A food addict's travels on the road to recovery.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lapband Logic

I came across 2 different blogs yesterday that I had never seen before, just from checking out different blogs lists from people that I already follow.  Well I came across several new ones actually, but 2 of them were women who had the lapband.  I read where both of these women were regretting and second-guessing their choice.

They talked about how they had done all of the necessary research ahead of time, talked to doctor after doctor, been to classes, fully understood the risks of the surgery, and decided this was the tool they would use to lose their weight.  But for some reason, what escaped both of them, is that the band does absolutely nothing to change your mind frame, your thoughts on overeating, or the desire to binge.   They mentioned how they still had furious thoughts of overeating that were driving them crazy, almost to the point of being truly depressed over their decision.  They could no longer have many of their favorite foods, even in a moderate amount, because the band just won't allow it w/o causing major sickness or internal injury.  They also talked about all of the uncomfortable side affects that come with living with the band...not life-threatening, but just not pleasant, like constant gas and digestive issues, etc.  One woman mentioned how she had to have hers remove to have a "fill" done (not sure what this means, maybe they loosen up over time?)...and she was absolutely frantic that she would go nuts and eat everything in sight and gain 100 lbs. before she could get her band put back in.

No, the band doesn't change anything on the mental level.  It does nothing for self-discipline and it doesn't calm those raging food thoughts that come with overeating.  It doesn't cure a food addiciton.  The mental work still has to be done on your own, whether you have a band or not.  I read on another blog a while back where they said, "The problem is not with your stomach...it's with your brain.  And they don't make a lapband for the brain."  Amen.

I am one of those people that considered either a lapband or gastric bypass surgery to lose my weight.  I read a lot about it...understood the classes you had to take ahead of time, the waiting period involed, the risks of the surgery, etc.  I asked friends what they thought....they all said they stand behind whatever decision I made, but that it was a personal one.  I asked my roommate at the time, Shane.  He said don't do it.  I asked my boyfriend Dwayne...he said don't do it...one of the things he mentioned was the MAJOR loose skin issues I'd have if I lost too quickly (but aesthetics weren't a good enough reason to me to not do it).  I was feeling helpless and hopeless and like this was the only way out of the fat hell I was living in.  I had gotten a lot of opinions but somehow they just didn't seem good enough.  I didn't feel settled with the advice I had been given. 

I couldn't quite get comfortable with the thought of having this surgery.  No matter how much info I had gathered or how many opinions I had solicited...it just didn't feel like the right way.  It didn't feel like I'd be putting in the work to get this weight off, and I wouldn't have that sense of satisfaction after losing it, if I didn't do it all by myself w/o the use of a tool like a band.  But still...that sense of hopelessness was overpowering and I was scared that maybe I really couldn't do it on my own.  I needed one more opinion....the ultimate one...the one that I would value above all others.

I called my one and only hero....my Dad.

I told him my thoughts on using the surgery to lose the weight.  I pointed out that I was in my 30's...had a lot of health problems (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol) and if I hadn't lost the weight by now, I didn't think I had it in me to get it done on my own.  I told him I thought I might need to have the surgery just because of the health problems...the clock was ticking and I didn't want to die early.  He told me not to do it.  First off, he said that he didn't want to see me have any surgery that wasn't directly related to saving my life..in other words, an unnecessary one.  And I wasn't at death's door just yet.  But what he told me next is really what sealed the deal.  He told me that he believed I could lose it on my own. 

He said he believed in me.

Boy.  Brings me to tears again now just like it did that day.  He explained that he knew what a struggle it was....reminding me that he's battled with it himself through the years, and he KNEW how hard it was to get to and stay at a normal weight.  But it wasn't impossible...it wasn't out of my reach.  I listened through my tears...telling him it was just. so. hard.  He sympathized...he told me he knew....but that I could do it.  He knew I would get it done one of these days.  And that was that.  No surgery for me...I was going to do it on my own.

I didn't start that day, but I did finally get started a few months later...June of '09 as a matter of fact...the day I started my blog.  I haven't lost a lot in total since I started over a year ago, but I sure have learned a lot.  And through my learning, thanks to Blogland, I have now developed the belief that yes, I can do this.  It's still a struggle, no doubt....but it no longer seems like an impossibility.  I know that I will get there one day, and I like knowing that I've worked through so much of the mental crap that brought me to morbid obesity in the first place.  I can look back over the last year and see real progress.  Where I used to eat at fast food restaurants DAILY, I now hardly ever visit them....it's an out of the ordinary situation, not a daily ritual.  I've also gone several months now w/o a binge, where a binge used to happen 2-3 times a month.  When I first started I walked a 15 minute mile and thought I would fall over dead from exhaustion and possibly a heart attack.  Since then I've been on several hikes, one of them 5 miles....and been on 4-6 mile walks around the track at the park multiple times.  When I first started, I lasted a total of 30 seconds on the elliptical...no joke.  I can now last 30 mins on that beast.  I don't like it...but I can do it.

If you're considering the lapband as an option to lose your weight, I'd ask you to consider every aspect....especially the mental one.  There's a whole lot more to this weight loss business than just physically shrinking the size of your stomach.  I'd say a good 80% of the work has to be done above the shoulders.

Part of my Dad's daily morning ritual is reading my blog.  He's seen me struggle here...he's seen me fall off the wagon, roll down the hill and into the ditch.  But he's also seen me get back up, each and every time.  I get back up because of him...he believes in me...both of my parents do, but more importantly, I now believe in myself.  My hope has been restored.  Thanks Dad....I love you.  :)


  1. I believe in you too. Surgery doesn't fix the thoughts and urges and emotional issues we all have to work through. There is no doubt in my mind that we can do this without surgical intervention. I believe!

  2. People who do the surgery, whether bypass or banding, and DON'T use the restriction time to change their eating habits are doomed to failure. That said, currently, weight loss surgery is the most successful weight loss treatment for the morbidly obese.

    I know that there's a huge attitude that it's more noble to "do it on your own", I had that attitude myself, but don't rule out what could be a life saving procedure because of pride.

  3. Great post! I have blogged about my friend who had gastric, she weighed 220 when she started out and now is down to 140...I feel the surgery was an easy way out for her. I have lost 36 pounds and it has been hard! But I believe in me, and you are doing great too!

  4. I'm not a fan of weight loss surgery or the lapband, although to be honesty I considered them also. And I've had friends who have done it and have had great results. I've also seen people have it and then gain the weight back. I also think that the WLS and LapBand are becoming more of the rule than the exception, which is too bad. Every single one of us are capable of losing the weight without the surgery.

  5. Great post. I have had 11 surgeries. Some more serious than others. Before each one I was certainly afraid I would die or have serious complications. Would I have gastric bypass or lap band. Nope, too afraid to die. I have seen many who have had gastric bypass, lose weight, and then put it all back on. I knew someone who had her stomach stapled, about 2 years later, it ruptured and she almost bled to death. She now weighs more than before the surgery. Thank you very much, but I will plod along and do the best I can. It isn't as scary....even though I have diabetes, arthritis, high cholesterol, am anemic, and have kidney disease.
    Hugs, Kathleen

  6. You are amazing. What a wonderful post.

    Someone said to me when i was starting my journey 'you are capable of so much more than you know'. And every time i walk a little faster than i epxected, or go a little harder on the crosstrainer or complete a weights programme for MEN (and don't die doing any of these things!) i think YES I AM!

    We do not give ourselves enough credit, and it is this poor self-image thing that probably contributed to making us this size in the first place.

    Please remember you ARE truly amazing and YOU ARE capable of so much more than you know. You are doing it! Keep up the good work!

  7. This is a great post!!!

    I don't begrudge anyone who has had the surgery to lose weight (I sometimes wonder why--if they had extra money, couldn't it have been put to better use--but that's just me being judgemental)...but I think that even though the surgery may be a quick way to lose weight for them--and maybe (seemingly) their only option, I think that's only half the battle--as you so eloquently put in your post...much of the battle is above the shoulders...:) The surgery may be a jumpstart to their new way of living--but everyone I know that has had either gastric bypass or the lapband surgery still struggles...the same struggles that I have each and every day...only they can't eat...physically.cannot.eat. I am pretty sure that I would drive myself insane (although you can argue that it wouldn't be a long drive!) with that...

    I think that you have done a fabulous job...and you will continue to do so. Dads are fabulous...and obviously yours is your biggest fan!!! :)

  8. Great post...Whether we say we can or we can't we are right..I don't remember where that saying comes from but it is so true! I don't care what method anyone chooses to lose but if the brain retrain isn't done there will be no long term success. It is not necessary to spend our lives longing for forbidden foods when we truly get that we are not doing this to look good but to get healthy and THAT becomes our motivating factor. When we want to BE better more than we want to LOOK better. It is always slower than we want but I was amazed to figure out that it took me 15 years to gain the 77 lbs it has taken me 7 years to lose! I am no longer content with my slow and easy meandering weight loss and have ramped it up but I am ok with that because I have done what I call a lot of mental flossing and I know the what's, whys and wherefores of the inside of my so-called brain. It is important to unlearn bad habits, formulate new ones and realize we can never eat like other people. We ARE special.. because we are changing and change is so hard.

  9. Good post Tammy. It really is about fixing our brains and about believing in ourselves and knowing to just keep trying when we faulter.

  10. Well you hit the nail right on the head! Yes it is a mental choice and I know from my experience I could not have done it without the support of my family and friends. Thanks for your kind words on my blog. Good luck to your continued success.

  11. Thanks for this post!

    I am in the same boat as you Tammy. I did lots and lots of research and when it was all said and done, I did not think it was right for me. There is a risk of course but there are a lot of follow up appts. too and I did not see myself being able to do all of the f/u required. It may take me a few years to lose the weight on my own but it was the option for me.

  12. Great post. You really said a lot of the things I feel myself when it comes to food. Look forward to reading more from you. Trying to find that follow button...hmm..

    Come follow mine too if you want, I'm about the same weight size as you, it is a battle but we can do it! :)

  13. I lost 100 lbs by myself and then chose gastric bypass in June to lose the remaining weight I wanted to lose. Because I'm in my 50s and don't have that much time left. Because I was born with lymphedema in both legs and I was increasingly concerned about mobility. Because I had a uterine cancer diagnosis that is nearly a side-effect of obesity. I have spent the last 30 years in & out of food addiction and obesity and did not want to spend the remaining years i have left on the planet, obese, uncomfortable, depressed about my weight, isolated and writing a blog about how I can't seem to lose the weight. I see so many blogs where people write every day about the same thing, why can't I lose weight? Don't they get bored? Maybe it's just me. The same discussion every day is boring. I decided to "sing a new tune" before I croak or have a cancer recurrence.

    I chose gastric bypass because it does change our metabolism. Lapbands do not. Gastric bypass is a metabolic surgery. Post surgery you do not feel like eating and there are days when I struggle to get in the protein needed. But I would not go back for any reason. I also had a holier than thou attitude about my previous weight loss. When my sister had WLS two years ago, I was judgemental of her and said "I'd never do it." Here I am two years later, 3 months post surgery and about 60 lbs lighter, more mobile and happier and less of a chance of cancer recurrence (on top of numerous other co-morbidities I no longer have due to weightloss.)

    The saggy skin argument totally cracks me up. Why do people think that skin bulging with fat looks better than sagging skin?

  14. I totally agree. So much of weight management actually takes place in your head. I think you made the right decision to lose weight without surgery. And you are very lucky to have such a wise and wonderful father.

  15. You're a special person Tammy.
    Never doubt it. :0) (((hugs)))

  16. I struggled with the decision about GBS. Here is my story regarding that decision: http://phatinphx.blogspot.com/2010/08/why-i-didnt-do-gbs.html

    Tammy - you are so inspirational and I know in my heart that you will continue down a successful road. We all fall. We all stumble. The true test of success is that we get back up, dust ourselves off, admit when we mess up and move ON! I've followed you for a long time and when I see all of the personal battles you've fought and WON - I know you can win this struggle and overcome! You will!

  17. So much of this weight-loss thing is mental..I agree. I can't say what's right or wrong for another person, but I'm thrilled that I'm losing weight naturally...and rocking it. That's the best thing I can do for myself.

    You believe in yourself which is priceless! I'm inspired tonight Tammy! Yay you!

  18. You are definitely an inspiration. For me, also, surgery is not my tool of choice. I agree that most of the work is mental--amazing what our minds can do. You're lucky to have the dad that you do--thanks for sharing this story.

  19. And that's why getting a lap band is stupid. It doesn't fix the problem of why the person was overweight, it just forces their body to get the weight off. But that's America for you. Can't lose weight? Oh, we'll make it so you physically can't eat. Still have food issues? Well that sucks. It really irritates me.

    I believe in you, too, Tammy. I loved reading your blog from the beginning and seeing your drive and the huge progress you've made with exercise and not eating fast food and soda and all that very often anymore. It's wonderful. Even if you haven't gotten as much weight off as you'd like, you're still working at it and you will get there someday because you're strong and because you're worth it.

  20. I get shit for saying a lap band is silly, and you get love.. I love that... You are the bomb !!

  21. Beautiful post Tammy. Like your other friends, I believe in you and your ability to walk this very difficult path to health and fitness. You've already come a LONG way. I'm so glad we're all on this journey together. And what a wonderful Dad. Makes me very sad wishing I could have known my own Dad and felt his love and support like you do.

  22. I don't know your father, but I love him already. Good Dad's rock, I lost mine three years ago. If he were alive I think he would tell me the same thing your dad told you. I'm going for my two mile walk now....thanks for sharing your story.