managing pre-op expectations

I have the unfortunate habit of projecting everything far further into the future than necessary. I’m an overthinker. I’m an over-planner. I may reside in the present, but the future is my domain.

So often, this serves to self-sabotage my best efforts, because even my most thoughtful estimations and calculations are no match for the variables of reality. When you expect too much, it’s easy to feel a little deflated when things don’t go exactly according to plan, or when you fall just shy of a goal.

When I sat down with my surgeon for my pre-op appointment last week, I had a laundry list of questions scribbled down for him. “How much weight can I expect to lose, at different intervals? I know everyone is different, but ballpark– what kind of numbers am I looking at?” I asked.

He came prepared with numbers and figures. When you’re a bariatric surgeon, that particular query has to be in the top 5 Greatest Hits of patients’ questions.

The statistics for individuals receiving the gastric sleeve break down as follows:

By my 3-week follow-up, I should lose around 18% of my excess body weight.

By 3 months, I should lose approximately 35-40%.

At 6 months, I should be down roughly half of my excess body weight.

At one year, patients typically level out with approximately 65% of their excess weight gone.

A whole lot of ‘shoulds’ sprinkled with ‘approximately’ and ‘roughly’, but even the best projections are guesswork. As much as we try to predict the future based upon our best understanding of the past and present, it is largely unknowable.

While I have been poring over transformation stories and photos, and looking at my surgeon’s statistics, I am trying to be mindful that everybody is different– every body is different– and the last thing I want to do is sabotage myself by expecting too much too soon. I plan to work as hard as anyone has ever worked in order to achieve the best results possible. I will follow the instructions down to their very precise letters. I will walk and exercise more than required. When they tell me to do one lap, I will happily do four. That’s just how I am. I want to be healthy. I want to look better and feel better, and I want to lead a more fulfilling life for a thirty-something.  This surgery is my path.

But I have no idea how long the road will realistically be between each of those milestones. What takes the average person three weeks might take me two weeks or three months. I’m trying to keep my spirits high and my goals lofty– I am hoping to be down 100 pounds by my installation dinner in late March, which is a stretch even by the the ‘shoulds’.

It comes down to this: I will work very hard to achieve those massive weight loss numbers, absolutely.  But I will not expect them.


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