5+ Years- Thoughts on Regain
I am almost 5 1/2 years post VSG. Let me start by saying: I have NOT regained, other than my usual 3 pounds over the holidays, which I am working on. I DID have a 7 pound regain at about 3 years out and that took me about 2 YEARS to deal with and lose.
My sleeve sister Elina's current struggle with 3 pounds inspired me to give those of you who are newly sleeved a bit of an idea of how things progress..it's just my own personal experience, but I hope it helps...(repost from what I wrote in Elina's post)...
Year 1--you lose the bulk of your weight, you look great, it's pretty easy, and in your heart of hearts, you really can't imagine how you could possibly eat enough to gain 100 + pounds back
Year 2-life is awesome, you have all skinny new clothes and shoes and may even still be losing a little bit and you still feel like it's totally under control and you can allow yourself some occasional indulgences..
Year 3-okay, I've GOT this! I'm thin, yay! But I can eat a bit more and some of my old habits are coming back and I find myself standing in front of the refrigerator looking for something to eat even though I'm not really hungry...and OMG I'VE GAINED 2 pounds..oh well, they're gone quickly but 3 months later, it's 4 pounds and they're a little harder to lose...hmmm
Year 4-present- Hmm, this may not be as easy as I thought. I feel completely normal now, and that's not good--because for me, normal, means weight gain. DRAT. I have to stop this! But I'm eating well! I'm exercising! Oh no, I may have to diet again...I may have to cut out the small treats and indulgences that I love and that, since maintenance, I managed to incorporate...
FOREVER: It's always going to be a battle.
Yes, it happens this way. The good news is that the wonderful tool we have doesn't go away and we can always get back into losing mode with far less hunger than before. But the head hunger, the bad habits, the sweet tooth, the tendency to graze, to comfort oneself with food, are ALL still there.
So, I am thankful that I have made new habits--Protein First is my "Go-To" strategy and has been since Day 1. Is this easy? Well, my natural inclination would be: Sweets! Bread! Pasta! So, yes, it's tough--but, by now, it's also pretty natural to go for protein first and leave the carbs.
Above all, I need to keep my head in the game. I am not normal and never will be. I have accepted that this is a life long battle, one that I could NOT win pre-VSG.
I AM confident that I will prevail and keep my weight off.
Happy New Year!
7 years post VSG. Below Goal.
~105 pounds lost.
Starting BMI-38.5, Surgery 08/14/07
Here are my thoughts on the same topic from the same thread, I thought that both of our responses work synergistically.
There are a few reasons why it is harder the further out we get, hopefully ThinLizzy will also chime in as she is five years out and has also battled the same issues. The first and probably most important reason is that we simply learn to eat around our sleeve. I know that this seems strange early out, but believe me, it get much easier to do this the further out you get. Also, your hunger increases and your cravings come back. It is never as strong, in most cases, as it was before surgery, but that wonderful lack of hunger is usually temporary. Third, the more carbs that you let into your eating, the more carbs you crave. And finally, capacity does get larger with time. It might not be a significant amount, but if you think that even an extra 100 calories a day makes a huge difference, you will understand why even a small amount of extra capacity can and often does become an issue. For those people that say, "Well just eat healthy foods and the larger capacity is not going to be a problem", I say, how did that work for you pre-op? The reality is that our smaller capacity is our safety net, and that net gets smaller with time. It becomes more and more just us, not unlike it was before surgery. I know that it is common to hear that "We will always have our tool", yes, to some extant this is true, but it is less true with time. The tool is less effective and you have to rely more on your new habits. This is why exercise is more important in maintenance, and why those people that just think that the sleeve will take them to goal and keep them there without doing all the mental work required, are just fooling themselves. Regain happens because the tool is less effective over time, and because we become more effective at eating around it and finally because reinforcers that are available to us early out are no longer available to us later in maintenance. What I mean is that the scale no longer brings you the good news, there are no more compliments and nobody notices when you gain a few pounds. The reinforcers are not there.
So that's the bad news. The good news, is that I still get full on about half the food I needed before surgery, the hunger and cravings are at only about 50% of what they were, I have learned many new coping strategies and have had the time to reset my thinking about food. I have a regain red line and if/when I reach it, I have a ready plan of action; complete and detailed and ready to go. The good news is that I refuse to play ostrich and will attack regain early. I have an active support system that I have no problem engaging the minute I need it. I exercise and I have set myself up for success. Maintenance can be done, but it is much harder long term than weight loss. Just remember, I am now 3.5 years out and I am still 108 lbs. 2 pounds under the original goal set by my very conservative doctor. I will be 105 lbs by the 16th of this month, you can bet good money on it.
on 1/4/13 4:28 am
Food is our drug of choice. I knew a woman who seemed normal in every way. Nice, traditional wife and stay at home mom. One day she told me about the days, 20 years earlier, when she was a practicing heroin addict. My mind could not envision her in that context. But then her eyes took on a different look as she talked about the heroin and how it made her feel "comfortable in her own skin".
Food is my heroin and my vigilance must be just as strong - and lifelong.
on 1/4/13 7:08 am
THANK YOU Lizzy and Elina...appreciate this so very much; "Ditto" to what Annie said. Barb
on 1/4/13 7:45 am
I am so very glad I found this forum- and so grateful that there are those of you who have had AND MAINTAIN successful weight losses and post your wisdom on it. Thank you for your time and caring. I read and I learn and prepare for that time when I will have to be a mature-grown up person, willing to take responsibility for my body/mind/soul in this. It's NOT ironic that I lost more than half the weight I needed to in the "conventional way" before having the surgery. I know that, for me, losing the weight is not my war (a huge battle, yes- but not the war) The war for me always has been maintaining the loss. KEEP POSTING- YOU VETERANS OUT THERE-YOU'RE SCHOOLING US OUT HERE AND I'M READY TO LEARN.
goal!!! August 20, 2013 age: 59 High weight: 345 (June, 2011) Consult weight: 293 (June, 2012) Pre-Op: 253 (Nov., 2012) Surgery weight: 235 (Dec. 12, 2012) Current weight: 145
TOTAL POUNDS LOST- 200 (110 pounds lost before surgery, 90 pounds lost Post Op.diabetes in remission-blood pressure normal-cholesterol and triglyceride levels normal! BMI from 55.6 supermorbidly obese to 23.6 normal!!!!
Wow, very insightful posts from both of you ladies. I haven't yet made it to the loser's bench, let alone maintenance. Your posts really put this thing into perspective. I need to stay on top of it from the beginning. The posts were scary to me in a good way, they make me open my eyes and realize that i will ALWAYS have an addiction, i will always be a food addict. The only way to truly maintain my weight is to not let any weight "slip on", and most importantly, no excuses. If it happens, deal with it immediatly.
Thank you both for sharing this. As a newbie, it helps to be reminded that this a long-life challenge but doesnt have to be a battle!! It's very easy to fall back to old habits-VERY, and I'm learning this at 5 months out-not 5 years. But my first retreat is back to the basics: water-protein-water-and yeah, protein again.
Congrats on your success longterm!
Thank you Lizzy and Elina!! I need to hear all of your wisdom that you can dish out. I thought I was in maintenance but I am back in the game of losing. I am about a yr and half out and have gained 4 to 5 lbs. I know it does not sound like much but it is when you trying to get it off again! Maintenance in my past weight loses was always my problem too. I don't know why I thought this would be different. I have got (getting) my head back in the game and focused. It seems so much harder getting in the loss mode than it was even pre op. I am going to do this though...I am not going back to where I was.
Thanks again for your help and this board for the support!
"Encourage instead of criticize. Love instead of hate. Hope instead of doubt. Give instead of take. Trust instead of worry. We open our hearts to others so that they will be prompted to open their hearts to God" Lucy Swindoll
This is why I hope that newbies figure out why it is SO important to learn what triggers bad eating for each of us. Is it holiday comfort food that takes us back to our childhood? Is it reaction to stress that forces our hand to grab a chip? What is it? Being aware of our thoughts and feelings is a huge part of the battle - at least it is for me. I still have to figure out why I eat like crap when I'm at a party.
Whether you consider yourself addicted to food, carbs, etc or not - if you don't figure out what triggers your eating - or in some cases, drinking - your likelihood of regain is high, imo.
Thank you both for the healthy dose of reality.
on 1/4/13 9:45 am
As a new sleever, one thing that I am learning is to figure out what my triggers are.
I am an emotional eater. HUGELY.
My go to now when I meander to the fridge at unscheduled times is to grab a glass of water with lemon, or a cup of earl grey. :)
This is such a valuable post by ThinLizzy.......
I hope you all really digest this...... I am.....
ThinLizzy and Elina are among the few we should really take notes on.... I do......
Maintaining a goal weight is why we did this....... right????