Weigh-Ins are on FRIDAYS - Updated January 13, 2017

Surgery Date: October 20, 2009:

Hit my goal weight on December 17, 2010:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Having Weight Loss Surgery is Like...

This girl's gotta have FREE stuff to listen to while on roadtrips. So I've started listening to Jillian Michaels podcasts on itunes.
Just in case you  have been living under a rock  didn't know, Jillian was a trainer on The Biggest Loser TV Show for many, many seasons.

Her podcast is all about weight loss, exercise, healthy living, blah, blah...you know, the usual.

On the podcast from May 12, Jillian's guest, Dr. Katja Van Herle said, that in her opinion:

Having weight loss surgery is like going through a gender reassignment surgery.



Fo' sho'.  That's what she said.

I was cruisin' down Interstate 5 when I heard this and almost accidentally swerved off the road.  I have never heard anyone make this analogy.

At approximately the 20:30 mark on the 5/12/12 podcast, Dr. V talks about how the following occurs with both types of surgeries:
  • There is/are a pre-op psych evaluation(s)
  • The patient has to prepare to live a completely new lifestyle (through classes/counseling/etc)
  • It gives the patient a second chance to life the life they want to live.
  • The surgery changes the rest of the patient's life in many ways: lifestyle, relationships, how the patient interacts with others, their career, etc.
OK, maybe that's somewhat true. 

I think that since Dr. V has neither had weight loss surgery nor gender reassignment surgery, how does she really know?

One point that could be added to Dr. V's case (that she didn't say) is that some weight loss surgery patients feel like there is a "skinny person" trapped inside just waiting to emerge once they lose the weight. For the record, I have NEVER felt this way about myself. In my brain, I'll always be a fatty inside and on the outside.

I've heard on occasion the same type of comments from people on those gender reassignment surgery reality shows on Discovery channel and even an ol' school Maury Povich/Ricki Lake episode. Some say that they feel like they are one gender inside, but another gender on the outside and that inner gender is trapped inside.

Hmmm...all this thinking, over-generalizing, and stereo-typing is making my brain hurt.  I deserve of cookie.
What do YOU think?


  1. Wow, that's a lot to think about. I don't know anyone who has had gender reassignment so I don't know if we are really similar. The points she makes are true, it certainly is something to think about.

  2. Also, I did not go through the first two bullets.

    1. No pre-op psych eval? or pre-op classes? Lucky you :)

    2. Nope - nothin. Our insurance didn't require those for approval.

  3. hmmmmm~ very interesting ... I can see how the two relate a little bit ~ but I think gender re-assignment is a much much much bigger deal~ and yes, you are treated differently after both surgeries..but I wouldn't go that far to say they are the same...I have an inner skinny girl and inner fatty...I guess I have a split inner personality ~ Athena Warrior awesomeness and something similar to Grimace/Cookie monster on the other spectrum..

    1. Oh! I have an inner cookie monster too. :)

  4. Wow I was cold wasn't I!

    I think that there are parallels between all types of surgery but that is a strange comparison. I understand the points she makes but surely the same is true for transplant surgery too. I mean a person being given a new liver, heart or kidneys has to make series lifestyle adjustments and gets a second shot at life too. I think you are probably closer with the person trapped inside and being left with no other alternative than medical intervention.

    I do feel that potentially it is a way to stigmatise weight loss surgery patients as most people would not be quite so understanding of gender reassignment.

    1. yep, very cold. HA HA. But this was/is a VERY far-fetched analogy. I wish I knew someone who was going through gender reassigment surgery and ask them about their journey.

  5. Whatevs. That sounds insane. Gender reassignment is not aimed at giving someone better health. Sure changes have to be made. But personally I dont even see why the psych eval was necessary. Speaking personally, my life has not at all totally changed. I have the same friends, family and job. Those comments are quite far-fetched imho. (Well I did quit my job to homeschool my kids, but that decision has been in the works for a while)

    1. I homeschool, too! Way to go...hope it is going well for you!

  6. skip the cookie and the nut jobs! I have always thought Jillian was a B despite having a lot of good advice on being fit. My husband's co. worked with her on something and she showed her @ss! Now she is inviting insensitive idiots on her show. How do you think trans-genders are feeling about those comments, too? Just another "expert" giving opinions on something they have no first hand experience with. ugh. I have just about given up on media of all types because it is usually fueled by someone wanting to make money, not help others. Cynic much?

    Moving on!

  7. It is definitely an interesting perspective but lots of comparisons can misinterpreted. I think part of the reason I didn't tell anyone about my surgury is because I didn't even want their opinion or positive or negative comments. Thanks for the interesting info!! xx

  8. I find her comments valid, but not her analogy to gender reassignment surgery! I think that would be much more difficult to have to adapt to than WLS. With that being said, I did go through all of what she has pointed out.

    I believe sadly that more importance is not placed on the psychological aspect of an obese person before weight loss surgery takes place. There are reasons why a person uses and abuses food to the point of being 100+ pounds overweight lets get real here. You can put the blame on many things, but ultimately it is usually something within our psyche that has created FOOD as a reward in the wrong abusive, addictive sort of way. I look at my skinny, minnie friends, who never have to seemingly watch a thing that they eat. These folks, do not snack, they have no trouble saying no to a table full of food porn, they know what moderation is and they live it! They are active people, who have some sort of regular exercise incorporated into their lives.

    You must get to the root of the WHY before we can ever fix the addiction or process of turning to food as comfort! Those who choose a drive thru over healthy food for most all of their meals, has issues that need to be delt with not simply excused or ignored....come on!

    I also believe they are similar in one other aspect, many people are afraid to speak of their gender reassignment surgeries for fear of being labeled or discriminated against, or ridiculed. Look at the people who do not share their WLS with others, they keep it hidden and a secret. Sure it is their right to do so, but in comparison the two things she speaks of are similar.

    WLS does change your life, absolutely, sometimes only temporarily for some, sometimes forever for those who are successful in rerouting their food issues and regaining their self confidence and finding their inner champion.

    Great post! As always you make us think.

    1. I couldn't have said it better myself! :) Amen!

  9. Wow, I'm not really sure just HOW I feel about this... On one hand the bullet points are similar but I can think of other things that share those (kind of vague) points. WLS is not changing WHO you are... You don't change your name... You don't start going into a different restroom... You don't completely change your hormonal makeup with medication for the rest of your life. WLS is a tool to help you lose weight. Gender reassignment surgery is not a "tool" of any kind...it's a permanent change to your anatomy and identity.


  10. Jillian is a band hater. Here's a video podcast that she did last month where she refers to weight loss surgery as "barbaric." It made me so mad when I watched it. ;)

    1. Yep, she's a band-hater. But I don't blame her because most of the examples of bandsters she's seen or met is the contestants on the Biggest Loser who gained all their weight back...sad :(

  11. I know that a lot of weight problems are mental, emotional and otherwise not hunger related. I said I didn't know why the psych eval was necessary, but I didn't mean that there isn't a mental aspect to all this. That being said, I have another question...

    Jillian hates the band because she has seen so many people who have gained the weight back. Then there are the many who never really lose that much. Why are so many successful and so many not?

    I've had very successful results with my band. But its not because I've conquered all my areas of weakness. Mainly its because I keep my band tight enough so that when I have one of those days (weeks) where I don't care about anything except eating, it isn't physically possible for me to binge. No real self control involved.

    So I always wonder....is there a difference in technique among surgeons?

    I just don't know.

    Pardon me for thinking aloud...

    1. Valerie, Your response is interesting to me...tell me, do you PB often? I am inclined to think I'm going to want to be on the tight side for the same reasons when I'm banded. But then I hear some are successful even when quite loose.

  12. Tina I do occasionally, usually in the few weeks after a fill then not so much after that. Maybe my technique isn't the best. :-/ Seems to work I guess.

  13. If one does not change/address the poor habits/emotional issues that caused the obesity in the first place, the band will never be successful in the long term. Period. It isn't magic. Know your body and your band. Eat very carefully even after a small fill (mine are down to .1cc, note, not 1CC, .1 cc!). Putting in too much at a time will cause complications.

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  15. we get ourselves starved cauz of diets, so we make ourselves exhausted and decide to go to the surgeon.. for sure, we brake the balance, change our body - nearly changing our style of life - so the things are really alike - Having weight loss surgery is like going through a gender reassignment surgery.

  16. I had a friend go through gender reassignment surgery and I am fully offended at the comparison...

    1. I didn't change my appearance overnight. It was a GRADUAL but quick change...people who hadn't seen me in awhile knew I was different but I didn't have any external parts cut off. I didn't literally change my ENTIRE identity.
    2. No one spit at me and called me names for deciding to have WLS. I actually witnessed that with my friend.
    3. No one screamed at me that I was disgusting.
    4. No one threatened my life for being "against god".
    5. No one had to have a meeting at work to decide which restroom I was allowed to use. (YES, this happened with my friend.)
    6. I didn't have to relearn how to have sex.
    7. I didn't have to go through a huge legal battle to change my legal gender.
    8. I didn't have to lose friends and family members because they REFUSED to accept me and call me by my correct name.
    9. I never had my ass kicked to the point that I had to go to the emergency room because I had WLS.

    Both have stigmas? Sure. But WLS is NOTHING like the heartbreaking process that I watched my friend go through.

    1. This is so true, it's one thing to have a surgical procedure that helps with your health, gender reassignment is so different...and the psych consult with WLS is really -- do you have a support system and is anyone making you do this -- the psych consult for gender reassignment is so much more involved and complex and not just an hour long. WLS is offered in so many different hospitals in every major city....gender reassignment in only a few areas of the country. WLS can help people get off medications, gender reassignment patients will be taking hormones the rest of their lives.

      I think that doctor was using this to shock her listeners.

  17. I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.
    cut the fat podcast


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