blog Aug 05, 2023

It's been all over the news so I'm sure by now you've probably heard the sad news regarding the newly-released autopsy report elaborating on exactly how Lisa Marie Presley died back in January. Having a heart attack in the early 50s – especially for women – is not so common. Now knowing the cause of that heart attack makes her death especially tragic and sad. I believe it should also be viewed as a cautionary tale for others out there considering medical intervention for weight loss.

Bariatric surgery, gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, lap band are a few of many different types of weight-loss surgeries, “..performed to reduce risk of weight-related health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, liver disease, sleep apnea and Type 2 diabetes...for patients who... have tried to lose weight by improving their diet and exercising more, but it was unsuccessful...” as stated by Today news online, per the Mayo Clinic.

As with any surgery, procedure or prescription, there are risks and side effects associated with all of them. If you still have cable TV, you'll know exactly what I mean, as every medical ad presented comes with a laundry list of side effects and risks to be aware of. Some people experience these immediately, an allergic reaction for example, and for others, it can silently sneak up on you, as it appears to have done with Lisa Marie.

There are numerous short and long-term risks associated with these types of surgeries. Dr. Ali Aminian, director of the Bariatric & Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic reports short-term risks are listed as excess bleeding, complications of anesthesia, infections and blood clots while the Mayo Clinic states long-term risks to include bowel obstructions, hernias, gallstones, ulcers, malnutrition and rarely, death. Obstructions can take weeks, or even years to develop, showing up long after the person has recovered from surgery.

Just how risky are these procedures? Dr. Aminian reports that about 3% of people who undergo these types of surgeries experience complications. That's three in every 100 people experiencing one or more side effects. And yet the number of surgeries performed each year goes up. The data provided by ASMBS, American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery shows the total number of weight loss surgeries increased from 158,000 in 2011 to 262,893 in 2021, with the sleeve showing the greatest increase going from 28,124 in 2011 to 152,866 in 2021. These rising numbers continue to drive home that what we are doing as a society with regards to food, nutrition and health, isn't working and people are desperate. So desperate unfortunately that some, like Lisa Marie, are literally dying to be thin.

In my many years of coaching, I've talked to and worked with people who have had some of these types of surgeries as they still didn't end up fully getting the results they had hoped for, because they don't have anything in place post surgery to support and maintain that weight loss.

In my humble opinion, any prescription, procedure or surgery administered for weight loss should also come with a food plan. Simply telling someone to avoid sugar and eat smaller portions is a suggestion, not a plan. Dieting, counting calories, restricting, eliminating foods and/or food groups, won't do it. Following the Canada Food Guide won't do it. Pills, patches, injections won't do it. Even surgery won't do it for the long term without a plan that focuses on creating health and balance in your body. On the other hand, educating patients on how to eat the foods they love in a way that creates hormonal balance, stabilizes blood sugar and supports metabolism is the first step to getting your body back on track to how it was born to function.

How do you know if what you're about to do will get you results that you can keep for the rest of your life? Ask yourself these three things before trying anything for weight loss; 1. Is what I'm about to do based in science? 2. Does it make sense that I can do it for the rest of my life? 3. Would I let a child do it?

There's a lot of science out there and honestly, you could probably find some obscure science for almost anything if you searched hard enough. Which brings us to point number two. What you're about to do needs to make sense to you and fit with your lifestyle so that you can do it anywhere, anytime in any situation without feeling deprived and starving so you can do it for life. If it doesn't, you're just setting yourself up to fail in the long run. Number three is the most telling. When babies are born they want to eat right when they wake up and then again frequently throughout the day. What they're eating, breastmilk or formula is a perfect balance of a protein, fat and carb which stabilizes blood sugar and balances hormones. Our bodies have not changed the way we take in and metabolize food on the inside, we just got to be bigger humans. If you wouldn't let a child do it, you shouldn't be doing it either.

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