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Relax, You’re A Staller! After surgery we all go through the same categories. You haven’t hit a wall, you’re just a Staller! Are you a Newbie, Skater, Staller, Old Pro or Born Again?
What did I just do?
It is normal for you to be second guessing your decision in these early weeks as you haven’t lost enough weight to justify the pure misery you may have experienced or are still in the midst of. The benefits have not yet tipped scales in your favor but all that will change if you just hang on and give yourself the time and materials to heal. It usually all comes together and really rolls after the first 8 weeks. Here’s a helpful tip: STOP WEIGHING YOURSELF. During surgery they pumped you up fuller than Kim Kardashian’s… oh never mind. Okay, I know you cant stop, so how about just every three days. Promise?
About to Burst
If you are a ‘newbie’ post-op you are probably wondering how in the world everyone else manages to eat all of this protein, drink all of that water, and take all of these vitamins and pills when you can barely sip an ounce or two of water before bursting and have not pooped in ten days.
Truth is none of us jump off that operating room table able to do all of these things. Start slowly, sip your water, get plenty of rest, and after a few days you can begin to think about eating a little egg custard or drinking more than a sip of protein drink, or maybe chewing a single vitamin tablet. It all comes in time and you don’t need to force the issue if you don’t feel good. IF YOU FEEL GREAT… stay home, you just had an organ removed!
Too many people give up on protein shakes because they taste too sweet and put away the vitamins because they couldn’t take a handful of big ole tablets when they were just 5 days post-op! Start off slowly and work up to full amounts over time. The only thing you NEED in the first two weeks is water. Forget the other stuff.
There’s one way out… forward!
Remember that you have just undergone a major surgical procedure in which 7/8th of your stomach was either removed or cut in two with your intestines bypassed then reconnected through a handful of punched holes; it makes sense that a complete recovery will take time and that it is normal that the last thing you want to do is eat, drink and be merry. Your stomach and intestines are very swollen and tender from the trauma of this surgery. This was kind of a Big Deal. If you really don’t feel well or have unbearable pain, contact your surgeon’s office, but keep in mind that this surgery does not start out as a day at the beach. Focus on the long term results and soon things will fall into place for you.
I Kissed a Hershey’s and I liked it!
Suddenly your ‘fat clothes’ are hanging as if they belong to someone else. You have blown past the 65 pound mark and you almost feel as if you never had surgery. Life is great! You can eat soft foods with relative ease and are dabbling with more ‘normal’ foods with little consequence. Welcome to the ‘Honeymoon Phase’ where you could eat Doritos and cream cheese for the next 6 months and not compromise your weight loss. Sure this is easy; you are losing weight via Surgically Induced Malnutrition. Your body is reeling from the blow it has been dealt and the fat is melting away.
Lifestyles of the Slim & Gassy
Now is the time to change your habits and develop a healthy lifestyle. Formulate a plan for protein and make sure you are not skipping meals. Put a vitamin program in place and stick to it. Do not think that you’re invincible and eat foods that are high in sugar, fat or carbs. Remember that ‘Dumping Syndrome’ is a good thing and Sleevers often have it too. We couldn’t gain control over our eating before our surgery and having the potential for getting sugar drunk hanging over our heads is a good way to force us to modify our behavior. Use this very valuable tool and keep it intact for life.
Sugar… aw, honey honey
Those of you with a Sleeve – just because ‘in theory’ sugar doesn’t make you sick does not mean you should eat it. Some Sleevers actually BS themselves into believing that sugar is better for them than Splenda. I have a witty friend who says that she is pretty sure that her being 430 pounds would have killed her long before Splenda did. Your choices are Sweet N Low, Nutrasweet, Splenda, Truvia, PureVia, Stevia, or Unsweetened. Honey and Sugar in the Raw are NOT on that list for a reason. They are sugar and that just would not be smart.
This rapid weight loss phase after our surgery is a gift! This is coasting downhill – enjoy the ride but understand that there is a fence at the bottom of the hill that you are about to hit.
BOOM… the sound of your weight loss hitting the wall! One minute you’re losing 10 pounds every forty three minutes and now you haven’t lost a single pound in a month! Relax, welcome to what everyone calls a ‘Plateau’. After dropping a large amount of weight your body is trying to preserve its comfortable blanket of fat and is doing everything it can to stop the massive weight loss.
I went through this for 65 pounds?
Here is where all the old self doubt creeps in and we jump to the conclusion that we are going to be the only one who doesn’t lose weight with this surgery. Don’t worry, if you stay on track, take in plenty of protein, keep your carb count low, and continue drinking copious amounts of water to flush your body, you will continue to lose, albeit in smaller but still steady amounts over the next months. Every little bit adds to your total and gets you closer to goal. Two pounds a week is still over one hundred pounds in one year! In three years you’ll have disappeared. Poof.
My surgeon makes it clear that the first one hundred pounds is his job, but the rest is up to us. You were supposed to initiate a change in your relationship with food during the last phase, but IF you were a Slacker you can regroup now and pick up the pace. Your window has not closed but it IS closing!
Protein protein protein
Your body need about 70 grams of protein per day. Men, you need about 100 grams per day as you carry more muscle. If you still can’t physically eat this much protein, which would mean eating 10 to 12 ounces of chicken, fish, eggs or cheese a day, you will need to find protein supplements that you like in order to give yourself that protein boost. If you go for months without adequate protein you will get very tired, have little energy and experience extended hair loss. Stick to your plan and the weight will slowly start to come off again and you will again begin to feel very much in control.
Jumpin Jacks Flash!
Now is also a great time to start moving around and getting some exercise if you didn’t bother while you were losing quickly and it all seemed a bit too easy. Your body can move more freely after dropping such a large amount of weight, and getting your metabolism up and running will increase your weight loss and make it work for you rather than against you. There are 8 Minute workouts that you can do THREE TIMES A WEEK.
A year has passed, you made it though the stalls and plateaus and you are within close range of that goal weight or have reached it. You are wearing your smallest size since 3rd grade and complements are flying at you from all directions. You hardly recognize the person smiling back in the mirror. Life in this spot is pretty comfortable and it feels absolutely terrific.
Protein first, for life!
It is very difficult at this stage to keep it together and not get too close to the edge. Resist the urge to push your limits. There is no need to revert back to old habits and food patterns even though they don’t seem to affect your weight loss status… yet. This is the point where you should integrate the eating patterns you have cultivated since your surgery into your new way of life so that you can make those good choices without a lot of thought. Protein first is a rule for life. This is where your post op diet becomes your life and not a bad word.
Playing with Fire
Recognize that this is the phase that can make or break you. If you are dabbling in sugar or bad carbs or have once again embraced them … STOP, or it WILL bite you. If you have stopped drinking protein yet still cannot physically eat 10 to 12 ounces of proteins foods a day, rethink your plan or you will find yourself growing tired in the middle of your workday and reversing your loss. If you slacked off your vitamin regimen, taking them just when you happen to remember, which is once or twice a week at best… change your attitude or you could find yourself getting sick and losing hair.
Diamonds & bariatric surgery are forever
This is the phase when many of us find out that we are not invincible and need a gentle reminder that we have permanently altered the configuration of our gastrointestinal system and that we don’t function or process food normally. We are never the same after this surgery and although we may look slimmer and healthier we must pay close attention to our nutrition forever. You are NOT special, you cannot get by with drinking soda, drinking with your meals and not taking vitamins.
I thought I got the Easy Surgery!
Among the things you have to keep up after surgery is watching all of your protein, fluid intake, vitamins and minerals for life. Know that weight loss surgery isn’t just something you deal with for a few months; post-surgery maintenance lasts a lifetime.
ALERT: MY JEANS ARE TIGHT!
It is easy to get to comfortable in our new shoes and push our limits. I have pulled up my ‘skinny’ jeans and panicked when they were snug on my thighs. It is hard to adjust to the fact that at this smaller weight just 5 pounds can make such a difference, when we are used to 30 pounds at our former weight hardly making a dent. Don’t get upset or beat yourself up if you find yourself gaining a couple of pounds. We have a surgically created tool that will remain intact and work for the rest of our life if we use it properly.
Binge eating rotisserie chicken, NO FUN
By choosing solid protein foods we can control our portion size. It is easy to eat a whole bowlful of smooshy comfort food, but even at 10 years post op it is impossible to eat an entire chicken breast. By making the correct choice of the denser protein, we can control our serving size and thus our calories. The bottom line will always be if we burn as much as we take in our weight will remain constant. Once this balance is disrupted, something has got to change or we will either gain or lose weight. So either use your pouch to eat less, or burn more calories through exercise, or a combination of both.
GET BACK ON TRACK, BOT
If you find yourself gaining more than just a couple of pounds, embrace our Back on Track plan known as BOT. Thousands have their groove back and their control thanks to BOT. Cut out the bread, tortillas, potatoes, bagels, rice, pretzels, chips, crackers and sweets that have wormed their way back in to your diet and go back to Protein First Followed by Healthy Lower Carb Vegetables and Salad.
This surgery is all about control and thankfully we have been given permanent control if we use it.
Who’s a WINNER, you’re a winner!
We are all winners. Don’t lose focus that the goal isn’t to be the next supermodel, but to be healthy, happy and fit. If we never get to a size 4, but end up at a slim size 12 or 14 and no longer need insulin, blood pressure medications or get out of breath moving from the house to our car; we are a success story. Compare yourself to Real People, the people at the grocery store, not the airbrushed magazine covers. Real men and women have squish at the waistband of our jeans and jiggly thighs and at least a bit of wattle hanging from our arms. No one ever promised us perfection. Focus on how far you have come rather than how far you have to go and BE REAL!
When you are complemented, learn to graciously accept the praise and not go into a list of what is still wrong with you or point out our hidden flaws of excess skin. Celebrate your success! This surgery can be the greatest thing we have ever done if we just embrace the fact that we have conquered our Morbid Obesity.
People come in all shapes and sizes – there is no standard for beauty. We are a success when we have learned to love the person in the mirror and we realize that happiness radiates from within.