What's YOUR Bariatric Category?

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.

The Myth
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.

What happened?
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.

Old Pros
Standing Ovation
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.

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.

If you find yourself gaining more than just a couple of pounds, embrace our Back on Track plan known as The Inspire Diet. Thousands have their groove back and their control thanks to this marvelous plan. 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.


31 thoughts on “What’s YOUR Bariatric Category?

    • Stacey A. Pete says:

      I’m just 2 months from my VSG as well and am 45 pound down. This was great information, because now I know what to look for, and not get too off track when some of the pitfalls may hit me.

    • Jackie M says:

      This article was great. I am a week out from my VSG. I almost unsubscribe though because I was getting a lot of product ads and not the information I was looking for.

  1. Karen says:

    Thank you so much for the encouraging post. I’m 7 months out and down 100 lbs but can relate to much of what’s being says, especially the hair loss. Protein first needs to be my new mantra! Thank you!

  2. westpj2@hotmail.com says:

    Thank you for the article.I am 7 months out of surgery and have gone from a tight 26 to a comfy 12 and sometimes 10 with a 145 lbs gone. Now I have plateaued for 4 weeks and am pushing the protein drinks everyday plus a regular high protein meal. Finally I lost 3 lbs this week. I am happy with my size but my weight is still above my goal, then, I remembered I have muscle now that I have not had for decades. Guess what Muscle weight more than fat. Happy camper once again !! Thanks again.

  3. Meg says:

    I’m 2 yrs out of VSG surgery. I’ve lost 130 lbs. I can say I have tested the edges, but have yet to fall in. It took me 2 years to finally get to my goal weight.
    Protein first is my mantra! When I kicked up the exercise I lost more weight and that was at 18 months after surgery.
    Yes, I am one of the Sleevers that gets ‘Dumping Syndrome’ – so if I play with fire, I will get burned. Honestly, it’s not worth it.
    I focus on being a winner, but I’m not so nieve to thinking that I have this licked. I can become complacent and cocky – and that is my path to self destruction. I have to be honest with myself about what I’m eating, too much or not enough, fluids and vitamins. I’m great at making excuses, also my path to self destruction.

    There is one thing that this article doesn’t mention and that is the tendency to increased alcohol intake. That is a real sneaky situation. Fluids go down so easily and it is easy to have that one glass of wine become 3 glasses. Aside from all the empty calories, it is an insideous process, fooling yourself into thinking you are in control. YOU’RE NOT. I have caught myself in this self dstructive pattern and had to set some hard limits / rules for myself. I even gave permission to my friends to say something and keep me accountable.

    It is so easy to say – it won’t happen to me, but it can, it will. So be honest with yourself – and you’ll be successful.

    • Grazia Bridal says:

      Thank you for this, I am 10 month out, HW 304, SW 288 CW 225 it has gone so slowly yet I have stuck to the rules. I have been the same weight for over a month and was worried that this was it. I do exercise, I either walk 4 miles a day or run for 30 minutes, I am not a protein freak and I do not eat badly, but carbs are high. I am encouraged to hear that 2 years on the weight is still coming off

  4. Tina says:

    I am almost 7 months out of rout en y surgery. I have gone from 236 down to 159.5….my goal is 140 and I have stalled a lot but also have issues with getting all the protein in. I know I need to do 2 shakes a day plus a meal for it to work

  5. Paula Boydston says:

    What a fabulous article! So many points made sounded like my experience. Staying honest and accountable is key. All that fudging , eating small bites of protein empty food, and eating alone while out of the house are what brought me to the 254 lb unhealthy wt. Stop the madness! Ok, I’m on board.

  6. Teresa says:

    I am a 12 year veteran of bariatric surgery. It is so easy for the pounds to inch their way back into your life! I went from a size 26 jean and currently wear a size 16. I recently did the 48 hour pouch reset and am back on track. It feels good to not have that hungry feeling all the time. I had gotten away from the protein drinks, but now make sure I have a couple of them a day. They really do tide you over in between meals. I had felt the pounds creeping on the past 5 years or so, but now I have taken control again. This is MY destiny….nobody else’s. Cutting out the breads, potatoes, and chips was easier than I thought it would be. Just waiting on that first comment where someone asks me if I’ve lost weight! 🙂

  7. Kellye says:

    Thank you for this article! I am over 15 years out and dealing with regain. I know my pouch still works, now i have to re-learn how to work my pouch!

    To the poster who mentioned alcohol, and anyone else going through this i say PROCEED WITH GREAT CAUTION! I fell down this slippery slope and ended up an alcoholic! Nobody warned me about transfer addictions. I am happy to say i got sober in 2004. I was killing my body quickly as we do not process alcohol in the same way. If you find yourself in trouble, stop now. If you need a program to help you do it, then go for it!

    Alcohol is no longer a part of my life but i have far to go in regaining all of the benefits i received from tbis surgery. I know i can do it, especially with this group of people and the re-education i have received here. BOT!!! Thank you, thank you, thank YOU!!

    • krista says:

      Thanks for your honesty about this! I am 13 years post RNY and am struggling with an alcohol problem. it is just time to face the music! Thanks for sharing.

  8. EMJoseph says:

    I am a 11 year veteran of Gastric Bypass I struggle with portions dtill to this day!…PROTEIN has become my lifeline will ALWAYS be a chaser for LIFE!…I plateaued for about 3-5 yrs after going from 325 down to a thin 150!..I plateaued at about 160 but recently began to lose weight again bringing me to 150 I have become less worried about the weight as I am more CONSCIOUS about my HEALTH!..let me tell you NEVER get COMPLACENT with your BARIATRIC SURGERY 3 years ago I had A hysterectomy and it caused A MAJOR shift in my BARIATRIC recovery as the surgery changes EVERYTHING as well as the HYSTERECTOMY!…the MENAPAUSE caused a real UPROAR and I found myself in I.C.U for 3 days from DEHYDRATION and EXTREMELY LOW BP!…I have not had and episode since but let me tell you it was a real EYE OPENER!…scary is an understatement!…so PLEASE no matter where you are in your JOURNEY treat every day as if you are a BEGINNER!….TAKE your SUPPLEMENTS they truly are your LIFELINE!…I say BEGINNER because after finding myself passed out on the floor at home ALONE and not understanding how I got there?….I had NO WARNING SIGNS!….I hope this reaches anybody that thinks they are alone with STRUGGLES?….of any kind because if have not found out as of yet you will come to know EVERYDAY can prove to be TOTALLY different than YESTERDAY!…please feel free to my facebook page “Let’s talk about BARIATRIC SURGERY?”….just as insightful as this wonderful site!…TRUST ME you NEVER know to much!

  9. Barbara says:

    I am 10 days out and down 17 pounds. Yay me. I am so happy this article explained what to expect in the long run. Thanks and I raise my protein drink to you

  10. gigiistechgirl says:

    I love this website. It keeps it real for me. I use it daily for support. I’ve tried several recipes and everyone loves them. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten this clean and healthy in my life. I can do this!

  11. Ellie says:

    I am 5 days out from gastric sleeve and still feeling sore as might be expected. I found this article very helpful and reassuring, Find the website generally very supportive and it’s good to feel there is a community to share with,
    Thanks everyone!

  12. Diane says:

    I can’t stress the importance of taking all your supplements. I was so good about taking them the first few years and then slacked off as I felt so good. One and a half years ago, I broke my leg. The ortho said he had been seeing more bariatric people with broken bones due to lack of calcium and protein. A broken femur is NOT fun. I was non weight bearing for ten months! Some of the reasons were my age, weight and brittle bones. I had two spiral breaks and holes in my bones!! Take your supplements!! I still need a walker or cane to get around. I hope to be able to walk appliance free but right now, I can’t see it happening.

  13. Charlene Godny says:

    I am 1 year post bariatric surgery. I am down 100 lbs and have totally new lease on life. I have followed my doctors orders to the T, without any problems. I eat properly and exercise daily. I would rather take all the supplements than the 13 medications I was previously taking. Having the surgery was the best choice I ever made and I am only sorry that I did not do it sooner.

  14. Jacquie says:

    I’m a combination of staller and regainer. After gastric bypass surgery in January 2008, I went from 429 pounds down to 200 pounds and stalled there for many years. I never had the surgery to remove all the loose skin and know that is part of the weight. But, then in the last year, I have gained 53 pounds and can’t seem to get back on track. Yes, I fit all the other things like eating smooth, easy things and sugar found its way back into my diet. I have 4 bags of Inspire in my cupboard, have a million of your wonderful recipes on my computer and still can’t get started back on track. I have trouble processing protein food, especially meat. I mostly use eggs and cheese for protein. I can eat ground up or soupy protein. I will be 78 years old in July and have a lot of medical issues, but I still want to lose the rest of this weight! Help, Help, Help!

  15. Joy says:

    I am 15 yrs post op RNY and have had a 20 pound regain in the past 28 mos. My husband died and I had retired to be home with him and he died within one week. What happened for me to regain I can’t answer unless it is dealing with grief and loss. I am struggling to reset.

  16. astrid101359 says:

    What a great article — love that it is written in a rather comical way. Some parts made me chuckle while all the while I was gaining valuable information. I am 5 years out from my VSG and look back on my honeymoon phase with a mixture of cringing and endearing amusement. Then I hit a wall and subsequently had an AHA moment after regaining 30 pounds — the moment was when I realized I need to step up to the plate and be accountable for life and to learn for the first time how to use the tool my surgery gave to me. Did not even realize I had this tool first time around. I am now at the old pro stage with the same enthusiasm I had in the beginning but a little older and wiser now.

    • Alison Garcia says:

      Hi Penny. I truly can’t recommend one. There are products out there that claim to be high in protein, and low in carbs, yet taste like shoe leather. And many that won’t help you achieve or stay at goal. So, it’s a simple solution. Sounds tough, but true words coming here: you learn to live without it. Life truly does go on without bread as a component. Lettuce leaves and forks do the job just dandy. Bread is simply a vehicle to get the protein and or vegetables to your mouth. It’s notorious for causing rebound hunger, stalls, and even regain. If you embrace life without bread, it’s that much easier. Take it from someone who regained very quickly, after reintroducing bread back into my life- for no good reason. -Alison

  17. Kelley says:

    I love the last line:
    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.

    I would like to copy this and put it up at work and home as a reminder but I would like to give credit to the person that wrote it. Whom would that be? XOXO

  18. Marcy Roman says:

    I am 8 years out, lost 120 pounds and then looked at myself naked in the mirror. My arms slapped my body as I moved around and people could hear it. I had to wear a girdle because of my loose skin. I was very unhappy and I should not have been. The surgery worked and I lost the wrught, but I was not prepared for the final stage of loose skin and my embarrassment over it. I dressed in the dark or bathroom and never went cloths shopping in a regular store. I bought on line. I got down to a size 12 and my goal had been a size 16, but I was misserable. My health plan only covered a tummy tuck if you developed severe rashes and infections. I was skinny but I still wearing a fat suit. Then exactly a year ago today my son found me almost dead on my kitchen floor. I don’t remember a week of my life and then waking up in a hospital, which my husband told me was my 3rd one. What happened? I could mot deal with the elephant man suit syndrome and started to put weight on. By the time they found out that I had suffered a pulmonary embolism, 3 clots in one lung and 2 in the other and one of those was on a straight path to my brain. I had gained almost all of my weight back. I was blue and not breathing and another few minutes on that floor would have killed me. My son saved my life. And all if this happened because I was unhappy, now fat again, not following my new promised life style of eating healthy, protein, vitamins and follow-up. visits. A few months later my husband said that my CT Scan and test came back with my arteries clogged with fat and fatty liver. I did not die last year and I did not want to die this year, so I went back on my diet cold turkey. I did exactly what I did after my surgery and I followed it to the letter. I have lost most of my weight but the loose skin issue is back and it is worse than before. My fault. I am older and so is my skin. It has no more elasticity in it. I am a bigger size than before when at the same weight. I don’t like it but I will have to learn to get used to it. I hid behind big t-shirts when I was fat and I find myself doing the same thing again now that I am almost at my goal weight. I am doing labs in a couple of weeks and hope that they all come back normal. I am still losing my hair after all this time so I will increase my protein grams. I wish Kaiser would have shown us a guest speaker who was living with excessive loose skin, then maybe I would not have been so shocked when I saw it on me. I am saving for skin removal surgery but lack of the proper information in this part of my 6 months required Bariatric Classes before surgery approval would probably have saved me from almost losing my life last year. Don’t let my journey stop you from yours. I have no regrets, just disappointment on how I thought my body would look. I wasn’t looking to wear a bikini but I did finally want to have a somewhat normal body. If healthy comes with loose skin, then so be it. No more weight gain fir me. It has been a hard lesson learned but like I said I have no regrets.

    • Susan Maria Leach says:

      Wow Marcy, just wow… I dont know what to say other than that I am very proud of how far you have come. No one is perfect… we are all different and deserve love and respect where we are right now. We need to try very hard to love the person in the mirror. – SML

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