Starting Over After Weight-Loss Surgery
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I have regained most of the weight I lost after undergoing gastric bypass. How can I prepare myself to start the weight loss process all over again — and maintain it this time?
— Elisha, Massachusetts
The first thing to recognize is that you may not be starting "all over again." If in addition to having the surgery you were able to learn healthy strategies for managing stress and emotions, setting exercise and self-care goals, and eating in a healthier way, then this work may just need to be revisited. But if like many who use surgical interventions for weight loss, you felt that the surgery was sufficient and did not address these issues, then now is the time to start.
All too often people who undergo gastric bypass fail to recognize that the surgical intervention is only part of the treatment. As is the case with any intervention that helps you to reduce caloric intake (surgery, diet, weight-loss medication), losing weight and keeping it off takes additional work. It requires an overall lifestyle change approach that includes eating in a way that is healthy and consistent with your surgery. You should contact the surgeon who did your procedure or another qualified gastric bypass surgeon to determine the best nutritional approach for your situation. Additionally, it is essential to identify barriers that may get in the way of achieving health goals. Learning new strategies other than eating to manage your emotions and identifying the triggers that have led to unhealthy behavior in the past (for example, not prioritizing your self-care by getting enough rest) will help with achieving long-term success. Finally, regular exercise needs to be a part of every sustainable weight loss plan.
So to get started, I suggest a three-step approach:
- Identify a healthy, calorie-controlled eating plan.
- Set up a realistic schedule to get physically active — perhaps simply working towards walking 30 to 60 minutes per day to start.
- Make a list of barriers that might get in the way of the first two steps and come up with a plan to deal with these.
One final consideration is support. If you are able to enlist the support of a professionally trained health coach, then by all means do so. Health coaches can be a very helpful tool, particularly when it comes to identifying and solving barriers and setting and achieving reasonable goals. You should also seek personal support by engaging with others who are trying to lose weight. One free resource for weight loss information and a moderated support group can be found on my Web site.
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