New Year, New You: Setting Goals after Weight Loss Surgery
The new year is a great time to think about the future and set goals for working toward a healthier lifestyle. If you have had or are thinking about having weight loss surgery, you may be wondering how to set achievable goals for the coming year. Here are some ideas for setting and sticking to goals after bariatric surgery.
Benefits of Setting Achievable Goals
Weight loss is a journey and bariatric surgery is just one part of that journey. It’s not a magic bullet that makes losing weight easy. There are difficulties and struggles that continue to pop up, even after surgery. Setting achievable goals is a great way to keep yourself motivated and on the right track.
Tips for Setting Realistic Goals
It’s important not just to set goals after surgery but to set goals that are realistic and achievable. This makes reaching your goals easier so you can build confidence and keep your forward momentum. Here are some tips for setting achievable goals:
- Diversify goals – Set different kinds of goals after surgery to help maintain a balanced approach. For example, your goal might be to add a serving of vegetables to your diet or to walk 10 more minutes each week.
- Break them down – Big picture goals are great, but make sure to break them down into smaller, more manageable goals. Think of these as stepping stones on the way to larger goals.
- Make goals measurable – Specific, concrete goals are easier to achieve than vague ones. A goal to exercise more is less effective than one to exercise one more day per week or five minutes longer each workout. Make your goals measurable and specific so you can easily track your progress.
- Celebrate progress – Reward yourself when you achieve a goal. No matter how small it may seem, that’s progress in the right direction, so celebrate by buying yourself flowers or going on an afternoon outing.
Prepare for Physical and Mental Challenges
Weight loss after surgery brings physical and mental challenges that can derail your progress and keep you from meeting your goals. Preparing for these roadblocks ahead of time can help you deal with them and stay on track. Every patient is different, but here are a few of the most common challenges people face after bariatric surgery:
- A need for counseling – Deciding to go through bariatric surgery is hard. Consider counseling before and after the surgery to help you develop realistic expectations and deal with post-op changes.
- Emotional issues – Recovering from surgery and developing a new lifestyle are major changes that impact you emotionally. Weight loss surgery patients may face issues with body image or mood swings.
- Addiction swapping – When you lose your relationship with food, it is tempting to replace it with something else. Alcohol or drug use, gambling and other addictive behaviors can sometimes take the place of food.
Reach out to your surgeon and their team as you face physical and mental challenges after surgery — they are there to help you along the way and want you to be successful in meeting your goals.
Calculating Reasonable Weight Loss
Many factors influence how much weight you’ll lose after bariatric surgery, including your diet, lifestyle, exercise and commitment to change. But calculating an average amount of weight you can expect to lose can help you set realistic goals. Use these steps to calculate average weight loss:
- Know your ideal weight
- Determine how much weight you want to lose by subtracting your ideal weight from your current weight
- Calculate expected weight loss by multiplying your excess weight found above by the average amount of weight lost with a particular surgery. For example, patients often lose about 50 percent of their excess weight after the gastric sleeve procedure, so you would multiply your excess weight by 0.5 to determine your expected weight loss.
Remember that the above calculation is based on average weight loss — some people lose more or less weight than expected. However, it’s a helpful way to get an idea of what your weight loss might look like.
Tips for Sticking to Your Goals
Sticking to your goals is difficult, but there are ways you can help yourself along the way. Here are some tips for achieving your goals:
- Surround yourself with supportive people
- Follow your doctor’s instructions
- Journal to keep track of how you feel and the foods you eat
- Prepare for setbacks
- Celebrate successes
Benefits of Achieving Your Goals
As you begin to achieve your post-surgery goals, you’ll get a mental boost from each goal you meet. This helps keep your momentum going so you can continue to meet goals and work toward long-term progress. Positive reinforcement is a great way to keep yourself moving forward. Self-esteem levels also rise as you achieve your goals. Plus, as you make progress toward a healthier lifestyle, you’ll start looking and feeling better.
Weight loss is a journey and setting achievable goals can help you along the way. Dr. Borland and his team have weight loss support and nutritional care available to help you set and stick with weight loss goals after surgery. Get ready for the new year by setting realistic weight loss goals and moving toward a healthier you.