Three Things You Need To Do To Lose Weight With Bariatric Surgery
Just about a year ago, on July 5, 2017, I had bariatric surgery, a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Last week I had my one-year follow up with the surgeon.
The surgeon was stunned when he saw me. Flipping through my chart, he said I was one of the best – if not the best – outcomes their practice had seen, ever. And they’ve done literally thousands of these procedures.
- No surgical complications.
- 95 percent – in this case, 150 pounds – of my excess weight lost. Excess weight is defined as the difference between your starting weight, minus the weight that defines the high end of your normal BMI range. On average, people lose about 60 percent of their excess weight with the sleeve. Today, I’m eight pounds away from a normal BMI.
- All weight-related health problems successfully resolved. Sleep apnea? Gone. High cholesterol? Gone. High blood pressure? Gone.
I could go on – #humblebrag – but you get the picture. My outcome, he said, was so remarkable that he asked if I’d be willing come to a few patient information sessions and talk about how I did it.
I told him, of course, I’d be happy to do that. Anytime.
And while I haven’t made any appearances yet, I’ve been thinking a lot about why things turned out so well for me, and what I might actually say about how I did it if and when I do speak at one of these sessions.
Bear in mind that everybody’s different, and your outcome may vary, but in my experience, you can boost your chances for a successful bariatric surgery outcome – no matter what procedure you go with – by doing three simple things.
1. Stick to your program
No matter which bariatric procedure you choose, follow the rules. All of them. Before, during, and after your procedure. No matter how much of a pain in the ass they are. No matter how much you don’t want to.
These things aren’t arbitrary. They’re not random. There’s a mile of numbers and a ton stats on this stuff, literally decades worth of research on what works and what doesn’t and thousands of outcomes from all the bariatric surgery patients that have come before you, and they’ve been studied, restudied, and studied again.
The data doesn’t lie and, like it or not, you’re almost certainly not the exception to the rule. Sticking to your program dramatically increases your chance for success and sets you up for an outcome that will put you at the top of the statistical heap.
Statistically, exercise is critical to a successful outcome for bariatric surgery patients. It can help you lose weight, sure, but more importantly, exercise will help you maintain your weight loss in the years after your surgery.
But the benefits of exercise aren’t all physical. There’s a big mental-health component, too.
Let’s be honest. We didn’t get to the point where bariatric surgery became a viable weight-loss option by accident. Most of us have extraordinarily complicated relationships with food.
For me, food was an addiction. Some people like heroin. Others find comfort at the bottom of a bottle. I found it in food.
The stresses and pressures that fuel my addiction didn’t go away with weight loss. They’re still there, and I still feel them just as deeply. But I deal with them differently now – usually by climbing onto my bicycle and riding for an hour or so. Or walking.
The point is, there’s a mental-health component to our issues as bariatric surgery patients, and exercise can help you deal with that after your surgery. The more you can adopt regular exercise as a way of life, the better your chances for success post-surgery.
3. Stick to your program
Yeah, I know, I said that already. But the fact is, sticking to your program is the single most important thing you can do to increase the chances of a successful outcome.
Stick to the program. Follow the rules, and do it like it’s your job – because that’s exactly what it is now. Your job.
And you can do it. Lots of bariatric surgery hopefuls are rejected, all the time, for a variety of reasons. If you’ve been accepted into a program, it’s because you were able to demonstrate that you’ve got what it takes to make it work.
So make it work. You can do this. Just follow these three simple rules.
- Stick to your program,
- Exercise, and
- Stick to your program.