Whether it’s January 1st or the middle of the summer, many VSG patients decide they need to refocus on their health goals. Maybe the scale is inching upward; maybe you’re still supposed to be in the losing phase but the scale hasn’t moved in months. Or your resolutions might have more to do with adding something—a new exercise routine or more leafy greens to your gastric sleeve diet—than losing anything. If it were as easy as saying, “I’m going to make it happen,” everyone would succeed in their resolutions. Since it’s not, use these tricks and tips to help make your vertical sleeve gastrectomy resolutions stick.
- Enlist help. Few of us like asking for help, but when it comes to your goals, making them as public as possible is a great way to stay accountable. It might be as easy as asking your spouse to go for a daily after-dinner walk with you, or as difficult as making a social media post explaining your goal and asking friends to send you messages of support that you can reread in trying times. Expecting to make significant changes without help in some form almost always sabotages your resolution.
- Take manageable bites. In the same way you wouldn’t go from couch potato to running a marathon overnight, you need to break down your resolution into easy (and easily identifiable) steps. What does it mean that you want to lose 20 pounds you’ve regained? It’s not a goal if there aren’t action steps behind it. Jot down those action steps, whether on paper or on your electronic device, so you can tackle one or more on a daily basis. Plug in your workouts for the week. Call a friend to go to the farmers’ market with you. Sign up for a healthy meal delivery service.
- Don’t repeat failures. If this resolution is the same one you’ve made before—and failed to attain—consider why it didn’t happen in the past. Did you go about it the wrong way (ie: in a manner that wasn’t sustainable over the long haul)? Did you lose motivation partway through? Once you’ve identified the reason(s) this resolution didn’t stick last time, strategize ways to prevent the same thing from happening again. This requires you to be completely honest with yourself, which isn’t always a pleasant experience. But it is
- Reward yourself along the way. If you wait until you lose those 20 pounds before you treat yourself, you risk becoming demotivated before your action steps become a habit. A week of avoiding processed sugar might earn you a binge of your favorite show, for example. If you need more frequent pats on the back, you can even work in daily rewards—perhaps downloading a new song to add to your workout mix if you meet your water goal for the day. Whether you have plenty of disposable cash (manicures, lavish date nights) or are barely making ends meet (game night with pals, free concert in the park), there’s no reason you can’t cheer yourself on with non-food treats all along the way.
A final word about resolutions: Before you begin, think twice about whether it’s the right one for you. It’s easy to say you want to lose more weight, for example. But what you really need to decide is if you want to do the work it may require to lose it. Because those are two different things. The other aspect I’d advise you to put thought into is whether your resolution is actually good and/or necessary. Drinking more water is always a great idea, as is a desire to increase your workout time or intensity (after you’re healed, of course). But if you’re already at a healthy weight and your body doesn’t seem inclined to shed any more pounds, think carefully about why you aren’t satisfied. Are you seeking a “magic number” on the scale or want to see how low you can go? Neither of those is a good reason to push your post-VSG body. Settling on the right resolution in the first place can make a big difference in your ultimate success, as well as how you feel about the process of achieving it.
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