An Action Plan for Gastric Sleeve Patients (Part 2)

In last week’s article, I tackled the first steps in shedding weight you’ve regained after vertical sleeve gastrectomy: “get your head right” (manage triggers) and “plan to succeed” (meal planning, meal prepping, and building in contingencies). This week, I’ll share additional tips to get you back on track with your gastric sleeve diet.

Step 3: Think “one.” While it’s good to honestly assess the (usually) many ways in which you’ve fallen off the food/exercise wagon, it can be overwhelming to reset all of those behaviors at once. But implementing one action at a time can add up to big changes you can maintain over the long haul. What one thing can you do this one week to get the ball rolling? The way you eat makes the biggest impact, whether you’ve had VSG or not, so I suggest going back to basics such as committing to eat protein first at each meal, followed by veggies. Next week, your one thing (in addition to keeping up what you started this week) might be a commitment to walk the neighborhood five nights for 45 minutes. Before long, you’ll have righted all of the behaviors that led to regain, but at a pace that makes it very doable.

Step 4: Put the “fun” in “fundamentals.” When you had gastric sleeve in Mexico, did you go into it thinking life would be drudgery from here on out? Or did you look forward to (finally!) having some fun? Hopefully it was the latter. But if you’re struggling with regain, you might also be struggling to find the joy in everyday life right now. That’s a problem, not only for your emotional wellbeing but for your weight loss efforts. Switch up your mindset from “have to” to “get to,” and you’ll be amazed at how everything falls into place much more easily. At your next meal, think about how incredible is it that the chicken and kale salad you’re eating is fueling your body to be its best. And doesn’t it feel so good to be treating yourself right, rather than mistreating your body with a drive-thru burger? Retrain your brain so that doing the right thing for your health feels enjoyable, rather than like a chore.

Step 5: Remember that variety is the spice of life. Some people find success eating the same things day in and day out. If chowing down on your daily breakfast omelet works for you—and isn’t getting boring—there’s no need to change it right now. But many people experience regain because they’re flat-out bored with their gastric sleeve diet and exercise plan. If you’re one of them, this tip is for you. Whether you’re doing low-carb or vegan (or anything in between), it can feel restrictive sometimes, and that’s where patients can get frustrated and start eating off plan. But with the resources of the Web at your fingertips, boredom should never be an excuse! Finding new recipes featuring your preferred diet is easier than ever, with thousands of meals just waiting to be discovered and incorporated into your menu planning. Spend half an hour every week or two surfing for fresh ideas, and you’re sure to find exciting new favorites. The same goes for exercise. Look into new classes at the gym that you’ve previously vetoed (hello, hip-hop dance!), or sign up for a cheap online subscription that streams new workouts daily or weekly. Mixing up your workouts is not only good for the soul, but it’s good for the body. When your muscles get used to your same old routine, they don’t have to work as hard (ie: burn as many calories) to get it done.

Regain can be disheartening, and you’re certainly not alone in your struggle. But focus on how far you’ve come from the beginning of your VSG journey, and integrate these tips on small changes, having fun with weight loss, and mixing things up with your diet and exercise. It won’t be long before the pounds drop back off and you’re feeling fantastic!

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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.