Commit To Your Health

RunningThink about why you had surgery. What were your reasons behind making the decision for a lifestyle change? Now think about where you are at since surgery. Have you truly committed to your decision? Have you put 110% of your effort into being successful for the reasons that originally drove you to surgery? If your answer to this question is ‘NO,’ don’t be discouraged. You can still commit to your health!

A good starting point to re-committing is to do a little education refreshment! You can’t ever be 100% successful if you don’t understand how to be or if you don’t know exactly what is expected of you. With weight loss surgery, there is so much information out there that it can be very overwhelming initially after surgery. It isn’t surprising that not every patient will retain every aspect of information throughout the journey. Some good questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Do I know exactly what my vitamin regimen should be after surgery?
  2. Do I understand how to take my vitamins and why each supplement is necessary?
  3. Do I know how I should be adjusting my diet before and after each gastric band adjustment?
  4. Do I know when and what labs I will need after a Gastric Bypass or Gastric Sleeve surgery?
  5. Do I know what foods I should be avoiding FOREVER after any weight loss surgery?
  6. Do I know all the signs of my band being too tight after gastric banding surgery?
  7. Do I understand how I can make changes with my eating habits to be more successful?
  8. Do I know how often I will be seen for follow up care after weight loss surgery and why such follow-up care is so important?
  9. Do I know all the support resources that are available to me after surgery?
  10. Do I remember the last time I was seen by Dr. Wagner or Dr. Snow?

If you are unsure of any of the answers to these questions, it would be a good idea to give our office a call. We are happy to answer questions for you anytime. We are also happy to set you up for an appointment to sit down with our dietitian, Stacey or Dr. Wagner or Dr. Snow to go over everything with you.

At some point, you also need to look at how you have changed since having surgery. What goals or other major life impacts have changed since your surgery? Are your reasons for being healthy significantly different since surgery? Maybe you can find more “drive” or motivation to commit to a healthier lifestyle now.

Lastly, everyone has to understand that weight loss surgery still requires work on your part. Once you have made a decision to change your lifestyle (with our help of course) you have to be consistent and take ownership of your choices and decisions in order to be successful. We are absolutely here 110% for our patients and we will stand behind each of you, but you still have to work at being successful. Dr. Wagner and Dr. Snow will tell everyone that weight loss surgery is not a magic miracle. It is only a tool. However, with that tool and your commitment, it can absolutely change your life!

We challenge you to look at areas of your life that you know need improvement, and actually work on them. Stick to your decisions and keep at it. Before you know it, making healthier food choices and working out consistently will be routine for you and you will have committed to your success!

Get Losing Again

low section view of a man standing on a weight scaleHave you been stuck at your current weight for a while and you’re just not sure what to do to get the scale moving again? This can be very frustrating and how you handle these plateaus is critical. You can either take this time to reevaluate your situation, improve anything that needs improving and wait out that plateau or you can get defeated by the plateau and give up. We don’t recommend the latter! Here are some ideas to get you through that plateau and try to get weight loss going again.

  1. Write down each bite. Could it be that you’re eating more than you realize? That one or two bites of food in the afternoon isn’t that bad, is it? It could be that you don’t even realize how often you’re grabbing just a little something. Keep track of every single bite for a while and that may help ensure that you’re eating the right foods and the right amount of them.
  2. Move more. So you say you already do 150 minutes of exercise per week? Well, could you push yourself a bit harder in those 150 minutes or could you perhaps change your routine? Or maybe you need to increase your exercise to 200 minutes per week for results. If you’re already getting in plenty of exercise, perhaps you could look at other ways of being more active throughout the day, such as taking stairs instead of the elevator, marching in place while taking phone calls or doing a few exercises on commercial breaks while you’re watching TV.
  3. Get support. Tell others your goals and they can help keep you accountable. Connect with a support group to help you stay motivated.
  4. Think before you drink. Are there any high calorie beverages sneaking into your diet that could be throwing off your weight loss? Be sure to stick with sugar-free options like water, coffee and unsweet tea.
  5. Be patient! You probably won’t start losing weight the moment you fix your habits. It will probably take a few weeks to see some results. Resist the urge to step up on that scale every day.
  6. Finally, if you have a gastric band, perhaps it is time to have that band adjusted. If you feel like you’re doing all the exercise you can do, you’re eating the right foods and you’re just feeling like you’re eating too much and getting hungry too quickly, give us a call. We can discuss adjusting your band.

The Dangers of Snacking and Grazing After Bariatric Surgery

Fruit on ForksWhen you have bariatric surgery, your stomach can only hold small amounts of food at one time. This automatically helps limit your food intake at each meal and, theoretically, for the entire day. If you stick with eating two to three small (and healthy!) meals per day, you’re likely consuming the ideal amount to help you lose weight.

If you fall into the habit of snacking or grazing on small items throughout the day, you can really slow down your weight loss progress, stop it altogether or even start to gain weight.  Let’s say you munch on a serving of pretzels (about 100 calories) between breakfast and lunch, a small peach (50 calories) between lunch and dinner and have a Greek yogurt (100 – 150 Calories) before bed.  Each of those are reasonably healthy items and they are only 50 – 150 calories each, but they can really add up to a lot of extra calories by the end of the day.  Even when the items you’re grazing on are considered healthy items like fruits or vegetables, they can still add up to too much.

The bottom line is that you should stick to your meals and leave the grazing and snacking behind. You’re likely grazing or snacking out of habit, stress or boredom rather than physical hunger.  If you feel like you are really hungry, maybe you need to take a closer look at your diet and make sure you’re choosing the most filling options. If you’re opting for liquids or slider foods instead of solid, lean protein sources, you’re not likely to feel full very long and you may feel hungry sooner.  Choose your lean proteins, vegetables and fruits most of the time. If you do this, you should be satisfied with just your meals and have no need to snack. When you find yourself wanting to snack or graze, it’s time to find something else to do.

Healthy Vacationing

travelerAre you planning a summer vacation? It’s nice to get away, take a break from the daily routine, explore new areas and just enjoy your family or friends for a change. When it comes to your waistline, knowing a vacation is in your near future can help keep you on a healthy track as you try to drop as many pounds as you can before the trip. On the flip side, once you’re on vacation, you’re likely to be dining out, trying local cuisine, maybe drinking some cocktails and not being as faithful about your daily exercise. All of this can cause unwanted pounds to reappear on the scale. Getting out of your daily routine could mean making poor food choices and not getting your exercise in, but vacations don’t have to completely throw you off track with your weight loss.

If you’re taking a road trip, pack a cooler full of healthy foods you like to eat. This will help you avoid high calorie restaurant or fast food items. You can cut up fruits and vegetables, bring lean deli meats and low-fat cheese, bottled waters or other sugar-free beverages. You can also bring tuna or chicken salad kits for a good source of protein. Unfortunately, if you are flying, you won’t be able to pack much to bring with you and you might have to do the best you can with your options at the airport. If you look hard enough, you can definitely find some healthier options at the airport, too.

If you have a kitchen wherever you’re going, you can plan to make a lot of your favorite healthy meals while you’re gone. Or, you can at least have a healthy breakfast every morning before you head out to your sightseeing for the day. That can be a much healthier thing than going to IHOP or Denny’s. Your best bet is to make your favorite simple recipes. You don’t want to buy lots of food that will go to waste. You also probably don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen while you’re on vacation! Pack as much food from home that you can and don’t forget your seasonings so you don’t have to buy those while you’re away.  This can be a big money saver on your trip as well!

Wherever you go, don’t deny yourself some of the local cuisine. If it’s not the healthiest food but you do want to try it, sample small amounts. After all, you cannot go to the Florida Keys and not try the key lime pie. Consider splitting it with whoever you’re traveling with. Keep yourself to a regular three meals a day pattern. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of grazing while on vacation and very difficult to get yourself back out of the habit once you get home. Try to set meal times and stick to them so you don’t overindulge.

Pay attention to your fluids, too. Drink lots of water. This can be easy to forget when you’re out of your normal routine. Try to keep a bottle with you at all times. Be sure to limit your alcohol intake as well. Keep in mind that alcoholic beverages are high in calories and can sometimes lead to overeating or making less healthy food choices.

While on your vacation, be sure to include some fun forms of physical activity. Walking is a popular activity on vacation, but depending where you are, you could take a walk on the beach, go swimming, hiking, try surfing, canoeing or kayaking, etc. all while seeing the sights.

Above all, enjoy your trip, but don’t make it too hard on yourself to get back on track when you get back home.  If you make mostly healthy food choices and work in some exercise, you might surprise yourself by actually losing weight on your vacation! Wouldn’t that be a nice surprise to come home to?

Making Sense of Food Label Claims

Nutrition Label - CaloriesAll the claims on a food label can be really confusing. You see the terms “sugar-free,” “no sugar added,” “low-fat,” “fat-free,” and other claims on food packages all the time, but do you know what they mean? There are actually legal definitions for these terms so they can only be used if they meet the criteria listed below. Hopefully these definitions make your label reading/food selection process a bit less complicated.

  • Calorie-Free: This food contains 5 calories or less per serving.
  • Low Calorie: This food contains 40 calories or less per serving.
  • Reduced/Fewer Calories: This food contains at least 25% fewer calories than the original product.
  • Sugar-Free: The item must contain less than 0.5 g sugar per serving.
  • Reduced Sugar: This item must contain at least 25% less sugar than the original product.
  • No Added Sugar: This means that there was no sugar or sugar-containing ingredients added during processing. The claim does not refer to sugar alcohols, which may be present. A fresh apple, for example, would not be considered sugar-free because it has naturally occurring sugars, but it could make the claim that it has “no added sugars.”
  • Low Sodium: This food contains 140 mg sodium or less per serving.
  • Reduced Sodium: This food contains at least 25% less sodium per serving than the original product
  • Light: Sodium has been reduced by 50%.
  • Fat-free: This food contains less than 0.5 g fat per serving.
  • Low Fat: The food must contain 3 g fat or less per serving.
  • Low Saturated Fat: The food must contain 1 g saturated fat or less per serving.
  • Reduced Fat: This food contains at least 25% fewer grams of fat than the original product.
  • Cholesterol-Free: The food must contain less than 2 mg cholesterol per serving.
  • Low Cholesterol: The food must contain 20 mg or less per serving.
  • Reduced Cholesterol: The food must contain at least 25% less cholesterol than the original product.
  • High/Excellent Source of: The food contains 20% or more of the daily value for that nutrient per serving.
  • Good Source: The food contains 10-19% of the daily value for that nutrient per serving.
  • High Fiber: This food contains 5 grams of fiber or more per serving.
  • Good Source of Fiber: This food contains 2.5—4.9 grams of fiber per serving.
  • More/Added Fiber: The food must contain at least 2.5 grams of fiber more than the reference food.

No More Excuses!

No ExcusesIt’s not always easy to exercise, but it is important for your weight loss and overall health. There are many excuses commonly used to get out of exercise, but excuses don’t help you achieve your goals, so let’s break past whatever barriers are keeping you from exercising and make it happen!

Did you know that there are 1,440 minutes in every day? We only ask that you spend 30 of those on exercise. That’s only 2% of the day! Maybe you don’t have a 30-minute block of time to exercise. Divide this up into three 10-minute mini sessions or wake up 30 minutes earlier every day in order to squeeze in your exercise before you get going for the day.

Is the weather too hot, too cold, too rainy or too humid? Find an indoor exercise you enjoy. Get a gym membership and work out on the equipment there. Or if you prefer to take aerobics, yoga, Zumba, kickboxing or other classes, do that. And you really don’t need a gym membership to work out indoors. There are many good fitness DVD’s out there and you can find a lot of workout programs online or even on cable TV. Walk at an indoor track or the mall.

The bottom line is there is ALWAYS a way to get in your exercise and it is essential for optimal weight loss and weight maintenance.

Reviewing The Rules

Follow The RulesWhether you had surgery two weeks ago, two months ago or two years ago, it’s always a good idea to review the rules associated with bariatric surgery. We have listed some of the major rules below. Take a moment to review them and take a personal inventory to make sure you’re making the best possible effort to achieve your goals.

Get your protein in first. This is essential to keeping you healthy and you can only get protein from food – you cannot give your body what it needs through a pill for this one. Opt for solid sources of protein such as chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, low-fat cheese, etc.

Once you have gotten your lean source of protein in, opt for a vegetable and/or fruit. Typically, you will be full somewhat quickly after having gotten your protein in, so you may not have much room for fruits and veggies, but try to work them in. These provide you with fiber and lots of other good stuff to keep you at your healthiest.

Don’t snack in between meals. If you’re snacking, you could easily be consuming too many calories for the day. If you’re hungry, let’s talk about it. There may be a reason for it. Are you skipping meals? Are you just grazing all day instead of eating meals? Are you living on “slider” foods or are you drinking your meals instead of eating them? These are all issues that can lead to hunger and unnecessary snacking.

Drink your water. Besides helping to keep you well hydrated, drinking plenty of water also can help curb any in-between-meal hunger you may be experiencing. Make most of your fluids just plain water and avoid any sugary beverages such as sweet tea, fruit juices (even 100% fruit juices) and sodas.

Take your vitamins. There is a common misconception that these are just recommended, but in fact, they are required. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can and do happen after weight loss surgeries. Some of them can lead to serious health problems and potentially even death. You had surgery to improve your health and prevent future health problems, so why take the chance of developing new ones by not taking in your essential nutrients? Take it seriously and take the necessary supplements.  If you’re not sure what you should be taking, contact the HOAB office for more information.

Exercise.  Exercise helps to burn calories. This makes weight loss happen more quickly and exercise will make it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight in the long run. In addition to the effects exercise has on your weight, it can also help you manage other health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, depression, etc.

In order to be successful after weight loss surgery, you just have to follow the rules. If you use your surgery tool as it was meant to be used, you will be successful. If you choose not to follow the rules, do not expect to achieve optimal results.  If you’re struggling, take action. If you need help, seek the appropriate help. That could mean having a friend help keep you accountable for exercising or keeping you out of the candy jar at work. Counselors and support groups can be great for assisting you in making the right choices. And, of course, your HOAB staff and surgeons are more than willing to help as well.

Are you following the rules?

Celebrate Non-Scale Victories

Big PantsDo you ever have those days where you step on the scale and feel defeated because it has not moved or maybe it has gone up a pound or two even though you have been working hard to eat right and exercise? If so, let us assure you that you are not alone and just about everyone has been there at some point. While it’s somewhat comforting knowing that you’re not alone, it does not change the fact that it can be very frustrating. Rather than throwing in the towel and giving up, take a few moments to look at what we like to call “non-scale victories.” These are other signs that all the hard work you’re doing with exercise and eating right is paying off in one way or another. These non-scale victories include:

  • Clothes are fitting looser.
  • People are complimenting you on your weight loss.
  • You have more energy.
  • You feel better.
  • Your health is improving (maybe your cholesterol is getting lower or you’re taking fewer medications).
  • You have increased your overall fitness level.
  • You feel more confident.

Be sure not to judge your success only based on what the scale reads. While the scale doesn’t always immediately move, it will as long as you’re making the right choices. Just give it time and in the meantime, focus on the many other measures of success and know that you’re on the path to a healthier lifestyle!

How To Stick To Your Morning Workouts

SnoozeYou plan to work out during your lunch break, right after work or perhaps after taking your kids to soccer practice. But lo and behold, a meeting comes up at work that cuts into your lunch hour, you end up having to stay late at work and one of your kids needs help with homework after soccer practice. So, your exercise plans go right out the window for that day. Does this sound familiar? We all know that life doesn’t always go as planned and sometimes you miss a workout. The problem is that, for many of us, there are always things getting in the way of our best laid exercise plans. So what is a realistic solution to get that workout in consistently? A.M. Workouts! We know, we know… getting up earlier in the morning is difficult, but not too many scheduling conflicts are likely to come up early in the day, so that might turn out to be the best time for you to exercise. Here’s a few tips on how to start working out in the morning and make the habit stick!

  • Try to find a workout buddy that is willing to go to the gym at the same hours as you or that will meet you in front of your house before that morning jog. Knowing that someone is waiting on you will make it much harder to hit the snooze button.
  • Make it doable. Don’t expect yourself to get up early every day to exercise. Start by committing to two days per week. When that starts to become routine, bump it to three or four days per week. Allow yourself to sleep in once in a while!
  • Get plenty of sleep. In order to get up 30 – 60 minutes earlier in the morning, start going to bed 30 – 60 minutes earlier at night. This will make it much easier for you to get up in the morning.
  • Make it as simple as possible for you to transition from bed to workout. That means having your workout clothes out, having your gym bag packed and/or sleeping in some of your workout clothes. The less work you have to do before your workout, the less time you have to talk yourself out of it! J
  • Set your alarm across the room so you actually have to get up to shut it off. You’ll be more likely to stay up this way.
  • As soon as the alarm goes off, turn on a light. This will help tell your body that it’s time to wake up and get moving.
  • Remind yourself WHY you’re doing this! It’s easy to forget why you’re doing all of this at 5:00am, so it’s really easy to hit the snooze button and tell yourself you’ll exercise later. Remind yourself of how great you will feel AFTER that workout. You’ll have more energy and feel better throughout the day than if you didn’t work out. Finally, even though you might be a little cranky before your workout, you rarely regret getting up early to exercise.

Bariatric Surgery Apps

AppsDid you know that your smartphone can help you be more successful with your bariatric surgery journey? It’s true! There are many apps nowadays that can help you track your overall progress, your food intake, help you monitor your fluid intake, help you eat slower, etc. Most of the apps below are FREE, too, so give them a try and if you don’t like them you don’t have to feel bad about wasting your money!

Eat Slower – This is a very simple app that will help you eat slower (as the name would indicate!). You set your pace of how often you want to take a bite. So if you want to wait 60 seconds between bites, you can set it so you will have a bell go off every 60 seconds. It’s very simple, but effective.

VibrEAT – This is essentially the same as the Eat Slower app above with a different look to it.

Water Logged – This app gives you a place to track your fluid intake to make sure you’ve gotten enough fluids in for the day.

Bariatric Timer – This is an app that allows you to keep consistent intervals between your drinks and meals. For those of you who struggle to stop drinking 30 minutes before your meal and wait until 30 minutes after your meal to eat, this app is for you!

Baritastic – This app allows you to track your food intake, exercise, weight loss, upload weekly photos, gives you weekly motivation to help keep you on track, provides access to top bariatric forums and allows you to listen to bariatric podcasts.

Baritrack – This app allows you to track your weight loss, protein, vitamins and even helps you find bariatric surgery-friendly meals at nearby restaurants.

BariatricPal – This connects you to your favorite bariatric surgery forums on from the convenience of your smartphone.

As always, LoseIt! and MyFitnessPal are still some of our favorites for comprehensive apps that allow you to track most things. What apps have you found to be most helpful after your surgery?

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