Many new patients often ask, “What do your most successful patients do?”. As a seasoned, experienced Bariatric surgeon who has performed over 1000 laparoscopic, Bariatric surgeries I have had the privilege of treating and caring for patients of every age, size, shape, religion, ethnicity and education level. Like every bariatric surgeon I have my own group of “superstars” or “high achievers” who exceed the average weight loss for their operation and lose 75%, 85% or even 100% of their excess body weight. I have certainly seen trends or a common group of practices in these highly successful patients.
First, they don’t skip meals. They make it a point to eat at least 3 meals a day. They know that skipping meals slows metabolism and leads to hunger motivated grazing. These patients tend to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner or breakfast, lunch, snack and then dinner. This routine involves eating every 4 hours during the course of the day which better controls hunger and keeps the metabolism elevated for more efficient calorie burning.
Second, these patients know that solid foods, especially proteins, fill them up faster and control their hunger better. Too soft, mushy or liquid calories allow them to eat too much and these foods empty through their sleeve or band too fast not controlling their hunger as well. This can lead to grazing in between meals. They always try to include a solid protein source such as chicken, fish, ground beef, ground turkey, scrambled eggs, deli shaved meats, seafood, tofu or beans with their 3 main meals of the day. By eating solid foods they fill up faster, eat less and don’t get hungry until it’s time for the next meal. Remember, you didn’t just eat liquid and mushy foods all the time before surgery, we don’t want you to after surgery either.
Third, the most successful weight loss surgery patients know to stay active. The most common form of exercise among these patients is good, old-fashioned walking. Sure, some patients join a gym, get a trainer, jog, run or even ultimately do hard-core circuit training. However, a good amount of my most successful patients simply walk regularly during the week. “I park far away” or “I take the stairs at work” or “I walk a lot at work” isn’t what I’m talking about. Regular, sustained walking or other activity for 30-50 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week minimum is the goal.
Lastly, they avoid high calorie, unhealthy snacks. Even the most successful patients will treat themselves to a cookie, piece of candy or even a little ice cream every once in a while but know that eating these things on a regular basis will fight against their success. These patients have said “keep it out of the house and it won’t be there calling your name every day”. Alcohol, fried foods, ice cream and sugary snacks should be limited as much as possible. Any weight loss surgery patient who eats these things on a daily basis will never be successful.
By realizing that any weight loss operation is a tool and not a “quick fix” or “magic bullet” you start off with the correct “mindset”. The next step is to make a commitment to make the necessary lifestyle and eating changes to get the best results. These two things coupled with the knowledge gained from the most successful patients will allow you to most certainly change your life and achieve your weight loss goals.