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Bootstrap Your Way Out of the Winter Blues

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, andI” 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

Lost to Followup? 3 Tips to Re-engage Your Patients

Lost to follow up happens, to be sure, but don’t we all wonder where they went? Why they are no longer coming to support groups and activities? And how you might recapture their attention and participation?  

Since 2000, BSCI has specialized in providing bariatric professionals with research, insight and resources to really connect with their patients. Here are our top three tips to keep those veteran patients involved, engaged and inspiring others.

  1. Let them share & show off.  For newbies, there is nothing like hearing from long-term, successful patients! And there is nothing that veteran patients love more than to have the opportunity to crow a bit, share their story, their before pants, and photos. At BSCI, we recommend that each support group meeting include a segment devoted just for that. Not simply, going around the room and having each share their name and how much weight they have lost, but a showcase time for a few patients. Assign your ‘feature patients’ in advance and encourage them to bring photos, clothes and family members to hear them tell their story. If you do multiple types of surgeries, perhaps select one patient for each. Provide them with some sort of certificate, pin or token for their accomplishment. Recognize and honor their accomplishments at 1 year, 2 years, 3 years and so forth. Keep them coming, by keeping them in the spotlight.
  • Create Opportunities for them to serve. As you know, bariatric patients are so very grateful for their new lives, grateful to their surgeons for their skill and their bariatric team for their education and ongoing support. Many of your patients are likely seeking an opportunity to pay it forward, to give back. There are so many ways to use your patients in your program to the benefit of all. You may enjoy reading The Dangers & Benefits of Using Bariatric Patients in your Program. Give them an assignment, a job, a committee on which to serve.
  • Enhance and Improve your post op educational content. I will always recall this statement made by a new patient, “I will keep attending support groups as long as I learn something new each time.” Years later, he was still coming! Quite a testament to the need for a variety of quality lessons, educational content and enticing topics that teach about the bariatric lifestyle, not just what to eat in the first few months following surgery. Once, again BSCI has come to the rescue with exceptional lesson plans, handouts and teaching aids. These research- based lessons are insightful and timely and appeal to veteran, struggling and new bariatric patients. Support Groups of Excellence Lesson Plans.

Thank you for caring about your bariatric patients. Not just the newbies, but your long-term veteran patients as well. I encourage you to try these tips and see if you can keep your patients participating in your program longer, and reduce the number of those labeled, ‘Lost to Follow-up.”

For lesson plans, effectively using volunteers in your program, agenda ideas and facilitation skills, consider our Support Group Leader Certification Course. we’d love to have you as one of our nearly 1,000 certified leaders and know you will learn and enjoy the content. 10 CEU’s

Holiday Choices

My awesome husband knows I love chocolate covered cherries. He buys them for me during the holidays and honestly, throughout the year, especially when they are going for $1.00 a box!

Last weekend, we did our grocery shopping and as expected, Roger put a box of those delectable delights in our cart. “They’re fruit, right?” he said with a grin. “Well, I suppose they are,” I replied.

Chocolate covered cherries are best when kept in the refrigerator. They are more chewy than gooey and take longer to eat that way. So, as we put away groceries, I put the box in the fridge, but this time, instead of putting them on a shelf, I put them in the fruit and vegetable drawer. Hmm, that was interesting. I could see them clearly through the crisper drawer, but I could also see the apples, pears, and oranges, which seemed to be glaring at me as well as if to say, we’re here too! Now, whenever I opened the door, my choices are pretty clear!

Often, I find myself looking for something sweet, and have learned over the last few years that sometimes, not always, but sometimes, fruit will hit the spot. So, I find myself thinking twice before I reach for a sweet snack. Every time I open the refrigerator door, I see so clearly that I do, indeed have a choice. It is my choice and mine alone. There is no one else here. Just me, the fruit and the candy. Much to my surprise, there have been a few times, that I preferred the apple, or the orange as my afternoon treat. Awesome! I am finally learning how much better I feel when I eat what my body needs.

The holiday season is filled with so very many choices. We can fill our days with shopping, gifts and parties. We can spend our time in service and the spirit of the season. We can go to church, or we can go see Santa. We can fill our bellies with candy or fruit.

For me, I love it all! In our family we decorate, do parties and gifts, participate in service projects, visit Santa and go to church. We eat good proteins and vegetables and also enjoy a holiday treat or two.

I am grateful to have such plenty.  I am grateful for this season and the many choices I have.  I cherish my right to choose, own the consequences of my choices and allow others to do the same. May you find peace in your choices this holiday season and always.

Oh, and chocolate covered cherry anyone?