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Maintaining and Building Muscle After Bariatric Surgery

January 25, 2023

woman flexing arms after workout

As a postoperative bariatric patient, you will experience plenty of physical and emotional changes. One such change is musculature. Well-developed muscle offers several benefits. It helps maintain joints, bone, tendon, and nerve structure, and it also helps burn more calories at rest, which aids in weight loss. However, the restrictive nature of the post-bariatric surgery diet can make it difficult for patients to maintain that muscle mass, let alone build more.

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The Four Things Anyone Considering Bariatric Surgery Should Know

January 11, 2023

doctor measuring stomach of overweight man

Prepare Yourself for CHANGE in Every Aspect of Your Life.

This one word – change. At first, when you hear it in the context of bariatric surgery, you are just so focused on getting thinner and healthier that you’re simply thinking of the physical. However, this choice and the change it ushers in will also affect every part of your life/work balance, relationships, mental health, family relations, and friendships. Social dynamics change a lot as you see life through a different lens. Dealing with that feeling can be emotional. Thoughts will go through your head like:

This never happened to me before; more smiles, more friendly people, more willing to help. Why?

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The Effects of Abdominal (Visceral) Fat

November 23, 2022

woman measuring her abdomen with measuring tape

When we weigh ourselves or look in the mirror, we don’t dig much deeper than the number on the scale or the image staring back at us. This is human nature, and we all do it. Similarly, when we visit our primary care physician for a yearly physical, we might learn more about the effects of our excess weight on various metabolic markers, like cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes. But by worrying about numbers alone, we often ignore the less obvious issues, like where the fat has accumulated. Visceral fat, the bad fat that accumulates around the abdomen is a serious concern and one that has not yet been given the importance it deserves.

A fascinating fact about abdominal fat and waist size is that the latter can predict heart disease more accurately than the ubiquitous body mass index or BMI. Female patients with a waist size over 35 inches and males with a greater than 40-inch waist ratchet up to a significantly higher risk of heart disease and other obesity-related conditions. One of the reasons for this is the pro-inflammatory effect visceral fat has throughout the body.

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How Do I Tell My Spouse to Have Bariatric Surgery?

November 9, 2022

Man and woman holding hands in supportive manner

One of the most upsetting things to see in a relationship is your partner struggling with their weight and continually yo-yo-ing up and down. Getting excited at the achievements but then falling into deep frustration and maybe even depression at every failure. While it can be difficult and frustrating to watch, it is something that most partners of those suffering from obesity must live with as they try to lose weight. Ultimately, the hormonal and metabolic barriers to losing a significant amount of weight are such that 90 to 95% of obese patients trying to lose weight with diet and exercise alone simply can’t do so.

Much like other chronic diseases, obesity does not just affect the person. The entire family often suffers, even if they are not obese. A spouse may not be able to have the emotional and physical relationship with their partner that they once had or hoped to have. Kids often lose out on their parent’s attention and physical presence because of their inability to perform certain activities due to weight or navigating the parent’s preoccupation with body image and the emotional roller coaster that comes with struggling with weight.

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A Weight Loss Journey Requires Vulnerability

October 19, 2022

Woman smiling with arms stretched

When we’re younger, we’re fearless. We don’t mind climbing trees, making friends with strangers, or telling our secrets to people we’ve just met. We open our eyes and hearts to new experiences and people and trust that everything will be okay. But, somewhere along the way, we learn that vulnerability can hurt and be uncomfortable.

Brené Brown, a renowned professor, lecturer, author, and podcast host – best known for some popular TED Talks, has focused her research on shame, vulnerability, and leadership. Ironically, all 3 of those things can relate to a person on a weight loss journey and the journey itself.

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So How Much Weight Should You Be Losing?

October 12, 2022

blue and pink yoga balls surround scale with measuring tape lying across on-top of scale

The weight loss process after bariatric surgery is different for each of us. So too, will be the journey and challenges toward our goal weight. That said, there are benchmarks that we should use to understand if we are losing enough or if we’re losing too much. However, before we get into the details of how much weight you should lose each week or each month, it’s essential to understand that weight is not the only or even best marker of success. There are many other determinants of success after bariatric surgery, including waist size, body shape, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood sugar, physical improvements, psychological well-being, and more.

Of course, it would be unreasonable for us to expect those who have had bariatric surgery to ignore or somehow minimize their weight loss progress. After all, measuring your weight is the most accessible (and frankly, exciting) marker – you just need a scale.

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A Common Myth. You Will Have Dental Issues After Bariatric Surgery

October 5, 2022

Woman smiling in-front of pale blue backdrop

Bariatric surgeons have heard it all, and many patients are concerned about dental issues after their bariatric procedure. You may see reports on the Internet about teeth falling out and other wild stories on the dental consequences of surgery. But do they hold any water? The answer is a resounding no. However, patients must understand that their habits before and after bariatric surgery can make a big difference in the health of their teeth and mouth.

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Is It Better to Exercise or Diet for Weight Loss?

September 28, 2022

apples, berries, other fruit, measuring tape, and dumbbells are scattered on counter top

We are told that combining diet and exercise is critical to our long-term weight loss and health, and it’s backed by empirical evidence, not to mention that it makes sense. While this is true, it is not the end of the story. We must explore the nuances of diet and exercise for weight loss to understand how to move forward fully. For one, which is better? Dieting or exercising? Let’s take each of these one at a time and know how they are best used to improve your overall health.

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What to Do If You Don’t Feel Hungry After Bariatric Surgery

September 21, 2022

Woman smiling eating salad Text reads "Not feeling hungry after bariatric surgery"

Not feeling hungry after bariatric surgery is a very real possibility. And I know. I’ve lived it. And almost four months out from surgery, I am still feeling it. It’s a double-edged sword – you got weight loss surgery to help suppress appetite and eat less. But, now you might not like eating food, and that’s a challenge too.

Everyone’s different. And as we know it’s impossible to compare the experiences of two bariatric patients. So, if you are not having trouble eating after surgery, then kudos! High-five! That’s fantastic for you, and hopefully, you’re now only eating limited amounts of food.

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How I Almost Got in My Own Way and Didn’t Have Bariatric Surgery

September 14, 2022

erson considering bariatric surgery measures themself Text reads "Beating the Stigma: how he almost convinced himself not to have bariatric surgery

My story is a long one. And I don’t mean long as in a story littered with detail. The plot is simple. But it has played out over 11 years. It’s like one of those three-and-a-half-hour movies that seemingly won’t end but could have been wrapped up in just two. Mine is a story that reeks of senselessness, stubbornness, weakness, despair – you get the point. It’s a classic story of someone on top, who then drops, and then continues quite a bit lower. And I did it to myself – classic self-sabotage.

I’m not sure – I can’t assume the circumstances of anyone else’s journey – but maybe this is a familiar story amongst those of us who needed a life-altering change like bariatric surgery.

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Getting Proper Sleep to Maximize Your Weight Loss After Bariatric Surgery

September 7, 2022

Woman sleeps in white bed after bariatric surgery text reads "Getting proper sleep to maximize weight loss after bariatric surgery"

It’s easy to think that the weight loss process after bariatric surgery is as simple as “calories in and out,” but that’s not always the case. To be sure, the number of calories you consume is directly related to the amount of weight loss you can achieve. If you are not in a calorie deficit, it stands to reason that you won’t lose weight. Of course, exercise also plays a vital role in increasing muscle mass to aid in reaching a calorie deficit. But you may have found, through previous highly restrictive diets, that you gain the weight back quickly once you “stop.” No matter how restrictive your diet is, you can hit a wall, making it even more tempting to cut calories to see the number on the scale go down again.

The body is a finely tuned machine; it is not simply about kale and cardio to reach long-term and sustainable weight loss. Several other factors, including how your body processes those calories and whether it’s doable over the long term, determine whether your “diet” is sustainable and effective.

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Trialing Post-Op Nutrition Before Surgery

August 24, 2022

Protein shake in shaker bottle of bariatric surgery patient trialing post-op nutrition supplements

During the pre-operative process (especially during the 2-week liver shrink diet), it can be of great benefit to accumulate and ‘experiment’ with various nutrition formulations such as clear and full liquid protein and supplement sources. Researching and anticipating the expense of these nutrition sources is also an important step in planning life after bariatric surgery. You can start by acquiring a variety of flavors and compositions of nutrition aids that might be most beneficial before you become limited by the physical discomforts of post-op recovery. Further, it reduces your reliance on friends’ or family’s availability to attend to such needs during that initial post-op period.

During these times, taste and ingredient intolerances may become apparent. These are usually found with the consumption of concentrated dairy (whey protein) shakes and artificial sweeteners that may create tremendous laxative effects or gaseous issues. Knowing this before surgery can save time and experimentation later on.

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Why Patients Are Encouraged to Lose Weight Before Bariatric Surgery

August 17, 2022

Fresh spinach salad offers nutrient dense, low calorie side to pair with lean protein when losing weight before bariatric surgery

Intentional dietary weight loss leading up to bariatric surgery may seem counterintuitive to some.  Even the most thoughtful of us in this life-altering journey may still view a decision toward surgery as a sort of ‘license to binge’ or attempt ‘one last hurrah’ before changing our eating habits forever. The question is often posed: “Well if I could diet and lose weight, why would I need surgery.” Simply put, surgery maintains and propels weight loss for an overwhelmingly longer time than diet and exercise efforts alone. Most patients have been on a broken chain of diets nearly their entire lives. And weight regain is almost inevitable within a year or less for most attempting lifestyle modifications without the backstop of surgery.

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All-in and All Aboard in Preparation for Weight Loss Surgery

August 3, 2022

Woman stands ready to take on a new healthy lifestyle with weight loss surgery

The most important and general predictor of success leading up to any bariatric surgical procedure is engagement and commitment to the preoperative program.  Most bariatric surgical programs involve multiple steps to assess suitability for surgery and diagnose potential pre-operative issues. Among these general processes are engagement in weight loss surgery support groups, accessing nutrition materials and resources, and intentional weight loss regimens leading up to the day of surgery.

Surgical weight loss support group meetings may not benefit everyone in the same way.  These forums may be excellent for those who open their minds to these sharing opportunities. Other patients may dismissively refer to them as ‘group gropes’ where stories and feelings may be excessively displayed. However, the benefit of these visits exists irrespective of the quality of speakers, words spoken, or production value of visual aids. The advantage is the individual patient’s dedicated investment of time, thought, and effort in their weight loss process.  Committing that time to any activity, whether the content is seemingly productive or not, tends to reinforce the commitment to one’s imminent change.

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Alana Thompson, AKA ‘Honey Boo Boo’ Is Considering Weight Loss Surgery

July 26, 2022

You may have read the recent news about Alana Thompson, famous as ‘Honey Boo Boo,’ in the hit TV show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, thinking about weight loss surgery. While she would not be the first celebrity to take the surgical route, a few thoughts surrounding her next step in improving her weight and overall health are interesting and should be discussed.

Before we do that, it is important to congratulate her on considering a very important step toward taking control of her life and health. It’s never easy to decide to undergo significant weight loss, so she should be commended for exploring this opportunity and all it entails. There is also a larger conversation to be had about Miss Thompson’s age, and this is certainly to be discussed in another blog. But for now, the current conversation touches on some important factors, including what this “newer” procedure is, and the expectations/myths of weight loss surgery in general.

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