A Guide to Overcoming a Weight Loss Plateau for Bariatric Patients
Many people see significant weight loss at the beginning of their weight loss journey, but it is common to hit a stall. For bariatric surgery patients, this plateau or stall often happens around 3 to 6 months after surgery. So congratulations! You’ve reached a milestone. You have been successful in weight loss and now your body is telling you to pay closer attention. You may be struggling to maintain consistent weight loss while your weight remains the same, even though you are following careful diet and exercise habits. We are here to let you know hitting a weight loss plateau is entirely normal! Don’t get down on yourself just because the scale isn’t moving. We have advice and tips to help you reach your goals.
Is It Real?
The first step is to identify if you are actually experiencing a weight loss plateau – meaning that your efforts have not wavered, but you are no longer seeing results. You need to assess your habits and your progress honestly and objectively to make sure that some sneaky bad habits are not to blame. Keep a food journal and review it to see if your eating habits have changed. Make sure that you are tracking every bite and sip, and check that you are getting enough protein, and drinking adequate water. If you are purely using a scale to measure your weight loss, you should also take your measurements using a tape measure to monitor your body composition. Regular measurements will help you see progress beyond the scale! If you have been working out consistently, your weight might be the same while you lose inches as you build muscle.
The Plateau is Real, Now What?
Don’t panic! If your post-surgery weight loss is stalled, it’s time to take action. Remember you are in the driver’s seat for your weight loss and you are in control. We’re here to help you restart your weight loss with some tips and strategies to get back on track:
1. Take Measurements Thoroughly and Consistently
It is completely ok to feel frustrated when your weight loss stalls, but now more than ever you need to track your progress. If you haven’t been doing so, take consistent measurements using both a tape measure and scale. Record your measurements using whatever is easiest for you, whether in a journal or on your phone. Don’t increase your stress by over-measuring yourself – weight can fluctuate depending on the time of day so measure and weigh yourself once per week at the same time each week.
2. Make Dietary Adjustments and Track Your Intake
Studies have shown that keeping a food journal is key to successful weight loss. If you don’t already have one, keep a food journal of everything you eat and drink. An app such as MyFitnessPal can help with calorie tracking and is easy to use on the go.
Look at your overall calorie intake, but also what types of foods you are eating. Processed carbohydrates or a lack of protein can contribute to weight loss stalls. Fill your plate with nutritionally dense foods that provide protein, vitamins or healthy carbs without lots of calories – some examples are lowfat greek yogurt, lean poultry and fish, leafy green vegetables, eggs, citrus fruit and berries. Cut out foods that do not have high nutritional benefits such as juice, sugary coffee or energy drinks, or packaged snack foods.
If you have any questions about what to eat contact us to schedule an appointment with our dietitian. You can also check out our blog for recipes and tips. The team at St. Louis Bariatrics is here to help you succeed in your weight loss journey!
3. Try a New Exercise
As your body adapts to the changes after surgery, it can be helpful to vary your exercise. If you haven’t been including strength training in your workout routine, talk to your doctor about starting. It is essential to build muscle to support your weight loss, and strength training has many benefits. When it comes to cardio, make sure you are moving your body at least 30 minutes per day. Low impact exercise such as walking and swimming are great for weight loss surgery patients. If your doctor approves, you might try higher intensity workouts like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or running. If you find yourself bored with your usual workout, try something fun like Zumba or salsa dancing, or create some new playlists to listen to while you workout. Match your interests to your workouts – if you don’t have fun then you won’t be likely to keep it up, so search for something that lights your fire! Your body will appreciate daily movement and will reward you with increased flexibility and strength!
4. Self Care for Body and Mind
Health is about more than just calories and measurements. Prioritize holistic health by making time for self care. We are so proud of you for taking the first step toward better health by having weight loss surgery, but that is just the beginning. Procedures such as gastric bypass, gastric balloon or gastric sleeve are powerful tools, but success requires taking care of your body and mind. Some things to pay attention to that may be holding back your weight loss include:
- Sleep – lack of adequate sleep can stress the body and lead to poor food choices. Make good bedtime habits a priority.
- Stress – studies show that high levels of stress can lead to excess weight. Try managing stress with meditation, yoga, journaling, or short walks throughout the day. Therapy with a professional can also be helpful to manage stress and handle the emotional changes that can occur with weight loss.
- Lack of community – Weight loss surgery leads to big changes and it is important to connect with people who support you. Make time to talk to friends who are also on a weight loss journey or check our calendar for support group listings. You can also follow us on Facebook for recipes, patient stories, and motivation.
The Plateau is NOT Forever
Experiencing plateaus can be a normal part of weight loss, but stay positive, keep up all the good work, and appreciate how far you’ve come! At St. Louis Bariatrics, we pride ourselves on being your life-long partner in health and together we can get back on track to help you reach your goals. Contact us with any questions or to set up a consultation with our dietitian or Dr. Jay Snow.