When I’m talking about getting your bariatric surgery right I’m not talking about your surgeon hopefully she or he got it right! But I’m speaking about the after effects of good bariatric surgery habits that will help you lose the weight and keep it off. In order to do this right you’ll be fighting years of built-up habits around eating, drinking as well as exercise. What you did before bariatric probably won’t fly once you’ve gone through the surgery. So what are the habits that you need to build to be successful and lose the weight that you need to lose?
I think it’s safe to say that before bariatric surgery you didn’t have the habit of eating 1 to 3 ounces of food and feel full. And that right there was probably one of the main reasons bariatric surgery can be so successful. But that quantity keeping you full won’t last forever. Your stomach pouch will increase in size and the amount of food that you can eat will obviously increase along with it. This increase in the pouch size takes some months to occur which is both a good and bad.
The good part about the slow growth in your pouch is that you’ll continue to lose weight. By sticking to this restriction in calories, keeping your protein grams high, you’ll have a consistent loss of excess body fat. The bad part is that the further you get away from your surgery the easier it becomes to let old habits back into your life.
So typically around 6 to 9 months after baraitarc surgery you’ll start noticing and old eating habit or two sneaking back in. This may also be about the time that the amount of food you’re eating increases with the expansion of your stomach pouch. This combination of old eating habits along with the ability to eat more food will lead to a reduction or complete suspension of weight loss. Changing your eating habits is incredibly important and starting that change as soon as possible is necessary.
Common successful habits.
1. Never stop measuring the volume of your food. You’re required to measure the volume of their food in the first 6 weeks after surgery. For a lot of people as soon as they’re cleared from the dietary restrictions associated with healing stop measuring their food. Don’t do that!
Trusting your eye to always give you an exact amount is a bad idea. What 3 oz looks like one day isn’t going to be 3 oz the next time. This is an easy way to get more food and more calories than you need. They can also promote a quicker growth of your stomach pouch. So make measuring the volume of your food your new habit. It’s now going to be part of your post-baraiatric life.
2. Keep a food journal. I get it, writing down everything you eat is a pain in the ass for some people. But you don’t have to do a daily food journal in order for it to be successful. Choose 3 or 4 days in a row each month to write down everything that you eat and drink. That’s enough to start to expose bad habits creeping back into your life.
3. Be very aware how your emotions affect your eating. Just because you had bariatric surgery does it mean you’ve lost the comforting effects that food may have for you. Start to build the habits around having a strong mindset when it comes to dealing with stressful situations. Work with a professional to expose these habits. You’ll be able to have healthier mechanisms in which to cope with stress and anxiety..
For this habit it’s either you’re all in for drinking water or rarely drink water. In both cases there’s a new challenge: a small stomach. If you’re somebody that would gulp water, you won’t be able to do after the surgery. The thing is that habit is pretty much self-monitoring because of the size of your stomach.
If you’re someone who doesn’t drink a lot of water, adding it into your life can be a challenge. Some of the habits who weren’t big water drinkers are setting an alarm every 15 minutes to drink. Of course if you are just going to ignore the alarm then try something else. One idea is a bottle that lights up until you tilt it.
If you don’t like the flavor of water – then experiment with different flavorings that are on the market. Or start drinking decaf unsweetened tea. And some cases to switch between all of these options and others. Getting into the drinking habit it’s actually more than getting the eating habit right.
Also if you love carbonation – well I don’t know what to say other than nope no more of that. It’s just a good way to increase your stomach size with very little positive gain from it.
Eating and not drinking habit
For everyone that’s going to bariatric surgery the biggest pain in the ass habit is not eating and drinking at the same time. While some people this wasn’t a problem before surgery for most people it’s incredibly difficult. The reason for this is that your pouch is so small so you will feel full fast but part of that is liquid. Since the water has taken up space, you’re reducing the amount of food at each meal. Then as the water drains through and you become hungry faster. Then start eating again too soon setting yourself up to increase the number of calories that you eat during the day. One option is to eat one or two grapes after your meal so your mouth doesn’t feel as dry. Yet for the most part this is a habit that just takes time and focus to create.
Post bariatric surgery Exercise habits.
Just like the drinking water you’ll either fall into the category of liking or disliking exercise. I’m going to speak to the people that don’t like exercise. I get it, it can suck. It could really suck especially when you are very overweight and it hurts to move so it seemed like a useless activity. But once you’ve gone through the surgery and you start losing the weight movement becomes easier for you. A lot of things in your life start to change with that weight loss. One of the biggest is the ability to do more activities with less pain. So if exercise was something that you hated because it felt very uncomfortable and painful, think about giving it another try now that you’ve lost some weight.
If exercise was boring to you then maybe you’re not doing the right kind of exercise. I’m not saying you should always be super excited about everything you do when you work out, but you should feel excited from time to time when you go to work out. One way to do that is to actually go and experiment with a bunch of different kinds of workouts. Try yoga, try Pilates, try strength training, talk to a professional about how you can start programming workouts into your day. Maybe start riding a bike walking or hiking. The ultimate goal is to find an activity that you consider enjoyable enough that you’ll do it consistently. This is something that will take a while to discover for some people but it’s worth the pursuit.
I know I’ve just touched on the surface on the new habits that you need to build into your life after bariatric surgery, but I wanted to give you at least an idea of what to plan for.
Remember once you have gone through weight loss surgery your life has changed for the better. You’ve been given the opportunity to jump back into a more active and healthy life – but to keep that life and improve on it you have to build new habits. It will take time and effort to do but your not alone. If you have any questions or need advice please feel free to reach out.
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.