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There’s No Elevator to Success After Bariatric Surgery

September 30, 2019

When it comes to success after bariatric surgery, imagine that you are in front of a set of stairs. There are only these stairs to climb. Would you quickly go up the set or would you go slowly stair by stair? If you’re like most of us, you’d go quickly, not thinking too much about them because it is a short distance and you would have little fear of getting winded. When taking the stairs quickly, you'd give it little thought because the ride is a short one.

Now imagine that instead of this single flight of stairs and you have twenty of them to climb. Would the way you travel change? Would your rate of travel speed up or slow down? Would you go up those stairs non-stop or would you plan for breaks? It would likely change your overall plan to get up those twenty flights.

Being a long-term post-op, the journey changes from a quick ascent to slower one. Your body has adapted to changes and is preparing for the long journey ahead: the rest of your life.

When you decide to buckle down and attempt to lose weight or to lose regain, your body knows that the ascent is no longer going to be a fast and easy, quick break. It knows that the long haul has started and that it wants slow and consistent.

If you go at too quick of a pace and try to get the weight off quickly, you may find that your body will be extremely winded at the top of the first few stairwells. You might get a quarter up that staircase, become frustrated, overwhelmed and pissed off that you’ve run “out of breath” and where does that lead you? It usually leads you to stay on that floor and seek the elevator because you have tried to do too much too soon.

Pace Yourself For Long-Term Success After Bariatric Surgery

Planning and going slow will do something completely different. First, you will be prepared to make sure that you have all the tools you need to climb those stairs.

Second, you will go at a pace that means you can be comfortable rather than uncomfortable, take breathers when you need it rather than feel a sense of panic (e.g., an indulgence once in a while), and finding your own pace will allow you to keep up your own momentum, independent of anyone around you.

The trick as with anything else is to keep up the momentum with motivation and encouragement.

When it comes to food, if you don’t have a plan you ENJOY the frustration will come in because you aren’t happy. We still have to enjoy foods, or we won’t enjoy eating, and that will lead to frustration and possible binge eating. Food has to still be enjoyable to be eaten.

When it comes to exercise, you too have to have a manageable plan. A plan you can live with. Most people won’t spend 6 hours daily at the gym. Finding happiness in a workout or a walk isn’t a bad thing. It just has to be about what you enjoy and finding purposeful balance.

Imagine how you are climbing that set of stairs. There is no one there but you. The walls are echoing your footsteps. There’s no music. Just the sound of you. How do you feel? For me some, they may feel calm. For others, there would be a sense of boredom and frustration.

Getting Support

Now imagine as you are going that you are talking with a friend or someone is saying an encouraging phrase such as “You got this!” or “Keep going!”. That’s what friendship and support groups are all about. If you are feeling like the walls are echoing around you and you need support, talk to people in these groups, visit your support groups, find mentors, and make new friends. An army behind you will be one of the best ways for most to be encouraged, to find motivation and to feel like a part of a team!

So share your struggles. Share your plan. Don’t be quiet! Encourage and be encouraged. Have patience with yourself. It’s okay to be a turtle! We will get there!

Remember there is no elevator to success: you have to take the stairs!

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Dawn Rudling Stefani


Dawn Rudling Stefani had surgery in 2006 and has been an avid member of ObesityHelp since her pre-op days. Her OH username is “Diminishing Dawn.” She is an advocate and a strong supporter of the weight loss community, runs her local support group, and is an elementary school teacher. She is very active in weight loss surgery groups on Facebook and enjoys making new acquaintances with other WLS patients. Read more articles from Dawn!