Your first year after bariatric surgery is SO important

Your first year after bariatric surgery is SO important

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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There are 6 comments for this article
  1. Twiddle Thumb at 1:15 pm

    Fantastic write up! Thank you so much! Surgery in 12 days… I’m pumped! I’ve wanted this for so long and its happening. Whenever thoughts of doubt or fear come up because of surgery and how different life will be I remember this “Being fat is hard. Losing weight is hard. Pick your hard”
    So however hard it maybe. I’m ready!!
    In the first year I want to get back into exercise. I used to love the gym even when I was in my teens even then I was overweight but it was the feel hormones from exercising that made me love it.
    I havent exercised in like 15 years! I am craving it. Believe it or not now that I’m doing optifast I have lost interest in food to some degree. I feel a mental shift already. Two key things for me in the first year is my relationship with food ie breaking up that relationship and exercising! I don’t know if I’ll still lovs the gym but it will be a starting point I suppose and then explore from there 🙂
    Om a completely different note… what compression items are “essential” to help look and feel good after the weight loss and the loose skin?

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 6:14 pm

      That’s so cool! Enjoy the countdown, life is only going to get more awesome for you from here on out. I can’t articulate how much easier and enjoyable exercise is once you’ve lost a bit of weight. I NEVER thought I would enjoy running and here I am! The rush you get from it is incredible and I find that it suppresses my appetite now instead of increasing it like it used to.
      I don’t use any compression gear. I have come off relatively well in the loose skin stakes and while there’s bits I’m not too keen on they don’t bother me that much. I do like wearing exercise tights because they pull everything in and flatten it out but I don’t have any compression stuff.

  2. selkiem at 6:25 am

    I have just discovered your blog and am getting so much information and support from it – my roux-n-y surgery is scheduled for June 11 – less than three months to go and this blog is exactly what I was looking for! I agree about the first year setting the pattern for the rest of your life – that is the mindset I want and need – and yes, I look forward to FOOD not holding such a prominent place in my thoughts. I have spent extended periods of time being thin – and extended periods being very heavy (although my current weight is the most I’ve ever been). It was actually summer of 2017 where I had to go on a flight- first time in a very long time – and had to get a seat extender. I am still mortified – and I will say the stewardess (both there and both)- was wonderful – discrete and non-judgmental but I remember those flights with an overwhelming despair – as I sat there in a mortified state. I just want to not WORRY about stuff like that – I realize I have spent the past many years “erasing” myself – as if this excess weight takes up too much space in the world so I stopped wearing makeup, stopped wearing jewellery and the only clothing I have are my sister’s castoffs (in all honesty- some brand new – she’s a clothes horse!) … I want to be able to exercise again (I was VERY fit for years and years)- to WALK again and not see it as an almost insurmountable thing. I will definitely be reading your archives!

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 9:25 am

      Good luck for your upcoming surgery! I’m so pleased to hear you’re finding my blog helpful. It’s different for all of us but we all have that one thing that makes us realise we just can’t live like this anymore. Your life will be so different and it’s great you’re looking forward to being able to exercise again!

  3. Deirdre at 10:18 pm

    Thanks for all the commitment to the blog and your honest sharing, it is inspiring and encouraging. I’m having the Fobi pouch gastric bypass in a couple of weeks and this post is so helpful and I am going to use the time ahead to be self-compassionate and focused on making this my year.

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 9:26 am

      Good luck for your surgery! You will be inspiring others with the journey you are taking 🙂 I’m so pleased to hear this next year is all about you, you’re worth it.

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