Bariatric Surgery Patients, “How I Keep the Weight Off!”
So you had the bariatric surgery. And you attended counseling and support groups. You read all the books and bariatric blogs, too. In fact, there’s nothing more you need to know, right? I wish it were as simple as that. Being well-educated about portion-control and exercise, aka book-smart, is not the same as thing as living through it. Because time goes by and life gets in the way of our best laid plans. With competing priorities our attention is not 100% on us alone. Slowly we forget what we learned and old habits creep in when we aren’t being vigilant.
So what do we do? How do we keep the weight off for life?
For that answer, I turned to the bariatric community and asked veteran bariatric surgery patients for their real-world solutions to long-term weight-loss. How do they do it? Here’s the best advice that was given.
Bariatric Eating is for Life
“My nutritionist recommends 100 g of protein a day. She says to balance protein and carbs at every meal 2:1. So that means 50 g of carbs a day. She says it is very important to achieve this balance at every meal because I have metabolic syndrome. I believe she says calories should be 1300 or less. I use fit day.com to plan my macros. She also recommended 80-100 oz. of water every day.”
“I follow Paleo/Primal. I eat 1200 calories (I am 180lbs, not thin by any means) per day but on exercise days, I eat as much as 1500 calories. I'm working in some of the tips for leptin resistance too, such as eating 30+ grams of protein within an hour of waking up. A protein shake before my breakfast (egg and cheese omelet) does that.”
“Protein first! Make protein 40%-50% of your daily food intake. Drink your water and water load before meals. And don't eat the white stuff: sugar and flour products.”
“Don't drink with meals. Seriously, you can eat more that way and it gets a lot easier the further out you get. It's not even uncomfortable when I do it but I personally worry what it could do to my intestines to wash down food like that. They're really pretty important to me. I don't think my stoma is stretched from it, I still have about 6-8oz of restriction and stay full for about an hour (and satiated a couple more after that) after eating. I even got "foamies" the other day I am 6 YEARS out!”
“No drinking with meals or at least 30 minutes after!”
“My meals and snacks are at least 50% of my entire intake for a meal. If it's not protein then I only eat it after I've finish a reasonable amount of protein. As we are aware the protein fills us up so if we eat it first there isn't much room available for anything else.”
“I always eat protein first and protein forward snacks. What works for me is eating the RNY diet 90% of the time; I do allow snacks and carbs occasionally as a treat but these I CAN and DO control.”
“I eat my proteins and veggies first. Then if there are any carbs on the plate, I literally take a tablespoon, 2 at most. I've learned to be OK with throwing away leftover carbs. I'm OK refrigerating leftover proteins and veggies for later.”
“For many years now I just eat real food – that means food that doesn’t have a “nutrition” label. I eat organic and in-season as much as possible. I don’t eat red meat. I follow the pouch rules and many of the principals of grain-free diets like Paleo/Primal. The pouch rules call for 1/2 of our plates to be filled with lean protein. Then 1/4 to be filled with raw or lightly cooked fresh veggies and the other quarter to be fresh fruit. Nowhere does it specify grains (bread, rice, corn, etc.) which is the staple of the standard American diet. I’ve learned to bake with almond and coconut flours when I want something bread-like.”
Always Plan, and Follow the Plan
“I was an emotional eater in my former life. I still have to protect against that. I was a processed food junkie, and like any junkie, the habit is hard to kick. So I don't keep any junk food in my house. It is not there to temp me. It is easier to ignore it outside my home, like at entertainment venues and restaurants. For me, one meal can lead to the next binge. It can be hard emotionally and physically to recover from that.”
“Weighing every day AND having a high limit. When I hit the high limit then it's a strict regimen until I get back down those 5 lbs.”
“Plan your meals. Always carry healthy meals and snacks if you're out a lot. It's very, very, very, VERY easy to pick up convenience foods and tell yourself it's "just this once" and "it won't hurt." We used those lines on ourselves before surgery and they were lies then, too. Worse yet, anything I pick up somewhere always has more calories, fat and sodium than if I had made it myself. I do enjoy restaurants, but whatever you get, it's not going to have the nutritional content of something you make a home. For the life of me, I can't figure out how they manage to inject like 60 grams of fat into a burger. I can make a cheeseburger with a quarter pound beef patty at home and wind up eating only 12 grams of fat. They can even make a grilled chicken breast somehow double the calories. It doesn't make mathematical sense to me.”
“It helps to have someone in your life remind you to be accountable. For me, it's my trainer and sometimes my spouse. I don't want to disappoint them, so it helps keep me honest.”
“Keep an overall eye on carbs and sugar - an ongoing battle since these are hidden in many foods and can quickly add up. While I don't refuse something I crave, I take care to limit how much of it I have. Just a bite can make me feel fulfilled — and I do not make giving into cravings a daily occurrence.”
“I still drool over donuts and the like: cake, cupcakes, all that stuff. I can have no appetite at all and if I see a donut in the bakery section of the store, I feel this pull like OMGIHAVETOGETTHAT oh wait, I really shouldn't, BUTIHAVETO! No, just keep walking. Remember how tight your pants gets after a donut binge? Yeah. KEEP WALKING. It's a constant thing. But when I'm eating sugar and bread, it's SO much worse than when I am not. It's so much easier to resist when I'm not in the vicious carb cycle."
“Weigh in twice a week. Log my food daily (I use LoseIt app, there are so many to choose from out there). I even chart my progress since I'm trying to drop back down some weight. I chart my pounds, inches (various body measurements) and week-to-week look at my overall calories spread from carbs, fat, sugar, protein, fiber, sodium, etc.”
“Remaining active in the WLS community (specifically message boards) and researching.”
Never. Stop. Exercising.
“Don't stop exercising. Find something you like. Lots of somethings, if you can! Make it enjoyable. You'll be doing it for life. When I just can't do anything else, I walk for 30 minutes. I usually get such an endorphin high, my leisurely stroll becomes a power walk. I do it to myself all the time, tell myself I'm too tired, I'll take a short stroll and before you know it, I'm heading up the side of the mountain behind my house. It feels good!”
“Exercise - 5-6 times a week, for 40-60 minutes a day. Weights and cardio to build muscle, endurance and this process helps tighten up some of the loose skin over time.”
“I do strength training and work all my muscles to exhaustion 3 times a week and do a lot of walking or leisurely hiking the other 2-3 days a week. No power walking for me. I enjoy the scenery (I live in Colorado, that's what I'm here for) and enjoy the endorphins!”
"Exercise like a monkey. I run a 5K three times a week and strength train on the days in between. If I exercised less, I'd have to eat less and that would be no fun at all.”
“I like the high intensity short duration exercises that Mark Sisson, Primal Blueprint, recommends. This has caused me to lose more weight than working out an hour a day with Body for Life. It is also easier to fit into my schedule. I enjoy sprinting. Who would have guessed that? I've also wanted to join a women's crew team and will take lessons next summer. And I enjoy walking my dogs and easy hikes through national parks. So find activities that you enjoy!!!”
f You Fail, Get Back on Track
“I had gastric bypass three years ago in August-- I am on maintenance -- lost 170 pounds. Over the winter months I regained 25 pounds. I realize that I had quit working out (I do not like cold weather) LOL. So in January I started back to working out 6 days a week and stopped eating bad carbs. I have lost the 25 pounds. So for me I have to work out and really watch my carbs. When I do that I can maintain my weight much better.”
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life
- Cheryl Ann Borne