Overcoming “obesity memory” after weight loss surgery.
After weight loss surgery, patients enjoy improved health and increased energy which usually leads to a better quality of life. But for many, even years after surgery, the obesity memory still affects them. We asked patients how the obesity memory still appears in their lives and what they’ve done to overcome it.
Male, 2 years post-op, Sleeve
: “My coworkers were putting together a basketball team for a charity event my employer was sponsoring. They asked me to be on the team. I had to think twice. I hadn’t played on a basketball team in 10 years, before I gained all the weight. My weight is good now, but I didn’t know if I had the stamina to train and practice with them every night after work. I joined up and didn’t know how much I missed being part of a team. I like the endurance training and pushing myself to win. The game’s coming soon and I’m ready!”
Female, 18 months post-op, Sleeve
: “I did well and had almost reached my goal weight by 14 months. Then I plateaued. I only had 22 pounds to go but I panicked. The first thing I thought about doing was taking my old diet pills. A few days into my diet pills I connected with a Sleeve friend and told her what I was doing. She asked me to stop taking the diet pills and focus back on the things we learned in our classes before surgery. She told me that maybe I just needed to go through my checklist and see where I was off. I did go through my list and I wasn’t following the success guidelines very well anymore. I had gotten a little lazy. I stopped the diet pills and put more effort into following the steps that had already helped me lose more than 90 pounds. Now I’m only 15 pounds away from my goal. I’m almost there!”
Female, 3 years post-op, Gastric Bypass:
”I started a new job a few months ago, after being at my last job for 16 years. No one at my new job knew me when I was overweight, they all think I’ve always looked this way. A few people in my department, who are trying to lose weight, were getting a lunchtime walking group together. When I heard about it I told them I wanted to join. One woman said to me, “You don’t look like you need to exercise! We have to do this. You can just relax at lunch.” I remember when I used to think the same thing about healthy weight people. I thought it just naturally happened for them, that they didn’t have to work at it, that they were just lucky. Now I know differently. “I work very hard everyday to keep my weight healthy. I have to be very careful with what I eat and I need to exercise for an hour everyday,” I explained to my new coworker. She seemed shocked and welcomed me to the group. We’ve been walking together for about a month now. We talk about what we’re eating, how we’re handling stress and nighttime cravings. I’m enjoying my new job and my new friends.”
Female, 2 years post-op, Gastric Bypass:
”My book club got involved in a local charity, and the main fundraising event was a black tie gala. For me this meant an evening gown. My friends were all picking out their fitted, strapless or sleeveless dresses, and I was horrified at the thought of even shopping for a gown. My WLS friend said she would go shopping with me and we found a beautiful midnight blue dress that made me so happy! For the first time in a long time, I was posing for as many pictures as my friends, never shying away from the camera.”
Male, 3 years post-op, Sleeve:
”My niece was nominated for homecoming court and asked me to be her escort at the homecoming ceremony, her dad isn’t in the picture. But I had to wear a tuxedo. Man, I haven’t worn a tuxedo since my high school prom when I weighed 135 pounds! Things have been going good with my weight, but a tuxedo? I had to do it for my niece. I walked her down the red carpet feeling really good, and she looked beautiful. When I saw the pictures I couldn’t believe that was me looking good in a tuxedo. It’s been a long time. It felt good.”