Keeping Yourself Motivated After Bariatric SurgeryOctober 25, 2017
Motivation! This topic is one that people LOVE to discuss, and one that many people struggle with.
"I need motivation."
"Ugh, I'm not motivated to do anything."
"How do I get motivated?"
"How do I stay motivated?"
"I'm so not motivated."
The thing is motivation is not lost and it's not hidden. Motivation is not an elusive bird, nor are you the hunter trying to catch the said elusive bird.
Motivation is not something you catch, get bitten by, or find. Motivation is cultivated through practice, and in taking action over time.
Motivation, as defined by Webster’s dictionary is, “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.”
Take Action And Get Motivated After Bariatric Surgery
Therefore, motivation is actually the REASON you have for taking action. However, many people believe that in order to have action, you need motivation. Contrary to popular belief….
Action precedes motivation.
Just the thought of this may make your eyes twitch, and that's okay. I'll say it again.
Action precedes motivation.
This means you take action first. You just do it. If you wait for motivation, you could be waiting for a long, long, long time. Change your mindset to take action.
However, if you start taking action toward your goals by hitting the gym, going for a walk, lifting those kettlebells, or meeting with that trainer, you will soon be motivated to continue.
Many people think they need motivation to begin. Not true. The only thing you need to begin is a decision. Once you've decided, start moving. Get into action and begin.
The subject of motivation actually has a lot to do with emotional readiness, and the "WHY" behind someone is doing something as I stated above using the definition from the dictionary.
There is a specific result that people want from taking action. This is also why motivation is linked with setting and achieving goals. If someone believes that it will take a lot of hard, consistent work to get to a specific result, they will likely avoid the task and have low motivation because of the anticipated or perceived pain involved (emotional, physical, mental, etc.) in getting to their desired result or goal. In other words, they procrastinate and then the task feels bigger and in turn, they believe they have low, or no motivation.
However, if someone believes, "this will be easy", then the perception is that their motivation is higher because it is expected they will reach their goal faster, easier, and with less perceived physical, mental, and/or emotional pain.
Motivation is actually a mix of:
- Having a stated goal
- Whether you believe you'll hit the state goal
- The amount of work you THINK you need to put in
- The perceived pain or discomfort you expect as a result of taking action
- What you THINK you have to give up to reach the stated goal
- The ability to push oneself past the emotional/physical discomfort, and focusing on what you have to gain, instead of what you will be losing, in order to take action
Now that I've explained about motivation and what's blocking you from keeping yourself motivated, it's going to be so much easier to explain how to keep yourself motivated after bariatric surgery.
5 Ways To Stay Motivated After Bariatric Surgery
1. Determine your “WHY”
Write down on a sheet of paper why you had weight loss surgery and what it would do for your life.
Write down what losing the weight, once and for all will mean for your life, your family, your career, etc.
Get clear on WHY you made this decision and what you REALLY want.
I know that you want more than the weight loss. You want to feel a certain way. You want to experience things that you haven’t been able to experience before. You want to do things that you could not do before.
Get clear on what you want to develop your big “WHY,” so that you can get clear on your motivation.
2. Create Your New Practice
Remember, action creates motivation.
Whatever tasks you know you need to do, JUST DO IT!! Don’t think about it too much, just take action!
Write the healthy meal plan, get the nutritious food, go workout, and keep doing it over and over and over. The act of practicing an activity over and over creates ease over time because you get used to doing it. The first time you do anything, it's difficult. The more you take action, the easier it will get. Also, as the weight comes off, you'll feel better moving in your body because there will be less to carry around.
3. Make a Commitment & Follow Through
Push back on your "I don't feel like it right now" type feelings. Get into the commitment zone. This is about you and you. Commit to taking action, no matter what, and then follow through on what you said you would do. Drop the attachment to feelings. At first, it’s going to be hard, and the more you build a practice, the easier it will get.
Also, I get it. This whole process may be all new for you. You may not have ever worked out and you may absolutely hate exercise. This is the point at which you baby-step it. You go for 5 minutes, then 10, then 15, etc. You lift 2lbs and then 5lbs, and so on.
Commit to moving your body, no matter what.
With food, create a meal plan that is both healthy and tasty. Get the recipes that have the macros and nutrition that you need for your body. Commit to healthy eating. Commit to getting your water in.
This is the time to push back on those feelings because the feelings are not a true indicator of success or failure. They are just feelings, and when you take action consistently, you will see what a difference it makes in your feelings, your mood, and your motivation.
The more you do something, the easier it gets. Refer back to #1 - just begin. The more you think about doing or not doing something, there is too much time allocated toward thinking and you can easily talk yourself out of "doing". So, by taking action and getting your body into motion, eating the healthy foods, you will feel better. Additionally, the more frequently you are stuck on the fence of whether to go to the gym, what to make for dinner, etc., the less you actually trust yourself. Then this lack of self-trust actually builds more resistance, thereby causing less motivation.
4. Set Mini-Goals & Focus on RESULTS
Set mini-goals that make you feel good. Instead of looking at the scale, set goals for inches or your pant/shirt size every 4-6 weeks.
This will show you that you are getting there. This will also illicit your "belief" which in turn impacts your "motivation" because you will see "oh wow, I've got this!"
Start to look more at your NSVs (non-scale victories).
What did you achieve this week?
How many workouts did you get in?
How much water did you get in?
How many times did you avoid the snack machine at work?
These are all WINS! Celebrate your wins and mark down your results. Over the course of a month, you’ll see how much you are growing and how much this impacts both your weight and your whole life long term.
5. Get an Accountability Buddy
As you go through this process, there will be days when you struggle. You are human. I am human. And like you, I’ve been through this process. I get that you will have rough days when you don’t want to exercise or eat chicken while your family is eating pasta. However, when you have someone to help you stay on task and keep you focused that you report to, or complain to, it will help you diffuse the feelings that will come up.
Having someone by your side that says “hey, I get it and you need to keep going, no matter what,” is essential. Many individuals who have had bariatric surgery have had enablers in their lives who have allowed self-sabotaging behaviors to exist. Those friends and family do not serve your best interest in helping you reach your goals. They want you to love them and they want to be accepted by you. When they smack food out of your hand, they expect that you may not like that, so they try to comfort and console you. However, that’s how you got here, and that’s NOT something you want to go back to. They may love and care for you, however, they are not going to help you by telling you it’s okay to go back to eating chips and soda for lunch. Period.
Make sure that you find someone who will call you out on your poor choices or bad behaviors. That person will help you stay on track and help you move forward with your weight loss and weight maintenance plan. If you enlist and enabler as an accountability partner, you may find yourself stuck at a regain and not know why. This is a time to be very transparent with yourself and to be super honest about your patterns of behavior with your best interest in mind.
It’s also important that you don’t attract the food police either. A good accountability partner keeps you on track, calls you out on your behaviors and supports you and celebrates you when your behaviors are on track.
And, if you are really stuck or find yourself hiding food, or overeating frequently, work with a therapist or an eating disorder specialist as there may be deeper issues than accountability.
ABOUT THE AUTHORKristin Lloyd-Moussa, MS, LPC/LMHC, PhD-Candidate is a licensed psychotherapist and certified transformational mindset mentor 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 "Bariatric Mindset Success: Live Your Best Life and Keep The Weight Off After Weight Loss Surgery" book.
Read more articles from Kristin!