I’m sure I am not the first to say this, but I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. While January 1 is the first day of a new year, and you can think of it as a clean slate, there’s nothing stopping you from saying that January 27 is a new day and it’s the day I am embarking on my journey.
The truth is that goal setting is a life-long process. I’m sure most of you have heard the acronym SMART Goals. Goals should be:
By establishing achievable goals, you set yourself up to succeed. And the goal can be big or small. Starting off small helps you to build your confidence so you can be successful. Starting out on January 1 with a goal to lose 50 pounds maybe specific, measurable, attainable — but is it realistic or timely? Take the time to think about why 50 pounds? What will happen if you lose 50 pounds? Is your goal really about a number on the scale, or is it about better health? Or is it about how you feel about yourself? Some introspection goes a long way when setting these goals.
When working with clients, we start off with some short term goals, then build upon those to set goals for the mid-point, and finally goals for six months. Through the course of the six-month program, we continue to refine goals. Along the journey, you may find that it’s not about losing 50 pounds, it’s about setting up a routine for good nutrition. Or it could be about finding balance in other areas of your life, like career, relationships, or physical activity. Spending some time clarifying your goals really helps set you up for success, but it also forces you to think about your “why.”
So, it’s January 27. Let’s work on some goals!
Write it down! When you write down your goals, it makes them concrete. Post them where you can see them every day, so you can keep them top of mind as you embark on this journey.
Visualize the outcome. Create affirmations to help encourage yourself through each step of your action plan. How will you feel when you achieve your goal?
Hold yourself accountable. Remember your “why.” Especially on tough days. Set up a support system to help with accountability. This could be an app to help you track steps or log food, it can be a close friend or family member, or it could be a health coach. Whatever works for you! Find your support system and rely on it to help you keep your eye on the prize!
Schedule your time. You have to make time to make your dreams come true. Actually schedule activities on your calendar and make them as important as that big meeting, the kid’s soccer game, or any other obligation you have on your agenda.
Make self-care a priority. If you don’t take care of yourself first, how can you take care of everyone else. What activities energize you? What rituals do you find relaxing and revitalizing? Build these into your activities to make sure you’re in your top form. Any mood boosting activity will help you stay positive and focused.
Dig deep and really get to the root of all the things you want to accomplish. Have some awesome goals you want to share? Let me know!
There’s this concept in my coaching program called “the magic of mirroring.” When listening to clients, there’s often this inner dialogue going on where you completely relate to what they are saying, and as you go on in dialogue providing guidance, you hear yourself answering your own struggles. Speaking with one of my “practice” clients, we got into a conversation about being good or being bad. Why is it that we take this all or nothing approach to so many things? We say, “I eat really well, except when I am bad.” We let this notion of being “good” allow us to indulge in “bad” things as a reward, or we punish ourselves for being “bad,” by spiraling into more “bad” behaviors.
Life isn’t that clear cut. And for people who have struggled with weight loss, it’s time for a new way of thinking. We’ve been shamed into thinking that we are being bad if we make a poor food choice or if we chose to sleep in over going to the gym. It’s time to listen to that voice in your head and tell it to STFU.
This a-ha moment I had made me very conscious of my inner monologue and how often I think of things in terms of good or bad. I have rephrased my self-talk. I only choose food that will nourish me because that’s just how I eat now. I choose to eat this way because I am proud of my success and I don’t want to go back to my old way of life.
Is it all butterflies, unicorns, and roses? Hell no, but the awareness of that negative self-talk is the best answer to defeat it when things are tough. Weight loss after gastric bypass surgery isn’t just automatic. Well, part of it is — in the beginning, but there’s a lot of work that goes into making smart food choices, getting proper nutrition and supplementation, showing up for exercise, and creating consistently healthy patterns with sleep and stress management. I hear myself telling fellow patients that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and I stop and listen to myself. Health coaching is the thing that will keep my inner evil voice quiet and will keep me focused on my own health and wellness. And that, my friends, is good.
There’s so many resources about diet after bariatric surgery when you are post-surgery to about 6 months. Moving from liquid, to puree, to solid stages during weight loss comes with a lot of guidelines. What life looks like post-weight loss is not nearly as well-documented. I know when I was researching surgery, I followed so many blogs of people who were going through weight loss, and they all seem to get to a certain point and then stop documenting the journey. Even my own blogging has slowed down now that I have reached maintenance.
This week in my health coach training, one of our assignments is to create a resource for my clients about clean eating. Do you need to recreate the wheel for bariatric patients? I think not.
Here’s some guidance from our curriculum:
Keep It Whole
Experiment with Home Cooking
Limit Refined Carbohydrates
Maintain Consistent Eating Times and Try Not to Skip Meals
Balance Your Plate
Let’s put the bariatric spin on this.
There are rules we have to follow as bariatric patients (and they may vary from surgeon to surgeon, so it’s important to follow YOUR program). First and foremost, we must take our vitamins and supplements. For me, this means a bariatric formulated multi-vitamin, calcium with vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and 60-80 grams of protein specifically from protein supplement. Since we’ve got through a major surgery to reroute our digestion, supplementation to ensure proper absorption of these nutrients is critical.
Emphasize Quality Over Quantity
This applies to your supplements as well as food. I have chosen bariatric formulated products to ensure maximum absorbtion. It is expensive? Not compared to feeling like crap and being 90 pounds overweight. It’s all relative. We have one body in this lifetime and we’ve already put it through a lot to get to where we are going, so invest in your health.
The same goes for the rest of the things we eat. We’re so limited on how much food we can intake. In the beginning, I was fine with 1/4 cup serving sizes for meals, but as I got more into my exercise program, I gradually increased to 1/2 cup per meal, and now that I am in maintenance, I can eat much more — depending on the food, but the quality of that food matters. Since we can only eat so much, nutrient dense food is the way to go. So:
Choose Whole Foods
When planning meals, think of choosing the most unprocessed food and keep it simple. I always include a protein source as my primary food and eat that first, followed by whole vegetables and fruits. I lean towards a plant based diet, so protein sources can include beans, lentils, tempeh, tofu, or hummus but I will also include vegetarian sources like eggs, cottage cheese, string cheese, greek yogurt, or other reduced fat cheese. Occasionally I will eat chicken or fish, but try to choose organic and sustainably raised animal products when I do choose them. I will typically pair these foods with organic fruit or vegetables, usually fresh, sometimes frozen. Simplicity is the key. I will meal prep simple “lunchables” that are roughly the same quantities that I can mix and match over the course of the week and have prepped and ready to go to throw in my lunch bag.
Here’s a few examples:
Eggs with sliced tomatoes
Cottage cheese with sliced peaches
Tempeh with hummus in a lettuce wrap
Kale and red cabbage salad with beans or hummus
Roasted root vegetables with grilled chicken
You are only limited by your imagination.
2. Experiment with home cooking
Food prep keeps things fun and interesting. Typically I will find a recipe on Pinterest that I will make as an entree to have for lunch or dinner for the week, or I will find some kind of plant-based salad to make that can be paired with a protein source or just enjoyed as a snack between meals. My pinterest account has a collection of bariatric friendly and plant-based recipes that I will adapt based on my current nutritional needs.
I am still recovering from my kidney surgery, so I have had to adapt my portions and my food to a reduced intake due to reduced exercise quantity and intensity. Eating at home really helps me to control what I take in, reduce the amount of sugar, salt and carbs I eat, and the quality of food. And home cooking doesn’t have to mean elaborate meals. Choosing one or two recipes a week keeps things interesting, and helps keep things simple. Use herbs and spices and find homemade recipes for things like salad dressing to avoid any additional additives outside of “real” food. Once you find recipes that are easy, you can adapt them to fit your own nutritional needs and your creativity.
3. Limit refined carbohydrates.
Actually, really just leave these out. I’m not an “everything in moderation” advocate. For most bariatric patients, refined carbohydrates is what got us into this mess. Sugar, flour, rice, pasta and the like. There are some people who can work these back into their diets, but I know how easy it can be to go back to old habits. My recommendation is to steer clear of processed foods and find whole food alternatives to your favorites. Bariatric Eating is a great resource for recipes to help keep those cravings at bay.
I have been experimenting with whole grains, like millet, quinoa, and freekah. I find that I can use them as a condiment. I will add a tablespoon or two to a salad to provide some density and add fiber and protein. It’s satisfying enough, but doesn’t trigger any cravings for me. I am intentionally avoiding food like edamame or chick pea pasta, because I know if will be a trigger for me. I am a realist, and I see how quickly I can gain weight if not following the bariatric diet recommendations. I don’t want to be that person who gained all their weight back and more after gastric bypass. I’ve just worked too hard for that. Everyone needs to find their own tolerance level.
4. Maintain consistent eating times and try not to skip meals
One of the most important things for me was to create a schedule/routine for myself around my meals. On a typical workday, I do a protein shake before my workouts, eat a small mid morning meal when I get to work, walk at lunchtime and then have a small lunch at 1ish, eat dinner around 6 and then have a shake before bed, or have my shake as a mid afternoon snack. This has worked well for me once I met my goal weight. I’m currently a few pounds higher than my goal weight which I attribute to being a limited activity, so I am reducing the number of snacks I have and really focusing on nutrient dense and lower calorie meals. It’s HARD, but sticking with the routine helps me from getting too far off the rails.
5. Balance your plate
I have always tried to have a good balance of protein, carbs and fat at each meal, but the fat typically comes from healthy sources like nuts and seeds, avocado, or olive oil. Carbs are never simple carbs – they are typically vegetables or fruit, and I stick with he lower glycemic fruit like melon and berries per bariatric recommendations. I do my food prep and thinking about variety and creating balanced meals. Very often food prep for me is just making sure everything is washed and chopped and ready to go for mix/match salads, stir fries, or snacking.
So there’s my bariatric take on the IIN clean eating recommendations. When working with clients, I stress that everyone has their individual needs and can typically figure out which foods work best for them, but I look forward with helping clients with those discoveries to encourage variety, simplicity, and health — whether they choose a plant-based approach or not.
Interested in setting up a free coaching session? Contact me and we’ll set something up. You will help me develop my coaching skills, and we can work to find some tips to help you achieve your health and fitness goals too.
Making lasting lifestyle changes takes work. A lot of work. And when social sites are part of the equation for your support system and connecting with helpful resources, it’s important to check in with yourself about the value of your social network and its content.
I’m not even talking about the news and political climate. That’s a whole other ball of wax that I just can’t get into. I’m talking about your friends. We all have a friend or two who use Facebook as a way to vent, complain, namedrop, finger point, and basically bitch.
Sometimes you just have to keep scrolling. Scroll, scroll, scroll. It’s so easy to let the negativity sink in, but if the positive support from your social network outweighs the negative, just scroll on by. Or hide them. Or de-friend. Your comfort zone gets tested every day, so do what’s best for you.
But sometimes, life calls for a digital detox. Find sources of positivity outside of your social network. Like with nature and real people. Or give your dog or cat a hug. And if you don’t have a cat or dog, adopt one! Pets are great medicine.
Fill your journal with positive affirmations and revisit them when you need a boost. Pinterest is always a great source of inspiration if you can’t completely break free of your phone.
This post is brought to you by Dionne Warwicks’s “Walk on By.”