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Why I'm choosing bariatric surgery: Getting uncomfortable

Posted on May. 4, 2016 ( comments)
Jennifer Yahne with family on sculpture

MultiCare's director of general surgery, Jennifer Yahne, is choosing to undergo bariatric surgery. You can read other posts in this series here.

One of the things I love about working for MultiCare is that they invest in their leaders, as evidenced in part by quarterly forums held to educate, engage and align those helping run this vast organization.

The theme of a recent event was rising above discomfort. Sitting through that day, I couldn’t help but identify the parallels with that theme and my weight loss journey.

The theme was summarized in a quote from author Peter McWilliams: “Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it's a small price to pay for living a dream.”

That quote really hit home for me in my quest to reach a healthier weight. I want to achieve that dream, but there is a great deal of discomfort I must face in getting there.

I am not talking about the discomfort of having surgery, but rather the mental discomfort of fundamentally changing my relationship with food.

Fighting against food as 'an emotional crutch'

I treat food as an emotional crutch. When I am tired, frustrated or upset, I turn to food, usually chocolate, to soothe me. I enjoy chocolate, but the reality is that it does not adequately address my feelings, so oftentimes I eat more. In the end, chocolate has not helped improve my state of mind, but instead added inches to my waist line.

Changing the way I eat requires that I actually endure the discomfort of my negative feelings and deal with them in a healthier way.

If I’m frustrated at my desk during the afternoon, I am learning to take a walk while I sort through my thoughts. Before, I would have walked — but only down the hall to the gift shop where I could buy my favorite chocolate bar.

In the evening if I’m feeling drained, I am trying to find ways to reenergize myself with the kids or even just head to bed early rather than stealing some candy from the Easter stash.

Getting used to feeling my feelings is uncomfortable, but dulling them with food is not effective.

Food aversions prove challenging

Another area where I struggle is food aversions. Since childhood, I have struggled with eating several foods, including vegetables and most meats. I am not sure where my picky eating came from, other than my parents’ indulgence and the lack of a wide variety of foods at home during my childhood.

Working on expanding my palate is critical to moving forward, as a variety of foods will help me get the nutrients I need to feel my best. However, overcoming food aversions is very uncomfortable.

I have set a goal of trying three new foods per month. I’m trying to do this in a way that is planned and enjoyable, because trying new foods causes feelings of stress and anxiety for me.

For example, I target evenings where there will be plenty of time to sit down and enjoy food. That means avoiding times when I’m already exhausted or drained. I want to be able to associate these new foods with positive experiences.

In April, I tried salmon, shrimp, mushrooms and bell peppers for the first time. With the exception of bell peppers, I liked the taste of them all, although the texture took some getting used to. I will definitely try them again in the future. My husband was especially happy about me trying his salmon, which everybody always raves about.

I keep reminding myself that achieving a healthier weight and lifestyle is worth having, but I must embrace the discomfort of the journey to get there.


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About The Author

Jennifer Yahne author photo Jennifer Yahne

Jennifer Yahne and her husband of 17 years, Jeramy, are lifelong residents of South King County. They have two daughters, Jillian and Hayden. Jennifer has worked in health care administration for the past decade, most recently as the director for the general surgery careline at MultiCare Health System. In her limited free time, she enjoys knitting, sewing, reading and baking.

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