Bariatric (weight loss) surgery can help you say “Goodbye” to obesity forever and improve your lifestyle.
But the surgery is not a magic wand.
Any procedure you undergo is merely a tool.
To help you lose up to 80% of your excess weight with procedures like the gastric sleeve, 95% of your success depends on you!
More specifically, your weight loss depends on the lifestyle changes you are encouraged to adopt.
These changes aren’t always easy.
That’s because, as humans, we tend to fall into certain habits, both good and bad.
It’s the bad habits that tend to contribute to unhealthy conditions like obesity.
What habits are those?
You’re probably familiar with most of them.
Overeating, binge eating, lack of exercise, and poor mental health coping strategies can all contribute to your current state of health.
If you are tired of hearing your doctor tell you that you need to lose weight.
And if you want to get rid of obesity-related health conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis of the back and knees…
You need better and healthier habits.
Here are the changes you are encouraged to adopt to make your weight loss journey easier.
Adopt these habits starting right now and your weight loss journey will become much easier, allowing you to put obesity behind once and for all.
Lifestyle Changes to Adopt Before Surgery
Before you undergo weight loss surgery, it becomes important to assess how you perceive food, as well as how you eat, and what you eat.
A nutritional evaluation can help.
Your bariatric surgeon will usually hook you up with a nutritional expert who can assess your dietary concerns.
This expert is concerned with the foods that make up your diet.
You may be asked:
- The types of foods you typically shop for at the grocery store
- How often you eat out at restaurants
- How many times you visit the fast food drive-through
- What meals you typically cook at home (if any)
You will also be evaluated for emotional eating issues, like binge eating or late-night snacking.
Your surgeon will want all food-related issues identified and addressed before approving you for bariatric surgery.
To identify eating-related issues, you may be asked to keep a food diary.
Your food diary will help your bariatric surgeon determine what changes need to be implemented prior to surgery.
You will be asked to log your meals and all associated details.
These include the amounts of food you eat, your mood while eating, and other details, like the time, how often you chew, and what meals you consume.
The best-case scenario would have you adopting the following habits for long-term weight loss success.
- Eating small, more frequent meals. This is opposed to unhealthy habits like eating one gigantic meal a day.
- Learning to prepare healthier dishes. Gather the recipes necessary to prepare the small, healthy meals you will need to eat after surgery.
- Cutting down on unhealthy fast food. Save those “naughty” foods for the occasional treat.
- Eating lean protein first before consuming non-starchy vegetables. Only then should you consume fruit and whole grains.
- Securing family support for your weight loss struggles. This also might include emptying your pantry of all unhealthy foods that tempt you.
- Drinking protein shakes before surgery to find the ones you like the best. Protein shakes are part of the liquid diet you will be required to adopt for a short time after surgery.
- Finding a bariatric surgery support group. You should also try to meet and speak with others who have already been through surgery. Online communications count!
- Listing all the lifestyle changes you will need to integrate into your normal lifestyle. The sooner you adopt these changes, the easier it will be to maintain a healthy weight following your surgical procedure.
It’s difficult to eat healthy when you decide to eat every meal on a whim.
Opening the fridge and taking out the first thing you’re hungry for is the best way to choose the worst foods available.
Your new way of eating will be easier to maintain when you plan what to eat ahead of time.
Also referred to as “Meal Prepping” the idea is to prepare your meals in advance.
Some bariatric patients pick a day like Sunday, whereby they prepare all the meals they may need for the week.
Storing the meals in handy Tupperware or other containers make for easy-to-reach access.
Then, next time you’re hungry, you don’t have to think about what to eat.
That’s because you have a number of small, ready-to-eat meals that make it easy to stay on track with your healthier eating strategy.
Find a few go-to recipes you can turn to so that the next time you go grocery shopping you can stock up and plan your meals ahead of time.
Lifestyle Changes After Bariatric Surgery
At some point, the day of your bariatric surgery will come and go. From that point forward, you will be expected to eat more healthily.
Only by eating at your best can you expect for your weight loss efforts to take hold.
Following your procedure, your surgeon will meet with you several times to ensure you are adhering to the guidelines as suggested.
For the first four to six weeks after surgery, your surgeon will place you on a liquid diet.
During this time, you can eat anything blended and smooth like baby foods, cottage cheese, fruitless yogurt, and hummus.
You can also eat soft and mushy foods like ground up meat (veal, turkey, chicken, and pork). White, flaky fish that is baked, broiled, or grilled, and scrambled eggs and egg whites are also acceptable.
Your surgeon will tell you to avoid solid foods of all kinds during this time.
Only when your surgeon gives the green light should you begin eating solid foods again.
You must keep hydrated after your surgery.
Water is best. Most patients are told to drink 64 ounces of fluids or more each day.
Doing so can help avoid dehydration, constipation, and kidney stones.
In addition to water, you can also have non-carbonated, decaffeinated, and sugar-free beverages like Crystal Light or unsweetened (decaf) iced tea.
In the weeks after surgery, your surgeon will recommend that you take one or more dietary supplements.
Examples can include a multivitamin, vitamin D, Calcium, Vitamin B12 and Iron.
Exercising After Weight Loss Surgery to Improve Lifestyle
After you have recovered from your weight loss surgery, your surgeon will recommend that you adopt a regular exercise program.
Aim to exercise for around 30 to 45 minutes each day.
If you can’t exercise that long, start by walking for a few minutes in the morning, then again in the late afternoon.
You can then increase your activity by five minutes at a time until you are walking for at least 15 minutes twice per day.
After that, you can add variety to your exercises. Examples might include light jogging, swimming, or riding a stationary bike.
If you want to build muscle, which burns more calories at rest, start with light weights like two- or five-pound dumbbells. Do ten repetitions with each exercise moving up to three sets of ten.
As you feel your strength increase, feel free to add more weight.
Bodyweight exercises like pushups and no-weight squats can also provide you with a good muscle-building workout you can perform anywhere, even at home.
Your goal is to build muscle mass and burn calories, contributing to your rapid weight loss.
Studies show that people who exercise on a regular basis following bariatric surgery enjoy more long-term weight loss.
Behavioral Changes After Weight Loss Surgery
In addition to diet and exercise, you can take certain steps to help make your weight loss procedure an even greater success.
Examples include drinking more water each day, cooking nutritious foods at home as opposed to eating out, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, and walking to your destinations instead of driving.
You should also practice eating slowly and taking smaller bites during meals.
Avoid bread, rice, fresh fruits, raw vegetables, and meats that are hard to chew like steak and pork (ground meats are usually fine).
When eating soft and solid foods, take only three bites at a single sitting, then wait around 20 minutes before eating further.
Make sure you eat balanced meals with smaller portion sizes.
When consuming beverages, drink directly instead of using a straw.
You will want to avoid carbonated beverages altogether. While you’re at it, avoid chewing gum and ice because these tend to introduce too much air into the stomach, which can lead to discomfort.
Finally, avoid sugar and sugar-infused foods and beverages, along with fruit juices and concentrated sweets.
Mental Health Changes
Bad eating habits are frequently affected by your emotions, stress, mindless eating, boredom, and eating disorders.
Sometimes, these are obvious, which means you can consciously avoid them.
But sometimes the issues are hidden. This is another area where a food diary helps.
If you notice that you tend to eat more when you’re stressed or bored, even when you’re not really hungry, you have pinpointed at least one area to overcome.
In some cases, you may have to seek additional help.
Your surgeon can recommend a qualified psychologist or behavioral therapist to help you overcome these obstacles, thus helping you adopt the new lifestyle changes and make them stick.
The term “sleep hygiene” refers to the adoption of healthy sleep patterns.
Incidentally, the better you sleep, the more successful your weight management will be.
The key to good sleep hygiene is to set a regular bedtime. Yes, it works for adults, too, not just kids.
Avoiding caffeine before bed, exercising earlier in the day, and creating a peaceful bedroom environment can also help you get the right amount of Z’s.
A good sleep environment is dark and devoid of too much noise. If this isn’t easy, consider room darkening shades, and sleeping with a noisemaker that plays white noise or nature sounds like rain.
Effectively managing your stress can contribute to the most post-operative success.
Unmanaged stress can lead to poor choices, such as overeating.
You can stack your deck for success by practicing good stress-management habits before surgery.
Developing strong relationships with open communication and getting regular exercise each day can help.
If stress is an issue, consider adopting calming habits like meditation and yoga.
A support group can also help you cope with stress.
These groups provide a means of interacting with your healthcare providers and other patients.
You can share stories, support one another, and receive continued education in the latest developments of obesity medicine.
Smoking and Drinking Alcohol – Just Say No
If you smoke, your surgeon will recommend that you stop before undergoing surgery.
Smoking can increase the risk of complications with weight loss surgery. It has been known to increase the risk of blood clots, heart disease, stroke, cataracts, hip fracture, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Smoking is also linked to cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, stomach, bladder, pancreas, kidney, and cervix.
In addition to smoking, your surgeon will recommend that you avoid alcohol after bariatric surgery.
Alcohol contains empty calories that can work against your weight loss goals.
The absorption of alcohol can also change after weight loss surgery.
For instance, after a procedure like the gastric sleeve, the enzyme in the stomach that usually begins to digest alcohol is reduced or absent altogether.
This can mean that the alcohol might be absorbed into your bloodstream more quickly, making the effects more potent.
For these reasons, and to avoid problems like alcohol dependence, it is recommended that you avoid alcohol altogether, both before and after surgery.
10 Lifestyle Tips to Avoid Feeling Deprived
Adopting all these lifestyle changes doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy meals anymore.
Don’t think of these lifestyle changes as a “prison” or as something that is taking something from you.
Your surgeon’s goal is to design a weight loss program that helps you lose weight rapidly.
Your surgeon will thus provide you with resources that will help you enjoy your new lifestyle changes.
Focus will be placed on flavor so that you can see that healthy eating can be fun.
Here are ten more tips to make adopting a healthier lifestyle a breeze.
- Learn to Adhere to a Sensible Diet Plan: Listen to your surgeon’s advice and eat foods that give you fuel for life instead of merely titillating your taste buds.
- Think “Lifestyle Changes” instead of “Diet”: Imagine your news, slimmer body that you will have after your bariatric surgery results are realized. Doing so will make it easier to eat right and exercise regularly because you’ll have an exciting new future to look forward to.
- Find Exciting Ways to Stay Motivated: Join a fitness class or a walking group or download apps that keep your motivation high for when it’s time to work out and get healthy.
- Indulge in Treats Occasionally: You don’t have to eat like a monk to be healthy. Talk to your surgeon about the treats you can enjoy and be sure to enjoy them (in moderation).
- Find Enjoyment in Actual Activities: Find things you like to do and do them so that you’re not focusing on food too much throughout the day.
- Be Accountable for Your Eating: Log what you eat, when you eat, and how much, and show these entries to your surgeon during your post-follow-up appointments. When you are conscious of what you eat and when you know your surgeon will be looking at your entries, you’ll be less likely to overindulge.
- Eat Small Meals: Get smaller plates so that your portions don’t look so small. Filling up a smaller plate is a good psychological way to trick your way into eating less.
- Don’t Skip Meals: The more meals you forgo, the more you are likely to overeat the next time you sit down to eat.
- Create Lighter Meals: Whatever your favorite dishes happen to be, learn how to make them more healthily. Many ingredients can be traded out for healthier alternatives. Look around and get creative with your cooking to find some delicious treats to enjoy.
- Connect with Friends: Find others you can exercise and eat healthy with and you will be more likely to stick to your weight loss goals.
Let Us Be Your Guide on Your Weight Loss Journey and Lifestyle Improvement
Adopting new lifestyle habits before and after weight loss surgery will not be easy.
However, with a surgeon who cares about your success like Dr. Moein of Healthy Life Bariatrics, and a will to succeed, you can overcome your bad habits to achieve your weight loss goals.