When you’re considering weight loss bariatric surgery there are lots of things to get done before actually having the surgery.
One of the first things to truly embrace is this… Weight loss surgery is not a magic procedure that makes losing weight easy for the rest of your life. It is only one tool to assist morbidly obese people with their pursuit of sustainable long-term weight loss.
One tool… meaning there are other things you will need to do.
In fact, your bariatric surgeon may task you with losing weight before you are even considered for surgery. In some cases this might be 10% of your weight. While others only require a weight loss of 15-20 pounds.
More so, before going through surgery there are eight essential things to do to prepare for your new life.
1. Do in-depth research on bariatric surgery
Your life must change dramatically both before and after weight loss surgery in order for it to be successful. So be sure to do appropriate research on what the various types of bariatric surgeries entail. But don’t make any definitive decisions before speaking to surgeons about what they believe is the best bariatric surgery for you.
Look at websites and blogs. Watch documentaries. Join social media groups and forums to connect with people just like you. Many will have had bariatric surgery. And others will be at the beginner stage like you. Accountability is paramount when going through any lifestyle change. And there’s no better way to stay accountable than to connect with people going through bariatric surgery.
Your research should include: Learning about the lifestyle changes you need to make. The types of surgeries available and recovery time. And how to effectively manage your post-surgery diet.
2. Quit smoking and all tobacco and nicotine products
Asking you to quit smoking in addition to making dramatic changes to your lifestyle may seem a little harsh. But it’s not just because smoking has proven to have significant adverse effects on your health. Smoking and using tobacco products have proven to increase the risk of complications both during and after bariatric surgery.
Most surgeons will have patients quit smoking for a minimum of 12 weeks before beginning the pre-surgery education. This is so their lungs and respiratory systems have adequate time to recover. This aids recovery time after surgery, and reduces the risk of complications during surgery.
3. Keep track of your food and water intake
The starting point with food intake is to first identify what you’re eating and drinking. Log everything you consume throughout a typical week. Be honest about it! You didn’t get to the point of considering bariatric surgery without massively overindulging in food. However, if eating excess calories has become part of your life for many years now, it can be difficult to pinpoint foods that you eat impulsively without first recognizing what leads us to be triggered into binging.
That goes for what we drink, too. If most of your drinks are in the form of sodas and surgery drinks then that’s also bad news. That could total up to around 5-600 extra calories per day in drinks alone! That’s not to mention the added sugar that increases the potential for weight gain. Water gives you no extra calories at all and helps to keep you healthy and hydrated.
Recognizing what you consume now will help you to make the changes you need to later on down the road.
4. Begin making changes to your diet
Once you have an understanding of what you’re eating on a day-to-day basis, you can then start to make some necessary adjustments to your diet.
One of the most significant changes to your life after you have surgery is what, and how much you will be eating. You should try to eat three regular meals each day, with additional healthy snacks between meals-limited to just one or two per day. Plan your meals in advance and shop for all the groceries you need ahead of time. Always eat a healthy breakfast, and try to avoid eating within four hours before going to sleep. All of your meals should include protein, and fresh fruit and vegetables, and reduced-fat and/or sugary foods. You should limit your consumption of fast-foods and restaurant meals as these are typically highly processed and contain lots of salt and other preservatives. It’s also a good idea to use a calorie calculator to work out exactly how much you should be eating in a day, and continue to use your journal or diary to track the calories.
5. Think about what you’re drinking
Adults need 8 cups, or 65oz of water per day in order to maintain healthy water levels in the body. Follow your body’s thirst signals. Chances are that if you’re feeling thirsty then your body is already dehydrating.
Avoid drinking liquid calories where possible. Limit alcohol, juice, full-sugar sodas, designer coffees with cream, milk, and flavorings, as well as caffeinated beverages.
After your surgery, it will be more difficult for you to be able to drink with a male. So you should get into the habit of eating a meal without a drink and waiting for at least 30 minutes after your meal before you drink water. However, it is still important that you increase your water intake. This can be encouraged by taking a bottle of water with you wherever you go and having one in your car with you. If necessary, set yourself reminders that prompt you to drink water. You will soon begin to feel the physical benefits increasing Your water intake bring with it. It is a good practice prior to surgery are you can enjoy the benefits for a long time afterward. Your water intake brings with it. It is a good practice prior to surgery are you can enjoy the benefits for a long time afterward.
6. Start introducing exercise
If exercise is not a part of your lifestyle, then start small. You should try to incorporate exercise that suits your ability and lifestyle such as taking short walks outside- even if it is just to your mailbox, follow chair-based exercise videos online. Even small increases in your daily activity such as walking on the spot as you cook or wait for the water to boil can make all the difference.
The most important thing is to find an activity that you enjoy, focusing on the frequency of exercise over the intensity levels in which you do it. Over time, you will be able to work out for longer as you build up your exercise.
Always make sure to push yourself enough, but if things start to get painful and you have severe difficulty in breathing, then you should stop. It might be worth investing in some sessions with a trainer who specializes in working with obese clients and can understand the dynamics of working with a plus-size body.
7. Commit to maintaining or losing weight instead of gaining
While preparing for weight loss surgery, it’s important to try not to gain any weight. As you discuss with your doctor and/or surgeon they will want you to commit to losing a certain amount of weight. Of course, it will be tempting to overeat a sort of ‘last supper/death row’ meal in anticipation of making a significant lifestyle change. However, a dramatic lifestyle change requires a change in mindset and mentality on the whole. Plus, many surgeries will not go ahead if there is food left undigested in the system that they’re working with. Make sure to listen to any advice given to you by your surgeon so that the procedure can continue without risk.
Do what you can to aid your pre-surgery weight loss in the best way you possibly can.
8. Focus on your relationship with food
Many people who suffer from their weight see food as something they use for comfort, celebration, or an aid to their boredom. However, following surgery, food is not going to be used for this anymore. You need to begin to think about food as essential fuel for your body. You will begin to notice how your body reacts to the foods that you eat as well as being able to recognize when it feels full.
It is, therefore, to begin to eat mindfully. Eat without distraction from surroundings such as television or work. Try to eat slowly, making sure to chew all of your food thoroughly in order to prevent potential blockages after surgery.
Finally,consider speaking to a therapist who can help you deal with emotions that you previously used food to soothe. Food after bariatric surgery is to keep you nourished. It’s no longer a way to cope with stress or emotion.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life