One of the things I wanted to talk about today, and what comes up on nearly a daily basis, is the topic of success. I swear not a day goes by that someone doesn’t either call, or email or come into the clinic saying “how do I know if I’m successful”? “How come when I go on-line everyone else is so much more successful than me”? “I’m not successful, I haven’t lost 100 lbs in the past year like I thought I would”.
Please hear this: Success is unique to each individual, and is very hard to put a number to. Success is not always measured by a number on the scale. If I can stress one thing it is this: STOP COMPARING YOURSELVES TO EVERYONE ELSE. I look at my patients and I see faces of success.
So many patients stick in my mind. I remember ‘Tom’. When he came to our clinic for his consultation he weighed well over 500 lbs and walked with a walker. He took up the entire two person settee in the waiting room. He was always pleasant and always had a smile on his face. The walk from the waiting room to the exam room was slow and tedious. His decision had already been made that he was going to have this surgery. He endured 12 weeks of the pre-op diet shakes in order to lose enough weight to get his liver reduced to a size that was safe for surgery to be done. This man was motivated. I remember when he first walked down the hall without his walker but with canes…its was indescribably moving. On the day he walked down the hallway, no, strode down the hallway without assistive devices, I swear there wasn’t a dry eye in the clinic. Yes, that is success.
Every bit as successful is my friend ‘Mary’. Mary is an energetic, wonderful, accomplished woman and has battled obesity her entire life. I remember a couple of summers ago Mary came in and I said “How was your summer Mary?” She said “GREAT”! So, expecting some fantastic destination I asked “where did you go?” She said “swimming. I haven’t put on a bathing suit in 25 years”. Yes, that is success.
Success is our friend ‘Jean’. Jean came in a while back and I said “Jean your hair looks fantastic, did you just get it done?” And she said “Sue, for the first time in 20 years I did it myself…I can reach up there to do it”…that is success.
Success are the grandmas who now have laps to hold their grandchildren on….Success is the businessman who no longer has to buy slip-on shoes… Success is the young mother who has reached her goal of being able to ride in amusement park rides with her kids. And speaking of kids…Success is the young and not always so young women who have found out, after thinking it would never happen, that they are pregnant. I tell you we either have to start a daycare at our clinic or start handing out birth control because this Lapband baby boom is getting out of control!
Success is my sister. A lot of my patients ask me about her as I talk about her frequently. My sister battled obesity from adolescence onward. She was banded around 5 years ago. Like so many of my patients she excels in every area of her life. She is a brilliant educator, has travelled and worked around the world, she is interesting and engaging and kind beyond belief. The one area she could not conquer was weight. Her weight as it continued to climb was the elephant in the room…no one could talk about it but it couldn’t be ignored. Her journey like many, has not been without its bumps, it rarely its. It is a daily struggle for many and requires hard work and determination. She has had her ups and downs, good days and bad. Her first indicator of success she told me once was not having to quietly ask the flight attendant for a seatbelt extender. She became certified in scuba diving a couple of summers ago and no longer drives around looking for the closest parking spot. She hikes at her cottage, walks her dog daily and recently started up a “Biggest Loser” group at her school. This summer she sets off to teach in the mountains of Ethiopia, something she never would have been able to do 6 years ago. My sister is a success story.
Success is being able to tie your shoes, do up your bra and wrap your arms all the way around your partner. Success is not always measured by a number on the scale but by the little things that you are achieving everyday, sometimes without even noticing it.
So if I can stress two things it is again: STOP COMPARING YOURSELVES TO EVERYONE ELSE…. AND RECOGNIZE AND CONGRATULATE YOURSELVES ON YOUR EVERYDAY SUCCESSES.
The last thing I wanted to talk about, is the flip side of success, and I refuse to call this ‘failure’ but prefer the term ‘stagnation’.
I think of ‘living with the Lapband’ as a journey. With any journey there are going to be days when you’re sailing along…100km/hr…sun is shining..wind is blowing through your hair…life is great. These are the times when we don’t typically hear from our patients too much and that’s just fine.
Then as with any journey there comes a time when you slow down a little…enjoy the scenery…You may be coming to terms with living with this Lapband on a physical, emotional, social level. It is important during those times to still contact your clinic on occasion, just to keep in touch.
Sometimes, a journey, for whatever reason…and there are a myriad of reasons…comes to a complete and utter grinding halt. THIS is when you need support. This is when you need to pick up the phone, drop an email, contact your clinic. The absolute worst words I can ever hear are “I was too embarrassed to come in”. l hope you never, ever, EVER feel too embarrassed to contact your support service. We know how important contact and support is at every level of your journey but especially during those stagnant periods. Make use of the supports you have and if they are not helpful look for others. As I’ve said before, check out blogs, on-line support and public bandster forums. Whatever you do, if you are struggling don’t berate yourself and think that you have failed. Sometimes you just need to pick yourself back up, give yourself a shake and a hug and start again. I would look forward to hearing from you at any time.
Yours in Health and Fitness,