Massive change of any kind causes stress, even when this change is positive and potentially life-saving. Adjusting to your new life after weight loss surgery can bring as much confusion and emotional upheaval as joy and confidence. In order to navigate these freeing new waters, consider the following tips for taking exceptional care of your emotions as your body recovers:
1. Take Care of Your New Body
It sounds simple, but following your doctor’s recommendations to a T, implementing dietary changes from day one, and getting lots of rest are all essential to both your physical and emotional care. A healthy body equals a healthy mind and heart.
2. Write It Out
Even if you have never considered journaling before, think about it now. There are many types of journaling exercises, including tracking your food or noting feelings that come up along your new road to recovery. People who were prone to emotional eating in the past benefit especially from journaling, as this process allows you to link food and feelings on paper and refer back to these notes later. Some patients who want to share their story with a larger audience create blogs where they describe their personal journey and share pictures.
3. Set (Realistic) Goals
Goals are only helpful if they line up with what is personally possible for you. Make note of goals, in your journal, on your dry erase board, or in your calendar, and modify along the way as you make progress and learn more about what is most effective for you. Reward yourself with fun activities or even gifts for goals met or exceeded- you deserve it!
4. Document Your Journey
Give this time in your life the honor it deserves. Take pictures, note measurements, and even save your pants. Pre-op and post-op measurements remind you of your success and give you the drive to keep going. Also, for those who tend toward self-criticism, concrete evidence of these positive changes is an excellent motivator. Patients who have spent years or even a lifetime at a larger size tend to think as if they are still that size. Give yourself a visual reference point and stay focused on how far you have come.
5. Reach Out
If you find that you are having difficulty adjusting to post-op changes, never be afraid to seek help. Many clinics offer support groups to ease the transition from surgical patient to slimmer you, as well as connections to local professional counselors who can work with you one-on-one to ease any isolation you may feel as you transition into this new phase of your life.
Now that you have successfully moved through weight loss surgery, you may experience emotional ups and downs. These are normal. With powerful coping skills like the ones above, you can begin and continue to live your life to the fullest and enjoy each and every day in your healthy new body.