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Maintenance Stage Challenges

woman stepping on a scale, measuring tape lying on the scale

Weight loss surgery is considered the most effective way to lose a significant amount of weight and has the highest rate of maintained weight loss. Despite that, many people experience weight regain after weight loss surgery. Why is that? I have a few personal insights to share.

Currently, I am almost three years post-op from Gastric Sleeve surgery. It took me about 17 months to lose 145 pounds. I’ve been in the “maintenance stage” for the past 15 months. During those 15 months, my weight fluctuated back and forth between 115 and 125.

How’s maintenance going? It’s tough! During these 15 maintenance months, the number on the scale has moved back and forth. And when it’s moving up, I’m freaking out! Immediately, all my old fears and frustrations about past weight loss failures come flooding back. I worry that I won’t be able to stop the number on the scale from climbing. I beat myself up about being too lax with my diet or exercise. In response, I redouble my efforts – eat less and workout harder. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn’t. If you restrict your calories too much, weight loss will stagnate. And, if you work out harder, sometimes you build muscle, which weighs more than fat!

When I’m thinking logically and objectively, I know how silly all those thoughts sound. But it’s honest. The surgery might be on your stomach, but the real battle is in your brain! I know I’ve gained muscle – but it’s hiding under loose skin. I KNOW that the number on the scale doesn’t determine my worth (or my health) – but it affects my mood.

I found that the “losing weight” mindset was much easier than the “maintaining weight” mindset. The goal was simpler – get the scale moving downward. Low calories. Low carbs. High protein. Workout regularly. Those were straightforward rules that I built into habits. Maintenance is different – you’re trying to ease into a “normal” life, not driven by the weight loss goal. So, there will be times of emotional weakness and setbacks. There will be weight fluctuations – for a variety of reasons! Age, hormones, illness – all these things can affect our weight. So, we must widen our view of progress beyond the scale. For example, I’ve noticed that I have better endurance during my workouts. Routines that used to be too challenging to finish are now some of my favorites. I’ve run in a few 5Ks and placed rather well! I couldn’t do that 15 months ago.

The bottom line, I’m still a work in progress. Slowly, gradually, I’m improving at confronting irrational thoughts and reactions. I’m learning how to listen to my new body. I’m learning how to give it the food and exercise that suits it best. This is something that takes a lot of time and patience. If you’re struggling with the mindset change of maintenance, know that you’re not alone! If we’re still trying, we haven’t lost.

Related Topics:

Diet or Exercise – Which Yields Better Weight Loss Results?

Amy is a 39-year-old gastric sleeve patient of Dr. Tsuda, living In Las Vegas, NV.  She is almost 2 years post-op and has lost over 145 pounds.  Through this weight loss journey, Amy has discovered a passion for health and fitness.  Now, she enjoys sharing her experiences to help others on their own journeys.