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The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients

Activate Your “Auto-correct”

I have been thinking about typewriters. Both of my grandmothers had typewriters. I remember my Grandma Gwen, typing out letters and invoices for my grandpa’s construction business.  I also remember how cool it was that my Grandma Pearl had an electric typewriter. When I was a young teen I was able to use it to retype a letter and it was pretty great.

Back in typewriter days, if you made a mistake you had a few options. 1. You could completely ignore the mistake and act like it didn’t happen at all and then finish your document. 2. You could backspace and X out the wrong word or letter, or 3. You could backspace and type the right letter over and over again until it was darker than the wrong letter. Option 4. was to use erasable typewriter paper – (I think it was called onion skin).  If a mistake was made, you could take the paper out – use an eraser to erase the error and then put the paper back in, hoping that everything would line up ok, but often it didn’t.

Then along came the infamous ‘white out’ Great stuff. If you make a mistake, you could use white out to cover it up. At first white out came in a liquid, then correction tape, and eventually some typewriters included a white out key to type over the mistake, like my grandma Pearl’s. I learned quickly how important it was to let the white out dry before starting again to type the right word or letter or it would smear and make a terrible mess.

As we look back, the evolution from typewriter to word processor is truly remarkable. Today, we are fortunate to have word processing programs with spell checkers! Right now I am typing in a Microsoft Word Document. If I make a spelling or a grammatical error – it marks it accordingly. And, it suggests possible corrections.  That’s cool. But what is even greater, is the auto-correct feature. I have used this program long enough that now it recognizes some of the words I use often and it automatically completes my words and sometimes my sentences – without me!

What a great feature – auto-correct. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could train ourselves to auto-correct our bad behaviors, before we made a mistake? I personally would love to be able to engage an auto-correct feature that would prevent me from eating the wrong thing or making a bad choice.  I think that is possible. Somehow it seems to me that thin people have great control over their auto-correct feature.  So how can I?

I suspect that each one of us is at a different point of being able to engage our ability to auto-correct ourselves.

Take our eating habits for example. When we eat the wrong thing, some ignore it and move on. Others try to X it out or cover it up with miss-placed beliefs like – if I eat it fast the calories won’t count. As I have thought through this analogy, I have challenged myself and now challenge you to spend some time thinking not just about your mistakes and wrong choices, but more about what you do about it ‘after the mistake has been made and what it might take to activate your own autocorrect feature for next time.

Next time you eat something that you consider a mistake, pause a moment as ask yourself these questions.

  1. How did this food get here in the first place? Likely it was a conscious choice when shopping. Auto-correct with more mindful shopping.
  2. Was it in-sight or did you have to search for it, deliberately go for it. Auto-correct with out of sight or hard to reach placement.
  3. Were you really hungry? Auto-correct with using the HALTS technique. Ask yourself am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired or Stresses? Then act accordingly.
  4. Was there something else I could have eaten instead? Auto-correct by surrounding yourself with better choices – again that decision is made in advance.
  5. So now that you have eaten that cupcake what are you going to do now? Auto-correct by coming to understand your own metabolism and know that if calories went in you need to work them off!

Like you, I have come too far to allow myself to repeat mistakes over and over again without making an effort to understand and correct them. I don’t want to ignore my mistakes or attempt to cover them up, “X” them out, or white wash them.  We all make mistakes, but we also all have the ability to mindfully engage our own auto-correct feature. Here’s to lessons from a typewriter!

5 Ways You Know your WLS Honeymoon is Over!

Even at 20 years post op, I still clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the fifth of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

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#5 You stop attending support groups, telling yourself “They are just for the newbies anyway.”

We always suspected that those who regularly attend support groups after weight loss surgery are more successful than those who don’t. Thanks to our collaboration with Stanford University Medical Center, we now have the hard data to prove it.  Put simply, “Successful WLS patients are 3 times more likely to participate in support groups than their less successful counterparts.” (Read Research)

Unfortunately, sometimes we find that support groups focus on and cater to the newbies, leaving the veteran patients bored, un-motivated and less likely come back. If the topics in support group are not of interest to you, suggest some that would be.  Work to be part of the solution. Perhaps offer to do some research, share your experiences or even prepare and teach a lesson.

If you have found that you have lost interest in your support group, please consider that if you don’t need the support group, perhaps the support group needs you.

I, for one am so very grateful to the two WLS patients who at 10 years post op volunteered month after month to share their story, coach, encourage and teach those of us coming along behind them. Perhaps it’s time to give a little back by paying if forward. (Become a BSCI Certified Support Group Leader) There is nothing more motivating than having people look up to you, learn from you and help keep you on track as a good example.

For many, support groups go way beyond, “What is the topic?” People view support group attendance as a commitment to themselves to stay connected and accountable. Support groups offer opportunities to connect a network of like-minded people who understand your journey as many do not. So many life-long friendships are established at support groups.

Make support group attendance a must do on your calendar to help you stay on track and accountable. If you are unable to attend a live group, web-based forums, Facebook groups and telephonic groups are easily found. BSCI’s DreamTeam of educators host free telephonic support groups every week. Fun, easy and a great way to stay connected. Telephonic Support Group Schedule

Read our  Support Group Survey and gain insights and perspective from over 1,000 bariatric patients and how they view their support groups.

4 of 5 Ways you Know your WLS Honeymoon is Over!

Even at 20 years post op, I still clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the fourth of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

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#4 You Realize You Should Have Paid More Attention to your Bariatric Team

It seems that through the years the bariatric medical community has made great progress in ensuring that prospective patients are better educated and more prepared for surgery. As many of you know, there is a long checklist of todo’s prior to surgery. Consultations, evaluations, exams, tests, support groups and the list goes on and on.

An interesting thing happens though. When surgery is imminent, our focus is primarily on the details surrounding the actual procedure, hospital stay, pain management, how it will feel, etc. The classes and information are helpful, but unfortunately, we are not really listening. We are trying; we nod our heads at what our dieticians, nurses, mental health and exercise professionals are telling us. We commit to being compliant, eat right, exercise, take our vitamins and attend our follow up visits.  But are we really listening? Are we learning?  Perhaps not.

Following surgery, it’s “Whew, I am alive!” And once we are released from the hospital we begin our journey, sticking closely to what we have been advised. We start to really pay attention. Then, something magical happens. Our  surgical tool starts to work, just like we had hoped. The weight starts to fall off!  But, then we learn that no matter what we do, whether we follow the rules or not, the weight still continues to fall off.  A dangerous realization.  You see, once we think of ourselves as invincible – we stop listening.

Sadly, we see that it is only when people reach a plateau or heaven forbid, begin to gain weight that they are really ready to listen and learn. We are told so often, surgery is a tool, it’s a tool, it’s a tool. Again, we nod our heads. Now that our honeymoon is over we must be ready to learn. I mean really ready to learn.

We have “graduated” or are have been “released” from our bariatric clinic and may wonder if we missed our shot to learn. Surgery was a success; we have lost weight and now we need to learn how to maintain. Wishing we would have paid more attention earlier on, we might wonder where can turn.

For me, I turned to all of the successful patients I could find, to learn what they knew and do what they did.  As I expected, there are very particular habits that those most successful have made part of their lives. In fact, I have spent the last 20 years seeking out the most successful wls patients, identifying their habits, learning from these long term losers and sharing my research all over the globe. Read research here:

Learn more about The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients.

So often, we hear struggling patients comment that they did not learn these important principles during their initial weight loss. If that is the case with you, it is not too late. Read the book, take a class, participate online. Remember your surgical tool will serve you well for a lifetime as long as you learn to use it properly. Learn what you might have missed, learn what successful patient have to teach you, learn all you need to know about your own body, metabolism and food addictions. It’s never too late.

Subscribe to this blog to receive: #5 You stop attending support groups, telling yourself “they are just for the newbies anyway.”

2 of 5 Ways to Know Your WLS Honeymoon is Over

Even at 20 years post op, I still  clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the second of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

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#2 PEOPLE STOP RAVING ABOUT HOW YOU LOOK

Boy, do I remember this. Of course I would, it was all about me! Like many of you I enjoyed months and months of friends, family neighbors, work associates and even strangers, raving about how great I looked. One of my favorite comments was “Look at you, you are going to blow away!” Loved it!

I think I even walked at little taller, and had a new strut and swagger as I showcased my success. When I knew would be seen by someone who didn’t know about the new me, I was ecstatic!  Then over time, people started to get used to my new size. I slowly began to fade into normal, the newness wore off and all of the attention nearly stopped. I missed the rave reviews, I kept wondering to myself, “Do I look fat?” Am I gaining weight?” “Why doesn’t someone say something!” Messed with my mind to be sure.

If that has not happened to you yet, trust me, it will. And it is important to be prepared for the emotional and mental grief it may cause. When it does, it will be a good time to do a little evaluating of your true motives for choosing weight loss surgery. Ask yourself why you made this decision in the first place. Did you do this for someone else? To look feel better for yourself? For revenge? To improve your health? This is a time to reconnect to your personal why. Remind yourself of what motivated you in the first place. Pat yourself on the back and learn to improve your ‘self-talk.’

Then, move on. Rather than having it be all about you, now is a great time to turn and support those coming along behind you. Opportunities abound for successful patients who want to give back by paying it forward. Motivate, encourage and support new and prospective WLS patients.  Help with an event or patient celebration, work as a hospital volunteer, become a Support Group Leader.Share your successes online and participate in one or more of the many Facebook Group discussions. You look great – now be great by helping others.

Subscribe to this blog for #3 THE SCALE STARTS TO GO IN THE WRONG DIRECTION

1 of 5 Ways You Know Your WLS Honeymoon is Over

Even at 20 years post op, I still  clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the first of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

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YOU START ‘FREEWHEELING’ AND FORGET ABOUT YOUR GOOD HABITS

We are so careful early on. We are committed and sure we will become the most compliant patient ever! We measure our food and water, use a shopping list at the store, prepare meals in advance and eat what we plan, exercise, weigh weekly and take our vitamins.  Then, one day it seems that we can forego one or more of these good habits and still loose weight. “Hmm, this is awesome! This surgical tool is my answer, hooray!”

If you find yourself boasting about how you ate… or how you don’t exercise… or how get away with things you were warned not to do. BEWARE! I promise it will catch up to you. Our research clearly shows exactly what successful long term patients do to reach and maintain their weight. Learn what they know and do what they did.

It is important to realize that you will not be the exception to the rule and while you may feel invincible now – know that it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. There is a reason it is called the ‘honeymoon phase.’ When it ends, if you have not used the time to commit to, implement and own your Success Habits, you will be in find yourself struggling to learn how to maintain your weight. Commit once to a specific set of daily habits and stick with them. All of them!

Subscribe to this blog to continue to #2 PEOPLE STOP RAVING ABOUT HOW GREAT YOU LOOK

Feel Like Slug?

Last week on my morning walk,  I encountered a little slug on my road. And I wondered, do they ever get where they are going? Do they even know where they’re going? And most importantly do they even care?

Some days I feel like a slug. I act like a slug. And I am afraid I might look like a slug. Do you ever feel like a slug? Well, I know that on some days I surely do. I am 56 years old now. No wait, I’m  53. Hmm, no. I was born in 1959 so that means this October I will be 57? Really? I guess it just stands to reason that as I begin to loose my mind,  I am also slowing down and as a result, sometimes feel like a slug.

I don’t want to slow down. And I never want to be slows as a slug. But I also know that though I do not have control over the natural aging process, I can choose to stay fit and healthy. That is and will always be my choice.  Just as it is yours. So sluggish or not, each day I exercise. Sometimes with a slow and sluggish start, I still make myself get moving.

I prefer to exercise in the morning. But, it seems that it is especially hard to get started in the morning. They say that once something is emotion it will stay in motion. But that first motion that is by far the hardest. Like you,  I’ve learned that exercise simply must be part of my daily routine.  (See: The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients ) A walk in the woods, a hike up the hill, jumping jacks in the yard. (Fooled you didn’t I? ) I never do jumping jacks in the yard. LOL.

With our move to Star Valley Wyoming, so many of my routines are having to change. My exercise routine is a critical component to my well-being. For years  was a member of the coolest gym in the world and now, well, lets just say going to the gym is not what they do around these parts. So, after a few out of sync weeks, I am adapting. I am walking and hiking each day with our dogs.  I am nothing if not flexible. It has been an enriching and fulfilling experience and one that I am enjoying very much. It is still a bit cold here in the mornings, and that first step up the hill is a rough one. But, I am up, I am out and I know where I am going and why.  I feel less like a slug.

3 of 5 Ways You Know Your WLS Honeymoon is Over

Even at 20 years post op, I still  clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the third of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

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#3 THE SCALE STARTS TO GO IN THE WRONG DIRECTION

Perhaps like me,  you spent many years not knowing what you weighed. I hated the scale and would avoid it at all costs. But, I loved nothing more than weighing myself during the first year after my surgery.  It seemed as though I could weigh in the morning and lose even more weight by the time I returned home in the evening! Talk about motivating.  For the first time in almost forever, the scales were tipping in my favor and it was exciting!

As many do, I reached a plateau a time or two on my way down to my goal. So, perhaps you too have plateaued along the way, but this time, you sense it is different. You have reached your goal, stayed there and celebrated your success, but then, your weight starts to climb back up. Panic sets in and you know that glory days are over. Thoughts like, “I was afraid this was too good to be true.” or “I knew this couldn’t last.” keep surfacing. Self- doubt sets in and you worry that like so many times in your life, you lose, then gain. (And often with a bonus). You hoped it would be different with a surgical intervention, you hoped it would be easy. And in some respects, it has been but now reality hits and you know it’s time to pay attention.

At this critical juncture. it is time to ensure that you have put into place the Success Habits you must rely upon every day for the rest of your life in order to maintain your weight. We all know how to lose weight, we have spent so many years on diets, off diets, thinking about a diet, researching a new diet, cursing diets, getting on and falling off diets. But learning how to maintain weight is a completely different mindset. Take this time as you transition from losing to maintaining to remind yourself that obesity is a disease. And one that you will struggle with for your entire life; surgery or not. You have a remarkable surgical tool to help you manage it as long as you learn to use it properly. Commit the time and effort to learn about your own personal metabolism, your triggers, and your relationship with food. It is up to you to evaluate your behaviors, stop doing what you might have gotten away with during the rapid weight loss phase and focus on everything you have learned. Memorize and internalize Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients.

Subscribe to blog for #4 You Realize You Should Have Paid More Attention to your Bariatric Team

Belly Flops

A few weeks ago, I took two of my grandchildren to a dollar store to buy a little toy for their cousin Axel who is turning 2. With two kids a trip down the candy isle was inevitable. There at eye level was a display of specially priced Jelly Beans – Belly Flops. At first, I though that is was a competitor trying to capitalize on the famous Jelly Belly name, but at second look, they WERE Jelly Bellies!  For a buck!  “Seriously?” I thought.  As I looked closer, the Belly Flops are Jelly Belly rejects. Imperfect, mis-shaped, mis-stamped Jelly Belly jelly beans. By some stoke of genius by a marketing team, now these odd, rejects have their own identity. “Brilliant!”

What a great example of turning mistakes into something valuable. You know, the lemons into lemon-aide sort of thing. I have thought about Belly Flops quite a bit over the last few weeks and what lessons they can  teach.  I have reviewed a few flops of my own and I have discovered that in my life, I only make mistakes when I actually stick my neck out. Duh. But I have come to know how important it is to actually do, reach, create, live life, give it a try, make something happen. Yes, it is much easier to live risk free and to settle into a calm, comfortable routines, but our willing to do and dare is oh so important for our growth, personal progress & development.  Like Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad) shares, “When you come to the boundary of what you know, its time to make some mistakes and learn something new.”

So, won’t you join me?  Lets go out a make some mistakes.

Sugar Free Me

sugarWell, on a good day I am sugar free! And the more I have experimented, the more I have learned for myself the many reasons why I should be sugar free always! I suspect that most of you can relate to the downward (and I don’t mean weight) spiral that comes on that slippery, surgery slope once you take a nibble or two of the tiny snickers bars, or  M & M’s.

In my 16 years experience as a weight loss surgery patient, I am finally convinced that nothing good comes from something sweet. I suppose that is a little harsh – but let me share with you some of the things I have discovered for myself and why I am committed to being more mindful about consuming sugary products.

8 REASONS WHY I AM SUGAR FREE 

1.    I I don’t need it.  Though we need energy from our food – it does not need to come from refined sugars.

2.    It makes me groggy in the morning. (I will admit that I got into a bad habit of having a little something sweet at night before bed – finally put two and two together and I am convinced that my sluggish beginning to my day is directly related to eating sugary sweets the night before.

3.    It It give me headaches. Again this was a keen realization that when I over indulge in sweets a few hours later I get a headache.

4.    There are many alternatives – I use a little Splenda, Equal and Sweet and Low now and then – can’t tell the difference in taste so why waste calories on sugar if the substitutes are just as good? And I like honey as well – much better choice than refined sugar.

5.    Diabetes in my family – My recent blood work showing my blood sugar levels creeping up and bit has frightened me. I always thought that after losing over 110 pounds I would not have to worry about such things. Apparently not!

6.    Calories add up quickly from sugar sources and too many calories = weight gain – plain and simple. Don’t need it – don’t want it.

7.    I have learned to like fruit. An apple a day…..

8.  Cavities! who needs them?

After I made this list, I also make another list to see why I would choose to consume sugar products. I only found two reasons. 1. It tastes good and 2. It is easy. So, it’s my health 8 – sugar 2.  The choice seems pretty clear don’t you think? I hope you will take a minute to evaluate your sugar consumption and see if you discover, as I did, that it’s something I can live without and it will help “tip the scales’ in your favor!

What Luck!

During my graduating year in High School (1977) I got the biggest kick out of the TV commercial featuring the winners of the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.  The two mild mannered, plainly dressed, farm folk declared (with more drawl and twang than Gomer Pile) “What luck! We Mays are in luck. We have just won a million dollars! Our lives will never be the same!”

Yep, they are lucky, I thought.  I am a May too, so how come I’m not so lucky?  Though many spend a considerable amount of time, effort, and energy entering sweepstakes – hoping to get ‘lucky,’ I have adopted a different philosophy. “The harder you work the luckier you get!” Time and time again that has proven to be the case.

Following my weight-loss surgery in 1995, I recall mustering up the nerve to call a few of my friends to tell them what I had done. The first call I made was to a long time nurse friend.  I will forever remember her immediate reply after I told her where I was and that I had just had a gastric bypass.  “You are so lucky!” she exclaimed.  “Lucky?” I replied.  “What do you mean lucky?” I have spent my entire life fighting my weight and finally, finally, I had the courage to make this gigantic commitment. It took great thought, planning, preparation, prayer, not to mention a support of my family, and a 2nd mortgage to do this.  Luck had nothing to do with it!”

The first year was a dream come true.  The weight seemed to fall off. I lost 125 pounds. No complications, no bumps, and very little effort on my part. Wow was I lucky!  I would find myself eating something I shouldn’t. Or skipping a few days of exercise only to weigh in to find that I lost another pound! “Dodged a bullet this week; Man I am so lucky!” I thought. And then…. I found that the next month, was not so lucky.  I learned by experience that I was not invincible, and that maintaining my weight loss requires much more than luck. It requires dedication, commitment, thought, focus, and constant effort.  Indeed I found, that in weight issues too, the harder I work, the luckier I am.

It has been over 20 years now and my weight continues to fluctuate up and down 15 pounds or so. Interesting, when I work hard at it, I lose – when I don’t, I gain. Go figure.

It seems that this weight management thing will always require effort. Throughout your journey, you too, will have ups and downs, good days and bad days. We have a remarkable tool, but we will always reap what we sow. As you work to reach and maintain your weight-loss goals, remember to stay committed to your Success Habits, stay in tune with your body, work hard;  and oh, good luck!