Many people believe that weight loss surgery is a miracle method for shedding excess weight and that the person doesn’t have to put any effort into losing an immense amount of weight. The reality is that there is still a great deal of work necessary in order to be successful, even after undergoing surgery intended to induce weight loss. For some people, reaching their goal weight following surgery is a cinch and they can consume anything that they want, only in smaller amounts, and still lose weight.
Unfortunately, for others, great effort must be put into weight loss. The person must carefully watch what they eat as well as exercise vigorously, and on a regular basis or they will fail to reach their goal weight. If you have had weight loss surgery, regardless of which specific procedure, and you have failed to reach your goal weight within a reasonable amount of time, or you find that you have begun to regain weight that you have already lost. So here are some tips and strategies for reaching and maintaining your goal weight for life after weight loss surgery:
Don’t skimp on exercise – Let’s face it, not everyone is an exercise buff, but if you plan to become slim and remain that way long-term, exercise is an absolute must. Thirty minutes of cardio three times a week is usually enough to maintain weight, but if you’re still in the weight loss stage, you might discover that you actually need to exercise more often and for a longer duration. Thirty minutes five days a week or one hour three or four days a week may be more sufficient.
Find an exercise you enjoy – There are so many types of exercises that it should be easy to find several types that you actually enjoy. If you force yourself to do exercises that you aren’t particularly fond of, then exercise is going to seem more like chore and you will likely avoid doing anything at all. This is why it’s important to experiment with various types of exercises. If you have a Wii or similar game system, why not try some of the exercise “games”. Although considered games, many are merely exercise programs in disguise.
If you like dancing, Just Dance, which has at least 5 different variations, is a very effective way to burn calories and have fun simultaneously. Zumba has several different versions as well, and is extremely popular as well as efficient at inducing weight loss. If you’re not into dancing, that’s fine, because there are various other exercise games as well, like Biggest Loser, Wii Fit, My Fitness Coach, and even Gold’s Gym, among others.
If you work out best at a gym, it is quite all right to invest in a gym membership, however it isn’t mandatory in order to achieve your exercise and weight loss goals. You can easily purchase some weights, a jump rope and a mat for under $30 and create your own exercise routine in the comfort of your home. There is also the option of jogging in your neighborhood, bike riding, skating, hiking, swimming and so much more. When it comes to exercise, the sky is the limit. Be creative, but be sure to be vigilant as well.
Take it easy on the snacks and treats – Even though you can only consume small amounts of food at a time, you would be amazed at how quickly calories can add up. You may only be able to eat one slice of pizza at a time, but if you eat a slice every hour or two throughout the day, at as much as 350 or 400 calories a slice, you can quickly exceed your daily calories intake.
Not only will you fail to lose weight, but you can actually gain weight depending on the amount of calories consumed. Candy, cake, potato chips and similar foods will also cause the calories to add up rapidly, so it’s best to avoid them altogether while you’re still losing weight. If you love sweets and are able to tolerate them, try limiting yourself to one small, hundred calorie dessert a day, preferably right after your evening meal.
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Count those calories – Of course no one wants to count calories, but if your goal is to be successful following weight loss surgery, it is important that you track your nutritional intake and calorie count. Thanks to the various websites available, you don’t have to sit down with a pencil and paper and count up the calories yourself. Free online programs like those offered at Fitday.com or Medhelp.org make tallying up your calories simple. All you have to do is enter the foods and drinks that you’ve consumed, including the amount, and the system takes care of the rest.
Only eat when hungry – You should create the rule for yourself that if you’re not hungry, you don’t eat. No matter how tempting the food may look or how bad someone will feel if you turn down their offer of food, it’s not worth consuming unnecessary calories when you’re not even hungry. If do eat when you’re not really hungry, it should only be if it’s been 3 or more hours since your last meal or snack, and if the food is high protein and low in calories.
Eating out of boredom or in response to emotions is often what caused weight loss surgery patients’ obesity in the first place, and if you find that you’re guilty of type of behavior, you need to take the necessary steps to stop it, like finding enjoyable hobbies to keep yourself occupied during your free time, or even seeking therapy in extreme cases. Many obese or formally obese individuals find that it’s helpful to undergo therapy in order to help them with dealing with underlying issues that may have led to their overeating and obesity.
Keep track of your protein intake – As I’m sure your surgeon’s office drilled into your brain prior to surgery, protein intake is very important, especially while you’re still in the weight loss stage. Even if your weight is dropping with no real issues, if you’re not consuming the recommended amount of protein on a daily basis, you could be losing muscle instead of fat, which you definitely don’t want to do. Keeping track of your nutritional intake using one of the above-mentioned websites will also give you your carbohydrate, protein and fat intake totals for the day, which will be helpful for keeping up with the amount of protein you’re consuming.
If you find that your protein consumption is less than what is recommended, usually in the 60- 100 grams/day range, depending on the surgeon as well as the type of surgery, you can easily add a high protein shake or bar to your daily menu, which should help you stay within this range. Also, instead of eating fruit for snacks, try eating reduced fat cheese, boiled eggs, Greek yogurt or other high protein foods.
Don’t forget your liquids – Another thing that your surgeon’s office probably told you repeatedly is to make sure to consume adequate calorie-free liquids, including water, flavored water and unsweetened or artificially sweetened tea. At least 64 oz a day should be consumed, and you should be extra careful not to “drink” your calories. If you avoid artificial sweeteners, there are great-tasting all-natural calorie-free sweeteners like Stevia and Nectresse. Sugar-sweetened drinks, milk shakes, smoothies, etc. contain a substantial amount of calories which can quickly add up and wreak havoc on your progress, so take heed.
As An Absolute Last Resort:
Consider a revision – if you are able to consume the same amount of food that you could prior to your weight loss surgery and you have regained a substantial amount of weight, you may want to consider a revision. Many weight loss surgeons offer this option for patients who need to have their stretched-out stomachs or pouches reduced, and those who have had the gastric sleeve may choose to advance to the full duodenal switch at a later date. Everyone is different and you and your surgeon can decide what your best course of action is in order to achieve the greatest results.
Weight loss surgery is no easy fix for anyone with a severe weight problem. However, by following these simple recommendations and remaining motivated and vigilant, you can win the fight against morbid obesity and live a happier and healthier life. You are sure to experience some days that are more challenging than others, but just remember to take one day at a time, and if you get off track, immediately correct your mistakes and you are sure to be successful in the end.