Society tells us we should love our bodies or when to find body acceptance, no matter what.
This doesn’t always jive with doctor’s orders when you have reached a high enough BMI to be diagnosed with morbid obesity. When a doctor tells you to lose weight or else you might not live to see tomorrow, your first instinct might be to counter with, “But I love myself the way I am.”
All this time you’ve been taught to buck society’s beauty standards and love yourself unconditionally. Now what are you supposed to do, and how are you supposed to feel, after your doctor orders you to drop the excess pounds?
When discussing this subject, a certain author said something profound. Writing for HelloGiggles, an online publication, Samantha Chavarria wrote, “Body positivity isn’t about loving your body only when you’re comfortable with it – it means loving your body enough to recognize its health needs, then making difficult changes for the sake of wellness.”
Your doctor telling you to lose weight is akin to that same professional telling you that you need to take insulin if you’re a diabetic or that you need to have surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. It’s medical advice with the intent of saving your life, and bariatric surgery is the best way to go about doing just that.
How Does the Body Change After Weight Loss Surgery?
The first few years following bariatric surgery are a time of transformation. Nearly every aspect of your lifestyle is apt to change, including the things you eat, your physical activity levels, and your body shape.
Read our article: Jump Start Your Weight Loss with These 8 Bariatric Surgery Tips
Because of these changes, many bariatric patients struggle with the concept of living in a smaller body. While on paper you might think patients would be thrilled to lose all the weight, the reality is sometimes much different. Seeing a smaller waist staring back at them in the mirror can deliver feelings of self-consciousness. The individual may also feel uncomfortable with all the extra attention they find themselves getting.
The biggest issue isn’t criticism from others; it’s self-criticism that becomes the problem. It is often difficult for people who become successful with bariatric surgery to accept their new bodies, and to have a positive body image.
However, having a positive body image is the key to obtaining high levels of self-esteem and overall life satisfaction.
Whether you are considering bariatric surgery, or you’ve already begun the process of losing excess weight with a procedure like gastric sleeve surgery or gastric bypass surgery, there are steps you can take to become more accepting of your bodily changes.
Practice the following suggestions and you’ll see that loving yourself and your body only takes a bit of effort on your part.
If you want to learn more about what bariatric surgery can do for you, call Healthy Life Bariatrics in Los Angeles, California, and let Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki and his professional staff start you on the path to improved quality of life and body acceptance. Call 310-881-8538.
What is Body Positivity?
Being positive about your body is about loving yourself, flaws and all, even when your body doesn’t necessarily match society’s standards of beauty. We all see images of celebrities and supermodels on billboards, on TV, and on the big screen. But we need to remember that those images are often heavily photoshopped. Those people don’t really look that way. Computers make them look perfect, and nobody is perfect, not even A-listers.
As a bariatric surgery patient, you are going to start the process of losing weight at your heaviest. After surgery, your body will undergo changes. The weight will not come off in one go. It will take months for small changes to make a difference. And it’s important that you love your body every step of the way.
How Do You Accept Your Body Through Weight Loss Changes?
Focus on Your Accomplishments
In a perfect world, you’d wake up from bariatric surgery and you’d already have the body you’ve always wanted. Your waist would be slimmer, your health would be improved, and obesity-comorbidities would become a thing of the past like heart disease and diabetes. Unfortunately, weight loss surgery doesn’t work like that.
When you wake up from a procedure like the gastric sleeve or gastric bypass, you will be placed on a liquid diet for a couple of weeks. This helps your body get acclimated to the changes made during the weight loss procedure.
After the liquid diet, you will reintroduce more solid foods until you are back to eating healthy foods normally. While going through these dietary changes, your body will experience massive weight loss. That’s the exciting part.
Even still, your body will shrink bit by bit, and it’s important for you to understand that some days you’ll look thinner and some days it will seem as though your weight loss has stalled. Don’t focus on the day-to-day changes. Instead, focus on how far you’ve come throughout each step.
Read our article: Weight Loss Stall After Bariatric Surgery & How to Beat It
Keeping a journal of your experiences can help. That way, you can look back to see where you were in the past, and where you are now so that you can celebrate your accomplishments as you move toward a newer, healthier you.
Practice Affirmations to Achieve Body Satisfaction
Affirmations are positive sayings you tell yourself that build self-esteem. Some people refer to this as positive self-talk. This technique is excellent for improving your mental health.
You may not realize how hard you are on yourself until you begin paying attention. When you look in the mirror, do you find yourself saying hurtful things? If so, and whenever you catch yourself saying something negative, say “Stop” aloud. Then, replace your negative self-talk with caring, nurturing language, such as “I have come so far and I’m proud of myself.”
Making changes to the way you talk to yourself can go a long way toward building up the self-confidence it takes to accept your body in any state, obese, thin, or anywhere in-between.
Cut Out Negative Influences
As you begin losing weight as a bariatric surgery patient, you may find that people in your life have opinions regarding the changes you’re going through. They may not be as comfortable with your new look or attitude and may try to bring you down. It might be jealousy, or, in some cases, it could be that your new healthy lifestyle shines a spotlight on the state of their health.
The best thing for you to do is distance yourself from any people who aren’t supportive of your decision to undergo bariatric surgery and become your own success story. You don’t have to cut these people out of your life entirely, but you should distance yourself from them. At least try and have an open conversation in order to ease the tension between you and these weight loss surgery naysayers. This will also be good for your mental health.
Surround Yourself with Supportive People
As you go through your weight loss journey, your emotions may be all over the place. It’s important that you find people who inspire and motivate you to continue when you feel yourself at your lowest. Your bariatric surgeon may even be able to point you in the direction of a support group composed of people who have undergone weight loss surgery just like you.
Read our article: How to Emotionally Prepare Yourself for Weight Loss Surgery
By feeding off of positive energy, you can gain that push you need to continue on your path to a healthier you.
Nurture the Inner You
Each week, schedule time to practice self-care. You might schedule a deep-tissue massage or a mani-pedi or relax with a good movie or book. Taking a break once in a while and caring for yourself can help you recharge so that you are physically and mentally well enough to continue on your weight loss journey.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Try not to compare your lifestyle, eating habits, possessions, or your body to other people. While you’re at it, you may want to unplug from social media for a while. Give yourself time to focus on yourself and the changes necessary to live the kind of life you want to live, and to be the healthiest you can be.
Wear Flattering Clothing
One of the most exciting aspects of bariatric surgery weight loss – besides dropping the pounds – is going out and purchasing a new wardrobe. You’ve seen those photos of people holding up pants they used to wear alongside their newer, slimmer frame. That could be you in a few years if you can manage to stick to the healthy lifestyle that makes bariatric surgery success possible.
By wearing clothes that fit – fashionable ones at that – you can begin to feel better about yourself and your body.
Here’s another trick that can help with positive body image. Each night before you go to sleep, keep a notebook beside the bed (or use a note app on your phone) and write down ten things you’re thankful for. Don’t forget to include things about your body, too. Surely, there are things about your body you appreciate.
Maybe you have pretty toes or strong hands, or eyes that turn heads. You can also include things like family, friends, the fact that you have steady employment, a roof over your head, and a vacation coming up that you’re looking forward to. Whatever it might be, showing thanks each day is a great way to be more accepting of yourself and the body you’re in.
Allow Yourself to Adjust to Your New Body Shape
Once you have lost a significant amount of weight, don’t expect yourself to be loving your body right away. Give yourself time to adjust to your new shape. You’ve been overweight for years, maybe even decades. It can be quite a trip to see yourself in the mirror with a slimmer frame and narrower face. In time, you will come to see just how far you’ve come, and hopefully, you’ll be proud of your accomplishments when that happens.
Consider Post-Bariatric Body Contouring
Bariatric surgery causes the weight to fall off in a fairly short amount of time. Because your skin may have lost its ability to bounce back, otherwise known as a lack of elasticity, you might be left with hanging skin on your abdomen, arms, thighs, and elsewhere on your body.
Read our article: Skin Removal After Weight Loss Surgery – What You Should Know
Post-bariatric body contouring can help to tighten up your abdomen with a tummy tuck, your arms with an arm lift, thighs with a thigh lift, and lower body with a lower-body lift. Ask your bariatric surgeon to refer you to a cosmetic surgeon. Of course, you can always choose a bariatric surgeon who also performs post-bariatric body contouring, such as Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki of Healthy Life Bariatrics.
Follow The Above Tips for Improved Body Image, Health, and Quality of Life
In closing, before turning to a bariatric procedure, you probably spent a long time struggling to lose weight. It’s not a total surprise that you’d find it difficult to accept your new, slimmer body once you’ve reached your weight loss goal.
These tips should help you enjoy your new shape in time. Just remember that losing weight after bariatric surgery is a major accomplishment. It’s definitely something to be proud of. You should celebrate your achievements, and the improved health and confidence you are sure to gain along the way.
You are also setting a positive example for others who may be considering bariatric surgery to improve and potentially extend their lives. That right there should be enough to love yourself, your body, and all that you are capable of as a bariatric surgery patient.
Ready to learn more about long-term weight loss using bariatric surgery? Call Healthy Life Bariatrics in Los Angeles, California to schedule a consultation with a bariatric surgeon and post-bariatric body contouring surgeon Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki. Dial today to get started at 310-881-8538.