Your Toolkit For Success
Bariatric surgery is an excellent tool for managing obesity, but it is not effective alone. It takes continued hard work and dedication to lifestyle changes in order to realize and maintain substantial weight loss and to avoid or control chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or cancer. Regardless of where you are in your bariatric surgery journey, stock your toolbox with the following tools.
Bariatric surgery will help you feel more satisfied with less food. Committing to a diet full of nutritious options is the best choice for getting the building blocks that your body needs after surgery. Choose nutritionally-dense foods – foods that are rich in protein, supplemented with non-starchy vegetables – to form the basis of your meals and snacks. Serving sizes after bariatric surgery are much smaller, so you will also need to consistently take your bariatric vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure that you are getting adequate nutrition. Don’t forget your support team: schedule an appointment with your bariatric dietitian to check in early and often.
Another key to long-term weight maintenance and chronic disease management following bariatric surgery is exercise. This does not mean that you have to run a marathon (unless you want to), but it does mean that you should look for ways to be more active. Incorporate things you enjoy or be creative in how you get in your fitness: dancing, walking, and hiking are great options. Or try something new – whether it’s a different setting or a new activity. Are you interested in power lifting, ballroom dancing, yoga, softball, kickball, or martial arts? Are you the kind of person who likes to take a solo walk on the greenway, or are you more motivated by being part of a class? Are you interested in more one-on-one or small group training environments? A bariatric fitness specialist can help you create or further develop a fitness plan.
According to the CDC, some research has found that a shortened sleep duration results in metabolic changes that may be linked to obesity. The American Heart Association reports that people who do not get enough sleep actually eat more than people who sleep adequately. So how much is enough? Information on CDC.gov indicates that adults need a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. Nationally, greater than 33% of all adults are not getting this minimum each night. There is some really interesting work that has been done in this area, including evidence that your food choices may also be driven by lack of sleep.*
The relationship status of obesity and mental health issues should be described as “it’s complicated.” Evidence supports a correlation with the onset of depression and obesity and obesity with the onset of depression. It’s a classic chicken-or-egg situation. Depression predicts reduced success with weight loss. There is also a reduction in depression symptoms associated with weight loss. At the same time, there are links between anxiety and PTSD with weight gain. The biochemical mechanisms at play here, some of which we understand and some of which we don’t, make the relationship between weight management and mental health very complicated. But what we do know is that when we improve our mental health, improvements in our physical health often follow. Seeing a therapist or psychologist or having a spiritual leader who is trained in counseling can be hugely beneficial. Remember your support team: talk with your primary healthcare provider or bariatric provider for community resources that may help. Take time to tend to your mental health and look for ways to incorporate people who support your mental well-being into your life.
*If you want to learn more about how sleep effects weight, visit the WakeMed Voices blog (wakemedvoices.com) and type WakeMed surgeon Dr. David Pilati in the search box to read his blog post.
A certified physician assistant with WakeMed Bariatric Surgery & Medical Weight Loss, specializing in surgical weight loss, nutrition, and wellness. WakeMed Bariatric Surgery & Medical Weight Loss is dedicated to educating the community and providing the surgical and non-surgical tools necessary to begin and continue along a weight loss journey. Patients are supported by board-certified physicians with expertise in medically-directed weight loss and a multidisciplinary team of diet, exercise, and wellness specialists.