Gastric bypass surgery helps patients lose weight but it does not cure obesity, notes the West Penn Allegheny Health System. Weight loss success depends on making long-term lifestyle changes. Patients lose weight quickly during the first six to 12 months after surgery, but the rate slows and eventually stops after approximately 60 percent of the excess is lost. If you have reached an extended plateau--a period without weight loss--or have regained weight after reaching your goal, you might need to get back on track with your eating and exercise program.
Weigh yourself once a week on the most accurate scale you can find. Weigh at the same time of day, preferably before breakfast. Record your weight in a journal or on a spreadsheet, says the West Penn Allegheny Health System. (Ref. 3)
Review your weight loss history to identify patterns such as plateaus or times when you regain weight. Being accountable and identifying problems early are habits of successful bariatric patients, according to West Penn Allegheny Health Systems. (Ref. 3)
Record your intake in a journal. Successful weight loss patients maintain this habit to help them make positive choices, says Katie Jay, M.S.W., in an article published by the National Association of Weight Loss Surgery. Write down what you ate, the time and how you felt before and after the meal. Record your vitamins and supplements as well.
Review the nutritional guidelines from your surgeon's office and compare them with your intake journal. Are you snacking all day instead of eating three meals and two snacks? Are you eating enough protein? Have you started adding foods that are not permitted? Gastric bypass patients regain for one of three reasons, according to the West Penn Allegheny Health System: Some stretch their pouches by eating until they are stuffed; others eat high-calorie, high-fat foods; and others graze or snack all day. If your eating pattern falls into one of these categories, it is time to develop new habits.
Sip plenty of water between meals to avoid dehydration, says MayoClinic.com. Drinking a total of about 64 oz. a day or more also will help you feel full.
Stop drinking 30 minutes before each meal and begin again 30 minutes after, says Ken Miller, former president of Bariatric Resource Center International, in an article on the organization's website. Drinking fluids with meals might make you feel too full to eat the food you need and also can cause nausea, vomiting or pain, says MayoClinic.com.
Eat mostly protein and vegetables, says Miller, and avoid all refined carbohydrates. If you have stopped measuring your portions, return to that practice. It is easy to slip back into old eating habits after the enthusiasm of the honeymoon period has waned, but the rules you learned before surgery will help you reach your weight loss goal and maintain it.
Eat three meals a day plus one or two snacks of healthy, high-quality foods, says the West Penn Allegheny Health System. Eating breakfast helps to prevent binge eating later in the day. Chew your food thoroughly and spend at least 20 minutes at the table so you feel full at the end of the meal.
Increase your exercise. Miller recommends doubling your mileage or increasing the number of days you work out each week. Exercise burns excess calories and increases muscle mass, making it easier to lose weight. If you do not have a regular exercise program, find a partner to work out with you and experiment with various activities until you find one you enjoy. Successful weight loss maintainers burn 1,000 to 2,000 calories per week through exercise, says West Penn Allegheny Health System.
Ask for support from your nutritionist, bariatric surgeon, family, friends, other weight loss surgery patients, a counselor or a therapist. Many weight loss surgery patients suffer from depression and negative thinking that affect their ability to follow their weight loss plans, says Jay. The surgical procedure does not cure emotional issues, so seeking counseling might make a difference in your weight loss efforts.