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16 Ways To Get Back On Track

April 13, 2015

For many of us, weight regain occurs after we've had weight loss surgery (WLS). Life happens and, sometimes as a result, we return to old habits. The return of old habits such as grazing, eating sugary carbs and processed foods, stopping or decreasing exercise, and others can result in weight regain.

Getting back on track at first can be challenging. When you've created a momentum of a few days, use that as encouragement to keep that going.

When losing regained weight, it is generally lost at a slower rate and takes longer than it did right after your surgery. It can seem overwhelming but if you are persistent, you can and will lose weight regain. I lost a significant regain and you can too. You can tackle your regain with determination and consistency, and lose regained weight.

16 Ways To Get Back On Track

1. Eat dense lean proteins first.  When you eat lean protein, it stays in your pouch longer and gives the satiety that lasts longer so you don't get hungry as quickly.

2.  Foods to avoid and eat in moderation.  Avoid processed foods, foods with high sugar, fried food, fast foods (also known as "junk food"). In moderation, eat complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are plant-based, whole grain foods such as oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, or as an ingredient within a food such as whole grain bread or pasta. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, beans, peas, and lentils are also complex carbs.

3. Be aware of your liquid drinks.  Calories in liquid drinks can add up so check for nutritional info and serving size. Due to the nutritional value, liquids such as protein drinks are a better choice than apple juice or a mixed coffee beverage. After some procedures, alcohol is absorbed quickly and you will feel the effects faster which can cause you to become intoxicated on small amounts. Alcohol beverages contain calories but provide minimal nutrition.

4. Eliminate grazing and emotional eating. Grazing is the habit of eating small amounts throughout the day. Grazing is usually mindless eating compared to planning out your food for the day. Emotional eating is when you turn to food as an emotional response.  This could be for uncomfortable emotions, to self-medicate what you're experiencing or feeling happy, celebratory or reward yourself. Avoid emotional eating by distracting yourself until the craving passes. Grazing and emotional eating are causes for weight regain.

5. Eat mindfully. Eating mindfully allows you to fully savor what you're eating. Ways to eat mindfully are eating slower, chew thoroughly, paying attention to the flavor and textures of food, and putting your fork down between bites.  Mindless eating is the hand-to-mouth pattern when you've consumed food without being aware of how much you've eaten and aren't aware of your fullness level.

6. Portion control.  Portion control is an important component to weight loss and getting back on track. When you plan your meals, you are able to visually determine the portion sizes right for you.  When you know your portions, you won't as easily succumb to portion distortion.

7. Drink water. Have you replaced drinking water with different beverages or high caloric fluids?  Our bodies need water to stay healthy, vibrant and energetic.  Water has a critical role in every system of our bodies. Make a goal to drink at least 64 ounces of water per day to keep hydrated.

8.  Don't drink with your meals. Think of your surgical tool as a funnel. When you eat, the food is at the base of the funnel which causes satiety.  If you drink fluid with meals, the food gets flushed through your pouch so you have minimal satiety.  Without a sense of satiety, we will become hungry within a short period of time.

9.  Exercise and stay active. Exercising is an important component for a healthy body. There are many reasons to exercise such as more energy, burn calories, improve your mood and self-esteem, and increase your health.  Find an exercise or activity that you love and enjoy so it feels less like "exercise" and more like "having fun."

10.  Vitamin supplementation and lab tests.  Taking vitamins after weight loss surgery is an absolute must for anyone that has had weight loss surgery.  If you've been off track and neglected your vitamins, start taking them now. If you haven't been to your surgeon or doctor in over a year, make an appointment for a physical and lab tests.  Vitamin deficiencies can occur, and make you feel lethargic and the cause of low energy.  You may have physical symptoms of deficiencies but don't recognize them as vitamin deficiencies.

11.  Sleep.  The recommendation for duration of sleep for the average adult is eight hours.  When you're tired, fatigued or don't get good quality sleep it impacts our decision-making and impulse control, i.e. food choices.  When you're rested, you feel better, more apt to be active and exercise plus make healthy food choices instead of reaching for comfort or fast foods.

12. Get logging.  Tracking your food gives you accountability and an overview of what you are, or aren't, doing. In addition to accountability, tracking is a good way to bust out of the complacency rut.

13.  Be active within the bariatric community.  When you are active on message boards, not only are you giving support to others but to yourself as well. Make sure to stop by your surgical procedure message board to check in with other OH community members that have the same weight loss surgery procedure as you. For extra support for getting or staying on track, consider joining the Back On Track Together OH Group.

14.  Attend regular support group meetings.  Support group meetings are composed of other WLS'ers.  While our stories and bariatric surgery procedures may be different, we share the experience of being morbidly obese, pre-op's and living as weight loss surgery post-ops.  We are with others that understand and appreciate the weight loss surgery journey of each support group member.

15. Create small goals. Getting back on track can be broken down into achievable goals.  Maybe you need to get back to a couple of the healthy habits in this article, or maybe you need to get back to most of them. When you create the momentum of being on track, you're less apt to go off track again.

16. Keep your head in the game. Getting back on track is a mindset. Make the commitment to yourself that you're ready and follow through by your choices and actions. Being on track isn't a diet but it is a lifestyle. If you have a meal or a day that you've eaten off track, get back on track and continue on. Don't let one day turn into one week or one month. Keeping your head in the game of being on track will carry you through the challenges and reach the success you want from your weight loss surgery.

Bariatric Surgeons Weigh-In

 Dmitri Baranov, M.D., PhD, F.A.C.S. explains that "It is important to follow-up with your bariatric surgeon not only to ensure your well-being but also to check your blood vitamin levels, as they are not routinely checked by primary care physicians. He recommends that bariatric patients follow 4 simple dietary rules, 1) eat 3 solid, protein-based meals/day; no meal skipping 2) do not eat and drink at the same time, 3) stop drinking 30 minutes before the meal, and resume drinking 45-60 min after the meal and 4) avoid liquid calories such as soda, milk, and juices.
Dietician for Dr. William A. Graber's practice, Evelyn Mariani, MS, RD, CDN shares her three favorite tips: 1) Portion Control: Bariatric surgery is the best tool for portion control. The more solid the food is, the less you'll eat of it, therefore the portion control falls into line. 2) Stay Active & Exercise: There are countless benefits to exercise and stay active such as to build muscle that will make a difference in how you look. A patient weighing 180 lbs with more muscle mass versus 180 lbs with more fat mass will look different and likely fit into different sized clothes. 3)Get Support: I recommend OH and any/all support wherever a bariatric patient can get it. Support is a huge factor for long-term success.
Guillermo Alvarez, M.D. 's shares his four back on track guidelines, 1) WLS is not a guarantee.  Surgery goes a long way to avoid simple carbs. Avoid simple carbs and maximize your results, 2) have an accountability partner to exercise with and share simple low carb recipes, 3) the secret to maintaining weight loss long term is to avoid bread, pasta, rice, white potatoes, and processed foods. Eat whole natural foods for life and 4) follow up with your surgeon and keep in touch.
Every day is an opportunity for you to recommit to your weight loss surgery healthy lifestyle. When you get off track, the basics will be your guide to getting right back on track and staying the course to live a healthy, fulfilling life after bariatric surgery.
Get Back on Track
cathy wilson


Cathy Wilson, PCC, BCC, had RNY surgery in 2001 and lost 147 pounds. Cathy is a regular contributor to the OH Blog and authored the "Mind Matters" column in ObesityHelp Magazine. Cathy is a licensed pilot and loves flying. She is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).

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