Preventing Weight Re-Gain

While it has been said many times before, bariatric surgery is merely a tool. It is possible to not use that tool properly and see results that you would not prefer. We are talking about weight regain after bariatric surgery. Unfortunately, this is sometimes a problem, but there are ways to prevent it and manage it if you have already gained.

A common problem and one of the largest determinants of how well you will do with weight loss post-surgery is exercise. When you lose weight rapidly, you typically lose muscle mass, whether you notice it or not. If you do not exercise to build that muscle mass back up, your metabolism will slow down. So not only are you not burning calories from doing exercise, but you’re also burning fewer calories throughout the day due to a slower metabolism. Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body, meaning that it burns more calories than any other tissue. This is why it is essential to incorporate a combination of cardiovascular activity and strength training for a minimum of 30 minutes a day 5 days per week. More exercise will likely produce better results.

Another very common problem is drinking with or too close to your meal. If you drink just prior to a meal, during a meal or after a meal, your food is mixing with liquid, becoming softer and ultimately moving through your pouch more rapidly. This leaves you feeling hungry and may lead to eating more. Eating more leads to weight gain. In order to prevent this, you are asked to stop drinking anything 30 minutes prior to your meal and not drink anything until 30 minutes after your meal. Even small sips can sabotage your efforts. Along with this concept, if you’re choosing many soft foods and liquids, you will find yourself hungry and able to eat more. The majority of the time, you want to choose solid foods for your meals as these will fill you up quicker and keep you full longer.

One other common problem is grazing or excessive snacking. Picking at foods throughout the day can add up to many extra calories. Grazing often doesn’t fill you up or satisfy you and is done out of boredom or because the food looks good. It does not make sense to eat if you are not hungry. It is best to go for a walk, write in a journal, call a friend or somehow otherwise distract yourself from the situation that is leading you to eat.

By controlling each of these behaviors, we can continue on the journey of weight loss and not worry about weight gain. After all, you had the surgery in order to lose weight, so let’s make good use of the tool that you have.

SMART Goals

To help ensure weight loss and fitness results you must set goals.

Have you heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals? SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Your goal must incorporate each category. We’ll break them down one by one and give you a few examples.

Specific – Your goal must be specific. “I want to lose weight” is not a goal. That’s simply a wish. But, “I want to lose 18 pounds” is a specific goal. Now we know where you are (your current weight) and where you want to go (your current weight minus 18 lbs.).

Measurable – Goals must have some form of measurement. Weight is easy. You step on the scale, and then you step off the scale. What about getting in shape? How do you measure that? Maybe it’s walking up a flight of steps without panting. Maybe it’s to run 30 minutes without stopping. Whatever it is, make sure your goal can be measured.

Attainable – Keeping a foot in reality is important. For instance, maybe a goal “To make it in the NBA” would not be realistic (no matter how much you would like it to be :). You’d be setting yourself up for failure. Make your goal aggressive, but attainable.

Realistic – This one is somewhat like attainable. Losing 30 lbs. in 30 days is not realistic. Nor is it safe! Give your goals some boundaries. When setting health and fitness goals you must keep physiologic abilities in mind. When losing weight, 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week is a safe estimate, but having a resting heart rate of 30 or doing 1000 pushups in a minute is not realistic.

Timely – Last but certainly not least. I heard someone say once, “Nothing would ever happen without a deadline.” And you know what? It’s true. Without a deadline or some sort of timeline, the chances of follow through are slim to none. Adding a time element creates a sense of urgency. Going back to the goal of “I want to lose 18 lbs,” adding “in 12 weeks” now gives you your deadline. Always, always, always have a deadline.

Goal setting is always our first step when setting up a health and fitness program. A SMART goal is one that works. Take out a pen and paper now and write down some goals. Make sure each one includes each category.

Obesity by the Numbers

We all know that obesity is a major public health problem in the United States, but do you know to what extent? Let’s take a look at just how big of a problem obesity has become and where this obesity epidemic is projected to go…

Currently over one third of the US population is considered obese (BMI of 30+) with about 6% considered severely obese (BMI of 40+). It has been projected that by the year 2030, 42% of Americans may be obese and 11% will be severely obese. While this is not exactly news, obesity can significantly increase your risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancers, and many other conditions. The obesity epidemic, along with those co-morbid conditions, will certainly only continue to increase in numbers without intervention. It is also predicted that if obesity rates rise as expected, it will cost the country $549.5 billion in weight-related medical expenditures between now and 2030. It has been estimated that obese men cost an additional $1,152 per year, while obese women cost an additional $3,613 per year.

While there are many means to improving lifestyle and losing weight, having bariatric surgery is one way you can work towards decreasing healthcare spending costs. It often lessens your need for medications, so this leads to less money spent out of your pocket and by your insurance company. It often leads to fewer sick days taken from work, so it saves your employer money. Weight loss also helps to prevent chronic diseases for which you would have to frequently visit your doctor or even a hospital for. By losing weight and leading a healthier life, you are not only saving money, but are likely also saving your life.

Do something today so you are not part of the obesity statistics tomorrow.

References: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-05-07/obesity-projections-adults/54791430/1

Don't Let Your Scale Define You!

Repeat after me. “I am not a number.” Owning a scale is both a good and bad thing. It can be your ally by providing you with feedback. Weighing in only once a week (at the most) lets you know when you’ve been losing weight and when your weight loss has stalled. More frequent weighing in (daily or even multiple times a day) can be problematic because daily fluctuations in weight occur due to things like water retention, or what time of the the day you are weighing. People sometimes let the number on the scale dictate their mood for the day. Does this sound familiar? Down a pound? Yay! It’s going to be a great day! Up a pound? What’s the point of even trying? I’m just going to go eat some cookies. DO NOT let the scale control your life! Your body weight is no reflection of who you are, your strength, your intelligence, your kindness, your beauty, or your worth. Focus on eating for good health, for nourishment, and exercising for strength and energy. Use clothes fit as indicator of how you’re doing in your journey for a healthier weight.  DO NOT let a number on a scale define who you are or how much joy you have in your life!

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 BariatricPal.com 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?