Give Back – Pay it Forward

22 years later, I still find myself so very grateful for the doctors, who dedicated their lives to provide a surgical intervention option for those who struggle with the disease of obesity. Like many of you, I took that leap and had weight loss surgery in 1995 and my life has been changed for the better, forever. And like you, I want others who struggle to have the same opportunity.

In 2003, my story was featured on the cover of WLS Lifestyles Magazine. The title, “Paying it Forward” You see, that feeling of gratitude and desire to give back is why I created Bariatric Support Centers International. And through the years, we have had the privilege of helping tens of thousands of weight loss surgery patients, supporters and professionals.

That sense of profound gratitude is at the heart of so many great groups, associations & foundations within the bariatric community. Perhaps, it’s your time to give. If so, the opportunities are many. Reach out, get involved, tell your story, share your success, connect people, encourage and support. Here are just a few of the outstanding organizations who welcome like minded people who want to volunteer.

Obesity Action Coalition

Bariatric Pal Community

Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America

Walk From Obesity

Obesity Help

“It is so very important that we, as today’s weight-loss surgery patients, recognize and are grateful to courageous souls who opted to have weight-loss surgery when it wasn’t the ‘in thing’ to do – those daring few from the late 70’s and early 80’s who experienced both successes and failures and in doing so have provided us with greater understanding of what it takes to make the surgical treatment of obesity our answer. Has someone led the way for you, inspired you, encouraged you? Often weight-loss surgery patients express heartfelt gratitude not only to their surgeons for having saved their life, but to friends and family members, neighbors, work associates and even strangers who have motivated them and provided them with the encouragement and support they needed to move forward on their journey. To those looking for a way to express their gratitude, may I encourage you to turn and help others along their way. Become involved; lead a support group; become a volunteer; serve on a patient committee; lobby for better insurance coverage for weight-loss surgery; help new or struggling patients with online posts or encouragement and support. Give back by paying it forward.”

Excerpt from The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients #1 best selling bariatric book. SHBookCvr2012

What Ever It Takes (Or going out on a limb)

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One of my favorite walking routes is to follow a dirt road next to a canal. The canal flows between residential backyards and farmland and I always enjoy seeing the animals and watching the farmers as they tend to their early morning chores. One Saturday, I stopped along the way to admire a beautiful tree loaded with hundreds of perfectly ripe, delicious apricots. The tree had grown over the canal and there appeared to be no way to reach them. Apricots are one of my favorite foods and I knew I just had to find a way. As I surveyed the situation, a fellow canal road walker stopped to chat with me about her experience trying to pick some of these un-reachable, but oh so desirable apricots. She said wading into the canal was not a good choice. Apparently, she got stuck in the mud at the bottom of the canal and decided it was just not worth it.

All the way home, I discovered that I indeed, wanted them badly enough to find a way. The words of my BSCI partner Janean Hall, came to me – “What’s another way?” The minute I walked in the door, I told my husband Roger about my plan. I would put a plank over the canal, walk out onto it and reap my rewards. He looked at me as if to say, “You’re an idiot” but just smiled and said that he did not think I could heave a board all the way to the other side. We might be able to use the extension ladder, he suggested! That is what we will do. So we loaded up the ladder and off to the canal we went. My daughter, 9 months pregnant and her daughter 4 were amused to say the least, and decided to join us on this adventure.

apricotpickingRoger surveyed the situation and decided that the ladder would not work either. He suggested that the only way would be a raft. A ha! Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that? A float tube would do just fine. So back to the house we hurried as if someone else would claim our prize before we could return. But alas, success! My granddaughter Baylee and I floated down the canal until we reached the apricot tree. I grabbed a limb and we started picking apricots by the armloads – we would fill our bags and they would reel us back to the shore to offload our take and back again for more. What fun!

Many of our neighborhood friends have mentioned how they, too admired the apricots. And one said he wondered what had happened to them. One day they were there and the next day they were gone. Hmm, like magic – yeah right!perfect apricots

In life, whatever ‘it’ is for you, you must want it badly enough to do those things that others are not willing to do. You must be willing find another way when your first, second and third attempts fail. It takes courage, creativity and sometimes a little insanity to reach further, dream bigger and aspire higher in order to reap life’s greatest rewards. And sometimes it is not what we are thinking. The true reward here was not really the apricots – it was having bread and jam on the porch swing. apricots and B

2 of 5 Ways you know the WLS Honeymoon is Over

Even at 20 years post op, I still  clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the second of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

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#2 PEOPLE STOP RAVING ABOUT HOW YOU LOOK

Boy, do I remember this. Of course I would, it was all about me! Like many of you I enjoyed months and months of friends, family neighbors, work associates and even strangers, raving about how great I looked. One of my favorite comments was “Look at you, you are going to blow away!” Loved it!

I think I even walked at little taller, and had a new strut and swagger as I showcased my success. When I knew would be seen by someone who didn’t know about the new me, I was ecstatic!  Then over time, people started to get used to my new size. I slowly began to fade into normal, the newness wore off and all of the attention nearly stopped. I missed the rave reviews, I kept wondering to myself, “Do I look fat?” Am I gaining weight?” “Why doesn’t someone say something!” Messed with my mind to be sure.

If that has not happened to you yet, trust me, it will. And it is important to be prepared for the emotional and mental grief it may cause. When it does, it will be a good time to do a little evaluating of your true motives for choosing weight loss surgery. Ask yourself why you made this decision in the first place. Did you do this for someone else? To look feel better for yourself? For revenge? To improve your health? This is a time to reconnect to your personal why. Remind yourself of what motivated you in the first place. Pat yourself on the back and learn to improve your ‘self-talk.’

Then, move on. Rather than having it be all about you, now is a great time to turn and support those coming along behind you. Opportunities abound for successful patients who want to give back by paying it forward. Motivate, encourage and support new and prospective WLS patients.  Help with an event or patient celebration, work as a hospital volunteer, become a Support Group Leader. Share your successes online and participate in one or more of the many Facebook Group discussions. You look great – now be great by helping others.

Subscribe to this blog for #3 THE SCALE STARTS TO GO IN THE WRONG DIRECTION

1 of 5 Ways you know the WLS Honeymoon is OVER

Even at 20 years post op, I still  clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the first of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

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YOU START ‘FREEWHEELING’ AND FORGET ABOUT YOUR GOOD HABITS

We are so careful early on. We are committed and sure we will become the most compliant patient ever! We measure our food and water, use a shopping list at the store, prepare meals in advance and eat what we plan, exercise, weigh weekly and take our vitamins.  Then, one day it seems that we can forego one or more of these good habits and still loose weight. “Hmm, this is awesome! This surgical tool is my answer, hooray!”

If you find yourself boasting about how you ate… or how you don’t exercise… or how get away with things you were warned not to do. BEWARE! I promise it will catch up to you. Our research clearly shows exactly what successful long term patients do to reach and maintain their weight. Learn what they know and do what they did.

It is important to realize that you will not be the exception to the rule and while you may feel invincible now – know that it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. There is a reason it is called the ‘honeymoon phase.’ When it ends, if you have not used the time to commit to, implement and own your Success Habits, you will be in find yourself struggling to learn how to maintain your weight. Commit once to a specific set of daily habits and stick with them. All of them!

Subscribe to this blog to continue to #2 PEOPLE STOP RAVING ABOUT HOW GREAT YOU LOOK

 

My Story

An enduring inspiration, for over 20 years Colleen Cook has educated and motivated audiences all over the world.  She is a successful weight loss surgery patient from 1995 and President of Bariatri…

Source: My Story

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