As we enter into the final week of the 30th World Olympiad, I’ve truly enjoyed watching the games this year. It isn’t just the competition or the winning of medals that gets me going. I like hearing about the incredible odds that some of these athletes have overcome just to make it to the games, let alone win in them. From those who have had surgery so recently you wonder how they were able to train, to others who battled such severe poverty in their own countries, within their own families, you wonder how they ever had the drive. These are the athletes I thoroughly enjoy watching compete and win. They remind me of successful bariatric surgery patients.

Commitment – Like Olympians who stop at nothing to train for and excel in their sport of choice, successful bariatric patients are also committed to life-long modifications in their habits in order to succeed. They know that the goal (a healthier life) isn’t a final destination. It’s a lifelong journey and its road is paved with hard work, tough decisions and an unending amount of self-discipline.

Defying of Odds – As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, some of the Olympians at this year’s games have defied the most incredible odds in order to get there. There’s a lot that goes into how and why that happens and I can draw several similarities to how successful bariatric patients are able to do the same. For one, they’re able to drown out the negative “noise.” Perhaps it’s someone who told them they couldn’t do it. Or, maybe they come from a town or family that hasn’t known true personal success before. No matter what the reason, this negative “noise” becomes a force that produces extreme amounts of drive and determination.

The Idea that “Personal Best” Feels Just Like a Gold Medal- This one is my favorite. When cheering on athletes at this year’s games, it’s hard not to be disappointed when our pick doesn’t win the gold medal. But the most fascinating part is when they’re interviewed after the competition. Almost always, they’re grinning from ear to ear. When asked why, they say things like: “It was my fastest time ever,” or “That was my personal best.” Like competitive athletes, successful bariatric surgery patients know that a “personal best” can come in many forms and it doesn’t necessarily look like the “personal best” for the patient across the room. It can be weighing less than we did in our mid-20’s, being able to run around with grandchildren for the first time, resolving medical conditions that seem to have hung around forever and the list goes on.

Like the Olympians who’ve been honored to compete in this year’s games, successful bariatric surgery patients know what they want before they take the journey. Whatever that goal is, they hold it in their mind’s eye and stay committed to it. Some defy incredible odds to achieve it and they drown out the noise of those who wanted to bring them down with added amounts of drive and determination. But most importantly, each one knows that their best accomplishment along the way, whatever it may be, is like winning a personalized gold medal.