Food, Change and Motivation

I have a love-hate relationship with food. Generally, I love it. But I hate what it does to me sometimes. I have done a lot of dieting in my life, and the “just walk by” approach never really worked for me, mostly because if something tasted good, I DID walk by. I walked by a lot.

I am now at the weight that I was in college, but I can’t take full credit for it. I was trying to lose weight anyway, and the RA stepped in. I really can’t tell how much I lost through effort and how much through disease. I do, however, try to maintain the loss because I know the damage RA can do to my bones and I don’t want to contribute in any way. I am EXTREMELY thankful that I don’t have to use my handicapped parking sticker very often, but there was a time when I was just thankful for that sticker, period. Avoiding handicapped parking places is powerful motivation.

Which , in a roundabout way, brings me to the topic of the morning. Gastric bypass. The hubby leaves for work before 6 A.M., and it seemed a “heavy” thing, if you’ll pardon the pun, for discussion so early in the morning.

The hubby and his assistant are traveling to a corporate meeting. Now, I wrote before about my husband’s prior assistant. He was allergic to work, and the five years that he worked here before he retired were hard on my husband. Often, he did his job and the assistant’s. Doing so made him extremely tired and sort of pessimistic, which he normally is not.

I cannot even begin to tell you how thankful I–well, we–are for the new assistant. He is like my husband in a lot of ways. He believes in doing an honest day’s work for his pay. He believes in working together, so if somebody needs help, he doesn’t drive away just because it isn’t his job or it’s quitting time. The new assistant is truly an answer to prayer and, believe me, we prayed a lot.

Like my husband and a lot of other railroaders, though, the stress of the job is beginning to show. The assistant traveled for many years before he took this job. In fact, being home every night was the reason he took this job. Still, the years have taken their toll, and one way they did was with weight gain. Generally, you don’t see a lot of old railroaders who are skinny. Even though they do heavy labor, years of being away from their families and eating fast food finally take their health toll. High blood pressure creeps in. Sometimes heart disease. For those who drink their meals, there are other problems as well.

Anyway, as he was getting dressed, the hubby announced that his assistant was taking next Monday off to look into a gastric bypass. The assistant is probably six foot four, maybe 375. He’s not little, but he still moves with ease. I guess his sister had a bypass and lost 130 pounds. That loss looks good to him.

The hubby and I discussed, as we always do when this comes up, people that we have known or known of who have or have not had success with such surgeries. Years ago, we knew a guy in Ohio that literally had to have a van altered so that he could fit behind the wheel. He had gastric bypass surgery and had problems within a week of coming home because he wasn’t following the dietary restrictions. I have heard of people who died after this surgery because they went back to eating as they were used to eating. The hubby and I have discussed for years that the only way gastric bypass would be a success was if you changed your attitude about eating. Or if you had powerful motivation.

This past summer, a woman from our church had bypass surgery and she seems to be doing well. She told me that there was a lot of education and counseling that went on before she had the surgery. And then there was her motivation. She is fifty-six, and she works in the local VA hospital. She likes her job, but over the years she has developed problems with her knees. Problems that involved a lot of pain. She went to her doctor hoping to get referred for a knee replacement, and her doctor refused. He told this woman that she was headed for life in a wheelchair. He said he had watched her gain and lose weight for years and that unless she got her weight under control, a knee replacement wouldn’t take. She needed to get her weight under control first.

So this woman took steps to do just that. Like I said, she likes her job. She knew she hadn’t had success with dieting, so she looked into gastric bypass and began the education program and counseling which is now a prerequisite to it, at least around here. She just wasn’t ready, at fifty-six, to quit her job and look forward to life in a wheelchair. I wouldn’t have been, either. Her surgery was in August, and while I can’t tell that she has lost great amounts of weight (and you would think you would when a meal is two tablespoons of something), she is walking better. Like I said. Avoiding a wheelchair is powerful motivation.

There was a time when I wouldn’t have thought that my husband or any other man could have success with a gastric bypass. No disrespect intended, but I just didn’t see them making a long-term change. Most men I know think that if you don’t talk about a problem that you don’t have one, and that if you do have one, taking one pill or going to the doctor should fix it. Take a step to fix something, and you’re done. Would that it were so! Then I watched my husband cut salt out of his diet when his high blood pressure was diagnosed. I had heard from other wives that this could be a constant battle, but my husband didn’t complain or anything. He just. Cut. Salt. Out. Period. So I’ve begun to change my thinking.

I know from people that have had a gastric bypass that you start out with what would be to me minute amounts of food and introduce other foods a little at a time until you are eating a variety. That’s a huge change and like I said, you have to change the way you think about and react to food, I think, to make gastric bypass a success. That’s hard to do at any age unless you have powerful motivation. But I think my husband could do it because, like I said, he cut salt out of his diet when the doctors said he needed to. And I hope that his assistant, if keeping weight off is what he really wants and the surgery is not just an easy out, can be similarly determined.  I don’t know his motivation, but I hope it’s strong enough.

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