A lot of people who embark on a dramatic weight loss journey do it for a variety of reasons. Health is, of course, a strong focus. Carrying excessive weight can put a lot of pressure on your body. But physical health isn’t the only reason why we want to lose weight.
I am ashamed of the person in the mirror.
I can’t stand what I have become.
I hate my body.
Is this negative self-talk familiar to you? Rest assured you’re not the only person with a negative body image. Most of us want to lose weight to reconnect with ourselves. We hope we’ll be able to love ourselves at the end of our weight loss journey.
Bumps in the road on your weight loss journey
Healthcare specialists can’t ignore the complex connection between weight and self-esteem. According to a Canadian study, patients who undergo bariatric surgery are 50% more likely to exhibit self-harming tendencies within the years that follow the procedure.
Over 9 in 10 patients were diagnosed with mental illness such as depression and eating disorders, in the 5-years BEFORE bariatric surgery.
Unfortunately, bariatric surgery doesn’t magically erase these issues. If you did not love the person you were before surgery, then you are unlikely to wake up post-surgery with a different opinion.
So, please, make self-care a priority on your weight loss journey and heal your mind and your body. Make negative self-talk a bump in the road, not a road block.
Accept this is a long-term process for mind and body
We must appreciate that bariatric surgery is a long-term process. And it does not remove excess weight overnight. Professionals, such as the Bariatric Experts, are dedicated to helping people lose weight gradually at a sustainable and achievable pace. This is an empowering in your weight loss journey because you see steady results.
But weight loss doesn’t cure insecurity and low self-esteem. Some patients find it hard to accept their new body after bariatric surgery. This is true despite that they didn’t like their bodies before the weight loss. In this case, losing weight doesn’t change how they feel about themselves.
In this emotional roller-coaster, you want to surround yourself with positive support. Reaching out to a therapist can make a huge difference in your perception of self-worth.
Don’t punish yourself with excessive workouts
Being active is an essential element of a healthy lifestyle. In many ways, people who are candidates for bariatric surgery have been struggling to stay active. It is a vicious cycle: You need to be active to lose weight, but you need to lose weight to be active.
Therefore, it is not uncommon for bariatric patients to want to forego recovery and take back control of their bodies. This is a destructive attitude, both for mind and body. Firstly, it creates a self-damaging relationship to fitness, making it a punishment rather than a positive lifestyle habit.
Secondly, you need to be gentle with yourself to heal. If you push yourself too much after bariatric surgery, you are likely to exhaust and injure yourself. Going gently will ensure you can develop your strength and your love for fitness. Always follow your surgeon’s guidance on beginning exercise.
And perhaps look for a personal trainer who understands the challenges you face? A fitness trainer who specializes in workouts for bariatric patients can help build a healthy fitness routine.
Don’t let fear dictate your diet
Weight gain is often triggered by an unhealthy relationship to food, such as emotional eating. However, the response to an unhealthy diet is not discipline but mindfulness.
Discipline can lead to excessive food and calorie control, which is another way of punishing your body. Fear of gaining weight can trigger an eating disorder that interferes with your physical and psychological health. Indeed, many patients are at risk of developing postoperative anorexia if they don’t receive support.
According to Dr. Sara Niego, medical director of the Eating Disorders Program, obese individuals who had bariatric surgery seek treatment for eating disorders several years after the procedure. Over one-third of people who binge ate before surgery still feel out of control about food after surgery. As Niego explains: Surgery doesn’t cure the mental disorder that dictates your relationship to food. Without dedicated support, you can’t create a healthy and mindful diet.
Bottom line on your weight loss journey
Bariatric surgery is life-changing treatment. Yet, without a positive mental health support system you can’t erase self-defeating behaviors. Fear, low self-esteem, and unrealistic expectations can affect your mental health and your post-surgery life. It is important to remember that you don’t embark on a weight loss journey to earn the right to love yourself. Therefore, your first priority is to learn to love yourself if you’re going to turn your bariatric surgery into a long-term success.