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Do The Hard Stuff – Bariatric Edition

I am pondering this question today. Why do we struggle post-surgery? Why do we get to a place where the weight loss stalls out? What is the missing link here? What insight do I have after working with bariatric clients for over a decade? What can I do or say to make their journey easier? 
 
Here is what I have come up with for you to help you along the way.
 
DO THE HARD STUFF.
 
What does that mean Sheri? Well, we are all good at some things and bad at others. 
 
Some of us have a perfect diet Monday to Friday and then we go NUTS on Saturday and Sunday.
 
Some of us are terrific at adding exercise to our lives but our diet is not on point.
 
Some of us are great at staying away from sugar but we sure love those crunchy chips, pretzels, and crackers.
 
Some of use have a perfect diet most of the time but the sugar-monster rears it’s ugly head at midnight.
 
Some of us eat a perfect breakfast but have the hardest time staying away from the drive-thru windows for dinner.
 
Some of us have a big glass of water in the morning but make a pit-stop at Starbucks for the Frappuccino at noon. 
 
 
None of us are perfect but why not try something different? We have made the brave decision of having bariatric surgery in Mexico. We have boarded that plane and made that trip across the border to try and change our lives for the better. Why do we sell ourselves short and just stop there? That for sure wasn’t an “easy” thing to do. 
 
In the beginning, the weight WILL and DOES come off. I see the most amazing results during that first year. But, there comes a time where we need to “pick up our game” if we want to see those last few pounds come off AND we need to really “pick up our game” if we want to maintain our weight loss.
 
It is not “one surgery and be done” with obesity for the rest of our lives. It is more like “have surgery to get started” and then DO THE HARD STUFF to make it a long-lasting lifelong decision to stay at our desired weight. Most of us are willing to get uncomfortable for a short period but we tend to go back to our “creature comforts”. 
 
If we lived a sedentary life before surgery, we need to make big changes during that first-year post-op to move into more active life.
 
If we had terrible eating habits before surgery, we need to learn how to eat properly post-surgery. We need to fill our pouch with food that will give us the nutrients we require to live a healthy life. If we go back to drive-thru windows and keep our pantries stocked with the goodies that got us into trouble in the first place, then we will go back to where we were before surgery.
 
THIS IS NOT EASY 
 
We are trying to change a lifetime of bad habits in a period of one to two years. Those eating habits are deeply ingrained. Our likes and dislikes are also deeply ingrained. 
 
Exercise is hard. Exercise “motivation” only takes us so far. We all get excited at the possibilities when we join a new gym or get a new bike or a new piece of equipment for our homes. But then what happens? The “excitement” or wave of motivation dies out pretty quickly. 
 
Some of us are night owls. We stay up until late at night watching TV and snacking. How hard is it to turn off the TV and put down the snacks? It’s HARD, really HARD. It is a habit that keeps us from reaching our goals. We wake up tired and lethargic yet when 10 pm rolls around, we are craving another hour of TV and a snack on top of it.
 
So, this is what I recommend – DO THE HARD STUFF. And, just keep doing the hard stuff until it becomes easier. That’s how we make real long-lasting change.
 
Let’s use the exercise analogy as an example. We are psyched to join that new gym and take that new yoga class. We show up, and it’s hard (really hard). But, we keep on going to that class for the first week and then into the second week. By the third week, our excitement is just not the same as it was the first two weeks but, we keep going. The fourth week approaches and it’s still hard but it’s now manageable. We understand the instructors’ cues and we have made some friends in the class and we can see how far our bodies have come and how much more flexible we are.
 
KEEP GOING 
 
This is a point where a lot (and I mean A LOT) of people lose their motivation. Sure, they know how good it is for them and how it makes them feel better but they miss a few classes and then those few classes turn into a few months and they are back to their sedentary lifestyle – and then the cycle starts all over again.
 
The only way to make a real change is to DO THE HARD STUFF and just rinse and repeat and get back to that class. Maybe switch the yoga class to a weight lifting class or a running class. Pick something and get back to it. How will we ever see how great we can be if we just give up before a month is up? 
 
Now take the yoga class analogy and this time use “diet” as an example. We have a “so so” diet. What if we choose to have a really good diet that is filled with protein, healthy fats, veggies, and fruits? What if we just keep going and stick to this healthy diet. What if we say “NO” to the drive-thru windows and “NO” to the late-night snacking? What if we turn the lights out and just go to sleep at 10m without the snack? 
 
Do you know what would happen? We would AMAZE ourselves with how great we would feel. Why do we give in and not do the hard stuff? I think that we all need to think about it and find our reasons to keep pushing forward. When we get to the top of our hill, do we just let go of all the resistance and cruise to the bottom? Nah, I think we need to up the resistance and look for a bigger hill to climb.
 
Let’s climb a bigger hill folks. Let’s take this to a whole other level of greatness. I am on your team and I have my hand gently resting on your back. We can do this.
 
Healthy Hugs, 
Sheri

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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