loss.
Over the years I have interviewed thousands of patients regarding their fear of failed weight loss or weight regain. In addition I have had the unfortunate opportunity to also interview those whom have in fact regained their weight. I have found that there is a consistent and remarkably similar theme in each of these situations.. It goes like this: “for the first couple years everything was great, I lost a bunch of weight, my life transformed and I swore I would never go back. But then (insert life stressor) happened, the weight started coming back on and before long I had gained it all back.” Essentially every single person I have interviewed regarding weight regain tells me this same story, whether it’s a lost job, or a sick family member, or a career change or relocation. It seems that relatively common stressor events, ones which most of us will encounter at some point, will completely and permanently derail some off of the pathway to long term success. What is more remarkable is that generally it’s the actual stressor, not any personal habits that’s deemed responsible for the weight gain. The stress of life is commonly felt to be solely to blame for relapse.
So why is it that such a firm commitment to a life change can seem to be so fragile? The answer can be quite complex, but in addition commonly comes down to one thing – consistency. It’s not about a lack of commitment, or poor self-discipline. Its not a moral failure or a character defect.
On the other hand, neither is it about not having enough time, money, or support. Rather it is a failure to approach one’s dietary and exercise habits with the same sense of responsibility as other essential parts of one’s life. For example, for those whom regain weight, they don’t stop going to work, caring for their kids, or bathing when this life stressor occurs. Of course, this would be absurd. Why? because these things are essential to maintaining their lives and livelihood. These are habits we do without even thinking about it. They are part of who we are. Likewise, healthy, disciplined health habits need to have that same priority. It’s difficult to overemphasize how critical the necessary “lifestyle changes” after bariatric surgery really are.
This has been studied at length, and what’s found is that those who enjoy long term success, the common thread repeatedly comes down to two things: daily dietary discipline and daily exercise. Grasping and mastering these will transform your outlook from a reliance on “the surgery” to “work” into lasting victory, regardless of what lies ahead.
It should be noted that this group of folks is the minority, and the most of our patients firmly understand the importance of these changes. But it is also the reason that we provide dietary education and psychological support, encourage the use of tools such as food and exercise logs, and emphasize the need for personal accountability. No one can maintain discipline every minute, every day. But the use of these tools will keep you on track during those tough times. In fact it can be these habits that actually provide stability, serving as a source of strength when the rest of life may not be going your way. Life is full of ups, downs and detours. The path to our goals is rarely, if ever, a straight line. Likewise, to reach your goal, you will need to be equipped with the tools and skills necessary to weather the storms of life. When it comes to success after surgical weight loss, we at Central Ohio Bariatrics are committed to provide the arsenal you will need to achieve long term weight loss, no matter what may come your way.