Anyone who has a weight problem has likely heard their fair share of supposedly helpful (and, often, so not-so-helpful) advice about diets, doctors, and eating disorders than they care to. So it can be difficult to broach the subject with someone you care about who struggles with morbid obesity. There are several good reasons to make the effort, however.
Losing weight can sometimes be a lonely and isolating process; especially as food often comes into play in social situations. (Really, who wants to be the only person having celery sticks instead of nachos at a party, or passing up dessert when dining out with friends?) Bariatric surgery, however, is one weight-loss tool that you won’t have to struggle through alone. The Penn Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program offers a comprehensive support staff before and after the surgery, including a team of dedicated nutrition specialists.
Lisa Harris, a software administrator and mom of two living in southern New Jersey, knows firsthand how living with obesity can affect even the most minute details of day-to-day living. However, until she had bariatric surgery in May 2011, she didn’t realize how much losing the weight would transform her, physically and psychologically.
If you’ve been considering bariatric surgery after struggling with different diets for years, the most important thing to feed yourself is information. The Penn Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Program makes it easy with free information sessions several times a month at all three of its hospitals as well as satellite locations.
Bariatric surgery can help achieve amazing results when it comes to losing weight, but for those results to last, you have to make permanent healthy changes to your lifestyle. The staff at the Penn Metabolic & Bariatric Program identified the following habits as the most important to adopt for your weight loss to last:
Before and after bariatric surgery, patients are confronted with a lot of numbers: their blood pressure and cholesterol readings, body mass index (BMI), calories in and out, and of course, the all-important number on the scale. While it can be exciting to watch that number dip, especially shortly after surgery, when weight loss tends to be the most drastic, that digital readout is far from the only measure of slim-down success.
Like a lot of people, you’re probably anticipating summer vacation season even more than usual this year, given the harsh winter that just passed. If you struggle with your weight, however, getting away from it all can be a potential danger zone. One survey from the travel website TripAdvisor found that 29 percent of travellers who responded say they always or often gain weight while traveling.
Along with dietary changes and staying hydrated, regular fitness is one of the keys to long-term success following bariatric surgery. Emily Newell, RD, LDN, CNSC, is a dietician for the Penn Metabolic & Bariatric Program at Pennsylvania Hospital. She helps patients before and after weight-loss surgery. She says patients often lead a largely sedentary lifestyle before surgery. In some cases, their weight or other obesity-related health complications makes being physically active difficult.
It’s no coincidence that so many stories about dramatic weight loss are accompanied by photographs of someone holding up a pair of pants or a dress that now appears way too large. Clothing can be a great way to measure your progress as you drop pounds. That first trip to the mall for a smaller size can be one of the greatest payoffs for bariatric surgery patients.
Maintaining a healthy diet is a crucial step for bariatric patients, both before and after surgery. As part of the comprehensive Penn Metabolic & Bariatric Program, candidates for weight-loss surgery meet with staff dieticians who can offer expert counsel about the best and most nutritious dietary options that also fit a patient’s tastes and lifestyle.
“We really do stress at every point in the process that it is a major lifestyle change,” says Emily Newell RD, LDN, CNSC, one of the program’s dieticians at Pennsylvania Hospital. “One of the biggest concerns I hear from patients is that they are afraid they will never be able to have pizza again. I ask them, ‘Why would you want to go back to the kind of diet that hasn’t worked for you in the past?’”