One of my four principles for success with gastric bypass, and perhaps for any weight loss or weigh management attempt is to learn to be brutally honest – both with yourself and with others. I contend that nobody gets to weigh 400+ pounds without lying to themselves and others a great deal. Everyday. About everything.
Some lies are small, such as telling yourself that clothing manufactures must have begun labeling their products smaller and smaller – that is, what used to be an Extra Large is now labeled Large, hence your need to move up to a 2XL. The clothing has just gotten smaller you assure yourself. Other lies are bigger, such as telling your spouse that it wasn’t you that ate the entire pizza (must have been the refrigerator gremlins… and besides, you drank a diet soda with it and therefore didn’t really get all the calories you might have, had you not been so responsible!).
Deep inside we all know what causes weigh gain… taking in more calories than you burn up. It has been that way since the beginning of time. Its simple math. We know it, we just don’t like it, and therefore invent convenient alternate truths to avoid dealing with it. We deny. We lie. And along the way we willingly allow ourselves to be seduced by fad diets, magic weight loss pills, and “no exercise, eat what you want, miracle weight loss programs” that sell for three easy payments of $49.95!
In 2008 my mother passed away. A very old friend that I hadn’t seen in over 20 years read her obituary and showed up at the funeral home to pay respects. Al was always in good shape, but here 20 years later, at 52 years old, he looked exactly as he did at 32, trim and healthy. During those same 20 years I had gone from being 30 pounds overweight, to 150 pounds overweight. I had tried several fad diets, a medical supervised diet, started and stopped many exercise programs, and was fighting depression about my weight. One sight of Al and all I could think of was: “What’s his secret?” I will never forget both the look on his face and the sound of his voice when he answered that question with “I eat right and exercise.”
Not what I wanted to hear. No magic pill? No miracle exercise program (that only takes 5 minutes a day without sweat)? Lie to me Al. I’ll lie to myself later and convince myself that you are the lucky beneficiary of fantastic genes, or that you must have some physical condition that keeps you thin and trim. No Bill, nothing like that, just simple math and the courage to be truthful with yourself.
I would gain another 70 pounds over the next two years before I allowed myself to hear the truth… before I started telling myself and others the truth – I eat more calories than I burn up. By then I was over 400 pounds and it was nearly too late. But the truth was, and is, that if you want to manage your weight, to lose excess weight and keep up that weight loss for life, there is only one truth you need to focus on and it is this: You must manage the calories you take in and the calories your body burns.
There should be nothing new here for anyone that struggles with weight issues. Sure there can be complications that make living this truth harder for you than for others… diabetes, heart conditions, and other physical ailments can make it hard to restrict calorie intake or exercise to burn calories. But the truth is still the truth.
These days I give plenty of people their own ‘Al’ moment… people I haven’t seen in a while walk up to me in amazement at my transformation. They last saw me at 400+ pounds and now see me at half that weight. They always ask, as I did to Al, “How did you do it?” And I always answer with two truths, “I burn up more calories than I consume, and I do that with the assistance of gastric bypass.”
I’d like to hear about your experiences.