We had quite a crowd for the April Kokomo support group. With this great turnout, I asked myself, “What makes a meeting worth attending?” When it comes to this group, I think I know the answer—the people. First off, the group couldn’t ask for better leaders. Laura and Woody Duncan care about people, something that is evident if you spend just a few minutes with them. They truly represent the concept of “paying it forward” when it comes to learning from personal experiences and helping others. The attendees were also kind and cohesive. It was clear that many felt connected to each other. If you are new to the group, I encourage you to keep coming and seek out those connections. Thanks to Laura and Woody for all you have done and continue to do for St.Vincent patients. And thanks to all of those who attended the meeting and participated in our discussion.
If you missed the meeting, here's my recap:
Fear is a normal part of weight loss surgery
Before surgery, patients fear complications and failure. After surgery the fear of weight regain and failure often persists.
It is possible to let go of fear
Letting go of fear is sometimes scary. That sounds odd, huh? But it’s true. We’re often afraid to let go of fear because if we do we might become lackadaisical, overconfident, or lose sight of our goals. But think about it. Is a nervous, fearful driver a good driver? Absolutely not. It’s also true that a distracted, careless or overconfident driver is dangerous on the roads. Likewise, the secret to doing well after bariatric surgery is to be mindful and conscientious, not scared. You can let go of fear by being prepared, developing daily disciplines, and surrounding yourself with people that hold you accountable and encourage you. If you have the tools, a plan to use them, and people around who will help, there is no need to fear.
We need a community
The longer I am in this field the more I appreciate our need for support. Doing something as difficult as weight management is almost impossible without the help of others. This group reminded me that going solo makes the weight loss journey difficult and sometimes lonely. Working alongside others helps us laugh more often, makes the tears dry faster, and allows us to sometimes walk a path previously paved by others.
You decide if it’s worth it
One person who was on the fence about having surgery attended group. I loved her honesty--she told everyone she wasn’t ready for surgery yet. Several group members eloquently communicated that we shouldn't have to be "convinced" that surgery is right for us. Others can inform us of the potential benefits, but in the end it’s a commitment that each person needs to make. You decide if it’s worth it. Don’t be strong armed by physicians, family members or anyone else.
Developing new habits is sometimes easier than we think
Lastly, a soft-spoken man, who has overcome a major life hardship, informed me that sometimes new habits are easier than we think. For people who have battled their weight for many years, confidence can be quite low. However, bariatric surgery is a powerful tool. If you consistently “work the program” habits are formed. Once we form good habits some behaviors become somewhat automatic. Be patient. Stay persistent.