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The most important post-weight loss surgery lifestyle changes

Bryn Mawr Hospital November 22, 2021 Nutrition and Weight Management

If there's one thing that's consistent across all of the bariatric procedures offered at Main Line Health, it's that no weight loss program is a quick fix. Each of our bariatric options requires a strong, lasting commitment to making healthy lifestyle choices.

While our procedures will help you lose weight and become healthier, proper diet and exercise habits are also crucial to succeed in improving your overall quality of life after bariatric surgery.

Diet after weight loss surgery

One of the most important lifestyle changes you'll have to make is sticking to a healthy, well-balanced diet.

According to Brittany McCauley, RDN, a dietitian at Main Line Health's bariatric center, as each patient progresses through their bariatric program, you'll attend various classes and learn about portion sizes and what sort of foods you should and shouldn't eat.

"The nutrition class prior to surgery discusses in detail what to do as [patients] progress from each diet phase until they reach approximately five weeks post-op and they begin to transition to regular food versus soft or pureed," McCauley explains.

These classes will also teach you which vitamins and minerals you'll need after bariatric surgery, as well as how to get high-quality protein from both food sources and protein supplements.

Of course, your coaching doesn't stop after surgery. Patients return for regular checkups to make sure they're doing well with their diets and their vitamin and mineral recommendations.

One of the main issues the bariatric dietitians see after surgery is patients avoiding carbohydrates altogether. Some patients are afraid to eat carbs again in fear of gaining the weight back, but carbs in the form of fruit, beans, milk, and Greek yogurt, among other food types, are essential for overall health.

All patients are encouraged to come back around two to three months after their operation to put together an individualized meal plan that works well with their lifestyle. "We want to know how our patients are feeling, and if they are struggling, how we can best serve them," McCauley says.

Exercising after weight loss surgery

Fitness and exercise are another key component of the post-bariatric surgery lifestyle.

Before surgery, each patient undergoes a full fitness evaluation so our exercise physiologists can map out a customized post-weight loss surgery exercise plan. This includes looking at any physical, neurological, and financial needs each patient may have.

Around six months after surgery, each patient undergoes a follow-up fitness evaluation to see if they have any issues or questions about their recommended workout program.

Discussions include what your goals are or what areas you wish to improve upon, like upper body strength, cardiovascular endurance, muscle building, and so forth.

We'll also address some of the common challenges patients face in sticking to their post-surgery fitness plans, such as making time for exercise, maintaining interest, and feeling self-conscious about working out.

With so many exercise options available, such as zumba, spin, yoga, or boxing, it's all about finding a fitness routine that makes you feel comfortable and confident.

Studies show that the number one determining factor for significant and lasting weight loss is if a patient participates in regular physical activity. Once you get in a rhythm with that, other things tend to fall into place.

Seeking support for weight loss success

Our team recommends attending support groups facilitated by our bariatric center on a long-term basis to stay involved with the community and hold yourself accountable.

Sticking to a routine, focusing on your meal prep, scheduling your workouts, and attending appointments with the bariatric team are the best steps you can take to stick to your post-weight loss surgery lifestyle changes. If you need a little bit of help, don't be afraid to reach out to one of Main Line Health's therapists for some guided support.

Furthermore, if any patient—regardless of how long ago you received weight loss surgery—is struggling for any reason, we encourage you to come back to the bariatric center, without any shame or guilt, so we can help you get back on track.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 484.476.6230. Or to see if bariatric surgery is right for you, find out more in an upcoming information session.

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