Now that I’m nearly 7 years out I can say this pretty confidently. In my first few years I THOUGHT I had it all together. I went to the gym regularly. I followed all the rules my bariatric surgeon gave me. I “ate to live instead of living to eat” because “nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”
Bullcrap. Plenty of things taste as good as thin feels. Especially when you don’t really know WHAT thin feels like.
So here I am before you today as both a failure and a success. I’m a failure by the measure of the whole “X lbs. GONE FOREVER!” I’m a success because I’m still in this, fighting.
But what I realize from this side of the coin is that I had a serious case of overconfidence. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s easy to make good food choices when you’re chemically wired to be indifferent to food (as I was for a good five or six months post-op). It’s easy to stay motivated to work out when the scale is tumbling down, down, down. It’s easy to pass judgment on others when things are going very well for you.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is NOT an admonishment to newbies. I think the elation and optimism we feel at the outset of this process is good. But many of us just can’t sustain that and end up depressed, unmotivated, turning back toward old, familiar habits.
So how do we stop this? Well, I think you guys are doing a bang-up job of it from what I can see. When I was a new post-op I, along with many others, was lost. Just lost. I thought if I did things perfectly I’d get a perfect result. And from THAT I figured if I did things more than perfectly I’d get even better results. So I went HARD. I exercised every day, twice a day, often neglecting other things I needed to do to put in extra time at the gym.
I counted every single calorie that went into my mouth and I manipulated my eating to keep it in certain ranges. I weighed obsessively (and by saying that I’m NOT accusing you all of doing so – although some of you may – but I am saying that I did). But none of that was sustainable.
Life is a b*tch, Foodies. And it doesn’t stop just because you’ve decided to embrace positivity. For my part, I lost my house to the housing market bubble. My mom died. I went through periods of depression about both of those things and that hyper-schedule I was keeping was just too much. And because I thought I had to be beyond perfect, if I couldn’t be, I decided I wasn’t going to do anything at all.
These days I’ve come back to the middle of the road. I go to the gym a few times a week. I try to move my body in non-exercise ways fairly often. I make time to mentally decompress. And I still practice some of the habits I did before (for instance, whether I write it on a piece of paper, use a food journal or check in on various FB groups, I do still take note of what I eat). But you know the best thing about what I do now? I know I can do it. I’ve faced tough times since I tried to be more reasonable and I’ve been able to stick with the things I do.
But more than that, I have examined – and am still examining – the WHY. Why is food my go-to? What drives me to it? What are other ways to deal with life other than eating? What will be hard about choosing another path and how do I get around that? THAT’S the head work. It doesn’t have much to do with WHAT you put in your mouth but WHY you put anything in there at all.
So I hope you all really gave that issue some thought today. I always say there are many things that have the power to make us fail after WLS. Food is actually not one of them! Food is the weapon you use. Find the motive to use the weapon and you can win the fight.