No to Weight Loss Surgery

I have a little time so I wanted to post about a topic I’ve had to consider over the last two years.   Recently I had another doctor suggest gastric bypass surgery as a solution to my weight loss (I’ve had 4 doctors suggest it in the last 3 years).  This is a personal decision that everyone must make for themselves but let me explain why I chose to do things the old fashioned way:

1. My goal in starting this journey was not to be skinny.  I did this because I felt GOOD about myself, not the other way around.  It was to become active, and I have done that.  I wanted to be able to do more- to go surfing, to try rock climbing, to swim  a mile, and I’ve done all 3!

If you have not worked out the mental and emotional sides of weight loss/weight gain a dramatic weight loss via surgery will not permanently solve those problems.

2. You have all of these strange restrictions after getting the surgery like not mixing fluids with food. Plus you can only eat 3/4-1 cup of food at each meal.  (In truth the surgery just forces you to drastically restrict your calorie intake). Many who have the surgery develop nutrient deficiencies and have to take shots and supplements.

3. Because your fluids are limited exercise can be difficult and painful. (They recommend taking an hour to drink 8 ounces of water!).

4. Surgery always has risks (My former roommate had gastric bypass and as a result got addicted to lortab and is now deceased, so that should be reason enough for me to be cautious.).

5. You cannot take any anti-inflamatories because of risk of bleeding and ulcers. With  my fibromyalgia this would be a terrible problem. (even though I try to avoid any drugs sometimes the pain is too great)

6. Many people have to get multiple surgeries.

7. The stomach organs are very sensitive to infection, irritation and problem.  (Gastric bypass is the only surgery I am aware of that purposefully hampers a human organ from fully functioning. This can’ t help but cause some trauma to the human body).

8. My situation is not serious enough to require it.  For example, my A1C is a doing well at 5.3.  Most people who qualify for gastric bypass have much higher A1Cs and have as a goal getting below 6.  I seem to be able to control my diabetes symptoms on my own. I have also lost 53 lbs in the last 3 years and expect more progress to come.

9.  I want my victory to be my own, not at the hands of a surgeon’s scalpel.  If it takes me 10 years to reach my ideal weight it will be worth it. I will be able to tell my nieces that they can overcome any challenge on their own (with support from family and friends of course)

10. Hashimoto’s disease (thyroid disease), and other violent gastrointestinal diseases can result from gastric bypass. With autoimmune and irritable bowel problems running in my family I feel it is best to tread lightly in this area of the body.

11. I basically think it is forced anorexia.  Sorry but that’s how I feel.  In fact, there are cases of women developing eating disorders after the surgery.   They even have a name for it Acute Psychotic Disorder After Gastric Bypass Surgery. Eating right is a constant battle but its a battle worth engaging in. The way I am doing it I am learning how to eat for my specific body all the time, not to recover from a surgery.

12.  I hate surgeries and don’t respond well to anesthesia.

13.  Its very expensive.  From what I’ve read costing between $10,000 to $30,000, which I don’t have and if I did I would use it to get more training time, travel time, and go to that open water swim camp in Coasta Rica, or I’d love to do all the open waters swims in Hawaii. (I’ve got lots of dreams!).

14. I’ve gotten everything I want out of the program I’m currently doing.  Even if the weight loss is slow and can be frustrating, would I not have most of those frustrations in a different way post-surgery?  I like my life.  I’m active and happy and think I look cute in clothes so I don’t feel a need.

15. The surgical starvation only works for about 6-9 months and then you are back to maintaining on your own.  Not worth it for me. Sorry!

16.  You can die from the surgery, and not always right away.  I was just reading about a lady who died 3 years later from complications.

17.  Gastric bypass does not change your brain.  You still crave all the same things, you just can’t eat them.  Sure once you can eat more you might hold fast for a while but how long will your brain and body cave?  I prefer to work with the brain first and focus on changing the cravings.  That’s why I did the sugar fast and will probably do it again.

18.  I’m happy with who I am and the health trajectory that I am on.  (Ok.  I might have repeated that one twice but it is true. I’m healthy, all my vitals are normal.  I’m not a diabetic risk anymore.  There is no reason for great alarm or drastic measures.

Like I said, everyone has to make their own decision and this is mine.  I chose to not have gastric bypass and try my best to keep up an active lifestyle instead.  I believe this is the choice God wants me to make for me.  Every person must address their health in his or her own way.  This is just my conclusion.  No gastric bypass surgery for me.I’d take sore muscles and a low GI diet any day of the week.

Good luck as you make your choices.

There's a smile on my face!

14 thoughts on “No to Weight Loss Surgery

  1. Heidi Bendixen Linton- Well put. I completely understand where you’re coming from. You’re doing what you need to do to be healthy. I wouldn’t do anything to hamper your success and I believe bypass surgery would do that.

    1. Thanks. Congrats on your success too. It is such a tough thing isn’t it? Every pound is a victory but also every second off my swim times or a bunch of other indicators. Do you sometimes struggle with how much time the whole weight loss thing takes out of your life? It is totally all encompassing. Aside from work and church it rules my life. At least I rediscovered swimming which has been great physically and socially.

      1. I do find that it takes a lot of time, but I took a big step back to see where that time is really coming from. It was time on the couch, surfing the web, etc. I didn’t lose any precious time with friends or family which helped a lot.

        I also like to think of time I gained in working out. I know don’t spend an hour trying to find pants that fit, or a top to cover the rolls, etc. It takes me no time to get ready and I’m happy and confident all day instead of feeling ashamed and insecure.

        1. Good points. I was a pretty confident big girl but it has been nice to feel thinner and be able to wear more clothes. (Although my fashion is most of the time athletic wear and I smell like chlorine half the time!).
          What I like to think about is that I used to be great and now I’m even better. Now I can do things like surfing that I never could be fore. My options in life have been expanded. That makes the sacrifice of time feel more worthwhile.
          Still, sometimes it can be overwhelming and the journey feels super long.

  2. Yeah. That’s a very tough decision. I know a few people who have gone that route and it’s been hit and miss on if it worked out for them or not. You bring up an excellent point on the exercise, though. Being someone who drinks fluids like a camel, I don’t think I could handle having to monitor my intake that closely. It would definitely limit exercise and/or make it more difficult or even dangerous.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I’m the same way with fluids. If I’m not drinking enough I get woozy real quick and have fainted before. I think most people who are interested in the surgery don’t exercise as much as we do so that isn’t a factor.

      The sad thing about my roommate is I saw pictures of her presurgery and she wasn’t what I would call fat but somehow she got approved for the surgery. It was very clear that she had a wide range of mental and psychological problems that were never addressed and I think everyone assumed would go away if she was skinny. I know her case is an extreme example but when you’ve lived with something like that its hard to get it out of your head.

      I know its a tough decision for anyone but there are people who take surgery very lightly. The other day I was commenting on an article that my friend had posted about breast augmentation. All of these people were comparing it to getting a hair cut! Take the risk if you want but at least acknowledge that it exists.

      I have my days where I wish I was thinner. Mostly because its so hard to get the attention from boys I would like. (Everyone thinks you lose 50 lbs you will start dating up a storm. Not true). However, in general I feel good about myself and could live the way I am for the rest of my life. I feel healthy and happy. There’s a great book Health at Every Size that gives scientific evidence that health can be achieved at any size. I found it very motivating.

      Anyway, thanks again for the comment.

      1. Absolutely. There are more and more studies that are coming that, which say that health should be linked more toward your heart and cardiovascular fitness than your weight. Basically, you don’t have to be small to be healthy. As long as you exercise regulary and at least try to eat better (which we all could probably do better), you are still a lot less likely to die at age 50. Haha.

        1. Agreed. Cardiovascular and muscular strength is the most important thing. Weight loss is still a good goal and definitely very pleasant. 🙂 I just learned that it is one of many gauges to look at when observing our health. Some people seem to need surgery to be happy. I can be happy looking the way I look. Maybe that’s because its the way I’ve always looked. I’ve never known a skinny Rachel!
          I do hate when I feel judged because of my weight. There are all kinds of stigmas out there and I hope by my blog I fight a few of those. I want someone to read it, see me at the gym or at a swim and think ‘wow, a big girl can do that. Maybe I can too’

  3. In the end we have to be happy with who we are and nothing will give that easily to any of us- no surgery, relationship even religion. It takes effort to love ourselves in full technicolor. As Oscar Wilde says “it takes great courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.”. That includes all our frailties- fat, diabetes, sugar cravings, relationship disasters, whatever. (and I by no means am perfect at this all the time but in general I have a pretty healthy self image and I have since I was little).
    TV would have you believe that you have to feel bad about yourself to lose weight, kind of like an addict at an intervention. I have never found this to be the case (53 lbs down and going strong!). It wasn’t until I was in a great place that I decided to conquer the great challenge of my life. If surgery is a piece of the puzzle to finish a healthy self image than so be it but make no mistake it will not be a bandaid to the emotional and spiritual work that will have to come to achieve real success.
    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! As Oscar Wilde also said ‘To love one’s self is the beginning of a life-long romance’. 🙂

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