3 Lessons Learned from Bariatric Support Group--Greenfield, Indiana

Despite my tardiness in writing my reflections from the Greenfield support group, I can assure you that I’ve thought quite a bit about some of the people there and several of the interactions that took place. Although I will continue to attend support groups on occasion, this was my last group in the “spring blitz.” I have learned so much by being with all of you and want to thank each of you for attending and offering encouragement to others. Many of you encouraged me by buying a copy of my book or telling me that the information inside the covers has been helpful.

Here are my three thoughts from the Greenfield meeting...

Enjoy the honeymoon

Many of the people who attended the support group had their bariatric surgery within the past 18 months. Although it’s possible for this to be an extremely challenging period (especially if a patient has complications), it is probably the most exciting time of the journey. Although it’s easy to deem this honeymoon period as irrelevant, we shouldn’t. The honeymoon period is when we most clearly see the contrast between our old life and new life. We experience feelings and create memories that will be with us forever. In order to make this time most useful for the long journey, I encourage patients to tell and retell their story, write about the changes that are happening to their body and in their mind, or create a memory box or scrapbook to highlight important milestones. Embrace the honeymoon and know that your experiences during this time can help you through the challenging times that await you. Having a great honeymoon can also set the stage for wonderful second, third, and fourth honeymoons.

Appreciate each day

There was one man in the group who touched the core of my soul. He experienced a life-changing event that has impacted his mobility and his independence. When I asked him how this has affected him he didn’t mention the unfairness of his situation. He didn’t express bitterness or anger. He told me he was thankful to be alive, to everyday spend time with the ones he loves. What many people would call a tragedy, or taking away the important parts of life, he described as an experience that has caused him to see life differently and appreciate life more fully. Although I’m sure he has many challenging times, his perspective was uplifting. We can all learn from his point of view. We will always have something that can be viewed as an obstacle in our lives. But those same things can be a portal to experiencing life in ways we never dreamed imaginable.

Accept help, thank those who provide it, and give back

This is a lesson I learned from super Greenfield group leader, Jeff Butts. Jeff has turned his weight loss journey into an open-door policy to help others. Jeff shares his triumphs, his challenges, and his disappointments. He is honest and vulnerable. All of us have people who have helped us along the way with something important to us. I’m reminded that we need to thank those people and give back by being that person for someone else.