Nothing of value comes without effort

By Adam Glasgow - 7/7/2017

The Myth of the Easy Way Out

I love learning from my patients. They have great ideas, inspiring thoughts, and important observations.  Here’s a recent example:

“My husband doesn’t want me to have weight loss surgery because he thinks I’m taking the easy way out.” I’ve heard this, or some variation of it, probably hundreds of times.

For years I have offered the same answer: Weight loss surgery is not easy. It is just a tool to help you lose weight, and it still requires a lot of work.  And while I still know that to be true, I recently learned how to think about this in a new light.

At one of our recent support groups, we discussed how frustrating it is when people diminish the accomplishment of losing weight through surgery, or try to discourage their family or friends from having surgery because they think it is “cheating.” If you have had weight loss surgery, you know these myths are far from true.  At its core, this type of thinking represents a misunderstanding of what weight loss surgery is all about, and it certainly underestimates how hard people have to work to lose weight even after having surgery.

But during our discussion that night, someone added something that was so simple yet so overlooked: What would be wrong with taking the easy way out? Wow, that struck me like a thunderbolt.

What WOULD be wrong with taking the easy way out?

If someone we care about is facing a medical challenge – let’s say diabetes or hypertension – would we ever think to tell them that taking medication was “the easy way out?” Would we want our loved one to struggle to overcome their challenge, and face increasing health risks while they “worked hard” to triumph over it?  Would there be any added benefit to that?

There are so many things in life that present difficult challenges and require hard work to succeed. Weight loss is certainly one of them– whether you achieve it with or without surgery.   So why would we ever want to make our struggle more difficult, just for the sake of gaining someone else’s approval.

I’m grateful to my patients who have helped me see this issue in a fresh way.  Now let’s work together to overcome the stigma that society imposes on the challenge of weight loss. Not everyone who criticizes the value of weight loss surgery intends to be negative or sabotaging.  Some people just repeat what they have heard, or say things mindlessly, or have misinformation. It is our job to help educate and inform -- with kindness.

The next time someone tells you that weight loss surgery is “taking the easy way out,” in addition to explaining that it is hard work, you can also ask them gently if they would opt for the most difficult path to overcome their own health issues?  And most importantly believe in yourself and the decision you have made to face your own challenge.

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