Sometimes I have to pinch myself (but not too hard because there isn’t as much flesh these days to limit the pain) that it’s 7 years since I had my weight-loss surgery. During that time I, like just about every WLS patient I meet or chat to, have had ups, downs, plateaus and stalls. On the whole my own experience has been enormously positive but I am always aware of the more difficult journeys and experiences that others endure.
My 6½ stone (90+lb) weight loss was good and I have been able (with constant vigilance) to maintain it. But it isn’t easy! I hope this makes me
qualified to advise so many of you pre- and post-op about the ways in which I tackle these. I am an expert by experience as they say.
It’s so true that the work starts pre-op and then continues for life – the scalpel undoubtedly helps but the hard work is still done by each and every one of us in the real life thereafter. And by real I mean dealing with celebrations, setbacks, tragedies and joys each and every day. Like me, many patients discover that the body can be forgiving for only a few ‘off piste’ days before it responds with that dreadful word REGAIN.
So I have learnt that I need rules to put in place to protect my loss. These are rules I now (by experience) don’t question and never waver over and they help me to lessen the risk of regain and also give me some protective armour against the onslaught of weight gain. My rules will not be your rules since they are all personal but some will have a universal resonance and you will no doubt have come across them before. They are things like never drinking with meals, eating my protein first etc which are the WLS ground rules but there are some extra ones that I believe give me an advantage. For the record these are my main non-negotiables:
- No drinking with meals (want to know why? see here).
- No alcohol (at all, never, ever..) I have followed this for the last 2 years and so pleased I have.
- Eat my protein first – I need my 70g a day and I ensure I get it by prioritising my protein.
- Portion control my plate. ½ to protein, ¼ to veg/salad/fruit, ¼ to carbs and eaten in that order.
- No unrestricted snacking on processed snacks – I build in the odd portion-controlled ‘treat’.
- Swimming at least once a week.
- Get enough sleep (which sadly sometimes means curtailing social arrangements).
- Follow the 5% fat rule but use judgement with some foods that have good fats (for example I am greedy with avocado!)
- I avoid fizz/soda most of the time but do celebrate with it when there isn’t anything else remotely suitable. I just stir mine like crazy to get rid of the bubbles and sip slowly.
- I allow myself the odd occasional sweet treat (say once a week if my weight is stable) but I accept full responsibility and the consequences with the risk I am taking of ‘dumping’, I hope I choose consciously but have been caught out!
- Exercise – in addition to swimming I try to do as much walking as I can fit in. I am working on this … it’s my Achilles heel for sure.
- I am working on self-forgiveness – it’s not possible to get everything right so I have made a pact that I won’t punish myself nor be too self-critical, providing I learn from my mistakes. Yep, I make quite a few of them …
It’s been a lively 2016 and 7th year post-op. Business with Bariatric Cookery has gone from strength to strength – we now have over 50,000 visitors to the website each month and over 10,000 subscribers to the free newsletter. We have also introduced some new products to our range – the new portion control bariatric cutlery (see here) has joined our other portion control products (plate, cups and bento) and we now also offer our bariatric cookery books as e-books too (see here).
We shall be revealing our newly re-vamped and improved website shortly where we still hope to bring you more features of relevance. As well as the usual surgery and food ones we hope to include many more on fashion, beauty and exercise ones alongside those all-important ‘coping mechanism’ updates.
On a personal level it’s been hectic – our daughter got married in the summer and I was able to wear a dress I loved and couldn’t have possibly considered, nor worn, in 2009 pre-surgery. It was a glorious day and everything we all hoped and prayed for.
We’re now nearly at the end of 2016, which has been a tricky year globally, but I feel confident that 2017 can be a year to build on success no matter how big or small. We all have so much to give thanks for.
So on that note, thank you (each and every visitor and sponsor) for making my 7th year a memorable one – I have some lovely memories to ‘bank’ and bring a smile to my face and greet 2017.