My Biggest Surprise after Weight Loss Surgery (WLS)
Between talking with former WLS patients, attending WLS support groups, looking for a funding source, attending counseling, researching doctors, and studying books on WLS, it took me two years to get ready for my weight loss surgery. I was confidence that I was prepared for anything.
I choose to have gastric bypass so my weight loss after surgery was quick. With each pound loss, I would rush to share it with friends, family, co-workers, and anyone else who would listen. Many of those individuals had either been on a diet or had WLS and had been excited about each pound loss as I was. I thought for sure they would understand my excitement and be just as happy for me as I was for myself. Many friends, family, and co-workers celebrated with me. They were encouraging and uplifting. I was lucky to have a great support group that helped me stay motivated.
However, to my surprise and disappointment, I found friends, co-workers and even family members who seemed resentful of my weight loss. Everyone who responded with resentment was overweight. I had expected them to be my biggest supporters because I thought they would understand how important this stage of my life would be to me.
Those individuals were sometimes the first people with whom I would share my experience. My excitement would be met with an “Oh that is nice”, a blank stare, or an angry look. One of my friends would walk away and start crying. Another friend told me she was angry with me. A family member would be depressed for days after I told him/her about any weight loss.
I was baffled by their reactions. When asked about their reaction, the common response was “You were the biggest one in the family/group/at work but now I am the biggest one.” Initially, I felt hurt and then I was angry. They felt better about themselves because I was fatter. WHAT THE HELL!!
I know being angry would only make the situation worse. I usually try to educate myself when I lack understanding so I decided to research this issue on the web. I found that the negative reaction I was experiencing was common. The articles I read stated individuals may be envious of successful weight loss and could be ashamed of their own failures. In a WebMD Weight Loss Clinic article titled “Are They Jealous of Your New Body?”, Christian Holle, PhD said, “In some ways, your weight loss becomes a symbol of their inability to accomplish their goals, so they may begin to act resentful — or even mean — oftentimes without even realizing they are doing so,”
In that same article, Warren Huberman, PhD stated, “You deserve to celebrate your achievements but it may also be worth asking yourself if your newfound joy might be perceived as a tiny bit arrogant.”
While I am excited about my weight loss, I would not consider myself arrogant about it. I do not consider myself ‘better than’ anyone else just because I have been successful. I have worked hard to figure out what works best for me and I am willing to share it with anyone. However, I know everyone must figure out their own path and ultimately must draw their own map. For right now, I will try to keep my excitement to myself and only share when asked. I only hope that my friends and family members who are struggling with my weight loss will not allow our relationship to be permanently harmed.