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Key To Navigating Your Road to Success

By Carl A. Weiss, III, MD PhD FACS

Regardless of the type of bariatric surgery or method you use to lose weight, behavioral modification is the fundamental key to pave your road to success. By behavior what most of us in the field of bariatric surgery imply are changes in diet, active participation in support group and daily exercise. The degree to which an individual is able to incorporate these behaviors into daily life and daily decision making will determine either success or failure after bariatric surgery in both the short and long term.


We talk with patients who may have disappointing weight loss or weight gain. The common theme after further discussion is almost universally the inability to engage in positive behavioral change. An important concept is that of insight: the ability to think about and change behaviors is often absent until at some point during a person’s recovery from bariatric surgery they realize what has to be done to achieve successful weight loss.


Another component of success is the ability to recognize that behaviors or habits are deeply ingrained. As stated in the adage "Old habits die hard”, habits are what we revert to in our daily lives. The triggers for maladaptive decision making must be understood before one is able to make good daily decisions regarding diet and exercise. The need to discuss behaviors has been demonstrated over time in the Alcoholics Anonymous program such that personal engagement, that is discussion with other people, has to occur for someone to gain insight and make positive daily decisions rather than revert or resort to habits that ultimately undermine weight loss success (i.e. grazing).


These are some important concepts that require regular reinforcement for many patients to fully understand their own personal journey to success after bariatric surgery.