Barrier #2 – Dishonesty
I contend that nobody gets to weigh 400+ pounds without lying to themselves and others a great deal. Everyday. About everything.
Rule/guideline #2 – Learn to be Brutally Honest
A strategy for success with gastric bypass, and perhaps for any weight loss or weigh management endeavor is to learn to be brutally honest – both with yourself and with others.
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 whole 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!).
I’ve lied when asked about how many times I went through the buffet line. “It’s none of their business,” I’d think, so why should I be honest with them? But the lie is actually more for me then for them. I need to deny my actions to me even more than to another person.
I’ve lied about many indignities:
- The safety bar on the amusement ride that won’t close because I’m too large
- The seatbelts on the airplane that weren’t long enough to fit around me
- Restaurant booths – being too large to fit in the space between the table and the bench
But it’s Them! Not me. Lie.
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.”
What!? 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.
They have you go through a physiological exam before allowing you to schedule your weight loss surgery. This is to be sure you know what you are getting into and to check that you don’t have any unreasonable expectations about what the WLS can and cannot do for you. I realize that this is an essential part of the prequalification process, and why it is so important. But…
I’ve met people that have their surgery date all scheduled and set – they’ve been through the physical and physiological exams – but in conversations I can tell that they aren’t ready, or they have an unreasonable expectation for what their WLS will do for them. One woman told me that she was looking forward to the surgery so that her desire for sugar will be controlled.
In her mind, the reason she was fat and had such a hard time managing her weight was that she liked sugar too much and couldn’t get her consumption of it under control. Her expectation was that GB surgery would remove her life-long craving for sugar and relieve her of the burden of fighting those cravings. It won’t. You don’t solve an upstream problem by making changes downstream. She needs to put less sugar into her mouth as a way of controlling what goes into her stomach. The problem is upstream, not downstream. She needs to make the not so easy choice of limiting (managing) her upstream sugar intake, so that the simple math of weight loss (take in less calories than your body burns) can do its magic.
This honesty extends to after surgery also. Learn to tell everyone, everything (they will ask), about your surgery, your recovery, the highs and lows, the good and bad, the ugly and the uglier. Use the words you’ve despised for so long… say: “I was obese,” or “I couldn’t do it on my own,” or “I had weight loss surgery.” Tell all of the details honestly and openly. Look, if you are succeeding at losing weight, everybody will see it and they will ask questions. Use these opportunities as a chance to self-talk, to be your own therapist. Work out your issues by talking them out. Plus, you’ll be surprised just how interested people are in what you’re doing… in how it works… in what it means for you. Share.
Get used to telling your story over and over. Tell it honestly and without any agenda. You’ve got a lot of lies and half-truths from when you were fat to balance out. Never sugar coat your experience, never dilute nor enhance the truth, don’t duck facts and history. Accepting what you are (vulnerable, susceptible, corruptible, etc) and what you’ve done (poor self-management), is essential for planning and implementing who you’ll be from here forward.
It would be spring of 2010 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 – and I didn’t seem to have the ability/strength to do anything about it. 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 maintain 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 consume and the calories you burn up.
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. You know it. Now Live it. You’ll find it easier to lose weigh.
Rule/Guideline #3 – Tue June 24
Rule/Guideline #4 – Thu June 26
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