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Successful maintenance (and a cheeky before and after)



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Posted (edited)

Hi everyone.

Soooo, here I am 6 months post VSG. Started at a BMI 33, reached goal at 3.5 months so kept changing goals and here I am at the 6th month mark having lost much more than anticipated and ready for maintenance (at a BMI 20 as of today, 126.7 lbs/57.6 KGs).

I don’t want to bore you with too many details, other than that I bounce between a fear of becoming sickly thin (currently feeling that) and an all encompassing fear of gaining weight and going back to what I have become, it is kind of mind boggling. I read many many stories of how WLS patients gained all the weight back and then some, about them seeking revision surgeries or GLP treatments and it really freaks me out and my mind starts telling me to keep losing weight just so I don’t end up back where I started. I want to change that and start focusing on success stories. I have come across people with successful outcomes many years out but there isn’t many of them to be honest, and what I have noticed with successful WLS patients is this:

- They made 360 degree changes in their lifestyles (cut all the junk, took up exercise and became very “clean” if you will).

OR:

- Still have fun but track their calories and weight DAILY.

Very few have just lost interest in food and don’t do any of the above and remained successful.

Given my history being at a low BMI and athletic my entire adulthood and only becoming overweight the past few years I can be very disciplined and committed. However I am human and I love going out to eat and trying new foods and restaurants, so for you the successful lot please enlighten me on the following:

1. What are your golden rules to successful maintenance?

2. How did you manage the mental shift (navigating fear and uncertainty) while transitioning to maintenance? I can’t seem to quiet my thoughts and anxiety around WHAT IFs?

3. How much indulgence do you actually allow yourself?

I really need to strike that balance right now. Every single tip would be helpful.

And to Celebrate my 6 month anniversary, here’s a little before and after for y’all:

AC0DD304-853A-4535-8EBE-FA7AB95BFC81.thumb.jpeg.834f77731d80df11a62ae2eaee45b687.jpeg

Edited by Lilia_90

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Posted (edited)

I'm literally where you are right now. I hit my first goal, moved it, hit the 2nd goal, moved it, hit the final goal, and now that I'm ready to maintain, I'm still losing lol I made a post about it and the general consensus was to not try to stop losing just yet and let my body decide its new happy place/set point. I'm also afraid of looking sickly thin (I have some curves and I'm big bones, so I carry my weight well and always look like I weigh less than I do) so I'm trying to figure out when to finally bring my body to a halt on the losing (if I even can) if I feel it's getting to be a bit too much.

I was always thin in high school, but when I had my son at age 20, my PCOS kicked in and I gained all kinds of weight and couldn't lose it. Then I had several miscarriages, then had my daughter which caused even more weight gain. Once I saw I couldn't lose the weight no matter what, I stopped caring and I ate myself all the way to 421 pounds.

Never, in a million years, did I think I'd be here now. But I'm kind of concerned about looking too thin, just like you are. So I feel you 100% there. I'm one of the ones that cut out a lot of foods and found yummy alternatives instead. I didn't want to feel deprived, but I also knew I couldn't really do cheat meals because it would be a slippery slope for me, and the guilt and "what ifs" just aren't worth it. So I went about finding really tasty, healthy, compliant meals instead. I've lost 235 pounds from my highest weight and 202 pounds since my initial surgery date. There's just no way I'm willing to lose any of that progress over a meal or drink or a get-together.

So for me, I still have to learn the balance lol I'm definitely not there yet. Not sure when I will be. But I'd like to get there sooner rather than later.

OH, and you look AWESOME!!! Fantastic job!!!!!!!

Edited by SleeveToBypass2023

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Looking pretty fine there @Lilia_90.

Actually @GreenTealael started a thread the other day where a few of us have started sharing our maintenance stories which you may find interesting. Link below. 😁

What you have gleaned already is certainly true: there are many different ways of successfully managing your maintenance. As I say, & say very often, the only right way is the way that’s right for you.

In the beginning you may find you are a little more controlled about what you are doing but over time you become more flexible in your food choices, eating style & how often & how much you eat of certain things. As you progress you continue to learn more things about what you can & can do. Well that’s how I was & am now. Certainly more flexible about some things. Bring in maintenance didn’t stop me going out & socialising with friends & family. I just was & still am very conscious about what I chose to eat, how much I ate & ensured I still ate slowly. Sometimes you have to make the best decisions you can in the situation. They may not be perfect but you can’t beat yourself about it. It’s not like you’re doing it everyday.

I don’t track, but do random checks especially when I introduce new foods or new recipes. It may be checking calories or looking at ingredients & swapping some out, weighing serves t check portion sizes (weighed my cooked vegetables last night as I’ve added some extra ones & wondered if I needed t adjust the portion) or changing the cooking methods. I usually weigh a few times a week. I do this as previously if I thought I was gaining I wouldn’t get on the scales - it’s not true if there’s no proof. So weighing myself every second or so day keeps me honest.

PS: It takes time to get past the body dysmorphia & being able to see how you really truely look now with your weight loss. Even with the evidence of body measurements clothing sizes, photos, number on the scales it can be hard to see the reality. Those fears of looking ‘sickly thin’ are very real with the dysmorphia. Doesn’t help when people around you may still be playing catch up too: Oh, you’re so thin. Don’t lose anymore weight. You look too thin now. Try to ignore those comments & in some cases you may need to tell others to butt out & mind their own business. In time & with regularly looking at the evidence you’ll come to accept & see how you look now. Though I still am surprised sometimes by how I can comfortably fit in small seats & squeeze through tight spaces. Understanding the space I physically take up in relation to the physical space around me.

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On 6/16/2024 at 5:37 AM, Lilia_90 said:

- Still have fun but track their calories and weight DAILY.

☝️i'm one of these.
with a dash of some major changes...specifically my regular exercise regime.

though i have to say that what i was doing when the first year or so of maintenance is very different from what i am doing now. i was still pretty strict about carbs and Desserts and drinking calories that first year and a bit after reaching goal.

as the years went on, i became less strict about WHAT i was eating, but still continued to keep an eye and stick to the TOTAL NUMBER OF CALORIES i needed to maintain...this amount changed up and down depending on my activity level, and i made sure to make changes as needed.

i love going out and socializing and eating and drinking, and i've discovered that i can do all that and still maintain my current weight. i love to try new restaurants and tick off all the michelin star venues i could possibly go to before i die. and i am forever grateful for my wls and its restriction that has conditioned me to not overindulge...just have a taste to try and i am satisfied. (i am also forever greatful for whatever powers that be that have me loving exercise lol)

with that said, let me attempt to provide my answers to your questions.

NOTE: starting weight 235 lbs, 5'2" female, 46 yrs old at surgery. i lost 108 lbs in 7 months (plus my 2 wk pre-op diet) to reach goal. i am now 5 years, 8 months post op, and weighed 118.2 lbs this morning.

1. What are your golden rules to successful maintenance?

- be flexible, be willing and able to change and make adjustments. weigh daily, always be aware of your calorie intake (i.e., track). EXERCISE: it makes you look and feel good. don't give into the angst...nobody is perfect...including YOU. i realize this is not for everyone, it takes a certain type of personality to be ok with this...i just happen to be one of them.

2. How did you manage the mental shift (navigating fear and uncertainty) while transitioning to maintenance? I can’t seem to quiet my thoughts and anxiety around WHAT IFs?

- TIME. as time goes by you will gain experience and knowledge and hopefully learn to trust yourself.

3. How much indulgence do you actually allow yourself?

- any time i want. hard to put a number or amount on this because it varies day by day, week by week. but i probably eat SOMETHING or other that most "dedicated" wls-ers would consider "bad" every day. (ASIDE: i personally don't think anything is "bad" just stuff higher in calories than others, with varying macro-makeups.

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Posted (edited)

dupe post

Edited by ms.sss

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Posted (edited)

I think you have absolutely got this. Forewarned is forearmed and you have definitely done your research.

With regard to your two categories of successful maintainers I think there might be a crossover too. I did clean up my act AND I track everything.

I regained 8lbs from my lowest weight about 9 months ago. I knew/know I was eating more than the approx 1600 calories I need to maintain (even if not eating crap) but wasn't upping my exercise. No further regain for a couple of months so I am hoping that's me done (?)

Best of luck on your journey 😍 and interesting thread!

Edited by Spinoza

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On 6/17/2024 at 7:41 AM, Arabesque said:

Looking pretty fine there @Lilia_90.

Actually @GreenTealael started a thread the other day where a few of us have started sharing our maintenance stories which you may find interesting. Link below. 😁

What you have gleaned already is certainly true: there are many different ways of successfully managing your maintenance. As I say, & say very often, the only right way is the way that’s right for you.

In the beginning you may find you are a little more controlled about what you are doing but over time you become more flexible in your food choices, eating style & how often & how much you eat of certain things. As you progress you continue to learn more things about what you can & can do. Well that’s how I was & am now. Certainly more flexible about some things. Bring in maintenance didn’t stop me going out & socialising with friends & family. I just was & still am very conscious about what I chose to eat, how much I ate & ensured I still ate slowly. Sometimes you have to make the best decisions you can in the situation. They may not be perfect but you can’t beat yourself about it. It’s not like you’re doing it everyday.

I don’t track, but do random checks especially when I introduce new foods or new recipes. It may be checking calories or looking at ingredients & swapping some out, weighing serves t check portion sizes (weighed my cooked vegetables last night as I’ve added some extra ones & wondered if I needed t adjust the portion) or changing the cooking methods. I usually weigh a few times a week. I do this as previously if I thought I was gaining I wouldn’t get on the scales - it’s not true if there’s no proof. So weighing myself every second or so day keeps me honest.

PS: It takes time to get past the body dysmorphia & being able to see how you really truely look now with your weight loss. Even with the evidence of body measurements clothing sizes, photos, number on the scales it can be hard to see the reality. Those fears of looking ‘sickly thin’ are very real with the dysmorphia. Doesn’t help when people around you may still be playing catch up too: Oh, you’re so thin. Don’t lose anymore weight. You look too thin now. Try to ignore those comments & in some cases you may need to tell others to butt out & mind their own business. In time & with regularly looking at the evidence you’ll come to accept & see how you look now. Though I still am surprised sometimes by how I can comfortably fit in small seats & squeeze through tight spaces. Understanding the space I physically take up in relation to the physical space around me.

Thank you Arabesque.

I love reading your replies as I feel you radiate positivity. May I ask if there are complete No Nos in your diet? Do you eat sugar/carbs when you feel like it? Or do you completely stay off?

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Posted (edited)

On 6/18/2024 at 1:02 AM, ms.sss said:

☝️i'm one of these.
with a dash of some major changes...specifically my regular exercise regime.

though i have to say that what i was doing when the first year or so of maintenance is very different from what i am doing now. i was still pretty strict about carbs and Desserts and drinking calories that first year and a bit after reaching goal.

as the years went on, i became less strict about WHAT i was eating, but still continued to keep an eye and stick to the TOTAL NUMBER OF CALORIES i needed to maintain...this amount changed up and down depending on my activity level, and i made sure to make changes as needed.

i love going out and socializing and eating and drinking, and i've discovered that i can do all that and still maintain my current weight. i love to try new restaurants and tick off all the michelin star venues i could possibly go to before i die. and i am forever grateful for my wls and its restriction that has conditioned me to not overindulge...just have a taste to try and i am satisfied. (i am also forever greatful for whatever powers that be that have me loving exercise lol)

with that said, let me attempt to provide my answers to your questions.

NOTE: starting weight 235 lbs, 5'2" female, 46 yrs old at surgery. i lost 108 lbs in 7 months (plus my 2 wk pre-op diet) to reach goal. i am now 5 years, 8 months post op, and weighed 118.2 lbs this morning.

1. What are your golden rules to successful maintenance?

- be flexible, be willing and able to change and make adjustments. weigh daily, always be aware of your calorie intake (i.e., track). EXERCISE: it makes you look and feel good. don't give into the angst...nobody is perfect...including YOU. i realize this is not for everyone, it takes a certain type of personality to be ok with this...i just happen to be one of them.

2. How did you manage the mental shift (navigating fear and uncertainty) while transitioning to maintenance? I can’t seem to quiet my thoughts and anxiety around WHAT IFs?

- TIME. as time goes by you will gain experience and knowledge and hopefully learn to trust yourself.

3. How much indulgence do you actually allow yourself?

- any time i want. hard to put a number or amount on this because it varies day by day, week by week. but i probably eat SOMETHING or other that most "dedicated" wls-ers would consider "bad" every day. (ASIDE: i personally don't think anything is "bad" just stuff higher in calories than others, with varying macro-makeups.

You are another source of inspiration to me and I feel that we are very much similar (stats and progress and the love for food lolz) from what I gather through your replies and posts.

I do not weigh daily and I do not track. I did track for 3 weeks a month or so ago and saw that I sit at around 800 calories a day (around 4.5 months post op) and now at over 6 months post op I still eat the same amount give or take. Even at my fittest and slimmest I never tracked or counted my calories and I don't think I will be doing that in my future if I am able to maintain my weight (with a little deviation that is). I also hate the weighing scale as it gives me so much anxiety (my heart starts thumping in my chest every time I step on it, I know I should talk to a therapist but I digress). What helps is that I exercise a lot and love working out since forever and it is sacred to me.

I was traveling the past week and decided to have a little fun (to Celebrate reaching the lowest weight I ever have) and allowed myself to eat normally (what the kids and the hubby were having) and that included burgers, bread, dessert (dumping is no joke, yikes!) and all things I didn't allow myself to eat. The portions were tiny mind you (thanks restriction). I decided to step on the scale once I was back and saw that I had lost 200 grams lol. I guess I should make friends with my scale and say hi multiple times a week instead of one.

How do you keep tracking your calories without getting bored?

Edited by Lilia_90

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Posted (edited)

10 hours ago, Lilia_90 said:

I guess I should make friends with my scale and say hi multiple times a week instead of one.

i really depends if you can handle it. lots on here cannot, as it gives them angst and anxiety. if this is the case for you then don't do it. not worth it, honestly. the ultimate goal is to be able to maintain your weight LONG TERM (whatever weight that may be) more or less effortlessly. if it takes too much effort, gives you too much angst, is too restrictive and/or goes against your chosen lifestyle, then eventually, ultimately, it will let you down.

case in point: a was a card-carrying carb-o-phobic. during weight loss phase and the first year of maintenance, i limited myself to 20g NET carbs a day (which is basically nothing). during that time, i was all, hells ya, i can do this forever! spoiler alert: i couldn't. pizza and Pasta in italy has carbs. as does rice in asia, and mangos and bananas in the caribbean. there are no bariatric-friendly tasting menus at Michelin Star restaurants. i am an avid traveller and latest-and-greatest-restaurant-frequenter sprinkled with a touch of party-goer. and most likely a a high-functioning alcoholic. the low-to-no-carb M.O.just didn't fit. so i just ate it all. granted, i am an exercise addict and have (self-described) superhuman restriction, so it works for ME. my M.O. may not work for others.

aside: i am almost 6 years post op and have maintained below goal weight this entire time. i look and feel pretty effing awesome, despite all the shite i eat and drink.

10 hours ago, Lilia_90 said:

How do you keep tracking your calories without getting bored?

again, i think this is just a personality thing. i am totally anal and LOVE stats and spreadsheets and data gathering and analysis, i get hot and heavy for graphs and rows and rows of aggregated data. so when you ask how do i NOT get bored..i answer with HOW COULD I POSSIBLY GET BORED???? this shite is RIVETING. it is legitimately FUN for me.

and for those who don't share my specific brand of craziness, what i do is probably perceived as bonkers. but thats cool, different strokes and all that.

the lesson here (as it always and forever shall be) is: Find what works for YOU, and do THAT. there will be a billion and one people on here and elsewhere that will tell you what to do and how to do it. they will tell you that this is terrible and that is the only way that will work. take from them what works and chuck the the rest.

good luck!

p.s. you look AWESOME!!!

Edited by ms.sss

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20 hours ago, Lilia_90 said:

Thank you Arabesque.

I love reading your replies as I feel you radiate positivity. May I ask if there are complete No Nos in your diet? Do you eat sugar/carbs when you feel like it? Or do you completely stay off?

Wouldn’t say there are complete no nos (except for sodas/soft drinks except soda Water or tonic water fir my gin 😁) though there are things I avoid or eat rarely. I don’t eat bread, rice or Pasta as they tend to sit heavily & are simple carbs. Apart from fruit & vegetables, I eat 2 serves of multi or whole grain carbs a day (multi grain crackers & rolled oats). Potatoes tend to sit heavily too especially mashed, baked/roasted aren’t as bad but I rarely have them.

I rarely eat sweet things like cakes, Desserts, chocolates, etc. except on special occasions. Like I have dessert at Christmas & may have a small piece of cake or dessert at a special event like a wedding (couple of times a year). Generally avoid foods with artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes & I know those that do like my yoghurt & Protein Bar. My added sugar intake is less than 10g a day usually only about 5g.

I don’t use pre prepared sauces except Asian ones like hoi sin, oyster, etc. & gravox.

I still enjoy a drink every now & again just not every night like I used to & one glass is usually enough.

I prep & cook most of what I eat myself to keep my foods primarily no or low processed.

I used to enjoy a dessert when I went out or something sweet like a biscuit or cup cake after dinner & 4 or 5 meals a week were rice or pasta & ate bread every day before surgery but I really don’t miss them now & I think I’m better without them. Sometimes it would be a little easier when I go out but there are always alternatives or work arounds. Mind you it’s harder to avoid chilli or heavily spiced foods (have a sensitivity to them) when I go out than avoid pasta, rice & bread.

This is what I learnt worked for me. Your way of eating in maintenance may be different to mine and that’s okay. It just has to work for you. As I said you have to be flexible, you can’t control every thing every day. And you have to accept that sometimes you might go off piste & that’s okay.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you everyone for your replies, I truly appreciate every single one of you.

Another thing I was wondering if you felt your restriction eased/loosened with time? I had friends who have gotten WLS and most tell me they were able to eat far more than I do at each stage (mind you they all lost a ton of weight). I feel that my restriction is fierce and I am only able to eat 3 bites comfortably and the rest becomes a struggle (I stop before feeling to uncomfortably full but sometimes it just hits me suddenly and hard). Does this get better?

Edited by Lilia_90

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It has weakened over the years but it is still there. Some days it makes itself known quite strongly. Some days it’s more a gentle reminder.Some days I can eat more (all of my portion) without any restriction & some days I can’t. Certainly isn’t as strong & restrictive as it was in the beginning though. Think it’s a combination of being more conscious of how much I can eat of different things & just a general softening/loosening over time much like our tummy loosens a little.

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"- Still have fun but track their calories and weight DAILY."

This is me too.

1. What are your golden rules to successful maintenance?

I've found that sticking to a monthly calorie average rather than a daily one gives me the flexibility I need. If I go over my limit for a week, I know I have time to balance it out. This approach prevents me from being too harsh on myself for one bad day. For instance, my goal for June is to maintain a daily average of 1550 calories.This method has been crucial for my success. In the past, focusing on daily or weekly limits led to self-criticism and was counterproductive. It took some time, but I’ve learned that this is a life long game. By being kinder to myself. I've made much more progress. Even naturally thin people overeat occasionally; the difference is they don't punish themselves or give up.

2. How did you manage the mental shift (navigating fear and uncertainty) while transitioning to maintenance?

The shift for me came pretty naturally. I eased into it slow. I remember in the beginning that if I lost a pound or so that month I would adjust my calorie intake, small increments so I wouldn't get used to too high of calories. It's always a slippery slope when you have a history of overeating. I adjusted it month to month, until I got to the point that my weight was stable month to month.

3. How much indulgence do you actually allow yourself? I don't have any absolutes. I do try to eat healthy 80/20. I try to eat 5-8 servings a day of fruits and vegetables.

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On 6/18/2024 at 2:28 PM, Spinoza said:

I think you have absolutely got this. Forewarned is forearmed and you have definitely done your research.

With regard to your two categories of successful maintainers I think there might be a crossover too. I did clean up my act AND I track everything.

I regained 8lbs from my lowest weight about 9 months ago. I knew/know I was eating more than the approx 1600 calories I need to maintain (even if not eating crap) but wasn't upping my exercise. No further regain for a couple of months so I am hoping that's me done (?)

Best of luck on your journey 😍 and interesting thread!

I am sure I have asked this before, but what size do you wear. I am also 5'9 started at 297 and am at 175. I see your 145? I cant even phathom seeing that weight for myself. So that is amazing!

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