DON’T WAIT to Make Your Postop Changes

Steph Wagner

August 11, 2015

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Don't Wait to Make Your Post-op Changes! Bariatric Surgery Real Talk

I started working as a Bariatric Dietitian in weight-loss surgery in 2009, and for the most part I can see when someone is going to excel in their weight-loss and who is going to have a long road ahead of them. The title of this blog may tip you off to one of the biggest indicators of success after surgery:

Making changes far before the operating room.

We all know there is no such thing as “an easy way out.” Those who use this phrase about weight-loss surgery are highly under-educated to the truth about this journey. BUT what I see all too often, is that patients will say with their mouth “I know it’s just a tool” and then do NOTHING about changing their habits before surgery.

And that tells me one thing. They really do (on some level) believe surgery will fix it all for them. Even if they would never admit that out loud, their lack of serious behavior changes are saying it for them. They don’t believe they have to change that much OR they believe surgery will make them change it anyway, so why worry about it now?

I must be frank on this matter for this reason: I care far too much about patients succeeding to not warn them of the dangers of this approach.

When it comes to who will thrive after their Gastric Sleeve or Gastric Bypass Surgery  it is {hands down} the patients I see that have read their material closely that asked me several questions and who started making changes immediately. They don’t let the fact that their insurance is requiring three or six months before they can have surgery stop them from making health a priority.

Even patients who cannot drop below a BMI of 35 will still make changes. They will cut out starches and sweets and eat more fruits and fats (like nuts) to keep from losing weight but still prepare their home, their body and their lives for the changes that need to happen for them to succeed long-term.

I could not feel more strongly about this. When it comes to the preo-op season, the surgery and the post-op lifestyle I relate it to this:


a wedding.

a marriage.

I always encourage patients to treat their preop season as if it were their dating season. “Let’s get to know each other. Do I even like you? What can we make for dinner together? What will we order out? And how will holidays work?” It’s far better to ask all those questions on the front end than on the back end!

The surgery is like the wedding day. Because it’s ONE DAY. It’s an exciting day that you count down to, change your schedule for, and tell you friends about. But it’s one day. You get discharged from the hospital and you head home. Then it’s real life…it’s go time.

Postop living is the marriage. Once you’ve had Gastric Sleeve or Gastric Bypass surgery you always have it. You are in a lifelong committed relationship so you have to put the work in to make it work! Make it a happy and healthy and thriving relationship!

If a young bride is only looking towards her wedding day and not preparing for the lifelong committment she’s about to make….we all get a little worried. See where I’m going with this? When a patient sits in my office and have done diddly-squat to make serious changes in their life, I get a little worried.

I’ll finish with this. Unfortunately, one-third of patients who undergo a weight-loss surgery gain the weight back. That’s the sad truth that statistics tell us. To stay in the two-thirds of patients who succeed? I recommend making changes in the following order of priority:

1. Food Choices. Yep, this is the hardest one so don’t put it off. Losing weight and keeping it off will always take eating the right things. Cut out starches and sweets and focus on lean protein and veggies.

2. Beverages Choices. Get the sodas, juices, sweet teas out and focus on hydrating your body well with water and flavored waters.

3. Eating Behaviors. Practice small bites, eating slowly and avoiding fluids with your meal and 60 minutes afterward. These are awkward habits so it’s far better to practice sooner than later. (It hurts when you forget and your postop!)

4. Food Journaling. Start it now. It’s another habit that isn’t smooth and natural and takes focus to make it happen. But it will make a huge difference in your success.

Thanks for reading and I wish you all the best in your journey to health. To stay up to date on bariatric recipes, videos, meal plans and more – be sure to sign up for my email list below!

Steph :)

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2 thoughts on “DON’T WAIT to Make Your Postop Changes”

  1. Hi I will have my Bariatric Surgery in 6 weeks I need your help for start my journey to that

  2. @gcarolina_olvera How exciting!!! I think you would love joining the membership and gaining access to our Facebook full of super supportive pre and post-op patients! I also have several meal plans including one for the pureed diet stage as well as a members video for shopping tips for the liquid diet. I always promote following your own programs recommendations and using this site as a supplement to help you follow their guidelines. Also, feel free to get in touch over email if I can be of any help!

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