Thursday, June 27, 2013

Let me explain...

I recently wrote about the health problems I had post-gastric bypass. I realize that my title may have been misleading. I recognize that my health problems aren't simply related to being "skinny." 

So many factors make-up "good" or "bad" health. For me, now that I am malabsorptive, I will always have a difficult time getting the nutrition my body needs. Genetics play a role. Heart issues run in my family. Environment. Age. Healthy food habits are important. Exercise is very important. Yes, even weight can play a role. But weight is NOT the only factor that determines health. 

I guess I just worry that classifying obesity as an official medical diagnosis is going to open the door to more diet pill prescriptions and weight loss surgery, which is NOT the easy way out. Skinny doesn't mean healthy. I wish insurance companies would put a higher value on health.  

Sadly, stomach amputation IS the most successful weight loss tool available. Diets reportedly fail 95% of the time, meaning 95% of people gain all of their weight back (and more) within three years (some will argue it's all in the willpower but they are generally statements made by a person who has never been obese -- no, losing 10 pounds doesn't count). It's hard to find accurate gastric bypass numbers (not skewed to the negative by people who are against the surgery or skewed in the other direction by companies offering the surgery). From what I can gather, the average weight loss surgery patient maintains 50% of their weight loss at ten years out. Considering the surgery has really only been popular for ten years, I can't vouch for the accuracy of those numbers. I personally know people at every stage. I know a few people who have maintained their "goal." I know a couple of people who have gained a lot (if not all) back. And I know a lot of people like me, struggling with 25 to 75 pounds of weight gain, but still fitting the bill to be a "successful"/average weight loss surgery patient. 

My only wish is, for those who DO decide that weight loss surgery is the right choice for them, that they go to therapy to figure out why they over-ate. For compulsive over-eaters like myself, I DO consume too much food. I'm not going against HAES or making a judgment call. I admittedly do not have healthy food habits. Nine years post-surgery, I am finally trying to deal with that. 

So, since I know I have not been very clear. I AM trying to be an advocate for Health At Every Size. That is, I want to make healthy choices for myself, both in the food AND exercise departments. I want to fight the stigma and shame that society has put on fat people. We don't have to all be friends but you don't need to tell fat people to workout then call them cows when you see them at the gym. Also, I personally don't need a high five or unsolicited diet/exercise advice. I'm just like everyone else at the gym. Have respect and treat people like you would your favorite grandmother. You don't have to want to look at them naked but you do need to treat them with respect. Telling us we just need to eat that exercise...get off the couch...and otherwise guilt and shame us doesn't help. Your concern isn't needed. You can keep your opinions to yourself.

So, sadly, even in the HAES community, there is some judgment of each other. We are all on our own journeys to be happy, healthy and to accept our own bodies. I understand that many are against weight loss surgery (and for understandable reasons). That is not a decision you can make for someone else. I can't even say knowing all the health problems I have now that I wouldn't have made the same choice to have surgery. I just don't know. What I do know is I did make the choice to have surgery, I'm still fat and so now I'm just trying to learn how to be healthy. I'm a work in progress. I still often think about being thinner than I am now. I can't apologize for it. Society has told me my whole life that I'm not right. I'm still getting comfortable with the fact that no one is "right." No one is perfect!! 

My hope in writing this is that people will understand that I don't need judgment about my life choices. I really enjoy being part of the weight loss surgery groups so that I can help educate people about my reality surrounding surgery. I also enjoy being a part of the HAES/fat acceptance community. I am learning so much and loving the self-esteem that oozes from so many of these ladies. I hope some rubs off on me.

So, there you have it. Full disclosure. I am part of two communities who have VERY different views. And I appreciate those who have accepted me knowing my history. I created a group on Facebook where those who have had weight loss surgery can talk about Health At Every Size. Please join me if you too are dealing with regain and want to discuss it in a place where there is no judgment. 

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