Emotional Changes after Bariatric Surgery
You’ve had bariatric surgery. Your next steps were given to you by your surgeon/nutritionist/dietitian and/or bariatrician. You are eating according to plan, exercising regularly and taking action. The next piece is the one that most people don’t discuss: the emotional changes that occur as a result of physical changes.
While there may be a boost in confidence that goes along with your surgery and weight-loss, there can also be inner-questioning that arises as well. Many people I talk to open up about how this is a process of finding themselves again because they’re experiencing a new beginning in a new body. This is why many people discuss their “weight journey” – because it’s just that! It is part physical change and part emotional change.
However, it’s also the process of self-discovery that is less discussed, yet just as important as the physical changes which take place.
Here are some quick tips to get to know the new you as you go through this transformational process:
1. Start Journaling
Journaling about your process can give you a great perspective about where you are and what you are feeling. You don’t have to write every day, but even a small amount can make a big difference! Journaling is also a good way to track your views toward yourself, your process and your life in general.
While it’s great to track your food intake, exercise and weight progress, many people lose sight of their personal emotions – but journaling helps you gain perspective on your emotional progress. It’s good to check in with how you are feeling, what emotions may be shifting and what overall changes you are experiencing from week to week. This is also a great way to keep track of your successes and non-scale victories.
2. Reflect on Your Relationships
As you change, some of your relationships may change. For individuals who have had bariatric surgery, there are situations where relationships change as a result of drastic weight-loss. Relationships need to be cultivated over time, and sometimes people can feel “left behind” when a huge shift like weight-loss enters the picture.
Whether it is a friendship, romantic relationship or career relationship, it’s important that you determine which relationships are most important to you so you can invest time and energy where you see fit.
3. Set non-weight goals for yourself
For so long, life has been focused on weight-loss. When your weight-loss is consistent, you’ll have new goals that aren’t related to weight. It’s important that you move beyond the scale and start looking at what other goals you want to achieve.
- Do you plan to go skydiving?
- Are you applying for a new promotion?
- Are you planning on asking someone out on a date?
- Are you making a speech at your office for the first time?
Whatever your goals, it’s important that you write them down and set deadlines so that you can be held accountable. This will also let you know what’s important in your life and give you further direction. Then you’ll start to check them off!
4. Put Yourself First
For many bariatric patients, they’ve put themselves last for so long. When you got bariatric surgery, you did it for yourself, your health and to be around your loved ones longer. This is your second chance at life. Am I right?
So, it’s time to start putting yourself first. This applies to your emotional health just as much as your physical health.
Putting yourself first goes beyond just nutrition and exercise. This means saying “no” to others sometimes because you’ve had a practice with saying “yes” for too long. Setting healthy boundaries is part of your emotional health and well-being.
Taking time out to do things for you and to ask for help from others is also part of your new emotional process. This also means saying “no” to your friends’ suggestions to go to the “all you can eat buffet” or to other places that may not be conducive to your new lifestyle. This may be uncomfortable at first, but when you begin to focus on yourself and ask for respect, you will likely get it. This is as much for you as it is for others. If you don’t take a stand for yourself, who will?
The emotional changes you may experience go beyond this quick list. However, this is a great starting point for any bariatric patient. Some people need more in-depth work, to which I recommend you seek out a mental health professional to help you work through or process any complex emotional issues that might arise following surgery. There are many changes that can occur physically, mentally and emotionally following surgery, so having a solid plan and tools in place can help you grow beyond the weight and into all the other aspects of your life.
About the Author:
Kristin Lloyd, MS, LPC/LMHC, PhD-c has been creating outstanding results for individuals, couples and organizations for over 10 years as a highly-accomplished psychotherapist, transformational mindset mentor, college educator and consultant. She is now leading bariatric patients and candidates through massive mindset shifts to help them create lasting behavioral changes and emotional adjustments for happy and healthy lives. You can find out more about Kristin by clicking here.