How WLS Patients Defeat Ourselves: Learning to Play Ball


I have a dog, Andie, who loves to play fetch. When he hears me say, “Let’s play ball!” he is beside himself with joy – jumping, wiggling and hopping. I take that tired old tennis ball and throw it as far as I can. In short order he is back to me ball in mouth and tail wagging. And that’s the end of the game because Andie cannot bring himself to drop the ball for me to throw again. I tell him, “Andie! I cannot throw a ball with a dog wrapped around it.” He wags his tail and waits.

Andie is his own worst enemy. By wrapping himself around the ball he prohibits himself from actively being engaged in the game he so loves.

As a matter of course I believe WLS people become our own worst enemies now and again – we wrap ourselves around the ball (WLS) and impede our own progress and joy in the game of living well.

Handwritten on my calendar January 2002 there are 24 frowning faces. That means for 24 of the 31 days that month I was sick (vomiting or dumping). That month was a test of will: me against my gastric bypass surgery. In hindsight I believe I engaged in self-destructive behavior to prove once and for all that WLS was a punishment and I the victim. Night after night I prepared meals with known culprits: rice, starch and sugar. Night after night I sat to the table and told my husband, “I sure hope I don’t get sick tonight.” And then I would deliberately eat too much to fast and rush headfirst into the bathroom to hurl. If I didn’t vomit surely I would dump from creamy dairy sauces or “just this once” desserts that I ate because I deserved them; after all, victims deserve a special treat to soothe their suffering.

So there I was, 28 months out of surgery maintaining a healthy weight and I wrapped myself around the ball (WLS). I was my own worst enemy

I wish I knew what “clicked” and how I learned to drop the ball and enjoy the game. On the February 2002 calendar there is but one frowning face drawn. Perhaps turning the calendar page allowed me to start fresh. Maybe my husband gave me some well-deserved tough love and said you cannot continue to destroy yourself this way.

Perhaps I was just sick of being sick and I surrendered to the surgery; I quit wrapping myself around the ball (WLS).

If I did in fact surrender, dare I say it was sweet surrender? When I accepted the parameters of the lifestyle surgery imposes and when I stopped trying to outsmart the surgery I was liberated from being a victim and became an empowered survivor. My goodness! I had survived the medical condition of obesity; personally chosen my lifesaving treatment and now had this wonderful healthy life to live. So what if I couldn’t eat a few foods I used to love? So what if I had to eat in a slow deliberate manner? So what if I never felt the familiar old comfort of food gluttony? None of these things mattered any more when I became actively engaged in living a healthy life.

Now, I would love to sit here on my high horse and tell you since that dark January 2002 I’ve never engaged in self-destructive behavior, but that would be dishonest. There are many frowning faces marked on the calendar between then and now. The good news is they show up less frequently and never day after day.

Unfortunately, some days I am my own worst enemy. For example, last Thursday (August 11, 2005) I ran the daily errands and while at the supermarket purchased a giant frosted chocolate brownie. My intent was to eat it when I arrived home while I worked on this very newsletter. Can you imagine – writing a newsletter about WLS while eating a giant frosted chocolate brownie? Insanity! I justified that with my husband out of town and me feeling lonely I deserved the comfort of a delicious brownie and if I did get sick nobody would ever need to know; it would be my little secret. Remember, I’m a former sneak eater.

By the time I arrived home I was so disgusted and angry with myself I immediately unwrapped the brownie and chucked it in the big curbside garbage container to be contaminated and inedible. I knew better than to eat it, but I also knew I had to render it inedible to get it out of my thoughts. I never tasted one crumb of that brownie. I am both ashamed and proud of this moment. Ashamed that I actually bought the brownie with the intent to “comfort” myself to sickness. But I am proud I stopped short of doing just that.

So here I sit on my humble horse bearing the truth; occasionally Kaye Bailey – a self-proclaimed WLS success – still engages in self-destructive behavior. I have come far from the harmful behavior of January 2002, but I have a long way to go. I’d love to say there is a magic finishing line which when we cross we never wrap ourselves around the ball again. But it just doesn’t exist. Weight loss surgery is for life. It takes constant vigilance and self-monitoring to ensure we are survivors, not victims.

To myself I say, “Kaye! You cannot succeed with WLS when you wrap yourself around it. Let’s Play Ball!” Now, if we could just get Andie to quit wrapping himself around the ball life would be bliss!

Kaye Bailey © 2005 – All Rights Reserved

An award winning journalist and former newspaper editor Kaye Bailey brings expertise in writing and personal experience with gastric bypass surgery to Having spent most of her life overweight Ms. Bailey is strongly empathetic toward the obese, particularly overweight children. This compassion compelled her to found the website [], a fast-growing resource of information, understanding and support for the weight loss surgery community.

The site is complimented with daily blog. The blog, offers readers the chance to comment or leave feedback about fresh content added daily. This site contains success stories and recipes, general information and WLS inspired topics. Complementing the site is a monthly newsletter titled “You Have Arrived” available exclusively to people who subscribe through the website or the blog.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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