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Why I Will Never Undergo a Weight-Loss Procedure

Thursday, April 18, 2013

OK, I will be the first to admit it: I used to get REALLY impatient by my slow progress, and it still chafes from time to time. That impatience used to be strong enough to make a girl consider more drastic measures including, albeit only occasionally, weight loss surgery. Then, I read some blogs. Then, I read even more scientific articles. Then, a friend had the Roux-en-Y (with horrible complications that nearly killed her AND she didn't keep much of the weight off!). The bottom line decision I made many years ago: weight loss surgery was NOT for me. I wanted to do it myself, and I wanted to do it safely. I admit I now have some pride that whenever people ask me why I don't have bariatric surgery (and, yes, they DO ask), I answer: because I'm doing it all by myself. Sure, it's slow, but it's all me.

Well, last week the Wall Street Journal (not exactly my news source of choice) published an article about new types of weight loss procedures: all using devices and endoscopes. Furthermore, all are reversible and can be done primarily outpatient. So, I read the article (which you can find here:

I hate to admit it, I was a little intrigued. Thankfully, I am over my desire for a "quick fix", but still a small part of me was asking: Could this maybe help? Could it cut my (currently projected) four years for loss down to, say, 2.5? Sure, I don't want to lose weight super quickly any more because I want it to be safe and life-long... but what if it could go just a *little* faster with some medical help?

But the more of this article I read, the more I started thinking, "But why does FAST loss matter so much?" That was what each of these procedures touted: fast loss, some of them "even faster" than surgical methods.

Why was speed THAT important?

Imagine I have diabetes from obesity. Thankfully I don't (yet?), but let's say I do. Let's also say I have high cholesterol and high blood pressure (again, I don't). Would FAST weight loss change any of this so much faster than slower, but steadier, loss?

From what I know about physiology, I'm inclined to say no. I really don't think that losing 200 pounds in 1 year over 3 years is going to cure you of those diseases any more quickly. In fact, I can think of more problems that rapid loss would introduce that the slow loss wouldn't.

#1: SKIN. Skin-reduction is a huge issue for people, even younger people, with rapid loss. A part of me is really excited that my super steady loss may mean that I have less baggy skin at the end.

#2: MUSCLE TONING. If you're losing weight and toning concurrently, not only do you minimize issue #1 with skin, but you're a healthier, fitter person when you finally reach goal weight. Losing weight so fast, on the other hand, means you could not have exercised or toned the equivalent amount you would in 3 years of steady loss. Furthermore, your body would be shocked by the sudden decrease in food... and fatigue and sluggishness can be a real problem after weight-loss procedures, at least at first.

#3: HABITS. If you're losing weight quickly and effortlessly because of a device, and it's reversible, AND you could always have it done again... and again... what possible incentive is there to CHANGE YOUR LIFE? I'm not implying that people undergoing these procedures don't change habits. I know many do. I know about the mandatory counseling. I know, for many, it is the best option. And I respect that. But, I could see that with these new procedures, we may have to be even more cautious in the screening process. Otherwise, it could just turn into an enabling device, rather than a weight loss device.

For me, it really comes down to #3 as to why I will never, ever elect for a weight loss procedure. Well, that and self-pride and self-love. I'm not turning my nose up at it, and I know it helps people. But, for me, it wouldn't help. I know that about myself. Sure, I have good habits now. I might even pass the mandatory counseling just fine. But it's not for me. **I** still need to be the one who does this. I still need to be the one who takes complete responsibility for every morsel that goes in my mouth and every calorie I burn. It's not just about control. It's about learning to love and care for myself. If I had a device implanted, it would be the device forcing me to take care of myself, not ME. I wouldn't be healing myself emotionally as well as physically in the same way that I am by doing this one pound, one day, one step, one breath at a time.

So, yes, my loss is slow, but it's steady. I'm beating this. I deserve to fight this hard for myself and my health.

And, hey, maybe my skin won't be so loose when I'm done, either. emoticon emoticon

Here's hoping!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love all of your reasons here. I have always had very negative feelings towards weight loss surgery, but had never really thought about why. I think you just put my feelings into words. I know a few people that have had a lot of success with the surgeries, but many more that didn't change anything and put most of the weight back on. I also know so many people that are miserable because of the complications or the excess skin. I always felt that I would be happier knowing that I lost weight by myself through hard work-even if it takes a while. Great post!
    1861 days ago
    Bravo! I'm in the same boat as you. I recognize that weight-loss surgeries can and do help some people improve their health and quality of life. But I also recognize that these procedures aren't right for me, personally. I want the satisfaction of working hard (sometimes VERY hard) and meeting a goal on my own. I want to learn sustainable healthy habits for life. I want to be healthier and not just lighter.
    1862 days ago
    Good for you! I decided against going under the knife, too. There's a certain amount of risk, painful recovery, and complications of the procedure itself (e.g., post-op "dumping syndrome"). I had to address the habits that put the weight on in order to get the pounds off...and keep them that way. You're very wise!
    1862 days ago
    Absolutely agree! Of course it would be nice to lose all the weight instantly but I feel like I'm loving my body more by taking this slow journey with it and appreciating how to eat properly, and watching my endurance and strength improve. It's more than weight loss it's about understanding and taking care of your mind and body together. Thanks for this motivating blog!
    1862 days ago
    You can do it... Too many people always look for the easiest and quick fix. We as a society was an instantaneous result. I'm with you though. I choose to lose my pounds through diet and exercise. Because through all my trials and errors I have learned what works, and I'm learning to instill better habits for a healthier lifestyle.

    My ex mother in law had bariatric done, I can't remember which method, and she lost almost 200 lbs. of which she has gained 50 of them back. Because she fell right back into her old lifestyle.
    1862 days ago
    I have a lot of similar reasons for not choosing it either; I keep reading stories of people who gain back the weight or who lose it fast but then aren't happy with who they are because they have no idea how to live as a thinner person and havent worked through the issues that led them to be obese initially. For me, the possible risks of the surgery are a definite deterrant but I also know it has to be a mind and life change and there is that skin issue as you pointed out. It's great that it works for some people, but like you I really want to lose it without surgery.

    Yes you do deserve to do this for yourself; and to decide how you want to do it!
    1862 days ago
    I think your third reason is exactly why I won't do it either. My mom had weight loss surgery (R-en-Y) about 4 years ago, and lost a little over 100 pounds before putting about 25 back on and stalling. Now, a 75 pound loss is nothing to sneeze at, and she's managed to functionally cure her diabetes, which is excellent. Even so, she now eats pretty much the way she always has, just less of it because her stomach can't physically hold more. Every single meal, it seems she finishes it holding her stomach and puffing out her cheeks in slight discomfort because she's eaten more than her pouch can hold. This is not a life I want.

    I know we've talked back and forth about it a little, but in my struggle to figure out what my body needs to lose weight, I have learned that I can do this and live by healthy habits, even without scale numbers to motivate me. I've learned how to maintain, maybe even before I've learned how to lose. And when I do finally figure out what my body needs to lose, or even if it just takes me 2 or 3 or 4 times as long to lose as most people, I know that when I get done I will have the skills I need to maintain my loss, and I know that I will have worked through the emotional and behavioral issues that got me here in the first place.

    Now, do I think weight loss surgery can be successful? Absolutely. But I think that no weight loss plan - surgical or otherwise - will succeed until a person addresses ALL the causes of weight gain. Is high caloric intake and absorption of too many calories one of those causes? Absolutely. But I think for almost every overweight person (the statistician in me refuses to make a complete blanket statement), those issues are only one part of a larger problem.
    1862 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/18/2013 9:22:50 PM
  • DARLY55
    Good for you! I applaud your decision!
    My younger sister had a gastric bypass several years ago, and now is gaining the weight back. She never really lost like others I know, she obviously didn't learn to change her dietary habits. Nor does she exercise! She eats less volume - but still eats high calorie foods. Plus she has gotten conditions like low blood sugar due to the surgery, which is a side effect that was unknown to her berforehand.
    1862 days ago
  • KACAR51
    AMEN! emoticon
    1862 days ago
    I knew someone who once did one of those procedures. She ended up in the hospital several times because she was still making the same mistakes that helped her gain the weight in the first place. The most important thing is to learn to make new habits - and to know why you are making them - because there are healthier choices.

    For me, I would never do the procedure - but I won't sit in judgement of others. I don't know their situation. However, no matter who we are - short/tall, fat/thin, young/old - we need to learn to make healthier choices and have healthier lives. Diseases and other problems do not only come for the overweight - people can still be stick-thin and be unhealthy inside.

    Glad you made the same conclusion. You deserve the best!

    1862 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    You can do and we are here to cheer you on! I agree with you that it sounds good but it can be very dangerous. Keep on fighting to be the best that you can be.
    You will do it with time! emoticon emoticon
    1862 days ago
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