The path to bariatric weight loss can provide amazing health improvements and an increased sense of wellbeing over a lifetime. The Gastric Guru, Aisha Walker, shares her experience of life after surgery and what living well means to her.
After your surgery what positive changes occurred in your life that you didn’t expect?
‘The best thing that happened after my bariatric surgery was my diabetes went into remission. I had been suffering from diabetes and the effects of the disease for 22 years, so I was struck by the almost immediate feeling of improved health, which greatly increased my sense of wellbeing. It was such a relief to be able to stop taking diabetes medication. Second to that was actually seeing the weight starting to come off. Until this point I had spent my life on various diets and struggled to drop a dress size or two. So it was astonishing to watch the number on the scales decline!
It felt amazing to be so much lighter and have more energy so quickly after surgery. Soon I was able to accomplish things that I would never have attempted before. In just the first few months I was climbing and walking on holiday – not being out of breath made a major difference to my life.
Thirdly, I was able to look in the mirror and feel happy to be me. This is such a significant thing. Before I lost the weight I found it so difficult to accept the person I saw in the mirror. I didn’t like who I saw and struggled to accept this was who I was going to be for the rest of my life. Having surgery changed that. It allowed me to be the person I always wanted to be. It has given me back my life. Its allowed me to be a great mum, a confident wife and a person that I can now love.’
What tough challenges did you experience in the early days that you’ve now been able to overcome?
Changing my eating habits
‘The main struggle that I had in the early months of post op was adjusting to the change in eating habits. From my personal experience I can verify that surgery isn’t easy. I had to deal with my mind telling me ‘I want food’ while knowing my body doesn’t require it. To overcome this discord between the mind and body and bring the two into agreement I found keeping a food diary and relying on a strict, daily routine very helpful. I think meal planning and portion control were then and still are the cornerstone of my success.
Adapting to change in my relationships
I have learned that not only do we experience a physical change to our body image but we also experience changes to our relationships. While this may not ring true for everyone who’s had surgery, I found my circle of friends changed and widened. It was quite daunting to start with but I’ve come to really value the new friendships I had made within the bariatric surgery community. These new friends have been a constant source of support and we really understand each other’s ups and downs, it’s a wonderful thing!
Identifying with my new body image
A year after surgery my body shape had changed so much. At times the weight fell off parts that I would rather it didn’t, leaving me a little diminished in areas! Only recently I’ve started actually looking at my body and thinking about new styles of clothes. This phase of adjusting to a new body image is challenging because it takes careful thought and I need to focus on myself in ways I’ve not been used to until now. So to find out what style I can now go for I went to a personal shopper and got a new bra fitting. My main priority is to feel comfortable and confident but also make the most of my new shape and try to enjoy dressing nicely, now I can. I advise anyone thinking about changing their style to suit their new body shape to go to a personal shopper and get your measurements done!’
What does living well after bariatric surgery mean to you?
‘If I could give someone an idea of how my life is now after surgery, it would be that I’m living my dream. Yes, realistically, there are ups and downs along the way, but that is true for everyone in life and problems would still occur if I hadn’t had surgery. But the difference now is that my problems are not about my weight and health. I’m no longer depressed about being overweight and unwell. My life has changed in such an amazing way. I feel I’m living a much fuller life. For example, when I’m out and about I can climb a flight of stairs and don’t have to ask if there is a lift. I can run a race at my daughter’s sports day and not have to sit out on the sidelines; I can go out to dinner with my husband and not be embarrassed about what I order. I’m now defined by what I can do rather than what I can’t do. While I can do so many more activities, the most important change is that I have finally learnt to love and accept myself.’
After bariatric surgery it takes patients a huge effort to overcome obesity and gain a healthier lifestyle. Thank you Aisha for sharing your experience, we love hearing how patients are living more enriched lives as a result of their surgery.
Do you know someone who has had bariatric surgery with Streamline Surgical? Are you proud of what them?
To show our support and appreciation for their hard work and achievements we want to celebrate with a fun competition, ‘Who is your Bariatric Surgery?’ To find out more including how to nominate your hero click here.
*Weight loss surgery results and/ or benefits vary and are different for every individual.