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Whether you will have surgery next month, had surgery 3 years ago, or you have just completed your first pre-op test, you made the decision to have weight loss surgery. Oftentimes, people believe the decision is just about having the surgery. However, the journey after weight loss surgery lasts much longer than the surgical process. This means that your commitment to the entire process is critical. But it can be challenging to stay motivated after weight loss surgery.

Everyone has different motivations for getting and staying healthy. What motivates you at 3 months post-op, may not motivate you at 3 years post-op. And as things never stay the same, your motivation may wane when faced with life’s stressors. So how do you keep yourself motivated to reach your health goals?

What is motivation and what factors drive it?
What types of motivation are there?
Do feelings affect motivation? 

Learn more about what motivates your fellow patients; and how exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and following up with Dr. Yadegar on a consistent basis play key roles in reaching your goals. Dr. Gat gives advice on how to deal with food and exercise cues, and how to deal with different emotional issues during the weight loss surgery journey. “Track your success”,advises Dr. Gat. “Sometimes I think we forget how far we’ve come!” Dr. Gat recommends tracking your weight loss on a chart, listing barriers you’ve overcome, and making a collage of pictures that demonstrate your success.

Re-commit yourself to reaching your weight loss surgery goals!

Excerpts from this video:

At first the success after weight loss surgery comes really quickly. But we know that the surgery isn’t a quick fix. You still have to work because it’s simply a tool. If you’re not staying with your nutritional program, exercising and using your support system, you can regain the weight and unfortunately people do. So today we’re going to talk about some things you can do to keep yourself on the right track.

What do we mean by motivation?
Seeing success. Being focused. Willing to do a life change.

How do you know when you’re motivated?
Feeling good about the direction you’re going in because you’re seeing results, you’re seeing change.

Can you feel negative and still be motivated?
Yes, negative things can motivate us.

How many of you have had a great workout when you’re really angry?
Yes!

Right, so sometimes emotions that aren’t necessarily positive can also motivate us.

We all have a need for affection and being accepted. You may have thought about this, wanting to fit into society. You don’t want people to look at your weight and judge you by that right? But society has rules for how people are supposed to look, but they’re not always healthy are they?

Motivation can be intrinsic, from the inside, or extrinsic, from the outside.

What is intrinsic?
Happiness, good feelings.

And what is extrinsic?
Expectations from other people, from the outside.

Which do you think is more long lasting and healthier?
Well it can depend upon your culture and your upbringing. When I don’t indulge in soul food my grandmother can become upset. It’s not even an option to not indulge. You just eat it because in our culture it means love and acceptance.

Intrinsic motivation is really the healthiest because it comes from within.

If I make a pumpkin pie and you don’t want any, I wonder what’s wrong? To me it means rejection. But that can be problematic because you saying no may have nothing to do with me or the pie.

But we don’t live in a bubble. We have people around us. And we can struggle especially around the holidays when people push food on us. How do you handle that? Emotions are what motivate us. But are emotions always accurate? Do we sometimes make faulty assumptions? Have you ever had the experience when you thought someone was angry with you but when you finally check it out you found it had nothing to do with you? And we’re very different. Some of us are more sensitive than others. We often assume things and we internalize them and they turn out not to be true. So emotions can be very misleading. So you might think that not having the pumpkin pie or the soul food will hurt someone, but how do you know for sure if you haven’t checked it out.

What are some things you do to keep yourself motivated, to stay on track with your weight loss and health?
I tell someone else about my goal and they encourage and support me.
Online support groups.
The scale.
Before and after pictures can remind you how far you’ve come.

Great, yes- before and after pictures. Do you forget what you looked like? That can happen because you see yourself everyday. Do you every look in the mirror and think you haven’t changed at all?
Yes, because I have days when I still feel fat.

Sometimes our emotions are very telling but much of the time they are not accurate. And fat is not a feeling. Something else is going on because weight is not about food it’s about other stuff that we were using food for.

Sometimes you haven’t met those weight loss goals and you sabotage yourself. The surgery is not a quick fix. Just because you lose weight, look fabulous, and wear fabulous clothes doesn’t mean you won’t have days when you feel depressed or lonely. I think that’s a big mistake that people make before surgery thinking that when they look the way they imagine or they reach a certain goal, all their problems will be fixed. But that’s not true. It makes you healthier, but that’s pretty much it. It can’t really make you healthier psychologically. So whatever was there before surgery will probably be there after surgery and in fact the surgery may exacerbate it.

Do you ever say anything nice to yourself instead of beating yourself up? They say that for every 20 things we beat ourselves up about we probably only say one nice thing. For some reason humans are wired to be negative. You have to work actively all the time to stay positive. Now that doesn’t mean that you’re unrealistically positive, but we tend to be very hard on ourselves and I think it’s important to ease up and ask how we’re treating ourselves. What’s that voice inside of you saying?

A lot of times we’re listening to the voices out there when what we really need to do is listen to the voice inside, when even though mom may be upset that you didn’t eat her soul food, you still decide that you love yourself enough that you want to be healthy and that you want to feel good. And nobody has to live in your body but you. So you have a choice in life to decide how you want to be. We actually have a lot of choices in life but sometimes we just don’t see them.