Top 3 Things to Remember After Bariatric Surgery
Imagine that you decided today that you were going to go out tomorrow and run a marathon.
Now if you made that choice, and you decided you were going to run a marathon, you were going to finish it and make it all the way to the end, what do you think the possibility is that you were going to finish the race?I know for me – not gonna happen. No way, no how would I finish that race.
So, let’s step back a minute.
In order to get ready to do anything like that, we have to start with something simple like taking a walk down the street. For some of us it is walking up the driveway.
We have to start by working on that first step (literally) and not focus on getting to the end of the marathon right away.
That’s what it’s like with our bariatric surgery journey:
#1: Focus on Progress vs. Perfection.
We aren’t going to get it perfect. We just aren’t. None of us do. I certainly haven’t.
That’s the first big mindset shift we have to make in this journey.
Every step we take forward is a step toward the goal. Just like in the marathon analogy, we have to focus on taking the first step before we can even attempt to do more. We have to get past day one before we can even think about the rest of our life.
#2: Drop the Diet Mentality
All of us have been on some sort of diet (probably all the diets).
They asked us to remove some sort of food from our diet, and it restricts us from what we are able to eat.
I know when I’m restricted and somebody tells me I can’t do something –
Oh. My. Gosh.
It puts me in the mindset of “Oh, yeah? Tell me I can’t do it? Then that’s all I’m gonna think of!”
We have to break out of that diet mentality because that brings on our cravings and leads us to obsess about those things that we aren’t supposed to have. We have to start thinking about this in a different way.
Early on in our surgery journey, there are things that we are not supposed to have, obviously. We know the things we are supposed to have, too.
Protein first is an always. The healthy carbs are an always. But the doughnuts, the cakes, the different things like that? Those are not a never!
I really want you to hear me say that:
THOSE ARE NOT A NEVER. They are a NOT NOW.
You can have a very, very small amount of these things later on if your body allows it.
I want you to change from that diet mentality of total restriction to a not now.
I’m 15 years out and there are holidays that I choose certain small amounts of desserts that I have a couple of bites of and that’s enough. I know that this is something I can choose to have after I have my proteins, if I have that desire, and I choose what really is special.
My mom made fudge at Christmas. That was a big deal for me. I had like a single bite of fudge, and you know what? It was enough because I knew I could have it again LATER. I think we forget about that.
We live in a society where we can get these things when we want them. So we don’t have to go to this place of “Oh my gosh, I have to eat everything because I’ll never be able to have them again!” No, silly! They’re always available! So we need to get out of that diet mentality of never and switch to not now.
#3.Think Like a Toddler
Wait, what? What is she talking about? Think about it. When we see a baby obviously, they can’t walk, they can’t talk, they can’t do a lot of anything. But as they grow, what happens when they take their first steps?
Do they stay down? No, they don’t stay down. If they did, we would be still down on the ground.
Could you imagine?
All these 20, 30, 40, 80-year-old’S laying around on the ground trying to do everything that we do on a day-to-day basis?
Babies and toddlers don’t know how to give up. That’s something we learn as we get older that giving up as a possibility! We have to start thinking like a toddler and know that progress is okay, and that it’s okay to not get it perfect all the time.
So, when I say that we have to think like a toddler, every step you make on your journey is progress.
Now if you eat something that you’re not supposed to, okay you’ve fallen. So what would you do if you were a toddler? You’d get up and you try again, right? One bad choice, one bad meal, one bad day – one day that you chose not to go to the gym or drink enough water – doesn’t have to turn into two days, three days, a week, a month.
You can choose to get back up and try again.
Here is your homework:
Get yourself a calendar and start tracking the number of days that you feel like you are making progress in one area (notice I said ONE area, not EVERY area) whether it’s drinking enough water, getting in your protein, getting in some sort of activity (Notice I didn’t say exercise).
Whatever it is, track that through the month.
Put a checkmark on the days that you do it, don’t put anything on the days you don’t.
What I want you to do with this is to look at those weeks throughout the month and say:
“Wow! Look at all these days that I DID accomplish that goal.” (because it’s about what? Progress!)
We’re doing it one day at a time then one week the time. After that go to the next month: Do it again.
We have to work on the progress. We’re not going to get it perfect.
And that’s okay.
Amanda has a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Phoenix and is licensed in professional counseling in the states of Georgia and Colorado. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Health Psychology to improve her understanding of the mind and body connection.
She has been providing counseling in a variety of settings, including community mental health, hospitals and in private practice since 2011. She has been serving adults with depression, anxiety, chronic pain and illness as well as individuals who have had or are considering bariatric surgery. Having had successful bariatric surgery in 2005, Amanda has a special interest in this community. She enjoys working with her clients using a variety of therapeutic approaches, including solution-focused and a blend of person-centered and narrative approaches.