The Road I Traveled
Over the past several weeks I have had many friends and family encourage me and congratulate me on my decision to undergo weight loss surgery and in pursuing a healthier lifestyle in general. The thing is, I didn’t come to this decision lightly or quickly and I know I’ve mentioned that before, but I hadn’t provided details on any of it…not that I was keeping or hiding any of that, but my mind was fully focused on what the RIGHT decision was.
I first seriously started talking and thinking about weight loss surgery 8 years ago. I was SO tired of trying a diet having some modicum of success, start making exceptions to my regimen then abandoning the diet all together…just to gain the weight back…PLUS more. I’d gotten to the point where if my wife suggested a new diet I’d almost immediately write it off as ‘Diets do not WORK…at least for me.’ It wasn’t until just recently that I discovered that Diets CAN work…but honestly they’re not sustainable. I mean seriously, can you survive the rest of your life on the cooked cabbage diet? So 8 years ago, I talked to my doctor about his thoughts on weight loss surgery his take was that while they are effective at helping people lose a large amount of weight, there can be some psychological repercussions. He went on to explain that while they aren’t certain why, but couples who one of the two have undergone weight loss surgery, they have seen a significant increase in divorce. I tried to find out if this impact was reduced at all if both couples were deeply committed Christians and at the time really didn’t find an answer. But his answer was enough to make me shelve the idea at the time.
As the next 8 years passed, a few things happened. I continued to gain weight…and I got older. The years of neglect to my body and health started to take a toll…my joints hurt, knees, back and I found that any sort of exercise was painful and wouldn’t go away after multiple tries. A few years back we watched the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. This is a really good documentary that talks about processed foods and how awful they are for us. The documentary clicked with me, the science they showed behind their findings made sense to me and to this day I still believe they are right about food that’s manufactured in America today. They push a Juicing diet and we tried that and while I DID lose a significant amount of weight, this too was not sustainable…again gained all the weight back PLUS more. But I learned a lot about nutrition and exactly how bad processed foods are. This caused me to THINK more about the choices I made when we couldn’t cook.
It was at this point that I basically gave up…I remember thinking to myself, ‘Well…here I am, I’ve tried many diets to an ultimate negative result. There IS no magic pill…no magic path to losing weight…this is obviously who God made me to be and I will live this way until the day God has determined I will breath my last.’ I just stopped caring. That doesn’t mean that I just ate whatever and whenever, I still had my Diabetes to manage (which I wasn’t doing that great at…my A1C at one point was 10.4) and while I KNEW I had to incorporate exercise into my life to get healthy, I simply was in too much pain…walking from the parking lot into work left me winded and in pain…so I avoided exercise.
It was early last year that I started talking about weight loss surgery again with Lisa. She was concerned as this is NOT a reversible surgery and it permanently modifies your body. My concern was if I CAN’T make the changes I needed both physically and mentally on my own, what made me think I could with surgery? So I continued to pray about it and wrestle with it over the next few months. My wife and I attended an informational (and required) educational seminar on Bariatric Surgery. In that seminar the man said many things which I had thought before, like diets…even Bariatric surgery isn’t a magic-pill…they are simply TOOLS. If a carpenter picked up a hammer and tried to use it to cut a board to length, it’s NOT going to work very well…he needs to know HOW to use the tools in his toolbox. My health continued to decline…I didn’t sleep well, no stamina for even standing to cook…I finally had enough…I wanted to seriously pursue weight loss surgery. I decided it was MORE important to BE here for my wife, kids and family then it was for any sacrifice of food I would have to face. But you SO enjoy cooking! How’s surgery going to effect that? I still have my arms and desire to create GOOD food…that’s never going to change. What about the warning your earlier doctor gave you about possible psychological repercussions? God is my source of EVERYTHING, if Lisa and I keep GOD central in ALL things, I have faith this won’t be an issue. For the next 6 months, I saw the bariatric nutritionist once month, met my surgeon, had my mind examined by a Psychologist twice and had several meetings with the PA that was assigned to me. All of which I must say were VERY helpful, honest and encouraging.
…and that brings us to a week before surgery…nervous? Somewhat, who wouldn’t be? Concerns? Only one…one that I had been wrestling with for a while now…if God is my source for EVERYTHING, why do I need surgery? Should I even be considering this surgery? So, as I do whenever I need answers to life, I turn back to the source…His word. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. Ok…conviction! Ugh…yes, I KNOW Lord that I have utterly failed at honoring you with my body…but wait…then I thought, what’s the next step AFTER conviction? …Repentance. Repentance is more than simply acknowledging your wrongdoings. It’s a change of mind and heart. It’s a turning away from, setting aside, removing yourself from. Repentance requires change. I began to understand that God could accomplish His will through this surgery. Then in the midst of my seeking God’s will in this, I came across a fellow Christian’s opinion on the internet. When asked; ‘Do you think surgery as a weight loss option is “against God”? I have struggled a long time…and am beginning to consider this option. Can it not be a blessing from God, having this technology and knowledge to even be able to have this done? I know God can move mountains…including my weight. Does my interest in this mean a lack of faith?’ While I myself never felt that my decision displays any lack of faith, I HAVE consider the possibility of WHO AM I to alter that which God created…’ The person’s response was this; ‘You asked if I thought weight loss surgery was “against God.” As you said, the bible doesn’t specifically say anything about that so each believer needs to seek the Lord for themselves. But I can tell you the evaluation I’ve personally made. Surgeries are generally used as a tool to fix something that is broken. Do you believe that something is wrong with the way your stomach or digestive system functions? Or is the problem with your heart and mind and the obesity merely a side effect of your health habits?’ That response set me back on my heels a bit and I got a little angry at first…then God pointed out to me that this person’s response was based on the assumption that the person considering weight loss surgery hadn’t addressed the real and deep seeded hurts that were the root cause of the weight gain to begin with and that under His blood, I have none of those root causes.