Weight loss surgery is a tool that can help people who are seriously overweight or obese get on track and successfully lose weight. But long-term weight loss requires a commitment to a healthier lifestyle, which can be a challenge once the period of rapid weight loss after bariatric surgery ends.
Immediately following weight loss surgery, many patients notice the weight falling off. This is, in part, due to the liquid protein diet protocol required in the immediate post-op stages. After the liquid stage, patients progress to the soft food stage before eventually incorporating solids. Portion sizes are much smaller after weight loss surgery, as bariatric procedures work to limit the amount of food the stomach can hold.
Over time, most patients will experience a plateau in weight loss, which is completely normal. Nonetheless, hitting a plateau can be discouraging and even frustrating, and some patients find it hard to keep up their motivation on the weight loss journey. How to stay motivated is one of the biggest weight loss surgery dilemmas we hear from patients. Here are some tips to help:
The ideal time to begin making those healthy lifestyle changes is before you have surgery. Carefully follow your pre-op diet and exercise plan now to start forming those healthy habits that will follow you in the months and years after bariatric surgery.
Change it up.
In both your diet and your fitness routine, variety really is the spice of life. If you’ve been eating the same foods for weeks or months, boredom is inevitable. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try new bariatric recipes — the internet is your friend when it comes to finding recipes to try!
Additionally, make a change in your fitness routine. A plateau in weight loss can often be attributed to the body adapting to a specific weight loss surgery exercise routine. Alternate cardio and weightlifting, join a fitness group, try a new exercise class format and invite friends or family to work out with you to help you stay motivated and keep it fun.
Set specific goals.
Work with your doctor, trainer and/or nutritionist to set specific, measurable goals. And don’t make your goals all about the scale. Instead, try setting fitness-related goals, such as “I want to be able to jog 10 minutes without stopping,” or “I want to participate in a 5K run in three months.” Reevaluate your goals regularly so you’ll always have something to work toward.
Whether it be in the form of an accountability partner, workout buddy or support group, the community around you plays a significant role in your motivation and success. Surrounding yourself with support isn’t just important in the first few months after surgery. It’s a long-term, even lifetime factor that can help you stay on track when motivation becomes a struggle.
Be sure those in your support network are like-minded people who will help remind you of your goals. Seek out friends who practice healthy eating and regular physical activity in their own lives to help you make their habits your own.
Keep a journal.
Write down what you’re doing and how it’s going, what you like, what you don’t, how you think you can make something work better for you, what you would do differently, and what you want to remember. Sometimes seeing your goals or emotions or feelings on paper can really motivate you to achieve greatness, especially when you find your motivation lacking.
Take time to celebrate.
Whether you’ve achieved a major milestone or are simply being consistent in your efforts, savor those feelings and take the time to remind yourself of how far you’ve come. Reward yourself for reaching your goals with non-food rewards, such as new athletic shoes, new music to run to or new workout gear. Taking time to celebrate the small milestones and appreciate the progress you’ve made along the way can help give you the motivation you need to keep moving toward your goal.
Each of us will find ourselves lacking motivation at some point. When it hits, don’t become discouraged. Instead, visualize the end goal — where you want to see yourself in three months, six months or a year. Remind yourself why you started this journey in the first place, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Dr. McCarty and his experienced team of weight loss experts are here to help you on your journey. If you’re struggling along the way, don’t hesitate to call us and set up a follow-up appointment.