Yesterday, Lor told me a delightful (/sarcasm) tale about a lunch date with two friends that hadn't seen each other in quite a while. One party spent the majority of the luncheon complaining bitterly about her sister, who had recently had weight loss surgery because "she was a lazy ass who doesn't want to put down the cheeseburger and exercise." Towards the end of the meal, the complainer asked her friend how she was managing to stay so trim and fabulous looking.
"I had bariatric surgery, because I am a lazy ass who won't put down my cheeseburger." was the reply.
I would guess that lunch ended soon thereafter.
This story, paraphrased from a tale Lor found on a bariatric social web site, highlights the ongoing issues that we have relating socially after we have gone through bariatric surgery. The great misconception still exists that we have somehow created a trap door in our digestive system that allows us to eat whatever we want and suffer zero consequences from it.
Can I let you in on a little secret? I have to work twice as hard at maintaining my diet and exercise as a "normal" person. Every single thing I eat is analyzed, weighed, measured, and logged. My daily regimen is closer to that of a professional athlete than that of someone who just wants to stay fit. I live on supplements, protein shakes, and meals that would not pass muster as a salad on a child's menu. And a single dietary mistake lands me locked in a bathroom for hours, expelling the material my rearranged digestive system didn't agree with from both ends.
Those who choose bariatric surgery are accused of doing this because we want to be more attractive, as a sop to our poor self-esteem. But, the truth is, bariatric surgery did not turn Lor and I into Malibu Ken And Barbie. I will admit, I no longer suffer from feeling unattractive due to my size. But I now feel unattractive due to the huge piles of deflated skin covering my body like flesh-colored Play-Doh. I don't recognize my face in the mirror, which gives me some real existential crises. I had to shave my head due to hair loss, for goodness sake. (And, yes, the happy accident is that I actually like my shaved head. Thank goodness.)
And, through it all, I still deal with the lingering suspicion that I am somehow "not doing enough." I should eat less, exercise more, hydrate better, sleep longer. Bariatric surgery has given me many of the symptoms that we would equate with an eating disorder.
Do I wish I hadn't done it? Not for a moment. Societal mores had nothing to do with my decision. I took ownership of my own health, and control over my own body, by going through with surgery. But I still find it very frustrating that our society not only is focused on size as a metric for determining the worth of a person, but is even willing to judge those of us who strike out toward health via the method of bariatric surgery. In a nation where over 50% of the population suffers from obesity, calling those of us who required surgery "cheaters" is disingenuous at best, hypocritical at worst.
Yes, I "put down the cheeseburger". Bariatric surgery was one of the tools I used to help me do so. The idea that this is somehow "cheating" is held by those who have not spend years (or decades) trying and failing to defeat obesity. To those who have not walked a mile in these shoes, I can only say the following:
Get Over Yourselves,