What to do When You Feel Stuck on Your Gastric Sleeve Journey

How are you today? Do you feel good about your VSG progress? I hope you can answer “great!” and “yes!” to both of those questions. If you can’t, this blog is for you. Today we’re going to dive into the issues of perfectionism, feeling stuck, and moving past both those things.

I don’t know any perfect people.
I know plenty of successful people—those for whom it seems to come easily, and those who have struggled to get where they are. But I don’t know any perfect people. And yet, that seems to be the mission of many of my vertical sleeve gastrectomy patients, even if they don’t realize that’s what they’re doing. In fact, they might even flat-out it. But see if these sound like your goals: eat flawlessly on plan, exercise every day (or nearly), drop at least two pounds a week. I’m going to go out on a limb and say those ring true for many of you. Even if the word “perfect” isn’t in your personal mission statement, the feeling is there. And when you don’t achieve perfection, you get down on yourself, right? Maybe you even begin questioning whether the sleeve is all it’s cracked up to be.

Perfect days are possible; perfect lives are not.
Some days, it all comes together—your eating, your exercise, your water intake. You should have more of those days than you don’t, by the way. Consistency is, after all, one of the biggest keys to shedding excess weight and keeping it off. Having a perfect day (or perfect week) is totally do-able, and it feels amazing! But don’t let a “perfect” track record set you up for either a conscious or subconscious idea that, if you only try hard enough, one day you’ll hit these marks 100 percent of the time. That’s an unrealistic objective that leads to feelings of disappointment, frustration, and stuck-ness.

Ready to get unstuck?

  • Focus on what’s right. It seems to be human nature to focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right. If you ate 90 percent on plan last week, my hunch is that you’re thinking about the handful of potato chips you munched instead of the veggies and lean protein you chose the vast majority of the time. It’s good to figure out where your triggers are, but exerting too much mental energy on the “bad” stuff can actually backfire. If “potato chips” are constantly rolling around in your mind, it won’t be long until you’re craving them again. But if you’re (rightly!) congratulating yourself on the luscious spinach-cheddar omelet you ordered at brunch and the delicious chicken fingers you made the other night, guess what’s top of mind for you?
  • Make “practice” your mindset. Yes, “practice makes perfect” is a common saying. But in reality, practice makes habits. Period. Whatever you practice becomes what you do. So rather than concentrate on the self-defeating thought that someday you’ll get to this magical place where you do everything right 100 percent of the time, put your energy into the practice of making good choices. Don’t complicate it; just practice it.
  • Give yourself grace. There are times in your life when everything is just clicking. You have the time, strength, money, patience, etc. to power through anything that comes your way. Then there are times when it’s all you can do to get out of bed in the morning. And those times may come and go in the same week. If you define success as a daily hour-long workout and homemade meals prepped for the week, you’re going to feel stuck a lot. Got a busy day ahead? Count a takeout salad for dinner as a win. A big work presentation taking every spare minute? Be content with two 15-minute walking breaks during your day. When you’re doing the best you can to practice good habits in the midst of the craziness of life, you are successful. Give yourself the same grace you’d give a friend.
  • Keep growing. Not toward perfection, but toward the best version of your perfectly imperfect self. After gastric sleeve in our Mexico hospital, we want you to continue growing and making changes that result in lifelong health. In other words, this isn’t me giving you permission to dive into a bag of cookies because “Dr. A said it’s okay that I’m not perfect.” Growth is always going to be crucial; when you’re growing, it’s impossible to get stuck. Take stock of what’s going well in your VSG world. Applaud yourself and keep doing them! It’s also important to reflect on growth areas—those things where you could use a little more structure, a little more planning, a little more support. Take action to make progress in these areas, and be sure to track your progress so you can celebrate that growth.

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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.