Bariatric surgery is as much an exercise in mental toughness as it is a physical challenge. In fact, arguably, the mental component – your mental suitability – is even more important than any physical abilities or disabilities that you may have. From before surgery through the rest of your life you will be challenged by various hurdles that pop up in the weight loss and disease improvement process. It is how you overcome these hurdles that really makes a difference.
Even before surgery, we always recommend that you prepare yourself and those around you for the psychological changes you will experience. Imagine the opportunities that open after years of being unable to enjoy your life and lifestyle due to obesity. You will almost certainly want to try new activities. You will also likely become more social as you begin to feel comfortable in settings that once made you feel awkward or out of place. While this is a wonderful benefit of bariatric surgery, there’s also a downside. Some of those around you do not understand or appreciate the changes you are making and may feel like you’re leaving them behind.
Of course, we know that this is just you evolving. If they are resistant to your evolution and do not want to come along for the ride, they can often feel a sense of abandonment, which can turn into frustration or anger. This evolution of yours can strain some of the relationships in your life. However, there are ways to mitigate this. First is to have a very frank, open, and honest conversation about why you want surgery and what you expect out of your relationships after surgery. It’s important to know and understand these potential conflicts beforehand so that you can work through them and get friends and family to participate in the new you.
After surgery, you can also recruit these friends and family members to be a part of your journey, while helping — and maybe inspiring — them at the same time. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with friends and family joining you in your exercise and dietary regimen. Not only will they motivate you to keep going, but they will also see results in their own lives, that will make them happier and more able to live a full and exciting life.
You should also understand that there are some toxic relationships in your life that you likely have never addressed. After bariatric surgery, it may be the perfect time to do so. However, this is extremely difficult. First, you must admit to yourself that the relationship is toxic, and that it can’t continue in its current form. You must also understand that ending a relationship, even if it is for your own benefit, can be very difficult and sad. Be sure that doing so will not derail you from your ultimate goals. This is a time when speaking to a mental health professional can be very beneficial. Not only can they help you stay on track through these very difficult challenges, but they can help you process the changes in relationships and ensure you make the most of those around you.
While these changes may seem daunting, it is important that to remember that you have a support team around you that is here to uplift you and help you get to the next level. Continue onto the next page to learn about building your support group.