The Journey: Uncharted territory and sabotage masquerading as Support

It has been a while with a Journey story! I will give an update on me, and then onto something that happened this week that has been on my mind.

Last week, I developed a pretty painful blister on the heel of my left foot. The area had been irritated for a while, and it basically came down to the fact that my shoes were breaking down. I took off walking for a few days to recover (mostly because my Husband forced me to), and bought a new pair of shoes (New Balance!) On Saturday, I was off walking again, and things are going well.

My weight loss in general has been slowing down. which is to be expected, so I wasn’t surprised when my weight bumped up a bit immediately after I stopped walking. It slowly lowered over the next few days, but very slowly. When I started walking again, I was just back at the 50kgs loss mark (118.6 kgs).

Since Saturday though, I have lost 3.5kgs, and am sitting at now an even 115kgs/253lbs. This means I have lost almost 54kgs/119lbs, which is definitely in uncharted territory for me. Also, 113kgs is the lowest I have weighed since college, and that is literally right there. If this trend continues, next week will truly be the lightest I have been since I entered adulthood.


But I have also had a tough time on the support side of things.

I found myself frustrated with the Bariatric Support Social group I joined on Facebook when I started on The Journey. The group is well established and has thousands of members. People in the group come from around the world, and are at all stages of the Journey. Some are trying to lose weight so that their insurance will cover the surgery (and honestly, there is a lot of heartbreaking and cruel things insurance companies do to make you prove you need the surgery.) people who are in pre-surgery phase, immediate post surgery phase, and long term maintenance phase.

Lately, however, people have begun posting more and more “alternative” recipies to favorite food. I stepped in it the first time a few weeks ago when someone in the group, who was post surgery, and still on her liquid diet phase, asking desperately about alternatives ingredients to Nachos and Burritos, because as she said “These foods are important to me.”

Most people went in with tons of suggestions for ingredient replacements. From cauliflower tortillas to alternates for veleeta cheese (though several argued for Velveeta) and so on. I decided, in my infinite wisdom to challenge her on why the food was important to her, and that part of this process should be re-evaluating your relationship with food. This did not go over well with her, and she yelled at me and called me evil. We had a bit of back and forth, but it quickly boiled down to the fact that she has these foods weekly before the surgery, and she will continue to do so. She didn’t have “food issues like many of the fat monsters here, so don’t group her with them. and my Nutritionist said it is ok to have these foods anyhow sometimes.”

I tried to explain that “sometimes” didn’t mean weekly, and her response was again, not kind. So I walked away.

Then there was the recipe that called for a cup of “sweetener” and people were raving about how sweetener is not sugar and totally fine to have as much as you want. I said nothing there.

This week, someone in the group posted an article about how TACO BELL was the “Healthiest fast food on the market.” Soon, people where talking about how much they eat Taco Bell, and how their Protein Bowl is awesome, and it is totally ok for us Bariatric people to eat. There were several people who pushed back on it, but hedging their reasons why.

I had no such qualms in pointing out how insane it is for a Bariatric support group to be advocating fast food to the group. Again, the reaction was harsh.

“I would like to have a life sometimes, unlike you, and enjoy food on occasion.”

“I have kids, so I don’t have time to make pre-made meals, so I need this.”

“It is ok to loosen up, and cheat once in a while, you must really suck at life if you never cheat.”

“You are a food shamer and making this group look bad.”

I was livid. Three post down, someone was struggling losing enough weight for their insurance company will approve them for the surgery, and people were giving incorrect advice and information about a fast food place. And I did check, the Taco Bell Protein Bowl has more carbs than I should eat in a day. It is NOT a healthy option for Bariatric people. Yet, to bring that up, I was attacked.

After a few fruitless back and forths (Remember wanderlust, it is useless to get into internet fights), I unsubscribed from the page and left the group.

Why it has stuck with me two days later, (and why I felt compelled to write this) is that the self-sabotage was so strong with many in that group. The hoops they jump through to justify what they shouldn’t be doing was mind-boggling, and while I could have engaged in a less direct way, previous experience showed me that I would have been ignored, like many others who disagreed with the article. I even re-examined my own eating, and realising that over the weeks, my food intake had started to grow more than it should. (It has been reset, and I think is also contributing to the increased weight loss).

How do you stop a support group who is sabotaging others unknowingly? What is the right kind of support in those situations?

For me, support is to celebrate the victories, be there for the challenges, and help beat those challenges by giving the tools necessary to overcome them. I am not one for allowing people to wallow in their challenges and backslide. I am always someone who is looking for a solution to get back on track, and move on… even if it takes a while to get to that point. There have been times where I have had great pushback against that type of support, and I am always confounded by it. I have done the silent support at times, and while effective in the right moments, I find that after a point it is never enough, and it often enables inaction. I felt that not putting a warning, or sounding concern/alarm was appropriate, but others felt I was being bossy and mean.

So… I left the support group because I felt it didn’t actually support, and increasingly enabled bad behavior… and I am sad about that. I also didn’t want to see bad recipe videos of food I really shouldn’t be eating every time I went to Facebook.

I am not sure if I will seek out another support group, or go on alone. It has weighed on my mind, and I am still not sure how to proceed.

So, all in all, a mixed bad this week.

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