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Reinventing Ourselves – Bariatric Edition

Do you remember being told that “you can be anybody you want to be” when you were growing up?


My Mom and Dad told me that I could be a doctor, a lawyer, the Prime Minister.  The world was my oyster.  I could be or do anything I wanted.


Fast forward to today.  I guess I could still go back to school to be a doctor, lawyer – but do I want to?  Not at all.  That doesn’t mean that I failed, it means that I chose this road that I am on. I am happy where I am today. I’ve had some speedbumps along the way, and I anticipate a few more bumps in the future.


As a bariatric nutritionist/ surgery coordinator, I get to see my clients lose THOUSANDS of pounds every year!  That’s right.  When you add up the number of clients I work with each month, over a year … and you tally up their weight loss … the number is BIG, very BIG. 


I’ve been working in this career for almost 14 years now.  I also stay connected with every client who still wants to keep in contact with me.  I see the births of their new babies. I see their teens graduate from high school.  I see them get married, divorced.  I see deaths in their families.  I see as much as they want to share with me, thanks to their emails and to social media.


I also get to see their continued weight loss efforts.


I also get to see any regains.


Do you know what I’ve learned?  Sometimes we need to make “lifestyle changes” very seriously, so seriously that it turns into a reinvention of ourselves. 


Here is a simple example:

Monica is a working Mom.  She is divorced with two teenagers.  Her teens have both started driving and she is no longer “taxi-Mom”.  She has a bit more time for herself now.  She spends that time working and worrying about her kids.


One day she wakes up and decides that she is tired of being overweight/ obese.  It is finally time that she takes her health into her own hands and does something about it.  She’s tried every diet on the planet and nothing has worked.


Monica decides to head to Mexico for weight loss surgery.  She makes her plans, does her pre-op diet, heads to Mexico, has a great experience, and heads back home. 


Now what?


This is where it gets hard.  Sure, no matter what Monica does, the weight is falling off for the first 9 months to a year. She started at 245 pounds.  She’s now down to 180.  She’s super happy at 5’4 but she really envisions a weight of 140 for herself.  Why isn’t the last 40 pounds coming off? 


Monica stays at the same weight for a year – 180 pounds – then she notices that the scales are creeping up.  What’s happening?  Why is it no longer going in the right direction?


Ladies and Gents, I have this conversation every single day.  Yes, I see my clients lose weight and be successful, but I also see my clients slowly start to regain. 


What’s the answer?  Here it is ….  My bariatric clients who lose weight and keep it off long term have a secret. They have reinvented themselves.  They are not the same person they were prior to having their gastric sleeve or gastric bypass.


They are no longer the person who sleeps in until 10 am, grab 3 cups of coffee, race off to work, pass through the drive-thru window and come home to eat, watch Netflix, and go directly to bed.


Their reinvention looks something more like… they get up earlier (with better energy), they have a cup of coffee, prep their lunch, make a healthy breakfast, get in a walk during their lunch hour. They pop into the supermarket on their way home from work to grab some chicken for those new recipes they saw in their weight loss support group.  They go to bed a bit earlier and make sleep a priority.


Sure, some of my clients go all out and start running marathons.  Others start nutrition centers in their hometowns.  I’ve seen my clients go back to school to change careers.  I’ve seen some divorces happen because when one person changes and the other person remains the same – well, it can get tricky.  We need a support system in place.


I think we need to look at reinventing ourselves when going into bariatric surgery.  It’s like that saying:

“What’s the definition of insanity”?

“Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”.


How do you see yourself?  Do you want to be energetic? Do you want to be athletic?  Do you want to be the best chef in town?  Who are you?  Who do you want to be?


Once you’ve figured this out – GO DO IT.  Sure, change can be difficult, and hard, but isn’t it easier than dealing with the pain of obesity?  You need to choose your “hard”, your “difficult”.  Stick the course and the magic will happen.  I see it happen to regular people every day. 


If you love who you are now, and you don’t want to change anything, you just want to lose weight, then fine.  But you really need to reinvent the way that you eat.  There is no arguing there.  If you do exactly what you did prior to surgery when it comes to the way you eat, you will get exactly the SAME results “after the honeymoon period”, which lasts approximately a year.


I think we can all agree with the last paragraph.  Stop the insanity. Do different to get different.  Stop with the soda, sugar, packaged foods.  I don’t care if the package says “keto”.  Stop buying fancy products, teas, pills, powders. 


JERF – Just Eat Real Food.


Eat the meat, chicken, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, red meat, tofu, fish, seafood, veggies, berries, nuts, seeds.  Rinse and Repeat.


Get more active.  Rinse and Repeat.


Who do you want to be?


I say this in the most loving way.  I want to see you succeed long term.  I want that for you.  I want to see you happy, healthy, and thriving.

Healthy Hugs,





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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