The big losers do not necessarily have more willpower or desire. The important difference between the big losers and the re-gainers may be how easy they find the journey to be. Surprisingly, you can control a large part of how easy or hard it is to lose weight. The weight loss journey is not just about changing your digestive system through surgery. It is also about changing your entire lifestyle to facilitate weight loss.
Weight Loss Surgery is a Weight Loss Tool, Not a Cure
Weight loss surgery is a tool. It can make you less hungry by reducing the size of your stomach by inserting a band around your stomach (Lap-band), removing the majority of your stomach pouch (vertical sleeve gastrectomy) or folding or stapling away the majority of your stomach pouch (gastric bypass, duodenal switch, and sleeve plication). The vertical sleeve gastrectomy reduces hunger by reducing the amount of ghrelin, a hunger hormone, that your stomach produces. The gastric bypass and duodenal switch reduce nutrient absorption.
All of these surgeries can help you eat less and lose weight, but none of these surgeries are fail-proof. You can “cheat” by eating high-calorie foods, drinking high-calorie beverages, drinking beverages while you eat solid foods, and eating without measuring your portions. Successful weight loss requires good choices on your part, and making good choices is easier if you focus on your entire lifestyle, not just the part of your digestive system that was changed with surgery.
The Influence of Your Surroundings on Your Weight
Think about this scenario. You leave home without breakfast and order a muffin and ice coffee at the drive-through on your way to work. You grab a doughnut at your morning meeting, and go out for lunch with your friends. You order the lunch special with a salad, breadstick, fettuccine alfredo and cheesecake. You nibble on some chocolates from your secretary’s desk as you make your way to the vending machine for a soda in the afternoon. You pick up a pizza on your way home because you know that there is nothing else for dinner.
Now compare it to this second scenario. You wake up early to meet your friend for a walk before you get home for a breakfast of scrambled egg whites and spinach. You drive to work and have yogurt and some fruit at your morning meeting. Lunch with your coworkers consists of a green salad with canned tuna, and you have a hard-boiled egg for your afternoon snack. You are able to get dinner on the table quickly when you get home because you only need to defrost the meals that you prepared earlier in the week.
Which scenario do you think you can help you lose weight? The second one, of course. So why not make it a reality?
Do Your Surroundings Encourage Weight Loss or Weight Gain?
You have battled your weight for years, if not for your entire life before weight loss surgery. In all likelihood, your environment was set up for you to eat. Take a good, hard look at your environment. Is it more like the first scenario or the second one described above? You have the ability to make it more like the second one. Notice the following items from the two scenarios.
- Exercise was automatic in the second one because you planned to meet a friend – so you couldn’t back out.
- Preparing your dinners ahead of time meant that you could eat quickly without going to a fast food restaurant.
- Packing your own snacks meant that you did not have to eat a doughnut in your morning meeting or chocolates in the afternoon.
Make the “Right” Choice Automatic
The fewer tough choices you have, the less likely you are to make poor decisions. Set up your environment so that the healthier actions are easier.
To make healthy eating easier:
- Prepare plenty of meals ahead of time so that you always have a ready-to-eat, healthy option to prevent you from opting for take-out.
- Throw away the take-out menus that you used to store in the kitchen. The extra time it takes you to look up the phone numbers and menus online may be enough to let you come to your sense and realize that you don’t want fast food.
- Keep your kitchen stocked with all kinds of healthy foods, so that no matter your craving, you have a healthy answer.
- Do not keep unhealthy foods at home. If they are not there, you cannot eat them.
- Make sure that the healthy option is the default option. For example, measure your cheese and cut and wash fruits and vegetables ahead of time so that it is easier to snack on them than on cookies.
Also consider these ideas:
- Meet your friends for walks or shopping trips instead of for meals at restaurants.
- Park your car a few blocks away from work so that you have no choice but to walk those few blocks again at the end of the day as you leave work.
- Do not drive past drive-thrus if they are too tempting. Also, do not keep money in the car, and consider removing your car’s cup holders so that eating in the car is no longer an option.
All weight loss surgery patients have their own struggles. Far from being wimpy, removing these obstacles rather than fighting them is the best way to overcome them. The weight loss journey path will always have speed bumps and potholes, but it will be a lot smoother if you set up your lifestyle to promote better choices all day.