I went on my first diet when I was six years old.
If only I could tell my 6- year-old self what I know now my life and journey with my body would possibly have looked dramatically different! Obesity is a disease, and not due to a lack of willpower. There are a few societa
l myths about obesity that need to be busted. You can only break them in your own belief system by actively asking yourself what you believe, and then replacing the belief with truth.
During 2018, I went through the bariatric surgery process and learned from knowledgeable teams that these myths are harmful.
Myth number 1
Fat people are lazy. One of the biggest myths out there is that fat people should just pay more attention, then they can lose weight. I exercised and basically starved myself, and yet I did not lose weight. I am a top performer, successful in all areas of my life, yet people treated me with a bias. Did it make me mad? For sure! But the perception is a reality, and it is a myth. All people can be lazy, and fat people can be highly productive. Fat is no indication of willpower or temperament.
Myth number 2
If I eat less, I will lose weight. I eat more now, after surgery, than I ever did in my life. After bariatric surgery, having 4 to 5 small balanced meals a day was my most significant adjustment. For three months pre-and post-surgery, I had to set the alarm for eating times and train myself to understand that eating less is the enemy, not eating the correct amount of the right foods. Food is not the enemy. Nutrition is giving your body what it needs, regularly, in the right quantities.
Myth number 3
If I cut out carbs, I will lose weight. This is a big myth. Your body needs healthy carbs (low GI, low fat, high in fibre) to provide energy and absorb other elements like protein, vitamins and minerals. We need all types of food groups in small quantities. (Even a piece of chocolate every now and again is part of my diet!)
Myth number 4
Nothing I do will help, so I’ll eat anything. Once you realise that obesity is a disease and work with a professional that understands the condition, you will learn how to treat your body with kindness. You will learn the proper nutrition and the right amount of movement. You will learn that there is a solution, that all of the good habits you put in place do indeed make a difference. Bariatric surgery is a tool that enables these good habits, and only the combination of a healthy system and good habits will consistently lead to a healthy weight and healthy body.
Myth number 5
I can hate myself thin. The correct mindset is necessary, but it is not the only thing that will help you heal from obesity. Indeed, you cannot hate yourself thin. You need to combine a healthy approach, a good diet, movement and all the pillars of wellness to reach your goals. This is true for all of us, but especially for bariatric patients.
Myth number 6
Exercise makes all the difference; so get off the couch. Our bodies were designed to move. That much is true. If you are morbidly obese, however, it won’t be the only solution. Once your health reset is done with bariatric surgery the movement of your body becomes a joy - not a challenging goal. Exercise that you love and that gives you pleasure will be part of your life post-surgery. It’s a new world to discover when you don’t have to drag an extra person around. For me, this was what freedom tasted like.
Myth number 7
Bariatric surgery is a quick fix. The biggest myth is that bariatric surgery is the easy way out. Bariatric surgery is a holistic medical approach to a disease called obesity. It requires the patient to lean into all the pillars of wellness and change or maintain their commitment to emotional well-being, physical well-being, nutrition, movement, and a general focus on taking control of your life. For me, it was the best tool in a life that already had all the other pillars. A tool that enabled a lifetime of healthy habits.
I wish this knowledge and journey for all the people that struggle with obesity, as I wish that care for someone with any other disease.