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The Easy Way Out – Bariatric Edition

Did you see how I did that? How I titled this blog “The Easy Way Out”. What I forgot to post was the “?” at the end of that statement. It should have read “The Easy Way Out?”.
I might have a bit of a RANT today 🙂
I hear this often because I’ve been working with bariatric clients for 13 years now. I also see this statement on social media because for some reason my clients believe that others may think that they have decided to take “the easy way out”. So let’s just talk about this statement for a bit and why people think this.
Bill – “Did you see Bob? He lost sooooo much weight! He must have lost like over 100 pounds”.
Karen – “Ya, but he had the bariatric surgery so it doesn’t count. He took the easy way out”.
Hey Karen, you’ve got this all wrong.  
What Karen didn’t see (sorry to use the name Karen for all my Karen’s on my emailing list), is that Bob had to make the decision to take his health into his own hands. 
Bob was sick. He was taking 5 different medications for 5 different ailments. He had a continuous sore back. His feet were achy every day. He was depressed and suffered from high blood pressure, high blood sugars, high triglycerides, and COPD. 
Bob heard of a friend who went to Mexico and he lost weight and regained his health back. Bob was sick and tired of being sick and tired. He found out from his friend that there was a great place to go in Mexico and it cost a lot less and the results were nothing less than amazing.
Bob began his research. He spent months talking to different bariatric centers in Mexico. He spent months on forums researching. He gathered a ton of information.
He spoke with his bank and took out a small personal loan to pay for his surgery and the flights for himself and his wife. 
Bob was nervous but he was even more nervous about the condition of his health and he wanted to be around to see his kids graduate. His doctor had been telling him for years that he needed to lose weight. 
In the past, Bob tried EVERY DIET known to man-kind. He managed to lose 100 pounds on his own 5 years ago but the weight came right back on when he stopped going to the gym for two hours a day. Bob followed his wife’s weight watchers plan. He tried to stay away from fast food. He tried to eat the low carb way. He still kept gaining weight.
Bob was embarrassed about having to shop at “Big and Tall” stores. Shopping for clothes had become a chore.
Bob felt embarrassed at restaurants because the booths would squeeze his stomach and made him feel self-conscious. 
Bob felt that his employer looked at him differently and he feared for his job at times.
Bob was fed up with all the pill bottles and medications that he needed to take each day.
Bob made the decision that it was “his time” and that he was taking his health into his own hands and traveling to Mexico for his surgery. Bob booked his surgery, booked his flights, paid his deposit, and spoke with his bariatric nutritionist to get ready for his pre-op diet.
Bob followed the pre-op diet to a T. He lost the first 10 pounds and was already feeling better.
Bob boarded his flight and made his way to Mexico. He had his surgery and went through his recovery for 48 hours at the hospital. He had some painful gas pains post-op and his hand swelled up from the IV and all the medications but he passed his post-op testing with flying colors and made his way back across the border, boarded his flight, and made his way home.
He was excited about his new life and the possibilities of weight loss and getting off his meds.
Bob learned pretty quickly that he could no longer binge eat. He learned that if he ate too much or too quickly, he would experience pain and vomiting. He figured out that his new tummy didn’t like his old way of eating or any of his old bad habits.
Bob had to learn a whole new way to eat. He had to take his surgery seriously and the hard work of making lifestyle changes to maintain his weight loss. 
Bob started exercising again. He didn’t go all crazy and spend hours at the gym. He got into a more realistic way of exercising 4 times a week for 40 minutes at a time.
Eventually, it all paid off. He did his pre-op diet. He made the trip to Mexico. He paid for his surgery. He learned how to eat correctly. He started exercising again. He regained his health and got off his meds.
Sorry, Karen… which part of this was EASY? How did Bob take the “easy way out”? 
This is just such an unfair thing to say and an unfair way to think about bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery is a huge commitment and it is not “just have the surgery” and “be done”. 
Surgery is only the beginning because what comes AFTER the surgery is really hard work. Oh, and the surgery is also not so “easy”. Heck, it’s a surgery! It is the removal of 80% of your stomach. Hello. How is that considered “easy”?
Gas pains … have you ever had serious gas pains. It’s not fun. It’s also not fun having pre-op labs and post-op labs. It’s also not fun having a drain removed. Who thinks flying is fun? I hate flying. I do it because “I have to”…not because “it’s fun”.
I guess that bariatric patients will always have to deal with the “Karen’s” of the world. We will have to be criticized by our friends and family members behind our backs or even to our faces. What I want you to realize is that you did NOT take the easy way out. You took one road to wellness and this just happened to be the bariatric surgery road. Who cares how you got your health back. Always celebrate the fact that you decided to get healthy. It doesn’t matter which road you took to get to “healthy”. 
If you want to argue with others about bariatric surgery – go for it. I don’t argue about it anymore. 
I remember when I was in school studying nutrition. There was a class where we discussed bariatric surgery. My classmates were so against it. They had NO idea. They were not living in a body that was overweight. Some of them believed that a good “diet” would get my clients to lose weight and keep it off. Oh, how naive they sounded. Did they believe that my clients hadn’t tried a “diet” before? Did they think that a healthy diet was a new concept? Or that exercise was a new concept. I argued but soon realized that there was no convincing my healthy classmates of any pre-conceived notions they held in their heads.
Maybe it’s a bit like politics. 
I don’t try to change anybody’s mind anymore. I also don’t care what others think. I care that my clients get healthy and get back to living their life and feeling good about themselves. 
So guess what, if you’ve had bariatric surgery CONGRATULATIONS. I salute you for taking the important steps for getting healthy and also for all the work you have done and all the changes you have made to your existing lifestyle.
I know how hard you have worked!! (Who cares what Karen thinks lol)
Healthy Hugs xo

About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.

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