Apr 05, 2013
I can't tell you how often I read a post on one of the message boards from a panicked, scared fellow WLSer who has regained either a small or a significant amount of weight over the years since their operation. The common themes among these posts are fear, shame, and even complete hopelessness. I think that often these individuals don't realize that they are not alone and that they have taken a HUGE first step by acknowledging their issues in a semi-public setting. We can't solve a problem that we are unwilling to admit is there.
I liken this to my bipolar II depression. For a long time I didn't want to admit that it was as big a problem as it really was. It wasn't until it very nearly destroyed a relationship with someone dear to me that I admitted to myself and my psychiatrist that my refusing to take medication for it was doing more harm than good. I'd always thought "If I tried harder, I could beat it on my own." But that isn't the case when there's a true, chemical problem in the brain. Something is off-kilter. A diabetic wouldn't say "Oh, I don't need to test my blood sugar or take my insulin." They might end up in a diabetic coma! So, what was I really doing? I was hurting myself and people around me because I didn't believe that I had a disease that required treatment and regular maintenance. When I finally said, "Yes, I have a problem and I need more help" to my psychiatrist, I was able to begin the road to finding a treatment that truly worked for me.
So...you're 2+ years out and the pounds are creeping back. You're ashamed, you feel like you've failed at WLS, you're afraid of judgment, and you might even feel some self-hate. What is that going to do? Nothing. But if you say out loud, "Look, this is what happened and I need help," then you can get some advice, or get that off of your chest and not feel so alone in the struggle. Everyone on here has been there, stuck in a body that makes them feel unhappy and unhealthy. And so from time to time, we have to remember that our bodies require maintenance and healthy treatment.
My advice to long-term post-ops looking to lose re-gained weight or lose more weight to reach a goal (I wanted to be considered in the 'normal' weight for my height) is pretty static. It's about taking simple, small steps, and adding new ones in as you become comfortable with the steps you've taken thus far.
You can have the success that you are looking for, I promise. You have to believe that you CAN. Say out loud "I WILL!" and start with something small. Whether it be taking the stairs in lieu of the elevator, picking a hard-boiled egg or string cheese over a sugary granola bar for a snack, or just taking some time to meditate past a head-hunger craving, every single small step counts.
These are the steps that I took, and those I suggest to others who have goals that they are determined to achieve. Please remember that what I write here is what worked for me, so please consider it in the context of your own limits and expectations:
-Eat whole foods and avoid things that have been heavily processed (i.e. bagged sandwich breads, frozen foods--too much sodium and preservatives, and boxed mixes.) The cleaner and more local foods you eat, the better satiated your body will be. Make friends with some of your local farmers and go to local markets if you have them.
-If you eat starches as I do, be sure that you are eating whole grain ones that have a high fiber content. These are more satiating and you will find that you crave a little bit less, and every little bit counts. If you are so inclined, learn to bake your own bread and have even more control over what is in it. High fiber will also aid your digestion, as will things like yogurt with live active cultures. It is my opinion that denying carbohydrates in any amount or thinking of certain foods as "bad" leads to feelings of resentment. For me, that triggered binges, so I focus on balance now.
-Pick one day a week to make meals ahead of time. The worst problem I encounter is when I don't have options for meals and make quick, not ideal choices. I usually slow cook something, make some noodles, soup, and a cold salad and keep those in the fridge or freezer for easy access to pre-portioned meals.
-Exercise! If you're already exercising, try increasing the length or doing something different. I found that my body gets used to a certain kind of exercise if I do it for awhile and I'd end up stalling my progress. Now I alternate yoga, running, being on the elliptical, and some strength training for maximum benefit.
-Remember the basics: Protein first, veggies second, starches third. If my plate were to be divided into four quadrants, two would be taken up by protein, one by veggies, and one by a healthy whole grain like brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, whole grain noodles, or homemade bread. The starch only gets eaten once I get enough protein at the meal.
-Measure your portions. You might think you're eyeballing it correctly, but it takes a whole extra 10 seconds to toss it on a kitchen scale. I like my portions of bread to be 2 oz. or less, and my protein to be anywhere from 4-6 oz. I also log my food and exercise daily on a tracking website to assure that I am getting adequate protein and other nutrients. This also helps me see long-term trends in my weight loss and maintenance.
-Be compassionate. Some days you will want a cookie. Eat a (small) cookie and move forward. Don't take the time to beat yourself up, because all it will do is start a binge. Be kind to yourself.
-And finally, come and vent here when you feel frustrated. We are always here to listen and support you.
Do you want to be Batman? Superman? All around healthy and strong? You CAN. Take it from someone who has been 280 lbs and stands here nine years later at 139-144 on any given day, acknowledging that it is still hard work every single day. But that does not mean impossible. That does not mean miserable.
BELIEVE in success. When you start to hear yourself saying, "I can't," Get that apostrophe and letter 't" out. Kiss them goodbye!
You can and you will. And if you really want to be Batman, well...here's living proof:
With all my very best wishes,