Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN
Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.
Going through the weight loss surgery process isn't easy. Whether you’re going at this alone or have others there to support you, it's challenging either way. But what might be the most challenging aspect is sharing your decision to have weight loss surgery with others. You will get responses such as, “surgery is the easy way out,” or “why don’t you just exercise more and eat less?”. But you’ve been there and done that and gone through the vicious cycle one too many times of losing weight and then gaining it all back. If the people around you only knew what you’ve been through to lose weight, both mentally and physically... To get someone to empathize and understand your situation is difficult, especially if they’ve never struggled with their weight. With careful consideration and preparation, you can confidently express your desire to have WLS with others and they’ll be more inclined to support your decision. Follow these tips:
1) Be prepared with facts. You have to understand that most people are uneducated about the facts behind weight loss surgery — the mechanisms of how the surgery works metabolically and hormonally, the fact you have to work hard to support this tool with both nutrition and exercise, and the level of commitment you have to put in for this to succeed long-term. It will serve you well to do this research yourself so you can answer any questions your friends and family may have. Make a list of questions you have as they will likely ask the same questions. Some people may support you with no questions asked. Others may not be so easy and try to talk you out of it. Just be prepared and stay steadfast in your decision and the why behind it. Lean on reputable sites like ASMBS.org, CDC.gov, or ClevelandClinic.org to help you.
2) Listen to their concerns but stay positive and optimistic. Just get ready because you’re going to have people who are concerned about your well being. This is great, but it can also put a damper on your motivation to pursue surgery. After all, this is a permanent surgery, and there’s no going back. There are also risks to consider. Fear is the first emotion that comes to mind with change for most people. Your role will be to listen to and understand their concerns and fears and to reassure them by providing facts as well as a thorough explanation of the rewards you can reap from WLS. But stay optimistic. And show others your mind is in the right place and that you are prepared for this lifestyle change to support your health and weight loss once and for all.
3) Communicate your need for their support. Include others in your journey, especially those in your household and inner circle. These are your people! Your support system helps to determine your level of success so ask for help wherever you need it. Keep those who are close to you involved in the process. Help them understand what you need to succeed. This may include conversations about supporting you in prioritizing your time to exercise, helping to keep better food choices in the house, or just developing healthier eating habits and behaviors in general. Whatever it is you need, speak up! Chances are, they want to help you succeed and will support you however you need.
Whether you realize it or not, your decision to have WLS affects more than yourself. It will affect relationships you have, sometimes negatively and many positively. You will quickly find those who you want to keep close and others who may not be as good of an influence as you once thought. Communication is key to success when others are involved. Stay true to course and go after what you want. Let them see what WLS truly can do for you and that it can work with their support in addition to your hard work.
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.