I’ve led a lot of bariatric support groups over the years. I’ll be honest, some are a lot of work. Sometimes it’s hard to keep folks on topic. Occasionally group members are unaware they are over participating, failing to give everyone a chance to speak. I once had to shut down one man’s suggestion to add bourbon to protein shakes. But the group at St. Roch didn’t have these problems. In fact, I don’t know if I really needed to be there at all. People stayed on topic, shared the verbal air space, and provided each other with encouragement and great suggestions. Thanks for letting me participate in YOUR group!
Support, Support, Support
Statewide, the March support groups had a designated topic—support. Although we didn’t set out to follow the materials provided, support became a main theme of our time together. First of all, many of the participants brought a support person with them. But these weren’t just warm-bodied tagalongs. They were engaged in the discussion and were invested in the well-being of their companions. A handful of people did not bring anyone with them to the meeting. Surprisingly, many of these folks expressed and received the most support during our time together. One memorable interaction was when the group rallied behind a younger person awaiting surgery. At the same time, this young lady provided a fresh perspective on how healthy changes can impact lives.
People Don’t Need to Have Walked in Your Shoes to Provide Support
During the discussion I brought up the point that the general public knows very little about bariatric surgery. I think I used the word clueless. This can be a barrier to receiving support. One wise group member provided a more positive perspective. She explained that just because someone hasn’t had bariatric surgery doesn’t mean they cannot exercise with you, eat healthy foods, and support you while you do the same. She's right! If we write-off potential supporters just because they aren’t family or haven’t had surgery, we are missing out. Although you may always identify as a bariatric surgery patient, in the end that’s just what has been done to you. What YOU DO is much more important. Surrounding yourself with people who also live healthy lives is essential to long-term success.
Don’t Stop With Fitting In
Everyone has different immediate goals related to weight loss. Group members talked about wanting to fit into society better, breathe easier, and eliminate orthopedic pain. These are great goals. But what happens once you meet them? Our group discussed the next level of why. One person wanted to move better so he could coach sports again, another wanted to increase her fitness enough to run a marathon, and another wanted to participate in sports with her kids instead of watching from the sidelines.
Your New Normal is Forever Evolving
It’s important to remember that changes in our life can quickly become our new normal. Challenging our bodies, setting goals, and interacting with like-minded people can keep us committed to our healthy lifestyle.
Thanks Southsiders, and Megan—RD extraordinaire, for such a great evening!