After weight loss surgery, it is common for friends and family to be curious about it. You will likely have to field a lot of questions about how you arrived at your decision to have surgery. Most people will have innocent questions and interest, but there are times when others may be more judgmental and accuse you of taking the easy way out.
There are several ways to go about handling both innocent questions and criticism from others. If you have done the surgery for medical reasons, include those reasons in your answer. Rattle off some facts to those who are questioning you! Tell them that there’s an 80% chance that diabetes will go away following weight loss surgery. You can reduce sleep apnea by 90%. Blood pressure is reduced in 60% of patients, with the rest taking fewer or lower-dose meds to control blood pressure. Weight loss surgery decreases joint pain by 60 to 70%, and it will cut high cholesterol by 60 to 80% – with some individuals getting off all meds. The list goes on. Weight loss surgery helps acid reflux; migraines; polycystic ovarian syndrome; infertility; ulcers; leg swelling; even cancer!
It is difficult to explain all of the thought and consideration that goes into a decision to have weight loss surgery. Someone who has not been through the process will have no idea how complex your complete answer really is, or how much consideration you put into making your decision.
It is extremely helpful to come up with an abbreviated answer ahead of time. Since you cannot explain every detail about what brought you to your decision, narrow what could be a book on the topic to a sentence or two. Using generalities may be helpful. Saying something like, “I wanted to live longer, see my grandchildren, and stop suffering from my medical problems.”
If you run into someone who is being overtly judgmental, you may simply choose not to answer his or her question. Instead, make note of their judgment. Say something like “Your negativity toward my decision to have weight loss surgery is blatant. Maybe you should be less concerned with my decisions and more concerned with your condemnation of other people.” Although it is difficult for many of us to say something that assertive, it is highly effective. It will stop a critical person in their tracks, and it may even get them to see how their negativity affects others.
It is unfortunate that many bariatric patients experience negative judgment and comments from others. It is really important that you understand that more often than not, the people that make these comments are unhappy in some area of their own lives, and their comments stem from a place of jealousy or just plain ignorance. It is not unlike a high school bully. They terrorize you to make themselves feel better. That being said, I encourage my Blossom clients to remember that people who make negative or downright mean comments about you are saying a whole lot more about themselves than about you!
Ultimately, there is no “right “answer to the question of why you chose to have surgery. No matter how you choose to answer the people who question your decision, make sure to stand tall, look them in the eye, and proudly say what you need to say. It takes an intelligent, self-motivated, and brave person to have weight loss surgery. Don’t you forget it.