This week we welcome Sean Amore as our guest blogger. Sean, weighing 483 pounds at the time, had gastric bypass surgery in March 2007. Having lost half of his body weight since, Sean continues his weight journey while living with his wife and daughter in Wichita, Kansas and working in public relations – writing about all of the above, and more, on his own blog, My Journey.
Sixteen months after gastric bypass surgery at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Connecticut, I’ve lost 240 pounds.
I would credit my surgery for helping to change my life but I go out of my way on my blog and when I speak with people about my gastric bypass journey to make it clear that the surgery is not itself a silver bullet and is not a guarantee of weight loss or long term success. Statistically, the impacts of surgery only last about eighteen months. The rest, as they say, is up to “you.”
The short-term impact reality of surgery has left many people skeptical of gastric bypass. The lore of the procedure is that you wake up with a ping-pong ball sized pouch and are healed of all that ever ailed you when it came to food and diet. Life after gastric bypass is no different than life before. You have to stay vigilant to the diet, you have to exercise and you have to decouple and your emotions or you will not succeed.
I’ve spent the last two years working on my diet, my physical health and fitness, my mental health and fitness, trying to identify and master the emotional triggers that always drove me to food and trying to make myself a better overall person. I was only in surgery for four hours.
I believe three things will make all the difference in my long-term success:
Family and Friends – I have a great support system. My wife and daughter loved me at 500+ pounds and they love me today. My family and friends still cheer for me. I am looked out for and respected, no matter what. To have that security drives me to make “good” in return after years of not being the man I am becoming.
Diet – I have three simple rules 1 – Low fat, high protein. 2 – Low-to-no sugar (even “allowed” sugars). 3 – Every calorie counts so count every calorie. I made changes before surgery (stopped eating and drinking at the same time, reduced portions, counted calories, etc.) so that, by the time I returned to “real foods” after surgery, I was ready for my food reality. I still count every calorie every day and have found lots of help in blogs, and cookbooks, too.
Professional Support – I enrolled in a formal, medical program for my surgery. Nutritionists, blood work, stress tests, mental evaluations and counseling, mandatory pre-surgery weight loss, support groups, physical trainers and medical professionals who really understood obesity medicine, etc. I had six months of it before surgery and six months after (with ongoing visits for the rest of my life). If you look at the statistics –patients to just have the surgery with no real prep or follow up are often less successful with the surgery.
Simple diets or drastic gastric-bypass surgery, it is nearly impossible to have long-term, meaningful weight loss and improvement of quality of life without a true commitment to a life of changes.