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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Boundaries After WLS

Last evening I attended a support group meeting, the first face-to-face support group I've been to in years because of the miles that separate me from my surgeon's office. I was the guest of my friend Lori who you've met here before.

What a refreshing experience.

An effervescent slender woman named Jo welcomed me at the door with a smile and handshake - she is the group leader and 5-year successful RNY post-op. She began the meeting reviewing the courtesy rules of the group and then we each introduced ourselves. This is a graduate support group, members are 1+ years post-op and they all seemed to know and enjoy one another. I appreciated that Jo asked us not to give our weight stats. She said "Once you are one year out you are all success stories." It made me feel warm and welcomed.

I liked Jo the minute I met her - she conveys compassion and celebration at the same time. But what made me fall in love with her is that she opened with the announcement that she'd had a horrible day - "The day from H**L!" And, in response to what she described as feelings of lost self-worth and stress, she ate not one, but two cookies! My goodness - this ray of sunshine is a real person!

Jo is a 5-year post-op success story. And she had a bad day and she did what any of us have done on occasion: she self-medicated with food. Her candor elevated her in my eyes. It was so important for her to share this, that even the strongest struggle with WLS. We talk about it all the time here at LAWLS, that WLS isn't an easy answer and lot's of times it's hard work and even a menace to be compliant with the WLS way of life. I sometimes struggle and stress gets the best of me resulting in poor food or fitness choices. It was so comforting to learn that I am not alone.

The topic of the night was boundaries. She explained that as morbidly obese people (in recovery) we need to set boundaries. Several group members gave examples of boundaries they have set to help use their WLS successfully.

In my own life initially after surgery I set the boundary that I would not eat at the computer. As a writer it was my habit to eat while writing which contributed to my morbid obesity. For years I honored that boundary. However, early this year when I was working under intense deadline I excused this boundary and began eating at the computer. What happened? Weight gain. In my personal self-assessment in April I identified that I had let this boundary slip and set the goal to restore it. No more eating at the computer. It feels good to be in control of the boundary again.

The discussion was enlightening and engaging, fun and serious both. Jo concluded the meeting with the challenge that we identify and set boundaries in respect for the WLS lifestyle. She then encouraged us to include positive affirmations in our day so that we can see ourselves positively. She said, "If you could only see yourselves through my eyes you would all know that you are success stories."

What a great experience for me. I hope I'm invited back.


Kim S. said...

I love setting bounderies. It must be part of that "control" thing that I so desire.

I'm glad that you had a great time at the group meeting. It's good for the soul to do it every now and again!

Nanci said...

I'm not good at setting boundaries (it's the rebel child in me...)but I know how much it helps to have a plan. My latest boundary - I will not eat anything after 8 PM.

I'm glad you got to attend this support meeting. I go to my first one tomorrow morning.

The support group leader made a good point. We often fail to see ourselves as others see us. We see our failures and weaknesses, while others see our strengths.

Julie said...

Excellent post. Just what I needed to hear today. :)

Fearless Artist said...

Great post. I too am finally learning about boundaries. Both setting them for others and following them for myself. I feel like I am an onion and my "layers" are peeling away. Thanks for this interesting post! PS: You are listed on my blogroll on my blog. :)

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