Sometimes vertical sleeve gastrectomy patients get so caught up in the big numbers (“I need to lose 100 pounds!”) that they fail to appreciate how even seemingly “small” losses can deliver big health benefits. Unless you’re actively working against your sleeve, you’ll lose far more than five or ten percent of your body weight. But if you’re at the beginning of a long VSG journey or perhaps stuck in a plateau, take a moment to celebrate how much good you’re doing for your body at each step.
When you lose 5 percent of your body weight
If you weigh 200 pounds, we’re talking about just 10 pounds. So when you drop that first 10 pounds—or when you’ve worked like crazy to lose 10 pounds in the midst of a stubborn three-month plateau—here’s what’s happening on the inside:
- Your mood gets better. It isn’t necessarily because you love your weight (it’s likely a drop in the bucket, after all), but because you’re probably sleeping a bit better these days. And sleep kicks irritation to the curb, in addition to helping regulate your appetite. Not to mention that you get a boost of happiness just watching the scale move in the right direction.
- Your heart is happier. Yep, shedding just five percent of your body weight can decrease the amount of blood cholesterol gumming up your arteries. It probably won’t get you off your meds yet, but those 10 pounds can lessen your risk of a heart attack while you’re working toward bigger goals.
- Your knees will feel it. One of the worst parts about being significantly overweight or obese is the constant feeling that your joints are about to give out. The more body mass you have, the harder it is on your joints, especially as you age. But that 5 percent loss has a much bigger impact on your joint health than the relatively small number suggests. You can cut your risk of osteoarthritis (ie: pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints) significantly after 10 pounds.
- Your internal organs calm down. Lots of what ails you can be chalked up, at least in some part, to inflammation inside your body. Heart disease and metabolic syndrome? Inflammation makes those—and many other diseases—much more likely to occur. But studies have shown that shedding 5 percent of your body weight can combat chronic inflammation and boost your immune system.
When you lose 10 percent of your body weight
With just a bit more time and/or effort, you’ll take off 10 percent of your body weight (20 pounds for a 200-pounds individual). Even bigger benefits can be found with this number.
- Your risk of serious disease plummets. The words “diabetes” and “cancer” are scary. They’re also all-too-common for people who are obese. But when you lose 10 percent of your body weight, your risk for Type 2 diabetes and cancers such as breast, prostate, and colon can decrease considerably.
- Your heart gets even happier. Going to the doctor’s office will be a lot less stressful because that 10 percent body weight loss likely translates to markedly lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure readings. Your doc will high-five you because she knows what that means: less risk of heart disease.
- Your energy level skyrockets. Think 20 pounds isn’t that much? Try carrying around a 20-pound dumbbell for a few minutes. I bet you’ll start feeling grumpy and sluggish pretty quickly. Energy is both a mental and physical thing, with the two feeding off each other to give you a bounce in your step. The combination of the literal ten percent of your body weight gone, along with the mental weight of those pounds, can work wonders for your get-up-and-go.
VSG patients can undoubtedly make their own list of benefits that come with a relatively modest loss (a better love life? Clearer skin?). The bottom line is that when you feel intimidated by how much you need to lose after gastric sleeve in Mexico or are bemoaning the rate at which you’re losing, remember that your physical and emotional health is improving every single day.
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