Not surprisingly, When a person goes through significant lifestyle and body changes after surgery, major adjustments occur in how we think about ourselves and how others think of us. Some patients gain much more confidence as they successfully change their lifestyles and manage their weight. Others struggle with continuing to see themselves as affected by obesity. Marriages and relationships can be strained with the adjustments that occur. Healthy relationships can become stronger as those involved communicate and work through these changes. Weak relationships can fracture and suffer as a result of these changes. Your workplace dynamics can change; some of your teammates at work may support and cheer you on, while others may be less supportive. For all of these reasons, access to an experienced mental health professional can be an essential part of postoperative recovery. Above all, each patient should prepare for “bumps in the road” along the journey, whether it’s interpersonal conflict, marriage stress, a surgical complication, or a plateau in weight-loss.
Eating habits are frequently affected by emotions, stress, boredom, mindless eating, or even eating disorders. These are very common but not always obvious. If you find yourself eating to relieve stress or eating when you are full or not hungry, you should seek additional help from your surgeon, qualified psychologists, or behavioral therapists. These issues can be successfully treated to get patients back on track if identified.
Once you have had surgery, your life will be forever different. Your body has now been modified to give you a better chance to overcome the underlying genetic, metabolic, environmental, and lifestyle-induced state of obesity. These are powerful forces that created an unhealthy “weight set point” where your body has likely been stuck or hovering around, almost like a set too high thermostat. Your body is very effective at trying to maintain that weight and preventing change. As you lose weight, it is important to know that your body will establish a new set point. Leading to periodic plateaus in weight. This is normal and expected. Do not allow yourself to be discouraged when you reach a plateau, as these are normal and necessary parts of the weight-loss journey.
Sleep And Stress
A healthy sleep pattern (called “sleep hygiene”) is another key to successful weight management. Setting a regular bedtime is not just for kids! Even adults benefit from regular sleep times and from setting aside enough time to sleep. Inadequate sleep is identified as one contributing factor in weight gain. As you seek to improve your sleep habits, there are techniques that can help:
- avoiding evening caffeine,
- exercising earlier in the day (not in the few hours before bed).
Creating a peaceful bedroom environment that is quiet, not too bright, and comfortable. Also, many patients have sleep apnea before bariatric surgery. While sleep apnea can improve with weight loss, it is important to continue your sleep apnea treatment. It would help if you discussed the appropriateness of changing sleep apnea treatment with your doctor before making any modifications.
Successful stress management is another pillar of post-operative success. We know that unmanaged stress can lead to poor choices, which can derail your weight-loss attempts. Stress can stifle your success if it is not acknowledged and managed. Even before surgery, it is important to cultivate habits and relationships that relieve stress. Strong relationships with open communication, regular exercise, and calming habits such as meditation or yoga are ways to deal with stress. Support groups are readily available in many weight-loss programs. These provide a venue to interact with your healthcare providers and other patients to share stories, lend support, and continually be educated with the latest developments in the rapidly evolving obesity medicine field.