It seems like it was so long ago, climbing the steps to watch a college football game, chasing after the kids on the playground, or even playing basketball once a week. Today, those memories are long gone after gaining 50, 75, or even 100 pounds.
Rarely just one factor, but rather a combination of things that pulled you away from a healthier lifestyle. Stresses of family life, an accident that left you laid up for months, or even emotional issues that you soothed by eating all the good tasting – but bad for you – foods.
Efforts to return to those “Glory Days” usually last a few days, or even a week or two, before your plans come crashing down. That in itself can be frustrating and embarrassing. It’s true that it’s harder to get in shape than to stay in shape, especially after the metabolism starts to slow down with age.
For many, weight loss surgery to remove parts of the small intestine or reduce the size of the stomach to limit food intake is the first step in losing all of that excess weight. After consulting with their primary care doctor, patients meet with a bariatric surgeon to discuss procedure options, pre- and post-op care, and any potential issues.
The first goal is to lose weight of course. But the benefits are two-fold: Not only do patients begin to feel better physically and emotionally, but losing up to 80 percent of the excess weight also cures many medical conditions. Fewer instances of heart diseases and strokes, as well as the remission of diabetes and high blood pressure, are just a few of the happy side effects.
Which isn’t to say there won’t be some tough spots at the start. The most successful weight-loss procedures need to include a postoperative diet as well as a physical activity plan to provide a road map to optimal weight loss. It has been scientifically proven that all three aspects (surgery, diet, exercise) must be a part of the new lifestyle for the best results.
The first few weeks after surgery will be limited to hydrating fluids and liquid protein supplements. As your stomach begins to adapt to less intake, your body will go through hormonal changes as well. These changes will help you feel fuller faster and decrease the number of hunger pangs you feel throughout the day.
We can’t sugar-coat: the first week or so is difficult for many patients. In the coming months, more food will be introduced to your diet, just in smaller portion sizes to fit with your new digestive system. Each day, the body adapts a little bit more until the new, healthier diet just becomes how you eat.
The same can be said for exercise. Before surgery, you may not have been able to walk around your block without a break. That doesn’t suddenly change after laparoscopic bariatric surgery. It will take time to adjust to working activity into your daily schedule, starting slow, reaching achievable goals, and losing weight.
While improved flexibility and increased stamina are the primary goals, after a target weight has been reached (usually within a year), weight training will be introduced. The combination of strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health leads many patients into a more active lifestyle than they’ve ever experienced in their lives!
Along with the toll the extra weight puts on your body, there are the emotional cuts from friends and family that hurt just as much. Even after surgery, the emotional issues you encountered before may not disappear even after rapid weight loss. Comments like “taking the easy way out” are all too common, unfortunately.
But those comments certainly are not fair. In the weeks and months after surgery, it’s important for bariatric surgery patients to surround themselves with supportive people. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the physical changes are just one aspect of long-term weight loss. There are many emotional factors to consider, too.
Although the struggles to initially stay on the diet or begin physical activity are very real, the strain on relationships can be even more painful. Many patients feel emboldened by the newer, healthier lifestyle and the confidence that comes with it. But others may feel resentful or unhappy with the new changes.
The emotional rollercoaster felt by patients and their families, friends, and even coworkers could fill volumes. Some folks are very happy and supportive while others may feel “left behind” by your lifestyle changes. Marriages can become strained, work relationships can become complicated, and those Negative Nelly family members aren’t likely to change overnight.
All of which is no fault of the duodenal, gastric sleeve, or gastric bypass surgery patients. However, some patients still have lingering doubts, trapped by still seeing themselves as overweight. These emotions may lead to a return of unhealthy eating habits which could undo the surgery or even cause injury. Now is a good time to work on establishing healthy coping strategies, possibly with the help of a therapist or counselor.
Find Support Groups
It can be a very lonely time for some – but it doesn’t have to be. There are many online and in-person support groups to join that offer the support clients may need. At WeightWise, every client is assigned a patient advocate, a “personal cheerleader” as we like to say.
These advocates answer any administrative questions you may have, such as insurance, billing, or scheduling. But they are also on hand to be a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a hand to high five! You won’t be alone during your weight-loss quest when you’re a WeightWise patient.
And you won’t have to travel all over town to meet with different consultants. We feel the best way to keep track of your post-surgery care, diet, and physical activity is to have it all under one roof. Everyone is on the same page, there is only one facility to drive to, and we’re with you from the first appointment all the way through your final target weight achievement – and beyond!
Want to learn more about the WeightWise program towards attainable weight loss? Watch our free online seminar to see why our clients have been so successful. When you’re ready, schedule a consultation with one of our bariatric surgeons. We look forward to hearing from you.