Having bariatric surgery is a life-changing event. It can make a huge difference to your life, your health and your wellbeing.
However, it is important to remember that your surgery is not the end of your weight loss journey. It is more like the beginning: and there will be a long road ahead to maintain the healthy lifestyle you want and need.
Here are the key things you need to keep in mind in order to keep your post-surgery weight loss and most importantly maintain good health in the long term!
Keep To Your Bariatric Diet
Patients experience rapid weight loss following their surgery. However maintaining a healthy weight in the long term involves a high level of discipline in maintaining a healthy, bariatric diet and doing so consistently. Hopefully, you will have implemented healthy eating habits before your surgery, and it is important to make sure that you stick to these.
A bariatric eating plan includes the following:
• High protein, low fat and low sugar foods: aim for minimum 50% protein, 25% vegetables and 25% starches and carbs
• Eat these food groups in that order: that is protein, then vegetables, then starches/carbs
• Focus on solid proteins (such as chicken, eggs, fish, beans) and complex carbs
• Eat 3 meals a day with optional small, high-protein snacks in between
• Do not drink 30 minutes before, during, or 30 minutes after eating
For more, take a look at this definitive “Back to Basics” bariatric cookery list.
Be Strict With Portion Sizes
One of the things achieved by bariatric surgery is the creation of a “built-in portion control system”. This is one of the reasons that patients see such dramatic results soon after surgery.
However, in the long term portion control has to be up to you. Over time as your body recovers from the surgery you will find that your pouch relaxes and you will be able to gradually train it to accept bigger portions. This is exactly what you don’t want.
You need to maintain self-discipline and motivation to keep your portions under control even as your pouch is telling you it is ready for more and your brain is saying “why not?”. There are tools around which can help your with this such as bariatric portion plates, measuring cups and bariatric cutlery.
Have a Consistent Fitness Routine
Diet and exercise are the two key foundations of any long term weight management regime. Having a fitness routine which works for you and that you are able to commit to in the long term is essential. This will be different for everyone, as everyone has different needs and abilities. However, experts generally recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate activity (eg. 5 x 30 minute sessions) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, or some combination of both. Moderate activity could be brisk walking, swimming, zumba or using gym equipment.
One of the most challenging parts of keeping fit is sticking to your routine – it can be easy to lapse, and from there it becomes more and more difficult to get back into it. Two of the main factors which can prevent you from sticking to your fitness regime is muscle fatigue or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It is definitely difficult to stay motivated to do your daily workout if you are still sore from the previous day’s exercise. Head off DOMS and fatigue by using a best foam roller.
Look At Other Factors Affecting Your Weight
Our health and our bodies are a complex puzzle and all of the pieces are interconnected. If you have any other health concerns these may be impacting on your weight loss journey without you even thinking about them. For this reason it is important to keep on top of all health issues and address them immediately. Of course, addressing health concerns is important for many reasons, not just for weight loss!
Chronic inflammation, for example, has been linked to a number of major diseases as well as weight gain and difficulty losing weight. If you are suffering any symptoms which may be associated with inflammation be sure to seek medical advice and take steps to not only treat the symptoms but also treat underlying causes. Luckily, when it comes to inflammation, recommended actions closely match what we have already talked about, such as a healthy diet and exercise. See this guide to help fight inflammation for more info.
Additionally, make sure you take your multi-vitamins, calcium and any other prescribed supplements. Be strict into sticking to this as part of your daily schedule.
Look After Your Mental Health and Wellbeing
Surgery, as well as major lifestyle and physical changes, can have huge impacts on your emotional wellbeing. It is common for people to have a boost of confidence post-surgery and as they move into a healthier lifestyle and new outlook.
However, it is equally common to continue to struggle with negative emotions associated with struggling with your weight. These major changes can put pressure on relationships with partners, friends and family. It is important to regularly check in with your emotions as you progress on this journey, and talk to others about how you are feeling. This could be a friend, or a professional.
Make sure you get enough sleep as part of a regular, healthy sleep regime. Lack of sleep has been linked to not only your emotional wellbeing, but also weight gain. Eating habits are often linked to emotions and wellbeing, making it doubly important that you look after your emotional health during this challenging time.