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Post-Op Exercise Managing Stress Support

Managing Stress

Remember that surgery is only a tool to help you. The most challenging aspect is often the social and emotional changes that occur as you start your physical transformation. Please be aware that we offer several support groups throughout the month in addition to private psychological counseling to help you through this difficult time.

Plan Ahead for Challenging Situations

Overeating at parties is easy to do. Snacking is considered a bad habit after this surgery, so make "party eating" one of your meals for the day. Never munch directly from the bowl; instead, place food directly on your napkin or small plate and take only the food you are planning to eat.

Remember: You can't eat more than a small child's portion now. Look for the protein items first and supplement with other choices after you've eaten some protein. A party is not a good place to try a new food for the first time. You don't want to end up sick or sleepy and have to go home ahead of schedule. Take time at get-togethers to socialize more and enjoy the people present.

The greater number of events, places, and situations that you associate with food, the more often you will feel like eating or perhaps feel deprived that you can no longer eat like you once did. Learn to focus on other things rather than food. You should eventually feel a sense of freedom from the drive to eat and use this opportunity to find new focus and enjoyment in life.

Learn to eat more slowly and deliberately to allow your body to feel the fullness and to digest your food better. When you eat too fast, you are at risk for overeating which can lead to pain. In addition, not chewing your food well enough could cause you to vomit. Old habits will have to be worked on until your new slow eating is your normal style of eating. Again, Support Groups can help you to deal with these issues.

Talk, Talk, Talk About It

Using assertive communication can minimize conflicts and provide healthier, happier relationships. Whenever you have a drastic life change (your new eating style, exercise habits, and much smaller body), your relationships will definitely change too. Helping them change for the better may require some vigilance on your part.

Be open when something bothers you by communicating with those around you. It will also help if you share your experiences with your significant other and develop your goals and plan of attack regarding your compliance issues (exercise, follow-up appointments, vitamin purchases, etc.) with them. Support groups help tremendously with these situations. Spouses are welcome and may learn that others might be having a hard time as well.

The commitment to have surgery is frequently a very private and personal decision. Having surgery is not something to be embarrassed about. Honesty is the best policy. Being frank about what you are doing and why could improve personal relationships.

Nevertheless, some people choose not to share this decision with others. Soon most people will notice your weight loss. Preparing an answer in advance often will help you out of an uncomfortable situation. Suggested remarks are:

"I'm exercising regularly, eating less, and drinking lots of water."

"I've decided to take better care of myself and change some old habits."

Body Image

Keep in mind that as your body undergoes changes in weight and size, it is likely you may not see your body as others view it. It takes time for your mind to catch up with what your body is doing. It is similar to the phantom limb phenomenon, where a person who has lost a limb continues to experience pain or feeling from the missing part, and in fact, feels they still have that limb. As you lose weight, you may actually be surprised when you see your reflection in a store window or mirror. You may not feel like that person is you! It is normal to feel like you are still the same size as you were before, but there are some definite ways to help you work through this:

  • Take a picture of yourself every few weeks during your weight loss and compare the changes
  • Try on clothes in a smaller size; you'll be surprised how quickly you'll be changing sizes
  • Have someone point out a person in a public place who is about your current size so you have a new frame of reference
  • Take measurements of yourself every few weeks and record the results
  • Save an outfit from your pre-op size and try it on every few weeks or whenever you need a lift

Accept compliments graciously. Don't minimize or qualify your weight loss; you have worked hard for the outcome you are being complimented for. Simply say, "Thank you."

Points to Remember

Remember to focus on your internal assets, accomplishments, abilities and honorable qualities. We are not just our bodies.

Don't judge anyone based on personal appearance and don't allow others to judge you based on your body size.

Take time out for yourself and your body. Listen to your favorite music, read, start a garden, choose a hobby and all will enhance your quality of life.

Keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, and dreams, which can assist you in targeting your great accomplishments. It feels good when dreams and goals are met. Journalizing your weight loss experience may help you appreciate it down the road.

Relaxation techniques provide relief from stress. Take time out for yourself each day. Soft music, a walk alongside the shore, watching your favorite comedy are just a few ways to relieve stress.

Exercise is a great stress reducer. It not only helps with toning and cardiovascular fitness, it also improves how you feel about yourself. Your skin will love it too!

Communication is the key for maintaining close, healthy relationships. Share yourself with those around you. Allow others to share their feelings also.