Even in the best of times the wait for bariatric surgery can be substantial. Most pre-op patients are given a long list of to do’s like informational sessions, lab work, evaluations, medical tests, visits with the dietician, and psychologist, etc. All important to be sure, but consider what else might be offered to keep them motivated and excited about their upcoming life changes.
During this time of temporary shut down / slow down of non-essential surgeries the added wait time for a bariatric patient can be beyond discouraging. Here are a few ideas that you might share with your pre-op patients to encourage them to spend this time learning, connecting and staying excited and enthused about their upcoming weight loss successes.
- Attend Telephonic and online support groups
- Subscribe to eNews, Articles and Insights
- Learn and be inspired by veteran patients
- Attend Colleen Cook’s “Three Essentials Before Surgery Webinar”
- Download the free copy of “3 Essentials You Must Know Before You Have Surgery”
- Enroll in The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients eLearning Series
- Participate in Bariatric Support Facebook Group
Most of all, an outreach call, text or email from your bariatric team might mean the world to them at this difficult time. Let them know you are thinking of them, that you understand the wait is challenging and that you too, are anxious for them to move forward towards a happier and healthier life.
In the midst of what is thought to be the peak of this horrible pandemic, I know that this too shall pass. Life will never be the same as it was pre COVED-19, but I suspect we are not too far from getting back to some normality in our work lives.
As I look towards that time, this thought occurred to me. When this is over and I look back at the many days and weeks of ‘at home’ time, will I wonder where the time went and what I did with it all? Will I be proud or disappointed in how I spent my precious time? When I look back, will I say to myself ‘How I wish I would have…”
In 2016, when my husband Roger and I left Salt Lake City to build a log home in the woods, we took a great risk. It was a hard decision and we were very brave in actually taking the leap. We sold our home and other property, put our ‘life’ in a storage unit and set off on a challenging adventure. Recognizing that we were both getting older, we decided that we did not want to look back on our life and say, “I wish we would have…” but rather, “I am so glad that we…”
So it is with this unprecedented gift of time. As I shared in my article “The Time You’ve Been Given” healthcare workers aside, each of us can decide what we will do with this time. Try this technique. Take a moment and consider yourself and your life three months from now. That brings us to mid-July. You will likely be back at work, and you will be back to your crazy, busy, hectic, non-stop neck breaking daily routine. You’ll be grateful to have your “life” back to be sure, but looking back to today and the current situation you now find yourself in, how will you answer this question,
“What do I wish I would have accomplished when I had the time?”
This has been a great technique that I have used many times in my life. Projecting myself into the future 1 year, 5 years or even 10 years hence and then looking back to imagine how that time played out. The key for me is the recognition that my life was, is and will be of my own design. Those people who accomplish great things and enjoy successes, did not simply allow their lives to happen by chance, but deliberately by choice; by setting goals and managing their time.
This time, right now can be a life changing, relationship renewing, self-improving time like no other. Roger and I have been so grateful for this time to spend with our grandchildren as we help our families through this crisis. We have made more calls to our parents, reached out to neighbors, sent letters and notes of love and encouragement. Important things, essential things that should, but usually never get done in our ‘normal’ life.
As you consider this strange time in your life, I challenge you to use it wisely. When you look back, what will you have accomplished? Whom will you have served? How will you have improved? What will you have learned? What relationship will you have strengthened? Because like the country singer Trace Adkins song suggests, I suspect….
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
Though some restrictions have been lifted, we still live in a world of change, uncertainty and for some, fear. The extra stress of current circumstances may find your patients continuing to struggle to maintain their healthy habits and stay committed to their weight loss goals. As a bariatric coordinator, program director, support group leader, nurse, dietitian, coach, or mental health professional, you see the picture quite clearly but may not know what you could do or what should do about it.
We can help you, help them. For over 20 years BSCI’s contribution to the bariatric community has been helping patients learn and embrace a healthy, lasting bariatric lifestyle; day in and day out. Here are a few of ideas that you can offer to help your patients stay focused, connected and engaged in positive behaviors.
- Subscribe them to Bariatric eNews, Articles & Insights
- Inspire them by watching “Back to the Beginning Interviews” with successful long-term patients.
- Encourage them to join us for our free Telephonic and Online Support Groups.
- Help them stay accountable by weighing each week and posting picture of themselves on the scales to your website or Facebook page.
- Offer a cooking show with your dietitian, or daily workout with your exercise specialist.
- Organize a buddy system to connect new patients to veteran patients for calls, texts, chats, etc.
- Connect them to BSCI’s Facebook Bariatric Support Group for helpful posts, insights, & videos.
- Gift them a copy of the #1 Bariatric Best Seller The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients (hard copy or ebook)
- Video broadcast live interviews with your most successful patients
- Arrange an online Q & A panel discussion with your bariatric surgeons and staff for those awaiting surgery.
Helpful ideas, we hope. Now what about you? How are you managing through these difficult times? How are you keeping yourself engaged, moving forward, learning and serving? Now may be a great time for you to invest in opportunities to sharpen your skills, improve your program, support your staff. We can help there too. Visit Bariatric eLearning for some wonderful online resources.
And for a little personal boost, you may enjoy Colleen’s latest article, “The Time You’ve Been Given – 15 Positive Ways to Spend 15 Days.” Enjoy!
Our best to you, your family, your bariatric program and patients.
Time is our most precious resource. Let us first remember and be grateful for those whose time is not their own, especially now. Those brave and selfless healthcare workers and others who are working tirelessly, to manage and mitigate this pandemic. This will pass, we will recover, and hopefully emerge as a stronger, wiser, and more grateful people. But in the meantime, what an opportunity we have all been given!
For most of us many of the daily things that used to consume our time, money and energy have been cancelled, freeing up time for us to do with as we please. It may feel like we have escaped from our neck-breaking, hard driving, overwhelming schedules and allowed more time. Time to slow down, re-group, re-focus, and re-connect with things that matter most. As Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings has wisely shared, “All we have to do is decided what to do with the time that is given us.”
Just imagine the possibilities! So, what will you do with this unexpected gift of time? Will you put your life on hold or pause? Spend time binge watching TV or playing video games? Or will you choose to come out of this crisis having served others, strengthened your relationships, and accomplished worthy goals?
This time is yours to do with what you will. May I challenge you identify what you might do to improve yourself and enrich the lives of others. Perhaps begin by making a few lists. Write a list of things that make you happy, a list of things you have been putting off, a list of things you enjoy, a list of things you may want to do, learn and share. Here is my list and my commitment to make the very most of the next few weeks.
15 Positive Ways to Spend 15 Days:
- Work out on my elliptical at home, each day
- Volunteer time to help distribute meals / serve in our community
- Finish reading, The Saints Volume II
- Take online guitar lessons
- Finish the flooring and walls in our family room & stairwell
- Complete the molding project in our living room
- Write and mail 15 notes to 15 people. (Grandkids for sure!)
- Finish and file our taxes. (I was going to file an extension)
- Get my mangy dog groomed
- Design and make a decorative table box.
- Capture lessons learned from 25 years as a WLS patient (video, blog)
- Complete photo project on each grandchild
- Resume writing in my journal
- Complete dental work I have been putting off.
- Share my progress in a new article.
Let me close by sharing a favorite story of mine. At the age of 65, Hyrum Smith’s mother, (Founder of Franklin Covey Company), decided to go back to school at the University of Hawaii to get a 2nd degree. Hyrum overheard the conversation as she shared her plans with friends. One of her friends piped up and said, “You have got to be kidding? It will take you 3 years to get that degree; by then you will be 68 years old! Hyrum’s mother, wisely replied, “In three years, I will be 68 years old anyway!”
Remember, the time between now and next year, today and 15 days from now will go by one way or the other. You can choose to be the same as you are now, worse off than you are now, or better – the choice is yours.
So, what will you do with your time?
It’s cold here! And there has been so much snow that our road is like a luge run and almost claustrophobic. Somehow, I have gotten into the habit of checking the temperature and weather forecast first thing each morning. And twenty below is what I woke up to today. Checking the temps during the winter months can be a discouraging and disheartening habit that has the power to set the mood for my whole day. However, I am grateful for my ability to choose to focus my thoughts and energy elsewhere.
Choosing to live in gratitude each day helps me to re-direct my thoughts towards more positive, uplifting and enriching elements of my life. Roger and I have shoveled and plowed snow for several days, but today the sun is shining, the trees and fields are glistening, and we have a warm, comfortable and happy home to enjoy. I choose to keep my focus on that.
A few years ago, I was taught in a coaching class the importance of and the value of learning to re-frame. To deliberately look at circumstance and situations in a different way, from a different perspective.
As you approach your next potentially bad day, may I challenge you to stop for a moment, count the many blessings of your life and reframe your thinking. Yes, the “weather outside is frightful but the fire is do delightful!”
Yesterday, I helped a few Hispanic 4th graders at our elementary school. They were learning how to identify a central theme, message or meaning in a story. The story we were assigned taught about how sometimes; you have to be brave and take chances to make important things happen. The students were to read the story, summarize and identify for themselves what they thought the central theme or message of the story was. One boy, Alex really got it! After reading the story he summarized by saying, “You gotta risk it to get the biscuit!
Outstanding! Whether he had heard the phrase before, or just made it up on the spot, I was both impressed and amused. In fact, I laughed all afternoon and pondered the truthfulness of his statement.
As I searched for an appropriate photo for this article, I was surprised to find that this catchy saying has been around for a long time! In fact, it is attributed to Jimmy Fallon and there are t-shirts, coffee mugs, signs and apparently a famous movie line.
Perhaps you have heard it before, but it was new to me, and I will always think of little Alex and how spot on he was. I believe the meaning is significant. It plays an important part in how we make decisions in life and of course what our outcomes will be. In one of my presentations about Goal Getting, I share this quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
People who know me, know that throughout my life I have been a bit of a risk taker. I have always talked of dreaming big dreams and reaching for the stars. You see, I have a core belief that we are divinely created, with infinite potential far beyond what we allow ourselves to believe. That thinking is what lead me to seek weight loss surgery.
I knew that successful people are people who are willing to do those things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do. I knew that in order to lead, motivate and inspire others, I needed to get my health and my life in order.
Having weight loss surgery in 1995, without insurance coverage and a small family at home was a risk. I took a risk in creating Bariatric Support Centers International,
I took a risk in self publishing The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients And most recently, selling everything and moving to the Wyoming wilderness to build our dream home – well that was surely a risk. And here we are! I am still 100 pounds lighter, BSCI has influenced thousands of weight loss surgery patients and professionals, , the book has sold nearly 25,000 copies and we are living in a beautiful log home in the woods. Yes, I am a risk taker. I do not want to come to the end of my life and say, “Oh how I wish we had done that!” Instead, I want to say, “Look what we did!” (You may enjoy another blog post : Whatever it Takes)!
While I was especially drawn to the reference to a delightful food, it is of course, a reference to something we want in life. So, what is your biscuit? And what are you willing to do to get it?
My hope for you and my challenge to you is that you will first recognize what an extraordinary creature you are! With talents, drive, and creativity opportunity awaits. A good life is very hard work for most of us, so get after it!. May you embrace every opportunity and be willing to risk it for the biscuit!
The snow is beautiful here in our winter wonderland, but during a snowstorm, travel can be a little treacherous. Sometimes we experience a ‘white-out.’ It’s like a black out, but it’s the blowing snow makes it impossible to see but a few feet in front of you. I have been in a “white-out” a time or two, but it recently occurred to me that the term “white-out” has another, more significant, year round meaning for me. Let me explain.
As a weight loss surgery veteran from 1995, (yes, celebrating 25 years this year!) I have established a plan that works for me, not only to maintain my weight but to get myself back on track when I have been out of sync with my Success Habits. For me, the last half of 2019 was a doozie! With significant losses, life changes, family drama, and then the holidays. I went into crisis mode, and overwhelmed, I put myself at the bottom of the list! When I do that, I completely lose my focus, abandon my good habits, and as a result feel awful; physically and mentally.
I am grateful through, that through the years I have learned exactly what I need to do, step by step to get myself out of the funk, and back to taking care of myself, and back to my healthy routines.
As you may know, several years ago I adopted Intermittent Fasting as one of my go to tools. I simply do not eat between 8pm to noon the next day to allow my body to rest and metabolize properly. This habit has served me well, and I have been able to continue that schedule on most days, even though stressful times.
Now that brings me to my ‘White Out” tool. After preparing myself for a few days, I am ready to jump all in and get back to my good, healthy habits. I know for myself, that the culprit to my out of control / mindless eating is too many refined carbs. So, WHITE – OUT! I stop eating things made with white flour or white sugar. Not rocket science here. Its simple! I don’t count calories or carbs, I eat good, clean food within my 8 hour window each day, and avoid gluten and sugar. (see Sugar Free Me). I drink my water, eat proteins and vegetables, with an occasional whole grain. I keep on hand foods I love, like shrimp, avocado, squash and asparagus.
Yeah! I am back in control and back in sync with all that I know to be right for me. I hope you too, are finding your way and putting into place your plan to maintain your weight and your plan to get yourself back on track when you need to. Please do reach out, we have some extraordinary people and essential resources to help. Bariatric Support Centers.
For those of you who may not know, I am a weight loss surgery patient from 1995! I lost 125 pounds that first year and what a ride it was! Through the years, I have done fairly well to maintain a good healthy weight, but not without constant and consistent effort. I have a commitment to my Success Habits and on a good day I own them all! Other days, sometimes weeks, sometime seasons, not so much. I have made my own way by learning about my own unique metabolism, my personal likes & dislikes, and I have come to know what works and what does not work for me in my bariatric life.
I have turned to our Back on Track Program at times and found good success. I have also learned and incorporated a variety of “clean eating – whole food” plans as well as embracing fast metabolism programs and more. Seems that different things work at different times in my life. Perhaps you have found that as well.
Recently, I started studying Intermittent Fasting. I’ll not share any particular type of program, but encourage you to do as I did, and simply google the words, then read, study, learn from what makes sense, and discard the rest.
For religious reasons, I have often fasted monthly, but for the past 4 weeks or so, I have been doing 16:8 Intermittent Fasting. It looks like this: I STOP eating at 8:00 pm each night and do not eat until noon the following day. And I must say it has been easy and effective. I have lost weight and I feel so much better! Here are some of the benefits I am seeing.
- Simply NOT eating eliminates the endless banter in my mind regarding what do I eat, what did I eat, when do I eat, how much do I eat? It is so simple and has been easy for me throughout the varied schedules of my life. Honesty, it’s quite peaceful.
- I drink all the water I should be drinking; I just do it primarily during the 16 hour fasting break when I am not eating – sound familiar? Don’t eat and drink at the same time? I have a renewed love for a warm cup of herbal tea, or a glass of ice cold water with cucumbers and mint. Drinking is far more satisfying.
- I am sleeping better. I have always been a good sleeper, but late night eating has often kept me awake, caused me to have weird nightmares or wake up groggy.
- My mind is clear. During the morning hours I feel more awake, alert and focused. And that has to be good! I am an old school dieter from way back and missing breakfast was taboo. But, the health benefits of allowing your body time to rest, are incredible. (I’ll let you read up on that).
- I feel healthier. You know, not puffy, bloated or heavy. My hands and feet are not swollen. I suspect that if you struggle with your weight, you know how that feels. You also know how great it feels to be in control and healthy.
- After 25 years as a WLS patient, I had lost a bit of that ‘full feeling’ on a small amount of food. Well, its back! My portions had gotten a bit out of control, but after fasting for 16 hours, I simply cannot eat as much as I had been. Cool!
- We know from our years of experience and research that mindless grazing can be a huge challenge for many. But imagine what 16 hours of no grazing at all might do for you.
- During my ‘eating window” from noon – 8 pm, I know to eat good foods; primarily protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but I have not been too obsessed with what I am eating. I maintain that Intermittent Fasting can enhance any food plan that you are on. Success Habits, Back on Track food plan or whatever works for you.
- I am more in tune with my body. More regular, if you know what I mean. I have taught for years the importance of listening to our body’s signals. Intermittent Fasting, has slowed down my tendency to frantically eat my way through my hectic life and provides me with the opportunity to be still and listen.
- Being the frugal (hear cheap) shopper I am, I simply can’t beat FREE! This has cost me nothing but study time. Of course, I need to buy some new clothes.
- As a weight loss surgery patient, I seem to be getting more bang for my buck. Intermittent Fasting, along with my surgical tool, has brought me back to feeling in control, on track and succeeding.
- It is sustainable! I don’t feel like I am on a diet, being deprived, or anxiously awaiting the time that the agony is over, and I can get back to eating what I want. It simply works for me, at this time, and in this place and I don’t see any end in sight.
We are in the midst of a rocky mountain winter! We live in the Wyoming woods, and I mean really in the woods. We love all seasons, and winter is no exception. The snow is beautiful, our views are spectacular, and winter sports are fun, but this year, it just seems to keep on falling. We may be looking at a record! As the snow piles up, our driveway and road get narrower and narrower, and it gives the feeling of the world closing in on us, a bit.
I work hard to stay upbeat and positive but a few weeks ago, my energy level was way down, I felt drained of my creativity, I didn’t want to do anything, go anywhere. I wasn’t accomplishing, dreaming, reaching, achieving. I was in a “funk” (yes I went to school in the 70’s) My mood was well, blah!
The best way that I have found to describe how these unwelcome and sometimes unproductive spells is the “doldrums”. This word came to mind as the perfect word to describe how you may feel at one time or another. As I began to write this article, I took a second to look it up in the dictionary and sure enough… the ‘doldrums’ were exactly how I was feeling. “A dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.”
Now, I have always believed in bootstrapping. That is, that each of us has all that we need within ourselves to meet any challenge, accomplish any goal and pull ourselves “up by our bootstraps” shake it off and step it up whenever we need to. It was my inner strength that I turned to a few weeks ago for a shot in the arm and a kick in the seat. I am feeling and doing so much better now and honestly quite proud of myself for bootstrapping my way out of the winter doldrums. If you ever find yourself down and try these three steps:
1. Do something kind. Take a moment to stop feeling sorry for yourself and look around. You will find so many who are worse off. Friends, neighbors, family members and even strangers who could use a kind word, a smile, a little note in the mail, or a helping hand. I learned of a neighbor who had broken her hand and was in a cast. I stopped by her home for a visit and gave her a loaf of zucchini bread that I had made. She smiled, thanked me, and “I” felt better. Go figure!
2. Do something hard. Nothing is better for our own self-esteem and our mood than to accomplish something hard. It may not be hard for someone else, but if it is hard for you and you do it, well that’s a mood changer. My husband and I recently learned how to play pickleball. It is fun and I love it! It is mostly played outside, but I knew with a little searching, I could find the pickleball enthusiasts who play all winter long. And, I did! Playing with these talented competitive, 3.5 players is hard! Not just the game, but the emotional stress of being the new player, the rookie, the one that each person would only play with and against only once. They are kind and welcoming, but we all know that playing with them is great for me but does not challenge them much, and that is what they come for. Still I go, several times each week and I am getting better and better! Can’t wait for summer pickleball. It is good for me in so many ways. Plus, I simply feel better because I followed through on something that was hard for me to do. Yeah!
3. Do something you have been putting off. If you are
like me, you have a to do list that seems to never end. Things I like to do
always get done. Things that I don’t like to do, continue week after week to
get pushed to the bottom of the list. Going to the dentist is one of those
things I avoid. I needed to have a check-up, no big deal, but I also need to
have a molar pulled. No fun. But, I did it, I made myself pick up the phone,
make an appointment and KEEP it! I did and you know what? I feel even better!
I am confident that you too, have all you need to bootstrap yourself into a better mood, an improved situation, a new outlook. When you find yourself down and out like we sometimes do – give these three things a try. Do something that is hard, do something that is kind and do something that you have been putting off. Trust me, you will be feeling better soon!
Colleen Cook is a successful weight loss surgery patient from 1995. She is the President of Bariatric Support Centers International and a sought after speaker for both bariatric patient events and professional conferences. She is the author of the internationally acclaimed, # 1 bariatric best seller, The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients