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The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients

4 of 5 Ways you Know your WLS Honeymoon is Over!

Even at 20 years post op, I still clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the fourth of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

Learning

#4 You Realize You Should Have Paid More Attention to your Bariatric Team

It seems that through the years the bariatric medical community has made great progress in ensuring that prospective patients are better educated and more prepared for surgery. As many of you know, there is a long checklist of todo’s prior to surgery. Consultations, evaluations, exams, tests, support groups and the list goes on and on.

An interesting thing happens though. When surgery is imminent, our focus is primarily on the details surrounding the actual procedure, hospital stay, pain management, how it will feel, etc. The classes and information are helpful, but unfortunately, we are not really listening. We are trying; we nod our heads at what our dieticians, nurses, mental health and exercise professionals are telling us. We commit to being compliant, eat right, exercise, take our vitamins and attend our follow up visits.  But are we really listening? Are we learning?  Perhaps not.

Following surgery, it’s “Whew, I am alive!” And once we are released from the hospital we begin our journey, sticking closely to what we have been advised. We start to really pay attention. Then, something magical happens. Our  surgical tool starts to work, just like we had hoped. The weight starts to fall off!  But, then we learn that no matter what we do, whether we follow the rules or not, the weight still continues to fall off.  A dangerous realization.  You see, once we think of ourselves as invincible – we stop listening.

Sadly, we see that it is only when people reach a plateau or heaven forbid, begin to gain weight that they are really ready to listen and learn. We are told so often, surgery is a tool, it’s a tool, it’s a tool. Again, we nod our heads. Now that our honeymoon is over we must be ready to learn. I mean really ready to learn.

We have “graduated” or are have been “released” from our bariatric clinic and may wonder if we missed our shot to learn. Surgery was a success; we have lost weight and now we need to learn how to maintain. Wishing we would have paid more attention earlier on, we might wonder where can turn.

For me, I turned to all of the successful patients I could find, to learn what they knew and do what they did.  As I expected, there are very particular habits that those most successful have made part of their lives. In fact, I have spent the last 20 years seeking out the most successful wls patients, identifying their habits, learning from these long term losers and sharing my research all over the globe. Read research here:

Learn more about The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients.

So often, we hear struggling patients comment that they did not learn these important principles during their initial weight loss. If that is the case with you, it is not too late. Read the book, take a class, participate online. Remember your surgical tool will serve you well for a lifetime as long as you learn to use it properly. Learn what you might have missed, learn what successful patient have to teach you, learn all you need to know about your own body, metabolism and food addictions. It’s never too late.

Subscribe to this blog to receive: #5 You stop attending support groups, telling yourself “they are just for the newbies anyway.”

2 of 5 Ways to Know Your WLS Honeymoon is Over

Even at 20 years post op, I still  clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the second of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

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#2 PEOPLE STOP RAVING ABOUT HOW YOU LOOK

Boy, do I remember this. Of course I would, it was all about me! Like many of you I enjoyed months and months of friends, family neighbors, work associates and even strangers, raving about how great I looked. One of my favorite comments was “Look at you, you are going to blow away!” Loved it!

I think I even walked at little taller, and had a new strut and swagger as I showcased my success. When I knew would be seen by someone who didn’t know about the new me, I was ecstatic!  Then over time, people started to get used to my new size. I slowly began to fade into normal, the newness wore off and all of the attention nearly stopped. I missed the rave reviews, I kept wondering to myself, “Do I look fat?” Am I gaining weight?” “Why doesn’t someone say something!” Messed with my mind to be sure.

If that has not happened to you yet, trust me, it will. And it is important to be prepared for the emotional and mental grief it may cause. When it does, it will be a good time to do a little evaluating of your true motives for choosing weight loss surgery. Ask yourself why you made this decision in the first place. Did you do this for someone else? To look feel better for yourself? For revenge? To improve your health? This is a time to reconnect to your personal why. Remind yourself of what motivated you in the first place. Pat yourself on the back and learn to improve your ‘self-talk.’

Then, move on. Rather than having it be all about you, now is a great time to turn and support those coming along behind you. Opportunities abound for successful patients who want to give back by paying it forward. Motivate, encourage and support new and prospective WLS patients.  Help with an event or patient celebration, work as a hospital volunteer, become a Support Group Leader.Share your successes online and participate in one or more of the many Facebook Group discussions. You look great – now be great by helping others.

Subscribe to this blog for #3 THE SCALE STARTS TO GO IN THE WRONG DIRECTION

1 of 5 Ways You Know Your WLS Honeymoon is Over

Even at 20 years post op, I still  clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the first of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

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YOU START ‘FREEWHEELING’ AND FORGET ABOUT YOUR GOOD HABITS

We are so careful early on. We are committed and sure we will become the most compliant patient ever! We measure our food and water, use a shopping list at the store, prepare meals in advance and eat what we plan, exercise, weigh weekly and take our vitamins.  Then, one day it seems that we can forego one or more of these good habits and still loose weight. “Hmm, this is awesome! This surgical tool is my answer, hooray!”

If you find yourself boasting about how you ate… or how you don’t exercise… or how get away with things you were warned not to do. BEWARE! I promise it will catch up to you. Our research clearly shows exactly what successful long term patients do to reach and maintain their weight. Learn what they know and do what they did.

It is important to realize that you will not be the exception to the rule and while you may feel invincible now – know that it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. There is a reason it is called the ‘honeymoon phase.’ When it ends, if you have not used the time to commit to, implement and own your Success Habits, you will be in find yourself struggling to learn how to maintain your weight. Commit once to a specific set of daily habits and stick with them. All of them!

Subscribe to this blog to continue to #2 PEOPLE STOP RAVING ABOUT HOW GREAT YOU LOOK

Feel Like Slug?

Last week on my morning walk,  I encountered a little slug on my road. And I wondered, do they ever get where they are going? Do they even know where they’re going? And most importantly do they even care?

Some days I feel like a slug. I act like a slug. And I am afraid I might look like a slug. Do you ever feel like a slug? Well, I know that on some days I surely do. I am 56 years old now. No wait, I’m  53. Hmm, no. I was born in 1959 so that means this October I will be 57? Really? I guess it just stands to reason that as I begin to loose my mind,  I am also slowing down and as a result, sometimes feel like a slug.

I don’t want to slow down. And I never want to be slows as a slug. But I also know that though I do not have control over the natural aging process, I can choose to stay fit and healthy. That is and will always be my choice.  Just as it is yours. So sluggish or not, each day I exercise. Sometimes with a slow and sluggish start, I still make myself get moving.

I prefer to exercise in the morning. But, it seems that it is especially hard to get started in the morning. They say that once something is emotion it will stay in motion. But that first motion that is by far the hardest. Like you,  I’ve learned that exercise simply must be part of my daily routine.  (See: The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients ) A walk in the woods, a hike up the hill, jumping jacks in the yard. (Fooled you didn’t I? ) I never do jumping jacks in the yard. LOL.

With our move to Star Valley Wyoming, so many of my routines are having to change. My exercise routine is a critical component to my well-being. For years  was a member of the coolest gym in the world and now, well, lets just say going to the gym is not what they do around these parts. So, after a few out of sync weeks, I am adapting. I am walking and hiking each day with our dogs.  I am nothing if not flexible. It has been an enriching and fulfilling experience and one that I am enjoying very much. It is still a bit cold here in the mornings, and that first step up the hill is a rough one. But, I am up, I am out and I know where I am going and why.  I feel less like a slug.

3 of 5 Ways You Know Your WLS Honeymoon is Over

Even at 20 years post op, I still  clearly remember that fateful day when I reached the “End of Invincible” That fateful moment when the honeymoon phase ended and the real work began. I am anxious to share with you what I have learned about the top 5 ways to recognize that your personal WLS honeymoon is over and what to do about it. Here is the third of five installments in this series.  (Subscribe to this blog)

weight-loss-mistakes

#3 THE SCALE STARTS TO GO IN THE WRONG DIRECTION

Perhaps like me,  you spent many years not knowing what you weighed. I hated the scale and would avoid it at all costs. But, I loved nothing more than weighing myself during the first year after my surgery.  It seemed as though I could weigh in the morning and lose even more weight by the time I returned home in the evening! Talk about motivating.  For the first time in almost forever, the scales were tipping in my favor and it was exciting!

As many do, I reached a plateau a time or two on my way down to my goal. So, perhaps you too have plateaued along the way, but this time, you sense it is different. You have reached your goal, stayed there and celebrated your success, but then, your weight starts to climb back up. Panic sets in and you know that glory days are over. Thoughts like, “I was afraid this was too good to be true.” or “I knew this couldn’t last.” keep surfacing. Self- doubt sets in and you worry that like so many times in your life, you lose, then gain. (And often with a bonus). You hoped it would be different with a surgical intervention, you hoped it would be easy. And in some respects, it has been but now reality hits and you know it’s time to pay attention.

At this critical juncture. it is time to ensure that you have put into place the Success Habits you must rely upon every day for the rest of your life in order to maintain your weight. We all know how to lose weight, we have spent so many years on diets, off diets, thinking about a diet, researching a new diet, cursing diets, getting on and falling off diets. But learning how to maintain weight is a completely different mindset. Take this time as you transition from losing to maintaining to remind yourself that obesity is a disease. And one that you will struggle with for your entire life; surgery or not. You have a remarkable surgical tool to help you manage it as long as you learn to use it properly. Commit the time and effort to learn about your own personal metabolism, your triggers, and your relationship with food. It is up to you to evaluate your behaviors, stop doing what you might have gotten away with during the rapid weight loss phase and focus on everything you have learned. Memorize and internalize Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients.

Subscribe to blog for #4 You Realize You Should Have Paid More Attention to your Bariatric Team

Belly Flops

A few weeks ago, I took two of my grandchildren to a dollar store to buy a little toy for their cousin Axel who is turning 2. With two kids a trip down the candy isle was inevitable. There at eye level was a display of specially priced Jelly Beans – Belly Flops. At first, I though that is was a competitor trying to capitalize on the famous Jelly Belly name, but at second look, they WERE Jelly Bellies!  For a buck!  “Seriously?” I thought.  As I looked closer, the Belly Flops are Jelly Belly rejects. Imperfect, mis-shaped, mis-stamped Jelly Belly jelly beans. By some stoke of genius by a marketing team, now these odd, rejects have their own identity. “Brilliant!”

What a great example of turning mistakes into something valuable. You know, the lemons into lemon-aide sort of thing. I have thought about Belly Flops quite a bit over the last few weeks and what lessons they can  teach.  I have reviewed a few flops of my own and I have discovered that in my life, I only make mistakes when I actually stick my neck out. Duh. But I have come to know how important it is to actually do, reach, create, live life, give it a try, make something happen. Yes, it is much easier to live risk free and to settle into a calm, comfortable routines, but our willing to do and dare is oh so important for our growth, personal progress & development.  Like Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad) shares, “When you come to the boundary of what you know, its time to make some mistakes and learn something new.”

So, won’t you join me?  Lets go out a make some mistakes.

Sugar Free Me

sugarWell, on a good day I am sugar free! And the more I have experimented, the more I have learned for myself the many reasons why I should be sugar free always! I suspect that most of you can relate to the downward (and I don’t mean weight) spiral that comes on that slippery, surgery slope once you take a nibble or two of the tiny snickers bars, or  M & M’s.

In my 16 years experience as a weight loss surgery patient, I am finally convinced that nothing good comes from something sweet. I suppose that is a little harsh – but let me share with you some of the things I have discovered for myself and why I am committed to being more mindful about consuming sugary products.

8 REASONS WHY I AM SUGAR FREE 

1.    I I don’t need it.  Though we need energy from our food – it does not need to come from refined sugars.

2.    It makes me groggy in the morning. (I will admit that I got into a bad habit of having a little something sweet at night before bed – finally put two and two together and I am convinced that my sluggish beginning to my day is directly related to eating sugary sweets the night before.

3.    It It give me headaches. Again this was a keen realization that when I over indulge in sweets a few hours later I get a headache.

4.    There are many alternatives – I use a little Splenda, Equal and Sweet and Low now and then – can’t tell the difference in taste so why waste calories on sugar if the substitutes are just as good? And I like honey as well – much better choice than refined sugar.

5.    Diabetes in my family – My recent blood work showing my blood sugar levels creeping up and bit has frightened me. I always thought that after losing over 110 pounds I would not have to worry about such things. Apparently not!

6.    Calories add up quickly from sugar sources and too many calories = weight gain – plain and simple. Don’t need it – don’t want it.

7.    I have learned to like fruit. An apple a day…..

8.  Cavities! who needs them?

After I made this list, I also make another list to see why I would choose to consume sugar products. I only found two reasons. 1. It tastes good and 2. It is easy. So, it’s my health 8 – sugar 2.  The choice seems pretty clear don’t you think? I hope you will take a minute to evaluate your sugar consumption and see if you discover, as I did, that it’s something I can live without and it will help “tip the scales’ in your favor!

What Luck!

During my graduating year in High School (1977) I got the biggest kick out of the TV commercial featuring the winners of the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.  The two mild mannered, plainly dressed, farm folk declared (with more drawl and twang than Gomer Pile) “What luck! We Mays are in luck. We have just won a million dollars! Our lives will never be the same!”

Yep, they are lucky, I thought.  I am a May too, so how come I’m not so lucky?  Though many spend a considerable amount of time, effort, and energy entering sweepstakes – hoping to get ‘lucky,’ I have adopted a different philosophy. “The harder you work the luckier you get!” Time and time again that has proven to be the case.

Following my weight-loss surgery in 1995, I recall mustering up the nerve to call a few of my friends to tell them what I had done. The first call I made was to a long time nurse friend.  I will forever remember her immediate reply after I told her where I was and that I had just had a gastric bypass.  “You are so lucky!” she exclaimed.  “Lucky?” I replied.  “What do you mean lucky?” I have spent my entire life fighting my weight and finally, finally, I had the courage to make this gigantic commitment. It took great thought, planning, preparation, prayer, not to mention a support of my family, and a 2nd mortgage to do this.  Luck had nothing to do with it!”

The first year was a dream come true.  The weight seemed to fall off. I lost 125 pounds. No complications, no bumps, and very little effort on my part. Wow was I lucky!  I would find myself eating something I shouldn’t. Or skipping a few days of exercise only to weigh in to find that I lost another pound! “Dodged a bullet this week; Man I am so lucky!” I thought. And then…. I found that the next month, was not so lucky.  I learned by experience that I was not invincible, and that maintaining my weight loss requires much more than luck. It requires dedication, commitment, thought, focus, and constant effort.  Indeed I found, that in weight issues too, the harder I work, the luckier I am.

It has been over 20 years now and my weight continues to fluctuate up and down 15 pounds or so. Interesting, when I work hard at it, I lose – when I don’t, I gain. Go figure.

It seems that this weight management thing will always require effort. Throughout your journey, you too, will have ups and downs, good days and bad days. We have a remarkable tool, but we will always reap what we sow. As you work to reach and maintain your weight-loss goals, remember to stay committed to your Success Habits, stay in tune with your body, work hard;  and oh, good luck!

Got Water?

I am a water drinker; I always have been. I have never been a fan of  carbonated beverages, I don’t drink alcohol or coffee, don’t care for milk and am very careful with juices. So that pretty much leaves water.  Through the years ( I am a 20 year WLS Patient) I have gone through phases of what to add to my water. Early on I used a number of artificially sweetened powders & vitamins crystals, but as I have learned more about the many reasons NOT to use artificial sweeteners, I have sought out other options.  Most recently, I have enjoyed fresh mint and cucumbers. Yum! I have several infuser bottles (Dollar store) which makes is easy to add a slice of orange, pineapple or apples, or a favorite, limes. So easy, delicious and no sweeteners!

Water is so essential to our good health & well being. So many reasons to drink water. You know them: Removes toxins, helps with weight loss,  raises energy, improves skin and so many more benefits. Once you get in the habit of drinking water, your body will start to crave it! Promise. Learn more and find more ideas and helps in The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients.

So, cheers!

My Story

An enduring inspiration, for over 22 years Colleen Cook has educated and motivated audiences all over the world.  She is a successful weight loss surgery patient from 1995 and President of Bariatric Support Centers International.  Named “Bariatric Professional of the Year” in 2009, and honored by the International Federation of the Surgery for Obesity for her research. Colleen is the author of the internationally acclaimed, bariatric best seller, The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients book and is a sought after speaker for both professional healthcare conferences and weight loss celebrations.

As an obesity education advocate, Colleen’s research-based presentations are a valuable addition to any healthcare conference for nurses, dieticians, or mental health professionals.

An active member of The National Speakers Association since 1996, Colleen is a seasoned speaker and her presentations are well crafted and can be customized for a particular conference theme.