Beyond the Scale: 10 Non-Scale Victories After Weight Loss Surgery
The scale is held up as the ultimate truth for your progress when trying to lose weight. But you have the least amount of control over this and it is variable at best. Things such as time of day, muscle gain, and a multitude of other factors can affect what your scale is telling you.
Overlooked or forgotten victories that can be achieved off the scale not only provide a much needed boost before reaching your longer term goals, they can also allow you to relive what was once took for granted.
From helping you avoid chaffed thighs or extending your life span, weight loss (also known as bariatric surgery) can help you overcome and achieve numerous victories both on and off the scale. This list contains the top ten non-scale victories from Newstart patients who have taken steps to reclaim their lives. See what they have gained by choosing NewStart.
1. Having Energy To Spare
Rona underwent gastric sleeve surgery to help improve her weight and overall health. But in addition to her weight loss goals she experienced a big boost of energy.
In 2007, researchers at the Department of Endocrinology in VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam reported the correlation between obesity and energy levels through hormonal balances.
Leptin, a hormone responsible for energy regulation, initiates the “satisfying” response to signal when you feel full. Its counterpart, ghrelin, is the hunger hormone also responsible for energy regulation.
Not only are these hormones out of balance in obese patients, they seem to have a “leptin-resistance” which prevents people from feeling fully satisfied. This resistance can “snowball” out of control and lead to imbalances of metabolism, increased food consumption, weight gain, and of course, decreased energy levels.
After weight loss surgery, lifestyle changes such as exercise, diet and balanced living can take root more easily. Separately, they are major victories, but together they combine to build a newfound life that can restore a more normal hormonal balance which can lead to an increase in energy levels.
Rona recounts her own energy resurgence after surgery; she began with feeling younger, and having a notable increase in energy which allowed her to engage in more physical activity such as more walking and playing with her grandchildren.
Removing the burden of chronic fatigue from daily activities can provide an increase in quality time that those who don’t struggle with their weight may take for granted.
2. A New Social Life
"The way people look at me is different now," says Michelle, who at 41 dropped 120 pounds to reach 149, going from size 20 down to size 5/6 after a gastric bypass.
"People are friendlier. When I walk into a store, I feel welcomed...It's a great feeling." Having a general positive outlook on life is not uncommon for individuals undergoing dramatic weight loss. This general positive outlook can easily spill over into other areas of life such as your behaviors, attitudes and your social life.
Now that Michelle conquered her food battles, she acts differently too. Stating when she dines out, "I'm more focused on socializing now than on food," she says. "I have a good conversation with friends, and I almost always take part of my dinner home."
3. Wanted Attention
Rhonda, a healthy woman that never experienced weight problems until after her 3rd child, no longer receives looks of disrespect, distaste or pity nor does she overhear catty remarks while at parties or running errands anymore.
Instead, after losing 65-plus pounds post gastric bypass she states, “I’m loving the attention I get from the weight loss,” she says. “I feel great, and I'm soaking up the compliments about how great I look."
Now that she’s regained the silhouette she had 35 years ago and has given her clothes to charity and has no regrets. "I'd have the surgery again in a heartbeat," she adds.
4. Boosted Vitality, Health and Mobility
“I was able to cancel my back surgery,” says Smith, who reached 330 pounds before his doctor advised him to have a Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass to avoid a back-fusion operation for an arthritic spine.
“I couldn’t walk 100 yards.” Smith is not alone. Four of five obese people are physically impaired, reveals data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
It says obesity and inactivity are “strongly linked.” The larger the waist and higher the body fat, the greater the health risks.
As the U.S. Surgeon General consistently reports: "Physical activity improves the body’s musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory and endocrine systems. With those benefits, danger of premature death, heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes plummets."
After losing 95 pounds, Smith no longer suffers from high blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, sleep apnea and asthma or needs the nine prescription drugs daily to manage them.
The time he used to spend at doctors’ offices regularly he now spends at the gym. “All of my health problems are gone. I’m doing a mile on the treadmill three times a week,” he says. “I feel better in so many ways."
5. Smaller Waist
When Ralph dropped 120 pounds and 12 inches off his waist after a duodenal switch surgery, he gained visible rewards beyond a new wardrobe.
“The things I can do now that I couldn't do before include reaching over and not having 10-12 inches of stomach spilling over and getting in the way,” Gardner says.
Decreasing your waistline, is a non-scale victory almost as common as any scale victory. The feeling of accomplishment after achieving this victory is one that has countless benefits. On average, expect your waist to whittle one inch for every 17-18 pounds shed.
6. No More (Knee) Pain
For those suffering from obesity, pain is usually so common that most tend to build a tolerance to it. This stimuli is the body's warning system to withdraw from potential damage. Remove the pain, remove the threat of permanent damage. Unfortunately, when pain is this constant, permanent damage could be a very real possibility.
“I was so heavy I couldn’t stand for more than five minutes without terrific pain in my knees,” says Steve, who was born heavy and didn’t stop gaining until he had lap band (gastric banding) surgery after hitting about 420 pounds.
An adjustable gastric band helped him pitch 220 pounds.
"The surgery changed my life," he said. Not only has Steve joined a gym, but also a skeet league. "It's allowed me to become more active. I got involved in things I hadn't been able to do in more than 20 years."
The risk for knee osteoarthritis – wear and tear of the joints – is seven times greater for people with a BMI of 30 versus a healthy BMI (of 25 or lower). Researchers reported this in a large-scale Finnish study in Oxford University’s Rheumatology Journal in 2010.
Similarly, “severe crippling knee pain” cramped Donna Matheny’s activities, including her ability to travel. After surgery two years ago, she shed not only the pain and pounds, but also her limitations.
“I was able to go to Colorado and build a cabin in the mountains with my extended family,” she says. “My biggest regret is I didn’t have this surgery years ago.”
7. Escaping The Trap
For Katia Anderson, gastric bypass was a no-brainer. Previously healthy and active, she wanted to escape her current reality.
“I’m young and I have three beautiful children and a wonderful husband”. The onset of obesity can come on so slowly that one might have forgotten certain activities enjoyed years ago.
Due to this slow transformation a person can feel “trapped” in their own body and slowly accept a fate of becoming more sedentary.
However, the removal of such weight can allow one to literally relive past memories and activities in the present day. Bariatrics surgery and general weight loss can restore newfound movement for an increasingly mobile future.
Now the woman who once struggled to play on the floor with her kids goes on bike rides with them and can “dance for hours.” When asked of her choice to move forward with bariatric surgery, without hesitation she stated that, “It was the best decision I ever made.”
8. Removing Shame & Building Self-Esteem
“I’ve always been a strong individual, but I feel my weight loss has renewed my confidence,” says Leah, who had weight loss surgery two years ago.
As she shed weight, she discovered she also shed doubt, anxiety and self-consciousness. What she gained was immeasurable: the awareness that she can attain her dreams.
She boldly explains, “I would say to someone considering surgery: ‘Do it!’ You’ll thank yourself!”
“I’ve always been a strong individual, but I feel my weight loss has renewed my confidence.”
9. Untold Medical Benefits
“I got off insulin,” says Jerry, who is halfway to his weight goal – and off diabetes medicines—taken four times a day. He calls these “amazing results” since having surgery just three months ago.
Not only will he save $4,000 yearly on prescriptions, but he has enhanced his mobility and improved his quality of life.
Diabetes starves cells of energy while excess blood sugar overtaxes and wears down the body’s organs, including heart, blood vessels, kidneys, nerves and eyes.
These symptoms lead diabetics to have more than double the danger of heart attack or stroke, with two of three diabetics dying from cardiovascular disease, reports the American Diabetes Association.
On top of that, diabetics were found to be 39% of all amputees and 42% of all surgeries, reports Britain’s Diabetic Medicine journal. And even worse, one of 10 people died within a month after amputation – and the median life expectancy was a dismal 22 months.
Now that Jerry is likely to lead a long, healthy life, he has just one regret. “I wish I’d done it 10 years ago.” he says.
10. An Easier Life
“I’m able to buy clothes locally and not on the Internet,” says Marc, 59, who had gastric balloon surgery in 2015. Now that he’s no longer pigeon-holed into the “big and tall” category and can wear what he wants. He’s eager rather than reluctant to shop.
“Weight loss surgery has changed my life.”
Donna too relishes in the freedom to wear whatever color, length and shape she wishes without fear of looking foolish. "I have discovered a love of fashion."
“Weight loss surgery has changed my life.”
What Victories Will You Share?
When we think of weight loss, it is easy to become so focused on simply lowering your total weight. So much so that many forget the various victories that can be had. Some of these victories may be intentional while others just added bonuses.
Regardless of the variety of benefits, all of these stories are told by individuals that took steps to reclaim their lives. Fortunately, the first step is the easiest. Watch an educational presentation and see if weight loss surgery is right for you.
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