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Be a Big, Bad, Bariatric Boss – Bariatric Edition

What’s a “Bariatric Boss”? 
In my definition, it is a client of mine who decides to take over their health and learn about good nutrition, good sleep patterns, staying active, being positive AND sharing these things with our entire bariatric community.
I see every day as an opportunity to improve my nutrition or to improve my workouts. Not only is today about food and exercise, but it is also about sleep and my thought patterns.
What about that saying “we are what we eat”? I do believe this. We are what we eat. If I eat Doritos and Pizza all weekend long, I am going to feel pretty yucky by Monday morning right? But isn’t there more to it? 
It’s a big cascade, right? Let’s say that my diet is perfect today and I manage to get in a work-out, but tonight I only get 3 hours of sleep. How will I be feeling tomorrow? 
Let’s take it a step further. My diet is perfect, I manage to work-out, I get 8 hours of sleep but I fight with my husband as I am leaving for work. I allow my stress levels go through the roof. 
There is so much more involved as we seek improved health. There isn’t some magic finish-line to cross. It is the every-day decisions we make and the thoughts that we think and the activity that we add to our lives. It is the food that we feed ourselves with. 
I know people who lose a lot of weight and then find out that they are still not happy. Sure, they are certainly healthier in their bodies but it doesn’t just magically end there. We need to continue to strive and learn more and more each day. Happiness is living in a healthy body with a healthy head. How can we get there? 
The protein shake that I choose to drink it not going to all of a sudden make me healthy. The walk I went on yesterday is not going to change my health dramatically. The fight that I choose to NOT have with my kids is not going to change my life…… 
It is the build-up of all the decisions and all the learning and all the implementation that makes dramatic changes in my health.
It is the decision to not drink sodas and to drink plain water. It is knowledge about how to get the best night’s sleep. It is the education about the medications I am supposed to take for high triglycerides and the lifestyle changes that I could make to avoid having to take them.
Calories in vs Calories out. I am so tired of this saying. I used to believe that I could eat a package of 250 calorie gummy bears or a 250 calorie chicken breast and it was the same thing? How could I possibly have believed such garbage? Ya sure, today I have a thorough understanding of the “calorie myth” but my clients still struggle. They say “Sheri, this yogurt you want me to buy has 50 more calories than the low-fat one”. Yes Susie, but my yogurt is also a real food that will provide your body with real nutrition. That yogurt in your other hand, that one is not yogurt. It is a “food-like substance” or a “frankenfood” if you prefer. It is packed with artificial this and artificial that. It’s had the fat removed and replaced with sugar and chemicals. 
Learning to cook …. I believe this to be KEY. I know, I know, I know .. a lot of us are too busy to make food in our kitchens. To you, I say “food prep on the weekend”. I know, I know, I know… There is no time for food prep on the weekends. To you, I say “figure out how you are going to do it then”. 
Sorry to sound so blunt but if you give this important task to somebody who doesn’t know or care about you, they will not get it right. Restaurants prepare food to taste good. They don’t cook to keep you healthy. The pre-packaged stuff – steer clear of it. It is filled with stabilizers and emulsifiers. It’s not real food. The shakes you grab as you rush out the door? Read the labels and see what’s in them. Google those ingredients. You will get a real shock.
How long does it take to boil some eggs, or cut up a pre-cooked chicken? How long does it take to sauté, bake or boil some pre-cut veggies? It takes about 15 minutes. Please take a bit of time to take care of YOU. I don’t care how busy you are. You need to figure this part out. I am not yelling at you. I care about you and I want you to figure out when and how you are going to feed yourself correctly. This is so important and I want you to be a bad-ass bariatric boss. You’ve got to get this part figured out for YOU.
When we figure out the food part, let’s start with activity. I want you to move your gorgeous body. We don’t exercise to lose weight. Sure, we can burn 200 or 300 calories by spending an hour at the gym (those calorie counters on those machines we use are highly inaccurate)!! How quickly can we eat or drink 200 calories? QUICK, REALLY QUICK!!
We get active to feel better in our bodies and to feel happier in our heads. Those “feel-good endorphins” get released and we feel stronger and less depressed in our skin. Getting active doesn’t have to mean going to the gym. Go for a walk. Get outside. Ride a bike to work or dance naked in your living room. Find a yoga class or a Zumba class. Find something that makes YOU happy. Build this activity in your life. Keep those joints juiced and those muscles active. Love the skin you are in and don’t “punish it” by doing activities that you despise. Move in ways that make you feel happy.
Sleep – ya sleep. I know today that my sleeping patterns are so important to how I am going to feel the entire day. I no longer take sleep for granted. I give it importance today. I fight for a good night’s sleep. I go to bed an hour earlier. I set myself up with good sleep hygiene to promote a good night. For me, it is clean sheets, a cool room, complete darkness. I wear ear-plugs and a sleep mask. I make it a priority because I know that sleep is the BEST FREE MEDICINE. I see it as medicine that my body needs every night to help me live my best life. Lack of sleep is stressful and my body’s stress response is “higher levels of cortisol”. High levels of cortisol make it harder to lose weight. There are direct links between weight loss and sleep patterns. Be a bariatric bad-ass and take your sleep seriously. 
Thought patterns. If I run around stressed out all the time, my body produces higher levels of cortisol. Just like with “lack of sleep”, high-stress levels equal higher cortisol levels and a harder time with weight loss. Yes, it is all connected!
Today I understand and practice different techniques to help me stay as cool as a cucumber. I am not perfect at it yet but I do understand that getting angry at my co-workers or feeling frustrated with my husband is not going to help me achieve anything. I allow thoughts to enter my head and I decide how I am going to process those thoughts and how I am going to allow them to make me feel. Stress is not real. Stress is my response to the situation. So how can I convince myself to respond differently? This is an entire blog and if I go down this road today, my 1500 word blog will turn into 6000 words. 
My goal today is getting my clients to understand that weight loss is super important and it’s the ultimate goal but there is more to it than calories or macros. We need to see ourselves as a WHOLE PERSON. How are we eating, sleeping, exercising and thinking? 
I also know that when we start taking better care of one aspect, the other ones do fall into place with time and dedication. When we go to the gym, we tend to eat better. When we eat better, we tend to sleep better. When we sleep better, we feel better and we have more positive thoughts.
It all falls into place when we are open to it.
Be the big, bad, bariatric BOSS that I know you can be.
Healthy Hugs and Warm Wishes.
See you on my FB live this Friday, March 6th at 2 pm EST. Let’s discuss and have a conversation.

About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.

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