Poll: Would You Gain Weight First in Order to Lose it?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When someone decides that it’s time to start losing weight, what do they do first?  Some with the diet mentality might have a “last hurrah” where they eat a bunch of the junk food they love, thinking that they’ll never get to have those goodies again.  Then they buckle down.  Of course the best route is to develop a lifestyle mentality, knowing that there will always been room for those treats in your diet- in moderation, of course.

For many people, the wake-up call is stepping on the scale and seeing a number that they can no longer tolerate.  In that case, they start down the path of a healthier lifestyle with better food choices and regular exercise, hoping to make that number get smaller.  But would you ever gain weight first in order to lose it?  Sounds strange, but some people are willing to do it in order to qualify for weight loss surgery through their insurance company.  

Many insurance companies have strict policies and will not cover patients for weight loss surgery unless their BMI is between 35 and 40.  Patients tell stories of being turned down for surgery because they had less than 100 pounds to lose.  After gaining more, then they were able to qualify.  There are even websites where people share information about the fastest ways to gain weight- specifically for this purpose.

Doctors discourage these practices for a number of reasons:  it’s not healthy and some insurance companies consider it to be a form of fraud.  They suggest finding other ways to pay for the surgery if a patient doesn’t qualify through insurance.  “The dilemma has been exacerbated by the recent FDA decision, which approved the use of Lap-Band in patients with BMIs as low as 30 with at least one weight-related disease, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. The agency left the BMI level at 40 for heavy but otherwise healthy people.  The move opened the door to an additional 27 million people eligible to access surgery and prompted experts to predict a sudden rush toward lower BMI procedures.”  So far, that increase hasn’t happened.  According to statistics, less than 1% of people who qualify for bariatric surgery actually get it.

Personally, I will always be an advocate for a healthy diet and regular exercise.  I’ve never been in the shoes of someone who has a very large amount of weight to lose, so I will never judge those who choose to have weight loss surgery.  But I think developing a healthy lifestyle mentality is the key to success no matter how you lose the weight, and I have a hard time seeing that mentality in someone who’s willing to gain weight first in order to qualify to lose it.  To me, it just seems like there has to be a better way.

What do you think?

Would you be willing to gain weight in order to qualify for weight loss surgery through your insurance company?

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I think that in weight loss, like in so many other things, people are looking for a magic bullet. They want something that will be a quick fix, rather than a long term change. And the changes demanded by weight loss surgery are not just drastic dietary ones, they are the same mental changes that are needed with any big change in your life. Report
I know several people who have had some form of surgery to reduce their weight. Some were quite successful and others have had nothing but agony because of this. My doctor a couple of years back threw this out at me and I decided right there that even though I was probably a candidate for surgery, there was no way I was going under the knife to lose it. I have struggled to lose about 45 pounds in the past 2-3 years, but each time I take a few off, I feel better about myself. I realize that most of my weight problem is in my head and finally I am in a place where I can work on that problem. Once I get it through my thick head, I know that I can continue to lose weight, no surgery for me, so , no I wouldn't ever gain weight so that I could qualify for surgery. Report
Most doctors I know simply fudge a little on the height to raise the BMI. It probably isn't any more insurance fraud than people intentionally becoming more obese to get a proceedure they want. Report
When I first saw the title of blog " Would You Gain Weight First in Order to Lose it?", I thought yes, I would because I thought that the blog was going to about doing exercises with weights. I know that when you exercise with weights you gain muscle and muscle weighs more. So, I thought, well yes, I would gain weight by exercising with weights. No, I would never ever purposely gain weight to lose weight. Furthermore, I would never have surgery to lose weight. It would be a waste of money to me especially since I realize that my excess pounds are due to my choices. Having surgery would not change my choices. I would only gain the weight back that I lost. I must make changes in my lifestyle to lose weight.
That is just sad...wonder if getting your mouth wired shut is covered.....just a thought Report
I qualified for the surgery having over 100lbs to lose, I wanted so bad to have it done even after hearing a few awful horror stories... I decided that for me this was nothing but another easy way out and if I did have the surgery I'd only be able to eat a spoonful of food at a time then I could do that without the surgery.. Its taken 2 years and down 75lbs but I did not have to have a surgery that goes against nature to bypass my stomach (creating a whole new world of health issues) in order to do it.
I brought all this weight on myself, only I can be the one to take it off. They say the rewards are sweeter when you work for it, they dont even know the half of it :))

Bypass or lap band whichever surgery you are looking to have, try (for real) give it one shot, one month to try doing it on your own before making the final call to undergo the knife.
the last ditch effort often becomes the winning stroke. Report
Reiterating what some others have said, the question is not WHETHER you would have the surgery - it assumes you would be willing to do have the surgery in the first place. Surgery is not an option I would even consider for myself, but having said that, if it WAS, and I was a few pounds away from having insurance cover it, I absolutely would. When I look at what I've paid in insurance premiums over the past 25 years compared to what I've actually COST insurance companies, they're still coming out far ahead... Report
I wouldn't even consider the surgery unless it was absolutely necessary. For instance if this was a life or death issue, immediately because another illness had happened to me, then I would say yes. But if Im honestly ambulant, I have no reason not to just lose weight with diet and exercise which is what you would have to do anyway. I have family members that have had the surgery and are happy but it wasn't for me. But at the same time to intentionally gain weight? I think better time and effort can be used in losing the weight and making lifestyle changes that you would need to make post-surgery Report
I had gastric bypass almost 4 years ago. My BMI was 65. My weight was over 400 lbs. I initially lost 247 lbs, and yes I've gained some back, but I continue to use my bypass as a TOOL to help me control my weight. I attend support groups for people who have had or who are considering bariatric weight-loss surgery, and there are some people who don't meet the BMI requirement, but who are only 10-20 lbs away from it. If I were them, I would definitely gain the 10-20 lbs to meet the requirement, b/c the weight-loss surgery made a HUGE improvement in my life and health. People ask me: if I had to do it over again, would I? and the answer is a resounding YES! Report
NEVER! I've gotten depressed when I gained 20+ lbs due to illness. There's NO WAY I would ever intentionally gain weight! Report
Guess I'm feeling a little sorry for myself, but....I QUALIFY for the creepy surgery, with insurance coverage. I have always felt bariatric surgery was a poor choice, because the people I know who have had it done have returned to poor food choices and gained back serious amounts of weight. Also, like so many other things in our society, if we just throw some money at it, we can make it all better - where is our sensibility, when millions of people on planet earth desperately need the food we consume to get fat and the medical resources we use to get it off of us.

Having said all that, I am actually considering lap-band. I sat at a 38/39 BMI for almost 20 years, have been weight-conscious for that entire time, and have intently focused on my weight for the last 5 or so. For reasons unknown to me, I have jumped to a 42 BMI within the last 6-9 mos. I most certainly did not gain weight to become eligible for surgery. It was actually hard to gain weight, because I don't know how I did it, and each pound added to my sadness and anxiety about my weight. I have just started on Sparkpeople, I am trying in earnest to commit to a healthy food and exercise lifestyle (as I have tried many times in the last 20 yrs), and the process seems so long, painful and joyless, and dependent on me remaining faithful to my commitment (as I have tried to be for the last 20 years).

Frankly, if lap-band or other bariatric surgery can help make me healthier, I guess I need to consider it. And, if gaining these 20 lbs + surgery could have been done 5 years ago, I could have saved myself 5 years of fixation on my weight, and it would have been well worth it. Report
I did gain weight to have surgery 8 years ago. I wanted to make sure I would be covered by my insurance and felt I needed a 10 pound cushion. The insurance company basically told me that. I had the surgery and have used it as a tool to lose 142 pounds. I found SP for the last 50 pounds which I had stalled at. The surgery was a great aid for me but was not the reason I was ultimately successful. It gave me a great 90 pound lose over 2 years. It still boils down to healthy choices in the long run. Several people I have known over my 51 years had the surgery and gained all the weight back plus more. The surgery is no fun. You have to be a little crazy to want to do that to yourself. I was willing to do it because I did not think there was any other choice that would give me the results I wanted. I had not met the SP site yet. I can say from personal experience there are several aspects of gastric bypass that are extremely unpleasant. Some of the bad side effects will be with me for the rest of my life. Given the same set of circumstances I would do it again. Knowing what I know now I would try SP first and then if needed I would do a lapband since the permanent side effects are much less pronounced. I have no regrets though. It took a lifetime of choices to get where I am now. If any choice had been different the outcome might not have been this fantastic. I am a healthy, happy size 4 runner. I have never been happier with my weight and the fact that I can run is still amazing to me. My best advice to anyone is to follow your heart to get where you want to be. Don’t look down at someone for their weight loss choices. Losing 142 isn’t easy no matter how you got there. It took me 7 years to get here. That is not a quick fix. As I always say, “Congrats on your weight lose! That is a great accomplishment!” ‘nuff said! Report
Since the patient has to relearn how to eat after the surgery, why not just relearn that without the expense and trauma of the surgery? (and use that money saved for the great clothes later!) My friends who have had the surgery were drastically overweight and the procedure is intended for those, not those who are less than 100 lbs overweight. Report
My general policy is to never say never...but oddly enough...I did gain weight when I was dating my boyfriend (my husband now), not for surgery but so that I'd have an even number like "one hundred pounds" instead of like "87" pounds. SO STUPID! But that was my state of mind back in the early 1990's. My doctor wrote a prescription to walk 30-45 minutes a day 3-4 days a week which I've not done yet, consistently... but so far I don't have any of the other issues like diabetes or high blood pressure...so I guess she can't ethically even suggest it by the protocols established at the medical facility she works for. Report
For me and my personal journey, I never wanted surgery. BUT, if I did, pre-Spark I would have gained the weight to qualify for it if I was on the cusp. I was in a diet mentality then and could easily see myself thinking, "Well, I'm gaining anyway. What's another 7 pounds?" or something like that. Report
My mom died from complications after weight loss surgery. While it was almost 20 years ago and I'm guessing that things have improved since then, I will never forget my dad, in tears, saying to me, "Promise me that you'll never do this." It's hard but proper diet and exercise for the rest of your life is the best way to go!! Report
Never. I know several people that had the surgery, and even though I would have qualified, I am not going to have surgery for something I have control over. Report
At 375 pounds I considered surgery. Upon investigating the process and results, I decided against it. You still have to control your eating and exercise. It does not always work. Surgery is a RISK. Death on the table is a reality. So I watch what I eat and exercise.
It is my understanding that lifestyle changes need to be made no matter if you have surgery or not. If you make the lifestyle changes without surgery, you're going to take some more time, but ultimately it is safer. I have more than 200 lbs to lose and I would not consider weight loss surgery. I know that when I follow my Spark plan I lose weight. If you have surgery and gain the weight back, you risked your life for nothing. Report
Surgery is not for me. I don't like taking meds.non the less having surgery to lose weight is a cop out to lose weight unless it is a life or death situation I do not think this is a good solution if you don't work at it will you appreciate the weight loss as much Report
Personally, I think something is wrong with someone who believes surgery is the best for everything. Wake up, We're all given a choice to decide what we want and when. Not interested in being carved up especially for a weight problem. I've been battling weight for 30 + years and would NEVER dream of surgery. Everyone to their own opinion and ideas. Report
Absolutely not! I really don't like the idea of any kind of surgery, and I know that some people have a lot of problems after they have this surgery. And even if you have the surgery and don 't have any of the problems afteward, you still need to change your lifestyle and habits or all of the weight is just going to come back so you might as well just make the changes on your own and skip the possible adverse consequences of having your body cut open and having this surgery. Report
Even with surgery, one must make dietary changes. Why not do that without the surgery? You could avoid all of the risks. There's a new hypnosis technique out there called Virtual Gastric Band Hypnosis. It's actually more effective than the surgery, and without the risks of surgery. Report
I'm well over 100 pounds overweight. Or was when I started all this. My insurance would have paid for surgery but NO other help EVEN after heart 'intervention-stent', there was no help with diet, exercise, lifestyle other than the Cardiologist telling me to eat less salt, lose weight and exercise. ..

Sooo, If i had FAILed at trying to take off the pounds. So far 40 down. IF i Do fail at taking off the pounds on my own with help of family and spark and a few other things, which I hope I don't, I might just get myself BACK up to the place that the doctors feel is 'BAD' enough for the only help they offer for obesity via that insurance.

Sounds like Fraud, but really, don't you think that the person who is doing this truly NEEDS help? Truly needs support? Perhaps you decide their surgery is not the best way to go, but I've seen great success with it, also sad failings. I've walked in those shoes and could see myself going there if I ended up in those size 7.5s again.

dDawn em>67 /em> Report
Diet and exercise!!!! There are no miracle cures. Report
Diet and exercise!!!! There are no miracle cures. Report
Assuming I wanted the surgery (which we need to assume or the question isn't worth asking), it depends upon how much I'd need to gain. If it were 10 pounds, then I'd probably do it, but if it were forty, then no. Report
While I am sure surgery is helpful--even necessary--for some people, I would NEVER undergo it myself. When push comes to shove, it would be almost a kind of cosmetic surgery--the inner changes would not have been made--in own case (the only one I can really speak to), let me hasten to say. Report
I not only wouldn't cheat to have the surgery; I wouldn't have the surgery, period. Several surgeons around here advertise, making all kinds of promises, so I know many people who have fallen for their claims. On the positive side two were morbidly obese (400+ pounds) diabetics who were highly motivated to lose weight or die, and both these people so far are sticking to their diets and benefitting. On the negative side, one young woman died of a blood clot following her surgery and another had to have subsequent surgeries because of scar tissue creating a blockage. Many others, who very well may have been looking for an easier way to avoid diet and exercise, regained their weight. One friend told me that she can graze on chocolate ice cream or pudding all night long, but can no longer eat hulled vegetables like corn , beans, or peas or chewy meats like steak or shrimp without pain. Her eating habits actually became worse after the surgery and she is now larger than when she had it. Conclusion, with or without bariatric surgery, you have to be well-motivated to stick to healthy eating and exercise to succeed, and you can't get around that simple fact. More important conclusion, choose your surgeon carefully, not every surgeon who advertises is as skilled with these procedures as he claims. Report
A friend died from weight loss surgery. It's not worth that risk. Report
There is always the chance that "something" can go wrong at any time you are put under anesthesia....I struggled with that possibility when having surgery for a torn rotatory cuff..........I put the surgery off till I could no longer stand the pain. Unless there is no other choice to take I would not myself take that chance Report
It's a very sad state of affairs when medical treatments are decided by a third party and not between the doctor and patient. It puts people's health at greater risk, just to satisfy the insurance companies' bottom line. That's simply wrong. Report
I normally eat the things that I enjoy that I would not be able to eat, however this is not for me to gain the weigh. It makes it easier for me to stay commited as I don't feel the temptation to eat them for the craving is not there. It is a life style change which does allow you to eat things that are unhealthy in moderation; everything in moderation. Unfortunately, I've herd this to be true. Report
I have lost 70+ pounds doing it the Spark way. I want to be healthy and living healthy. It never occurred to me to even consider the surgery and I still have 35lbs to go before I reach my goal weight. I will keep plugging along with my spark recipes, workouts and support teams. It might be a while but I will get there and learned a great deal along the way. Report
No. My joints wouldn't have allowed it. Report
I weighed enough to qualify for the surgery (and then some). As others pointed out it's trying to take a shortcut to health, which really isn't possible.

Yes, I qualified, but I want health on my terms. Pure, long-standing, forever health. A change in my habits, not something where you're going to cut into me now and then again in a few years when I've learned nothing and am back on the same path I was before.

I may not make it this time, either, but it will not be for lack of trying. SparkPeople is definitely helping in this and so is my better half. Report
I would qualify but do not want to go to surgery seen to many people get it done and then have health issues later on or put the weight back on Report
As a WW leader for a few years I had members who came because they had to try to lose the weight first by a safe method and I had members who had had bariatric surgery and were regaining. Those who were there before the surgery usually did not really try to follow the program. The thing is...if you have to follow a strict, low portion diet after the surgery why not do that before you need the surgery? (And neither SP or WW advocate such a low calorie diet anyway!) Sooner or later it comes down to learning to look at food a different way and controlling your intake. A family member had the surgery and still regained all the weight back and then some. I can understand the desperation some people feel and do not mean to be unsympathetic, just realistic. Report
I've already weighed over 200+ pounds twice in my life. I don't think I'd like to experience it a third time. I've read about this trainer. I understand his motivation and appreciate his wanting to be more empathetic. But, it's just not healthy. The good thing is that because he was already very fit, his body will respond well when he returns to his healthy life style.

This is not something I would do, nor would I recommend it. I understand walking a mile in my shoes, but that's taking it a bit too far. Report
I wouldn't gain weight to have the surgery. I had the option to pursue surgery but could no bring myself to do something so permanent and dangerous when I know how mixed the results can be. Weight loss surgery can work for some people, but I believe they are capable of doing it on their own, those for whom the procedure is a failure will fail at conventional weight loss too. Surgery without a change in lifestyle is doomed to failure. I don't need surgery to make a lifestyle change.

Perhaps those who are so obese that they have a hard time moving are those who would benefit from the procedure. A person weighing 500+ pounds and can't move has a hard time exercising. The surgery to jump start the weight loss to the point where they can become active enough to move is where I see a potential benefit, and those people don't have to gain more weight for the surgery. Report
When I weighed 214#, before I joined Sparks, the doctor told me that I'd have to gain up to 235# to quality to have weight loss surgery, which I'd never have anyway, but he said if I was at 235# (I'm 5'4") that I'd be over 100# & could get the surgery.
Since half of all people who have the surgery regain all the weight again after two years, I'd never have it in the first place. $30,000 for the procedure is a lot of money even having the insurance cover it. Report
I had a gastric bypass in 2005. I was told to lose 10 lbs before he would do the surgery even though I qualified with my insurance. I went through weeks of working with a dietitian , a psycologist , my internest and a physical therapy before and after.. I think it is insane to gain even more weight to try and qualify for the surgery. This is not a quick fix. Report
No way! seeing how big a difference each lb makes and how very difficult it is to begin, would never go that direction willingly! I know someone with the surgery and it is sad how unnatural their diet has to be now. Little bird amounts. Report
No, I would not gain weight for weight-reduction surgery. I admit, I have many negative judgments about such surgeries. I did investigate them when I was in my "diet" mode... always looking for the quick and easy fix.

And always relapsing to stuffing myself.

Researching these procedures and especially getting to know people who have had them have caused me to make a presumption against them. The "side" effects are gruesome. And worse, you can go through the surgery, damage your body, suffer consequences for the rest of your life AND STILL BE OVERWEIGHT. I recently made a new friend who is quite overweight. He had gastric bypass surgery years ago. His house is filled with bags of potato chips; he loves to bake and consume pies, breads and rich desserts. You can still stuff yourself and abuse food with a surgically altered digestive system. My heart aches for him. He is one of the sweetest, kindest people you could ever know. Yet without a spiritual/mental change he is doing the same thing and getting the same results, just with added suffering.

I would hope anyone considering these surgeries would gift him or herself with behavioral and cognitive approaches to weight loss (especially the programs available through SparkPeople) before going under the knife. Report
i am currently going through the process for weight loss surgery. In my case, it is not a quick fix, but a last resort. Report
I think that gaining weight in order to qualify for the surgery is cheating. By doing so you don't get to learn about what it takes to live a healthy lifsestyle. It annoys me more when people actually just pay to get the surgery done when they are way under the criteria. Obviously if you don't qualify it means you are probably, more than likely, capable of losing the weight with some hard work and determination. My mum's friend had a band fitted just because she was scared of putting all the weight on again after almost starving herself for months. What made it worse was that she lied to everybody about it! Sorry but this is a topic that always gets me going. I can't afford to even consider it and I definitely wouldn't gain weight to get it. I'd rather work my butt off and enjoy the sense of achievement... Report
I can't see myself doing it, but to gain ten pounds or less to save thousands of dollars would be tempting. Report
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