A great many of the issues I talk to people about make me genuinely empathetic. I can relate to something in their experience – if not the specific event, at least the way they feel about it. This is only enhanced with bariatric patients – after all, I’ve been through most of what they are going through.
However, there is one “bariatric subject” that I have no grasp of. Sadly, it is the one subject that just about everyone talks about:
Your Doctor, Your Scale, And You
Go visit any bariatric forum, Facebook group, or message board. I guarantee, within the first 5 posts, you will see some version of the following message:
“Help! My goal weight is (X), and I am stuck at (Y)!!! What am I doing wrong???”
Goal weight, for the uninitiated, is the weight your doctor thinks you should settle in at after bariatric surgery. It tends to be the #1 fixation of bariatric patients. It is also, in my opinion, just about the most worthless of metrics.
Ever since the day I read an article that pointed out that the entire 2004 U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team were “obese” according to BMI, I have been suspicious of weight as a measurement of health. Need some more recent proof? Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson is, with a Body Mass Index of 34.1, obese.
Man, I would give a lot to be obese like The Rock. Just sayin’.
Weight is only one of several factors that determine health. But it tends to be the one thing that bariatric patients focus on. Why? Probably because we all have scales at home, and can check that number constantly. Seriously – I have more than one friend that feels compelled to weigh every day.
We seriously need to stop with this obsession over numbers and start concerning ourselves with overall health.
Today, I can run 15 minutes straight. A year ago, I could walk about 10 minutes before collapsing on the couch and hyperventilating for half an hour. That, to me, is worth greater attention that the number on my scale.
My “goal weight” is officially 185 pounds. I may never get there, having slowed my weight loss way down by starting up again at the gym. I couldn’t care less. My clothes are still fitting differently every week. I am on my way to being able to run in a 5K in 2 months. By the end of the year, I hope to be able to bench-press my body weight.
In short, I am much more interested in what my body can do than what it weighs.
Body weight varies for all kinds of reasons. Water retention. Illness. Over- and under-eating. Any one of these things can cause that scale number to not move, or even move the wrong way!
But you have to ask yourself: what can I do now that I couldn’t do before weight loss surgery? How has my quality of life improved? More importantly, what can I do to continue improving it?
And the numbers of your BMI or on your scale will give you no help with that whatsoever. Find goals that actually mean something: participate in an event. Try on a new swimsuit. Take up a new hobby.
If you are healthy enough to do everything you want to do, weight is nothing but a number.
Just go ask The Rock. He’ll tell ya.
Though I Am Still Obsessed With The Number On The Treadmill,