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I was reading a blog the other day by another bariatric patient. Their blog post was about what not to say to someone who’s had bariatric surgery. I acknowledge that the ideas in her post were her personal thoughts, but I thought I’d share my personal thoughts about some of the things that this person brought up. The items in quotes are the things that she stated you shouldn’t say to a bariatric patient.
“You look so good!”
–I personally think compliments are nice. I definitely have to keep myself in check though, because my automatic reaction for years has been to dismiss compliments, thinking that they must not be genuine, or I would try to minimize them by saying “yeah, but…” and then point out negative things about myself. The original blogger stated that they didn’t like this because they didn’t have surgery to “look good”, but to be healthy. Well, yes, obviously that is the main motivation–health–but why shouldn’t you also get to look good too? When someone compliments me now, I smile and say thank you, rather than automatically try to dismiss the compliment.
“Can you eat that?”
–I realize that this may get annoying to some people, but in my mind, I feel like people ask because they are genuinely curious. They don’t know the type of diet I have to follow post-op, and so they are being interested in my life. I don’t mind at all sharing what I do and don’t eat, quantities, etc. I would much rather people be educated first-hand, rather than make assumptions about what a bariatric patient’s lifestyle is like.
“Does it bother you for me to eat in front of you?”
–I find it nice that people are wanting to be conscious of my new lifestyle, and it doesn’t bother me when people ask this question, nor does it both me for people to eat in front of me. I realize not everyone will feel this way, and it’s a very personal situation to know if you’re strong enough to watch people eat old foods that you used to indulge in and no longer do. But for me personally, don’t do anything different than you normally would just because of me!
“How much weight have you lost?”
–I personally don’t mind sharing this information with people when they ask, though I recognize that not everyone would be comfortable doing so. When people ask often though, sometimes it makes me feel like I’ve not made much progress, as I tend to go through stalls from time to time, and when I say “about 60 pounds” for 3 weeks each time I’m asked, it seems like no progress is being made. Although I haven’t lost weight in a few weeks, I have definttely gone down in clothing sizes, so I like to measure my progress in other ways besides just the scale. I also recognize that I am a person that “carries weight well”, at least at the current weight that I am right now. This has been my “comfortable weight” throughout adulthood… in the past, no matter how hard I tried, I really struggled to get much beyond this weight. I’m currently weighing in at about 285 pounds. So you do that math to know what I weighed pre-op. But I am wearing size 20s, which has been my smallest adult size. See for yourself.
“You’re getting too skinny.”
–This is actually one that I agree with the original poster about. It hasn’t personally been said to me at this point, but I know people who have had it said to them. And the bottom line is, unless you are a doctor or a dietitian, then you cannot possibly know if the person is, in fact, too skinny. As a bariatric patient, you are followed closely by a team that consists of your surgeon, nurses, and dietitians. And truthfully, they’re the only ones that can tell us if we are “too skinny”. We have goals to meet, and as we try to reach them, people in our lives are possibly seeing us like they’ve never seen us before. So to them, we might seem “too skinny”, but the reality is, our ultimate goal is to become a healthy weight, and unless we are under that healthy weight, then we’re not too skinny. Here’s my “too skinny” husband.
All in all, I try not to be exceptionally sensitive about the things other people say to me regarding surgery. Because I’ve been a very open book about the whole thing, sometimes people will say things that could be perceived as insensitive or offensive, but I just let them roll off my back, because for the first time in my life, I’m busy doing me, and I can’t worry about what everyone else thinks.