I love lists: making them, reading them and checking them off. (It is one of my passions.) At six months post-surgery, I think I have a nice list of lessons to impart - ten to be exact!
10. Water, Water Everywhere – Drinking water is critical (I like zero calorie, flavored water), especially because I am not supposed to drink for at least one hour after meals. This is the hardest rule for me to follow, by a long shot.
9. Protein First – I try and always and eat my protein before I put anything else my mouth at meals with one exception, Friday night – Pizza.
8. Vitamins are a Must – I can't eat enough of the “right” foods to get the nutrients I need, so to me this is a no brainer.
7. Say No to Sugar – It was really hard to think of giving up sugar initially, but now I just think of sugar as poison. When it's offered, I say, “No thank you, I can't eat that.” I carry a protein bar with me often, which is a nice substitute candy bar to eat in those situations or I drink a cup of tea with sweetener.
6. Keep a positive attitude – There certainly have been some setbacks during this process for me. There are times I get frustrated the scale isn't moving, or I don't feel good physically. This is when I count on my supportive friends to help me refocus on my accomplishments. (My darling husband is my biggest helper in this area.)
5. Learn to Accept Compliments – I've lost a significant amount of weight. It's noticeable and people comment – A LOT. I'm learning to look them in the eye and say, “Thank you.”
4. Find a Weight Loss Support Group – Friends are great, but they don't always understand some of the requirements that go with weight loss surgery. So finding a group that understands your food situation, is crucial. My medical team offers one that meets monthly at the hospital, which I have yet to attend due to schedule conflicts. I do belong to an online group within my food journal app, and I love those folks. They are helpful and kind and we cheer each other on daily!
3. Exercise Is Fun– Exercise is a must to lose the weight and keep skin from sagging like an elephant's. I love my exercise class, but now have added running into the mix. Running is easier to fit into my schedule these days. I try to exercise 4 times a week (Run three days, exercise class one day). But I also include just about anything else on my off days: yard work, hiking, and my favorite – Power shopping (Walking thru BJ's with a cart at record speed trying to finish my list in less than 1 hour!). Bottom line – the more activity, the better.
2. Journal What You Eat – This is a must, as the nutritionists want to check it periodically. I first learned about food journaling when I joined Weight Watchers back in 1988 but I never could stick with it. I found a free app for my phone so I have no excuse to not log when I'm out and about.
1. Communicate with your Weight Loss Surgery Medical Team - My team consists of three surgeons, a nurse practitioner, a nurse/mentor, three nutritionists, and a therapist. That is a lot of people to talk to and they coordinate my visits so I don't have to repeat myself too often. I liked that the team was large enough that I could find a personality to connect with and speak honestly. I feel comfortable calling or emailing them when I have a question or feel bad now, which took me a while.
This list would apply to any type of weight loss surgery (band, sleeve or bypass) also they are good ideas for losing weight without surgery. At times when I read this list, I roll my eyes and say “Really Michelle, who wouldn't know to do this?” But the truth is sometimes I just need a reminder and maybe you do too!