How to Stay Mentally Positive on Your Gastric Sleeve Journey

At Endobariatric, we provide gastric sleeve patients with so many resources about how to fix a weight stall or get back on track after a gain. But sometimes the first thing they need to fix isn’t in their fridge; it’s in their head. When you’re not losing weight (or inches), it can be tough emotionally. By making the following steps habits, it’ll be much easier to maintain that all-important positive mindset.

Positive Step #1: Understand the process
Maybe this sounds familiar: You’re sitting in traffic that’s not moving, and you’re super annoyed because you don’t know what has completely stalled traffic. But once you inch a little closer to the problem and understand why cars have come to a standstill, you’re somehow more patient about waiting it out. The same is often true with weight loss. Simply understanding how the sleeve works—and how your body may fight it—makes it easier, mentally, to endure a stall. When you’re doing everything right and the scale isn’t moving, remember that your body is not happy with you. Oh, it’ll be thrilled eventually, when your knees don’t ache and you no longer have high blood pressure. But right now, it’s in full-blown panic mode. Holding onto those pounds is your body’s way of protecting itself against the fact that its normal nourishment—probably thousands of calories too many—isn’t coming anymore. The good news is that your body will lose this war. “This happened to me,” says my patient, Stewart. “After my body got used to what I was/wasn’t eating, I started losing again.” And you will, too, so stay positive (and on track) during the battle.

Positive Step #2: Reflect on your progress
Note that this is pretty much the opposite of what many patients tend to do, which is compare themselves to others. You’re on your own journey, and it’s the perfect one for you. Who cares if someone in your support group lost 100 pounds in the first six months, while you “only” lost 50? Fill your mind with thoughts of how far you’ve come, even if you’ve backslid a bit. You know you can use the sleeve to lose weight because you’ve done it. And remember that slow progress is still progress. Do you have more energy than you did pre-sleeve? Can you tie your shoes or fit comfortably in an airplane seat now? Are you more confident in your knowledge of healthy eating? Pounds aside, these are all tremendous markers of success, and I bet you could list a lot more of them!

Positive Step #3: Get it all out
Whether you’re having great success or are struggling mightily, journaling your food and exercise, as well as your emotions, can be incredibly helpful. Part of staying positive is a willingness to embrace and, perhaps, confront reality. If you’re truthful about how you feel when you’re eating a handful of potato chips (ie: probably not great), you’ll have a record you can look back on when you’re struggling with chip cravings down the road. I can tell you a million times that carb-heavy snacks aren’t going to make you feel better about the fight with your spouse, but “hearing” it from yourself can work wonders.

Some people need to “get it all out” to a therapist. If you believe that your struggles run deeper than run-of-the-mill mental fatigue on a long weight-loss journey, a therapist trained in working with post-bariatric surgery patients can help you drill down to the root cause and devise strategies for you.

Positive Step #4: Focus on the goal
Yes, that goal can be a number. But did you get sleeved simply to reach an arbitrary number—or did you do it so you could (finally!) really live your life? When you’re tempted to give into negative thoughts, focus on what’s most important to you. What’s the real reason you investigated gastric sleeve surgery, researched the right physician to perform yours, and then actually did it? Maybe you want to live long enough to rock your great-grandchildren. Or complete a marathon. Or perhaps you simply want to look and feel better than ever. Whatever your individual goal is should be top-of-mind at all times to help combat doubts or the temptation to give up. Says sleever Nancy, who said during a stall, “I know this is not how this will go for the long term—that eventually the weight will fall off…Personally, I’m going to keep myself busy and #focusonthegoal.”

That’s the spirit!

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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.