My name is Christine Arroliga and I’m a Bariatric Nurse. But you can just call me Chris.
About twenty years ago, I was asked to help develop the bariatric program at a local hospital here in South Jersey. I said yes, of course, because I love a new challenge.
Back then there were very few hospitals and practices doing bariatric surgery. In fact, I was one of the first in the area to become a Certified Bariatric Nurse. Since then, I’ve retired from hospital nursing, joined Dr. Balsama’s incredible team and helped hundreds upon hundreds of patients navigate the journey to a happier, healthier life.
One of the most helpful tips I can give our patients is to stop focusing only on what the scale says. Too many people are way too focused on that number.
Instead, I tell them to focus on ‘Non-Scale Victories’. That’s what we call the positive weight loss experiences that have nothing to do with that number on the scale.
Today, I want to let you in on a few non-scale victories to look out for after bariatric surgery. Here are five of my favorites:
Building Up Your Self-Esteem
This one seems pretty obvious to most people. There’s no doubt you’re going to feel better about yourself when you look in the mirror and think, “I’m thinner, I’m healthier.” But, more importantly, it’s about realizing the fact that you’re taking back control of your health.
I used to do a little exercise with our pre-operative patients. I had them write an essay called “Why I’m Having Weight Loss Surgery.” Some people wrote five pages, others wrote one. But the one that stuck out to me the most was only one sentence long.
It read, “Because Monday never came.”
When I asked the gentleman who wrote that sentence what it meant, he said very simply, “I kept saying, ‘I’ll start the diet on Monday, I’ll start exercising on Monday.’ But that’s all over now.”
You see, bariatric surgery gave that gentleman the confidence he needed to face his health issues head-on. At our practice, Monday starts the minute you walk through our door.
Improving Your Social Life
After bariatric surgery, your social life is likely to change in one way or another. One day, you may find you have the stamina to keep up with everyone else. Or you’re no longer winded after chasing around those grandchildren of yours. These are the positive non-scale victories that will help you feel more comfortable in your own skin.
But that’s not all! At our practice, you’re also likely to gain a valuable support system. Yes, there’s me and there’s Dr. Balsama and the ever-brilliant Kathy McKeever, but you’ll also join the incredible network of Balsama Buddies. You’ll meet women and men from all walks of life at our fun-filled events. You’ll also meet people who understand what you’re going through at our bariatric support groups.
Over the years, I’ve seen members of our support groups become exercise buddies and I’ve seen others become lifelong friends.
I always say, “Happiness shared is happiness increased. Grief shared is grief decreased.” At our support group, you’ll have the chance to share your story with women and men who’ve walked in your shoes.
Feeling More Energetic
After retiring from “hospital nursing”, I came to work for Advocare Surgical Specialists in 2012. At first, I was working with a number of Bariatric Surgeons; five to be exact. But soon, I was given the chance to pick one doctor to work with.
I chose Dr. Louis Balsama because of his professionalism, his philosophy of care and the way he motivates his patients to jumpstart an active lifestyle.
Many people find they have more energy once they’ve recovered from bariatric surgery. One reason for this is the fact you’re no longer carrying around a heavy load of excess weight.
At our practice, we encourage you to put that energy to good use. We regularly participate in 5k races for charity and I personally invite each of our patients to friend me on the RunKeeper App. That way, we can keep each other motivated to stay healthy and happy.
Dealing with Less Pain
Those living with mild to severe obesity are more likely to experience pain, particularly in their knees and feet. Why?
Think about it this way: Every one pound of fat adds at least four pounds of pressure on your body.
Those who have undergone bariatric surgery often find their pain has decreased or disappeared altogether. Even those suffering from chronic pain like fibromyalgia or arthritis may find their symptoms have lessened.
As far as non-scale victories go, this is one of the most important. Less pain means fewer obstacles in your path. Take advantage of how good it feels to be pain-free and kickstart that journey towards healthy habits!
At Dr. Balsama’s practice, we like to say we ‘add life to your years’. But for some of our patients, the reverse is also true: we add years to their lives.
There are many illnesses that are made worse or even caused by severe obesity. With bariatric surgery, you have the chance to stop these illnesses from getting worse, or get rid of them entirely.
Do you suffer from type II diabetes? High blood pressure? What about high cholesterol? Bariatric surgery can help fight all these life-threatening ailments and so many more.
Of course, non-scale victories are different for everyone. We all react to change in different ways. And sometimes, it takes a second to recognize positive change for what it is. But with Dr. Balsama, Kathy and I by your side, you’ll have three pairs of helpful hands guiding you on your path towards a happier and healthier life.
Are you interested in learning more about the world of weight loss surgery? Join Dr. Balsama and I at our regularly scheduled Weight Loss Surgery Seminars.
Hope to see you soon,