Maintaining Weight Loss Surgery Success with Mindfulness
We’ve all seen how effective weight loss surgery is at helping your body shed weight. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s our minds that get in the way of progress. That’s why we were fortunate to have James A.R. Glynn, Psy.D., join us as a guest speaker at our May support group. Dr. Glynn is a licensed psychologist who has been with New Jersey Bariatric Center for several years, providing patients with guidance in the psychological aspect of their weight loss journey. Dr. Glynn provided his top six tips for long-term weight loss success.
- Be realistic. Don’t set unrealistic targets that are nearly impossible to achieve. Setting these types of goals will only make you more disappointed when you don’t achieve them. Instead, be flexible with your goals, adjust them as needed, and manage your expectations appropriately. For example, your initial weight loss after surgery is very fast. Knowing that weight loss will not continue at this pace forever will prepare you to make goals and expectations for yourself that are manageable.
- Know your triggers. What are your triggers? Are they external (TV commercials, parties, the office, stress) or are they internal (body signaling hunger)? Work on understanding your triggers and which ones to pay attention to. Keep in mind that if you’re truly craving a food, you may be better off having a small bite of it than depriving yourself and binging later.
- Practice and plan. When we are honest with ourselves, we know what factors will be problematic in our weight loss journey. If you plan how you are going to handle these problems in advance, you’ll be less likely to jeopardize your weight loss results. For instance, let’s say you’re meeting a friend for coffee. While ordering your drinks, she asks you to split a baked good. What do you do? Do you give in to your love of sweets and share the pastry? To avoid this, plan ahead and practice ways react to common triggers, such as this one. Now when that friend asks you to split a pastry, you quickly and firmly tell her that you just ate breakfast and couldn’t eat another bite. Think about the situations in your life that take you off track, plan how to respond to them, and practice your responses. (For more on this, read Dealing With Food Pushers and the Food Police.)
- Understand the why. Do you want to be healthier for your kids to look up to you or do you want to rid yourself of your health problems? While preparing for your weight loss surgery and after the procedure is completed, you must continue to ask yourself why are you trying to lose weight. When you understand the why, it’s easier to stick to your strategies for weight loss.
- Keep a food journal. They really work! Research has shown that weight loss can be doubled by journaling. Make sure to write down every food and drink consumed and record where you were when you ate it, feelings before, during and after each meal. Try to do this for at least four months to see your food consumption patterns and what you need to improve on.
- Exercise for the right reasons. The effects of exercise on weight are small if you don’t change your diet. So if you are not following your dietitian’s advice, no amount of exercise will help you lose weight.
Weight maintenance can be a struggle but with the right mindset, you can manage your weight and continue to see success in your journey.