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Is It Possible To Love Exercise After Bariatric Surgery?

February 4, 2019

I specialize in exercise for a living and sometimes I dread doing it myself, but at the same time, I’ve come to love it!  If exercise is something that doesn’t come naturally, how can you embrace it and come to love it?

How to Love Exercise After Bariatric Surgery

Yes, it is possible to love exercise after bariatric surgery. The best way to accomplish something that may seem impossible is to learn how to love exercise for what it does, and not what it is. Let's take a look at the difference.

What Exercise Is…

If you only think about what exercise is, I’m right there with you in thinking…“no thanks”! Because, in general, exercise can be hard (especially if you’re out of shape or carrying excess weight), it makes you sweat, it expends energy, it can be difficult to find time to do it, it makes you breathe hard, and it increases your heart rate.

What Exercise Does…

Take a moment to think about what exercise does for you. Exercise does more than you probably ever realized to include: increasing caloric expenditure, decreases body fat, increasing lean muscle mass, improves mood, decreases stress, improves sleep, increases self-confidence, improves strength, improves balance, improves bone health, improves mobility and flexibility, increases cardiovascular fitness, improves posture, improves balance, improves body image, decreases joint pain, increases mental clarity and concentration, improves resting heart rate, decreases inflammation, releases the “feel good” neurotransmitters, regulates blood sugar, decreases your risk of cancer, reduces your risk of stroke, prevents disease, decreases blood pressure, improves cholesterol, and the list could honestly go on and on.

I’ve often used this discussion in my motivational talks to get people pumped up to exercise…I go around the room and ask people to list a benefit of exercise and tell them they can’t repeat the same benefit.

I’ve never had a situation, no matter how many people were in the audience, where we couldn’t think of a new benefit.  The bottom line is that EXERCISE IS THE MAGIC PILL! If we could pack exercise up into a pill it would be the most widely distributed medication in the world; especially considering there is not a single negative side effect.  Unless of course, you focus on what exercise is versus what it does for your body. Not only would the exercise pill be the most widely distributed medication, but it would also likely put many pharmaceutical companies out of business since the health benefits are insurmountable.

Weight Loss and Exercise

And what about weight loss? It’s true that exercise in and of itself doesn’t foster a great deal of weight loss, but if you choose not to exercise after bariatric surgery, you are almost guaranteed to gain some or all of your weight back the further you get out from your surgery date. The reason being is that weight loss decreases your metabolic rate. This occurs because it takes less energy to sustain a smaller body mass. Additionally, as you age your metabolism decreases about two to three percent per decade; we’re all getting older so we can’t do much about this phenomenon. And since you’re taking in a lot less food post-bariatric surgery, the thermogenic effect of food also goes down resulting in a slower metabolism.

The only real thing you have to bank on to reverse these trends of slowing the metabolism is exercise. The more fit you are the more calories your body will burn even when you’re not exercising. In short, exercise is your insurance for long term weight loss and weight management. But remember, you must invest in your insurance of exercise through regular and consistent physical activity.

Bariatric Fitness

If you’ve had bariatric surgery or are contemplating the surgery, start your journey of exercise today. In my book, "Bariatric Fitness For Your New Life"  you'll learn where you can start and it gives a functional approach to long term sustainable weight loss. Bariatric surgery is a highly effective way to take control of your weight, but it’s only one part of the solution. A sound exercise program combined with healthy nutrition that is individualized for your current health and fitness level are key components to long term success. Plus, it will give you the tools you need for success!

Julia Karlstad


Julia Karlstad is the President and Founder of JKFITNESS, LLC. She has worked in the fitness industry and specifically the medical wellness community for several years. She holds three nationally recognized fitness certifications and constantly pursue venues to further her formal education. Julia is CPR/AED certified and an active member of the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the American Diabetic Association and the Obesity Action Coalition. She is the author of Bariatric Fitness For Your New Life.