It’s the end of the year. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with shopping and planning and all of my responsibilities over the next few weeks. I always let myself get stressed this time of year and need to remember to get back to basics of family and friends and the spirit of this holiday season. My husband and I talk a lot about our values this time of year, about doing the right thing and being kind. For me a need to pay it forward on my lap band journey gives me an opportunity to help others who are struggling with their weight the way I struggled. So I find myself writing this blog at a time that I’m also thinking about last minute shopping, and wrapping and …
This week someone asked me a question that often comes up. It’s one of the questions that I had when I was getting ready for surgery. It goes something like this: “I’ve done a lot of research about lap band surgery… if I still have to do all this work, am I going to fail again? I’ve never been able to stick with anything that requires me to follow rules and make the right food choices. If I could do that I wouldn’t be considering surgery. How is this different that all the diets I’ve been on?”
When I hear this question I am flooded with my feelings from when I was trying to figure out whether or not to have weight loss surgery and which surgery to consider. At any given moment I was confused, scared, excited, and afraid to be excited.
But when I hear this question from someone preparing for surgery I also know that I am hearing from someone who is really doing their homework and understands that weight loss surgery is not a magic bullet. That makes me smile because I’ve learned that it’s really important that we go into this surgery with our eyes wide open. The lap band really is a tool and we need to learn to operate it.
So how do I answer that question?
The lap band helps most of us with hunger, satiety and portion control. It can be really hard to understand what this feels like if you don’t have a lap band. Frankly I don’t ever remember really being satisfied before, being able to push away from the table and feel like I really had enough. Now I can push away comfortably after eating a small amount of food, a serving that fills a salad plate. For me, my properly adjusted lap band is the difference that makes is so much easier to stick with the “rules” for the long haul. I am no longer white-knuckling it. I had failed my whole life with diet and exercise. Hunger and portion control were huge for me. My lap band helps me with physical hunger; it doesn’t help with head hunger – like I’m really stressed over a project for work and I want to eat something to quiet those feelings. In addition, when it comes to portion control the lap band helps when I choose solid foods; high calories liquids like shakes and frozen margaritas go right thru the band, so does ice cream. My band also doesn’t know the difference between grilled chicken and fried onion rings, so choices are still really important.
What I learned is that 95% of us with a lot of weight to lose fail with diet and exercise alone – achieving ZERO excess weight loss at three years and beyond. It was a huge relief for me to find those statistics because I always felt so alone. I felt like such a failure. Throughout my life I heard one too many doctors tell me to eat less and exercise more. As I was researching the different weight loss surgeries I learned that according to published studies lap band patients achieve 50% excess weight loss at 3 years and beyond. So I knew that my odds were much better with the lap band than with diet and exercise.
When I made my decision to have surgery, these stats really helped me with my decision but I still felt like I was taking a giant leap of faith. I surrounded myself with people who were successful on this journey – I wanted to learn from them and I must admit I was secretly hoping that some of their “magic” would rub off on me! I went to support group meetings, I went out to dinner with other lap band patients. I watched what they ordered and how they ate.
At the risk of sounding like a commercial for “Is Lap Band Surgery For Me?”, our book available on amazon.com, I can honestly say that this book will help if you a wrestling with these types of questions. That’s why we wrote it! It’s hard to get the answers from a patient’s perspective. It is my deepest hope that my friend and lap band mentor Sandi and I are paving the way to make this journey a little easier for others as we get ready to ring in 2011.
For me this has proven to be completely different than my hundreds of failed attempts at weight loss. My lap band helps me with hunger, portion control, and satiety. In the spirit of the holiday season, and at the risk of sounding corny, this is the gift that keeps on giving for me. Having my lap band and learning how to use it has made the difference between failing again, and finally having control of my health, my weight, and my self-esteem.
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