5 Ways To Master Your Mindset After Weight Loss Surgery
A patient said to me recently “the emotional changes I am experiencing since surgery have been completely unexpected and I think there needs to be more support for this after surgery”.
There is so much support and guidance around the surgery itself and the initial pre and post-operative dietary stages, but this is only the beginning.
Within the first couple of months of having bariatric surgery, most people learn a lot about themselves and their bad habits. Prior to surgery, many of these go unnoticed because it’s auto pilot behaviour, habitual patterns being practiced over and over again without much conscious thought.
So now that these bad habits have been uncovered, what can you do to change them and set yourself up emotionally, for a rewarding and enjoyable new life?
Here are my top 5 ways to master the post surgery mindset shift:
- Mindfulness training
Mindfulness training, in particular mindful eating training is so valuable and really is the only way to gain control over your food intake including emotional eating. I am asked almost every day about how to stop emotional eating and my answer is always to practice mindful eating, everyday, as much as you can, until it becomes habit.
The simplest way to start practicing mindful eating today is to use a hunger/fullness scale to rank your appetite before, during and after every meal and snack. On a scale form 0 to 10 with 0 being starving, 5 being satisfied and 10 being stuffed full, pick a number that you think best represents your level of appetite and record it in a diary.
You are aiming to only eat when your appetite is between 2-3 and to stop eating when you reach 5.
- Daily meditation
I know you are probably freaking out reading this one! Bare with me because it’s quicker and easier than you think and believe me, you will notice the benefits immediately.
Meditation is simply focusing on your breath and you do this by switching off from the outside for short time each day. The improvement you will notice in your stress levels, eating habits and wellbeing are amazing!
5 minutes each day is all it takes to reap the rewards of daily meditation practice. Follow these five steps to get started:
- Pick a quiet place to sit where you won’t be disturbed
- Relax your body, close your eyes and take deep breaths in and out. Focus on your breath
- With your eyes closed, observe the breath in and out
- When thoughts come into your mind, acknowledge them and gently move them on. Come back to the breath
- It’s important that you don’t make meditation a stressful part of your day. It will reduce stress and help you in so many ways if you allow it
- Keeping a diary
Self-monitoring is an essential part of life when you are working towards achieving a goal. It is the only way to track your progress and keep yourself on the right path. There are many different ways to self-monitor. Hoping on the scales every week is one, keeping a journal and/or food diary is another.
I had a patient recently come to me for advice on why their weight loss had stopped and number of blockages had increased. I got them to keep a strict food diary for a week (not for me to review but as a mindfulness, self monitoring exercise) and the result was amazing. In just 10 days they dropped 2kg and went from 2-4 blockages per day to only 2 in 10 days!
Start now to keep a journal or food diary, do it every day for a month and see what changes you can achieve.
- Goal setting
It’s time to start putting yourself first, everyday. You have made the bold decision to have weight loss surgery for yourself and now you need to follow through. Set yourself some goals to ensure that you get the most from your weight loss surgery experience.
Some goals may be weight related but try to set some that have nothing to do with weight as well. After all, life is bigger than just the number on the scale or the number on the tag of your clothes.
It is a good idea to arrange your goals into short, medium and long term.
- Start each day with purpose
There is only one thing in life that you can never have more of and that is time. How you choose to spend your time is going to determine whether or not you ever get to live the life you dream of or not. Once you have your goals written down, you can then set daily intentions to help you achieve them. Start each day with purpose by selecting an affirmation or word that you will live by that day that will edge you closer to the life you want for yourself.