Kick-Start to a New Life
Bariatric surgery can be a great kick-start for people who have been struggling with eating issues. After your surgery, your stomach is a fraction of the size it used to be, so portion control is much easier. Remember, though, that it is only the beginning. I like to draw a comparison to the alcoholic who moves across the country in order to get sober. Yes, you took yourself out of your old environment and put yourself in a position to learn a new way of living. But you’ve still got a drinking problem. You’ve still got work to do. Just like that newly recovering alcoholic, the bariatric patient has a whole new set of struggles to work through. Here are some tips to help navigate your new life.
Set Realistic Goals and Track Your Progress
This one hits home for me as I couldn’t make any headway in the gym until I started doing these things. You’re not going to run a marathon tomorrow. But you could in a year or two if you want it, set a plan, and put in the work. Start small and increase in increments. And keep a journal! It is so satisfying to see those little victories adding up on the page. The flipside benefit is taking a few too many “rest days,” seeing an increasing number of zeros creeping in, and knowing you need to re-focus. Either way, the numbers don’t lie and they’ll help hold you accountable.
Learn to Love the Camera
Take pictures before your operation and take even more pictures afterward. This is another way of tracking your progress, but it’s also a way of staying connected to your past. To draw another substance abuse recovery parallel, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous talks about not regretting the past, nor wishing to shut the door on it. And “playing the tape back” is a well-known and oft-used tactic in the recovery toolbox. It’s good to remind yourself where you were, where old behaviors got you, and why you’re currently living a new way.
According to a study conducted by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, one in five people who had bypass surgery met the criteria for alcohol use disorder at some point within five years having the procedure, despite having no prior alcohol issues. One in five! Your stomach isn’t what it used to be, and it doesn’t absorb alcohol at the same rate anymore. In another study, women who had had bypass surgery were hooked up to catheters to collect and analyze their blood and were then given one screwdriver apiece. Each had blood alcohol levels over the legal driving limit within minutes. Alcohol is a pretty powerful drug as it is and after bariatric surgery, it’s just not worth the risk.
Remember You’re Not Alone
You have family and friends who care about you. There are support groups consisting of people who have walked down the same roads you have. All you have to do is hold out your hand and open your mouth. There are more people who are happy to help than you realize. And if you feel your struggles are a little too intense, professional therapy is a solid option. D’Amore Healthcare specifically tailors their Whole Person™ Bariatric Program to the needs of the post-procedure bariatric patient. A new life can be overwhelming, so if you or someone you love feels like extra help is needed, don’t hesitate to give us a call today.