Gastric Bypass surgery.  Yep, I want to talk about my opinion on bariatric surgery.

First, let me preface this by saying that I’ve known 4 people–quite well–who have had this procedure.  I also do medical billing for my aunt, who does the psychological testing prior to surgery.  I am privy to these files and MANY, MANY times, I see women with my exact stats preparing for surgery: Under 30, on the low end of 5 feet tall and 230-250lbs.  Exactly where I used to be.  Old me. 

I am not judging people who chose to have this surgery but I’ll come right out and say it.  99 times out 100, I’m against gastric bypass*.   Why?  Because it doesn’t fix what’s going on in your brain!  No matter how small your stomach is, you need to know *why* your are overeating.  There are claims that it’s a “tool.”  As I see it, gastric bypass allows you to avoid your unhealthy relationship with food.

If this blog is any indication, I’ve learned so much about myself in the last 9 months. 

  • What it feels like to pick myself up when I fail instead of burying my head in the fridge.
  • How awesome it is to accomplish something I didn’t think I could do.
  • How satisfying it is to see muscles emerging where flesh just hung.
  • That my mind is much more powerful than I ever gave it credit for before.
  • I’m worth improving.
  • that eating healthy is not a difficult or tasteless.
  • When I am strong, I feel better about myself.  When I feel better about myself, I am happier.  When I am happier, it rubs off on others. I’m so much more positive in spirit now and it’s contagious.  I love that.
  • I’ve learned that I can stop myself from snacking oblivion (I still have to make a conscious decision not to, but I now know I can)
  • I am capable of amazing things!

Could I have learned some of these things if I had taken the Gastric Bypass Route?  Maybe–I doubt the exercise ones, though.  Before I was fit, I thought exercise was a joke.  I’m fairly certain that if I had taken that route, I probably wouldn’t have exercised much.  And now, it’s just so ingrained in my daily life that I hardly remember life before fitness.  I love being strong and capable.  I love pushing and achieving. 

That’s what we need to do with these fat teenagers to build self-esteem and teach good habits!  There is nothing like the endorphin high I get when I am enjoying my exercise–I swear it could move mountains of self-loathing in others if I could bottle it! 

And I guess when I boil this issue down to it’s essence, I am sad that many GB patients  (at least the 4 I know personally) seem to not  learn these lessons that have been so instrumental in my journey.  I think it’s a crying shame that insurance will pay for GB long before it would ever pay for a team of therapist, nutritionist & trainer.  And honestly, I hope medicine advances enough that in 20 years, GB will sound ridiculously outdated and barbaric, kinda like bloodletting sounds to us now. 

Really and truly, I want to be gentle and not hurt anyone’s feelings because the four people I know who have had GB are great people and I care for them.  And  because I *was* that person–fat, unhappy with my body, on the brink of sink or swim. I so get it.  Really, I do.

Often, I have heard that a patient has “tried everything.”  How could that be?  Have the GB patients* truly “tried everything?”  I can’t help but think they haven’t.  Because if they had addressed ALL areas–mental, physical and dietary, then success would be MUCH more likely, wouldn’t it?   Oprah calls it the “aha moment.”  Something about the mentality surrounding  GB feels like a runaway train–you can’t stop it even if you want to.  I just want to scream–IT’S NOT LIKE THAT!  You can stop it with self-examination.  There is no surgery for that.  There’s no short cut. 

 But gosh, is it rewarding.

Hitting publish and hoping that I haven’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

*I do understand that there are people who are at a point where the surgery is the only option.  Unfortunately, I believe there are actually very few of those patients.