The first year after gastric bypass surgery can be quite a roller-coaster ride. Everything seems to happen so fast – one minute you’re being wheeled into the operating room as a Morbidly Obese person, the next you’re shopping for clothes “small enough” to fit.
By your first gastric bypass “surgiversary” your body has calmed down a bit. Weight loss has slowed and you’re beginning to feel physically more normal. But that just means it’s time for your brain to look in the mirror and realize, “OMG! That’s a completely different-looking person staring back at me!”
So where your first year was all about your changing body, your second is often about your mind. Coming to terms with the changes in your life is a bigger deal than you might imagine before hand.
As I approach my 2-year mark, here are some of the things I’ve encountered, and some things I’ve heard from others that can happen around this time.
Learning To Use Your Weight Loss Tool
After one year, the gastric bypass honeymoon period is definitely over. You’ll have an appetite again, and many people begin to tolerate more foods that aren’t such good choices.
I could eat bread again, and more sugar without dumping. Worst of all, I could suddenly eat more than before.
Whether it happens now for you or not, sooner or later every gastric bypass patient will reach the point where following “the rules” is no longer forced upon you by your pouch. Yes, you have to face it: at some point, you’re going to have to exercise some willpower again. You’re going to have to make good choices.
It’s all about forming good habits during your honeymoon period. If you’ve gotten used to eating healthier, it’s that much easier to continue doing so.
Of course, if you do fall off the wagon and get into bad habits again, the good news is that you still have your handy-dandy weight loss tool. Your pouch is still there, your anatomy is still altered. All you need to do is use it.
A great plan for getting back on track can be found at The 5 Day Pouch Test. Whether you use this plan or not, once you get your eating and exercise habits back on track you’ll see your weight loss continue. Which brings us to:
Weight Loss Still Happens A Year After Your Gastric Bypass
It does, however, slow down considerably.
As I close in on my 2-year mark, my weight fluctuates between 145 and 150 pounds lost. I think I lost 110 or more of those pounds in the first year. I had more frequent and longer plateaus in the second year, but the weight has continued to come off. In fact, if I really wanted to, I could still lose more. I just haven’t decided whether or not I want to.
Which brings us to another question many begin to ask at this point:
Will I Reach My Goal Weight?
Of course, I can’t answer that for you. As of this morning, I am 2 pounds under my original goal weight of 150. My doctor had predicted I’d land somewhere in the 170′s. Now that I’m here, I’m toying with the idea of getting to around 140, perhaps even seeing what 135 would look like. But I haven’t decided yet.
Everyone’s body is different. One thing you have to consider is that the number on the scale may not accurately reflect your size. A doctor once explained it to me this way: when you’re carrying around an extra 100 or more pounds, it requires more muscle. When you lose the weight, you still have more muscle than the average person your size. Muscle weighs more than fat, so your scale may always reflect a higher number than your appearance would suggest.
For me, 148 pounds translates to a size 6-8. I thought I’d land around a 10 or 12, but I bypassed those sizes months ago. (More on that concept below).
The question is, is the goal weight you’ve set right for your body? If it is, and you’re willing to work hard, then it’s not too late to get there, even if you’re still quite far away. You will always have your tool, and you can continue to use it for the rest of your life.
But some people’s bodies just aren’t comfortable being super skinny. That’s one reason I’m debating about losing any more – I’d like to see what I look like, but 145 – 150 feels comfortable for my body. You have to find the healthy, comfortable weight for your body. THAT should be more important than an arbitrary number on the scale.
Which means that at some point you’ll have to deal with the fact that:
The Weight Loss Ride Is Over
You will not continue losing weight forever. If you did you’d die. So at some point you have to reach a stopping point.
Reaching that stopping point, however, can be a bit of a bummer. It’s FUN to jump on the scale and constantly see lower numbers. It’s FUN to notice your clothes are getting bigger on you again.
And switching your mindset from weight loss to weight maintenance can take some getting used to.
Unfortunately, many gastric bypass surgery patients got where they were due to addictive personalities. If you switch your addiction to food to an addiction to weight loss, this can cause you problems.
Dealing with the addictions, habits and mindsets that we had prior to weight loss surgery is only part of the “brain surgery” that comes after gastric bypass. You also have to discover -
Who Am I Now That I’ve Lost All This Weight?
This, for me, has been one of the toughest parts of my gastric bypass journey. I think perhaps having a life-threatning complication, followed by 6 weeks of bedrest while I recovered, contributed to the incredible mental freak-out I’ve experienced.
Suddenly, I’m thin. I’m pretty. And I darn near died, so I want to get out and LIVE. I get tons of attention, men flirt with me. And my body is completely different than what it’s always been.
I’m a tiny little thing. That’s sooo weird! It makes me feel almost like a little girl. My husband says I act like I’m a teenager again.
Over the past few months, I’ve done things I could never have imagined doing. Some have been good. Some have been completely destructive and insane. I am just wildly blessed that my husband loves me so much and wouldn’t leave me if I told him to.
But Life also has ways of slapping you in the face with Reality. There are consequences if you get too “out there” trying to figure yourself out. Keep that in mind as you hit your 18 month – 2 year mark.
Does completely changing your appearance change who you are inside? I think somewhat it does. Especially to the extent that you allowed yourself to be defined by being overweight. If you saw yourself as fat, and let that image dictate your behavior to any extent, then suddenly becoming skinny will literally blow your mind.
Imagine waking up tomorrow as a different race than you are now. Yeah, you’re still you. But then again, you’re not. You fit into society differently. People treat you differently. You see yourself differently.
You have to look inside and discover who you really are at the core. And for a lot of us, we’ve hidden that core under layers of fat for so long it’s a surprise what we find. We may not like what we see. Or, we may be surprised at how much hasn’t changed because we were blaming things on the fat that the fat didn’t cause.
If what you see inside isn’t what you want to see there, you’ve got work ahead of you. But the thing is, you’ve just proven to yourself that you’re up to big challenges. You did, after all, get here. You took the risk and had the surgery, and now you’ve accomplished a feat millions fail at: you’ve lost the weight.
Changing what’s inside and becoming the person you really want to be – once you figure out who that is – should be easy in comparison. Plus, unlike the weight loss that happened so quickly, you’ve got the rest of your life to make it happen.