Monday, March 12, 2012

Evaluating Your Impulse Control

The essential key to success after weight loss surgery is impulse control.  Sure, you were able to follow so many diets and exercise programs for weeks and months, even years on in, but when it came to the slip ups, were you able to own it and take new actions?  Let's look at the bigger picture.

In order to be successful as a post-bariatric surgery patient, you must learn new health habits that are sustainable.  If you commit to the lifestyle for the first 6 months and then revert back to old habits, you will inevitably gain weight back.  This is a learning experience when it happens, and hopefully, if it has happened to you, you've found resiliency and jumped back on the wagon.  However, if you continue to struggle with impulse control issues and you don't keep accurate records of your food and calorie input and output, you may see yourself on the failure end of WLS.

The key is owning your behaviors and actively making efforts to change those behaviors.  I recently ran had a visit with my great aunt and she said to me, "I'm so happy to see you're maintaining your weight loss after surgery because "so-in-so" seems bigger than before."  I refrained from calling her out on this third person judgment of "so-in-so" because I don't know "so-in-so"'s circumstances, but I can make a solid assumption that she isn't practicing impulse control or following the rules her doctor gave her.

Why?  Why not?  What is it that keeps us from truly changing our habits?  There are usually deeper seated control issues going on underneath the weight gain and food addiction.  It's the way they've learned to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression by using food.  Those behaviors have not been unlearned when the doctor when in to perform surgery.  This is why the movement should be to work with a Professional Counselor to process the client's motivation to change and their ability to control the impulse to reach for food to soothe themselves.

Ask yourself a few questions:

Am I ready and willing to spend time preparing my foods at home for my work day and in the evenings?

Do I understand what good post-bariatric surgery food choices are?

Do I comprehend the size of my pouch?

Generally, post-surgery, your pouch will be the size of a walnut.  It will inevitably stretch some, but the idea is not to have it stretch to the size of a baseball but rather possibly a golf ball. You must commit yourself to planning ahead or having a plan when you're out of the house.  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  I keep a list of good choice WLS friendly meal options out, I look for high protein options when it comes to soups and order that as my entree or find an high protein entree and order it sans rice with extra soft steamed veggies.

Another big issue is alcohol. Anytime you consume alcohol your ability to make good judgments is compromised.  This can be a big problem when you're post-surgery and your consumption levels can cause severe problems, such as low inhibitions or blackouts.  You must become increasingly aware of the effect drugs and alcohol have on your ability to make good decisions.  Seek professional help if you find yourself risking your safety due to a transfer addiction.

So where is your impulse control?  Are you able to make good choices all the time?  Are you still struggling with making good choices and grab those cookies when you've had a stressful or emotional day?  What's behind the emotions of those bad habits?  It's wise to seek out a Professional Counselor that specializes in Dialectical Behavior therapy for binge eating disorder or food addictions.  If you need help finding one in your area, please feel free to email me and I would be glad to locate someone to help you!

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