12 Steps for Success After Weight Loss Surgery
“83 lbs down and only 20 lbs to go until I hit my goal...I haven’t felt this great in years!”
“So proud of my husband Jesse. 200 lbs in just over a year!”
“Just got back from my 6-month follow up...My cholesterol is down to 111, my resting heart rate down to 68 (from 98), triglycerides are down to 83, and BMI down from 61 to 40!”
If these success stories match your personal goals, know that all of this is possible. These are all real weight loss success stories from patients of Dr. Metz who have gone through bariatric surgery and come out stronger and better on the other side.
Your weight loss journey does not begin or end with bariatric surgery. It involves a clear plan, dedicated effort, and permanent lifestyle changes that will ultimately give you back your health. With the help of our expert team and your own personal grit, you can have a success story just like these patients.
1. Remember Surgery is Not the Easy Way Out
Weight loss surgery is not an instant fix for all the problems in your life. With dedication you can have hope that your quality of life will improve, but you will still need to take care of other problems just like you did before surgery. Many bariatric surgery patients develop increased self-confidence due to their weight loss success and feel more empowered to conquer life’s challenges.
2. Keep in Contact with Your Surgeon
It is vital that you keep in contact with your surgeon and let him know of any health concerns. This includes (but is not limited to) signs like high fever, uncontrollable pain (especially in the leg), difficulty breathing, trouble keeping fluids down, and issues with your surgical incisions. By staying in contact with your surgeon, he can address these problems immediately and help prevent long-term health crises.
3. Follow Your Surgeon’s Instructions
Your surgeon’s instructions about bariatric surgery success are not meant for just a few weeks or months. They are lifelong instructions recommended for your long-term success. Follow them, and call your surgeon if you need any clarifications.
4. Go to All Follow-Up Visits
Keep all follow-up visits to closely monitor your progress. This will help our team catch any nutritional deficiencies or complications before they become serious. Additionally, the appointments are an essential motivator to help you stay on track. Our team is here to take care of you and help you along your journey, and by working with us, you can ensure the best chance for your own success.
5. Discuss All Medications and Supplements with Your Surgeon
Even if you notice health issues disappearing, do not stop taking medications without your surgeon’s approval. Likewise, do not begin taking any new medications without your surgeon’s approval after surgery. This includes even over-the-counter drugs such as pain relievers and constipation remedies. Failure to involve your surgeon could put you at risk of dangerous health complications. Additionally, if your surgeon recommends a dietary supplement, take it.
6. Change What You Eat
Dietary changes including the following are critical to weight loss success.
- Only eat when hungry: Even if the clock says that you normally eat dinner at a certain time, you should only eat if you are hungry. Listen to your body.
- Drink water: Drink lots of water so that you do not mistake thirst for hunger. This will also increase your energy levels.
- Don’t drink calories: Eliminate sugary, caloric drinks and make every calorie count by focusing on protein-rich foods and fruits and vegetables.
- Increase protein: Increased protein after bariatric surgery helps you stay fuller longer. More protein will also help you maintain muscle mass as you quickly shed unwanted pounds. Eat protein-rich foods first at every meal, followed by other whole foods.
- Eat whole foods: Whole foods are the best choice after bariatric surgery. Processed foods should be avoided when fresh foods are available.
- Avoid snacks: Snacking leads to unhealthy habits that hinder long-term success. If you are genuinely hungry, have a high-quality meal, but always avoid junk foods.
- Avoid sugar: The “empty calories” found in sugary foods and even diet drinks provide no valuable nutrients and can increase hunger cravings, spike blood sugar, and cause dumping syndrome. Eliminate foods or drinks that list sugar as one of the first three to five ingredients.
- Avoid simple carbohydrates: Simple carbs contain fewer nutrients than complex carbs. They also trigger hunger cravings and elevate blood glucose levels.
- Avoid carbonated drinks, alcohol, and caffeine: Carbonated drinks increase stomach gas and can strain staples and sutures after bariatric surgery. Alcohol contains empty calories and can contribute to stomach ulcers. Caffeine is a diuretic and alters your mood and heart rate.
7. Change How You Eat
In addition to altering the types of foods and drinks you consume, you will need to adjust how you eat in order to achieve long-lasting weight loss success.
- Consume fluids and food separately: Since weight loss surgery reduces the size of your stomach, do not drink fluids within 30 minutes before, during, or after a meal. Reserve the space in your new, smaller stomach for nutrient-rich foods so that you are fuller longer and your body can absorb all the nutrients it needs.
- Eat slowly: Do not rush through meals after bariatric surgery or you risk swallowing bites that are too large, consuming more than you should, and stretching your stomach out. Additionally, eating slowly ensures that you retrain your brain, helps you realize when you are full, and creates the impression that you are consuming more food.
- Chew more than you used to: Chew your food thoroughly – more than you used to – to help prevent nausea, vomiting, dumping syndrome, and pain.
- Eat mindfully: Do not eat distractedly; give your meal your full attention. This will lead to healthier habits and a better perspective about eating in general.
Begin a sustainable exercise routine as soon as you can after bariatric surgery. Even if all you can manage at first is walking a few steps, do it. Increase your physical activity as you feel able and as you continue to lose weight. You may even consider getting a personal trainer who understands your situation – having someone that you are accountable to will help you keep up good exercise habits. You will eventually be able to exercise longer, harder, and more successfully than you have been able to years (or in some cases, than ever!).
9. Stay Positive
This journey is not an easy one. If you find yourself getting discouraged or depressed, contact your surgeon and reach out for help. Staying positive is crucial for success and will help you keep moving forward toward your goals.
10. Find a Support Group
Emotional support goes a long way after bariatric surgery. Rely on friends and family, our team, and fellow bariatric surgery patients. Tens of thousands of people have bariatric surgery every year, which means there are plenty of people who know how you feel. Support groups can offer invaluable advice and emotional strength when you need it.
11. Find New Coping Mechanisms
For many weight loss surgery candidates, food is a coping mechanism. This must change if you want to succeed with long-term weight loss. Good coping mechanisms include exercise, reading, learning a new skill, calling a friend, or even doing a kind service for someone.
12. Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Keep your eyes always on your long-term goals. Remember that “just this once” can easily turn into every day if you aren’t careful. Whenever you have a moment of weakness, think about how your future self will feel (both physically and emotionally) about your decision. If you feel disappointed about not enjoying a certain treat one night, remember that the next morning you will likely feel glad and proud of yourself for resisting.
Weight loss surgery is not the easy way out, but it is definitely worth it for individuals who need help losing weight. By following these steps, you can experience lasting weight loss as well as improved quality of life, greater self-esteem, increased social and career opportunities, and a new zeal for life.If you are eager to change your life and are willing to take on any challenges that come your way, contact us about bariatric surgery. Dr. Matthew Metz is here to help you achieve your goals, improve your health, and start your new life.