After the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, shouts of “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” often turn to whispers of New Year’s resolutions. Weight loss continues to be one of the most popular resolutions there is. Thankfully weight loss is one goal you’ve already checked off your list. So what does New Jersey Bariatric Center®‘s doctors and dietitians tell Gastric Bypass and Gastric Sleeve patients to concentrate on in the New Year? Three things: maintenance, maintenance and maintenance.
Weight loss surgery is a tool, and just like any other tool, it needs to be used correctly for it to be effective in the long run. A few years after surgery, patients often feel like the weight will never come back. They may let their guard down and start to see weight slowly come back on. Others may have hit a plateau and have a few more pounds to go. While others have reached their goal weight and want long-term success. No matter what your situation, use the New Year as a way to recommit yourself to the tactics that you learned when you first began your weight loss surgery journey.
Think back to when you were about one month out of surgery. Remember the guidelines you were following then, and continue to follow those guidelines now, no matter how long ago you had the surgery. The following are the key to your maintaining your weight:
Don’t drink your calories. Make sure that you are not consuming any juices, sodas, sweetened teas. If you have alcohol, remember that this is an “empty” calorie and will work against weight loss. (Remember too that you will feel the effects of alcohol much quicker than before you had surgery.)
No grazing. Bariatric surgery prevents you from eating large portions at meals. It won’t stop you from picking on small portions of food throughout the day. Make sure to have meal structure in your day: three meals per day with one high-protein snack. If you find yourself snacking during the day, start keeping a snack log and write down any foods you consume. This will hold you accountable and may help control the mindless eating.
Do not eat and drink at the same time. Just because you are a few years out, it is still important to separate drinking and eating. Wait 20-30 minutes after a meal before drinking. Fluids can flush the solid food out of your stomach before you get the sensation of being full. That means you can eat more at meals, which can lead to weight gain.
Focus on lean proteins. Remember the rule: proteins first, then vegetables, then starch. Hopefully you’re continuing to follow this rule. Protein has many benefits including the following:
- Keeping your hair, skin, bones and nails healthy
- Forming hormones, enzymes and immune system antibodies to helps your body function properly
- Helping your body burn fat instead of muscle for a healthier weight loss
- Building lean body mass: the more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories your body burns at rest.
- Improving satiety (feeling of fullness)
Get moving. This is one of the most important factors in maintaining your weight loss. Remember that exercise doesn’t just include going to the gym. There are many ways to get a great workout that can be enjoyable at the same time: go for a walk with your favorite music or try a new sport. Exercise helps to burn calories, reduce fat and build muscle, increase energy and improve immunity.
Keep good company. It’s important to surround yourself with people who understand you and support your goals. A perfect opportunity to do this is at support groups, where you can share recipes, exercise tips and talk about your successes and struggles in a supportive environment. Research shows that ongoing post-surgical support helps produce the greatest level of success. One study in the journal Obesity Surgery found weight loss surgery patients who attended support groups had a higher percent decrease in BMI than the patients who did not attend support groups (42% vs. 32%; p < 0.03). A good support group can help you refocus on your goals. Check out our blog for times and dates of New Jersey Bariatric Center® support groups, Tuesday Talks.
Satisfy your emotional hunger. Do you find yourself looking for food in times of stress, boredom, anger, sadness? Find alternatives for comfort. Try going for a walk, drinking some plain tea, doing some housework, reading a book, playing a game on your phone, etc. You can use a food diary to record how you feel before you start eating. If you’re not hungry, try alternatives to eating.
Resolutions are easy to make but not always easy to keep. If you find yourself slipping a few weeks or months into the year, it’s never too late to start fresh. Just recommit yourself to the healthy practices and guidelines you followed when you were a new post-op patient. Just think of every day as January 1!
Reference: Orth, W.S., Madan, A.K., Taddeucci, R.J. et al. OBES SURG (2008) 18: 391. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11695-008-9444-8