Hitting Stalls on Your Gastric Sleeve Journey

After having the gastric sleeve procedure, my patients are flying high. Every day is a new adventure in how much weight has dropped off and what size clothing they now fit into. But then one day, the scale doesn’t move. It doesn’t move the next day, either, or the day after that. Cue the panic. The truth is that sleevers need to understand what a weight stall is and what you can do about it…because they happen to everyone.

Congratulations, you’re normal!
That’s right, a stall is not only common, but it’s actually expected. Each body is different, of course, but they’re all designed to pump the brakes when big stuff starts happening—even when that “big stuff” is a good thing, as is the case with weight loss. These stalls help you body recover from the hard work of losing that weight and adjust to where you are now: a new size, a new weight, a new amount of fluid in your body, and even a new amount of blood in your bloodstream. Ever notice that many medication dosages are prescribed based on your weight? That’s because the way your body works depends, in large part, on how much you weigh.

The timing of these stalls (yes, plural) can hinge on how many pounds you need to lose. If you have more weight to drop, it’ll come off faster than your friends who were lighter pre-sleeve. But then you’ll stall. Then lose again, then stall again, etc. The reason is because your body is undergoing more stress as you drop those large numbers. Which is not to say that if you only have 50 pounds to lose, for example, that you won’t hit a stall. You will. The bottom line is that I don’t want you to freak out. It’s normal, folks!

Give yourself a reality check
Make sure what you’re experiencing is really a stall. Just because the scale isn’t moving doesn’t mean you aren’t losing weight. If your clothes continue to get looser even though the scale is stuck, it’s likely that you’re still losing fat but gaining muscle (which weighs more than fat). Make your clothes your barometer—not the scale. Which brings me to: Don’t even think about getting on the scale every day. Heck, I have some patients who only weigh themselves when they go for a check-up at the doctor’s office. Becoming a slave to the scale is a one-ticket to anxiety and obsession. Just don’t go there. I don’t recommend weighing yourself more than once every week or two.

Another thing to be aware of, especially if you’re toward the end of your weight loss journey, is that your body may be waving a red flag in your face. What you’re calling a stall could be your body announcing, “I’m done.” A lot of patients have a random goal number in mind, but if you’re within a healthy weight already, listen to your body and where it wants you to maintain. A healthy BMI (body mass index) is 25 or under. But that doesn’t mean you should go as far under 25 as possible.

Get the scale moving again
If you’re not yet at a healthy weight and are truly stalled, there are strategies to help your numbers keep falling. Keep in mind that stalls can last anywhere from a few days to many weeks. These phases are the perfect time to honestly evaluate how you’re working your weight loss plan. The key word here is “honestly.” Yes, stalls are normal. But so are periods of slacking off on your diet and exercise regimen. If you can truthfully say that you’re killing it in the food and fitness arenas, just hang tight because the scale will get moving again if you keep doing what you’re doing.

Not killing it so much as loafing it? Today is a great day to get back on track. Most of my patients adopt a low-carb diet, so journaling your food intake is a stellar way to ensure you’re loading up on protein and not carbohydrates, drinking enough water, and avoiding junky snacks. Then there’s the exercise component. To see results you’ll need to pick up the pace, the intensity level, and/or the frequency. Ditch the excuses. Put your workouts on your agenda, and then make them non-negotiable. I mean, what’s more important than spending time improving your health so you’ll be around for your family? (Hint: nothing)

Ask any of your sleeve brothers and sisters, and you’ll see that you’re not alone in your weight stalls. When—not if—they hit, don’t push the panic button. Keep eating well and exercising, and remember to love yourself during every stage of your journey.

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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.