Attending bariatric support groups was a requirement of my bariatric surgery program. I think this component was one of the most essential weight loss surgery requirements. Having support for your bariatric surgery is vital to your success. As you make changes, there will be times you want to give up. You need people in your corner to motivate you or kick you in the pants when you need it. Meetings are typically centered around a specific topic and allow you to connect with other patients. Online support groups can be just as helpful, as well as different types of support groups. It’s essential to reach out to your support groups when you’re struggling and succeeding. Attending bariatric support groups can provide support, motivation and information to improve your weight loss journey.
Support is Vital
It’s so much easier to stick to something if you can talk to someone else going through it too. Attending bariatric support groups is a great way to stay motivated since the people attending are either going through the bariatric process or have already completed it. It’s nice to meet people going through the same program to compare notes and get information from each other. It’s also lovely to see people further along in the process. Some days it feels as if getting to surgery and the post-op care seem impossible. By attending these support groups, you see that other people have gone through it and survived. You can survive too.
You get the expertise of someone who has been through the bariatric surgery process and can give you tips and advice, but you also have experts and professionals who attend. Generally, these are the people running the meeting or the featured presenter. Either way, use the bariatric support groups to get answers to any questions lingering in your mind. Don’t be afraid to open up to these people. They understand where you’re coming from and what you’re going through. There is nothing off-limits or question too dumb to ask. If you are wondering about something, chances are someone else is also! Speak up, and don’t be afraid.
Major Life Changes
Beyond just seeing that the process is possible, support is vital to your success as a bariatric patient. You’re going to go through a lot of mental and physical changes. Especially for the first six months after surgery, you will need people in your corner to cheer you on and motivate you. Your hormones wreak havoc on your emotions. You need someone to cheer you on as you make these changes and adjust to your new life.
It also doesn’t hurt to seek therapy. At your psychological evaluation, the doctor may have recommended additional treatment before or after surgery. Even if they haven’t recommended it, it’s good to talk to someone about all the changes in your life, especially someone who will be non-judgmental.
When I went through my bariatric surgery, I was also going through a divorce, move, job loss, identity theft and financial troubles. My whole world crumbled before my eyes, and I had to adjust. Luckily, talking to a counselor during this time helped me work through my issues and taught me coping skills I still use to this day. Please don’t let the stigma of mental health stop you from getting help when you need it. If you can’t reach a therapist or counselor, please send me a message on Facebook or email me, and I will gladly listen to you.
Support Group Meetings
When you attend bariatric support groups, they typically follow a set structure. At mine, it started with introductions. Everyone introduced themselves, talked about where they are in the bariatric process and any additional information they wanted to add. Each meeting had a specific topic or guest speaker, and that person would give their presentation. Then, the facilitator opened the floor for discussion, and we all had a chance to ask our questions.
In the end, we were able to mix, mingle and talk to specific people if we had some other questions we wanted to ask. There was a nice mix pre-op and post-op people, so a lot of the pre-oppers asked some of the post-oppers some nagging questions. It’s a free and open discussion, and no topic was off-limits. We talked about everything from sex and dumping syndrome to food restrictions and successes. This group was where I could speak freely about my surgery to a room full of people who get it. I always left feeling encouraged and motivated.
Online Support Groups
If you need additional support between your bariatric support groups, I recommend finding some online support groups. First of all, you should go like the Stop Weighting, Start Doing Facebook page. It’s the best way to reach me outside of the blog, and I post inspiration, motivation and tips on there quite frequently. You can find all sorts of people on there to answer your questions, cheer you on and provide additional support.
Another Facebook group that I love is the Weight Loss Surgery Guide. This group was there for me throughout my bariatric surgery process, and they have helped me through some of my darkest moments. It’s nice to be able to discuss my feelings with people from different backgrounds who have experienced a shared life event. If you join, tell them Nicky sent you!
You can also find support on other online bariatric support groups. I know Reddit has several forums you can post in and ask questions, as well as Bariatric Pal. There are so many people out there willing and able to help you, as long as you ask! Just a word of caution – don’t take everything you read in these groups to be gospel. There is no standardization as far as care for bariatric patients in the industry, so every doctor and hospital is different. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations first and foremost.
Get to Know the Lingo
When you go to bariatric support groups or join support forums online, you will hear and a lot of bariatric lingoes. It can be challenging for newcomers to know what everyone is talking about when using acronyms like LRD, WLS, RNY, or VSG. So, to help you out, here are some standard bariatric surgery terms you should know:
- ASMBS–American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery
- BMI–Body Mass Index
- CW–Current Weight
- DS–Duodenal Switch
- F2F–Face to Face
- GW–Goal Weight
- HW–Heaviest Weight
- LRD–Liver Reducing Diet
- LSD–Liver Shrinking Diet
- LW–Lowest Weight
- NSV–Non-Scale Victory
- OAC–Obesity Action Coalition
- RD–Registered Dietician
- RNY–Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass
- Surgiversary–Surgery Anniversary
- SW–Starting Weight or Surgery Weight
- TT–Transformation Tuesday
- VSG–Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy
- WLS–Weight Loss Surgery
Local and Personal Supporters
You can also search your local newspaper or the internet to find other support groups you can attend. If attending bariatric support groups is a requirement of your program, you might have to get a special paper signed saying you attended to get credit for it. Remember to take this paper with you to be filled out.
You could try groups like Overeaters Anonymous or emotional eating groups. You may also want to consider paying for meetings through a weight loss program like Weight Watchers. I did have some success on Weight Watchers before my bariatric surgery, but I wasn’t able to commit to the program entirely. You could also check out other local hospitals to see if they have bariatric support groups, and look on the app Meet-Up for groups in your area.
It’s also essential to have a team of personal supporters in your corner. Hopefully, the people closest to you, like your spouse, family, friends and co-workers, will support you. If you don’t want to tell everyone about your weight loss or weight loss surgery, that’s OK. However, I do believe you need to inform the people who spend the most time with you.
Your spouse needs to be involved and supportive. It’s going to take a lot of life changes for you to get where you need to be, and your spouse will have to support you through the physical and mental changes. He will have to realize that your eating habits are changing, and he has to help you with that. It may also put a strain on your marriage as you lose weight and gain more confidence. Discuss any issues beforehand and seek counseling to address them if necessary.
When I told people about my surgery, everyone was very supportive. Most were so happy for me and ready to support me in any way that they can. My friends even volunteered to change what we eat when we get together to be more inclusive of me. My co-workers were incredibly supportive and helped me make better food decisions at work.
When to Reach Out to Your Bariatric Support Groups
There are several times to reach out to your bariatric support group. Whenever you are struggling or have a big success, share it with your group. It’s particularly helpful when you have online support groups and can share your news immediately. You should also reach out to them when you need advice, encouragement or a laugh.
It’s essential to surround yourself with people who support you. You will want someone in your corner to celebrate your successes with you, someone to push you when you are struggling, someone to lean on when you want to give up and someone to take care of you after surgery. You can’t make this journey alone, and reaching out to your support group is the key to success on this bariatric journey.
Bariatric Support Groups and You
Support groups can seem like a nag, but I promise you they’re worth it. When you’re changing your life so dramatically, you need people to help support you. Meetings provide a wealth of information and allow you to get questions answered. Online support groups can be just as supportive, so find one you like. You can also try other in-person support groups like Overeaters Anonymous and Meet-Up groups. The important thing is that you have support throughout your journey. Attending bariatric support groups can provide support, motivation and new information to improve your bariatric journey.
If you’re ready to start taking the steps you need to find success with bariatric surgery, then I invite you to download my Bariatric Beginner’s Guide. This guide walks you through the 10 habits you need to master to be successful with bariatric surgery. Plus, when you sign up, you get exclusive gifts that only my email subscribers get (like a weight-loss coloring chart!). Sign up today and learn more about how to lose weight and gain life through bariatric surgery.
Each group will be different, but generally, they will focus on a central topic or speaker. You’ll get a chance to talk about yourself and where you are in your bariatric journey, and ask questions. You’ll learn lots of information and discuss with other patients who are also going through the process. They support groups are really helpful and recommended for all bariatric patients.
You can find a bariatric support group through your bariatric surgeon’s office, your local hospital, general weight loss support groups, online forums, and Facebook groups, among many others.