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TimeLine for Bariatric Warriors – Bariatric Edition

Bariatric Surgery User Manual – A TimeLine For Bariatric Warriors. 
How does bariatric surgery work? Does it come with an instruction guide? Are results the same for everybody? How can somebody who is 500 pounds and somebody else who is 200 pounds have the same surgery? 
I think that every bariatric surgery needs to come with a “user manual”. I mean, a detailed guide like you get with the box from IKEA that comes with a gazillion pieces.
If surgery is the FIRST step (the IKEA box), we need to open that box and try to fit each screw into each hole until the puzzle is solved and the furniture assembled.
Step One – Surgery
We choose our surgeon, get prepped physically and mentally, have surgery, have post-op testing, and are released to return home and start our new lives.
… and now the real work begins.
Step Two – Recovery
Just like with any surgery, there is going to be a recovery period. This is where we are healing, and the inflammation is coming down. We are slowly introducing new foods to our lives and building up our diet as the first four to six weeks go by.
Step Three – The Pink Cloud
The first month to six weeks has gone by, we are healed and the scale is moving in the right direction. It is an exciting time. We are learning about food and how many grams of protein different foods contain. We are learning what our bariatric pouch likes and what it doesn’t like. It’s an exciting time because no matter what we do, the scale loves us! Yay!
Step Four – Getting on With It
This is the stage where the surgery excitement is over. We are now 4 months post-op. The pink cloud is still fluffy but not quite as fluffy as it was the first few months. All the build-up for surgery is behind us. Recovery is behind us. The scale is still moving but not quite as fast as it was in the beginning. We have tried all kinds of foods and we’ve also figured out how to add back a few of those foods that we probably shouldn’t be eating (hello slider foods). It’s time to get serious about exercise and start working it into our new lifestyle.
Step Five – Sticky Scale
We are now 8 months post-op. Our weight loss goal is getting closer and closer and the scale has slowed down even more. Grrrrrrr What can we do to keep it moving? Guess what, the closer you get to your goal weight, the slower the weight loss is. When you were 250 pounds, the weight was falling off. Now that you are 180, it starts to slow down dramatically. If we are on an elevator and there are 10 floors. This is the 7th floor. It’s time to get back on the elevator and ride it to the top. A few of us are there with our hands outstretched, waiting to welcome you!
Step Six – The Slow Grind
We are a year post-op now! We have lost a dramatic amount of weight. We have an exercise routine in place. Our diet is 80% perfect and there is a little bit of lead-way now. We are no longer focused 100% of the time on weight loss. There are other things taking up our headspace now. There are births, deaths, family issues, school, work, relationships, kids. There is so much more to worry about other than just weight. It’s like a weight has been lifted off of our shoulders but we are still very hard on ourselves.
Step Seven – The Journey Never Ends
Yup, the journey doesn’t end when the year ends and you are almost at your goal weight. It evolves. We seek better health and wellness. We want to make bigger strides with our workouts. We want to change things up with our diet. We have come a long way but we want to continue to get healthier and happier as we age. What about a plant-based diet? What about increased protein? What about a bit of juicing in the mornings? We get curious about the healing effects of food and exercise.
Guess what, you are a bariatric warrior! You have come, conquered, and you want to share your experience and health with others. You are an inspiration to many. I salute you for taking the steps and putting your health into your own hands. You have come FAR and you will motivate others to do better.
Sheri is very proud of you. High Five Warrior!!
Sheri Burke RHN

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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