At last night's support meeting, Dr. Willims lead the group in a discussion about the emotions that go along with WLS. A few things struck me and I wanted to talk about them here -- mostly for myself so I can see my thoughts written down, but also for you in case it might help someone else too.
Dr. Williams is the psychologist who led the "Finishing School" group therapy classes that I took about 18 months ago. (And he's getting ready to start a new round of classes.) Typically this therapy session is geared toward patients who are about a year post-op and working to lose the final pounds, or break a plateau or just finish up the journey they started. The classes dealt a lot with learning techniques to help us learn to handle emotions head on instead of using food as a coping mechanism. When you hear ME talk about the classes though, I talk mostly about the "Comprehensive Holistic Wellness Plan" that we developed. A whole life plan of all the goals we want to achieve and how to make them happen based on a written plan that we worked out ourselves. I'm so glad I took that course early one - that Wellness Plan has helped me shape my WLS journey into what I wanted it to be.
But now I'm thinking I need to go back and re-learn all those coping mechanisms that were taught. I mentioned at the meeting last night that felt like I needed to take the original class all over again now that I was further out. But he suggested that I already know those techniques he has taught, but if I were to take his "second session" (the graduate program for Finishing School?) that the techniques I learned would just be built upon more. So I'm considering it.
The thing that struck me was when he was talking about why we plateau when we hit the one year and beyond mark. He mentions that there are three main aspects of our success in conquering obesity through WLS. It's like the three points of a triangle.
Behavior -- our WLS forced us to learn the behavior of eating smaller portions and doing the right things for our body like exercise and taking care of ourselves.
Cognition -- this is knowledge and we have learned this aspect through education about nutrition and a "knowing" of what the right things to eat are and how much to exercise. We know what the right thing to do is.
Emotion -- this is the hardest one to conquer, he says. This is getting to the root of why we became obese in the first place. Why we turn to food for comfort or coping. Why we don't make the right choices even when we know what they are. Why we don't behave in a manner that we know helps us succeed. We must be in tune with our emotions enough to live with them, understand them and accept them - without trying to hide them with food.
He's been working with bariatric patients for years. He's a neuro-psychologist, so he's got a good handle on the brain. And he said last night that when people get those three points of the triangle in tune and deal with that last aspect of emotion - that most times their plateau breaks and they are able to lose those last pounds.
For me, my WLS buddy Mike is a testament to this. In the past 18 months he's gotten his head on straight and his weight finally started dropping - dramatically dropping -- and he's now at his goal weight. All because he dealt with his head. Another gal, Lynn - is seeing the same results.
So today I've been wondering if my emotions are really as "in control" as I thought they were. Maybe not. I don't always make good choices even when I know what those right choices should be. Like "deciding" not to take my vitamins before bed (like last night). Why the hell do I do that? Or like buying junk food at the grocery store. What am I thinking? Or knowing I need another 20oz of water today, but not bothering to get my lazy butt up and get something to drink. Am I sabatoging myself because my emotions are blocking me? I don't know. But there's enough bad behavior lately to make me worry about what is going on with me.
So I'll call and get on Dr. Williams class list. But in the meantime I'm going to pull out my notes from the original classes and review what I once learned. We'll see what I discover, I guess.