Time flies when you are having fun. It took me by surprise the other day when I realized that it had been almost three years since I decided to have gastric bypass and began the preparation for it. I reflected on the time that has passed and found there to be a very distinct timeline that has evolved.
During the first year after my surgery, I focused on changing eating habits and watched in amazement as the weight fell off. During the second year, I pushed myself physically beyond anything I knew while I was bigger. I set goals. Training and conditioning allowed me to accomplish them with a great sense of pride and amazement. This year, I have incorporated a new layer to my journey. I’ve been focusing on the emotional part of what keeps me in a place that is supportive of a healthy lifestyle.
Maintaining the weight emotionally and physically
I have discovered that while the physical part of maintaining a healthy weight is very important, the emotional part of this maintenance is even more so. This is a very personal thing to blog about, however, I know I am not the only person in the world to be in this predicament. A successful post gastric-bypass patient must deal with the emotional issues head-on in order to maintain the weight loss as well as solidify the behavior modification that comes with the process.
Overeating can be a result of a lot of different emotions. Fear, anger, depression, anxiety all work against me physically. Somewhere in my childhood I picked up the idea that food was a comfort. Maybe it was the social aspect at family gatherings. Maybe it was the over-attentive grandmother that took care of me after school and provided any snack or meal I wanted. Maybe it was the mother who overcompensated in the portions for her family because she grew up so poor that food was something that was hard to come by at times. When my unconscious response to feeling down is to sooth myself by eating, I know I am setting myself up for disaster in the long run if I don’t address it.
What should I do? How can I avoid this?
I am very fortunate to work for a company that provides Employee Assistance Programs that include mental health benefits. I took advantage of the benefit when I had a moment of almost debilitating anxiety. I now work with someone who specializes in eating disorders to help me to cope with the emotional part of this journey. I see a shrink and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Actually I’m pretty proud of myself for setting all self-judgment aside and making the choice to address this aspect of my life. My therapist has helped me with tools to cope with life’s hiccups in a way that will not deter my commitment to keeping the weight off.
Our conversations have been eye-opening, liberating, and cathartic. Her approach to guiding me has not only helped me, but has helped those around me. I never thought that my choices would impact those around me like they have. I would like to think I’m going to live a long life. I know if I work very hard right now at creating a foundation for a healthy balanced life physically, emotionally, and mentally, this lifelong commitment will be less difficult and far less overwhelming.
So looking back on this portion of my journey I have come to the conclusion that just like everyone else, I still have that pesky 20 pounds I would love to part ways with, but it’s a far cry from the 130 pounds I used to carry every moment of my day. I can honestly say I have and will do things I never thought possible. I know that at the end of the day, the number on the scale is a direct result of the food I put in my mouth and the amount to which I move my body. I work hard on many levels to keep up this lifestyle.
Maintaining a healthy body, mind, and spirit are a lifelong commitment that is becoming more and more the norm for me.
How are you making sure that exercise and healthy eating are a part of your norm?