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Your advocate should get the information you need. Ask your surgeon how you can best prepare for surgery, what you can do to recover faster, and which mistakes he or she sees most often so you can avoid them. Find out how to contact your surgeon for post-op questions, and learn where you can go for support group meetings.
You will need to ask plenty of other questions, too! As your own advocate, don’t be shy about asking anyone about anything. Read everything you can online and on BariatricPal, then use the forums to ask about anything you’re not sure about. You are sure to get all kinds of helpful hints that you never expected!
Provide for Your Needs
Life does throw curve balls, but your basic needs stay predictable. You know which foods and fluids you will need in any given day, so make sure you have them. Plan your menu for each day and go grocery shopping for the week so you are sure to always have the food you need around.
Always keep a stash of “extras” in case of unplanned circumstances. Have instant protein meals and other staples in your pantry for last-minute meals. Keep protein bars and nuts in your car, your gym bag, and at work. Have different flavors of protein powder for whenever you find yourself hungry and without other options.
You can also help yourself out by planning ahead. For example, if you’re going to a party, make sure you will have the foods that you will need for that time without needing to wait until after the party to eat or depending on the host to provide healthy proteins. Stick a protein bar or some nuts in your pocket or purse, or bring a healthy dish to share and nibble on yourself.
Be Your Own Planner
If you were taking care of a child with certain needs, you would schedule them in, make sure your child had the materials needed, and get your child to where he needed to go. If you have children, you may keep track of their homework, take them to after-school activities, and make sure they get the nutritious meals and proper sleep that they need. You would keep healthy foods around and provide them with the pencils and sports equipment that they need for school and extracurricular activities.
Why wouldn’t you be just as good to yourself? Provide the same level of self-care for yourself as you do for your family. Keep healthy foods on hand, and schedule your own exercise and meal planning in and keep your commitment just like it was school.
Prioritize your commitments, just like you would do for your children. Your meal prep and workout time is important, but so is relaxation time with your family or friends, or by yourself. Over the long term, balancing work and play can keep you on track but satisfied.
Speak up When Necessary
Keeping quiet can sometimes seem easier or more considerate to others, but keeping a low profile can work against you sometimes. Learn when it makes sense to speak up for yourself. For example, at restaurants, the server may be willing to bring you what you ask for (like a slab of plain chicken breast or the kids’ meal), but will not even know that is what you want (and need) if you do not say something out loud. You may find that you need to explain your weight loss surgery as a medical condition to get your server to honor your request.
These are some other times when you should not keep your mouth shut:
- When someone pressures you to eat something that's not on your diet.
- When you do not understand your surgeon’s or nutritionist’s instructions.
- When you need help around the house or preparing your food.
Learning to be your own best advocate can pay off in a big way, as you will always have someone looking out for your best interests. It is one more thing you can do to help yourself succeed in your WLS journey.