It is human nature to seek perfection, whether it’s at work or in relationships. This need to be perfect often spills over to weight loss efforts. The “all or nothing” approach, labeling foods as good or bad, and jumping into fad diets are all behaviors that justify the quest for perfection.   However, with time, reality sets in and the goals seem more and more out of reach. The initial excitement dies down and you resign yourself to the idea that weight loss is a lost cause. Not only is this approach dangerous (you’ve probably heard of yo-yo dieting), it can sabotage future weight loss efforts for years to come. Here’s why you should choose progress over perfection when it comes to achieving successful weight loss after bariatric surgery.

Weight Loss Goals for Bariatric Patients

After bariatric surgery, your focus should be on three things – small changes, moderation, and consistency. Why small changes? A report published in Change Psychology states that when a person tries to implement one change for 2-4 weeks, there’s an 85 percent chance of success. It soon becomes a habit and doesn’t feel forced. However, when someone tries to implement two new behaviors at any given time, the chances of success are only 35 percent. Moderation means avoiding overeating but occasionally indulging in favorite comfort foods. This helps build confidence around cravings. Eating in moderation also means you keep track of calories, practice portion control, and include a variety of foods in your diet, all of which are healthy habits. Consistency is essential for long-term weight loss. “A stable schedule with healthy eating and regular exercise can keep weight management consistent,” says Emily Feig, a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of a study on behavioral weight loss. Honing Progress as a Bariatric Patient:
  • Practice using a different perspective. A positive outlook can shape the journey to make it more enjoyable.
  • Steadily over time changing mindset around food and relationships with food.
    Example: Indulging in comfort foods once in awhile is ok.
  • Living post surgery think in terms of “temporary” to help guide you through the process.
  • Example: I am temporarily in a puree phase, which soon will transition into soft foods. I am looking forward to that.
  • Learn how to define obtainable specific goals, that can have direct benefits for overall health including meeting mental and emotional needs.
  • Example: I will aim for 64 ounces of water, each day for 2 weeks. I will aim for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
  • Practice tracking everything consumed, including liquids to further nurture; a new routine, healthy habits and monitor progress.
  • If you fall into a slump, reach out for help and guidance to get back on track. Have a support system in place to keep health a priority.
    Example: Call a friend, see a therapist or contact a support group to help with staying focused on your health goals.
  • Forego all the negative inner dialogue, stop beating yourself up. Life will interfere with plans, schedules, meals etc. This should not trigger self doubt, or ignite self sabotage just for one mistake or one interruption.
  • Aim for the middle ground and grey area’s when it comes to finding positives and progress. No one is perfect, so stop giving yourself ultimatums or strict rules to follow, when transitioning into a healthy lifestyle after bariatric surgery.
  • Example: I did not succeed with all my goals today, but I did succeed with water intake and I did not snack.
  • Educate yourself, learn more about Nutrition, meal planning and cooking, and what works individually. This will empower you to continue to grow as a healthier version of yourself.
  • Look to adopt changes that are sustainable long term, build upon these, by tailoring to suit your lifestyle.
  • Example: Walking during breaks at work, playing outside with kids for an hour on the weekends.
  • Pick something you do like about your new habits, and stay positive.
  • Example: I like going to my new yoga class 2x a week.
  • Remember to start with appreciation. Appreciate your body, your life and what you have overcome. Start with identifying one body part, appreciate it, love it. Over time practice gratitude for your body and its amazing capabilities, slowly this will help you to love your body.
  • Example: I like my; legs, hands, and heart. None of them have ever given up on me.
    progress over protection

    Practical Goals to Make Your Weight Loss Journey More Enjoyable

    Here are some practical examples of how you can choose progress over perfection:
    Perfection Progress
    Giving up sugar completely Passing on dessert 6 days a week
    Avoiding alcohol completely Permitting yourself to enjoy one drink every week
    Eating 3 cups of varied veggies every day Eating any kind of veggie every day
    Preparing and eating 100% of meals at home Preparing and eating 80% of meals at home
    Cardio 5 times a week for 60 minutes each Cardio 3 times a week for 30 minutes at least
    Weighing yourself every day Weighing yourself twice a month

    Choosing Progress Over Perfection

    Once you change your perspective and choose progress over perfection, it will change your mindset and relationship with food and your own body forever. Instead of aiming for ideal behaviors, try and break out of bad eating habits and poor exercise patterns. Here are some tips to keep you on track:
  • Set specific small goals that are achievable and benefit not only weight management but also your overall health. Example: “I will exercise at least 30 minutes every day.”
  • Stop fixating on the number on the scale. Take body measurements no more than once a month and weigh yourself once a week or twice a month.
  • Remember, maintaining weight is progress.
  • Practice tracking everything you consume, including liquids and daily water intake. This will make you accountable to yourself and help you monitor progress.
  • Don’t wait until you’re at the ideal weight before buying new clothes. Try on different sized clothing and buy it if it makes you look and feel good.
  • If you hit a plateau or make one mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Reach out for help and guidance on getting back on track.
  • Educate yourself about nutrition, food labels, meal planning, and healthy cooking techniques.
  • Adopt changes that are sustainable in the long term and suit your lifestyle. Incorporate changes one by one, over time, until they become habits and don’t feel forced.
  • Celebrate small victories and acknowledge changes in behavior.
  • *REMEMBER YOUR WHY, FOR CHOOSING BARIATRIC SURGERY In recent years, many weight loss experts have been advocating progress over perfection. That’s because striving for perfection can hinder weight management. When you focus too much on the details, it is a drain on energy levels. It limits creativity and new ideas targeted at healthy lifestyle goals. It leads to self-doubt and criticism and lowers motivation. Switching to a mindset of progression, on the other hand, makes change easier and more attainable. It celebrates small successes and provides motivation to carry on. And you learn from your failures to achieve long-term sustained weight loss. Choose to Look for Progress, Everyday By actively staying engaged and working towards your goals, you’re creating a new mindset. That in itself is progress. Establishing new behaviors that over time will lead you into your healthy lifestyle. Again, that is progress. Anything can be progress, not just the scale.