A common attitude for many weight loss surgery patients is: “My surgeon said I should weigh 150 pounds, but I want to weigh 135 – the weight I was when I graduated from high school,” or “…the weight I was when I got married.”
Did you choose your goal weight or did your surgeon? Was it realistic? Have you sustained it past your post-surgery “honeymoon”? I know many of you have, but I also know many of you haven’t.
Should you even have a goal weight?
In one of my recent coaching groups, the women discussed how to determine their best weight.
We agreed it’s not the number in your head that you think you should be. It’s more a matter of the intersection between your lifestyle choices and how your body responds to weight loss surgery.
You are unique. You know (or can sort out) what lifestyle choices feel “tolerable to great”; and, if you’re honest with yourself, you know what feels “barely tolerable to horrible.”
A maintainable weight loss requires a lifestyle with habits that leave you feeling in the “tolerable to great” range. Anything less and you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose momentum or even backslide.
So, while you may want to get down to your high school weight, it may not be a weight you can reach, or maintain for life.
Aiming too low – and adopting a lifestyle that isn’t sustainable in the long-term – is a huge risk after bariatric surgery. It can set the stage for regain and disappointment. It can cause a great deal of self-blame and shame.
But consider the scenario in which you are one of the women who does get to her low, goal weight. And let’s say you can maintain that low weight by exercising five times a week and going keto.
But let’s also say that perhaps you hurt your knee, or your mother gets sick, or your work hours are increased, and then five times a week becomes too much for you. Keto becomes too much effort. You adjust. Two times a week and eating the best you can will have to do. Your weight might readjust to a slightly higher number.
And that would be okay, unless it kicks off a self-blame and shame mindset, and constant judgment about your “failure” to follow your keto plan.
And maybe the feeling of failure triggers you to self-soothe with food, which then affects your weight.
In another scenario, you discover you are happiest with a certain quantity of food (and not necessarily too much – just not enough to lose down to that super-low weight you think you should be).
You lose weight because of your surgery and healthier choices, but you have relaxed into a way of eating and living that you can sustain long-term.
That would be okay, too. You’d be in the “tolerable to great” range in terms of how you feel about your weight and lifestyle.
The problem in the first scenario, may be that when your weight adjusts upward you may panic or start beating yourself up. That’s a familiar pattern, isn’t it?
Often, when we push past a level of effort and commitment that’s sustainable to a more intense lifestyle that will eventually burn us out, we risk kicking off a post-surgical yo-yo pattern.
Do you have to reach a lower weight just because a certain number is stuck in your head?
Is pushing harder than you will be able to sustain the best course of action for reaching a healthy, stable weight long-term?
What if you gave yourself permission to let your body weigh what it wants to weigh, with you eating and exercising at the healthiest levels you can tolerate long-term?
What if goal weight isn’t a number to be judged and evaluated? What if it’s not reflective of your strength, character, or worthiness?
What if it’s simply the intersection between your sustainable WLS lifestyle choices and your body’s response to your surgery.
Let me know your thoughts.
Never give up!