Hi, my name is Melissa and I used to be…
One thing that has become greatly apparent since my gastric bypass surgery is how much of my behaviour around food was purely habitual. Once you have had any type of bariatric surgery it is essential that you let go of pretty much all of your habits around food because especially in the first few months post-op you just cannot do lots of things anymore.
I’m loathe to label habits either good or bad because they are just habitual behaviours at the end of the day. One thing I really recommend is that you make the absolute most of the first 6-12 months post surgery and work on setting up your new habits how they should be and not letting any old unhelpful ones slip back in. My 10 Golden Post-op Rules post is here and you may find that useful.
I was incredibly disciplined for the first 9 months after my surgery and I did hardly anything that I wasn’t supposed to out or fear of breaking my new plumbing in the process. Since then I have recognised how strong habitual behaviour is and how quickly new unhelpful habits can develop.
It’s as simple as picking up something you don’t need at the supermarket or petrol station and eating it for whatever flippant reason you can justify. The n the next time you’re there you think, “Hmm well that went well and I enjoyed it,” so you pick one up again. The you find it becomes almost an unconscious process and you’re doing it everytime.
But I find it’s also as simple as if there’s a morning tea on the table in the office kitchen. Our morning tea’s tend to last all day so everytime you go into the kitchen there’s food sitting there. If I have just one bite when I go in one time then every time I go in thereafter I will have another bite or two of something. Essentially I’m like a Pringles can and once I pop I cant stop. To combat this I know I just cannot start on it. If I don’t start it doesn’t worry me so that’s my strategy now.
What is important is being able to recognise this behaviour for what it is. You need to become very aware of your behaviour around food and what kind of things trigger, in some ways you could term, a loss of control around your behaviour when it comes to food. This is why you always need to self monitor for the longterm in order to continue to be successful after surgery.
The weight loss part of this whole process is one of the ‘easiest’ bits. Straight after surgery and for a while thereafter the tool is working amazingly and to a point there’s not much that will stop you losing weight. It’s months out from surgery when the tool’s function starts to shift and change that you need to really consider how your behaviour influences your eating and keep it in check.
Mindful introspection is going to be one of the nest things you can do to ensure you continue to maintain your successful goal weight and not end back up where you were. You need to realise that habitual behaviour can take over so easily and it can be a really hard fight to get back on the right track.
Once I recognise that I have started a new habit that is not going to contribute to my success I stop it completely. I find if I have a break from something for a couple of weeks I lose interest and don’t miss it, whatever it was. I also find distraction a great technique and I’ll be writing a post about that soon.
Do you struggle with habitual behaviour and can you see that it makes things like trying to lose weight harder? Let me know what habits of your own you’re trying to break and have you found a great way to substitute them to make the fight easier?