avoid weight regain

Avoid Weight Regain After Bariatric Surgery With This Technique

June 28, 2017

When you start down on the road toward bariatric surgery, you are likely given direction by your physicians or surgeons to make some behavioral changes prior to surgery. They put you on a diet and tell you to start an exercise routine to show that you can do it. The thought of having to avoid weight regain after your surgery probably wasn't a focus at that time.

You show them that you can do this - yet most people in the back of their minds are thinking "I've just got to get to surgery, then I've got this. It will be easy and will be downhill from there, the surgery will carry me."  Most people carry this mindset or way of thinking because the idea of changing forever is too emotionally and mentally overwhelming. Clearly, this is the exact same reason that diets fail and people feel shamed into believing they are stuck. It's short-term thinking, yet looking at "forever" can be emotionally daunting and many people avoid thinking about it.

Here's the thing, bariatric surgery changes you forever and as a tool, it's so important that you utilize it as such to the best of your ability.

The true change happens one step at a time and that begins one day at a time. Each step taken toward the new lifestyle change is one-day closer you are to reaching those long-term goals. Furthermore, the easiest and fastest way to change is to take things slowly. Yes, I just put the words "fast and slow" in the same sentence and that is intentional.

When you take things one step at a time and build momentum, you'll get to your goal faster than if you repeat the same cycle that you've been on forever. When you shift your mindset and your habits, everything changes. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is the body. People lose weight much quicker after bariatric surgery and keep it off with the proper tools and support.

However, most people have poor habits which have led to weight gain. This is why the technique of shifting your mindset is so important for the lifestyle change following bariatric surgery. Mindset and habit shifts are instrumental for bariatric patients to utilize so that they lose the weight and gain the long-term success they desire.

Avoid Weight Regain After Bariatric Surgery – Believe In YOURSELF

Start by BEING who you want to become. Think about the healthier, lighter, more fit version of yourself. What does this person do? How does this person eat?

Lifestyle change begins with thinking differently, and altering your beliefs about yourself, and then taking action on them.

Most people focus on who they are NOT, what they are NOT, and all that they will never become. This is a sad way to think, yet with the same patterns repeating over and over, the belief system of a bariatric patient has taken some pretty serious hits over the years. This isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve started and stopped a dozen times and you may have even lost and gained hundreds of pounds over the years.

This time you want it to end with lost weight, and a changed physique. You have the surgery on your side, now it’s time to build your belief muscle and not allow self-sabotage to get in the way.

This begins with your mindset. Your mindset is made up of multiple things including your belief systems about yourself, your circumstances, what’s possible for you, and your perceived limitations. Success and failure both live in the mind.

When your mindset is altered, you have the opportunity to see that there are no limitations but the ones that you create inside the mind.

Most people focus on what they are losing instead of what they are gaining. It’s time to look at what you can gain by saying “no” to the old patterns, and yes to yourself that will make the greatest impact. Also, following through even when you don’t feel like it, is part of shifting your mindset toward success.

Start shifting your mindset by looking at what you CAN do instead of what you cannot do.

Focus your mind on what you desire for your body, your lifestyle, your relationships, your career, and so on.

MINDSET TIP:  Write down all the things you’d like to achieve as you are losing the weight and once you lose the weight. Create incremental steps.

One of the things people have shared with me is that they’ll finally be able to sit in a regular airline seat, or go kayaking without the fear of tipping the boat, or for a long walk without needing to sit down and rest.

Whatever your goals, put a copy where you can look at it daily. Put another copy in the kitchen to remind you of what you’re working towards.

Build the muscle of belief regarding what you CAN do, and look for ONE new “CAN” each week. Then keep a weekly success log of what you’ve accomplished.

Habit Shifting – Bariatric Lifestyle Change

Habit shifting is about altering your habits around food, exercise, and taking action.

Habit shifting is more than a behavioral change, it's also a change that happens in one's mindset as well. As shared previously, one’s mindset determines your outcome and is impacted by your mood, and other life circumstances. What you believe is what you become, and so if you want to become successful, then shifting your mindset is integral to the process.

Mindset shifts and new habits together create massive impact for the post-bariatric patient as they develop into long-term lifestyle changes.

If someone is used to going to the fridge every time they are bored or lonely, this is a habit. If they do it long enough, this becomes their lifestyle. Practicing different habits lead to different behaviors and different results. Additionally, when someone shifts their mindset and their habits about food and exercise, two very awesome things happen and both lead to long-term success.

First, they recognize, "Oh, this is my brain looking for food again because I'm bored." (or lonely, hungry, tired, etc.)

This builds self-awareness and helps to cultivate a mindset that helps to create behavioral change. Then they begin to recognize the situations that trigger their emotional or mental hunger.

Second, they recognize, "Oh, I need to do something differently. My old pattern was food, my new pattern is to do something I like that will interest me."

This builds the behavior change that takes someone away from the food and puts the focus on a new behavior, action, activity, etc. so that the person is engaged in other activities and not using food to soothe, feel better, remove uncomfortable emotions such as boredom for example.

In other words, it’s about doing something different. The goal is to remove the pain and implement a new pleasure source, which is your new “fun” activity that keeps you in action and moving toward your goals. This, in turn, works two-fold to keep your mind busy and off of food, while also helping you reach your desires of the new lifestyle you want to lead.

Each person had surgery for a reason, and most often it is because you want a healthier you. You want to move with greater ease and often I hear that many don't want to obsess about food anymore. This technique will help you as it will help you to recognize when you're mentally/emotionally hungry, you are then triggered to do something differently. This creates your habit shift and puts you on the path to weight loss success.

Additionally, it is valuable to think about who you want to be, and the person you are becoming after bariatric surgery. This is a lifestyle change that requires change. It happens in baby steps so anyone can do it.

What If I Fail?

Whenever beginning a path for a lifestyle change, there is always a margin for error. Set yourself up for success in your mindset and in behavior by going with the 80% rule. No one is perfect and many people set themselves up for failure by believing they have to “get it right” 100% of the time.

Maybe you went to the fridge and ate a piece of cheese indiscriminately and it was not a meal time. Instead of berating yourself or beating yourself up mentally/emotionally, write down what you learned from this experience so that you build awareness.

Mental flogging and shaming of oneself have never built a successful individual. It only leads to more fear, shame, and failure. Use your new success mindset to your advantage by looking at what you can learn from this experience and create steps that would help you be more aware for the next trigger that has you standing in front of the refrigerator. Put a post-it on your fridge that says “Is it meal-time yet?” or “are you just thirsty?” or “have you had all your required water?”. These are some good tools to jog your brain and helps you to create conscious eating and prevents mindless eating.

HABIT SHIFTING TIP:  Take things one step at a time. Just like you wouldn’t start juggling five balls at once, start small and begin with one new habit each week.

  1. Create a goal. (example: walking for 10min, only eating at meal times, etc.)
  2. Build awareness of what you are doing or not doing.
  3. Take action on the desired behavior, or shift your behavior by taking action in an alternate manner.
  4. Celebrate your success or learn from your attempts.
  5. Repeat the steps.

Grab a Journal

Each time you do any of the above exercises, you’ll begin to see your patterns and behaviors are changing. A journal is a great place to keep track of your exercises, your mindset shifts, habit shifts, and your successes. They may seem small at first, yet over time you’ll see how five pounds becomes one hundred, and your one-mile walk turns into a 5k run.

Using the Mindset/Habit shifting technique will help you avoid weight regain and keep you on track for all of your many lifelong successes.

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Kristin Lloyd, PhD is a licensed psychotherapist, mindset mentor, certified clinical hypnotherapist, and energy psychology practitioner guiding individuals to embrace healthy habits and fuller lives after WLS. A WLS patient herself, Kristin understands the challenges of WLS patients. She is the founder of Bariatric Mindset and author of the two bestselling books: Bariatric Mindset Success and Release Your Regain; both available on Amazon.
Read more articles from Dr. Kristin!