Going Back to Work after Weight Loss Surgery
Having weight loss surgery comes with big changes. More than likely, you will take off a week or two from work after having the procedure. This is critical in your healing process and also just to get you mentally ready for all the changes. I remember the first few days to weeks after surgery, I enjoyed being alone because I did not want to be around food. I knew that if I was in an office environment or around friends, I would be miserable seeing food. It helped me so much having time to myself to gather my thoughts and prepare myself for my new lifestyle.
When you make your way back to work, there are a few things to keep in mind. I think one of the hardest things for me was that a lot of people were used to how much I went out to eat at lunch. It was a huge transition for my relationships with my colleagues because I usually spent every day with them at lunch. It was really hard at first because I did not know how to spend my lunch hour after the surgery. I wanted to be with my colleagues and network, but I knew I could not be around food. I would definitely recommend that you bring your own food with you to work when you return as this will ensure that you are eating the right things. I would not try to go out to eat anytime soon because you are just not strong enough this soon after surgery. For me personally, I felt anxious even being in the car around meal time because I thought I would go through a fast-food drive thru. Eventually, I felt strong enough to run errands and go shopping during my lunch break. This helped to stay busy while everyone was out eating.
Another thing that really helped me when I returned to work was that I started walking on my breaks. I even started doing it with one of my colleagues, which helped us keep one anther accountable. It really helped us bond and it was so freeing that food was not involved. The farther out I got, the more I realized that food did not have to be involved to have a good time. This can be hard though, especially if you have a lot of work events where people bring food in. I encourage you to make the best decision for yourself. If you know you are not ready to be around food, try your best to avoid these situations. If you are comfortable with it, try to be open about it with your team members. More than likely, they will want to do what they can to help you be successful. You might not be ready to talk about the surgery yet, but I do think it can go a long way if you tell them you are making healthy changes and need their support.
Something I learned the hard way was how different our bodies are after surgery. I experienced some pretty significant IBS issues for a long time after the procedure, and it always gave me anxiety when I was away from home. I found that keeping my own personal pharmacy in my purse helped so much, so I encourage you to do that as you are making your way back into the world. You might have acid reflux, so keep tums handy as well. Once I started doing this, I felt a lot more comfortable eating while I was at work because I knew I had my medicine if I needed it. So, be prepared that you might have some weird side effects as your body is getting used to the changes and keep those medications on you at all times.
Above all else, make sure you are prepared when you go to work every day. Drink your water and eat your bariatric friendly meals and snacks. It can be easy to forget to stay hydrated after surgery, especially when you are busy with work. I started using water bottles that had goal times of when to drink a certain amount by, and this helped me keep myself accountable. It is definitely easier to stay on track when you are in the comfort of your own home, but you must remember that this is a lifestyle change and you have to be able to stay consistent. It will be a transition, but it will be worth it. Stay strong, stay focused and remember why you started this journey in the first place.
- Kimberly H.