I started listening to a podcast called, 'Weight Loss Surgery Podcast," by Reeger Cortell, FNP-C. I highly recommend it. She is a Family Nurse Practitioner and has some wonderful insights and commentary on weight loss surgery. This statement of hers, "Self care is not selfish," really hit home for me. She calls it "Second Place Syndrome" and I admit, I suffer from it. What is it? It is when you put yourself behind your spouse, your kids, your job, church or volunteer commitments. Somehow, someway, there is always something you need to do for someone else and what you need simply comes second.
Now, if you were raised like me, doing for others is an admirable quality and highly praised. To engage in selfless activities and to give of yourself is a good thing, right? It is. But as Reeger points out, selfishness and self care are NOT the same thing. It is ok to devote time and attention to being the best person I can be for the people I love. That means eating right, exercising and making good food choices and following my doctors instructions. I can be a positive influence to my friends and family and improve my quality of life which in turn allows me to be of more service to others in a positive way. It does not mean that I volunteer for something at work which sacrifices my gym time.
This change in my attitude was positively manifested today. Instead of being couch potatoes, my husband and I went to the park for a walk together. My husband was a very athletic person in his younger days and more recently had joined the ranks of the couch potatoes with me. Not today. I told him of my commitment to exercise every day at least thirty minutes and today he joined me. After our walk together in the sunshine, he had a big smile on his face and said he felt great and thanked me for allowing him to tag along. Wow!
So friends, I know what I need to do. I want to be present in the lives of the people I love. I cannot do that authentically if I consistently put myself second. Taking care of me (self care) is not being selfish, it is one of the best ways I can choose to take care of those I love.
Hoping everyone is enjoying the holiday in a healthy way.
So gang, Tuesday was my very first Bariatric Support Group meeting. I was relieved to not have to stand up and announce my name or anything like that. The house was packed! Packed with folks at all stages of their journey. I am so grateful that this is part of my program and that I participated fully. I am only required to attend two but I intend to go to one a month to and beyond my surgery.
So what happens at a BSG Meeting? Each meeting has a theme. This one's was body image distortion. Boy do I know a thing or two about that. The person in my mirror? Who the heck is that? I have struggled with this distortion at all stages of my life. It is only in looking back at pictures that I can appreciate that I was not as heavy as I felt I was. Body image distortion can also occur, I learned, after a person has lost a significant amount of weight. Somehow, our personal reality is more than what the scale says or the mirror reveals. It is how we "view" ourselves on the inside. It was suggested that in order to track progress, it is good to take pictures of yourself before and through. It is equally important to accept yourself for who you really are. I struggle here with this. I am quite good at bullying and shaming myself. I need to take steps to correct that. Has anyone else felt that way?
After we are fed some good information, next volunteers stood to give their testimony. This night three folks talked about their experiences. One man, two years out from surgery and two women, one of which was only 90 days or so from surgery. I cannot express how inspiring these testimonials were to me. Their honest and funny down-to-earth stories made me long to be at a stage to give back the support as they are. What were some of the things they talked about? Well, one said that he was a former pasta lover and couch potato. Now, he walks 5 miles a day at the mall and has never felt better. One lady walked us through a typical day, a year post op. The last speaker shared her difficult journey and her struggles but her ultimate triumph one hundred pounds down. Just like the folks here, they truly raised me up!
I hope you all get a chance to attend one of these meetings. It is such a good feeling to be in the company of those who have struggled in the same way and took the same life changing steps.
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