As an "Old Timer" post op, I've been asked to share about my experience.
I had Gastric Bypass surgery April 20, 2001. I was 340 lbs the day I walked into the hospital. In September of 2004 I hit my lowest weight, 155 lbs. My goal has always been 150. Unfortunately over the past 5 years I fell into a backslide, and ballooned back up. I hit 197 lbs on July 21, 2009.
The realization that I was close to hitting the 200s again snapped me out of my rut of laziness, too much drinking, binging on unhealthy food and eating when depressed. Now I'm fighting my way back. I kicked myself back into gear at the beginning of August. So far I'm down 19 lbs since July..I weigh 177. 27 more lbs to go. I want to FINALLY hit 150 by April 20 of 2010. That will be my 9 year "Re-Birthday" (anniversary of my surgery).
I've learned a lot in the 8 1/2 years since surgery. I've listed some of them below. **These are ONLY tips and experiences from my own journey. I am NOT a professional and these are not medical recommendations. You should speak to your Dr. to make sure you are meeting your own needs**
Long Term Post Op Notes:
* Surgery is a tool, not a magic bullet. You CAN defeat the surgery if you ignore this fact. Anyone who says surgery is "the easy way" either hasn't had weight loss surgery, or isn't doing it properly. You must listen to your Dr., eat a nutritionally balanced diet and get physical activity to obtain and then maintain your weight loss.
* The surgery is done on your stomach, NOT on your brain. The emotional/mental/psychological issues that got you to your highest weight will still be there after surgery. Those issues need worked on just like your weight loss. Also, you may find it difficult to adjust your mental image of yourself, even when other people talk about how far you’ve come. Even if you don’t SEE the changes when you look in a mirror…look at other identifiers. How do your clothes fit? Can you wear clothing you haven’t touched in years? What about the scale, or measurement of inches lost? It takes time to feel comfortable in your new skin…and when you are losing weight rapidly, it may be more difficult for your mind to catch up. Be patient with yourself. Continued use of support systems (family, friends, 3 Fat Chicks!), therapy and working on a positive self image are required for your long term happiness.
* Keep using your pouch properly, as instructed by your Dr. Eating food and waiting until you drink liquid will help you remain satisfied longer. When you slack off on this, and start drinking with your meals, you may be washing food out of your pouch sooner, giving you more room to eat without feeling full.
* SMALL goals add up to large goals. Break up your goals instead of fixating on one number. Example of my weight loss mini goals set before surgery – “Fit in a movie theatre seat comfortably”, “Be under 300 lbs”, “Be small enough to buy clothes in Lane Bryant”, “Be able to lower the lap bar on a roller coaster and enjoy myself at the amusement park”, “Be TOO SMALL to buy clothes in Lane Bryant”, “Buy a piece of clothing in Victoria’s Secret that fits!”
* SAVE for a large goal. You know all of that money you blew at McDonalds, or take out, or delivery food? Save it. Put it aside in a jar, and label it with a large goal. ("Get under 200 lbs" when you are starting at over 300 for example). Keep putting the extra change from your wallet, or the $3 you would spend on a daily latte into the "Goal Jar" and when you hit goal, do something really special with it. Buy yourself some new clothes! Go out to an amusement park now that you can fit in the seats! Go away for a day trip, etc.
* DRINKS CONTAIN (often empty) CALORIES!!! - When you are slimming down, feeling attractive, enjoying the attention from others and going out to party and dance, that is great...but consuming lots of calorie soaked alcoholic beverages WILL take your weight back up. Each 1 oz of liquor contains about 100 calories, at least, and most drinks have at least 1.5 oz shots. Remember that as the drinks flow.
* You will probably get to a point where you can eat normal portions again. If your stomach pouch stayed where you can only eat 1 cup at a time, indefinitely, you would never take in adequate calories once your excess weight is gone...so your stomach stretches. Don't make the same mistakes you made the first time around. Maintain a healthy diet as you can take in more food.
* Contrary to the way weight loss seems to be portrayed in the media, you will NOT suddenly become perfect once you lose the extra weight you are carrying. When you have been very overweight for a long period of time, your skin may lose elasticity. Loose skin may result from your weight loss. I had surgery at 20 and even my young skin had a limit to how much it could snap back. I had reconstructive surgery (breast lift and tummy tuck) more than 25 lbs before hitting my ultimate goal. If I could do it all over again, I would have put up with the loose skin until I finally reached my goal and maintained for more than a year. Continuing to lose weight, or regaining some, then losing it again left me with a less favorable result for my money than if I had waited and stayed at the same weight after my plastic surgery.
* Celebrate your Re-birthday (Surgery Anniversary) each and every year. - My "Re-Birthday" is April 20. Every year we celebrate the day I had the surgery that saved my life. Whether or not you are at your goal on that anniversary doesn't matter. Remember where you were...compared to where you are now. This is a marathon, not a sprint...and it isn't a bad thing to look back at the starting point from time to time, as you head forward for the finish line.