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What losing 40kg taught me about change (Greg, 50)

The following article has been reproduced with the kind permission of St Andrew's War Memorial Hospital publishers of Best Practice Magazine.

This is Greg's Journey

Before my surgery, with the help of the team I worked through my problems with food, my emotional food triggers, and then worked out my big ‘why’ for surgery now. We explored food plans and options as well as discussing the experience of what to expect physically post-surgery.

Now looking back, the change process kept my ‘why’ at the forefront, and helped me think through potential problems and coping strategies. The team repeatedly followed up to check that my thinking was still on track and embedded over a number of weeks, and made sure that I clearly knew the process and potential areas of failure.

They worked on getting things right over many weeks before the actual event, and not just a quick one week hit (like the fat camp). Mental rehearsal and pre-emptive trouble-shooting is an intensely powerful tool in change.

Anyone who says weight loss surgery is easy, is talking out of their hat. It is the second hardest thing I have done in life, after parenthood. It is a whole of life, irreversible change and is simply a tool rather than a total solution. Yes, you can still go back to pre-weight if you are not careful and try and ‘game’ the system.

What I have found by losing 40kgs is that effective change is a blend of many things as follows:

  • Start with hope;
  • An expert support team is vital (remember, it may take many attempts to find the right team);
  • Know your ’why’ and keep that front and center;
  • Mentally rehearse the change process by thinking through all the steps and processes;
  • Pre-emptive trouble-shooting matters. By working through potential pitfalls and how to deal with them before they kick in, you minimise failure;
  • Find a change buddy for the early days;
  • Get the support of your immediate family and friends before you start;
  • Have unpleasant consequences for mistakes while you are learning;
  • Set reminders to keep your actions on track and to reflect your new way of thinking and acting;
  • Ensure you have daily monitoring and take corrective action when the alert is triggered;
  • Set small goals and celebrate each win.



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