Do you remember the ad from several years ago, I think it was for some kind of luncheon meat, where various members of a family would eagerly stick their hand into their lunch bag, pull out a less-than-satisfactory sandwich and moan “LUNCHBAG LETDOWN!!” (and then throw an accusing glare at the mother…doesn’t go over well in my house)?
Sometimes I feel patients can experience a bit of this. Its like waiting and anticipating and imagining a very special event, only to be mildly, or even largely disappointed. (But wait a sec, don’t misinterpret this… ‘Appliances-for-Christmas’ warrants a good deal of self-pity and the cold shoulder treatment).
On occasion I have had patients who have reached a milestone, losing a large amount of weight, and instead of the hand slapping high-five elation, I may get a half-hearted shrug of the shoulders. They seem to have a case of the “Lapband Letdown“. They aren’t feeling quite how they thought they would feel.
Now this doesn’t happen all the often. The best part of my job is celebrating the weight-loss victories. And these victories often aren’t even related to appearance. There is no better feeling than sharing in the elation of a patient who is no longer deemed diabetic, or who has been taken off their blood pressure meds. Of one who can get on that airplane and not have to ask for a seatbelt extender, or of someone who is finally pregnant…now THAT is a good day!
But sometimes I do get patients who are not feeling the way they anticipated they would feel. Yes they feel better physically but emotionally or psychologically they are not in that ‘hip-hip-hooray’! frame of mind.
What we know is that pre-band expectations need to be realistic in order to not only have weight loss success but to have the emotional success that should go with the weight loss. Losing weight gives a person so many things: better health, better mobility, more energy, and better quality of life to name a few. What it won’t do however is change certain pre-band situations. It probably won’t change the way a rotten employer treats a person. It won’t necessarily ‘get’ someone the job they always wanted. And it likely won’t fix a relationship that was not good to begin with. The band is a very effective tool that when adjusted well and used properly controls the hunger a person would normally feel from eating less food. Period. As we always say (I know ‘over and over’), it is not a magic wand, it is a tool. But what a wonderful tool it can be.
As a lapband nurse I want to ‘fix’ these issues. I want these patients to be able to look at where they started and to see and celebrate where their hard work has taken them…to congratulate themselves and revel in the knowledge that they fought hard, are fighting hard and are WINNING the battle! But I can’t do that. That has to come from within. Sometimes it is just a matter of time and people come around and recognize and take great pride and pleasure from what they have worked so hard to achieve. Sometimes it takes professional help to examine what is missing, to figure out what is behind these feelings.
The Three Legged Stool:
I have always said that to have success in any weight loss endeavour you must have a well-balanced three-legged stool. The first leg is eating the right foods in the right amount. The second leg is incorporating daily exercise. And the third, and often hardest leg to ‘balance’ is having ones head ‘in the game’. If one of these legs is off, the stool will be wobbly and unbalanced and the success will be limited and short-lived.
So remember: keep your stool balanced (this is starting to sound like a blog for seniors) and recognize if it is becoming unbalanced. Live each day of this new life you are creating in this new body fully and joyfully and celebrate every single victory no matter how small it may seem! (and for anyone who may have the luxury of someone else making their lunch… eat that ketchup and baloney sandwich with a smile on your face…).
Yours in Health and Fitness,