Article By: Rachel Ignomirello, MS, RDN, CSOWM, LDN
Rachel Ignomirello is a Bariatric Dietitian and Board-Certified Specialist in Obesity and Weight Management.
Every January, millions of people set New Year’s Resolutions – especially involving weight or health. The start of a new year often feels like the right time to recommit to healthy routines following the holidays. After bariatric surgery, it is important to keep up with healthy habits that contribute to maintaining or getting back to a healthy weight. Resolutions are a wonderful way of honoring your surgery, but it is important to go beyond traditional resolutions with these four tips.
1) Make your resolution specific and measurable. For example, “exercise more” is a good place to start, but it is only an idea. What type of exercise and for how long? How often do you plan on exercising, and how will you know when the goal is accomplished? Add these key details to your resolution to make it more concrete and to ensure you aren't just committing to an intangible idea.
2) Make your resolution realistic. In a 2014 study, 35% of participants who failed their New Year’s Resolutions said they had unrealistic goals. Compare these example resolutions and see which ones seem doable: “I’m going to run for 60 minutes every day” vs. “I'm going to walk for 15-30 minutes 3 days per week.” “I’m never going to eat ice cream again” vs. “I'm going to limit my ice cream intake to only a ½ cup 2 days per week.” Avoid setting unreasonable expectations with words like “always” or “never.” Balance your resolution with realistic expectations to avoid the feeling of defeat.
3) Go beyond the classic “lose weight” resolution. Start with these key bariatric behaviors instead for resolution inspiration: consume protein at each meal, avoid skipping meals or grazing, limit or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages, take bariatric-formulated vitamins daily, etc. Instead of focusing on a certain number of pounds to lose, try to focus on different numbers: “drink 64 ounces of water,” “attend 2 support groups,” “consume 3 balanced meals,” etc. Your surgery is a tool, so it is up to you to recommit to and maintain healthy bariatric habits.
4) Be patient. Understand that working toward your resolution is a process. Even if you make a poor decision or two, just restart and continue your journey. The year is 365 days long, so we should not give up after January. Reflect each month on what went well and how you can keep working toward your resolution. Stay accountable with someone who shares a similar resolution or goal and help motivate each other. Most bariatric programs offer in-person or virtual support groups, which can further help reinvigorate your resolution.
A healthy lifestyle is not something that only starts in January. With the right mindset and these tips, you can make all of 2022 your healthiest and best year yet!