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The first year after bariatric surgery is the most crucial time period and I want you to maximise it as much as you possibly can for yourself. Weight loss surgery is a tool you will have for life, that’s kinda the point but the first year is crucial to your results and long-term success. Time is fleeting and you will never get this time back!
The first step in maximizing your success in the first year post-op is to follow the rules. Your surgical team aren’t trying to make your life difficult or annoy you, they are simply trying to protect your new tummy. These rules are hopefully going to help you build new habits that you carry forward for the rest of your post-op life. I’m nearly five years out now but if I eat too quickly I know all about it. I still need to take small bites, have a minute or two between mouthfuls and make sure I stop drinking water for 30 minutes before and after eating. If you need to be reminded check out my 10 Golden Rules post.
The second step in maximizing your success in the first year is to focus on your habits. Work on strengthening the helpful habits and eliminating the ones that don’t contribute to your success. Now is your time to figure out what exercise your new body loves and that you enjoy. Keep trying things until you find the thing you love, look forward to and enjoy doing. Use the huge shake up in your eating patterns, when you’re in the liquid and soft foods stages especially, as an opportunity to completely reset the way you approach food and eating. This is the best chance you’ll ever get to drop your unhelpful behaviours around food. Make sure you take time to look at what’s working for you and helping and figure out what you can do to support those great things.
The third step in maximizing your success in the first year is to realise that in terms of weight loss it will NEVER get easier than it is for you right now. I know you want to get to your goal now, I know your friend loses about half a kilo more than you a week and I know those stalls feel like they are never going to end but you need to stop these thoughts right now! Stop comparing yourself to others, expect that stalls will happen and trust the process. The first year after bariatric surgery is your best shot at losing the majority of your excess weight and you will lose more by doing and eating what you should. Yes, you will be able to and will probably continue to lose weight after the one-year mark (if you still have anything to lose!) but it won’t come so easy and your tool will start to change. The malabsorption and restriction for RNYers is at its peak in the first year. Do not waste this time!!! Your restriction will stay fairly consistent over time if you follow the rules and don’t stretch your tummy back out but you will gain some of the absorptive capacity back eventually so you can’t count on it helping forever.
The fourth step in maximizing your success in the first year is to make the most of every non-scale victory (NSV’s) that comes your way. The numbers going down on the scale is pretty cool but the NSV’s really are the icing and cherry on top of the cake. The moment you realise you can cross your legs while sitting. The moment you see that you can tie a towel around yourself and it actually completely covers you. The moment you do up a plane seatbelt without an extender. The moment you feel a weird lump you’ve never felt before and realise it’s a bone. The way exercise gets easier and you actually begin to enjoy it. I can’t put into words how these things feel but it’s incredible and they are really tangible things that show you just how far you have come. Celebrate you, you did this and you deserve all the great things that are coming your way!
The fifth step in maximizing your success in the first year is to make the most of the mental space and clarity you have now that you’re not thinking about food all the time. I couldn’t get over how disinterested I was in food for a long time after my gastric bypass. I would forget to eat on a semi-regular basis and I found I had so much more room in my head now that I wasn’t thinking about food all the time. Appreciate this space and use it wisely. Now that I’m five years out my brain has filled that space with all sorts of other junk and I’ve only just realised how much I miss that time and how lovely it was.
Do whatever you can to make the first year after bariatric surgery all about you. Follow the rules, reset your habits, move your butt and celebrate your successes. Use your newfound mental space to focus on what is contributing to your success and rediscover parts of yourself you don’t know so well anymore. Your time is now, use it well!
My first year after gastric bypass surgery was such a rollercoaster but most of all it was pretty exciting. What are you going to do in your first year to maximise your success long-term? If you’re more than a year out tell me what you miss about that time of your journey?
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