We’d all like to think that the pressure of the media doesn’t have an effect on us. But we all have an “ideal” figure. This can be thin or thick. Either way, I’m not convinced that it’s only because of health reasons.
I myself always had a certain image of how I wanted to look, and that was the image of a younger me.
Which has probably not been that realistic, being that my goal was my body at 20/21 when I was 27/28. And still, knowing the unrealistic side of this, stubborn as I am 🙂 that was my goal. Now, a couple of years later I would still just want to be a couple of kilos lighter to “feel good”.
I do have to add, I am comfortable with who I am now. As cliche as it sounds I feel like I have grown into the woman I need to be (physically) but as could be expected; I wouldn’t mind having a flatter stomach and less (read NO) love-handles!
Another part of this is the pressure of our surroundings. Family and friends that haven’t seen you in a while saying things like life’s been treating you well (in my culture often meant as you gained weighed lol), friends that have other (read thinner) body types, etc.
I have had this discussion with some friends and that’s how we got the talking about gastric bypass.
My friend went through this process and I really wanted to know about the process of getting to the point of making this decision.
Even though I had a different body, different experience and different goals, I definitely get where she’s coming from.
Since she was young she always knew she had a different appearance in comparison to the people around her. Her friends were skinnier, and even though it wasn’t really an issue or even really discussed, she realized it from a young age. When going shopping, her friends would fit in sizes XS and S while she had to get an L for example. It was not an issue.
She was aware of the difference but it wasn’t something that had her up all night or kept her that busy.
As she got older one of the main things that had an effect on the way she felt about it, was the way her mother made it a topic that would keep coming back in discussions. She knew her mother loved/loves her to death but she also felt that she maybe was just not good enough in her mother’s eyes. Her mom was remarking on her eating habits, hinting to maybe change her portions and snacks but on the other hand, she got to go to those little cute boutiques with more expensive clothes to find something good that fits whereas her sisters had to shop in the average chain stores to get their clothes. So she knew her mother cared but it still felt like she wasn’t “pretty” enough according to her mom.
From this moment on, she tried different methods to lose weight. For years it was just basically the yoyo-effect. She tried to stay fit by going to the gym, getting a personal trainer, trying different diets and having those “f*ck it” moments.
She loved good food and food made her feel good
After that she would realize that she needed to get back into the process of losing weight and it would all start over again.
Because of the great person she is, many people didn’t know what she went through. She has had her roughest times based on her own thoughts. There were moments when she just felt like crying, that she felt fat and that her mind just wasn’t right. She felt extremely down.
Another issue was that when something bad happened (could be anything) and it felt like everything goes wrong, this issue would then come up in her mind as well and the “f*ck it” mentally arose.
In the meantime she moved to another country and because she got to broaden her surroundings she also met people with other types of bodies (in her home country she was basically surrounded by one kind of girl: skinny). Now another thought enters her thinking-cycle:
Whatever, just eat because skinny isn’t everything
But she still wasn’t comfortable in her own skin. Another issue that started when she started living alone is that she grew up loving to cook and cooking for many people. She never changed the dosage of her food. She still cooked for 4 for example but then she would eat more than she did back home, because it’s just there.
She made the decision to go to a dietitian and she let my friend focus on the emotional side of things. Some of those issues were the remarks her mom used to make. She remembers one remark in particular. At Christmas when everyone was speaking out the wishes they had for each other her mom said:
I have a wish for you but I’m not gonna tell you what it is because you’ll probably get a little mad
This made her so mad and so sad, she cried about it and it stuck with her because all we really want is to hear our mom say that we’re enough, we’re pretty and that she’s proud.
She couldn’t really talk to her, so she wrote her letters and they helped but only for a while. She would fall back in the pattern of remarks and it would all start over again.
Fast forward to years later, just before the gastric bypass; knowing that her mother’s way of dealing with this only comes from love, she decided to let it go. She tried not to let it get to her and she found a way to not let it affect her life anymore. Because even if that part didn’t happen in her life, what would her life look like? She would be many pounds heavier and she would be happy. But is that what she would want? There are so many health reasons that would be an issue, so would she really be happy?
Secondly, our surroundings will always have an impact on the standards that we set for ourselves. There is not one person in the world that could tell me that everything they are is because of decisions that were made without the influence of someone else, of the media or the comparison to someone else.
That’s why my friend used to be shy. She had a certain view of how things should be, what she should look like and what she thought her surroundings wanted her to look like. For example; when it came to dating, we never really direct our appearance to the other gender but we do want to know that we are attractive enough. In the beginning she was very unsure in these types of situations but as she got older she realized that she was still getting dates, she was still in relationships and this helped in seeing that not everyone sees her as just the heavier girl 🙂
She felt better about herself at one point but she still realized that health was an issue in dealing with her weight.
That’s when gastric bypass came into play
She got to a point that she had problems with her knees, her period stayed away and she started to get dark spots in her neck and arm pits. These are symptoms of obesity so this hit her hard and made her realize that she wanted to lose weight for good. She tried the diets, she tried fitness but it never seemed to be a long term solution.
She started to do research and 5 years before the operations she heard about it but it made her think of those programs like “my 600 lb life” and she thought no way! But now, it was simple, she thought:
I am too heavy so what am I gonna do
During this research period she found out how many people (also younger people) have been through the process (Thank God for Social Media) and she saw many positive experiences. She made a pro’s and con’s lists and the pro’s definitely outweighed the con’s. The effect is different on everybody (emphasis on body) but the most important thing was getting healthy again.
The only real doubt she had, was that in many cases people kind of change. You do not have control over how much weight you loose and some people tend to change as a person. She did not now if she wanted to not recognize herself and change too much. But her health was still the main reason that she decided to go through with it.
So she started the process. She talked to the surgeon and he made sure she knew that the operation is a means to an end and that she had to change her lifestyle. She then had to talk with the rest of the team; a psychologist, physician and dietitian. She needed to lose 6 kg by herself to prove she was serious and to prove that she really wanted it and because it is safer if your liver is smaller during the operation. After this process they gave her a date.
It wasn’t until then that she told her parents about the decision
She did not want any outside influence, she did not consult them during any part of the process because she wanted to do this on her own. Even when she told them (and us; as friends) she made sure to just let them know what her plan was. She wasn’t interested in anyone’s opinion, did not want to discuss it whatsoever; she just wanted to let everyone know this is what she’s going to do. Period. 🙂
The day of the procedure was scary; because let’s face it, it’s a serious/heavy operation. But when she woke up she was so happy that it was done. Her first thought was that a weight was lifted of her shoulders;
Someone finally just helped her to have one less worry, less stress and she had 0 regrets!
What I think is great in this whole experience she had? The way she dealt with it. She went through a lot of experiences and emotions during her life and it made her one of the strongest people I know. She stated that it’s great to lose weight but that is not her goal. She doesn’t care how much weight she loses. How she feels, that’s what counts. She feels great, she feels healthy and you can honestly see it and feel it in her presence.
We talked about “what if she would’ve made this decision 6 years ago instead of now” and I think that if she did it back then it wouldn’t be for the right reasons. The girl I know today knows exactly what she wants in life. She knows what she’s worth and she knows why she makes certain decisions.
So she did it for the right reasons, in the right way and at the right time