It is an unfortunate truth that weight loss surgery comes with a certain stigma. Other people can assume that the patient was too lazy to lose weight on their own, or that they simply took the "easy way" out. So it can be difficult to “come out” as someone who has had bariatric surgery.
One of the first decisions someone considering surgery has to make is when to tell the people around them that they are going under the knife. Clearly, I could not have hidden the fact that I did something to achieve a 100 lb. weight loss - that doesn’t go unnoticed by those around you. However, the decision of when to tell people was definitely something I thought about.
The reason I held off sharing was because I thought that many people would feel that surgery was drastic and unnecessary. Having lost a great deal of weight in the past, some people figured I could easily do it again. What they didn’t know was that it was a very hard process that I was unable to maintain over time. In the end, I decided to tell my spouse, a few very close friends, my immediate family and the co-workers who would be directly affected by my absence.
The weight loss and drastic change in my eating habits were obvious, so I slowly shared the news with others as the need arose. While many friends were surprised, they were also overwhelmingly supportive. In hindsight, I probably didn’t need to keep the surgery quiet for as long as I did, but I didn’t want to chance having to face naysayers. What I found helpful was to have a response ready for those who asked why I had surgery. My reply is, “I’ve tried for years to lose weight and I was tired of fighting that battle. I finally decided to take control and do something I knew would work as long as I did.” Then we usually discuss my new eating plan, why I cook more now than ever and what I do to stay successful.
Some people feel very comfortable sharing their decision to have surgery, so it really depends on your own situation. I recommend that you have an answer prepared for those who may not be as enthusiastic as you’d like them to be. In the end, it isn’t about what others think, but how you feel, that really matters. Nine times out of 10 I know that how I look and feel has convinced people that this was the best decision I could have made!
Weight loss update: I finally broke a long plateau and saw 159.5 on the scale today! 101.5 pounds down!
- Written by Bettina M. Straight, Employee Engagement and Communications Consultant, Human Resources, LifeBridge Health
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