It’s not just enough to take the drastic decision to have weight loss surgery when you want to lose weight. You have to commit to a different lifestyle and take care of yourself. You have to take steps to be healthy and balance your new stomach size with healthy food, but you also have to exercise and be active in a way that you’ve probably never done before. Here are a few tips on how to lose weight after weight loss surgery.
For most of my life, I was not active. I have never exercised for any significant amount of time. I’ve never changed my eating habits for any long period of time, either. But my life changed on 12/30/15 (and really in the weeks before) when I had weight loss surgery (gastric sleeve).
I’ve only tried one “fad” diet in my life and actually lost 90 lbs, but it was a drastic diet and it was not something I could keep up with for a long period of time. I ate 500 calories per day and took an appetite suppressant three times per day. I was doing some exercise, but the major change did not happen during those 9 months of weight loss in my mind.
Now that I’ve made the decision to commit to my health, and took the drastic step to have weight loss surgery, I cannot let that surgery work on its own. Why can’t I let it work on its own? Because it won’t! This surgery is not a cure-all. It’s a tool and I knew that going into this journey. This tool helps me with portion control and limits some of the things I can eat, but I have to take control of myself and my life and if I want to lose this weight (or continue losing this weight), I have to eat right and exercise daily.
What to Eat
After weight loss surgery, you will only be able to eat small portions. Depending on the type of surgery you have, you may not be able to eat certain foods. It is important to follow your surgeon and/or nutritionist plans for eating, but I’ll tell you what I eat according to my surgeon’s plan as a guide.
Because I can only eat small portions, and my sleeve can tolerate just about all foods, I have to be diligent about what I eat and when I eat. My surgeon wants me eating every two hours and wants me putting protein in first at every feeding.
When I wake up, or my first feeding of the day, I have a protein shake with 25-30 grams of protein. I buy my protein powder at GNC and it’s a Total Lean chocolate flavor. Before surgery, I was lactose intolerant. It seems now that I may not be as intolerant, but I don’t want to take chances so it’s a non-dairy protein shake. There are so many different brands and flavors of protein shake out there and I’ll warn you that the shakes you like before surgery may not be the same ones you like after surgery (so, don’t buy a ton like I did before surgery, haha!).
If I go workout in the morning before work, my trainer wants me having a high protein breakfast after weight training as well. Because I am never sure what my stomach will hold or tolerate after a workout, I usually just have another protein shake. It’s usually about 8am by the time I have my first shake or after a workout for my second shake so I drink water between 8:30 and 9:30 (most surgeons/nutritionists will tell you not to drink 30 minutes before and after eating).
At 10am, it’s time for a snack and I try to get a snack that has 10-15 grams of protein. I’m currently loving lunchables (not the kind with a dessert, but the small ones), but I also love a greek yogurt, a handful of almonds or nuts, a couple of cheese sticks, or some other high protein snack. Find something that’s easy to grab and measure out portions for your stomach size, and make things easier on yourself.
Lunchtime is 12pm and I have a wonderful husband who always makes sure I have a lunch packed for work. I’m currently loving tuna, but I also enjoy when he has something leftover from dinner because he cooks almost every night. He had weight loss surgery on 8/17/15 so we’re in this together. You might try a small chicken breast or salmon, a high protein salad, or just anything that you like and can tolerate as long as it’s high in protein and low in carbs and sugar.
The rest of my day is filled with snacks every two hours until dinner and my husband usually cooks us a high protein dinner that is healthy and hearty. Sometimes we eat at 6pm and then I need another snack at 8pm before bed, but sometimes we eat closer to 8pm (on nights when we have activities) so dinner is my last feeding of the day.
All in all, I’m eating every two hours (on the even hours) and drinking water or tea in between (on the odd hours). This plan is what my surgeon recommends and it works for me, but again, I encourage you to follow the instructions of your surgeon/nutritionist. The important message that all doctors will give you is that you MUST get in your protein and you MUST get in your water.
As I mentioned at the top of my post, I have never been an active person. I didn’t do sports as a child and my family was not overly active. My parents exercised by walking for a period of time, but I was not active. As a teen, I began walking for a short time, but I didn’t have any accountability or a partner to walk with me, so that didn’t last. When Howard and I lost weight in 2010, we began walking a little with Benjamin, but that didn’t stick for long either.
Just after I had my weight loss surgery, I hit a plateau after only losing about 20 lbs. My surgeon asked about my exercise routine and I told him that I was walking a little around the parking lot at work and he informed me that was not enough. He encouraged me to hit the gym, even try going before work, and that has changed my life!
I started going to the gym at 5:30 am and exercising on my own. My only accountability was myself and a couple of people who began to notice that I was there every day. Then, one day on a Saturday, I was invited into a class and I became addicted. After I got under 300 lbs, I began working on the treadmill and going to a class on Saturday mornings. After I got under 250 lbs, I began going to more classes in the evenings and now I post on Facebook every time I workout so I have a little more accountability. I have become friends with several of the instructors and they tell me they miss me when I don’t attend a class. This has changed my life when it comes to being active.
This past week, I started working with a personal trainer. We had two sessions on Wednesday and Friday mornings. I got to the gym around 5:15 am to warm up on the elliptical or treadmill and then we began weight training at 5:30 am for an hour. We did arms on Wednesday and legs/core on Friday. And…this week I lost 6 lbs!
Treat it as a Tool, Not a Cure
The key to losing weight after weight loss surgery is simply to use your surgery as a tool and not a cure for your obesity. You have to move your body and get exercise in a way that you haven’t done so before. You may need to take it slow at the beginning (I know I did at 340 lbs) but as you get smaller, your exercise routine will need to grow. You can do this. It won’t be easy. But I believe in you like I believe in myself and we got this!