Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mind and body

Bariatric weight loss surgery doesn't solve psychological issues

Lavinia Rodriguez

Lavinia Rodriguez

Bariatric surgery such as gastric banding and bypass is being used more and more to treat obesity. These procedures lead to rapid weight loss by restricting the amount you can eat comfortably, by reducing the absorption of nutrients or a combination of both.

Such surgery may sound like a panacea, but that's far from the case.

It's understandable why someone who's struggled with obesity for years would place all their hopes on bariatric surgery. Many patients think it's their last resort. (And in some cases, it may be.)

But advertisements gloss over the tough realities of bariatric surgery. And even when the facts are given, many people are so eager to lose weight, they ignore what they don't want to hear.

It's important for those considering bariatric surgery to know these key facts:

1. You can gain back all the weight you lose after surgery.

2. If you have psychological issues connected to disordered eating, bariatric surgery will not eliminate these problems.

When patients regain weight after bariatric surgery, it's usually because of psychological issues. It's not always deep-seated problems that stand in the way of success, but seemingly simple things like perfectionism, attitudes about exercise, and other common issues.

The truth is that bariatric surgery patients must do the same things to lose and manage weight as anyone else — eat moderately and be active daily. Initial weight loss may be more rapid after surgery, but over time, good habits become more important than the surgery itself.

I recently received a letter from a man who learned the hard way about post-bariatric surgery weight gain.

"I've lost considerable weight since my surgery, but I've been gaining a lot of weight over the past year,'' he wrote. "I'm not self-motivated and I hate sacrificing good food and time to exercise. What can I do to get on track, lose weight again, and be healthier?"

Fred's letter tells why he was having trouble:

• He believes in the myth of self motivation: There's no such thing as motivation that magically appears from nowhere. People are motivated when they associate something positive with the action they're contemplating. For example, I'd much rather play in my garden than write this article. When even my deadline isn't quite enough to motivate me, I tell myself that I can garden when I am done writing. Then I feel more motivated to write. It helps to figure out what we like and use it to create motivation.

• He believes his glass is half empty: Fred is creating negatives about his situation instead of reminding himself about the positives. What are the payoffs of exercising and eating well? Feeling better, looking younger, being able to do more — it's a long list and he should be adding to it.

• He thinks only unhealthy foods taste good: If Fred is willing to try new things, he'll realize that there are more good tastes in healthy foods than there are in salty, sugary, greasy "treats."

• He considers exercise a sacrifice: If you think you're wasting time exercising, you won't like it and you won't do it. It's your job to make it fun. Try different activities. Find friends to work out with you. Listen to your favorite music or watch TV while you're sweating. Fred might want to consider that if he doesn't take care of himself, what he's probably sacrificing is years of life.

• He believes there must be a way to be healthy without eating well and exercising: Sorry, there's no magic. However, if you deal with the psychological barriers that are keeping you from doing the right things for yourself, you will understand why eating well and being active are essential.

• He uses self-defeating language: How we talk to ourselves makes the difference between getting ahead and moving backward. If Fred listens to himself, he will understand that his own self-defeating statements are at the root of his weight gain.

Fred's problem is psychological, but fixable. If he addresses these issues he will be on track to losing weight again and becoming healthier.

Dr. Lavinia Rodriguez is a Tampa psychologist and expert in weight management. She is the author of "Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management." Send questions to her at drrod@fatmatters.com.

Bariatric weight loss surgery doesn't solve psychological issues 05/03/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 4:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics

    Elections

    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.