Maximizing Health Through Positive Thinking
By Whitney Marema, RN
As a person embarks on a major life change, there is always a fair amount of stress attached to it. Consider a planned pregnancy…although the family is happily awaiting the new birth, it is still a somewhat stressful event. The same is true for the choice to have bariatric surgery. The transformation of an obese individual with many health risks into a healthier person is an emotional experience that requires adjustments to both attitude and behavior. It can be quite a challenge.
The benefits of positive thinking with regards to the changes you are experiencing (or have experienced) will have a powerful effect on your initial weight loss, as well as your long-term management of weight loss. There are many aspects where this is applicable. Initially, in the early months following surgery, you must identify short and long-term goals for yourself. Short-term goals may include:
- Feeling comfortable while dining out in a restaurant
- Consuming enough fluids
- Being compliant with taking vitamin and mineral supplements
- Beginning to be more active
- Understanding appropriate diet and eating habits
- Understanding the importance of participating in support activities in order to receive encouragement.
At 6 to 12 months post-op, your goals may be a little different. You have experienced substantial weight loss and improvement in health, but the tendency to fall away from the program may be getting stronger. You have now made most of the necessary adjustments associated with bariatric surgery, but are you able to continue to focus on your lifestyle changes and take them to a new level? At this point, you should focus on actions that will help to build self-esteem:
- Engaging in an exercise program daily
- Adhering to an appropriate diet
- Understanding how to deal with stress in ways other than food
- Rewarding yourself for your success thus far
Let’s not forget that maintaining weight loss and health is not always easy. After the first year following surgery, some patients tend to regress into old behaviors that can be harmful. Have you made the commitment to live a balanced life? It is important at this time to ensure that you seek the appropriate support to understand issues such as self-image, stress management, transference of addictions, adherence to a consistent exercise program and vitamin/mineral regimen, and being able to recognize when things are not on a ‘positive’ track.
A positive attitude will greatly impact your ability to survive the ‘bumps’ along the way. It will also have a great deal to do with how effectively you are able to interact with family and friends and even how well you tolerate foods. Finally, keep in mind that to experience any kind of positive change, you must first believe in yourself.