Been There, Learned That…Tips from a WLS GradMarch 15, 2017
I am a DS post-op and on December 10th, 2016, it was my seven-year surgiversary. After having the Duodenal Switch (DS), I have lost and kept off 220 pounds, not had a single pound of weight gain, built a strong and fit physique, completely changed my relationship with food and myself, and can finally look into the mirror at a woman who I am proud to see. Now, I also help others through their journey with bariatric surgery as a Bariatric Lifestyle Coach.
Although the ending is an amazing story to tell…it hasn’t always been rainbows and protein shakes. Through the last seven years, I have learned a lot. Below is a list of 10 tips that I have learned along the way that I find to be incredibly important for those who are going into surgery, newbies on the losers bench and veterans alike. They are ALL very important.
10 Tips From a Long-Term WLS Post-Op
1. There will be hard days
Every day is a battle. Nothing about this process is “easy”, despite what the ignorance of the outside world wants to tell you. This process is incredibly difficult. You will screw up, get sick, you will hurt, have gas pain, eat the wrong things and maybe even gain some weight back. Forgive yourself, learn from the experience and keep on moving forward.
2. Never forget why you had this surgery
Eventually, you will be able to eat some of the things you were able to eat before surgery. Maybe even some of your most favorite foods in the world. While I’m a fan of “everything in moderation,” I’ve learned that just because you CAN eat something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Remember why you had this surgery. If these are the foods that helped contribute to getting you to the point of needing surgery, why would they need to be part of your new life now?
3. Keep reminding yourself how far you’ve come
This is a LONG PROCESS. You’re not going to wake up 100 pounds lighter (my apologies if that was like hearing that Santa isn’t real). Just because you aren’t across the ocean yet doesn’t mean you aren’t further from the shore than you were when you first started. Keep reminding yourself how far you HAVE come instead of beating yourself up over how far you have left to go.
4. Track everything - meals, workouts, photos
This ties into #3. In order to remind yourself how far you have come, track EVERYTHING. Keep detailed journals, photos, measurements and even old clothes. These are great reminders of how far you’ve come and how much things are changing and progressing along the way.
5. Be patient
This is not a “quick fix.” Changing your life, your body and everything you ever knew as your entire existence takes time. The more time you give yourself to adjust and learn, the more sustainable your lifestyle will be. Bonus tip - wait until you are at your goal weight for at least a year before tackling skin surgery. Believe me, this is absolutely something you do not want to rush.
6. Focus on changing your lifestyle instead of losing pounds
THIS is my NUMBER ONE tip that I work on with all of my clients because I had to learn this one the hard way. Short story - about four months after surgery, I had only lost 30 pounds. I saw a photo of myself and was devastated that I didn’t look like someone who had just had weight loss surgery.
I had been focusing on losing pounds, and doing what I was reading in the forums and on social media that others were doing. Once I actually started to focus on my behaviors and undoing all of the years of bad habits instead of just focusing on poundage, everything changed for the better, the weight melted off, habits got better, I never had a stall or a pound of weight gain. Take the time to change your LIFESTYLE. Your life will be better for it.
7. Don’t compare yourself to another person's journey
I have personally fallen victim to this at the beginning and many of my clients struggle with it. While we all try to encourage each other on social media and forums, you HAVE to separate your journey from those who post there. They are different from you, they started different from you and they behave differently than you. FIND YOUR OWN JOURNEY.
8. Celebrate yourself and your accomplishments
A smaller pant size, moving the seat closer to your steering wheel, removing the extenders from your bra…these are AMAZING accomplishments. Celebrate them and be proud of yourself for them. Don’t just look at the weight on the scale. Each pant size you go down, add $10.00 to a secret fund. When you get to your goal pant size, treat yourself to a new, beautiful dress. YOU EARNED IT!
9. Keep setting realistic goals
Always have your big goal in mind, however, set small goals every few weeks that will lead up to your big goal. It makes the process much more fun by achieving your small goals first and the big goal will seem less intimidating.
10. Start living the life you've always dreamed of
The first thing I did when I started losing weight was to make a bucket list. I started with all of the things I could never do because my weight held me back. When I crossed off all of those things I added things I never even imagined I could ever do.
I hope this list helps! Be good to yourself and be good to your body. The two of you have a long and happy life to live together.
ABOUT THE AUTHORLyss Remaly had WLS in 2010 after her highest weight of 350lbs. She revised from Lap-Band to a Duodenal Switch. After changing her habits, she became certified as a personal trainer and behavior change specialist to help others do the same. Lyss is a Bariatric Lifestyle Coach, Certified Personal Trainer and a competitive Natural Bodybuilder. Catch up with Lyss at FitnFabulyss
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