About two months before my Roux-En Y gastric bypass procedure, I sought to gain an insight into what people who underwent weight loss surgery and had succeeded in losing weight (and maintaining that weight loss) did differently than others. What acts or practices did they utilize that other, less successful, WLS patients did not?
I hoped to find at least a couple of tips and tricks that just might make this difficult Journey to Fitness a bit simpler.
So I searched the Internet for Success with Gastric Bypass. If you do this you’ll find a well published study (http://www.colleencook.com/PDF/SuccessHabitsOriginalArticle.pdf) that lists six “success habits” found to be common in people who achieved long-term success with gastric bypass.1
I was excited to click on the link and learn what simple tricks others have employed to make their GB experience so successful. What I found was a bit… well, Simple:
- Successful patients manage what they eat,
- Successful patients drank water (and not drink carbonated, sweetened, caffeinated, or alcoholic beverages),
- Successful patients took daily multiple vitamins and calcium,
- Successful patients slept 7 hours per night on the average,
- Successful patients exercised regularly,
- Successful patients took personal responsibility for staying in control.
So the simple secret to losing weight and maintaining that weight loss is to take personal responsibility to eat well, exercise, and get sleep. Simple… and frankly, something we already know. You lose weight by taking in less calories than your body burns, and you burn additional calories by increasing your level of physical activity. Oh so simple!
Turns out, weight loss/management and a healthy lifestyle is Simple… it’s just not Easy.
What I really wanted to find were tips and tricks to make weight loss Easier. How great would it be to come across a study titled: “Six Tips for Easy Weight Loss and Maintenance.”
This Simple vs Easy scenario plays out with alcoholics and gamblers, where the Simple answer to their problem is this: Don’t drink/gamble. However simple this solution, the act of implementing this solution can be very, very difficult (not easy). The Simple part of the answer deals with facts, logic, formulas, math, etc., while the Easy/Hard part of the answer deals with our emotions, fears, desires, personal strengths and weaknesses, time, environment, wealth/income, etc.
We don’t really need help making weight loss simple, we need help making the difficult task of implementing these simple answers easier.
The interwebs having let me down, and with my surgery date approaching, I set out to craft my own set of rules or guidelines that I believed would make eating well, getting regular exercise, and living a healthy lifestyle Easier to achieve, maximizing my chances of success with GB. I approached this problem as I would have any big project I managed during my working life…
I defined the goal:
To lose weight and maintain that weight loss. To improve my physical strength and endurance. To eat for fuel and proper nutrition and not for entertainment. To prioritize my time so that I first focus on my health and my well-being.
I defined the project:
To draft a set of rules/guidelines that when employed, will make the task of implementing the Simple act of losing weight (consume less calories than you burn up), of eating well, and of exercising (‘Just Do It’) Easier to achieve by removing or averting physical and psychological barriers, clearing the constructs that regulate and managing us currently, and providing tools I don’t currently have that are essential to success.
I framed the project:
A set of rules/guidelines for lifestyle change must be designed and implemented before surgery. The goal is to create a ‘user’ manual for Easy implementation of Simple weight loss and exercise principles, these rules/guidelines will be subject to constant revision as real-life experience provides better data and assumptions.
I looked for other examples:
“Where there is a will there is a way.” That and a thousand other inspirational quotes might be all the push you need to make the Journey to Fitness EASY. But that isn’t likely. It will take more than slogans and Ra-Ra posters to get you to that level. However, this quote does speak to something very important, the creating of a ‘will’ to change.
It is obvious from my experience that people who are zealous about something find it easy to do whatever needs to be done at the moment to move toward success, regardless if it is something huge and monumental or some elementary or tedious thing. Their inner being ‘willing’ them to act. I need to become a Zealot about this!
I defined the problems/barriers to success:
It seems to me that the issues related to implementing a new lifestyle are so closely tied to my own personal strengths and weaknesses… to my ability to work with and not against my personality, emotions, and deep seated fears and hopes. Looking closely at my history and knowing what does and what does not motivate me, I wrote down what I believed to be the four biggest BARRIERS to my success:
- Conflicting Priorities – I always say that exercising is important to me, but I never make time.
- Dishonesty (w/ myself/others) – I act as if everything is OK, yet I am in bad shape and my body is failing.
- Poor Planning & Implementation – I fail to follow through, don’t hold to a schedule, and lack commitment.
- Recklessness & Sabotage – overeating and drinking, pretending MORE is always better and desirable.
It is not unreasonable to conclude that in order to create an environment where I might more easily implement my Journey to Fitness… to create the conditions where doing whatever is necessary to achieve success is my ‘first-choice’, and where I build a will that is stronger than any impediments… will require a monumental change…in me.
This is why making weight loss look EASY is so damn hard!
Then I made The Rules
In the movie the Matrix, Morpheus offers Neo a choice…
Morpheus: (Morpheus has offered Neo a chance to learn about the Matrix) “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back.” (In his left hand, Morpheus shows a blue pill.)
Morpheus: You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.
Morpheus: You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. (a red pill is shown in his other hand)
(Long pause; Neo begins to reach for the red pill)
Morpheus: Remember — all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.
OK, I’m not Morpheus, you’re not Neo, and this isn’t the Matrix – but Wonderland and the rabbit-hole are A Healthy Lifestyle and the Path to your New Life – and all they require is: All of you – All the time. There really is no turning back. Ready?
Rule/Guideline #1 – Wed June 18
Rule/Guideline #2 – Fri June 20
Rule/Guideline #3 – Tue June 24
Rule/Guideline #4 – Thu June 26
Background on “Success Habits” Article
Note 1 In those patients surveyed who were not classified as successful, an absence of at least one or more of the six success habits was found. The most common were lack of exercise, poorly balanced meals, constant grazing and snacking, and drinking carbonated beverages. Success is defined as maintenance of at least 74% of the initial weight loss for several years.
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