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Q+A: BL Contestant Jessica Delfs On Weight-Loss Surgery

by Cheryl Forberg, RD on March 22, 2012

Jessica Delfs, one of the contestants on the tenth season of The Biggest Loser had weight loss surgery prior to appearing on the show. The surgery did not fix her fundamental problems, however, and that is why she chose to become a contestant on the show. Cheryl sat down with her recently to discuss her experience with the surgery.

Cheryl Forberg, RD: Why do you think your band/bypass failed?

Jessica Delfs: I don’t think my band was a complete failure. I had lost 100 pounds before the show and hadn’t gained any of it back; I was just stuck with 100 more pounds to lose and everything I was doing before wasn’t working anymore. I had plateaued at 285 pounds. I believe the lap band “tool” could only do so much before I needed to deal with the mental and emotional reasons I had gotten that big (which I hadn’t confronted before the show).

CF: Did your relationship with food change?

JD: During the show it became fuel and nothing else. I didn’t really look forward to eating because it wasn’t “fun,” it was just something I needed to do to be able to work out at my highest intensity but still keep my calories and sodium low. When I got back and was surrounded by “enjoyable” foods again, it was hard. I didn’t have the option of indulging while I was on the ranch, and I struggled with keeping the mindset of “fuel only” when I got home. But once I saw the effect that indulging (even in moderation) had on my weight loss, I went back to what I knew worked — the BL plan — eating clean, whole foods low in calories and sodium, and things went right back to normal. I can’t use food as something I look forward to “indulging” in, but rather something that prepares me for the next workout or activity.

CF: What did you learn from your failed weight loss surgery?

JD: When my weight plateaued for three years after my surgery I learned that there were reasons I had become that big. It wasn’t merely because I ate too much. There were emotional things I had never dealt with, and even with the surgery my body wasn’t going to let go of the other 100 lbs until I was honest with myself how I got there. Once I started talking about my emotions and things that had happened in my past that pushed me to use food for comfort, I started to see the weight fall off, and now it’s not about what foods got me that way, but what are the things and emotions that trigger me to want to eat that way? Loneliness, boredom, stress, anxiety? All things I used food for, and now it’s about finding healthy alternatives in those situations. Journaling, exercising, talk to friends, etc. My surgery wasn’t a complete failure, but it wasn’t the golden ticket people look at it as. There’s a lot of mental and emotional work that you still need to do to complete the process or maintain the end result.