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Doing Things Differently – Bariatric Edition

“What is it that we all fear after bariatric surgery”?  

I think that the number one answer I get when I ask this question is: the dreaded regain.

What I spend a lot of time discussing with my clients is the importance of making real lifestyle changes post weight loss surgery. This is always going to be a marathon and not a sprint. If we look at weight loss surgery as the next best “diet”, we will surely not achieve or maintain our goals.

The number one thing that needs to be accomplished post weight loss surgery is lifestyle changes. We cannot have surgery and then continue to eat the way we did before surgery and expect to have a different result. We cannot be inactive and expect our lives to greatly improve.

Our life greatly improves because we make important changes. We start to eat whole foods and we start to move our bodies more.

If we are night-time snackers, then we need to find a way to overcome this issue.

If we are over-eaters, this needs to stop.

If we are sugar addicts, we need to exchange this habit with a new, healthy habit.

If we are fast food fiends, we need to stop going to the drive-thru.

We need to first admit and acknowledge what got us to the point where we needed bariatric surgery. The surgery is not what is going to get you back to a normal weight. It is the choices that you make post-surgery that enable you to reach your goals.

What is the definition of insanity? It is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

If we had surgery 2, 5, 15 years ago and we didn’t make those changes that needed to be made and we had a regain, is it all lost? 

 I feel that we still have a chance to get back on track and to succeed without having another surgical intervention. Is it the restriction that helped you lose the weight in the first place or was it the types of foods you were eating and the healthy changes that you made? 

I speak to many clients that tell me that they still have a good restriction after X amount of years. So it that is the case, then they should be able to use that restriction to help them lose any regain. You see, the types of foods that you are eating are the reason why the regain occurred. 

Nobody gains weight after bariatric surgery from eating chicken breasts and broccoli. 

The dreaded “carb-creep” is real. We start to allow the same, old, comfort foods back into our diet. Sure, at first it’s only on Saturdays, or just on Thursday night when you go out with your girlfriends. Before you know it, you are eating those “carb-age” foods 3 times a week. What happened? Why did you gain 10lbs? 

I often hear “but I am not eating very much” and when you sit down to do a food log, the reality is staring back at you. The snacking and grazing on the wrong foods is what is leading to the regain.

The lifestyle that we used to live…. the one that was inactive and full of the wrong food choices …. that needs to go. It needs to be replaced with a healthier version. It is going to look different and it is going to make you feel a lot better. You will sleep better. You will have more energy. Your pants will fit better. You may be able to get off your meds.

If making good choices can get you to a better place mentally and physically AND making bad choices can lead you back down the road to weight gain,,,, then where do you find yourself today? Are there things that you can do better? Are there dietary changes that you can make to get you back on track again? Is there a way to add more movement to your life.

We need to be asking ourselves these questions all the time. Nobody is perfect. We all can do something to improve our diet and our wellness plan. Let’s not stay stuck in the mud. We need to push forward and make better decisions always.

I like having a plan where I “crowd out all the bad stuff”. 

I add nuts and seeds to my lunches. By adding this to my lunch, I have a good dose of healthy fat and it will crowd out the snack food in the afternoon because I won’t feel as hungry. 

If I add a piece of avocado to my scrambled eggs at breakfast, I won’t be so inclined to snack at 10 am because I will feel more satisfied for a longer period.

If I have some greek yogurt, almonds, and berries in the evening, I won’t be so inclined to reach for the chips and dip come at 8 pm.

This is how I crowd out the bad stuff – by adding in the good stuff. It is a lot more difficult to constantly be restricting myself all the time. 

Make a plan. Plan to do things differently. Stay vigilant. Correct yourself along the way.

And, when you veer off course, prepare to steer yourself in a better direction. 

This is a lifetime of doing things differently. And, we will do those same things until they become our new normal. 


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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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