A couple of years ago, I read an article about a woman who had Gastric Bypass Bariatric Surgery, which resulted in her losing a large amount of weight. The article described how she had battled being overweight most of her life. And how she had constantly tried and failed at dieting. She suffered from poor self-esteem and lack of self-worth because of her weight.
Her huge weight loss dramatically changed the way her body looked. The woman described how the dramatic change in how she looked, changed the way that she thought about herself – she became more self-confident and assured. I remember thinking, “wow! That is great.” However, as I continued reading the article, she also described how the weight loss changed how people close to her perceived her and her new body image; and negatively affected many of her close relationships. Several of her close friends abandoned her and her husband divorced her. I finished the article thinking, “how could something so right for her and her health negatively affect her personal life in such drastic ways.”
I recently had the privilege of interviewing, Tanya White an Author, Motivational Speaker, Life Coach and Educator about her weight loss journey and how it has impacted her relationships. White had the lap band weight loss procedure in 2010 and has lost more than 100 pounds and counting.
Interview with Ms. Tanya White, M.Ed.
What made you decide to have the lap band surgery? I was overweight all my life and in 2009, was about to turn 40. Over the years, my doctor would always encourage me to lose weight. Both of my parents died in their fifties. I was tired of dieting and came to terms that dieting did not work for me. The doctor actually recommended the lap band surgery.
Post surgery, how do you feel mentally? I had the procedure in March 2010, it’s about to be 4 years. I’m very pleased with the outcome; without surgery, I would probably be over 400 pounds. I was 364 pounds at the time of my surgery. Prior to having the procedure, I had to think about why I had gained so much weight over the years knowing that diabetes runs in my family. One thing I noticed was that culturally being big or voluptuous is okay. But, when it comes to health, I realized that I needed to make changes.
Have you noticed that your weight loss has affected your relationships? Yes! I have noticed the changes in some of my relationships. I was always “the fat girl”, and unfortunately lost some friends as a result of the weight loss, because I was no longer the fat one; especially some friends that I became smaller than. Despite this, I do have people in my life that want me to succeed.
What about men? Yes, I get more dates; because, I am more approachable, more open and willing to be social. I noticed that when dating all activities used to be centered around food; and some people would get offended when I did not eat while out. One guy even told me that he could not date me anymore, because I “couldn’t eat” and he likes to eat; regardless of me suggesting that we do other things that did not involve food or eating.
Do guys treat you differently? Yes. Some guys would say they did not want me to get too skinny. I was surprised that they were more concerned with what I looked like versus a healthy lifestyle. At the core, I have to worry about diabetes. I do realize that by being overweight this makes me less threatening to people. I have higher standards; and if people don’t want to rise to those standards, that is their problem.
Did your weight ever hold you back from dating or a relationship? Yes. My weight held me back from dating, from taking on leadership roles, and some friendships. My weight stopped me from being all that I can be. I was on more medication and spent a lot of money on massages due to chronic pain; every area of my life was affected by my weight. Even spiritually, I suffered from low self-esteem and body image.
Do you have any final words of encouragement to others who may be overweight? Both men and women, must do what they have to do to live a healthy lifestyle; especially if you’re at least 75 pounds overweight. Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix – you must go through a year of watching what you eat and making changes to your lifestyle; be strong enough to deal with the good and the bad. Don’t be afraid to suggest non-eating activities to friends and family. It is important to be healthy. Whether it’s weight loss surgery or some other means, just do it! And last, turn down functions if you know you will be tempted. I am down 105 pounds and want to lose more; I am now assessing what I need to do to lose more weight.