The first year after bariatric surgery is the most crucial…
When you decide to have weight loss surgery so much of the focus is around the procedure itself. There is so much work to do before that and it requires a lot of focus and determination to get through. When I was going through the process in the public health system and was trying to get on the surgical list I had a goal set for me of losing 8 kg. Weight loss is hard, no matter how you do it, but I was determined to meet this goal to give myself the best chance of getting on that elusive list. I thought I would talk today about what I did to achieve that goal and the helpful things that contributed to me losing that 8kg.
To start with I knew I needed a plan. I had been able to lose varying amounts of weight in the past and I knew that if I was really careful with my diet and started doing some regular exercise I would be able to do it. During the time I was on this eight week journey I had to attend some seminars at the hospital with the dieticians which was preparation for the surgery and the nutritional stages around it but I think it was helpful on this initial weight loss goal too. By checking in with the dieticians each week I felt I had a bit more guidance.
Portion size has always been something I’ve struggled with. I knew I needed a very guided approach to my eating and I decided to sign up to Weight Watchers online (there are apps like My Fitness Pal which are free but paying for it makes me much more likely to use something!) to give me that help. When I registered with the app I had to tell it my weight loss goal, how long I wanted to do it in and what my current weight was. Based on these things it gave me a daily points allowance for food and I found that to be very helpful when creating meals and deciding what to eat each day.
A large part of what made that so workable was meal planning and deciding in advance what I was going to eat each day. I would sit down on a Sunday night and put in all of my breakfasts and dinners for the coming week so that I wasn’t endlessly adding in what I had been eating each day. It also gave me a guide for each day in the context of what I knew I would be having for two main meals so I would be able to make sure my lunch and snacks were within the points range I was allowed.
As well as whipping my eating into very controlled order I knew I needed to start exercising too. The more good habits you can get into that contribute to your wellbeing long-term before you have surgery the better. It also goes without saying that the fitter you are on surgery day the better your body will get through the surgery and anaesthetic. I needed to do something that was relatively low-cost and I could do with my 20 month old. I started walking, five days a week for at least half an hour at a time.
After a few weeks I was going faster and further and I formed a habit. I had never enjoyed exercise at this point and I have to say it was a struggle at times to make myself go and do it. The fact it was getting easier was encouraging but it ramped up my cravings and made me hungrier. I kept it up though and was even getting to the point of walking for 45 minutes at a time. I’ll never forget the first time I managed to walk up a massive hill, with my child in the buggy and without stopping for a rest once. To think I can now run up that hill without stopping when I’m fit is mind-blowing.
By using the Weight Watchers app to track my food and help guide me with portion sizes and starting to exercise regularly I managed to lose 8.5kg in eight weeks. By the time I had my next appointment with the surgical team I had reached my initial weight loss goal. My next hurdle was to maintain that for however long it took to get called up for surgery. I had to maintain over Christmas so I kept on using Weight Watchers and exercising and managed to lose a little bit more but the main thing was that I hadn’t gained.
Getting bariatric surgery through the public health system in New Zealand is not simple or straightforward. There are many hurdles to jump and honestly the process can seem long and hard. I really think it’s a good thing though because the more changes you make beforehand the easier it is mentally and physically after surgery, especially when you have already formed some good habits. This wasn’t all I had to do before I had my surgery but it’s a very large part, that I think, has played into the success I have had afterwards.
What did you do to meet your initial weight loss goal? Did you make a plan and take a structured approach like I did or did you take a different approach? If you’re at this stage now did this give you some good ideas? Comment below and let me know, I’d love to hear from you!