Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Bariatric Life is Forever

Yes, the bariatric life is forever. We all knew that going into surgery and we all signed on the dotted line, agreeing that we were committed to following the rules and changing our lifestyles forever --- whatever it takes to get healthy and be able to finally live our lives. In the first couple years after surgery this is easy. In fact, we're all too thrilled to follow rules and change whatever the WLS teams tells us to change because we're seeing dramatic change in the scale, in how we feel and in our other people treat us. But once that shiny new toy starts to lose a bit of its shine, we are faced with the reality that "this is my life."

This isn't a bad thing. In fact, this is a positive aspect of WLS if you let it be. Let me explain where I'm coming from on this whole deep-thought blog post.

Today is an officially scheduled "day of reflection" for me. My longtime readers know that every August I set aside one day to drive back to the beach were I first made the decision to have surgery back on August 6, 2006. In a couple hours I'll be heading out on my annual pilgrimage. I take along my journal, a pen and my beach chair ... and not much else. It's a time for me to reflect on the past year of my life, the goals I set and how I'm doing at achieving them and what adjustments I need to make in my journey to work toward the new goals I want to accomplish. It's also a time for me to reflect on my bariatric life and make sure that I really am on track and doing everything I should be doing for this lifestyle I've chosen.

In the past few weeks I've been contemplating the notion that "the bariatric life is forever." I remember back before I had surgery that when I would start a new diet I would do great for a little while ... but then when some special event came along or even just when I got tired of the diet, I could just "go off" the diet for a day or forever. If I wanted to indulge on a decadent dessert while out to dinner with friends and eat the entire thing all by myself, I could do it and then be back on my diet the next day - no big deal. If I wanted to start the cabbage soup diet and eat broth and cabbage for every meal, every day for weeks on end - no big deal, my body would figure out a way to get what it needed despite my stupid food choices and I wouldn't get sick or malnourished.

But that's not how it works anymore, is it? I can't just turn off my surgery if I have a big family picnic to attend and want to indulge in Aunt Linda's grape-and-marshmallow salad (OMG!) or decide to skip the protein in favor of ice cream or "not bother" with my water and vitamin routine or decide I don't have time for exercise right now, so I won't find the time. No. I don't have that luxury anymore. None of us do. The rearranging we asked our surgeons to perform in that operating table is a permanent and now a part of who and what we are forever. This is how weight loss surgery is suppose to work. It's a good thing. It helps us to enforce those lifestyle changes we signed up for originally.

In the past year my day-to-day life has changed a lot. I'm in the midst of a career change with a lot of changing duties at work, I'm about to graduate with a degree I've worked very hard for, I've started a new graphic design business with three other very cool people and still, I remain a WLS patient. If my schedule gets too hectic, the surgery doesn't care, I still need to be a WLS patient and follow the rules and live the changes I signed up for in my life.

Yesterday I put in a nearly 22-hour day. Yikes! I was out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to get ready for work. The day was packed with knocking a million things off my task list, then I attended a seminar in the evening and when I got home I spent 4 hours doing school work and finally got to bed around 2:30 a.m.

Was I a good little WLS patient yesterday? Nope. Not at all. I had one dose of vitamins in the morning and forgot the rest. I drank about 40 ounces of water (along with a 32oz diet coke and about 40oz of coffee). I missed breakfast because I forgot to eat and probably ended the day with an intake of 30g of protein.  I sat on my butt all day (at my desk, in a conference room or in the car) and didn't get any exercise in at all unless you count the number of times I ran to the bathroom because I drank too much frickin' coffee. I didn't get quality sleep and I didn't bother nourishing my spirit with time to relax or refresh.  Unfortunately, days like this, lately, aren't unusual with my unreal schedule right now.

Since today is my "day of reflection" and a time of "butt-kicking" --- I'm here to kick my own butt. I signed up for this surgery and the rules and the changes. So I need to do a better job of honoring my commitment.  A commitment to myself to live a healthier life and do what is right for my body.

I'm glad that WLS is a part of my everyday life and I'm reminded often that I'm not like everyone else. I'm glad that my surgery still works (my pouch reminds me of it's presence often). This Bariatric Life was the best decision I ever made for myself and I'm a better person for it. It's been five years since I made my decision to sign on the dotted line and I'm so excited to see what the next five years will bring.



  1. I love this post. I think there are many people that go into WLS without fully grasping the "forever" portion of this surgery.

  2. Your posts give me thoughts to ponder in my own life and living! Thank you!

  3. Thanks Pam, I really needed this today. You are a true inspiration and a great source of knowledge.

  4. Anjibutherflai9/19/2011 8:48 AM

    I need to adapt a time of reflection and really stick to it. I am just over a year out, but I slack way more than I should. With all this "living" I do, who has time to keep a vitamin schedule or monitor water intake? Poor thinking, but it has been prevailing lately. I am getting back on track right now. *grabs vitamins* Baby steps to being back on track.


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