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You Cheated!
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The Newsletter for Bariatric Patient Education and Motivation

May - Jun 2013

You Cheated!

By Colleen M. Cook, President Bariatric Support Centers Intl

If I wasn’t so sad, I would be offended. Recently I was referred to speak at a regional conference  for a well-known weight loss group. (Which shall remain nameless).


The planning meeting went well and I was very much looking forward to my presentation. The room would be filled with people who like me, have struggled with weight for many years. As a professional speaker for 20 years, I enjoy speaking often at bariatric patient celebrations and professional events. (Colleen Cook Speaks). My presentations are designed to motivate, educate, encourage and inspire and I was confident that my presentation would do just that.


After sending my speaking agreement, bio and photo I received a quick reply. “Thank you for considering speaking at our convention. After browsing your website and reading your bio, we discovered that you chose to have surgery for weight loss. We have decided that you would not be a good fit for our group.”


Seriously? I was dumbfounded! I had no idea that there are still so many who believe that those of us who smartly chose to have a surgical intervention have cheated and do not have anything in common with non-surgical weight watchers. Honestly!


I shared this story with one of our Telephonic Support Groups. We had a great discussion and many shared their own experiences with this sort of prejudice as well as whether they do or do not share with others that they chose surgery. As expected, some want to shout it from the roof tops and others are very private about their decision. I appreciate and can relate to these insights shared by one WLS patient in our group:

“I don't want people to think my loss has come with no effort.  I do talk about it when I feel it is appropriate.  One situation was in an on-line discussion group I participate in.  I told of my surgery several weeks ago when the subject came up and some were expressing only the negatives of the surgery.  I have also talked about my efforts to establish a walking habit.  Last night I posted that FitBit sent me an email saying I had completed 250 miles.  Someone asked me how much weight I had lost and I said it was over 100 lbs.  Several mentioned they had some they needed to lose and were happy to know someone had been able to do it. This morning I get up to this: "Don't forget (name removed) has had GI surgery, so her ability to lose weight should not be a benchmark for your endeavors!"  This reinforces why I don't talk about the surgery.”

I recalled how following my surgery I called a nurse friend and told her that I had just had weight loss surgery. I will forever remember her response. “You are so lucky!” Lucky? I was in the hospital with a 6 inch incision in my belly! (My surgery was in 1995) I had struggled with my weight for many years and finally, finally have some help! So many feel that we have cheated – that we have taken an “easy way out.”  NOT!


I suppose that people react this way because they know very little about the hard work, dedication and commitment it takes to reach and then to MAINTAIN a good healthy weight; surgery or not. Besides, if surgery alone is the answer then why are we at Bariatric Support Centers International so busy? It is a lot of work and takes diligence, commitment and focus to maintain a healthy weight and support for one another is so very important.


I was pleased to receive a follow-up email from the WLS patient who shared the comments above. She provided numerous comments, posts, kudos and thanks from this same online group. It is obvious that though there have been some derogatory comments her willingness to share her experience as a WLS patient (one who is committed to Success Habits) has helped to motivate and inspire others.


May we each do what we can to help others learn and understand more about our choice, as well as what it really takes to manage the disease of obesity. As for the weight loss convention - my best to them – I am going water skiing that weekend instead!


Colleen Cook is a successful weight loss surgery patient from 1995. She is the President of Bariatric Support Centers International  and a sought after speaker for both bariatric patient events and professional conferences. She is the author of the Internationally acclaimed, bariatric best seller, The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients.