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Lori Hanson: Why weight-loss surgery doesn’t work

Learn 2 Balance

Posted: August 19, 2010 5:40 p.m.
Updated: August 20, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Living in Southern California, it’s hard to miss the constant TV ads and billboards promoting various forms of surgical “cures” for the battle of the bulge. This has become big business. From lap banks to gastric bypass, we are being enticed to believe that this type of surgery can be just what you need to solve your weight and health-related issues.

What’s intriguing to me is that these ads are created with the same flavor as those for health clubs. The risks of surgery are nowhere to be seen, just images of individuals holding up their former large clothes, announcing how this has surgery made life wonderful.

Here are three reasons why I believe surgery isn’t the answer.

It doesn’t fix emotional issues
Many obese individuals have “tried every diet,” and failed. The problem is that making your stomach smaller so one can’t eat as much doesn’t address the emotional issues that make someone overeat in the first place. Until that is addressed, there is a risk of gaining the weight back (as Carnie Wilson did) or taking on a new form of addiction. I call it the “Whack-A-Mole syndrome.” It’s common in the rehab world for individuals to get sober, then their eating disorder behavior skyrockets or they are chain-smoking.

It doesn’t address the source of cravings
In addition to emotional stress or discomfort, there are body and brain chemistry imbalances that contribute to cravings and drive people to eat when they aren’t hungry. If people aren’t eating at regular intervals (3 to 4 hours), eating balanced meals (lean protein, complex carbohydrates, veggies and healthy fat) and drinking the required intake of water, these things have an impact on the body. Add to that the amount of sugar, sugar-filled foods and processed foods in the typical American diet, which will increase the desire for more sugar.

To complicate this, the first time someone goes on a diet and eats restricted food, in addition to fat, water and muscle, they also lose serotonin, which is critical for good mood, healthy self-esteem and sleep. Depending on an individual’s health history, there may also be an overgrowth of yeast in the body (Candida overgrowth), which significantly contributes to food cravings.

Permanent change comes from commitment to lifestyle change
Consumers are barraged with many forms of weight loss, exercise equipment and quick-fix promises. I’ve spoken with many individuals who have convinced themselves that they just can’t do it on their own by changing their lifestyle. Kirstie Alley used Jenny Craig to lose weight, and so did my little sister — three times.

Eating frozen meals, however, doesn’t help a person deal with the reality of everyday situations or understanding how to use the mind to make healthy choices by being aware. Both Drew Carey and John Goodman have recently made big changes in their lifestyle and dropped weight. They started eating better, exercising and one stopped drinking. Drew Carey said in an article that he just got sick of being fat and out of shape.

What it comes down to is your own personal priorities. When you truly get sick and tired of taking so many medications for your weight-related health issues and realize a true fear of being only steps from becoming a Type II diabetic, you will change. Whatever it takes, the best way to make any change in your life is to identify and embrace your reasons for doing it. Is it strong enough to motivate you to change your lifestyle? Don’t bother going on a diet if you plan to eat the same unhealthy way once you take off a few pounds, as it is well documented you will put on even more weight and begin an unhealthy roller coaster of diet and weight gain patterns.

Taking control is a combination of three things: mind, body and spirit. By integrating these components, you will become more aware of your daily practices and habits and gain an understanding of what drives you. By taking a healthy approach and changing your lifestyle, adding in exercise, drinking more water and eating more vegetables, and dropping the sugar filled foods, white breads, cereals and pastas, you can dramatically improve your health and level of energy in a fairly short period of time. The trick to making it stick is consistency.

So, make the decision to love, honor and take care of your body — it’s the only one you get in this life. There is no quick fix to erase the past. Embrace and enjoy the journey of rediscovery to who you really are and what makes you tick. I don’t know about you, but I plan to live to a healthy 100 years old.

Lori Hanson is an eating disorder coach, speaker and award-winning author. Her latest book, “Stress Survival Kit for College Students” is available now. Visit to learn more.


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