Today was Kevin’s one and a half year post-op Bariatric checkup. It seems like yesterday when he made the decision to take control of his life and change his lifestyle. Gastric bypass surgery is not a magic bullet to weight loss, it’s a tool that will help you lose the weight desired. Will you lose a lot of weight fast? Yup! Is it a guarantee you will keep it off? Nope! Kevin had been over weight all his life up until May 2016. Why at fifty-three years old did he suddenly make the decision to “get healthy?” For 10 years or more when he visited his primary care doctor for his annual physical, he failed every single blood test. He was a full-blown type 2 diabetic, blood pressure consistently high, cholesterol off the charts, the bottom of his lab results stated in BOLD, “High risk for heart disease.” That didn’t even rattle his cage to make changes. It wasn’t until he got a call on Christmas Eve 2015 the results of a Cat Scan. The doctor said, “Good news you don’t have a hernia, but we found you have fatty liver disease.” He hung up the phone with a glum look on his face and said, “I need to lose this weight.”
Since that fateful day, we started a journey together toward a healthy lifestyle. It’s never just the person who needs to lose the weight or having bariatric surgery who needs to make changes. The whole household needs to make changes! Our eating habits changed from emotional eating patterns to mindful eating. The choices we make about what we eat and how much we eat are different from a couple of years ago. We no longer hop on the unproven fad diets or the carbohydrate roller coaster, we stick with a high protein/low carb diet and it works. It’s a daily consistent routine of both eating and fitness. The lifestyle change is not just about food choices. In order to maintain balance, you must participate in a fitness program. We enjoy running half marathons and strength training (High Intensity Interval Training). We love to travel and we pick runs in place we have never seen. The best way to really see other places is to sign up for a half marathon in a place you’ve never visited. The running not only strengthens our bodies but it strengthens our relationship. The events we have participated in are a blast.
Warning don’t start out of the gate running half marathons, you will get hurt. This is a journey of proper nutrition and fitness. You must stay consistent. Do you need to become the next Jeff Galloway, or move to an Olympic training facility? Of course not, while the training facility has healthy foods, dietitians, and the complete complement of sports physiologists you don’t just start at that level. Can anyone run a half marathon? Sure, but must start where you are and begin to train. It’s literally one step at a time and one mile at a time. Before anyone starts that journey, they have to be grounded in where they are and start out with a realist plan of action.
Coaches and therapists both start the process by meeting you where you are. The obvious blind spot happens when an individual sets the bar themselves. “You don’t know, what you don’t know” Do you ever wonder why almost everything has the disclaimer? “Before beginning “__________” consult with a physician…” is that an implicit acknowledgement that our self-assessments can be inaccurate, or in some cases deadly? We don’t want to discourage anyone from living life, but be realistic. If you’ve had the motivation to read this far, don’t stop now!
Our internal scoreboard tracks success and failures. Don’t allow your enthusiasm to cloud your judgement which often leads to injuries. If you have never been part of an athletic program, don’t just dive in. Ask for help, talk to people, and surround yourself with people that are on the same journey. There is strength in numbers, join a pack, and don’t run/swim/train/grow alone. The term or cliché is true, “There is strengthen in numbers.” We started together and haven’t stopped.
Success happens when you have support. From the first day, I met Kevin I have been his biggest fan, and he is mine. I have loved him when he was 290 lbs. and I love him now at 175 lbs. Good relationships aren’t about the outer features, relationships are what’s on the inside. Obesity is the elephant in the room and people judge others on the way they look. No one noticed Kevin when he was 290 lbs. and now that he’s 175 lbs. people notice him and talk with him. He’s the same person. He may look different. Don’t discount people for what they look like, you aren’t on their journey. Offer them help, lend support and help them stay on track. Kevin made the decision to change his lifestyle because of his physical health at first, but there is very much an emotional health component that comes with looking and feeling good.
Bariatric Surgery is not a walk in the park, it’s not a magic wand approach either. But, does it work? Absolutely! But beware…What happens in a few years when the bad habits return and you slip? Bariatric surgery is helpful when you make the changes necessary for your health. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a piece of cake or ice cream at a birthday party. However, you must be mindful about why you are eating what you are eating, and how you are eating, and your level of activity. Are you ready to change your lifestyle? If so, we are here to educate, support, and empower you to not only make the initial changes but keep you on the track to success!