Changing your body is slow and seeing the changes aren’t always evident. This is true whether you are losing weight or gaining weight. Of course bariatric surgery is the exception to the rule but even with the tool it can take months to shed the pounds, and it takes just as long or longer for you to gain the muscular and cardiovascular strength you need to be healthy. I know that for many people it can become frustrating and demotivating when you put in the work and don’t see the changes you expect.
The thing is gaining body fat was also a slow change. It’s not like you went to bed at your ideal weight and woke up not being able to fit into your pants. The slow progress of gaining body fat took years to accomplish. It took a lifestyle change that had you being less active. It took a change to your diet to help promote your weight gain. Of course stress and boredom may have helped to keep you motivated in your weight gain progress.
It’s no different with the improvements that come with exercise. I know you know this but I have talked to many people that have gotten discouraged with the seeming lack of change after just a few months of working out. The difference with weight gain is it’s mostly done behind the scenes. You really aren’t working on gaining weight it’s just happening because of the reasons mentioned above. With the exercise you have to be more mindful of what you are doing, more goal oriented, and focused. This is what makes it feel like it takes longer to lose weight and gain muscle.
When it comes to exercising after weight loss surgery it’s really no different. Yet due to the aggressive nature of this procedure it can take longer to see the positive changes in muscle growth and cardiovascular strength. Even when you start working out you are going to be losing muscle mass yet at a slower rate. If you have to lose a large amount of weight or have joint pain, then adding in cardio work may be delayed until there is a more of a loss in weight. For many there can also be a learning curve with form, balance and becoming more confident in how to move. On top of this if you’re not wired to enjoy exercise then taking time to build a habit of consistency can add time to reaching your goals. Knowing all of this, I usually tell people that have undergone bariatric surgery that it’s going to take you a year post-op to get to your starting point and from that point it’s going to take a couple years to really see the healthy changes that you are looking for.
I’m not telling you this to discourage you but instead give you a realistic view on this one part of your weight loss journey. And by knowing this it also frees you up from feeling frustrated when you aren’t seeing the changes that you thought you should after a few months. Since habits are usually built through trial and error knowing you have this time gives you the freedom that you need to build and set the new habits you need to be successful. Remember you are building a new life and that takes a lot of time. So be patient with the pace of change and be patient with yourself when it feels like nothing is happening. If you are doing the work in any way good things are happening.
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Geof has been working with bariatric surgery clients for over a decade. His goal with Phoenix Fitness is to give you the tools to make your weight loss successful for the long term.