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In It for the Long Haul Part 2: Setting Yourself up for Long-Term Weight Loss Surgery Success

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Ahhh…goal weight! It’s something you’ve wanted for years. You went through the pre-op diet, weight loss surgery, and the recovery period. You’ve worked harder than most people can imagine in order to get to goal weight. Now, all you have to do it keep the weight off.

Well, you know that’s easier said than done, but this two-part series offers a little help. Part 1 talked about what you can do if you hate counting calories, and how to develop a diet pattern that can work for you for life. Part 2 will cover making up for lower calorie burn and staying motivated even when the scale is not going down. Here goes!

I Don’t Burn as Many Calories.

The more you lose, the less you can eat if you want to keep losing or keep the weight off. There are a couple of reasons for this unfortunate fact. First, your metabolism slows as you lose weight as a response to the dieting. Your body compensates for your low-calorie consumption by conserving energy – which translates to burning fewer calories.

A bigger factor is your lower body weight. The less you weigh, the less you burn at rest and while exercising. Take a 30-year-old 250-lb woman with a height of 5’4”, for example. She burns about 1900 calories per day at rest. She burns about another 450 calories for every hour she walks. So, she can lose about a pound a week if she eats about 1,800 calories per day.

Take this same woman at 140 pounds. She might need only 1,500 calories per day at rest, and burn 250 calories while walking for an hour. If she walks for an hour a day, she might even gain weight eating 1,800 calories per day.

So what can you do to combat this? Being aware is a big step. Know that you may not need as many calories as you used to need. You can cut out calories the way you have been: by taking smaller portions, and by choosing healthy foods and lower-calorie versions of normally high-calorie foods: think of a plate of zucchini noodles (“zoodles”) instead of a plate of Pasta, for example.

You can also be more active to burn more calories. While an hour’s walk may have been a good workout for you while you were at your high weight, you might be in better shape now, and able to work a little harder. You might be able to throw in a little jogging, or try aerobics or kickboxing or Zumba, to burn more calories in that same hour. Build a little muscle with some strength training, and your calorie burn will be boosted round the clock.

I’m Not Motivated.

Lack of motivation is one of the biggest barriers to keeping the weight off. Preventing regain takes a lot of work, so you need to be motivated. But how can you stay motivated when one of the strongest motivators – the dropping number on the scale – isn’t there anymore?

The first thing you can do is change your attitude. From the time you had WLS to the time you hit goal weight, your job was to lose weight. You had a victory every time your weight dropped, and that was exciting.

Now, your job is to maintain your weight. You have a victory every time you step on the scale and your weight is the same. That is exciting, too – hopefully, exciting enough to keep you motivated to do the right thing as you make your eating and exercise choices throughout the day.

Most of the motivators that you used when losing weight are probably still there. You may just have to search a little harder to remember them. You want to be healthy. You want to be proud of yourself. You want to be around to support your family and to watch them grow. You want to be healthy. You want to shop in regular stores. Remind yourself of your reasons for wanting WLS, and remind yourself how hard you worked to get here. It’s something not everyone can do, but you did it!

I Got off Track.

So does everyone. Let it get you down, and you can regain a lot of weight very fast. Take care of it and use it as a learning experience, and it can only make you stronger. Figure out what got you off track, and do your best to fix the habit. Maybe it’s drinking your calories, choosing slider foods, munching throughout the day, or using food instead of the gym as your emotional outlet. Whatever it is, fix it, forgive yourself, and keep going! If you’re really not sure what went wrong, go back to the basics of your post-op solid foods diet.

Figuring out your strategies can help you keep the weight off for good. Preventing regain is a lifelong endeavor. You may need to work on it daily, but the payoff can be worthwhile. You worked awfully hard to get WLS and lose the weight – don’t you want to keep it off?

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Thanks for the info, Alex! Words to live by.

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Great article and so true! I am 8 months out and a couple of pounds away from my goal and have been wondering what will I strive towards next? How will I stay motivaTed to keep my weight off? I know maintaining is where it becomes more challenging and I am determined to do so. I appreciate the info. And the relatable content :) thanks!

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