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A Simple Equation for Making Your Efforts Add Up

By Collin E. M. Brathwaite, MD FASMBS

Patients often come into my office hoping they won’t be asked about their exercise habits or eating patterns. That’s wishful thinking. Because your bariatric program staff focuses on these topics to gauge how well you are doing--and how well you will do. Regardless of which bariatric procedure a patient has chosen, these are important issues that will make or break success.


Try to remember how you felt before your surgery. Do you remember being tired all of the time, or worried about things like whether you would be able to sit in a movie theater seat comfortably? You chose to have the surgery to help you attain a better life. But, keep in mind that you also made a commitment to make changes and to integrate them into your new lifestyle. Surgery is not a magic cure-all to make every issue you were dealing with disappear. It is a tool that can help you manage these concerns so you can maintain the progress you have achieved. In order to keep yourself on track, you are required to hold up your end of the bargain as well.


Remember that there are three fundamental parts of the equation to achieve long-term weight loss success after surgery:

1) the bariatric procedure itself, resulting in restriction and possibly reduced absorption

2) dietary changes

3) increased physical activity or exercise.
When one of these factors is missing, the equation does not work--and significant, sustainable weight loss is jeopardized.


Getting to surgery was the first challenge you faced. Now you are up against an entirely different challenge. You must incorporate new habits that will enable you to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Little things like picking up a pedometer to assess how many miles you walk at work or in your daily activities may also be helpful. If you stick with it, your efforts will add up over time. It’s simple math!


TIP: Remember your caloric arithmetic - burn more calories than you consume.  Think about the caloric value of what you eat before you eat it.  Is eating a candy bar worth doing an ADDITIONAL one hour power walk? Or is it better to have an apple with peanut butter, so you don’t have to change your daily exercise regimen? Think before you eat. A moment of pleasure is not worth the damage you may do to the progress you have made.