Coping With the Slippery Slope of Sabotage
By Samantha S. Magnuson, RN
The path to success after bariatric surgery requires modifying and in some cases avoiding sabotage – unhealthy situations and relationships. After some time, many patients struggle and fall into old patterns or habits, personally sabotaging weight loss and maintenance efforts.
This sabotage does not have to be intentional to have harmful effects. Weight loss surgery patients, family and friends can easily slip into old habits of being thoughtful, generous or welcoming with food. A friend may bake your favorite cake for your birthday. Your mom may want you to try her new recipe. You may want to reward yourself after a long week of work with a high calorie drink from your favorite coffee shop.
In addition to these unintentional sabotaging actions, others’ efforts to sabotage your weight loss efforts can be deliberate. An overweight friend or co-worker may feel personally threatened by your efforts to lose weight and not want you to succeed. Many different situations can arise post surgery. It is important to be prepared for every situation of sabotage, be able to identify it when it occurs, and to learn how to avoid it in the future. You may ask why would she; how could he; how long has this been happening; what would make her do this, etc... and it doesn't truly matter because ultimately; you won't always be able to 'change' someone else. You just want to be sure you are creating your healthiest version of you and that includes minimizes the impact of sabotaging situations or people.
Many situations can quickly be resolved by having a serious conversation with the saboteur. Explain the importance of your efforts, the impact on your health, and let the saboteur know you really need his or her support. Ask if you can do anything to help your saboteur adjust to your new lifestyle. If this person is unresponsive to your request, it may be necessary to only invite him or her to social interactions that do not involve food, or to distance yourself from this relationship.
If you find you are your own worst enemy when it comes to sabotaging weight loss efforts, find ways to reward yourself that do not involve food. For example, get a massage or pedicure, buy yourself a new book, fitness app, take a nap, spend extra time with friends or shop for clothes in a smaller size. The most important part is to be creative in rewarding your hard work and effort.
At all times, you should be honest and remember to be nice to yourself, even if you make a mistake. Move on; there is a new day ahead. Dwelling on negatives can lead to a downward spiral. Look at mistakes as a learning opportunity – use a food journal to help avoid wrong food choices in the future.
Keep your eyes and thoughts on why you initially chose weight loss surgery. Remember the benefits you have gained as you shed pounds. This will help you to stay positive and clear any hurdles of sabotage in your path. You are worth it!