I often have people ask me what keeps me going to reach my goal...and this is my opinion, based on my experience and what has kept ME going.
Here is a photo of me at my 2 year anniversary of surgery, taken last week. I mostly want to point out that there is only about 4 kg difference on the scale between those photos – and I have no bulge on my hips because I had my huge skin fold removed – 1.5kg. Plus our body redistributes fat as we progress.
"Goal" is a very provocative word for us. I had a surgeon’s 'goal', which is actually only an estimate of our body's set point based on the average loss across all his patients - so mine was 80kg. My personal goal was 99kg; that was success to me. I have met hundreds of WLS people and the majority have set themselves a lower goal than the surgeon has suggested.
It's great to have goals, but along with this practice of chasing a number comes a big mental challenge, and slaving to the scale and the associated bad habits such as fad diets, not eating, doing liquids only; and in my opinion are detrimental to our success long term. Obesity is more often than not driven by our mental health, feelings of failure, inadequacy etc, so trying to get to a magic number is allowing that to continue. I also would like to add to anyone who thinks they will feel better at that lower number, you generally won’t. Being smaller is also hard in an obese person’s brain, and has a whole load of other mental challenges to deal with – this is so important to remember; this is 5% about the weight, and 95% about our brains – we didn’t have brain surgery to fix that.
SO! My secrets:
1) Help Your Mental Game - therapy, retreats, reading about WLS research, have a good WLS support crew to talk to. (and this means people who are on the same track of wanting to succeed long term, not those who want to be told it’s okay to eat KFC once in a while, or have WLS 'support' meetings in bars - we are mentally addicts – I don’t get sucked into these people’s agendas)
2) Be Honest With Yourself - if you are not losing or maintaining weight (allow a couple of kg bouncing for water, bloat, time of the month etc), you have introduced something into your eating that isn't on plan. No one else cares what YOU do, YOU need to care for yourself. We are WLS patients forever. We can't kid ourselves we can go back to 'normal' - trying to fit in with other people does not serve OUR goals or our success. I have had the usual issues with bad eating habits creeping in, and I have had to force myself to stop.
3) Build Muscle. Don’t think this will de-feminise you ladies; muscle burns fat. Consistently. Be understanding that muscle weight gain isn’t the issue. What you see in these photos is lean muscle development, eating those fat stores – cardio alone doesn’t cut it long term. If you think this means lifting weights every day, it doesn’t. I trained 3 days a week for a year from 6wks post WLS, and swam and cycled. If you prefer to walk, walk up and down hills – strolling on the flat is not enough. We have beautiful bush walks in this country – get out there and soak up some serenity while you are at it – be mindful and appreciate how lucky we are we made this decision, that we are able to walk up a hill in the bush these days.
4) Have A Reason For Keeping On. Again, this is forever, not just until we are at goal, until we give up, until we have had enough. Do you really want to be that person again? If so, that’s your choice and perfectly ok for you to choose. But really think about it – write it down, make a mood/vision board with your why all over it. Put it on your wall. Our' why' also evolves as we go down the path of useful mental work – my ‘issues’ a year ago are different from now, and this is why I will keep going to my WLS retreat at least once a year.
I had my surgery date and “For Life” tattooed on my arms to remind me every single day why I made this choice.
It is up to me to choose every single day. My life, My health, Me. Your life, Your health, You.