As the popular adage goes, “It is not our mistakes that define who we are; it is how we recover from those mistakes.” While this sentiment applies to many aspects of life, it’s extremely relevant to the weight loss journey.
Why? Because the reality is that people can and do mess up when it comes to weight loss patient adherence. However, the occasional mistake doesn’t have to derail a post-op patient’s journey to health — especially with the support of a dietitian.
Share these five tips with your bariatric patients to help them get back on track toward their weight loss and wellness goals.
According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: 'Clinically, behavioral treatment teaches that recovery from relapse exists, and that minor fluctuations in weight are to be expected during the weight-loss and maintenance process.'
Too often, however, people use words like “bad” and “failure” when discussing slip-ups. Therefore, it's vital for weight loss patients to understand that a mistake is simply a mistake, not a moral shortcoming. Eliminating blame from the conversation and focusing on moving forward is the best way to bounce back.
This also means removing the concept of punishment from the equation. While compensating the next day with less food or more exercise may promise to balance things out, it can create an unhealthy cycle which may not only result in weight gain, but can also lead to disordered eating. Steer patients away from the notion that nutrition is about deprivation and toward the mindset that nutrition is actually about being good to yourself through healthy choices.
Just because mistakes are acceptable doesn’t mean they’re inevitable. Whether a client over-indulges at a holiday party or ends up at the drive-through after a busy day at work, learning from these mistakes is essential to avoiding them in the future. Encourage bariatric patients to write down situations where they’ve slipped up, along with proactive preventive strategies.
For example, if a patient binged on an unhealthy snack for lack of a healthy alternative, introducing him/her to portable, shelf-stable Achieve from Rational Foods can help ensure that they’ve always got a bariatric food-friendly option available. This is also an excellent opportunity to check in with their excuses: What obstacles are getting in their way?
Many bariatric patients have struggled with weight problems their whole lives. It’s hardly a surprise that so many of them have complicated relationships with food. While making a poor food choice, slacking off on exercise, or gaining a pound may feel like the end of the world, these things don’t have to be a big deal. In fact, each amounts to a minor bump in the road — unless allowed to fester into something more.
One way to help keep small stumbles in check is to have clients review their motivations for losing weight in the first place. In doing so, they’ll remind themselves that the goal is well worth continuing onward.
Meal planning and preparation. Food journaling. Support groups. These are all areas where many weight loss patients start off strong but relax over time. Unfortunately, this lost vigilance can ultimately lead to gained pounds. Revisiting these behaviors, however, can help weight loss patients regain control.
As Brown University professor of psychiatry and human behavior Rena Wing told Time magazine of people who have weight loss success: 'There's nothing magical about what they do. Some people emphasize exercise more than others, some follow low-carb diets, and some follow low-fat diets. The one commonality is that they had to make changes in their everyday behaviors.'
Weight loss isn’t just about healthy eating. It’s also about exercise. For patients who have strayed on the nutrition front, exercise is one of the easiest ways to feel better about themselves.
After all, the mere act of exercising is linked with the production of feel-good endorphins which relieve stress and promote a sense of wellbeing. If exercise is where a weight loss patient has lapsed, meanwhile, suggest trying a new class or enlisting a workout buddy to get back into the routine.
And then, of course, there's the pivotal role played by exercise in facilitating weight loss. Consider research published in Obesity determining that 'aerobic exercise alone results in clinically significant weight loss for men and women.' For bariatric patients in need of a 'jump start,' amping up exercise may be a simple solution.
Finally, keep in mind that all of these corrective measures are not only manageable, but also at the ready. Which brings to mind another oft-quoted expression: 'Why put off for tomorrow what you can do today?'
The sooner clients take action to get back on track toward weight loss patient adherence, the sooner they’ll begin to reap the rewards again — and the additional incentives that accompany them.