Bariatric surgery is the last resort . . .
My attention was grabbed this week by publication of new statistics in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), which identified that in the last eight years, there has been a ten-fold increase in ‘bariatric’ surgery. Bariatric surgery falls into one of three categories:
1. Gastric banding: whereby a restricting band is fitted around the stomach to reduce its size so that it will only hold a small amount of food.
2. Gastric bypass: where food is rerouted to a small stomach pouch created by surgeons.
3. Removal: where part of the stomach is surgically removed.
Obesity and obesity related illnesses and problems is something that is growing exponentially and increasingly, medical specialists are recommending that more patients undergo these radical procedures in order to help patients lose weight.
The British Obesity Surgery Patients Association, The Royal College of Surgeons and Imperial College (who co-authored the BMJ report) are all sending out the same message that bariatric operations are effective for some obese people, they can be successful and cost-effective to the NHS and that the previous stigma associated with weight loss surgery was decreasing.
Now you may be surprised to hear that I’m not sitting here in front of my laptop screaming outrage. Far from it. Whilst I’ve never had a weight issue, I see and have seen many people who have severe weight problems and I fully recognise both the huge impact and difficulties that it causes to their lives. As the pounds pile on, limitations increase. Confidence ebbs away and gradually you’re sucked into a vortex from which there seems no escape route. The more weight you put on, the less you feel you can do – and of course then the less you do do, which of course compounds the problem because your daily calorie burn becomes very small. You end up trapped in a claustrophobic world and it’s a tragedy and I genuinely believe that.
Many of our Personal Training Clients have come to us with weight problems and some of them with serious weight problems and it comes as an amazing revelation to them when we explain how we can improve their health, drop the pounds and make a massive difference to their lives through a combination of correctly structured exercise and sensible eating. We’ve achieved some fantastic weight-loss results and so this week I’m going to focus on some of those very same strategies that we use, so that bariatric surgery really is the absolute last resort.
1. YOU can do it! You feel that there’s no hope and you’ll never climb out of the abyss but I beg to differ. The human spirit is amazing and you can achieve more than you ever thought possible, so don’t give up, don’t give in, believe in better. You can achieve and with the right tools, you can change your life.
2. Get assessed. Frequently when we assess Clients who are very overweight, they have other health issues as well, such as high blood pressure and a high resting heart rate. So before you start on the road to a new you, it’s absolutely vital that you undergo a comprehensive physical assessment both to ascertain the appropriate training and training levels for you and also to check for any other conditions. Once assessed, a plan can be developed and targets and mini ‘stepping stone targets’ created.
3. Small steps lead to big results. ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, ‘every journey starts with a single step’, ‘how do you eat an elephant? – one bite at a time’ and other typical sayings, all hold true. Yes you’ve got a long way to go and a lot of work to do but work never hurt anyone. The key here is not to think of the full challenge ahead but to think only of your first ‘mini-target’. Once you’ve achieved that then we’re on to the next mini-target and so on. You know, when I line up to run the London Marathon, I don’t allow myself to think of the huge distance of 26.2 miles that stretches out before me. No, I only think of running the first mile, to get myself into running mode. And once I’ve completed that first mile, I focus on my next target which is Cutty Sark at six miles. I continue in this way, only focusing on the next mini-target until finally, my overall goal is within reach and only then do I think about finishing the entire 26.2 mile race. Your strategy will be the same.
4. Exercise AND Diet. Your route to success comprises two main elements which work in tandem. Omit one of them and I’m afraid you won’t succeed. The key here is to correctly combine a revised diet with exercise. Now that exercise will be at an appropriate low level to begin with but exercise has to happen to help you burn calories and of course, in addition, exercise will start to return you to good health and fitness, something that dieting alone will never achieve.
5. In for the long-haul. Don’t expect miracles in a fortnight! There’s a sensible way to improve your fitness and lose weight and it doesn’t happen in the way that Z-list celebrities claim in lifestyle magazines. It will have taken you a long time to gain weight and whilst it will take you much, much less time to lose it, there will be no overnight sensations. You’ll need patience, perseverance, guidance and support to keep you on track but remember how fantastic the prize is!
1. . . . and finally, I’ll finish with a quote from the Department of Health which says that ‘Independent guidance on obesity from NICE (the National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence), recommends that drugs and surgery should always be a last resort - a better diet and more exercise should be tried first’. So going bariatric really is the last chance saloon and hopefully, from my tips and advice above, you can see that it is possible to lose the pounds, regain your shape, get healthy and get your life back on track without resorting to the surgeon’s skills. So stay healthy from all the body4life health & fitness Team – that’s me, Duncan, Dave, Alison and Tony (we’re not keen on lying on the surgeon’s slab either!).
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