The decision to move forward with bariatric surgery is life changing. While some may think surgery is a quick or effortless way to lose weight, the truth is much more complex.
Sarah Hunt, MSN, RN, CCRN, metabolic and bariatric surgery coordinator at AdventHealth Redmond, reflects back on her own health before bariatric surgery she recalls feeling exhausted and fatigued. As a nurse, Sarah found that her physical limitations had increased over time. She even found it difficult to go on short walks and felt winded when going up a flight of stairs. At her annual physical at the age of 31, her doctor informed her that she had diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol and it was at this point Sarah knew she needed to put her health on the forefront and act.
Prior to undergoing her bariatric surgery in 2019, Sarah says that she spent time prior to surgery reflecting on if she was truly ready to embark on this journey. She examined aspects of her life she would need to change about her current lifestyle to have lasting success with bariatric surgery. After identifying key changes that she would have to make, she made the decision to put those lifestyle changes in place prior to surgery. Sarah credits this commitment to herself and these new lifestyle changes to her long-term success with her bariatric surgery.
“Losing 40 pounds on my own by incorporating the changes I would need to make after surgery helped build my confidence. I knew that if I wanted to have lasting results, I needed to come to terms with the changes I would have to make. Surgery wasn’t going to just fix my relationship with food. Surgery gave me a powerful tool that helped me change my relationship with food. My tool along with my commitment to new lifestyle changes helped me succeed.”
Willingness to Change
The first step for any lifestyle change is to ask yourself if you genuinely want this. Do the research about bariatric surgery and consider whether you are willing to fully invest and commit to the major lifestyle changes that follow surgery.
“It warms my heart when I talk with patients, and they tell me about the lifestyle changes they have already put into place prior to having surgery. This willingness to change prior to surgery can really gauge how successful a patient will be with long-term success with bariatric surgery,” says Sarah.
Deciding if you’re ready and putting in effort to change prior, says Sarah, can improve your health, for life. If someone is looking for a quick fix with little work on their part, their chances of a long-lasting successful outcome are not as high as others.
Tracking and Reflecting
In her book entitled Growth Mindset, Carol S. Dweck says, “No matter what your current ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.”
Tracking your food, activity, and emotions and then reflecting can help you gain better insight to the lifestyle changes you will need to make if you are considering bariatric surgery. Grab a journal or download an app to help track what you eat and drink in a day. Make notes of activity or exercise or personal events that might be affecting your mental health or mood. Be as detailed as possible with times, amount consumed and any other factors that might have influence on the choices you made for the day.
After a couple weeks of tracking, examine your journal and make note of your choices. Pay attention to key things you will have to change after having bariatric surgery. These are things like caffeine consumption, sugar intake, highly processed foods, caloric drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), fast foods, foods high in fats and carbohydrates, smoking (vaping, cigarettes or other), and physical activity. Notice if there were any patterns that emerged from your food choices, whether it be emotional triggers or convenience. If you are able to reflect and draw conclusions about your choices, you are well on your way to success. Awareness of current habits or patterns can be extremely beneficial when trying to incorporate changes to help you.
Mentally Prepare for Change
Bariatric surgery comes at no small cost to your established lifestyle. The good news is, you’re not alone and will have help and coaching every step of the way as you prepare both for surgery and for the life that will come after. Sarah says patients who begin the bariatric surgery intake process who demonstrate that they have the willingness to make lifestyle modifications, which vary for each person, have a much higher rate of success long-term.
Part of this mental preparation includes working with your primary care provider (PCP) to establish attainable health goals and food habits to work on. Your PCP might take a look at your food journal and make recommendations such as high protein, high fiber, low fat, low carbohydrate meals and avoiding sugar and processed foods as a start.
Together with your bariatric coordinator, PCP and care team, you will be equipped to make the lifestyle changes and habits needed to sustain your health well after your surgery.
We are here for you when you’re ready to start the journey. Visit BariatricSurgeryGA.com or call Call866-272-8379 to begin learning about metabolic and bariatric surgery at AdventHealth Redmond. We are with you every step of your weight loss journey.
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