Make Sure Your Weight Loss Goal is Healthy
By Christy Powers, FNP, CBN
Weight loss is a lot like driving a car. You need to focus on where you want to go to get results. And also like driving, there are many routes to reach your goal or destination. But do not choose your destination randomly. It must be realistic. Most patients have a weight loss goal in mind. This may be based on “Ideal Body Weight” for height, gender, and age, or based on Body Mass Index (BMI) of perhaps 25 to 28. Discuss your weight loss goal with your bariatric surgeon. Most bariatric professionals consider 50% of excess weight loss a success after bariatric surgery. For example, a person 100 pounds overweight lost 45 pounds, which is 45% excess weight loss. However, this person can now move more easily with his or her knee arthritis and no longer needs oral medication for diabetes or high blood pressure. This would be considered a success. Quality of life improvement counts toward success as well as pounds of weight lost.
Just like a car needs more than just an engine to run efficiently, weight loss surgery alone can only take your so far. The rest of your journey, you should get there with healthy dietary choices and physical activity. Most of your weight loss occurs in the first year after surgery. Do not skip meals or allow long hours without eating. View food choices as high-octane fuel for your body to function throughout the day. Follow the nutrition recommendations of your bariatric program.
Exercise is crucial for weight loss and it helps increase metabolism. Three 10-minute walks a day give you the same benefits as one 30-minute walk. Use a tape measure to track inches you are losing from your waist, hips, thighs or neck. Muscle strengthening exercise is essential and another healthy way to lose weight. The more lean muscle mass you have (a stronger engine), the more efficiently your body burns fat (fuel). Muscular strength training creates a stronger body and increases bone density. Your mood and energy level also improve with exercise.
It takes time and practice to develop skills for weight management. Some people need and can benefit from professional ‘coaches’ to develop these skills. Routine follow-up visits with your bariatric team members can help keep you on the road to success so that you’ll reach your destination.