April 3, 2018 – Beyond the Scale

Facilitator:  Dr. Ravi Sabapathy

Dr. Sabapathy started by explaining that since a scale is just a unit of measurement, it can become an interference in our weight loss process if we let it.  He wanted to address how you keep it from becoming a mental hurdle.

He pointed out that there is a process to learning anything we achieve, and that this process goes beyond just a metric, like our weight, and we can start by thinking about why we had surgery in the first place.  It wasn’t just to weigh less.  It was about getting healthier and increasing quality of life.  Research shows that patients are more successful when they don’t make the number on the scale the focal point.  All the recommendations suggest weigh once a week, on the same day of the week, same time of day, with the same clothing.  But he asked what other things we each measure to track our success:

  • How clothing fits
  • Inches lost from waist, arms, legs, etc.
  • Blood Pressure
  • Stamina – how long can I exercise without getting winded
  • Increased flexibility from before surgery, e.g. bending over to tie shoes, crossing legs, painting own toenails
  • Financial savings – one patient pointed out she is saving $400 a month on medication and food since surgery – that’s almost $5,000 a year!

Another measure is having less pain.  Most pain is the result of inflammation, and we know that the surgery reduces inflammation.  Inflammation is part of all disease, so as you are losing weight, you are having less inflammation leading to less pain in joints, less headaches, less pain from fibromyalgia, all of these are improved and are great ways to measure success.

In order to achieve your goals, you have to have some “process goals” that help you achieve your measurement goals:

  • Slower and mindful eating is a process goal
  • Saying no to people trying to get you to eat something you know you shouldn’t
  • Setting boundaries with people
  • Journaling about food and emotions

It is important to reward yourself with a non-food reward as you meet your goals and learn to celebrate in other ways.  Do something for yourself that you weren’t able to do before – go to the theatre, buy a new book, get a pedicure, buy a new piece of clothing. 

You have invested a lot both financially and emotionally to reach your goals, but don’t stop investing in your continued health.  Come back and follow up with the clinicals in the program, come to support groups – especially if you find yourself struggling at any point.  Everyone experiences a little bit of weight regain, but you don’t want to let it get out of hand before you come get help from a dietitian, a psychologist or one of the physical therapists.  We have a lot of clinicians that love working with our patients and want nothing more than for you to be successful.  Remember that the toughest times after surgery are going to be weekends and evenings, so plan ahead, and decide what to fill those times with, or what you will be eating, so it doesn’t sneak up on you. 

And keep a “Before Surgery” picture to remind you of where you’ve been so you can see the progress you’re making toward your goal.