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Regaining Weight? Don’t Quit Your Support Group

Support group circle discussing bariatric surgery, close up image of people's hands inside the circle

You’ve heard it repeatedly, starting from before your procedure, support is essential to long-term success in your bariatric journey. Support groups are not just places to commiserate with people in the same position as you are. Instead, they are important forums for discussion about strategies to lose additional weight, places where you can celebrate your successes with others, who are cheering you on, and a place where you can turn to get practical advice and help when you’ve gone off track.

The reality of the bariatric process is that there will be plateaus and even weight gains along the way. This is perfectly normal, and you are following a trend that virtually every patient has been through before, no matter how dedicated to their health and weight loss they may be.

However, one of the biggest concerns many bariatric patients experience is disappointment. This is disappointment in themselves and the disappointment they expect other people to feel if they begin to regain some of the weight that they previously lost.

Let’s Discuss How the Weight-Loss Process Will Look

We just mentioned that the weight loss process is not linear, which is true for almost every patient. However, the first year after your surgery will be relatively straightforward in that you will likely have the motivation to lose weight, and the tool you’ve chosen, bariatric surgery, will be in full effect. This is the time when you can change your lifestyle for longer-term success. Most of us, however, will begin to liberalize our diet and exercise regimen somewhat after that first year, and the result is the inevitable weight regain. This can be a matter of a dozen or several dozen pounds, but regardless, it can be very demoralizing.

What Have We Always Done When We’re Down?

If you are like most bariatric and non-bariatric patients, when you are disappointed with yourself, you tend to withdraw. That is withdrawal from the things you enjoy, social situations, and helpful things like your support group. You certainly would not be the first. We see patients drop out of support groups, and it’s important to understand why. Usually, this is not because of schedule conflicts or a result of being so successful that they don’t need support anymore. Usually, it’s precisely the opposite – they are ashamed of gaining weight.

Golden Rule

First, it’s important to remember that virtually everyone in your support group has been where you are today. They’ve gained weight, don’t feel good about themselves, and want to crawl into a hole. However, there are two possible outcomes. If you do indeed retreat and step away from the tactics and advice that have gotten you to this point, you’re very likely to reverse course and regain even more weight, possibly returning to where you were before. On the other hand, if you take this opportunity to analyze what went wrong, adjust and re-double your efforts, you can return to that excellent baseline that was a reality just a short time ago.

Support keeps the bottom from falling out. It’s in the name. There’s a long way to fall when we go off track, especially after being wildly successful in our bariatric journey. Support groups and the support system we build around ourselves build a strong foundation limiting how far we can fall. The stronger the support group, the more powerful the structure, and the less you will drop. Think about this carefully and act on it accordingly. During difficult times when you think you are losing momentum, this is the time to re-double your support system and lean on it even further.

You May Be Depriving Others of Your Help

As human beings, we learn from those around us, and if we are only surrounded by people who have never experienced frustration, we might as well be alone. Your struggles, including how you approach and overcome them, can help others in the same position. Many bariatric patients struggle silently, not wanting to embarrass themselves or admit that they are not doing well. They may need to hear your story to get the confidence to address the problem and ask for help.

So, if you are experiencing one of the invariable downs after bariatric surgery, we encourage you not to make a drastic move and withdraw from the support system that can be so important in re-balancing your diet and exercise program and getting back on track. If you are gaining significant weight, you should also schedule an appointment with your surgeon to understand why this is happening and your next steps. All the while, lean on your support system to get back on track,

In the end, support is critical to successful postoperative life, and a hiccup here and there should not derail you from this fantastic journey you have built.

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