Ep. 14 - Bariatric surgery: ruined health and lifelong complications with mariana den hollander
May 4th, 2022
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Books: The Heaviest Weight
The Heaviest Surgery
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Doug: [00:00:00] If you feel you often lose control of your eating and your hunger, if you feel anxious or even afraid to enter your kitchen or go out to eat with friends. If you feel you can’t stop eating once you start, or you no longer want to be controlled by food and the emotions that surround it, lean in my friend and get inspired.
This is your wake up call to a life where food doesn’t control you. Where you’re comfortable with what you eat and where you can easily stop whenever you want to. This isn’t science fiction and it’s not another empty weight loss promise. This is hypnosis. And if you like this show, you’ll love my powerful hypnosis audio, The Binge Blocker Protocol. This hypnosis helps you stop out of control eating the moment you feel that urge. It’s a 15 minute audio that deals with the emotions behind compulsive eating. Once those emotions are out of the way, the urge to overeat goes [00:01:00] away with it. Once you get your binge blocker protocol, you can download it to your phone to carry with you whenever you might feel that urge. Whether in a restaurant, in your home or even at your workplace when those breakroom donuts are calling your name. Whether you call it a binge, overeating or simply losing control for a moment, this audio will help you resolve it. You can get your Binge Blocker Protocol by going to anywherehypnosis.com.
That’s anywherehypnosis.com. Right on the homepage, you’ll see where you can get your copy of the Binge Blocker Protocol right now. And I’m serious about that, right now. Pause this podcast to go get your hypnosis today. Don’t worry. I’ll still be here when you get back. Go to anywherehypnosis.com and sign up.
It’s completely free. And if you’re even thinking about getting this hypnosis, trust me, get this hypnosis today. Try it out because you’ll never know just [00:02:00] how effective this can be until you test it out in your own life. Again, that’s anywherehypnosis.com. One more time, anywherehypnosis.com. Now on with the show.
Mariana: Soon enough, I started suffering very terrible side effects. One year after the surgery, I got pancreatitis and almost lost my life because of it. They told me that it was typical of people who lose weight very fast so it can happen to anyone who loses a lot of weight in a very fast amount of time.
I didn’t know that and I just thought, okay, okay. It’s normal, it’s normal. Okay, next. When I continue pleading my life, four years afterwards, I started suffering acute anemia. My dental health got completely compromised. And since I didn’t know that there were side effects to these surgery, I never associated this new health issues to the surgery.
So I saw them as isolated problems that I started having. By the end of the [00:03:00] year 2018, we’re talking 9 years, almost 10. I got many exams here in Belgium and the doctors found that my digestive system was completely compromised. My esophagus did not work. My stomach was twisted, so they had to create the surgery in order to put it back in place.
Doug: Welcome back to the podcast, everyone. My name is Doug Sands, I’m the hypnotist and the host of this show. And this week we’re sharing perhaps one of the most powerful conversations that we’ve had on this podcast to date. This week, I spoke with Mariana den Hollander. Mariana is a former bariatric surgery patient.
She had surgery way back in 2009, and then later had a reconstructive surgery to work through some of the issues that came up because of that first surgery. She still faces health problems to this day. Now, Mariana spends most of her time speaking out about what’s not shared about weight loss and bariatric surgery.
Oftentimes it’s seen as a magic pill with no real side effects. We’re only shown the [00:05:00] good side of how it can give us miraculous weight loss, and can really change our lives seemingly overnight, Mariana shows that there are side effects. And there are big ones that you’ll face for the rest of your life. These are side effects that doctors already know about. Though they’re most likely not going to tell you about that because these are the same doctors who are making thousands of dollars doing beriatrics surgery each and every day. Now, I do have to make something absolutely clear in this. If this is the very first episode that you’re listening to, we need to talk about weight loss.
There’s a very specific reason that I put the words, weight loss in the title of this podcast. And it’s not the reason you may think. Weight loss is a huge keyword. Hundreds of thousands of people are searching for it every single day. But what I’ve shared with countless guests, and what I spoke about with Mariana today, is that weight loss isn’t usually the focus. Weight loss often even shouldn’t be the goal.
Weight loss should be a side effect of working through the deeper issues. The goal that we’re working on [00:06:00] oftentimes when working with clients is healing. Healing any issues that you have with your body and your weight, with any negative self-talk, healing any past trauma, healing how you talk to yourself when you’re alone.
Weight loss may happen, and then again, it may not. But that is not the goal. So the goal of putting the keyword in the title was to find people who are searching for this, who may think that this was the exact solution. Because as we hear in this podcast, Mariana also thought that losing weight at one time might be the key to getting whatever she wanted in life, to having that security, to loving herself.
But she realized over time, that she could love herself even in that bigger body. And even though she had more weight in the past, she actually realizes that she was healthier at that larger weight. So the goal of this podcast is ultimately to show you, there are better ways to heal.
Now, Mariana talked about this as well. She had a list in her first book of all the things that weight loss wouldn’t automatically fix. And I think that’s such a huge [00:07:00] message in this podcast, and it’s one of the key reasons that I do this work. Weight loss is not going to guarantee you habits. It’s not going to guarantee you success, it’s not going to guarantee that you’re going to love yourself. You need to work through some of the other issues that are built up underneath that issue of the weight gain. And that’s when you’re going to see the truly dramatic change in your life.
Now even if you and your loved ones never consider beriatrics surgery, this is still such an important episode to listen to. Because in this episode, we talked about weight bias in the medical community. This has been proven by studies and it’s been published in many books that talk about weight, such as what we don’t talk about when we talk about fat. Which I think is one of the books that we mentioned in this podcast. We talked about why thinner is not always healthier. Mariana knows that she was healthier both mentally and physically before her surgery. When she was at that larger weight, what someone’s considered largely obese.
Weight stigma is such an important topic because it’s an [00:08:00] implicit bias that so many of us are proven to share. And in the Harvard study about implicit bias, unlike racism, classism, others, weight bias is socially acceptable. And it’s been proven to have an in the medical community. And even though the data has shown time and time again, that being in a bigger body does not mean that you’re inherently unhealthy or less healthy than those who are thin. And talking about that Harvard study talking about implicit bias, people have found out that while things like racism, classism and other issues of implicit bias have been going down over the years, weight and the weight stigma is one of the only things that has been getting worse over time.
Now, I did want to include a trigger warning in this podcast. In this episode, we do talk about eating disorders specifically, bulemia. We also mentioned suicide among post-bariatric patients. If talking about bulemia may be triggering, just know that we only talk about it for one question in the first 20 minutes or so of this interview. Though, I highly encourage you to [00:09:00] listen through, because we talked about so much in this episode. We talked about eating disorders and people with larger bodies as well, and how that often goes completely undiagnosed, and how damaging they can be even at those larger bodies. Mariana dealt with an eating disorder for seven years, and it went completely unnoticed by the medical community and even by her family, because she was in that larger body. Now we didn’t go too in depth into specifics.
We also touched briefly on suicide. Though I didn’t want to include that as a trigger warning. Even though it wasn’t in depth conversation, we did mention it in this podcast. Now, this conversation maybe one of the most important that we’ve had on this podcast to date, because we talk about so many different issues that listeners may face. I highly encourage you to listen all the way through on this one, regardless of what your body is like, because people of all body shapes and sizes can benefit from this powerful conversation. This is all about empathy. It’s about revealing a side of weight loss and [00:10:00] surgery, that almost always goes unnoticed. It’s about showing the bias in ourselves and our own lives and in the medical community. It’s about understanding how all of this impacts people and it has for decades and all of the issues that come about from beriatric surgery are issues that impact people for the rest of their lives.
I highly encourage you to listen in. And with that, let’s get onto today’s conversation with Mariana den Hollander.
Doug: All right. Welcome back to the podcast, everyone. I’m really excited for today’s conversation. I think it’s going to be really informative for everyone listening in. Today, I’m joined by Mariana den Hollander. Mariana, first and foremost, thank you so much for being here on the show.
Mariana: Are you kidding me? It’s really my pleasure to be here, Doug.
Thank you so much for inviting me.
Doug: Absolutely. I’m really excited for today’s conversation. Mariana, I was really intrigued by your story. Would you mind sharing with listeners a little bit about your story and how you came to [00:11:00] write the books that you’ve currently written.
Mariana: Yes, of course. Please stop me if I take too long, because you know, it’s quite an intricate story. I learned how to live in my fat body at the age of 26 back in 2007. And I decided to write a book about it because back then, body positivity wasn’t really the movement that it is today. The word fatphobia itself did not even exist. So for me, it was really incredible to realize that the weight of my body, my fatness was not the problem. It was actually what I thought about it. And I was able to find this freedom and this place of self-respect up there. Having had bulemia after having hated my body for ages. And I did it through a method the work of Byron Katie. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but it’s self-questioning every thought that causes you pain and stress.
And I really dove into it, like if my life depended on it. So the results [00:12:00] in how I felt and how I experienced my life were really amazing and life-changing. So I decided to write the heaviest weight, which got published in Spanish in Barcelona in 2007. But there was one thing that all that freedom and body respect that I learned to have for myself did not accomplish, which was, let’s say my medical fatphobia, my fatphobia in the name of health. So here I was, very happy, clear that I didn’t ever want to do a diet on this. I was at peace with it. I didn’t weight myself, but I always know in the back of my head, Mariana, at some point you have to lose weight for health reasons. You know, they teach you to look at your fatness as if it’s a tumor that it’s either it’s already exploded, and that’s why you’re so sick and all these diseases that are related to be in fat or like my case, I was extremely healthy, but they teach you learn to fear your fatness as if in any moment you’re going to get that tumor exploding [00:13:00] and become very, very sick. So in 2009, a friend of mine offered me a sleeve gastrectomy, which is bariatric surgery. I said, absolutely not. I was convinced that thinness was not going to give me a better life. And I decided to say no to her and educated no. And I was looking for proof that would give me that scientific backup to say, no, this is the reason why I’m not gonna do this, and thank you so much for your gift. And I really didn’t find it. And you know, this is the point where I thought, how about if this is for health? How about if this is what you’ve always been searching for. How about if now you can finally do it for your health. And sadly enough, in 2009, I went through the surgery. I lost the weight that people thought I needed to lose. And I started living in a thin body very intuitively, you know, I didn’t bring into this new size, body size, all the stigma, all these promises of a better life.
So I didn’t wait [00:14:00] myself. So, you know, it was a very peaceful transition. Soon enough I started suffering very terrible side effects. One year after the surgery, I got pancreatitis and almost lost my life because of it. They told me that it was typical of people who lose weight very fast, so it can happen to anyone who loses a lot of weight in a very fast amount of time.
I didn’t know that and I just thought, okay, okay. It’s normal, it’s normal. Okay, next. When I continued pleading my life for years afterwards, I started suffering acute anemia. My dental health got completely compromised. And since I didn’t know that there were side effects to the surgery, I never associated this new health issues to the surgery.
So I saw them as isolated problems that I started having. By the end of the year 2019, we’re talking 9 years, almost ten. I got many exams here in Belgium and the doctors found that my [00:15:00] digestive system was completely compromised. My esophagus did not work. My stomach was twisted, so they had to create the surgery in order to put it back in place. a little bag was formed in next to my stomach.
So it was completely deformed and compromised. And they decided to create a new digestive system for me because the normal one was completely ruined. And this is where they put a gastric bypass to save my life, you know, quote unquote, that it was really like that. And then Doug, I started suffering completely different and new side effects of the gastric bypass. So the sleeve gastrectomy completely ruined my digestive system. The gastric bypass came to save my life, and a whole new set of side effects started like acute tiredness, fatigue. I’ve never been the same Mariana since before the surgery cognitively, humor wise. I’ve lost a spark that I used to have, a level of passion in [00:16:00] everything I did that I haven’t regained.
It’s been three years, so going to specialists, to thinking that maybe I had some occult disease, the doctors were not at being able to find, and it wasn’t until I started talking about it with my community on Instagram, my Spanish speaking community that other women started telling me their side-effects of their bariatric surgeries.
And it was like, what? This cannot be a coincidence. So is this because of my bariatric surgery that I’m having so many health issues? And it was really like an aha moment, a wake up moment. I had already found health at every size, a few months before that. But it wasn’t until I saw the movie, Fattitude, I don’t know if you’ve seen it. I recommend it. It’s an amazing movie that I really understood what health at every size means. You know, it means that a fat woman can be as healthy as a thin woman. Meaning, Mariana before the surgery, fat Mariana, was way healthier than this thin Mariana. [00:17:00] And it was a terrible blow to my ego to, you know, I felt very ashamed. I’ve always thought of myself as a very educated woman and here I went and did this surgery in the name of ignorance. Medical fatphobia in the name of health is ignorance. And then I created the heaviest surgery, which is my bariatric surgery story, because I also realized that there are not enough people talking about their side effects, that there are hundreds thousands of people around the world suffering extreme diseases because of their bariatric surgeries. And doctors are not even connecting their diseases to their surgeries.
Doug: That’s incredible. First and foremost, I want to honor that, you know, I’m sorry that you went through all of this. What really struck me about your story, was right off the bat, you had problems, you had that issue where it threatened your life within a year or two of that surgery. These are things that no one really is told when we’re considering these surgeries. And that’s why I think this message is so important. There’s so much, I’d love to explore [00:18:00] about medical surgery and bariatric surgery.
First and foremost, if you’re willing, I’d love to explore a little bit of the beginning of your story to lay the foundation. A lot of people who listen to this podcast may be slightly overweight. They may be largely overweight, you know, in the social sense, perhaps. And they might be struggling with compulsive eating or disordered eating.
I’d love to ask you a little bit about your experience with bulemia. I know from working with a lot of clients who are in bigger bodies, oftentimes those disordered patterns, they go on notice because of that larger size. It seems that oftentimes people only are diagnosed with those issues when they reach a level of thinness that our society believes is an actual danger. I’d love to ask just what you’re comfortable sharing, a little bit about your experience having bulemia with a larger body.
Mariana: Yeah, well, it’s exactly accurate what you’re saying. I lived with bulemia for seven years and one time, I was watching Dr. Phil and he was presenting these girls in a facility that were really on the verge of dying.
[00:19:00] And there was one girl who was not as thin as the other ones. And she said I was able to hide my disease because I have a larger body, so no one ever thought that I have a problem. And she was there in that facility. And for me, that was really like a wake up call. I always saw vomiting as something I did, but never as a disease, you know, this is what our mind does to us and blinds us.
You know, I saw it as something I did sometimes in order to fix the problem, which was overeating or binging. And I don’t have a problem. I don’t have bulemia. And the day I saw that it was really like, stop. What are you doing? For me, it was very evident, even though there was so much pain inside of me and my story.
That bulemia was not the problem. I knew it was a symptom. It was the fever of whatever was causing the infection. So I started looking for help the day after I came out with my dad and to my brother, I had bulemia, I’ve been [00:20:00] bulimic for seven years, I need help. And then started the search of what do I do next?
How do I work on my pain? That’s causing all of this.
Doug: Absolutely. And I’d love to ask you about those next steps. You mentioned that before the surgery process, that you had a pretty good mental relationship with weights with your body. I’d love to ask perhaps how you got to that point and what that point was like, especially for listeners who may be struggling with that mental health aspect of it right now.
Perhaps to encourage them to know that there is an actual point of piece perhaps with your body and also perhaps if you’ve got any tools or tips about that journey, I’d love to hear it.
Mariana: Of course, in my first book, The Heaviest Weight, I tell all that story of how I got there and all the specific aha moments that I had that led me to really understand that my happiness and my life did not depend on losing weight in order to be able to enjoy it.
My success, my worth, everything was not dependable on that weight [00:21:00] loss, but in the moment that I realized that I was bulimic and I started looking for help, I first started via a clinic where they attend people on support groups. They give a one-on-one and group help to individuals. And, you know, I started working with a group.
I have to tell you that I left it very fast because I knew that was not the way for me. They made you keep a food journal. You had to talk about how you felt when you ate all of that. But for me specifically, keeping a food journal just made me even sicker. So I was so conscious that that was not the way for me.
And that’s when the work of Byron Katie came into my life. I used to live in the Netherlands back then. I have two nationalities. That’s one of them. And Byron Katie was coming over and that’s how I found the work. I did a workshop on how to work with this method. And in a matter of four hours, I was able to thank my bulemia for bringing me to that workshop, because I [00:22:00] knew that I had found a method to really dive into my story of pain, which, you know, it had nothing to do with food, with fat, with my body.
It had everything to do with childhood issues, relationship issues, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And as I started doing the work on all of these subjects, questioning my thoughts on all of these subjects and for me, it was the work for other people. It can be therapy. I really started noticing how I just started feeling better. I questioned that pain and I started feeling more comfortable in my body. And then it was like, what? But nothing has changed. How come I’m happier? How come I’m more comfortable? I’m not even doing the work that much on my body itself or the fat itself. It’s more on all of these issues that cause me so much pain. And that’s when I dove specifically into questioning my thoughts about my body and, the work. The first question is, is it true? You question the thought, my body is too fat. So is it [00:23:00] true that my body is too fat? You know, too fat for what?
For walking, I can walk. For loving people. I can love people. For enjoying life, no, I’m not too fat. And you know, of course it’s a whole deconstruction that happens over time, but it was really amazing to me. I just did not think it was possible that one could live in a big body, in a fat phobic world where the world is constantly throwing violence at you because of that body.
And respect your body. I did not think that that was possible. And that’s how I decided to, you know, I have to share this. I have to let other people know that there is a way to be at peace in the body that we are today.
Doug: And for listeners listening in, thinking that this story may sound like their own or something that they’d love to learn more, I highly encourage you to check out Mariana’s work. And all of these books will be in the show notes. And I also wanted to mention, you mentioned that the work was really powerful in helping you change, and I certainly recommend it.
I find a lot of interesting crossovers between Byron’s work and [00:24:00] the work of hypnosis and the work of psychology. And I think that if you’re looking for a tool that you can use at home to start that process to perhaps even finish that process, highly recommend that. Mariana I’d love to ask, perhaps what was that point of transition between being war at odds with your body, but being completely at peace with where you were. What did that feel like? And perhaps what were those final moments of realization like for you?
Mariana: Well, it was really just being able to look at my legs, my fat legs and not call them anything, not give them an adjective.
They are just legs, you know, and they take me everywhere and I was really able to dance until four in the morning. I moved my body like many smaller people would’ve wished to move it, you know, it was those moments where I was able to just realize that that size had nothing to do with my capacity for, joy.
And I remember one time [00:25:00] specifically, I was at the beach in the Hague, and I had a wonderful time with my friends. I was wearing a bathing suit, which was really a miracle up to that moment. Feeling completely in my center, in my power. And then I started walking home and I saw this really beautiful, younger, or my age.
But definitely small woman walking by and I thought, oh my God, she’s so beautiful. And I looked at her and I admired her and kept walking and I got home. By the time I got home, I was really suffering. The most amazing day had turned into a nightmare. And I was like, what happened? Where did he change? At what time?
In the walking from the beach to the house, did you start living a nightmare? So, you know, I started like measuring all of my steps and I went back to the moment. I saw that woman, that girl. And I said, but you know, I didn’t have negative thoughts. I was just admiring her, and then it hit me.
Of course, every time you look at a thin woman, what [00:26:00] society considers as beautiful, you see all of these adjectives that you think you do not possess and you will never have. And for me that was really like bingo. Because with the work you have a tool where you can get all of those thoughts that I think she is that I don’t think I have and question that It’s like, let’s look at this.
Is it really true that she’s happier than I am? Is it really true that she’s going to be happier in love than I am? Is it really true that she’s going to get more men than I am? You know? And, I think that was really like a breaking point in my life at that moment.
Doug: And thank you for sharing that. I’d love to transition a little bit to perhaps ask about the process, the road to the first surgery.
First and foremost, I’d love to ask knowing what you know now about, health at every size and everything like that. We’re often told that we have to be thin for health and that’s coming from people we trust, from the medical community and people that we have look up to. I’d love to know, just starting off, what have you learned and what is your perspective now about the medical community, really [00:27:00] promoting thinness?
Mariana: I am very aware that doctors are bias, just like the rest of us. Humans are humans and you can have the highest university degree and still be emotionally completely immature.
Or you can have the highest degree and be racist or fatphobic, et cetera. And it’s the same for doctors. Every time you go into a doctor’s office, you don’t know at what moment any of their biases is going to fall on you. And this is something that I sadly learned the hard way. I have learned that I really was a very healthy woman in the size that I was.
And believe me, I went to surgery weighing the amount of weight that you need in order to be able to do this surgery. So I was in a very big body and I was such a healthy woman. And when I was working with my intuitive eating nutritionist and you know, at one point I said, but what would have happened to me if I wouldn’t have lost weight with the surgery?
[00:28:00] She’s like, what do you mean? I’m like, what would have happened to my legs? What if I would’ve gotten diabetes or cholesterol? She said, honey, then you would have just gotten a treatment. And that was like, Yeah. And then I realized Jesus, you know, I’ve spent all my fat years and all of my life thinking that because I was a fat woman, I didn’t deserve treatment because first you have to lose weight in order to be worthy of getting a treatment. And this is what they teach you. To see your body as a sick body. And that’s completely untrue. What I have discovered? What did that Mariana need? The Mariana before the surgery? I definitely needed to heal my relationship with my body with a psychologist.
I needed to heal my relationship with movement, with exercise because that’s one thing that I do agree with. Exercise can absolutely change our health and each body with their capacity. So, you know, it’s not that we all have to run marathons. It has nothing to do with that. It’s just [00:29:00] movement pleasurable and kind movement.
So I definitely needed that. And of course I needed to heal my relationship with food because food had become my mom, food had become my father food, had become my friend who was always there for me. And I’m very grateful that food was there and I was really able to make peace with food one year ago where I was really like, thank you so much for being there, because if it wouldn’t have been for you, who was there?
No one, what would I have done without being able to get my support from food? And of course later as an adult, learn other methods of dealing with myself, of dealing with my sadness of filling up the holes that I had in my life. So, for people who are today living in, bigger bodies, and we also know that the trauma of living in the fatter the body is, the bigger, the trauma.
That’s a fact. And I really understand, and I can not know what it is to be In our body that’s bigger than I was ever. But I do know, and [00:30:00] this is what I talk about also in the heaviest surgery, is that what I needed was this three things, you know, heal my relationship with food, with my body, and with exercise.
Doug: I’d love to mention. You touched on the bias of people in the medical community. Currently, I’ve been working through the book, what we don’t talk about when we talk about fat and they talked about the bias of the medical community and touching on the Harvard study about implicit bias and how comparing things like race and poverty and our biases to these, everything seems to be going down except for the bias against overweight, against people with larger bodies. And that really struck me. And what else struck me in that book was how often these study or these biases are present in the medical community. How often people are just denied treatment or told that it’s not an issue, the real issue is the weight or something like this in the medical community.
That’s definitely such an important part of that. I’d love to ask, you mentioned, the food as the mother, as the father, you know, without touching too deep, if you don’t want to, I’d love to ask a [00:31:00] little bit more about that. So many times people come in to work with me and it’s that issue of, they don’t realize they’re eating psychologically, they’re eating to cover up an emotion or to heal something or to protect themselves.
I’d love to know a little bit more about your experience of using food for a specific purpose. What was that like? And perhaps what was that moment of realization like for you?
Mariana: Well, you know, last year I started therapy with psychologist who is in the health at every size movement. And I was able to understand, first of all, that emotional eating is okay.
And the first time I heard it, it was really like, what? I’ve been killing myself, hating myself so hard for 43 years for being an emotional eater. And here you’re telling me that it’s okay. And I have come to understand that it is, that it is human nature to connect feelings to our food and that that’s okay.
Of course the problem comes when that’s the only way in which we can cope [00:32:00] with our traumas, with our issues problems. So what I have come to understand also Doug, is that we don’t do therapy, or we don’t work on our issues in order to heal those issues so that we lose weight. You know, I have learned how to see my mental health and how important it is, for the value of just being peaceful in my own mind, being at ease in my own mind, without ever again, worrying whether my emotional eating is getting me fat or not. And that was really like a breakthrough moment where my life completely changed and it’s quite recent. This is really like, 15 months ago that I was able to do this work. Back in the day, I did think that eventually I was going to lose weight because I would stop eating emotionally and then there’s that second or like a hidden agenda in everything that you do. Ultimately I will lose the weight, which will get me healthy, quote unquote. So I think that’s a really important point that I want to make about that [00:33:00] because for me, food was really my coping mechanism.
And if it wouldn’t have been food, it would have been drugs. It would have been sex. It would have been gambling, shopping. I didn’t fall into those because I had food and quite honestly, I’m quite happy it was that and not any of the previous options. So, yeah, it’s quite a difficult subject because diet culture has been able to put shame into every single part of this conversation.
It’s so difficult to deconstruct ourselves to really free our minds from this stigmas.
Doug: And thank you so much for sharing that. And I really appreciate what you mentioned about the coping mechanism. How that if you hadn’t had the food, it might have been something worse, something like sex or gambling or drugs.
And when I’m working with someone or if someone’s working with the work. That moment of thinking the food, or thinking that coping mechanism is a really powerful moment, realizing that this protected you or it was a crutch, or it was a tool to work through. It was essentially the best tool that you had at [00:34:00] that moment.
And to really honor that. And I’d also love to touch on another point that you mentioned that when we focus on that weight loss, that’s not really the thing we should be focusing on. So many times people come to me and that’s the first word out of their mouth. And, it’s something that I’ve spoken about.
It’s actually, you know, in the language around this podcast, but really my goal with this is to bring in people who are at that point, looking at weight loss and say, that’s not what you should be looking at. That’s not what you should really be focusing on. And so this message has been so powerful.
I’d really love to ask you now about the surgeries themselves, perhaps what’s many people listening are curious about. Going up to the very beginning when you had the first surgery, I’d love to know a little bit more about what it was like immediately after up to that point that you had the first life-threatening issue and perhaps some of the emotions, some of the thoughts that you had around that. Some of the realizations perhaps, I’d love to know more.
Mariana: Well, you know, I got gastric sleeve and as I said, it was a very intuitive process of losing weight. It wasn’t that I was [00:35:00] counting the kilos. It wasn’t that I was now I can work this dress. Now I can, it was more like, okay, let’s enjoy having privilege. and I gave myself into that experience of just, continue living your life, continue being as active as I would go in as you’ve always been. And it was really like that. And the way they explained to me that pancreatitis is really a side effect of weight loss, not so much the surgery was all I needed to hear, I didn’t question anymore. And this is something that up until today, It weighs on me. Because it’s, how did I not connect the dots? You know, how did I not say, Hey, why didn’t you tell me this before the surgery? Because I had to pay a very expensive price after years and realizing that a gastric sleeve had completely compromised my health, so much that I needed a reconstruction surgery.
Doug: That’s incredible. I’m just kind of blown away by that. I’d really love to know about that idea of reconstruction. Just breaking down the language of that and looking at having this surgery [00:36:00] that people are told is supposed to save their life. And then in reality, it damages us. So many times people are told that the surgery, it’s going to be expensive, but it’s probably going to be a quick fix. That your life is undoubtedly going to be better afterwards.
I’d love to know a little bit more about the process from that first health complication up to the moment you had that reconstructive surgery. What happened? What did you notice? Perhaps what was going on in your mind as well about this medical community perhaps, that led you down in this moment?
Mariana: Well, you know, what’s really crazy about fatphobia and internalized fat phobia. Is that up until two years ago, I still thought that even though I was so sick, I was healthier than my old self, fat woman. Up until two years ago, I was still recommending bariatric surgery to people because I still thought that I was healthier than my fat friends, for example. When in reality I was, you know, I’ve kept the weight off, but I am extremely sick. And especially in the last three [00:37:00] years, it’s been a nightmare. I’m not able to enjoy the part of myself that I love the most, which is the capacity that I have to enjoy life, to enjoy every single moment.
That is the spark that’s been turned off. It doesn’t get any worse than that for me, you know, and it’s also affected my mental health at a level, my cognitive skills at a level where I really understood why suicide rates in bariatric patients is extremely high. It really compromises your physical chemistry, your hormonal chemistry.
It messes up your cognitive functioning, you can not work. And you know, what’s even crazier? The more I talk about this, the worser stories that I hear from people were actually, I am privileged with my side-effects in comparison to so many other people.
So when I got the surgery to reconstruct my digestive system in 2019, the surgeon never told me that all of these issues were caused by the gastric sleeve. And I didn’t [00:38:00] connect it either. You know, you trust surgeons and doctors blindly. If they’re not saying it, it’s because it’s not there. And sadly enough, it wasn’t until people on Instagram told me about their side effects, that I was finally able to connect it.
And then I started looking for health specialists who know about this, who were finally telling me yes, Mariana. It causes these, these and these and these. And of course it has to be specialists who are completely away from the business of bariatric surgery. Because if it’s a doctor that somehow is connected to the bariatric team, forget about it.
They’re not going to tell you what you need to know in order to make a decision on whether to get the surgery or how to take care of yourself.
Doug: And that’s such an important point to note that it is a business, that it is people trying to provide for themselves. And this is how they do it, by doing these surgeries. And so they have that conflict of interest. One of the things that’s come up time and time again on this podcast, that really surprised me was that idea of questioning the medical community. Not saying [00:39:00] they’re wrong, but getting that second opinion, getting more information, realizing that these doctors, they’re fallible, they’re human and that we should be taking these with what they say as the golden truth.
What you mentioned before about suicide also really struck me. That was something that I had never really heard about. I’d heard that, you know, oftentimes one in two people who had the surgery may have further complications, but I had never really understood the complications, both physical and mental from that side of things, I’d love to know a little bit more about perhaps the specific issues that you faced, what complications? And perhaps any mental side of it that you’d like to share. What was that experience like? for you?
Mariana: Terrifying. it’s been really a nightmare since 2019, because I started asking, specialists.
I started going to consultations. They did all sorts of exams, x-rays that you can imagine. We were looking for extremely rare diseases. It was really a time where, you know, it was a nightmare because you are completely [00:40:00] blind. No one can tell you what you have. I went to my bariatric surgeon and he said, you probably just have depression.
Ah, okay. You know, another crazy woman in my consultation, please go away. And I’ve suffered from acute anemia too. For example, I was just diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which is not even evident in my blood tests. That’s why so many specialists never saw it. It took a doctor here in Belgium, a very specialized doctor, an internist with a speciality in thyroid and nutrition who has so much expertise in cases that he’s really able to take a bunch of tests and be able to diagnose not so much or not only on the blood test, but on the whole case. And he was able to diagnose me with hypothyroidism and, you know, the minute he gave me the first pill, I completely changed.
But how many doctors, how many thousands of euros did it cost me to get to him? Let’s not forget about the [00:41:00] fact that I can not work for three years now. Who has the privilege to be able to not work? You know, fortunately I did, but many people do not. I also created a bunch of food intolerances.
Very bad ones because it’s, you know, it really limits your life. Also different problems with glucose, hyperinsulinism and hypoglycemias at the same time. Oh my God. The doctor also told me, listen, I am diagnosing you with five different things.
And the five things cause depression. So I don’t even know how you’ve been able to function so well in this past years. I think you have a pretty good view of, I mean, leaky gut can really be a terrible thing to have, for example, that causes tons of different issues during the day, that compromise your lifestyle and your capacity for joy.
I haven’t been able to read, I’ve been depressed. My libido, went to zero and that still hasn’t come back. And I mean, to zero, it’s non-existent. If it wasn’t because [00:42:00] of the psychological work that I’ve done throughout my life, if I had not decided in my twenties that my mental health was my first degree, my most important career, I don’t think I would’ve survived this last three years of living like this and thanks to that therapeutic work, I also am in a relationship that’s extremely strong and founded on self-growth and, you know, deep love and respect. And that’s how you are able to go through this period and still have a beautiful relationship. But if it wasn’t because of all that work, like I told you, now I understand why the suicide rate is so high on bariatric patients. This is health.
Doug: Absolutely. And I really thank you so much for sharing all of this experience. This is something that so few who are considering this actually hear, and this is such an important message. Looking at the presence and your second book and perhaps some of the work that you’re doing on social media and other places. I’d love to know, what is your perhaps mission, your goal? What are you working [00:43:00] to help people with? And perhaps if you’d like to share more about your second book, feel free to do so now.
Mariana: Thank you. Yeah. I think my mission is just that I do not want one more person to go through bariatric surgery without knowing the possibilities.
Bariatric surgery is really a Russian roulette, you know, and you put the pistol in your head and the bullet might go in, or it might not. And actually if I’m a hundred percent on it, I always think there’s a bullet. It just, that there’s a period called the honeymoon in the bariatric surgery, which is like the first 1 to 6th year where you might not suffer many side effects, health side effects. And many people, when they are in that state, that’s when they share their weight loss success story. Or it’s just going to take a bit longer, but it’s really a mission of mine to give the other side of the coin. Also, I don’t want more people who are already bariatric patients, because if you get a bariatric surgery, you will become a patient [00:44:00] for life.
You will become a bariatric patient for life. Forget about this idea that you’re going to be the healthiest, strongest, thin person on earth. That doesn’t exist. If you get this surgery, you become a patient. And I really believe that. And if people have undergone this surgery and are starting to feel sick and have different symptoms that are strange, the doctors don’t really have a reason for. Well, I want my voice or my experience to be out there, you know, so that at least they think, oh, could it be my bariatric surgery?
At least it would save them so much pain and frustration that I’ve suffered in these years.
Doug: Absolutely. And I thank you for that work. And I also wanted to mention, you spoke about the patient for life idea, and I want to second that. I have someone in my family who has undergone a type of bariatric surgery, and she would be what many would consider a success story.
She lost a lot of weight and she’s been able to keep it off. But to this day, even though what happened 20, 25 years ago, she still cannot eat many different carb, she still [00:45:00] has, extreme bouts of fatigue where she nap for like weeks at a time, it seems. And this is something that’s unfortunately really lasts a terribly long time.
I’d love to ask you Mariana. As we kind of wrap things up, before we have some closing messages for people, I really love to know where can people find you on the internet, on social media? I’d love to know, perhaps a little bit more about your books, about your works, about where people can join this community or to learn more about, what you’re sharing with the world.
Mariana: Sure. my two books, The Heaviest Weight and The Heaviest Surgery are available on Amazon and all of our favorite digital reading stores. In social media, you can find me at marianadenhollander_books. And if you speak Spanish, then the same, marianadenhollander_libros. I have to say that I’m more active in Spanish than in English.
For some reason, the message in the Spanish speaking community has been way more [00:46:00] received. And I’ve created a community where I constantly post about what people are sharing with me. I anonymously share their inbox messages. and what I’m trying to do is indeed that it’s not just me, you know?
And there is so much shame in bariatric patients about speaking out loud. First of all, we are perceived thus, taking the easy route by deciding to undergo surgery. And then, there is a very high, like a lot of people regained the weight back. And there is a lot of shame in that because now that I’m again fat and I’m sick, I’m not going to talk about it because I don’t have a voice since I gained the weight back, you know?
And I’m very aware of that. I’m very aware that I have the privilege, still thin privilege. To sit in front of the camera and record videos and people listen. Unfortunately, if I was a bigger person, I don’t know if the message would be received in the same way. So, I’m very open to sharing my story [00:47:00] as personal as it gets.
I don’t keep myself any secrets. I really go into all the aspects of my decisions and my story. Because I do believe that ultimately we’re all living the same life, you know, different scripts, but it’s the same life, the same pain. And I’m completely available. If you have questions or want to share your story, please send me a message because I’m totally open to creating community.
Doug: And I thank you for that. And for listeners who have been listening, maybe you’ve been through surgery, maybe you’re considering surgery. I highly recommend that you check out Mariana’s work and check out her books and check out her work online.
I know that this conversation has really changed the way that I see so many of these issues. I think this is a conversation that people are going to come back to time and time again. Mariana, just a couple of questions as we close up. I’d love to ask if you could go back and talk to yourself pre-surgery or to anyone who is pre-surgery at this moment, maybe it’s before you had that good relationship with food or your body I should say, or after, what would you tell [00:48:00] to yourself or to that person?
Mariana: I would tell myself that I don’t need to lose weight to be healthy. I would tell myself to go and research what health at every size means. I would watch the movie Fattitude, and I would really understand that the key to a healthier and happier life is to make peace with my body, with food and with exercise. And really start moving for the joy of it. And for the, you know, it’s a celebration of health when we do exercise, because I believe that exercise can change your life more than losing weight if you have any condition. Movement is what’s going to make a difference. I will tell myself that indeed I was right. Everything I wrote on The Heaviest Weight about all the things I would not get if I lost the weight is completely accurate. So, you know, I would give a pat on my shoulder, telling her that in that Mariana, you got it, honey. You were completely right. Right now, what [00:49:00] you need to heal is your thoughts on fat people, your thoughts on your fatness and health. You need to learn about real health without weight stigma.
Doug: Absolutely. Mariana. This conversation has been fantastic and eyeopening in so many ways. Thank you so much for sharing all of this. One last question I’d love to know, is there anything else you’d like to leave listeners with? Any advice, any wisdom? Anything else that you’d like to share?
Mariana: Well, you know, if people out there are considering weight loss surgery, or know a friend or family member who’s considering that, please ask them to read my book, The Heaviest Surgery, to look for information of cases where they had the surgery 10, 15, 20 years ago. Also to make sure that they realize that the payment of the surgery is going to be the least of their problems later on. The bariatric surgery in the long-term is thousands and thousands of dollars of doctors of maybe all their [00:50:00] surgeries that you will need to get of especial food supplements that you will need.
And it’s really important to get informed. And if you still go through it, you know, I don’t judge you. I totally understand why you want to stop being fat in a fat phobic world that traumatizes you every day, but at least prepare for what’s coming. And if you already had that surgery, make sure you find one doctor, and internist with specializations in hormones and nutrition that has nothing to do with your bariatric team or bariatric surgery so that he or she takes care of your health from now on, because health is so much more than weight.
Doug: Mariana, this has been incredible. Thank you again so much for being on the podcast today.
Mariana: Sure. Thank you so, so much for having me Doug, it’s so important to talk about this and bring consciousness or some light into what it can be at least.
Doug: Yes, absolutely.
Mariana: Thank you.
Doug: Again, what an incredible conversation we had with Mariana today.
This is the [00:51:00] reason I started this podcast, to have amazing conversations with people like Mariana. And it’s the reason that I continue it. Now, partly it was to share info on hypnosis. There are so many misconceptions about what hypnosis is and what you can actually do with it. Partly it was to reveal those misconceptions that we have about other areas in our life, just like this one. Now, if you’ve been listening in for a while now, and perhaps wondering if hypnosis is right for you, perhaps for weight issues, perhaps for issues about how you relate to your weights if you beat yourself up, if you think it’s only about willpower and nothing else. And you think it’s some sort of character flaw, that you can’t lose weight, perhaps it’s for body image issues.
I work with so many people with body dysmorphia, with other weight issues, with other body image issues. And with negative self-talk, that’s a really big one that we work on with hypnosis and we see amazing results with that. Perhaps it’s for compulsive or even disordered eating. Whether you have or feel that you have a diagnosed eating disorder or you [00:52:00] simply have compulsions and habits you can’t seem to kick around eating that you’re finally ready to get rid of, this is the time to do it. You’ve already taken the first step. You’ve listened to this podcast and you found out more about it. So let’s keep that momentum going. When you’re ready to change, go to anywherehypnosis.com and book a strategy call. Again, that’s anywherehypnosis.com. They’re free, though I do want to mention, I only offer a limited number every single month. These calls are very in-depth, it’s not just a 15 minute discovery call. So I only want to give these valuable times to people who are actually ready to make that change. And I often get asked who is a good candidate for hypnosis?
If you are a good candidate for bariatric surgery, I think you’d be a fantastic candidate for hypnosis because you can make those changes without going under the knife, without having those drastic health issues for the rest of your life. Anyone with an unconscious problem that they can’t seem to shake is a great candidate for hypnosis.
Perhaps this sounds like you. Consciously and logically, [00:53:00] you know that you shouldn’t do X, whatever that is. Maybe it’s beating yourself up or overeating or even undereating, but yet you still do it. It’s like part of you is hardwired to do that. It’s something I hear time and time again from people coming into the program.
Even when you try to overcome it with willpower, your unconscious mind finds a way to make it happen, whether it makes excuses, whether it overrides your goals, whether it builds anxiety in your life to make sure that still happens. And that’s why hypnosis works so powerfully, because it works with the very parts of our minds that deals with those issues, that keeps those habits running and keeps those issues in your life. So the last question is, are you ready to change starting today? Book your firstname.lastname@example.org because change only happens, when you start down that path.
Again, that’s anywherehypnosis.com. Remember, I only take a handful of clients every month, so if you’re ready to make change happen, let’s start today. Book your strategy call at [00:54:00] anywherehypnosis.com because the life you’ll have after releasing that issue starts right now.
Again, my name is Doug Sands, and I help women and men who are fed up with diet culture, to heal body image and the harmful eating. And release weight issues, often in as little as two sessions. Thank you so much for listening into this pivotal episode. And I look forward to seeing you in the next one.
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To your journey towards better health,
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